Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To Boil Water

Scott Bradley

If you wish to boil water, you need only apply sufficient heat.

There are innumerable ways to supply this heat. Native Americans threw hot rocks into the pot. Buffalo and cow chips make great fuel. Fossil fuels do the trick. Nuclear decomposition works. Concentrated sunlight will do it. The list is endless.

All these heat sources can be equally effective because of the physical properties of water.

So also is it with the human psyche. Apply the necessary focus, and voila, transcendent experience happens. And, as with heat sources, the ways of focusing the psyche are innumerable. This transcendent potential resides in the properties of the human mind, not in the means by which it is focused.

The human psyche possesses the capacity for transcendent experience; how it is accomplished is immaterial. Emptying, filling, worshipping, uniting, affirming, negating — all these can work. If we can turn our normal disposition to believe there is a 'right' way, a 'true' way, the 'only' way, on its head, and understand that the only essential ingredient resides within and not outside us, we might realize a wonderful freedom from discrimination and prejudice. Indeed, this way, is a way to transcendence.

But it is still only a way. Most ways understand themselves as the way. No matter, they can still be an 'effective means'. Somehow I seem to have returned to Zhuangzi's "go along with the rightness of the present this".

Like everything I write here, this perspective arises out of my own struggles. This morning, I read some selections from Sufism, a way to which I have a deep visceral revulsion. I can't stand the sainted Rumi. "Adoring the Beloved" and “the way of love” set my teeth on edge. I confess.

Why is this so? Apart from my participation in the universal propensity to discriminate, it has to do with my history. After a profoundly transformative “Christian” experience, and the equally profound trauma of the subsequent loss of that faith, I have a deep aversion to the concept of a personal God with whom one must have a relationship. This might be compared to the reformed alcoholic’s aversion to even the innocent enjoyment of a glass of wine.

The God-ways and belief-ways are most definitely not my way. Yet my very aversion to them provides a gateway to transcendence. Here is an opportunity to understand that the fuel used to boil the water is really of no consequence as long as it gets the job done. Once again: You don’t have to get it ‘right’ to get it. This is good news indeed, since getting it right is probably not humanly possible.

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

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