Saturday, April 7, 2012

Universal Priesthood II

Scott Bradley

These posts are each one an act of thinking on my feet, and I don't always say well what it is I wish to say. Sometimes this is because I don't actually have a clear idea of what that is. This is certainly the case with the previous post.

By "universal priesthood" is meant that, because all orthodoxy has as its underlying premise that Truth is known, and thus some ways are 'right' while others are 'wrong', every individual who would be free of the pursuit of or adherence to Truth becomes his or her own interpreter of life. Everyone finds their own path. And all paths are equal.

But finding one's own path does not have to mean sifting through the plethora of orthodoxies which vie for our adherence and then choosing the one we think Truest; it can mean attaching to no orthodoxy at all.

Can one not, therefore, legitimately follow and practice the path of Zen, for instance? Certainly one can. Only this one who practices Zen does so because she has found it to be an effective means, not a repository of or path to Truth. Most practitioners of Zen do see it at such, which is why many old Masters spent so much time trying to break them from their addiction to orthodoxy. For the true spirit of Zen is, I believe, this abandonment of the pursuit of Something, even if defined as Nothing.

Once again I find myself beating the bushes around what I can't quite say. This is in part because endless qualifications always seem necessary. But maybe instead of anticipating the objections, I should just try and say it.

There is no Answer. Why then would we seek one? There is no Truth. Why then would we seek it? These are dogmatic statements. But they are not meant dogmatically; they have a practical foundation. Call them formal and provisional; they are not intended to be Truth. One either 'seeks' or one does not; and it is the 'seeking' which is at issue. If one seeks a cessation of seeking, then one is required to formally (though not dogmatically) abandon that which can be sought, namely Truth. It is an individual point of view, not one applied universally.

Universal priesthood implies, on one level, that every individual discovers her own way, and this can include orthodox ways. Yet, on the level of the free thinking which eschews orthodoxy, it envisions a revolution in our collective being. Orthodoxy is the collectivization of our paths. What would the collectivization of non-orthodoxy look like?

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

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