I’ve been getting into Zen.
I love how merciless it is.
No belief in anything.
And I’m a pretty big fan of mystical ideas. Talk to me for about 10 minutes and you are apt to get an earfull of crap about alternate dimensions and lucid dreams and reincarnation. Sorry, I just like that stuff!
But Zen has no time for that. Literally: NO TIME.
If there is no time, then your sole reality is right here this second. And any reality you give to say, Dimension X, is attention you are stealing from what’s in front of you. Dimension X is “alive” as a subjective thought in your head. Maybe it’s a memory trace, because, who knows, maybe you did visit such a dimension last night. Zen isn’t concerned with saying that such a place doesn’t exist…it’s rather saying that it’s not important if it does have a physical existence or not because you aren’t there.
If you persist in thinking about stuff like this, then you have to reflect back on yourself: why is it so important to you to believe in another transcending existence beyond this one?
Is there a chance it’s just another way to avoid the present? Could it be that it’s a lot like Christians who pine dolefully for a glorious heaven when this world of tears is finished?
I’ve asked myself these questions, and concluded that this really is part of it for me. That I get “bored” with regular existence, and want to speculate about some better place. Places with more freedom or adventure.
The hilarious thing is that while I’m thinking that way, my current reality is being leeched of interest and adventure.
So. I’ve got my fantasies. I even believe I’ve seen some things. And those things started the journey for me into philosophy and eventually Zen.
But ideas only point to truth, they are not truth. We have to see beyond all of them. Sometimes that means forcefully discarding ideas, ruthlessly eliminating them from your perspective. At least, don’t allow yourself to take refuge in any idea that has the effect of removing you from the world.
If the world looks boring, then you are boring. Think about why that is. Don’t give yourself a bone that distracts you.
In Zen, all intellectual questions perambulate around the self. Ultimately, you’ll come home to the question of why are you interested in this toy? How does it serve you to apply a Spenglerian analysis to western civilization? Why is it so important? In my case I’d like to predict where we are going. I find that fun, but more unsettling, I think I like to stand in judgment of vast groaning oceans of peoples. Ha! I remove myself from that group and stand at a perch where everything is so clear. This kind of analysis usually paints a very dim picture. Taking it in, you will be sapped of the energy to fight the slide into dystopia, because after all, it’s just an algebra applied to vast and inchoate forces that arise “naturally” from a giant chess game of self-interested factions.
The thing is - what value is there in “knowing” the “end game” of a civilization? Will you start stocking up on beans a few years before the others? Is it for the satisfaction of saying “I told you so,” around some apocalyptic campfire, passing on stories of the old days to the new primitives? You’d think with all the time I spent reading and thinking about that kind of stuff I’d have some argument ready at hand.
But no. I simply wasted a lot of time.
Another thing I like is the idea that it doesn’t matter how slow you move towards a better, simpler place, as long as there is some tiny movement you’ll get there. A tiny improvement every day is actually a vaulting success, considering that we usually learn to run ever more quickly from the present moment.
It also doesn’t matter in how benighted a place you start. You are simply more motivated to move from hell than heck.
I’ll trail off here…