Monday, April 23, 2012

The Great Unperplexity

Scott Bradley


"Man's knowledge is puny, but it is all that he does not know that allows him to know what is meant by the Heavenly. To know it as the Great Oneness, as the Great Dark, . . . In all of them the Heavenly is there to follow, for in all there is a darkness that illuminates, a pivoting to a new beginning, providing always an alternate standard. To understand it seems like not understanding, to know it seems like unknowing, for it can be known only by unknowing. . . . What else is all our perplexity for? To dissolve our perplexity into the ever unperplexed, thus returning to the unperplexed, this would still be the greatest unperplexity." (Zhuangzi, Chap. 24; Ziporyn)

It is not what we don't yet know that guides us, but what we cannot know. This is "the darkness that illuminates". And it is accessible to us only by way of dissolving into it. It is, for want of better word, a mystical movement. One participates in the Great Openness by opening into it.

I don't know that my perplexity is "for" anything, but I know that I have it to use, and I can use it to entrust myself to a place of unperplexity. It's a matter of letting go in trust. It's a release into the inevitable. Could anything be more reasonable?

In a comment to one of my posts someone challenged my attachment to doubt, suggesting that the infant has none, but trusts implicitly, and it is to such a condition that we aspire. Doubt, in this case, would become a hindrance. I can only concur. Doubt, understood as intellectual skepticism, remains in the sphere of knowing; it has not dissolved into the Great Dark. It has not entrusted its perplexity to the "ever unperplexed".

Doubt provides the perplexity; and without perplexity, one is unaware of "the darkness that illuminates". But when perplexity entrusts itself to the great unperplexed, that is, to the realm where nothing is nor can be known, doubt transforms along with it. Doubt transformed is unattachment to fixed ideas; the Great Dark is ever dark. "The ever unperplexed" is the ever at ease in the ever unknown.

So here are more words; a pattern has been drawn. All that remains is leave the words and their images behind. As Carlos Rossi, the vintner, used to say in his commercials: "I like talking about my wine, but I'd rather drink it!"

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

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