One of my pet peeves is how often I hear, "Brian, you think too much!" Almost always I'm told this by a true believer (generally in Sant Mat, my previous faith) who is using his or her mind to express that thought.
So obviously that person isn't opposed to thinking, because they're doing it when they tell me "You think too much." What they really are saying is that they don't like what I'm thinking.
Which, when expressed in a Church of the Churchless blog post, often has to do with the futility of religious believing. Those beliefs, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Sant Mat'ish, or whatever, are thoughts.
Thus actually I spend a good part of my blogging life urging people, "Don't think so much!"
About what can't be thought, at least -- a category that includes concepts involving God, existence, being, consciousness, oneness, and other notions pointing at the ultimate.
By "ultimate," I mean something that can't be divided up. Rock bottom reality, if you like. It isn't possible to stand outside of it and point toward it with a meaningful thought.
If you do, your pointing is in the wrong direction.
You can't think about your thinking, because what you're doing is your thinking.
You can't be conscious of consciousness, since you can't be aware outside of consciousness.
You can't exist separate from existence, given that existing and existence are one.
This is simple stuff. Mysticism 101.
And believe me, I'm well acquainted with that course of study. I've dived deep into the teachings of Rumi, Eckhart, Plotinus, Kabir, St. John of the Cross, Ramana, Zen masters, and many others.
They all say, in one fashion or another, that whatever ultimate reality is, there's no way to it. No path. No technique. No method.
How could there be? It's ultimate reality. It's what is. It's what we and everything else in existence are.
"Closer than your jugular vein." "Right beneath your feet." "The light with which you're searching is what you seek." "Chop wood, carry water."
There's lots of ways to express how close at hand -- so close, there's no place to go -- ultimate reality is. Yet somehow we keep missing it.
Because we're looking for it. And it can't be seen.
Alan Watts expresses this nicely in his "Become What You Are." He speaks of Tao. But he might as well say "God," "Final Truth," "Meaning of Life" or any other synonym for the way things really are.
There is no way, no method, no technique which you or I can use to come into accord with the Tao, the Way of Nature, because every how, every method implies a goal. And we cannot make the Tao a goal any more than we can aim an arrow at itself.
If we once get into the tangled state of the arrow which is trying to shoot itself, the self trying to change itself, we can't do anything to stop it. So long as we think or feel that perhaps we can stop it, that there is some way, violent or subtle, difficult or easy, to make ourselves unselfish, the contradiction will continue or get worse.
...We cannot find release until we have known the real extremity of our situation, and see that all striving for spiritual ideals is completely futile -- since the very seeking thrusts them away.
...Of course, this doesn't mean that a Taoist comes to the table without expecting dinner, or gets on a bus to go nowhere special. I am talking of results in the moral and spiritual sphere -- such things as goodness, peace of mind, sanity, happiness, personality, courage, and so forth.
...The goal in question was some sort of image, some mental picture, some vague feeling, of an ideal, of a state in accord with the Tao, of harmony with the Way of Nature. But it was precisely in relation to such notions and ideals that Lao Tzu said: "Get rid of knowledge; eject wisdom, and the people will be benefited a hundredfold."
He was talking about supposed knowledge of what the ideal way of life is. As I said at the beginning, there is simply no way of knowing what the Tao is. If we cannot possibly define the Tao, we certainly cannot define what it is to be in harmony with the Tao. We have simply no idea of what the goal ought to be.
If then, we act, or refrain from action, with a result in mind -- that result is not the Tao.
...Now this is an immensely important discovery. For it means that I have found out what I, what my ego, actually is -- a result-seeking mechanism. Such a mechanism is a rather a useful gadget when the results in question are things like food or shelter for the organism.
But when the results which the mechanism seeks are not external objects but states of itself, such as happiness, the mechanism is all clutched up. It is trying to lift itself up by its own bootstraps. It is working purposefully, as it must, but to no purpose.
It is looking for results in terms of itself. It wants to get results from the process of looking for results. This is a hopelessly and wildly fouled-up feedback mechanism. There is, however, just this one possibility.
It can realize the whole round circuit of the trap in which it lies. It can see the entire futility and self-contradiction of its position. And it can see that it can do nothing whatsoever to get itself out of it. And this realization of "I can do nothing" is precisely mui.
One has mysteriously succeeded in doing nothing.