Monday, April 16, 2012

More on the Simple Way

Scott Bradley


I once wrote that if I could have but one book on the proverbial desert island, it would be the Zhuangzi translated by Brook Ziporyn. This is not because it is holy writ, but because it never ceases to inspire me. You might have noticed that I have a quiver of strategies whereby to attempt forays into the art of wandering. But if I could have but one strategy on that island it would most certainly be the Simple Way as developed in Zhouzi.

The Simple Way consists of a single affirmation. It espouses no method. Nothing must be believed. It requires no deeds. No goals need be met. There is nothing for which to strive. No transformations are required. There is only this one affirmation: There are no conditions to meet, for all that you are is already and necessarily the expression of Dao. It is already true in you. Yes, All is Well.

To this, I would burn incense. For in this there is freedom and joy and rest.

This is really not other than the heart of the spirit of Zen and Daoism. In the realization of what is already true of you is freedom. But if it is already true of you, what is there to become? For what need you strive? What conditions need be met? What battles must be won?

Were you to spend a moment imaginatively disappearing into this, you would, I believe, experience two opposing forces. Hopefully, you would have an inkling of release and joy and thankfulness. A Zen master tells us that upon satori, all that remains is to just have a good laugh. It was always just here. No big deal.

Yet you would most likely also encounter resistance. If you are like me, you have a profound sense of falling short. You think you have to change. You believe you must strive to attain something by which to merit release into tranquility. But though these things are what hinder you in that release, you need not strive to change them. Affirm them. They are as much Dao as anything else. Do you really believe that your presumed virtues are different in kind from your vices? Do you think Dao judges you? Withdraws from you? Becomes other than you? It is not so. Dao is already fully realized in you, for it is never anything other than what you presently are.

Transformation is the flower. Utter release into the great affirming Openness is the root. Thankfulness arises.

Need I address the dissenting opinions, those that would impugn my motives, accuse me of escapism, cowardice and worse? To what end? There is no need for a defense, just as there is no need to attack. And words will not change an opinion, let alone a heart, in any case. I speak only to those who wish to hear. With those who do not, I have no bone to pick. They, too, are the full expression of Dao.

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

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