Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Church of Pernicious Oneness Revisited

Scott Bradley

I am a congregant in three different churches.

All of them are tongue-in-cheek. None has more members than one. All of them make me smile.

My first and favorite church is The Church of Pernicious Oneness. This one makes me laugh with joy. It's so true. It has a sense of irony (for me) that cuts through to the heart of the matter. Yes! Pernicious! Yes! There is no such thing as "qualified" oneness; there either is or there is not. (And that's a fact!)

I pounced upon these words "pernicious oneness" when I found them from the pen of a certain Zen Master, recently deceased. They were innocent words attempting only to answer the fear of antinomianism to which the idea of "oneness" seems to give rise. This does not mean you can do whatever you wish, a "pernicious oneness", said he. These may be true words, but they are not a "good word". (Yes, I presume to judge; and why not?) He answered the fear of lawlessness in terms of the law; he answered as might a lawyer, not a master. "He who concerns himself with right and wrong dwells in right and wrong." If it is an issue, it is only we who make it so. And we have not known oneness, where it is neither a philosophical problem nor a moral one. The master would have done better to simply smile; the problem is no-problem for one with the awareness he was presumed to have.

Somehow The Church of Pernicious Oneness, with the help of this master's true words, pushes me a bit closer to the edge. If we really take the plunge into the implications of oneness, then we can seize upon “perniciousness” with a broad and ironic smile, knowing it for the empty stumbling-block that it is. But, given our typical “human inclinations”, it seems we must first stumble so as to be able to pick ourselves up and move further into new perspectives. And this, it seems to me, makes of stumbling a “gate”.

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

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