11 January 2013

Picking and Choosing When to Pick and Choose

I don't know how many times I've encountered the profound opening lines of Affirming Faith in Mind:
     The Great Way is not difficult
     For those who do not pick and choose.

     When preferences are cast aside
     The Way stands clear and undisguised.
I also don't know how many times I've heard them invoked when it comes to making a distinction between A and B or inviting a choice between x and y, as if what is being warned against here is selecting.

Selecting from a presented range of options is not a problem. There is a deep truth in the point that not all options are equally good.  If I have a nail, and I'm presented with a hammer and a saw, I will pick the hammer.  If I have a problem to solve, and there is a dharmic and an a-dharmic way of tackling it, I will pick the dharmic. If I'm in a hurry to get to work, and I have the choice between I-90 or I-80/94, I will pick I-90.  Relativism is not a dharmic view, and, yes, there is such a thing as right view vs less-than-right view.  One leads to wisdom and release; the other leads to stupidity and bondage.

What is a dharmic view is dependent co-arising.  And here the injunction against picking and choosing finds its full field of application.  The "picking and choosing" in question can only refer to wanting to cherry pick aspects of our situation we want and leave behind those we don't.  The problem is that all aspects are part and parcel of our situation, we cannot have the wanted and not the unwanted ones, and if we think we can, well, then we have set Heaven and Earth very far apart indeed.

The Way is right there.  Right there.  Nowhere else.  Not otherwise than it is.  Warts and all.  Don't waste time imagining some other somewheres, some other versions of what's right there, for in that moment, you've already pulled back.  Life's too short for pipedreams.

1 comment:

  1. When there is this, there is that. When there is not this, there is not that. Your so right when you say that "picking and choosing" is cherry picking what we want and don't want. That is the nature of craving. We want what we want and don't want what we don't want. The problem is that cause and effect is no respecter of persons. Karma gives what is, not what is wanted. Right here, right now is all we have. There is nothing else. Oops, I missed it. LOL