Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jed McKenna's Theory Of Everything XIII

Scott Bradley

I think this series is winding down despite my not having finished this book (embedded in the title above). I don't usually make 'recommendations' — I have no realized authority for doing so — but I can recommend this book for its entertainment value, if for nothing else. McKenna gives the whole enlightenment game a novel and often irreverent spin, something quite refreshing in this era of New Age spiritual syrup. His iconoclasm is both mind-opening and good for many a chuckle.

Still, though it seems very likely that he is where he says he is, his presentation leaves me (at least) flat-footed and uninspired. There are others who have had his experience, and it is my guess that they might give the whole thing a very different spin than he, and among these, perhaps there is one who does not feel obliged to tell me where my journey must lead.

McKenna has jumped in and shouts, “Come on in, the water's warm”, but he has already pissed in the pool. BYOFT, he tells us. My guess is that this means Be Your Own Fucking Teacher. This, his exhortation to "dig", and his personal testimony are his true contributions to our assisted journeys; all the rationalistic apologetics about where that journey must end are a hindrance, not a help. If he knew when to shut up, we would be better assisted to BYOFT.

McKenna invokes Socrates; his method, however, is not Socratic, but Platonic. Socrates saw himself as a spiritual midwife, and through the irony of not-knowing hoped to instill the spirit of inquiry in his companions; to his thinking this was the best and only thing he could do. Plato, on the other hand, provided the "Answer". No truly adventurous journey 'knows' where it is supposed to lead, nor can authentic inquiry begin with a priori conclusions.

I am reminded of the Zen mondo in which a bunch of masters meet at an inn. Among them is one thought to be the 'most' realized (?), but he remains in his room and has nothing to say. Another complains that he could at least, "Say one word." Hearing of this, the most-realized says, "That would be one word too many." But the cook, overhearing this, remarks, "Now there are two rat turds in the rice!" Or is it three?

Jed McKenna might have "perfect knowledge", but this does not mean that his presentation of that experience is also perfect. For my part, there are far too many rat turds in this bowl of rice for me to accept and munch; to do so would be to perform the inquiry-deadening and essentially religious act of belief.

As does Zen, McKenna exhorts us to kill our buddhas. Ironically, his is the first head we need to put on the block.

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

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