Saturday, April 14, 2018

noodling in the wubba-wubba

Reading an interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli, I found myself slip-sliding into that desperate, wubba-wubba universe in which a mother might reach for a child just outside her ability as her baby was threatened by consuming flames. The attempt will never succeed and the sorrow is beyond screaming.

And so it is, I think, when an adventurer sallies forth and tries to nail down the meaning and essence of things while trying to hold on to a reassuring sense of self ... of the one doing the nailing down. I want to know AND I want my hitherto-assured footing. But in a universe where science is poetry is mathematics is Greek chorus is religion is door handle is daisy is sad is joyful is short is out of breath ... in a universe were everything is everything else, so to speak, the baby will die and the flames have no owners. The adventurer recoils and yet, somehow, must press on. Press on and die in an attempt to live.

Anyone who has adventured far knows the almost-paralyzing fear: How can I know when knowing dislodges or eradicates what knowing is? And yet knowing is the only recourse I know. In kitsch-intellectual speak, some will quote Gautama's response when he was asked for the meaning (of Buddhism or essence or whatever) and he is said to have replied (summoning all of his powers), "It's not intellectual." Quotes, of course, are a function of intellect, so relying on Gautama's quote is Pablum for those who gum their food.

No matter that the 'wise' are unanimous: "It's not hard -- just step off the cliff."

In Zen Buddhism, there is a bit of poetry that goes:
There is a reality even prior to heaven and earth;
...It has no form, much less a name;
Eyes fail to see it; it has no voice for ears to detect;
To call it Mind or Buddha violates its nature,
For it then becomes like a visionary flower in the air....
Leaving "Buddhism" out of it, there is the same problem that afflicts all adventurers -- the ravening fear that would do anything to preserve what was while asserting what is. No matter how often the attempt is made, no matter how beseechingly uttered, the answer comes back the same: "No." There is no manipulating, no ownership, no healing or annealing.

What then when the screams of fear are banked? How can anyone know God and claim God at once? Serious adventurers are serious. Others may call them twisted and daft.

But is there more than stepping off the cliff provided ... letting God alone? letting the physics and door knobs alone? answering without so much as a primal scream?

True, things may glow, but the fire is, after all, self-consuming.


1 comment:

  1. It's akin to saying, "Adam you are a jerk". Yet, for that matters to me, Adam is one of the best jerks that I would label BFF this life.