Thursday, May 31, 2012

Loving What Is

Scott Bradley

Loving What Is is the title of a book by Byron Katie. The title alone sums up the practical side of not only her philosophy, but that of philosophical Daoism. "What is" is reality. And Katie calls herself "a lover of reality".

I have used the lower case, "reality", but I might just as well have written it "Reality". Lower case reality is Reality. Dao is what happens. Though Dao may be Nameless, it is also the Mother of the Named, and these "two", according to the Laozi, are "the same". If we would "Walk Two Roads", both aspects of the Totality must inform us. Daoism is not a flight from reality, but an encounter with Reality facilitated by our acceptance of reality.

Failing of this, we suffer. But that, too, is reality. Our apparent reality is full of good times, as well as suffering, but they have no discernable foundation and thus must ultimately succumb to suffering. Kierkegaard likened this precarious condition to sewing without having put a knot at the end of the thread; however elaborate our creations, they all unravel even as we sew.

We are the cause of our own suffering. If someone hurts our feelings, we are the cause of the hurt, not someone else. It is how we respond to reality (someone else's unkindness) that causes the hurt; that same unkindness could also be an impetus to joy. If this seems counter-intuitive and ass-backwards, good — we have found a place of traction by which to overturn what passes for normalcy. Everything is ultimately a matter of how we choose to interpret it.

Katie focuses on belief in our thoughts as the cause of this suffering. I believe someone has hurt me, because I believe there is a 'me' to be hurt, that words can hurt, that whatever they said cannot be true (because it hurts), that if it is true, it is more than I can face, etc. She would have us examine our thoughts so as to develop new, non-suffering thoughts. It's never a question of trying to eliminate thoughts, just to bring them into accord with reality.

Ah, but what is reality? It is Reality. And this we have, hopefully, experienced as Good; we have said Yes to what is, affirmed the Totality, "abandoned" ourselves to "the Vastness at the root of things". In the context of Dao, how could anything harm us? How could anything fail to be a teacher leading us further into the release of acceptance?

This unnecessary suffering is a near universal reality of human experience. This, too, is Dao. Dao is what is. And what” is” is what happens. Shit also happens. Dao did not "do" it, so it would be ridiculous to "blame" it. I'm all for calling Dao "God", only before we can do so we must put a holly stake through "his" heart, or at least through the heart of our "discriminating consciousness" which thinks only in terms of right and wrong, cause and effect, me and other. Failing of this, we suffer. So what? So, we suffer. Only, if we can realize this manifestation of Dao, we can experience another, peace and joy. In either case, nothing was ever required of us; there are no conditions which must be met to be who and what we are (sufferer or joyous one), which can only and always be Dao.

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

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