Monday, October 10, 2011

Here I Stumble, Part II

Here I Stumble, Part II
by Scott Bradley

Foyan tells us, "It's just a matter of reaching the source of mind."

Fundamental to Zen and its cousins is the enquiry into the reality of mind and self. What are they? Who am I? Buddhism points to Mind as a Taoist might point to Tao. Let us assume that certain parties have somehow reached that other shore and now yell back to us that Mind is the source of mind. Am I to embrace and believe this explanation of the Ultimate? Am I to seek it? If so, why this pronouncement and not some other contrary pronouncement?

Does one need to believe something to pursue transcendence? Zhuangzi taught otherwise, and it is essentially this radical agnosticism which so appeals to me and seems to mesh with my own path. There is no need to make evaluative comparisons, however; this is a way among many others.

The surest way to experience the possible source of mind is to let mind reveal what it will. If I tell mind what it is, mind has not spoken. Mind speaks when allowed to do so. This is the philosophical Taoist's starting point: Let the human experience unfold itself. After a sage in the Zhuangzi describes his transcendence and how that affects the way he lives in the world, his interlocutor exclaims, "How can you do this!?" To this the sage replies, "I do nothing at all; it is natural, all natural." Whatever mind is, whatever the human experience is, we can do no better than to let them be what they are. This does not require defining them.

But there is work to do. For the mind to speak, mind must step aside. In examining mind we discover that we have reified it, made it 'me', rendered it a means of distancing itself from the world and its own ground, rather than uniting with them. In discovering that mind is, in this sense, more than mind, we open ourselves to transcendent experience. Experience of what? Experience of mystery. And mystery neither provides nor requires definitions. "That which moves me" turns out to be simply "a kind of emptiness". There is nothing more, nor is anything more required. Loosing all the lines of cognitive and egoic grasping, it is into mystery that we sail.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.


  1. I'm quoting you when I use speech marks below:

    The gate, as wide open as I've ever seen it
    "Mind speaks when allowed to do so."

    "But there is work to do."
    Bam! The gate slams closed!

    Who'd work to find that which is present when not sought?

    This defines the seeker and is the miniscule defining difference between seeker and seer.

  2. Who'd work to find that which is present when not sought?" True and not, the paradoxical mystery hidden outside mind.

    From one angle, the realized person turns around to see what this gateless gate is that has been a working-barrier all ones life, and then to find out that it never existed. From the other angle, the unrealized person sees there is a struggle and work to do to get through this barrier. But what if this gateless gate barrier that we are working and trying to get through is a necessary stage of organic growth similar to the outer shell of a seed has to a plant? Once the plant breaks through there is no outer shell to consider anymore but didn't the the outer shell that the seedling struggled to get through that has fallen off and withered away have necessity? The plant has no relationship to the outer shell anymore but without it the plant would not be a plant.

    There seems to be common ground governing laws to spiritual realization and work to do is one of them though eventually one finds out that there is no work to do. To try and tell someone to just accept this reality that there is no work to do is telling someone to bypass something very personal and experiential-necessary to there path. Consequently, through bypassing work to do, there is a lot of stunted seedlings running around claiming they have arrived as plants.



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