Sunday, March 12, 2017

"insufferable credulity"

Since retiring in 2009, I have found myself sorting through the past and quietly trying to figure out how to leave less mess when I die. I don't worry too much about furniture and the like -- let push come to shove and most of it can be burnt. I can't do much about the sorrows others might feel, though if I could, I would. And then there are the thought processes I would like to dust off and align somehow and chief among those of late....

When I first took an interest in spiritual life, I was peeing in my pants to be included in the spiritual-life realm -- to be a 'real' Hindu or Buddhist or whoever-all-else who had bona fides. I wanted to join. I wanted to be counted-among ... and I had no clue how to do it. If I made donations, maybe? If I went to centers, maybe? If I read a lot of books, maybe?  If I hung out with those who seemed to be anointed already, maybe? Oh, I felt like an orphan in a world where everyone else had a family.

How the hell did anyone sign on?

Well, signing on worked itself out.

But what does anyone do when it comes time to sign off? Seriously, isn't there an unwritten quid pro quo in spiritual (or any other) life: If you can sign on, you have to know how to sign off ... because if you don't know how to sign off, you have never adequately signed on.

But that doesn't mean the uncoupling (so to speak) is smooth or simple. Looking back -- now and again, I busted my chops. Now and again I wept. Now and again the skies parted ... only to close again. Now and again I simply could not think of anything more relevant or important .... spiritual wisdom or ignorance or attachment or revulsion or whatever it was stuck all over me for 40 or 50 years. But what payback, what scent, what height and weight will be relinquished in death? Continuing to bask and hold on to spiritual interests is antithetical to spiritual interests, to the extent they are taken seriously. So... what then....? What divestiture awaits or insists? How do you get out of what must be gotten out of with the same insistence that once was applied to getting in?

And yesterday, what occurred to me as the universal solvent came visiting:


Every human being deserves and is compelled to drown in some insufferable credulity. 
Insufferable credulity is what makes individuals interesting in both positive and negative senses. Humanist, creationist, intellectual, dumbkopf, carpenter, writer, millennial, octogenarian, well read, Bible thumper, musician, horndog, policy wonk, miser, Ted talker, self-immolator, stamp collector ...

Just big and juicy and up to the armpits. Secret or open. It's all the same ... the importance of insufferable credulity...the stuff that makes stuff interesting ... and horrific.

That the individual will grow into
And grow out of
For the benefit of self
And the benefit of others.
It's the ketchup on an otherwise dumb-ass hamburger.

Interested in spiritual life ... insufferable credulity.
Weaned from spiritual life ... insufferable credulity.

So that eventually being insufferable -- being interesting -- requires too much energy. It is acceptable not to be credulous and thereby -- hallelujah! -- not to be insufferable.


  1. Somewhere in earlier Western Zen Buddhist Literature I read that Enlightenment Required Great Faith and Great Effort. I also read that a byproduct of Great Faith was Great Doubt (AKA Insufferable Credulity?) So, somehow Even Greater Faith and Even Great Effort was Required Before Enlightenment.

    Logically, simply because now your great doubt is stronger than your faith does not mean your original faith was wrong. The problem is with the presumption of requirement of faith in the first place.

    You're not alone. Even Great Spiritual Persons got tired and lazy as they aged. But not all.

  2. Munchkin -- Thanks for taking the time. Perhaps you will consider -- not agree, just consider -- the possibility that "tired" and "lazy" are words for those who imagine effort is a necessity either to being alive or to being 'enlightened.'

    For example, just try to be alive right now ... right now. How's that working out for you? It's kind of hard to be what you already are, don't you think? Of course lazy farts like me -- the one's labeled "in doubt" -- may be lazy and in doubt or, perhaps it's just easier to be what they are and stop fiddling with things like "Zen."

    Just suggesting.

    1. Point taken.
      Considered and rejected.
      Best Regards

  3. Reminds me of a sentence "the hard part is not getting to the top, but staying on top", not reaching enlightenment, but staying and being enlightened.

    It's a constant effort and - yes - a tiresome effort. Even if it gets somewhat easier over time to sustain our own awareness high up in the skies, still it demands an effort, one that is constantly challenged by outside forces and circumstances.

    My view is that the "signing off" or - as the above op commented - tiredness and laziness of the elders is a way of finding a better balance between the internal and external demands.

    Signing on and staying on top is like "here's the rope and I'm holding it for you", the signing off like subtlety hinting at the existence of a rope, perhaps without even talking about it and merely through our way of doing things.

    We may not shine as bright as we once did, but there is still some flickering of light.

    And my guess is that although the flickering might not atract or impact as many people or as strongly as the shinning once did, it still as a subtle effect, perhaps even warmer and easier on those that cross our path. Like using the backdoor to people's minds, without even thinking of doing it, instead of kicking the front door.

    It demands less effort, like keeping the embers warm, instead of constantly feeding a fire with wood.

    My guess is that - ultimately - that is where we'd all rather be and that it is only the cold winter outside that pushes us to go the extra mile and keep feeding the fire.

    And my guess is that, at some point, we tend to feel like "I've done a fair amount of feeding the fire, now let someone else take the lead".

    Now I'll just flicker, like embers on a cozy and intimate fireplace. It may not do much for the bigger world, but it's still flickering light... Not flying high awareness, not far reaching light, but a more tranquil gliding awareness, still higher that when we "signed on" and light enough for those that come close enough.

    Just my two cents, kind of how I feel about the whole matter these days...

    1. p.s. I just read your response and with regards to the illusion of effort required to being 'enlightned' , first I have to say that I've grown a distaste for the word, but that I do feel that awareness or attention do require some effort, even if practice makes it easier and more natural.

      I take your point that if it requires a lot of effort, there's probably something missing... or missed out. I can see why you suggest it should be more natural and effortless, but I do honestly wander if, in a world so full of confusion and illusion, from fake news to hidden agendas and emotions running high, it isn't somewhat wishful thinking that attention can be effortless...

      As I said, I can see that experience and practice makes it easier, but effortless? I dunno... I'd have to take your word on that.

  4. Just watched the movie Captain Fantastic. Funny drama, kind of sums up this theme quite well I thought, even if not directly.