Monday, January 20, 2014

Jed McKenna's Theory Of Everything XI

Scott Bradley


McKenna uses a couple of cute kids as a foil to make some of his points. (I am assuming his story-line to be fictional, though it need not be, nor does it matter one way or the other.) This pair tell him they have a Zen "coin" for him: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" "I don't know," he replies; "What is the sound of two hands clapping?"

His point is a poignant one: "We don't have to be so clever about our questions that we leave our assumptions unmolested. . . . Get to the bottom of anything and you'll get to the bottom of everything. Just pick a spot and start digging." (p. 31) If we think we need koans in order to challenge our everyday interpretive reality, then we are already making an erroneous assumption. There is nothing that it is not a koan.

The "digging" is the growing awareness of our erroneous assumptions vis-a-vis our interface with experienced 'reality'. McKenna tells us that when we reach the bottom we will meet Truth and will be "Done". Benighted soul that I am, I think we will meet Mystery. (Can we meet Mystery and be Done? Probably not.) Need we contend? Not really. If what we are about is a genuine inquiry, then how could we arrive at different destinations — unless, of course, our inquiry is really just a biased justification of our a priori beliefs?

Though McKenna dismisses Mystery as merely a perpetuation of mental delusion, there is a sense in which it can overlap with his Truth; it, too, requires a crossing over, a movement from bondage to one narrow view to one that sees the narrowness of every view — only it suggests no ‘true view’.

Mystery most certainly can be merely a product of mental delusion (just like 'enlightenment'); everything is delusional — until it's not. As long as we practice not-knowing because in all our trying to know we cannot, it is just a function of "the understanding consciousness". The experience of Mystery is not a conclusion.

I speak only theoretically, of course. McKenna claims to speak from Experience. Things are clearly weighted in his favor. However you speak — or seek — or don’t seek — is your own business.

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

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