Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not knowing?..What if you feel you know in a social or political situation?

It is my contention that if you "feel you know"...this is the same as acting like you know when you really don't.
In this day and age many confuse feelings with knowledge and opinion with fact....all one need to do is watch cable news correspondents interview each other when there is nothing to say to see how opinion and impression are confused with knowledge in this day and age.

In politics....all is opinion....and opinion formed without direct knowledge or experience...none of us know.....what happened in New Orleans....unless we were there....and then the most we could have was an impression of a small portion of what happened. Yet in this country we must act (vote) or not act based only on our limited understanding. It is only when we mistake our limited understanding or feelings for fact, and act as those things were fact, that we screw up royally. The best we can have in any political or social situation is partial knowledge. We cannot matter how much we "feel' we know. It is when we tighten down and no longer think about something we "know" that we tighten down our thinking and "we" know better than "they"...and it is in such ideas that war (or any conflict) begins. "We" cannot fight with ourselves...."we" can only fight with "them".

I know many people who feel that abortion is wrong. They voted for President Bush because he was "Pro Life" they are very frustrated with him because even though he has a majority in both houses he has not passed any "pro life" legislation. They felt he was good for their cause.....he said he was for their cause...just as rabidly has they seemed to be.....yet nothing has been done. What could have been done?...there opinions differ of course...and what would effectivly reduce the number of abortions assuming that such a thing could be done? one really knows. I know literally no one who is pro abortion...all agree it is at best a terrible solution to a difficult problem...but it is as old as sex and reproduction. I find nothing more amusing then men with opinions about do not even have to know there is anything to abort unless women choose to tell them...there is nothing a man can do to control abortion...short of restraint....and then only on an individual basis....(I suppose we could tie all women down permanently so they cannot have access to a coat hanger or a crochet hook..but even the most pro life voter would not go for that one). Perhaps this idea of "gaining control" is behind men's obsession with abortion..but the truth is never has been nor never will be something men can control. Yet it drives political choices in this country....President Bush is president largely because of people's (men's most particularly) feelings about abortion. Interesting isn't it? The one thing we do know about abortion is that it has always been around.....we can guess it always will be we "feel" about that .....well that is what becomes politics......politics is about feelings...not about knowledge. When we mistake feelings for knowledge....then we tighten and become smaller...when we can seperate what we know..from what we feel...we can begin to open up and become more tolerant of others.

In any social situation we can at best know only half of what is going on. If there are more than two ...we know even less.

Yet we must act in social and political situations. If we act in a closed foregone conclusion manner out of "knowledge we feel we have"...we act differently than if we act because we must act even out of our profound ignorance.

The truth of our lives is that we are all profoundly ignorant in most situations...when we know this and act accordingly we act in a kinder more open and more tolerant manner. When we can be compassionate to ourselves about the profoundly true state of our own ignorance, we become more compassionate to others who act out of their own profound state of ignorance. When we are aware of our own ignorance, it ceases to poison our every activity....(ignorance is one of the three poisons Buddha spoke about.) Often there is little we can do about our ignorance...all we really can do is apply the antidote to the poison so it does not infect our every breath. We can only not know.(that which we cannot know)

The antidote to ignorance is not to ignore even more...... the antidote to ignorance is to know it is the the essential truth of our lives, and to act out of the knowledge of this essential essence perhaps the only one thing we can truly know. If you act out of the compassion that arises from knowing this essential truth....then the world will indeed become a better place....not matter how you vote, or how you choose to act in this particular social situation.

So do not strive for a knowledge that you cannot have. Do not spend your time seeking that which cannot be. There is no knowing enough...there is no final knowledge. There is not really any permanent best we can remember at this time how little we really can know...and act out of that intimate knowledge (when we can remember it )....and liberally apply the antidote to the poison of ignorance in our every breath.

This is why I say do not read books......this is why a Zen blog like this is really the antithesis of Zen. No knowledge you might gain from a book, or from a list or a blog will do you or the world one whiff of good until you begin to apply the antidote to your own ignorance in the world about you. No amount of seeking, nor amount of reading will give you anything but the ultimate ignorance you already own. not not not not philosophize.......only don't know...and solutions appear.

"Between the sharp and dull witted there is no distinction".....Eihei Dogen.

Be Well,

Fudo the ignorant.