Monday, October 3, 2011

Contention

Contention
by Scott Bradley


"If people find fault with you...just step back and observe yourself. Don't harbor any dislike, don't enter into any contests...If you contend with them, then a bad name will bounce back and forth with never an end in sight." — Yuanwu

I confess to deriving some pleasure from being able to ignore comments to these posts. As I have said before, there are practical considerations which generally make it impossible for me to respond in a timely manner in any case. But there is something empowering about being able to express opinions without the need to defend them. Were I speaking to you in person, it is likely that we would frequently end up verbally contending with one another. One does not have to observe for long to see that this is a typical human activity. The distance that this posting provides, however, allows me the opportunity to exercise the cautions and responses which Yuanwu recommends — something I would otherwise probably fail to do.

Might this likewise be an opportunity for you to step back and observe yourself? What motivates your impulse to respond, whether in thought alone or in writing? That question alone can reveal so much.

This having been said, I would encourage you to respond should you believe there is something that needs to be said or can profitably add to the topic. Trey tells me that there is enough space to say as much in 'comments' as I typically use in a post. I do not doubt that your comments would be appreciated be us all (even if they simply provided us with another opportunity to step back and observe our responses!) This blog thus provides you with the same opportunity it does me.

All this takes a bit of effort as well as maturity, however. It seems to me that we are living in a time of one line zingers, reflexive and emotional responses without the discipline of reflection. At least that's the impression I get from the typical e-mail and the frightening comments appended to news stories.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

3 comments:

  1. Know-Thyself
    by Shawn

    How can one Know-Thyself without allowing for the interaction with others to take place? In these interplay moments one has an opportunity to find out what Thyself is made of. This isn't a self-help exercise as in trying to perfect the ego. In fact, most of our efforts and spiritual disciplines are about not exposing our ego. The ego can become quite the diplomat. If we can just keep that sucker composed and down from sight (suppressed), the ego itself then thinks it is being quite spiritual. It thinks it is Jesus-like in turning the cheek in the silence of solitude. A great story it tells itself.

    What is Thyself made of within? Can we get a comprehensive knowledge of Thyself without allowing Thyself to be tested for what we really are made of found through the challenges that arise through the interacting with others, especially other views or even criticisms? I can sure be a good looking Taoist in the solitude of my prayer closet similar to how good my frog-voice sounds while I'm singing by myself taking a shower. Put my frog-singing-voice alongside others and I then find out what my voice is really made of. Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit. :-)

    Know-Thyself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No-Thyself. Yes, that seems to be the goal and aim. One might say, just accept this reality of No-thyself, stop grasping, experience its wonders, and flickering moments of bliss might momentarily even be felt. But then you eventually wake up from whatever that is, then there is Thyself in its full bloom sitting before you. I can't agree more with Scott regarding when he said, "It is essentially an invitation to know one's self. It does not tell us to change ourselves, but simply to be aware of ourselves. Yet in that awareness, change happens".

    The path to No-thyself is Know-Thyself.

    Shawn

    ReplyDelete

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want. We may respond...or we may not. It depends on the mood and preferences of the specific author of the post. Ta-Wan generally responds in a timely manner. Trey responds some of the time and Scott rarely replies (due to limited internet access). You can be assured that all comments are read by this blog's two administrators: Ta-Wan & Trey.