Levels

Confusion and contradiction are an inherent component of the human condition.  At least at one level.  If at another level, as suggested by teachers in myriad spiritual traditions, our own nature is as clear and lucid and unified as an unclouded sky, this is not our usual perception of everyday life.  And it seems to me that, without denying that other (higher?) reality, the attempt to impose it at an inappropriate level is perilous.  That, I’d say, is one of the things that makes me both an aspiring Buddhist and a political conservative.  Some clarification (for any of you still reading this) is in order, but it will be the work of more than one post.

For the moment, let me share the story that for me, in its modest way, crystallizes this issue.  The scene: an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado.  The time: the 70’s.  The occasion: the traveling road show of Ram Das (aka Richard Alpert).  If these elements mean nothing to you, don’t worry about it; they’re just mise en scene.  If you were around then, well, some memories might come back.. whether you want them to or not.

Anyway: Ram Das, who was witty or he was nothing, throws off this little bit of dialogue:                          

         Speaker #1: It’s your turn to do the dishes.
         Speaker #2: We are all One.

The laughter was instantaneous; no one had to wait for the explanation which, when it came, was: “There are levels of the game.”  Maybe game needs to be capitalized here, like One.  Don’t know.

But I did get the point, which was obviously larger than lamely employing some metaphysical principle to avoid your share of the work.  And it has stayed with me.  And it seems to me that the failure to grasp and apply this idea leads to a lot of problems in people’s thinking.  They believe that a problem, for instance the fighting in Gaza (to choose an unrandom example), at one level of reality can be solved with a solution from another level.   By one definition, what they are asking for is: a miracle.  In another sense, it’s a unique form of disproportionate response.

Peace may be the natural order of things at some level.  But not the one at which Israel presently struggles to survive.  The case of Tibet, because of its complex Buddhist heritage, is especially germane to this discussion; I’ll take that up later. 

Meanwhile, you might read this analysis of just war theory before it sinks into electronic oblivion.

To be continued.

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