2020-06-08

126: Watch Out!

We've only seen Cougar once before -- back in #23, when he asked about whether karma was "just cause and effect."

Is impermanence ("all things pass quickly away") a reason not to care about others? Should we care about them only if they (or if something) is permanent?

Perhaps the impermanence of all things is precisely the reason for lovingkindness and compassion right now. Perhaps that's what Raven is saying.

Mara can quote scriptures -- and selectively use a teaching against other teachings. But all the teachings point in the same way; each one is an implication of all the others. So if you're using one teaching (e.g., impermanence) to question another teaching (e.g., compassion), then you've understood neither teaching.

Case
Cougar's presence created a certain tension in the circle, but he didn't seem aware of it. One evening he asked, "If all things pass quickly away, why should we be concerned about suffering of others?"
Mole abruptly excused himself with a bow and hurried off, muttering.
Raven said, "Mara can quote sutras."
Cougar said, "I'm serious."
Raven said, "All things pass quickly away."
Verse
"If everything is urgent, then nothing is."
The management consultants direct.
They mean, by this major premise,
To imply a modus tollens:
Minor premise: It's not the case that nothing is urgent.
Therefore, conclusion, not everything is.

I accept your premise, Madam or Sir Advisor.
And build, instead, a modus ponens:
Minor premise: Everything is, indeed, urgent.
Therefore, conclusion, nothing is.
Every sight seen or sound heard --
Or fragrance smelled, or tactile sensation felt --
Is of a thing that cannot wait,
And that does.

Now, dear ones, consulting and consulted,
I offer you this (different?) proposition:
If everything is impermanent, then nothing is.
This, and that, and all, pass away.
And don't.
Their departure casts them in the light of eternity,
As every tick of the clock is redolent with timelessness.

What, then, could be urgent? What not?
Case adapted from Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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