we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

Old Buddha’s Gift, Part-2: Bodymind Re-ligation

A short selection from Essay Twenty-Eight in Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice. [YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP THIS ON A FIRST READING OF THE TWO BUDDHAS SEQUENCE]

… to understand religion and to affirm it are not the same but almost exactly the opposite. —Merleau-Ponty (as interpreted by Remy C. Kwant) [1]

Objectivity is an unavoidable, and indeed a wonderful, dimension of the human condition, but we can’t really be trusted with it until we see that it’s always accompanied by unspoken doubt: it never quite attains that ‘sense of reality’ which tells us we are awake rather than dreaming. Real confidence has no fear of being wrong, because our sense of truth depends on a fullness of experience that is-what-it-is because it’s all there is. To mix phenomenological, Christian, and Buddhist teachings: objectivity diminishes our lived experience by ‘nailing’ it to an abstract framework that pretends to satisfy our need for permanence. And we fight over this because it does not, by itself, inspire real confidence.

* **

But it’s not just the snare of words that catches us up. While pinned to our world coordinate systems, and imagining we can only look out along the x, y, and z-axes toward three dimensions of escape to infinity, we are less content than we sometimes pretend. Nor are we truly satisfied as we look toward eternity along the t-axis. (Can we really see time?) So, along with our unsatisfying vocalizations, let’s not take our talent for wordless visualization (these model realities that assure us, “seeing is believing”, at least until we find a better model) so seriously either. But let us come more fully to our senses. Let us practise to climb down from our cross, one smile, one step, one breath at a time if need be, and to sit, or stand, in this dimensionless here and now, for this one moment of re-ligated (i.e. religious) experience joins every creature that ever did, or ever will, through ever-now ages, live. We won’t even imagine ‘we’ have changed. Old habits are still untouched, and we will undoubtedly find truths enough to talk about, and to hang up ‘there’, on our visionary tree, for a season. Depend on it. (To sample this season’s crop of model realities on my own tree, all you have to do is turn the page.)

[This is the last selection from PART III of Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice. The following selections from PART IV will be an exploration, again based primarily on my ‘meditation research’, into how “Young Buddha” (an object-ive animal) might have “against all the eco-evolutionary odds” arisen out of a genetically defining “Old Buddha”.]


1. Kwant, 1967, p. 383. To be clear, this is followed with, “Understood and interpreted religion is no longer affirmed religion.”

Leave a Reply