Thursday, September 29, 2011

Anonymous 3A

Anonymous 3A
a response from Scott Bradley

Someone anonymous has asked whether the statement "The surest sign of un-taoish-ness is pointing out the un-taoish-ness of others" is not itself un-taoish in that it points to what is un-taoish in others. I would like to respond.

The context of this statement was, as I remember it, an attempt to express the implications of the teaching of a Zen master. It did not, in fact, point at any 'other'. Nor was it intended to do so. Nor was its purpose to provide a measure by which to judge the taoish-ness of others. Its purpose was to provide us, each one individually, with a measure for personal inquiry. I cannot speak for others, but my task is to understand myself so as to better facilitate personal growth. Not only is the judgment of others a distraction relative to this task, it is also an active means of avoiding that task. As one of my latest mantras says: Every problem I have with others is really my problem.

I am assuming that most of you, if you are reading all this ridiculous talk of taoish-ness and un-taoish-ness, are also in some way engaged in this same task. There is a long queue of these posts already written and among them are many which address this issue, so I will not further elaborate my opinions on the subject here.

I would, however, like to address Anonymous (Shawn) in a more direct way. When re-reading the aforementioned statement I see no exhortation to the judgment of others. This does not mean that it could not be used to do so. And it is this fact that I think you may have imported to the discussion. Perhaps you have arrived with a predisposition to find fault and a preconception that statements such as this are necessarily self-condemning.

It is as if, having entered a kitchen and seeing a knife, you ask if it is not a lethal weapon. Well, yes, it could be ...but that is not its intended purpose. Why would one bring it up? I realize that you did not actually say this statement was self-condemning (that it is itself un-taoish), but only implied by your question that it might be. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the question arises out of the aforementioned predisposition and preconception. Did this positively add to the discussion? Yes, if we let it.

This post has a companion (Anonymous 3B) which I hope you will likewise read, if you have read this.

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

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you are right in one sense your statement within itself does not "directly" judge someone but it is a loaded gun, not just an innocent knife in a kitchen. But what is it loaded with? Put all statements into a test tube for a more complete evaluation. Is the statement found in Beyond Good and Evil, "Some monastery. Some monks. It sounds more like kindergarten" a direct judgement of the un-taoish-ness of others? I am sure I could find many more judgemental statements that sneak by right underneath every ones nose. But that is not that real point of my inquiry and questioning. I know that Jesus said judge not least ye be judged, but I think that is like asking a barking dog to stop barking. We do judge whether we will admit it or not. Judging in itself is similar to your analogy about a knife in the kitchen. It has proper use and improper use. It is not unholy within itself. I do agree with you and know first hand that judging can be a means of avoidance but avoidance comes to us in many forms. Digging deeper along, do you think what you really are after is that you personally do not want to get judged? This golden rule is a one way street under the guise of teaching do not judge? I don't know. I am just asking. Did this positively add to the discussion? Yes, if we let it.




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