Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jed McKenna's Theory Of Everything IX

Scott Bradley

Jed McKenna's paradigm seems like a genuinely cool way to be in the world. I like it a lot. Understanding that all is consciousness, and thus that all that appears to otherwise exist is but a product of consciousness, allows for great freedom in the mix of apparent existence. He does not see it as a mere paradigm, of course, but as his living reality; he, ostensibly lives on the other side of the river. And admittedly, the paradigm itself does not liberate; one must become it.

I remain an inveterate approximator, however; it is enough, and only feasible, to make use of his offering as only a paradigm. This eliminates the need to have faith in an idea. Thus, this idea of understanding the world as merely conscious projection — that we do, in fact, make our own "reality" — can be taken as a way of being in the world without designating it as The Truth. This is, in essence, the Zhuangzian way; having the freedom to make use of the many tools available to us without clinging to any one as if to Truth.

In the end, there is much in the practical implications of this paradigm that overlap with those of philosophical Daoism. (Though again, we understand that for McKenna it's an all or nothing proposition, just as for a Christian it would not be enough to say that Jesus was a great teacher to add to our pantheon of teachers — faith in a proposition is required before we can meet God/Brahman.)

McKenna's 'method', for instance, (as best I can understand it) is to simply peel away the plethora of our erroneous assumptions until nothing is left but the bare-bones truth. This is basically what Zhuangzi was about with his "Illumination of the Obvious". Self-cultivation within the philosophical Daoist 'tradition' (there appears to have never really been much of one — alas, we are bastards without a lineage — what kind of religion could we possibly have?) is similarly a process of facing the facts of our existence. Chief among these, of course, is an understanding that Truth is not accessible to us — Zhuangzi was not about looking for or committing to Absolutes.

The whole investigation of our motivations is similarly a peeling away of those things that bind us.

There is also the idea of following the flow to which McKenna alludes, though, as I remember from his other books, this is given a purposeful, directed spin, given that he knows everything and is one with it. Perhaps he will further elucidate this further on. (For I am reviewing a book of which I have not yet read even half. So what? In a world of bullshit, is not every shovel-full the same?)

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

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