Monday, December 13, 2010

Black and White, or Grey?

Mind is like the void in which there is no confusion or evil, as when the sun wheels through it shining upon the four corners of the world. For, when the sun rises and illuminates the whole earth, the void gains not in brilliance; and when the sun sets, the void does not darken. The phenomenon of light and dark alternate with each other, but the nature of the void remains unchanged.
The ChΓΌn Chou Record of Huang Po *

It was grey this morning. I kind of liked having the morning be grey. Or, at least, I wasn’t bothered by it.

We seem to live in a world that worships black and white divisions of people and things. You must be this, and if you aren’t this, then you are that, and so forth. I have a feeling that the purpose of polar extremes is to diminish and separate people, rather than build them up and unite them. These days, spin can be spun in either direction, one way or the other, and the power behind the spin can flip-flop at will. If you don’t keep abreast with the current direction of the pole, you could find yourself off the map of the known world. The black and white discussions and arguments and ideologies and wars do not lend themselves to progress, or even regression—more often than not, they lead to paralysis.

We are not yet near the end of December, but the two faces of Janus are in our face, recording our doings as wishy-washy and indecisive. Stuck. Janus was not meant to symbolize being in a rut, however—this Roman god was all about beginnings and endings; about transitions, not paralysis.

Janus is the open door, not the closed mind. Janus is really all about the middle ground, what I call the grey area.

I prefer to enter and center myself in the grey area. The grey area seems more spacious, or at least pleasantly removed from all the one-sided black and white discussions, the flip-flops that go nowhere and the cultural paralysis that seems to plague our world just now.

The grey area seems very like the zen, described as void in the quote above. There is freedom there, and openness to possibility. Freedom to think, to judge, to move and act omni-directionally.


* Blofeld, John (translator). The Zen Teaching of Huang Po On the Transmission of Mind. Rider & Company, 1958. Page 31.

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