Scraping stink

©2022 Michael Raven

I’ve caught myself building a thought trap for myself.

I do this occasionally as I dig into esoteric stuff. See a pattern here, apply it to a pattern there, have an a-ha moment, try to resolve the loose ends, rinse, repeat…

While some people might find this a useful thing, and it can me a useful way about going about understanding, my goal is usually to glean the primal core and leave the trappings behind. While the trappings have their use, I have increasingly been trying to shed those kinds of handles with which to grapple with things.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I am less interested in ritual when it comes to matters of spirit. I want to plunge my fingers down into the icy-cold mud, dig around, become the tree, become the raven flying overhead, be the moon watching the finger point towards it, fall like the hail in a storm, feel the rabbit clutched in the talons of the hawk… I don’t want to mime these things, I was to integrate with them.

So, as I’ve been digging into some interesting patterns that emerged, I got caught up in trying to “complete” the patterns I was seeing and got fixated on the whole “must fit into the lore” idea [my intellectual trap]. This might normally be fine, except that the lore is 99% guesswork, incomplete, and/or recorded from a known bias with respect to perspective. And it really deviates from the goal of getting deeply engaged in the primal elements because I am starting to get more fixated on the finger pointing at the moon than the moon itself (my nod to Wei Wu Wei and Ryokan there). I started forcing labels into boxes and boxes into labels and making assumptions and… oh my.

Stepping back a little after that realization, I can see how scholars can easily convince themselves as to something being the truth — it is easy to confuse patterns for reality. Which is why, I think, conspiracies are so popular in this day and age. I’m one of those people who often does a reality check on myself, but I know most people do not; it isn’t a comfortable thing for many of us to do, admitting our own fallibility, flaws, and errors. Realizing I’d slipped into a mind-trap, I’ve started pulling back and reassessing what I think I understood.

Some of it still seems to hold true. But now I am suspicious of certain parts of what I thought I understood — they have “the stink of Zen”, or confusion masquerading as pious understanding, lingering about some of the understanding that I thought I had a few days ago. I can be my own skeptic, and I usually am — which is probably why so many people I’ve practiced spiritually with have found me frustrating. I’m always arguing with myself, testing myself, when it comes to these things. I would make a terrible guru, as I think that role requires a certain level of certainty that I just refuse to have on these things — either because I just don’t “get it”, or because I utilize an abundance of caution when dealing with such things.

Whereas some people might see this as a setback, this realization I have that I may have sold myself a pile of manure, I actually see it as progress. Because, now, I can go and scrap off my boots and see what’s really looking back at me.

And what I see now is even more interesting.

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