Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting It

Scott Bradley

I like to say, "You don't have to get it right to get it." "Getting it right" means knowing the truth about Reality, intellection. Whatever direct experience one may believe oneself to have of Reality, it remains well beyond knowing anything about it. Rightly knowing something about what cannot be known is clearly no way to experience it. All knowing is falsely knowing.

What this formula allows is that persons of various, significantly divergent beliefs can experience something of Reality. Their paths, though often mutually exclusive, can lead to the same experience. How can this be? Perhaps it is because there is really no "it" to get. Nor is there any "Reality". There is Reality, of course, but since it cannot be known, it is nonsensical to speak of it. I would like to take it one step further, however, and say that, not only can one not know it, but neither can one experience it. This is obviously not the opinion of those who believe they have. But when they articulate what it is they have experienced, this is entirely interpretive. A Christian experiences "God"; a Zen Buddhist experiences "Mind".

What one actually experiences is the capability of human consciousness to "see" the world in a way altogether different than it normally does. However, I would suggest that this experience shares one very important attribute with normal consciousness, namely, that it is just another expression of that consciousness. Nothing new has been added or received. No bolt from Heaven has occurred. God has not acted. Reality hasn't decided to bless. Absolutely nothing external to one's own mind is involved in the event.

This both is and is not the testimony of Zen, which believes that mind is Mind. This being the case, "it" is discovered solely through mind; but then that mind is believed to be Absolute Mind. I would suggest that mind, however 'expanded' in perspective, is still just mind.

Zhuangzi's vision, I believe, lends itself to this understanding of the nature of the transcendent experience. "Drift and Doubt" remain because no interpretive overlay has been added. There is no need for metaphysics. "Far and unfettered wandering" in the "vast wilds of open nowhere", where there is "not even anything", is devoid of interpretive content. One simply wanders freely; that is all.

"Doubt" connotes a certain dissonance, an unfulfilled longing, and for this reason may not be the best word to describe this wandering. What it seeks to convey is the continuance of not-knowing. No objective interpretation, no 'answer', is found, but then, neither is one sought or required.

So, have I "got it right"? No, but it's right for me for whom a 'religious quest' is not possible. I am not in pursuit of Reality. I am interested in discovering the potential of human consciousness to experience itself in a way more in harmony with itself and the perceived world. That is all. And that, I believe, is really all that's on offer.

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

1 comment:

  1. While very much liking the overall message I couldn't help thinking of the line:

    "the potential of human consciousness to experience itself"

    That's all it ever does, 'experience itself', as there is nothing but that for it to experience.


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