Sunday, January 8, 2012

Making a Wheel

Scott Bradley

Thirty spokes converge on a hub / but it's the emptiness / that makes the wheel work...
existence makes a thing useful / but non-existence makes it work.
(Tao Te Ching, 11; Red Pine)

We are very much like this wheel. All existence depends on the non-existence from which it arises. We are thus as much non-existent as we are existent. We share this with all things. But we also experience non-existence in an apparently unique way; it is the condition of our self-consciousness. It is because of a gap, an emptiness, that we are able to reflect upon ourselves. This mind is the origin of all dualism, because dualism is the condition of thought.

There are other ways in which to experience the world. Perhaps all dualism can somehow be transcended. But let us not disparage the uniquely human gift of reflective consciousness. There was no Fall. Let us rather embrace the totality of our human potential. Our problem with the 'understanding consciousness' is only a problem when we 'make it our [only] teacher'.

There is existence and there is non-existence, and, of course, there are no such things. Without existence there is no non-existence and...well, you know. These are only concepts; they are not reality. Red Pine (Bill Porter) tells us that these are "tantamount to yang and yin". Okay. But however helpful these concepts might be in understanding the nature of reality, they are not themselves reality. They are not things; nor are they principles if principles are construed as metaphysical realities. So I disbelieve.

We understand that we exist and consequentially that we also do not exist. Our thirty spokes meet in an empty hub and thus we think. We exist in such a way as to realize that at heart we do not exist. Wholeness requires that we discover and embrace our non-existence as well as our existence. This is essentially the Taoist vision.

This non-existence is the emptiness we feel. Existence typically flees this emptiness. Wholeness embraces it and discovers freedom therein. The egoic-self-identity is essentially this clinging to existence to the exclusion of non-existence, for it rightfully realizes that to cease to do so is its demise.

Death might be equated with non-existence, but if so, then it is also existence, for neither is without the other, though neither is, in any case. If death and life are equated with non-existence and existence, then both pairs are a 'single thread'. A single thread lies beyond what the mind can imagine, beyond life and death, beyond existence and non-existence. For want of a better word, we call it Tao.

Our conscious being in the world is typically skewed. Thus have we evolved. The 'spiritual' endeavor is an attempt to see if we can move toward a greater wholeness. It requires no metaphysics; no redemption; no golden age, past or future; no purpose; no Truth; no understanding of Reality; no god; no tao. We need only become ourselves.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

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