January 24, 2012

Emptying my cup

Nan-in, a master, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

I've seen so many people having disputes about their doctrines or ideologies. Liberals against conservatives, one religion against another, theists against atheists, the list will go on as long as human being exists.
We are so full of ourselves, believing what we know to be the absolute truth. I plead so guilty of this. I was a radical science and history worshipper, defending my 'freethinking' ideology, idolizing the mind power and human intelligence.

One day I was having a debate about evolution and the infallibility of the bible with an avid believer of the holy scriptures. Needless to say he disregarded every argument about us sharing the same ancestor with apes. Every apparent oddity which denies his belief of the bible is dismissed as translation, error contradicting his own doctrine that the Bible is to be taken literally.

Just an innocent oddity I took from Genesis.
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Since this is supposed to happen before the creation of Eve, it means that God is androgynous, isn't he (0r she)? Boy, did he get upset of my blasphemy, and rationalized it as a translation error and figurative speech. How do you decide which line should be taken figuratively and literally? I guess it depends on whether or not it matches the doctrine.

Anyway, this guy then argued that there're gaps and missing links in evolution and human history, asking me how I know that the written history as we know it is true. I wasn't there to witness the events that took place some thousand years ago. He then added that I'm too close-minded and bullheaded to understand the scriptures.

This came as a shock to me (not the close-mindedness part), and I started to ponder, he's right. Why do I believe in the written history? There's no absolute truth in history either. It can be fabricated, tampered with. A mere propaganda, an illusion.

If I look back at all the history lessons about the indonesian communism taught in the school, I realized it was all attempts of propaganda, made by the ruling regime to justify their power coup. Just as some believe 9/11 is an inside job, moon landing hoax, etc. Another example, if you grow up in Japan, you probably would deny the massacre of Nanking. If you're a Chinese, then you'll be taught about the gruesomeness of the same massacre.
*I'm not saying anything about science, as this is not my area of expertise.

I then come to a conclusion that he and I are both close-minded. Since I do not have the control over other people's mind, then let me change my own way of thinking.

"Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?". We are all frogs in the well.

Most of us have a certain shape/box of idealism in our minds. His is rectangular, whereas mine, circular. We wear different coloured lenses in seeing the world. We force things we saw to fit into this idealistic shape of our mind. As the result, we tend to reduce, compromise, ignore, cherry pick.

If both of us see an elephant, his elephant will look rectangular and green (seen from his green colored lens), whereas mine, circular and pink. We ignore the fact that the elephant is neither circular nor rectangular, pink nor green. To make things worse, we refuse to take off our lenses to see the real elephant. We only see what our eyes and brain want to see.
As the saying goes,"Ignorance isn't only about not knowing things, but also about refusing to find out about the unknown".

Speaking about arrogance and ignorance, I overheard some guys debating on whether or not his church is the real one. At one point the more outspoken guy attacked that the other church is fake because they hold their worship service on Saturday instead of Sunday and their spoken tounge differs from his. He then said,"It's satanic! God rests on the 7th day, which is Sunday, not Saturday! And their tounge is a manifestation of Kundalini ghost."

I almost laughed out loud. Do they even know what Kundalini is? Honestly, I'm not sure. Why would a fundamentalist christian explore about other spiritual practices? And I'm pretty sure as well that they never heard of Constantine who moved the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday in regard to his devotion to the pagan sun god. SUNday. SONNtag. See the relevance?
The jews, still holding to the laws of the old testament, celebrated the Sabbath from the sunset of Friday to Saturday. As was written in Genesis. They count Sunday as the first day of the week. If only those fundamentalists were humble enough to check on their own history..
Oops! Here I go again. Me and my box :D

This goes for atheists as well, who are so confined in the "outbox", believing that there's no divine existence, calling religious people stupid fools. Ok, maybe this is bitterness after being constantly harassed by the religious fundamentalists out there. But seriously, you can't answer all of your questions either, can you? I do not believe in a personal god either, but how do we prove the nonexistence of God, Hercules, unicorn or the Loch Ness monster?

The bottom line is that I am ignorant. I'm trying to be less ignorant, stripping off my arrogance and being aware that I know nothing about anything. Just bear with me if I'm standing at a nihilistic point, trying to empty my teacup.

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