Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Xin-Xin Ming XIII: Affirmation

Scott Bradley

When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude, your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another you will never know Oneness. Those who do not live in the Single Way cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.
The Bible tells us, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I can only agree. Only I would add that he is also a fool who says there is one; though if one were attached to neither assertion, she would not be inclined to denigrate either.

Atheism is as much a belief as theism. Both are assertions and denials. It may, however, be possible to lean to one without the denial of the other; it is a question of open- or closed-mindedness. Agnosticism, "not-knowing", leaves the question open while not passing judgment on those for whom it is not. But this is not the passive agnosticism of the disengaged. This is an agnosticism that sees itself as a 'skillful means' whereby one might open him- or herself to a reality beyond knowing.

There is belief and there is disbelief. Both are assertions, positive or negative. Both are decisive in their choice of content. Then there is doubt. Doubt, in this context, is openness. It attaches to neither extreme, but opens itself to the mystical possibility without the need of either assertion or denial.

There is assertion; something is so. There is denial; something is not so. Then there is affirmation; whether things are so or not so is of no consequence; however they are, they are affirmed.

"All things," Zhuangzi tells us, "are acceptable." Is this an assertion? Yes; but he also tells us that "All things are unacceptable." Where acceptable and unacceptable are decisive assertions of preference, they are but the extremes of the discriminating mind. Where both are understood as the assertion of preference, there is the possibility of the inclusive affirmation of both.

All things are affirmable by virtue of their being so, without the need of even knowing what is "so". Where there is Oneness, there is all-inclusive affirmation. Yes.

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