Blog entry

My Either / Or Disorder

Song of the day: Save It For Later / English Beat
Word of the day: Suspiration / 1, Sighing; a sigh. 2, Deep breathing; breath; a deep breath. (from the Latin suspiratio).

Picked up Roshi from the airport again last night. I've been really lucky to be able to take him to and from the airport twice in the last week, which means lots of one on one time in the car, and I get to pick his Big Heart-Mind about whatever I want while we drive. Last night we got onto the subject or morality in the West. He talked about how sometimes Westerners try to superimpose or blend Western morality on Zen. Zen, he said is not moral, or immoral. I was really glad to talk about it, because personally, I think I am definitely beset with confusion and delusion about this often.

When you are raised in what is basically a conventional Christian culture as I was (by conventional, I mean most of what calls itself Christianity in the West is either pre-conventional or convential world views), of course it influences very strongly how you interpret and regard morality, ethics, and so on. You might get trapped in it, or rail against it, or (often in my case) get trapped by railing against. If you clutch anything too tightly it turns into a turd. I'm paraphrasing here, but Roshi often says something to the effect of 'the worst kind of non-duality is the non-duality that thinks it's better than non-non-duality.' Which is what has characterized so much of my attempt to rest in what IS.

For better or worse, for whatever reasons, I have a real sticking point with judging things. To begin, I have a big ego, a strong personality, and a flair for drama and emphatic definitives. For someone who's supposedly a Zen practitioner, I exhibit an incredibly capacity for Judging, which is very different from Discerning. Discerning is when you're wise enough to take the pebbles out of your rice. Judging is when you go off on a crusade about the evils of pebbles. Pebbles are pebbles, they SHOULD be pebbles. Don't eat them. End of story.

This reflex I have to parse reality into categories, but worse- to assign my judgements- is not useful. My wife paints a door on our house, and I look at it and think "that's not a very good paint job. it's not precise, the borders are sloppy." It has to be a perfectly painted door, or it's not a "good" door. What fucking sort of metaphor is that for one finding their way through the Labyrinth? I have such strong opinions about things. On a good day, that's just for fun, it's just taking the ego for a drive around the block, not mistaking it for "Reality". But I have to admit, over and over again I get lost in it.

Take my recent blog where I villified Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for making advertisements for AOL through voice-overs and commercialized films. I also slammed Bruce Hornsby quite severely for making a Lowes commercial with his song "Gonna Be Some Changes Made." Really, what do I know of any of these people's lives? All I know is what I've seen on T.V. and in the movies, or read on the net. That's not shit. It gets even more hypocritical when you consider that one of the things I feel sad about in this culture is how our media (radio, t.v. especially) have become these unremitting pulpits for uninformed people with extreme opinions to spew diatribe after diatribe, all from one tiny, monocular perspective. They clench one little perspective, identify with it completely, and then assault the World endlessly with rants and tantrums. And that's exactly what I was doing with all those people. I don't know Tom Hanks, or Meg Ryan, or Julia Roberts, and... well, I've slept with Bruce Hornsby, so that's something, but you get my point. I'm not in a position to dismiss them so easily or harshly.

It's my Either / Or disorder.

This is a disorder because it's a pathological aberration in my ability to discern, and especially to simply loving embrace the mess of Life. Does morality count? Are ethics important? Yes, certainly so. Roshi is plain and direct with me about moral matters of consequence: Do not cheat on your wife, work dillegently to lovingly deal with your challenges in such areas, and then he helps me with tools to do so. But Zen is not morality. Zen is not immorality. Zen is not ethics, politics, social dynamics, psyhcology, and it is not the opposition to any of those things.

In the Absolute sense, that which IS is unborn, undying, unmade, unknowable, ever-present and immediate. Perfected at all times in all places.

In the Relative sense, the World of form evolves. The Universe issued forth from something -who knows how or what- and ever since the birth of form it has ceaselessly changed, developed, and evolved. This moment and everything included in it is a question mark sanctified by a comma ( ? , ) not an exclamation point or a period.

The problem is not me taking a perspective, or having an opinion, or a belief system, or preferences. Those are all the gifts of life. The problem is my clenching them so tight they turn into turds. It's when I identify with all the impermanent parts that it gets insane, then I have to prop it up, over and over, and defend it, and justify it, and then I have to go out in the World and try to convert others to it, and make the Reality conform to my reality. That has never, ever in the history of the Kosmos, every worked. Zen is not the Absolute, or the Relative.

A free-functioning integrated human being has options. Take the perspective of the ego? Sure. Let it go? Sure. Rest in the non-seeking mind? Let it go? Sure. Abide as the master? Sure. Let it go? OK. Be the judge, the skeptic, the wounded child, Great Doubt, or the Controller, and then have the option, the free-choice to let any of them go. Big Heart, Big Mind, or Protector, they are all aspects of one Self, and they are all our inheritance, and no particular one of them is something called "Zen". Does any "I" know what Zen is? What sort of knowing would be knowing what Zen is?

Doesn't matter if we want to say Zen or Reality, or God, or whatever. God is not either / or. Let me not kid my self that these fluxing, morphing WHISPS -phantoms, most of them- are something enduring that I can deeply trust. What will be here, where I am standing in 50,000 years? In five seconds? I have no fucking clue. I can make up all sorts of ideas, guesses, wishes, predictions, but no-one has a fucking clue.

I love and adore being a human being. It is an unbelievable gift. All of these options, these endless aspects that are given to me as options are amazing. But it won't make me a better human being to cling to them, to try and take one or two of them and concretize them as if they are permanent, or deeply enduring. They're not. It's ALL VAPOR. My life will be over in the blink of an eye, and when it ends, it will end in the present moment, which is this very moment right now, the only one that's ever existed. Have I ever had an experience in the past? In the future? Not once, ever. Even my memories of th past or only experienced in the present. My dreams of the future only arise in the present. I'm typing in the present right now, and when I die, it will be in the present. That means, this is the moment of my death.

It's not either / or. The vapors of these "identities" (ego, controller, skeptic, big heart, non-seeking self) all come and go, they have no permanent reality. AND, they are here, right now, available to me through direct experience. I don't have to try and make them something they're not -Permanent, fixed, infinite, or immortal. And I don't have to get rid of them, I'm not going to deny them, dismiss them, or belittle them because they're temporary. "Temporal" as in "time" - once you put you're foot into the stream of time, everything is impermanent, passing, being born and dying. Zen is not temporal, and Zen is not not-temporal.

Today my lesson is not to go for an either / or. Just let it be what it is, and what it isn't, and that's fine. In Love, I can act from that space of allowing spontaneously. I can engage my ego if it's useful, or fun, or let it go when it's useful or fun. Can I hear from the Master? ("YES, here I AM!!!"). Good. The master will drop off too, sometime, and all the others. I don't need this story to last forever in order to love it, appreciate it, and fully live its perfection. Things can and will be totally fucked up, and it's cool. Zen is not a story. Zen is not the absence of a story. Let's play!!

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