Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dishonesty III

Scott Bradley

I begin this post with no clear idea of what I want it to say; only I know that I have not yet fully explored the meaning of dishonesty as inherent to our usual way of being in the world or of the implications of the suggestion that we therefore affirm it.

There is a parallel here with our relationship to 'self'. If we can understand how self is both problematical to our enjoyment of life and yet the necessary condition for that enjoyment, we begin to see that the linear, moralistic either/or approach to our experience does not accurately address the givens of that experience. No-self, whatever it may be, is not no self. Thus, as I have previously said, Let's hear it for self. Let us not wage war against ourselves.

Similarly, though philosophical Daoism makes an appeal for a sense of psychological Oneness, it never abandons the many. One is not "better than" the many. Indeed, there would be no "One" without the many. Yet those religious philosophies that advocate the realization of the One tend to denigrate the many as if they are somehow evil, if only in being illusory. Philosophical Daoism says no such thing. All is affirmed. Thus the Laozi tells us that the incomprehensible Dao and the manifest (the "sons" of the "Mother") are the same, which to my thinking means equally affirmable.

Another way into this apparent paradox is to understand how that the human experience is inherently messy. We tend to think of ultimate Reality as 'perfect' and that we must somehow realize this in our lives. It is perfect — it is perfectly messy. And it is this that we can realize. What we realize is the perfection of things as they are (warts and all), not as we might imagine them to be or imagine how they ought to be.

Returning then to the affirmation of our inherent dishonesty, we see that our ‘affirming’ is not a moral endorsement but simply an acknowledgement of how things actually are. It is not that dishonesty is ‘okay’, but that whether okay or not it is always at work within us. We tend toward dishonesty as a coping mechanism, just as we tend toward a political point of view or ‘accept’ or ‘deny’ climate change according to our own self-interests. When we fail to acknowledge these inbuilt prejudices we tend toward dishonesty however much our opinions correspond to the ‘facts’. In the acknowledgement of this dishonesty we are able to be honest about our dishonesty, and that gives us the transcendent fulcrum, a higher point of view, by which to open up unfixedly to ourselves and others. We are better able to “follow along with the ‘rightness’ of the present ‘this’ (opinion).

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

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