Monday, October 24, 2011

Pernicious Oneness

Pernicious Oneness
by Scott Bradley


I just had to come back to this. Pernicious oneness. The real perniciousness, of course, is the glee with which I embrace it as my own. It feels a bit like being kicked out of church or suspended from school. I feel like Huck Finn when Aunt Polly finally despaired of giving him an edjucashun. Thanks for the holiday! Thanks for the freedom!

Pernicious oneness is Aitken's description of the monist position which does not recognize a fundamental moral orientation to Reality. He speaks of "antinomianism", lawlessness. I don't quite understand why. "Good and bad come from your own mind," Dahui tells us. So does reason and love. The point is to use these things, rather than to be used by them.

Another teacher said something like, "Those who speak of good and evil are bound by good and evil." From a transcendent perspective, what does antinomianism have to do with anything? It is just one philosophical position opposed to another. Aren't we meant to be free from all that? Isn't our behavior meant to arise from who we are, rather than from some external law?

Nor does pernicious oneness believe anything to be lost. So what's to save? Aitken tells us that the "first vow" of a Zennist monk is: "I vow to assist in the salvation of all beings." Okay. If one wants to believe that Reality is somehow divided, and that we must help to re-unite it, that's okay. Perhaps lots of 'good' will result. And to be a bestower of universal 'compassion' probably makes one feel pretty good about oneself.

Meanwhile, I feel perniciously and gleefully good about myself believing quite the opposite. But, as Janis Chaplin declared at Woodstock, "It's all good, man, being out here in the rain."

Deep.

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

1 comment:

  1. CEA--By now you all know what that means -- Janis JOPLIN!!!!

    You make it sound like vowing to be like a bodhisattva is a bad selfish thing. Most monastic traditions have some sort of element of this, being an example for others, like the Taoist sage Trey mentioned in the previous post.

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