THE CHURCH OF PERNICIOUS ONENESS III

Scott:  So we can recommend an experience of oneness because it makes for greater happiness. We are hedonists.

Zhuangzi:  We are! Why do people find that so . . . “wrong”!?

Scott:  Because they do not trust themselves. Or more likely, they do not trust others. They can pursue their own happiness without falling into a pernicious antinomian oneness, but others cannot be trusted to do so. Right and wrong must therefore trump the pursuit of happiness, lest the others run amok in licentiousness.

Zz:  “Pernicious antinomian oneness”—that’s a new one!

Scott:  A certain Zen “master” was explaining oneness and felt it necessary to assure us that it wasn’t a “pernicious oneness”. Somehow that struck me as so not-a-good-word that it was a sort of epiphany for me. I now ironically fantasize on starting the Church of Pernicious Oneness. Our motto is “By nature warped!” Thank you Xunzi!

Zz:  “Not-a-good-word”—can you explain that?

Scott:  In Zen a “good word” is a word or action that signifies understanding of the un-understandable. In one Zen story a master threatens to kill the cat the possession of which is the object of a dispute between his disciples—if someone cannot say a good word. They all remain silent, and the cat dies. Another disciple who was not present, upon hearing the story from the master, puts his sandals on his head and walks away. “You would have saved the cat!” the master shouts after him. Or do you know the story of Two Words Too Many?

Zz:  I’ve probably heard it, but let’s hear it again.

Scott:  A bunch of Zen masters meet in an inn for a blabber session. But the master thought to be the most enlightened—whatever that means—does not come out of his room to join the word-fest. One master complains, “At least he could give us one word.” Upon hearing this, the most-realized master says, “That would be one word too many.” But the cook, overhearing this, says, “Now there are two rat turds in the rice!” Who said a good word here? Who “got” it?

Zz:  Seems to me there are three turds in the rice. No word is a good word; but words are necessary. That’s my good word. So, you felt that qualifying oneness by reference to right and wrong the master betrayed the experience of oneness. I agree.

Scott: Similarly, to worry about right and wrong when we declare happiness as the greatest good and as the fruit of an experience of oneness is to betray a lack of understanding of oneness.

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