Tuesday, May 11, 2004

on only don't know

Dear W**,

I think you are trying to make "only do not know" into non thinking.....one
can be in a state beyond thinking, the" thinking about non thinking, how do
we think of not thinking?, beyond thinking" that Dogen speaks about..this is
different then not knowing, although one would probably not know when they
were beyond thinking. I am speaking of a more simple "not knowing" that has
nothing to do with being beyond thinking...it is quite simply being aware
that you really do not know what is going on in situation as it expands
beyond your awareness, and yet here you are, and you must act (or not act) in
the place you are without really being able to understand what is going
on.....when we lack the information we feel we need to be "correct" sometimes
we hold back, or act rashly, because we do not know what to do, but the truth
is ..."we" (our concious mind) never really knows all that we need to make a
complete and correct response. We simply do not know and cannot know all the
antecedent conditions or all the consequences of our acts, even our
compassionate ones...will the person who's wounds we bind go on to kill
millions? Who knows? Will the child we walk past be the next Buddha? We do
not know...and cannot know. We can only make a response on what information
we have, and it is always incomplete. ...So rather then try and know, or wait
till we can have enough information so we can feel we know, perhaps with
just a bow to the fact that we do not know...we can take our best shot

I do not know whether vegetarianism is in fact a more compassionate way of
eating then eating meat, I do not believe anyone else "knows' either. So not
knowing allows me the freedom to look at each choice that comes to me and act
in each situation which way I think seems best at the time, to eat the
veggies in my bowl, yet be free to eat the Doctor's gift of meat for monks
he felt were lacking in proper nutrition, for my
health and the health of my fellow monks. If I "knew" vegetarianism was
"correct" then I would be hindered in this situation, and taken out of the
moment by my hinderance, If I "knew" eating meat was correct, then I might
have another reaction to my daily meals of the same vegetables over and over,
and again I would be taken out of the moment. Not knowing frees us from
being bound to our concepts, it does not mean we do not have concepts, it
just means we know that even though not eating meat might be our best guess
as to a "correct" way to eat, we are not stuck in this concept when a
situation that might challenge our thoughts or our beliefs comes up.

My computer screensaver says "So desu ka?"...Japanese (in romanji) for is that
so? This question, posed by a long ago master is for me the essence of not
knowing......when I think.....only don't know is all we need.....my
screensaver might pop up and say "Oh is that so?"

No, I do not know if "only don't know" is the best way, or the only way, or
all that anyone really needs, but it is the most freeing way I have found so
far to allow myself the ablility to be flexible and respond in any way
required to the apparent requirements of the moment. It allows me the freedom
to make a response that I hope in the end will be compassonate for both
myself and all beings in any situation I find myself in, I have found that
when I give myself and others this freedom, what occurs is a compassionate
response. (at least an apparently compassionate response...I guess I am not
sure that I would even know a compassonate response if I saw one).

Be Well