Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three Businesses

Scott Bradley

Byron Katie (Loving What Is) identifies "three businesses" with which every individual is obliged to relate: God, others and oneself. Of these three, only one is my business, and that, of course, is myself. Her philosophy is essentially one of self-inquiry in which it is understood that the entire onus of responsibility for one's 'spiritual' well-being, for one's peace, resides in oneself and nowhere else. To look anywhere else is to thwart the process. This, I believe, is likewise the message of Daoism generally, and Zhuangzi, especially.

"God" is not a term that Daoism would choose, but it really just stands for that over which we have no control. It is fate. It is what happens. It is the "unavoidable". This being the case, the fact that one has been born into the world, and this with certain physical, emotional and intellectual endowments, is God. Let's call it Reality, though we might also call it Dao.

Reality clearly permeates all three spheres. Much of one's personal reality is Reality in the sense that one has had no choice in its being so. We respond to these as to Dao, that is, in acceptance and thankfulness. By extension, others are similarly largely Dao, and thus we accept and affirm them as who they are. They are as I am. But we must go one step further and recognize that even where others appear to make choices which 'negatively' impact my sphere, this, for me, is also Dao. I have no control over the behavior of others and thus their actions as they impact me are my Dao. They are also the "unavoidable".

As Katie guides people through the process of self-inquiry, she constantly brings them back to their own business. Nothing external, whether it be "the way things are" or the behavior of others, need determine one's own inner peace. My peace is entirely my business and is utterly non-dependent on anything other than my own responses to the world. Blame is the antithesis of this realization. We might judge the behavior of others as inappropriate, and she does not think this inappropriate, but this need not lead us to blame. Quite to the contrary, such behavior is valued as a teacher. That guy who flipped you off yesterday? — he's your teacher. This does not require that you think his behavior appropriate, only that you stay in your own business, and not his.

One need only touch the fringe of this perspective to get a sense of its transformative power. It is, of course, much easier to blame and condemn others than to face up to our own bondage, but there is likely to be little personal growth until we truly and simply mind our own business. In the end, our reality is what we perceive it to be.

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

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