Wednesday, November 16, 2011


by Scott Bradley

When I was in graduate school I had a prof who began to complete my sentences for me by interjecting the little word "but". I always saw the exceptions and the qualifying hypotheticals. I was a dialectian, believing that one must oppose every thesis with an antithesis so as to arrive at synthesis. The problem with this method, of course, is that it never stops; a synthesis becomes a thesis opposed by an antithesis.... This is not how we actually live, however. We are required to make decisions and cast our lot this way or that. This applies not only to whether to marry this one or not, but also to what's for breakfast.

In a previous post, I closed by suggesting that if we choose to always dwell on the qualifying ramifications of a 'teaching', then we will never actually live it. There are no words which do not invite debate. Nor are there any words which do more than approximate reality. As I have often said, life does not reduce to logic and reason. This tree will never be a "tree", but only what it uniquely is, whatever that is.

When the literature says the sage transcends right and wrong, objections immediately pop up like mushrooms. How could civilization continue with such an antinomian view!? Someone suggests pedophiles will rejoice to hear it. Arguments can and have been made to answer these concerns, but they cannot answer the fundamental desire to say "but". Only personal experience can do that. Only living something can free it from the ever-opposing-mind.

Zhuangzi tells us to let ourselves be carried along by things. How can we be so completely passive? If we are sick, did we take preventive measures? Shouldn't we do what is necessary to get better? Objections and the answering qualifications are unending if we allow them to be. But they are never the experiencing of the freedom of allowing ourselves to be carried along by things.

Yes...but, would you have us just uncritically try and experience every supposed 'teaching'? No...but...

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

1 comment:

  1. "the freedom of allowing ourselves to be carried along by things."

    This seems to dovetail for discussion nicely with the issues raised in Ta-Wan's recent "Have You Ever Done a Thing?" post.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.