Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Xin-Xin Ming VII: Shut Up?

Scott Bradley


"The more you talk and think about it, the farther you wander from the truth. So cease attachment to talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know."

I've been avoiding this one, but it's time to face the music. Needless to say, I figure I've found a way to dance out of trouble here, but that'll be for you to decide.

Words are not, nor have they ever been the problem. Like any addiction, it is not the thing attached to, but the nature of the attachment that matters. As long as words know their place, what they can and cannot do, there is no problem. It is like the understanding mind itself; finding its limits is its perfection; it's done all that it can do and understands that there may be other ways of 'knowing'.

Words only become a problem when we would have them do what they cannot do. If we believe they can encapsulate 'truth', as in a creed, we cannot go beyond them. This would be an "attachment" that would take us farther from the 'truth', which is experiential.

Seng-Ts'an spoke these words because he had no other way to communicate to the many what lies beyond words. They are the proverbial finger pointing at the moon, not the moon.

There is a time to shut up, but it is not here; for there is no other way to communicate over this distance, unless it be through art.

When Laozi wrote the famous words, "Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know", of what did he speak? He spoke of that which cannot be spoken. He pointed to Mystery, and reaffirmed that it must always remain such. And, like Zhuangzi, he understood that this is an invitation to go where words cannot go. The limitations of words are not an impenetrable barrier, but a launch pad to a fuller reality.

The reason that those who know do not speak is that there is nothing that can be said. What do they 'know'? At the least, that they cannot cognitively know Mystery; they can only open themselves into it. At the most, they have experienced an integration into Mystery which leaves them wordless.

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

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