Friday, January 11, 2013

All About Me

Scott Bradley


I have previously written that these posts are all about me. This may seem like an incredibly ego-centric perspective and the antithesis of the 'spiritually' with which it purports to deal. Yet, if you will hear me out, perhaps you will see how that it might be potentially otherwise.

Here is a tree: leaves, branches, trunk and roots. The leaves of this 'about me' are that I am working through my own response to life in a public manner. This is my philosophy, not yours. If I thought my philosophy should be yours, that would indeed be egoism. But I do not. However, just as my response to life is informed by the responses of others, so too, perhaps, might this public response help inform you as you grow your own. I am not trying to convince or convert you, but myself. This discipline of writing publically assists me in that endeavor. When it waxes the preachiest, that is when it is speaking most emphatically to me.

The branches and trunk of this 'about-me-ness' is the realization that the entirety of my response to the world is my responsibility. There is absolutely no thing nor anyone in the world who bears any responsibility for my responses apart from me. "So-and-so abused me." That's so-and-so's responsibility, not mine. My concern is how I respond. This is the central thrust of Byron Katie's 'work' — take responsibility for yourself; nothing exterior to you, nothing that happens to you, need undermine your joy. And it is also fundamental to the Daoist response to life. Nothing can be said to be the ‘cause’ of my responses; this is what it means to not allow anything to “enter my Numinous Reservoir”. "Handing it all over to the inevitable" is just this. Not sorting out apparent reality as expressed in circumstances and the behavior of others as right or wrong, but instead accepting whatever happens with equanimity, is just this. This taking of responsibility for my every response is both the most difficult thing in the world to do and the most fruitful in terms of realizing peace. One affirms all things.

The roots of this tree of 'about me-ness' are much more difficult for me to grasp, let alone discuss. The sage who has "lost himself" is, paradoxically, he who is completely and utterly self-possessed. Masters of Zen describe the satori experience as being utterly alone, the sole inhabitant of the universe. Yes, the other side of the coin is that I am all things and all things are me, but even that finds its locus here in me. “Extending de” (Ames) is the inclusion of all things encountered into my unique expression of Dao. I take them as myself. “Following along with the ‘rightness’ (acceptability) of the present ‘this’ (=whatever my interface with the world brings)”, is this same inclusion.

Needless to say, “all about me” implies that it is also true for you; for you, it is also “all about me.”

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

1 comment:

  1. Raymond Smullyan: "Most people hate egotists. They remind them of themselves. I love egotists. They remind me of me."

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