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Monday, March 19, 2007

Living Religion VII: Walking The Walk

[It has been three days since my last post, and nine since my last in this series. I have excuses. All of my Saturday was taken up with working the beer taps at my favourite pub for St. Patrick's Day, a wonderfully exhausting ordeal. And the political news has lately just left me buried in catching up with the analysis in other blogs. Now that that is momentarily out of the way, I shall now buckle down and tackle my final post (at least for now) in this series.]

[Some may want to catch up with parts I, II, III, IV , V and VI.]


I'd like to return to what I have coined "aporetic oscillation." What I mean to convey with that term is the condition whereby thought, after honestly and thoroughly examining the various logical constructs that can be applied to a particular problem (i.e., "feeding the poor," or the appropriate response to insult or flattery, or even the problem of "problems" in general), becomes paralyzed with confusion. This confusion is inevitable if honesty is in play, for there really is no correct "point of view" from which to proceed. Try this for yourself, on anything. It is a lot like arguing a position that you don't personally hold for a debate club, for example, except that what you want to do is keep the position you do hold in mind at the same time. By being equally faithful to all sides, you will inevitably see the folly of holding any position whatsoever.

Now this is where conventional thinking would have it that such liberalism is "woolly-headed", effectively cutting off the possibility of meaningful action. I can only respond that this is a projection of conventional thinking - it is thought imagining "what it would be like" if it were paralyzed. Do not dismiss it so summarily. If this is intellectually rejected without the actual experience, then whatever conclusions thought may make about it are uninformed conclusions.

Although this may be difficult at first, it does not, paradoxically, require "practice." What takes time and effort is the tracing and the chasing around of thought, up until the moment when the folly is fully perceived. Once that silliness ends, it is a thunderclap of instant perception.

This installment is called "Walking The Walk," and as such it is about action. Nearly everything else I have written in this series was on thought and thinking, and here I will try to get the rubber to meet the road. What is the relationship between thought and action?

There is no relationship between thought and action. Or rather - to whatever extent thought has a relationship to action, then that "action" is always reaction. It is a movement in a never-ending chain of errors, each born of un-contemplated thought. ("Un-contemplated thought" - now there's a phrase. It is an intentional redundancy, as I have held that thinking, in the conventional sense, is quite blind to its own limitations. I also hold that it is not necessary to see one's limitations - an impossibility - but only to know that they are there.)

What is action that is not reaction, that is unlinked from thinking? First of all, it certainly cannot be described, not here or anywhere. Descriptions are the stuff of language, and are all hooked up with thinking, and something which is unlinked from thinking cannot be described. But action does exist. The question here is, do we, you or I, ever "act?" If one thinks about it carefully, one can see that all the "acts" that we do are really reactions. There is a proper place for reaction, of course - if one is in the path of a speeding bus, it is entirely sane to react to that scenario. But is it reasonable, or sane, to react based on thought? Thought is entirely made up, and "actions" which spring from thought can be dangerously inappropriate to the situation-at-hand.

This is a serious matter, for all of the ills of Man, from war and assault to insult and resentment, are caused by reacting to thought, which is made up. Conventional thinking has it that one has to think "better" - come up with more informed analysis - to properly address these problems. This ignores the fact that it is thinking itself which causes the trouble, and more gasoline on the fire never works. It is only by removing this relationship and consigning "reaction" to its appropriate place - a response to events, not your head - that appropriate "action" can arise.

It is here that I can cautiously "describe" action as "reaction to events without the intervention of thought." Now those of you are playing along here on a superficial level will probably want to say that it is just stupid to not think before you act. Well, if you are already tangled in a thought-based reality then that seems pretty obvious. I can only suggest to you that you have never acted without the intervention of thought - or never noted when you did - so that whatever you imagine the consequences to be are simply, well, imagined. Stop doing that. Try putting thought in its proper place, and remove its interference with your action in the world. Yes, it will upset pretty much everything you have woven together. So see what happens when it is upset. One must be intrepid if one is to live an authentic life.

Let me put it this way. Whatever in our lives that is vulnerable to upset is sustained by the artifice of thought. What is real, balanced, and sustainable can only be come upon when we "let go" of whatever we have imagined of ourselves thus far, let go of the defenses we have elaborately constructed.

That is some trite stuff, and homilies have been around forever and have never made a difference to anyone. The reason is that, although one must "let go," one cannot simply "let go." It is not a thing for positive action. Rather, there is a "falling away" of these things, and this comes naturally when the operation of thought is removed, when a space is made for the real, the authentic to come into being.

One way of looking at the effect of this change is that one is transformed from the state of an obstacle in competition with, in the way of, all of the other obstacles out there, into being a facilitator for unimpeded being - for oneself, and for those one encounters. It is through eschewing a "center" from which one operates that one finds oneself in a constantly refreshing, restorative and authentic "center."


I'm going to close the "Living Religion" series here with the question "Why?" Why do I, personally, want "the authentic to come into being?" Why am I a "deconstructionist?" My honest answer will sound disingenuous and self-serving (in the sense of serving my propositions) without the prelude of a conventional answer. The conventional answer is that I want to be happy. But it is not the honest answer - rather, not so much dishonest as it is an unhelpful answer.

I can "want" until I am blue in the face, as it were, and we can easily see that that is exactly how one stays in the trappings of thought. Indeed, most of my life has been a frustrating lust for something called "enlightenment" or "grace." It is only in the paralysis of thought, "aporetic oscillation" - the state of grace itself - that I can honestly answer the question, and I exhort the reader to understand that I say it with all the sincerity that a human being can muster:

I do not want it. It is merely present.

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