Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In Your Face

Scott Bradley

Commenting on a passage from the Chung Yung (14), Mitchell writes: "Living in serenity means being open to whatever life brings. When the Master looks forward, there are infinite possibilities; when he looks back, there is only one. What happened is always the best thing that could have happened because it's the thing that did happen." (The Second Book of the Tao)

Commenting on his comments, he quotes his wife Byron Katie: "When you have what you want — when you are what you want — there's no impulse to seek anything outside yourself. Seeking is the movement away from the awareness that your life is already complete, just as it is." (A Thousand Names for Joy) Mitchell's final sentence above is Katie's summation of her comments here: "What happens is the best thing that could happen."

This final statement goes well beyond my ability to concretely affirm, but somehow I know it to be true, though I'm not sure that we need call it "the best". I have previously mentioned Leibniz’s statement that this is "the best of all worlds"; did I agree or disagree? I forget. I probably basically agreed by saying that what happens is 'right' by virtue of its having happened. This is not a moral judgment, but one beyond morality. "Best", for me, would seem to imply a purposive dimension to reality, something I cannot affirm. Good, better, best ... these are beside the point; "is" is the only point.

I'm going to continue to parse, but before I do, let me again say that the only real meat here is in the words quoted above. There is incredible power there; getting this, I believe, is the end of the matter.

It's all about taking total and unequivocal responsibility for our responses to reality, what happens. What happens is of no consequence, good, bad or indifferent. It's all acceptable. And for we who are not sages, they are "best" in that they are precisely our opportunity, our real and present gate, into serenity. There's nowhere else to look; it's always right here in our faces.

There is so much here that it may seem hard to string it all together. When Katie says, “when you are what you want”, this does not refer to any “you” other than the one that you presently are. It is not a “you” that you want to be, but the you-mess you actually are. You are, just as you are, also the reality that happens. Wanting who you are means being and accepting who you are. Instead of wanting to be someone else, we want who we are. Why? Because we are who we are, just as the world, universe and Reality are just as they are.

There is no fatalism here. Looking forward, there are “infinite possibilities”. Nor is there indifference to the suffering of others. This is only about me and my responsibility. Though one might best relieve the suffering of others by sharing this perspective, there remains the desire to improve their reality. Yet, without the perspective, no improvement could ever be enough.

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

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