Monday, September 8, 2008

The Unsatisfactory Nature of Non-Committal Dullness, Part 2

Perhaps the persistently non-committal person is just so. Bound by anxiety, perhaps, or insecurity. Maybe flooded with doubt. Able to dimly perceive the greater choices of life but not to partake in them. Perhaps thinking they are safe in their excessive restraint, not only from themselves but from the consequences of a wrong choice, they are instead among the damned. They are living less-than-adequate lives rotten with spoiled potential, producing the bittersweet fragrance of regret which they must be careful to avoid by distraction with the petty concerns of their puny lives. They mistake their pain and torment for the natural way of the world, uncomplicated by greater concerns and unadorned by true sorrow and true joy. So it may be that I am among this crowd. While I admire those who are genuinely open to a more personal, amazing, and compelling view of the universe that is typified by the more "spiritual and religious" types, who regard the unknown as a sacred mystery, and while intellectually I am a firm post-theist, my heart seems to be stuck in the shallowness of the non-committal agnostic atheist. Not because of the appeal of atheism, but because of the default choicelessness of agnosticism. So along with other folk who share this lack of conviction, deep down if you look long and hard enough you simply find an unsatisfactory dullness.

So ended the first post on this topic. I suppose it sounds somewhat dreary and pessimistic, but perhaps it is also a sign of impending change.

When something finally causes the inadequacy of an old way of seeing the world to rise from annoying background noise to the level of pressing distraction, it may then finally become an unbearable dissatisfaction. Perhaps it is the unavoidable urgency of such a growing dissatisfaction that acts as a necessary source of energy for such a transformation with an ideal (or perhaps even a set) acting as catalyst. Or maybe some triggering experience or encounter serves as the catalyst. Maybe the two are complimentary. In this way the recognition of suffering drives out complacency, shames non-committal tendencies, and replaces the dullness of the miserable vanity world with starker contrasts of pain and pleasure. No longer detached in the unhealthy psychological sense, one is actually able to walk a path that takes as a starting place a real presence and participation in life. That is, how can you transcend the world of birth and death if you are living removed from it? If you are not in touch with it? In this, some may be like one who is in too deep of a haze or fog to even be able to dream, let alone to wake up from that dream.

How can you pass beyond the realm of birth and death when you care nothing for it? Or when your heart is so removed from it. It is similar to the Buddhist parable about the four kinds of horses, one of those parables that became so popular in the U.S.A. it inspired the name of a Buddhist website that has its own feature in an English-language Buddhist magazine. The first runs ("seeks liberation") when it merely sees the shadow of the whip ("when one hears the about the sacred path leading to the transcendence/ transformation of suffering"). The next runs when the whip touches its skin ("when one recognizes/empathizes with suffering in the lives of others"). The next runs when the whip digs into its flesh ("when one recognizes/empathizes with the suffering of others only when they are dear friends or close relatives"). The last kind only runs after repeated lashings ("when one is personally confronted by some great loss, severe illness, or impending death"). I am not just "the worst horse" type, I am at the frickin' back of the pack. Karma is still beating the body of my last incarnation just out of sheer frustration.

The Christian tradition recognized something akin to this as well:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.

Revelations 3:15-18

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Everything but spam and abusive comments are welcome. Logging in isn't necessary but if you don't then please "sign" at the end of your comment. You can choose to receive email notifications of new replies to this post for your convenience, and if you find it interesting don't forget to share it. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...