Yesterday, I was emailing with Janet, a retired psychiatrist who really, really doesn't like religion and seems to enjoy telling me so because she knows I won't take her quite reasonable assertions lying down. Anyway, we were emailing yesterday. And I was writing whatever I was writing without much attention. But one of her missives reconfigured my somewhat blase approach.
She wrote: "Thanks, Adam. Loved your comments on bullshit. I think I’ll steal them." It really hadn't occurred to me that what I was saying was particularly novel or worth stealing. In fact, most of it struck me as having the savor of day-old bubble gum. But she seemed to find what I was saying useful or juicy or something and so I thought I'd copy the comments here and override my own sense of prosaic d'oh:
.I have a bright friend, Stuart Lachs, who has made a pretty good cottage industry out of debunking the hagiography rampant in Zen Buddhism. He takes things apart both historically and as a means of saying what Zen Buddhism is not. He's quite good at it and I enjoy writing to tell him how much I have liked something he wrote. This fan mail often provokes a batting back and forth of one of the few bones I have to pick with him: His argument is, roughly, cut the bullshit. My question is, what format, of whatever sort, is not bullshit in the end? Don't we all use limited means (bullshit in one sense) to access a wider understanding? Does the bullshit anyone chooses guarantee a wider understanding? Not necessarily ... not everyone who walks out of a shrink's office is necessarily saner or more at peace. Ditto spiritual endeavor. And perhaps the person making the effort is actually worse off. It's a crap shoot, but as long as there is a sense that life is somehow painful or unsatisfactory, I can imagine human beings giving one thing or another a shot ... some bullshit that will, with luck, get them out of the bullshit.