Wednesday, November 2, 2011


by Scott Bradley

"Work hard for realization in this life, or you will have regrets eternally."

This is the last of the fourteen cautions with which Wu-men concludes his Wu-men Kuan (Mumonkan; Jap.). I share it here to serve as an example of precisely the kind of religious mentality which I wish to avoid. Frankly, I can hardly conceive of a declaration more able to bind and fetter us to a life of striving and fear.

I have shared here that I have problems with negativity. Release from this bondage is one of my most immediate goals. For this reason, I am generally very much aware when negativity creeps into my writing. It does so frequently. Yet negativity is essentially an attitude, not a content. It is possible to say, This is not helpful, without it being an emotional reaction or an expression of self-other, the essential egoic exercise.

As I am sure you have noted, a great deal of what I write here is inspired by what I am currently reading. Unfortunately, most all I have had for some time only concerns Zen, which, despite my great respect for it as a skillful means, is not my way, nor in agreement with my way. I say this by way of explaining why it is that I so often speak of my disagreements with what I read. This need not be negativity. It can also help to throw light upon how there might be another way.

This having been said, I think I have learned a great deal of the 'positive' from Zen, and have attempted to share that here.

Why, one might ask, do I not instead read more of that with which I agree? I answer, Because I cannot find it. You might chuckle at this, thinking I agree with nothing, but this is not the case. It is the case, however, that it is a difficult thing indeed to find literature which is both 'spiritual' and non-religious. In a word, philosophical Taoism (that 'spirituality' which most appeals to me) is poorly represented in a world where people clamor to avoid "eternal regrets". There is also the fact that I am currently reading only what I can find in used book stores. It's time, I suppose, to buy online.

Returning to the quote with which I began, little really need be said. I offer it for your consideration. Consider how it places a yolk upon the heart. Consider what it assumes about Reality. Do we really need to fear eternity? Do we really need to strive to secure an imagined place within it? Do we need to be saved? Consider how different it is from "far and unfettered wandering" "in the vast wilds of open nowhere, our homeland of not anything at all."

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


  1. It is hard to find the books you are looking for. I've tried the same and have near stopped looking. Part of the reason I enjoyed your Chen Jen and others is your DIY approach, can't find it, write it yourself. There is certainly a buying market out there for you as there are more like you.

    The closest I got in book form to the way I think may have been "the open secret" by Tony Parsons who said repeatedly, there can't be a method, there is nothing to do besides to stop looking. He said it all very well though. Maybe you'll see that in a 2nd hand store. Try it if you do.


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