09 August 2013

I Don't Have a Dream

On se prend parfois à rêver de ce que pourrait être les cultures, la vie littéraire, l’enseignement, si tous ceux qui y participent, ayant une bonne fois rejeté les idoles, se livraient au bonheur de réfléchir ensemble … mais ce rêve n’est pas raisonnable…
I find I keep coming back to the realization that each person sees what he or she can see – and nothing further.  I've always know that on some level, I think.  When I read the above passage in grad school it struck me like a ton of bricks; I even included it in the front matter of my dissertation.  I had the same sense when I read Mumon's comment on one who has seen into mu: "You are like a mute person who has had a dream – you know it for yourself alone."  No, it really is too much to expect that there is a universal, common, known ground on which we all stand and on the basis of which we can flawlessly understand and be understood. 

Unless, of course, that basis is no-basis.  In that case, we all – every last one of us – might proceed from a position of humility, deference and non-knowing.  Best to be "greatly enlightened about delusion" than "greatly deluded about enlightenment," as Dōgen put it.  But even Dōgen was no pollyanna.  There will always be Buddhas and sentient beings, flowers will fall in attachment, and weeds will spread in aversion.

Maybe it's advancing age (I doubt it's deepening wisdom), but I have less and less interest in hearing about how this group should think this way, or that company should act that way, or this person shouldn't say those things, or that country ought to treat its people better, etc.  I'm sure people are talking about me, too!  But until I see it for myself, all their talk will be so much noise and chatter, and I'm guessing the same is true for everyone else as well.

If someone is worried that means the world isn't as perfect as it might be, I would simply suggest that it's only 2013.  If all goes well, there are many thousands of years ahead of us.  Maybe things will shift a little after a chunk of that time has passed.  


(But don't bet on it.)

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