By Seamus Anthony
A long time ago in another head space, I wrote the the following:
“Everything is Appropriate
“Just as above you is the Macrocosm, a massive spiralling universe, far too huge to even idly comprehend, so too within you is a microcosm. This microcosm reaches and descends within you to the most finite level, and then beyond measurement. On top of this, every other ‘cosm’ of whatever size or description (a hair, another person, a distant star) has it’s own microcosm descending within, and it’s own perspective on the macrocosm in which it is suspended.
“So it is obvious from this that the concerns of a single human individual do not count for much at all. Yes, that’s right. The often harrowing emotional pain and terrible physical misfortunes that eventually befall all humans to some degree, mean not a blip to the massive universe as a whole. And then, to really push the point, if these issues are so insignificant in comparison to the universe that we know, consider then their significance in the larger macrocosms that our universe must surely be a minute part of…And so on……
“If I were to put a skewer in your eye right now, you would not be very impressed at all. You would, from your perspective, consider my actions to be both ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’. Wrong in that it seems right to you that I should leave your eye in peace rather than in pain; and Bad in that having both eyes in working order is a situation that you see as being ‘Good'(i.e. useful and not painful). But, in reality, all of these events are only true to the universe in terms of energy exchange. All things are comprised of the single component – Energy. All matter is understood to be comprised of pure energy moving around perpetually in an infinite dance. Maintaining a balance; Yin attracted to Yang; and all in abhorrence of a vacuum.
“So, in terms of the Universe, or more accurately the Tao (the Unknowable Hugeness of All Things), when some unfortunate human being’s eye gets poked out by some skewer wielding freak, all that happens is that an amount of configured energy gets moved around. Arm energy moves skewer energy towards and into eyeball energy, eyeball energy falls out. Eye socket energy bleeds a lot and the vacuum left by the removed eyeball gets quickly filled up with air energy. TO THE TAO THIS IS NOT A MORAL ISSUE. This is why ‘God lets bad things happen to good people’.
“On the positive side, this is why you have the opportunity to free yourself from the mental traps of your social conditioning. Not that this is always an easy thing to do. Obviously most people never do. When your car breaks down and your back hurts and it’s hot and you’re going to be late for work and your boyfriend just left you all in the same day, it can sure make you feel like the whole universe is against you. But it’s not…The Universe is impartial. To the Tao, things simply are what they are, no more. No morality, no expectations, no judgment. So if, when under duress, you remind yourself of this (perhaps after a nice healthy tantrum), you can automatically relax. You are able to relax because you realize that none of it really matters, and that no preconceived idea you have about life is verifiable, and that the way your society taught you to respond to situations is completely arbitrary. Therefore you can, theoretically(!), choose to be happy at any given moment.
“No matter what your current personal circumstances, it is important to remember that in an impartial universe, all things are exactly as they are meant to be at any given moment. If you doubt this, then observe nature; is the Tiger remorseful for killing the gentle Deer? Never.”
But What About Karma?
I also posted this essay over at TaoBums, and underneath it you will see a comment asking where Karma comes into all of this.
And what a good question!
I used to take a hard-line stance against what I saw as woolly concepts such as Karma.
Maybe I’m going soft, but these days I am much more open to concepts like ‘God’ as opposed to simply ‘Tao’, ‘Karma’ as opposed to ‘Randomness’, and potentially even the continuation of the soul after death as opposed to simple energetic reintegration into the whole.
This is in fact one of the reasons I coined the term Rebel Zen, because I found myself needing to rebel against my initial rebellious stance, if that makes sense, in order to return to a more balanced position.
To explain more clearly: I grew up in a Christian home, talking each night to God and worrying about “Sin”.
Then, in my late teens, I swung to extreme hedonism.
Then I went back to spirituality, but found myself attracted to a hardcore Taoist outlook. To me this meant no God, no woo-woo fluff, just an unfathomable mystery and cruel, hard Nature.
But then during a terrifyingly shaky flight through a storm over the Himalayas I found myself silently crying out to God to forgive me should I die. Safely back on the ground, I couldn’t just put it down to fear, knew I had to re-address my core beliefs. Since then I have re-adjusted my stance to one of fuzzy (if mystified) openness to the “woo-woo fluff” I once rejected. That’s what I meant about rebelling against my own rebellion.
But then other times I just see this as sentimental poppy-cock fabricated by my fear-ridden ego.
What do you think?