Saturday, December 31, 2011

How I'm Different

Scott Bradley

The other day Ta-Wan sent me a piece by Tony Parsons, a spiritual teacher, asking me whether I thought our messages are basically the same. After reading it I, replied that they are. In fact, I realized that I had read something by Tony several years ago. He is, if my memory serves me, the guy about whom I have previously alluded as having been 'awakened' while walking in the park.

What I failed to mention to Ta-Wan in my reply was how our messages are fundamentally different. The difference is that Tony is speaking out of experience and I am speaking out of my mind, or through my hat, as some might put it. That's a big difference. He knows what he's talking about; I do not.

But don't think this will shut me up. No way!

I find it curious that an intellectually derived way of understanding the world and an experiential one can so easily converge on one level and yet be worlds apart on another. Of course nothing is as clear cut as the mind would make it. Tony thinks and draws conclusions about his experience. I experience stuff, too. Yet there is that one experience, the utterly transforming one, that makes all the difference.

So, here's Tony with the message and the experience; where does this leave me? Should I become his disciple, fly to Britain and attend his seminar? And then...? I think not. The problem is that though Tony can perhaps give me the message a little bit more clearly, he cannot give me the experience. I want to write him and say, Hey Tony, I get it; so how do I make it a transformative experience? But I know that Tony cannot answer that question. And that's the only one that I need answered.

This leads me to the meat of what I wish to say here. There are many out there who have had the transformative experience to which I (admittedly) aspire. And though they can point in helpful ways to what that experience entails, they cannot drag, push or instruct anyone through the gate. We are all left with our own particular pilgrimages; we must each one find his or her own way.

So, I will expose myself more to Tony's words; because they are good words. But this particular adventure — my adventure — with its quirks and failings, ups and downs, promising leads and obvious dead ends, will go on; because it must.

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


  1. Perhaps the only thing beyond proving it to yourself intellectually is to drop the need to prove it to anyone.

  2. I have noticed a temptation among some to consider an experiential approach as superior to the intellectual path, and vice versa. (I'm referring to philosophy and religion in general, not just to Taoism.) Perhaps it is better to realize that each person comes to their understanding by different methods for a reason. One path does not work for all people, though we certainly should be in communication with one another, sharing what we have discovered or attained. After all, we are not competing to see who can get to the mountain top first.

  3. First of all, I very much appreciate your raw candor. I then must apologize for even suggesting any thoughts to consider as I am only shooting arrows in the dark. I mean that with all my heart.

    There are a couple of thoughts that float to my mind. One is that you mention that there is a big difference from a stand-alone intellectual understanding compared to an experience and an explanation of that experience. I agree that the search is not an intellectual pursuit. You can't get enlightened by going to a college of enlightenment and hitting the academic books hard.

    A question to consider is, is that what you are doing? If you are, why not just stop doing that? Stop studying and reading all spiritual books. I can't remember who said this but consider, "If You Keep Doing the Same Thing, You’ll Keep Getting the Same Result". Continue on with your pilgrimage but with a different approach. Let go of what you have been doing and stand butt naked in front of the universe. Let go of everything that Scott has done to pursue enlightenment and just sit with silence, day, after day, after day. Work with the unclutteness of silence and see what you discover. And while you are sitting and working with silence, shit out everything you think you know. Shit out all your barriers to experience.

    Like I said, I am just shooting an arrow in the dark. I do think though, that if something is not working then trying something else is a good option. Throw a change-up at yourself. Maybe even consider my last post about doing what you fear to do.

  4. I am not afraid of going out on a limb here, but I have listened to some of Tony Parsons's velvet mercury rants, and I think he is an annoying fraud who has gathered a following, but leaves me with a "so what?" response. So he had some "direct experience" that has revealed some truth (which has little do do with the Taoism that interests me) that he can $ell to other people who are mentally and morally confused and at-sea. (The market is huge.) I see it as no different than a $weet-talking Jesus-preaching evangelist. You can hang your own worldview or paradigm on another's (unverifiable) direct experience if you want. But I won't.

    I don't know who Joy is, but I assume Joy is a woman. It is nice to have another woman's voice here now and then, if only to tell the boys to stop this silliness and go clean up their rooms. (Although I think Shawn's is in pretty good shape.)

  5. Yes, I am female. We need to keep an even keel around the Rambling Taoist ship.

    I was going to comment further on the subject at hand, but instead was inspired to dig out my DVD of "Holy Man" with Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum. I've just finished watching it. What an experience.


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