Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Einstein, Bill Gates, and the Buddha

SKS stalwart Ken Felder gave his "Einstein, Bill Gates, and the Buddha" last night at UNC. It had been a long time since I had heard Kenny speak publically -- I had forgotten how much fun it can be.

One idea that Kenny brought out that seemed new to me was one of his (several) pocket-definitions of spirituality: "Spirituality is the complete retreat from faith. By faith I mean believing in anything without a reason for believing it [what Ken Wilber would call "without any validity claims"]. Faith means that you don't believe in a God just because you want very much for a God to be there. It doesn't mean not believing in a God just because you don't want to be bothered with having to find out whether their is a God or not. Blind belief and blind disbelief are equally lazy. Maybe there is a God, and maybe there isn't -- find out. That is spirituality."

Usually I am exhorting people to articulate their philosophies and their beliefs, because all too often they are hazy and vague and poorly defined, and its hard to be true to values that are poorly defined. But Kenny kind of flipped that on its head -- it's relatively easy to stake out a particular dogma and deploy your intellectual defenses around it. It's much harder to live in a state of suspension of beliefs, insisting on Truth instead of opinions. Perhaps that's the meaning of the Zen saying: "Only cease to cherish opinions."

I find myself much more in that state these days. On the one hand, I care much more about the spiritual path than I have for a long time. On the other hand, I have far fewer opinions about what that path is necessarily going to look like. I don't feel very sure about the purpose my life, or the purpose of Life in general, or what's going to happen to me when I die. And yet that seems like a movement in the right direction. I remember Fleet Maul once said: "Spirituality is becoming more and more comfortable with less and less ground to stand on." It isn't really what I was looking to find, but Emptiness seems to be where I'm winding up.


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