Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thinking Of You

Thinking Of You
by Scott Bradley


I have mentioned that each morning I spend time reflecting, for lack of a better word. That is also when I write these posts. And this is a problem. No, you are the problem. No, I am the problem. The problem is that I am thinking of you and these posts addressed to you. But there is a more pressing need. I need to be thinking about myself. No, I need to be experiencing that something that is myself, yet is beyond my self. But as long as my mind is directed to the external, posts and 'you', this cannot happen. Nor can it happen when I am thinking about myself.

I have previously discussed this problem of external and internal dependence in connection with Zhuangzi's "far and unfettered wandering". Our first tendency is to relate to ourselves with reference to others. What do they think of me? Who am I in the world? It is a step forward, sort of speak, to cease to care about the opinions of others, and to refer oneself to oneself. What do I think of myself? But this is a movement from one dependence to another. But what if, Zhuangzi asks us, we could depend on no referential opinion at all? What if we depended on nothing at all, but simply released ourselves into the Vastness, free of all judgment and opinion of self or others? That would be freedom, indeed.

All this referential thinking is essentially the same; it is thinking. And thinking is not primary experience. And this is why all traditions with a mystical bent emphasize the need to free oneself from the ceaseless flow of thought. Some seek no-thought-at-all. Others seek instead to simply be other-than-the-flow-of thought, which flows nonetheless. I just muddle along with occasional glimpses of life outside the "understanding mind".

Were I perched upon the very cusp of "unexcelled, irreversible enlightenment" I would probably think about it, first with reference to myself ("I am experiencing this!"), and then with reference to you and a post. And thus, would the experience cease.

The solution to this 'problem' is not to stop writing posts, or even to try and stop thinking of myself and you. The thinking would go on in any case. The first step is to realize that I do, in fact, live in that very narrow space that Zhuangzi calls the "understanding mind". Our human reality is simply a great deal more than this.

The second step...well, I just muddle along.

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

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