Monday, November 7, 2011

Minding the Essential, Part II

Minding the Essential, Part II
by Scott Bradley

In the previous post I was discussing the apparently extreme individualism of a particular approach to transcendence. Only the individual can make that happen for her- or himself. Far from being an egotistic exercise, however, it is only truly manifest in a interiorization which, in effect, continually puts the ego's head on the block. We recognize that every 'problem' we have with others is essentially our own egoic problem. Every focus on the faults of others is a flight from focus on ourselves and a form of self-deceit, a kind of dishonesty. Wu-men thus exhorts us: "don't discuss another's faults / don't explore another's affairs." Our business is to sort out ourselves, not others.

In the context of this emphasis on the individual and interiorized character of this project, Aitken quotes Dogen:
To study the Buddha Way is to study the self;
to study the self is to forget the self;
to forget the self is to be confirmed by the ten thousand things.
The way beyond self leads through self. And when that path is realized, so also is self.

I concluded the previous post by saying that focusing on the faults of others is taking the easy way out. It is ego-affirming. Yet the ego-affirming way is the normal way. It is how human beings conduct themselves in the world. To be otherwise, would thus be to realize what very few, if any, ever have. And it is, therefore, an incredibly difficult and daunting task. Yet it is not a war of good against evil, a way of strife and conflict. It rather begins and ends in acceptance and affirmation. This mess — my mess, your mess, the world mess — is okay. And however we muddle our way through it is also okay. All is well.

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

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