We won’t end tragedies like the Malaysian Airlines disaster just by meditating until we all have our own glimpses of God. ... Accepting things as they are does not mean you need to be complacent about them. The ability to accept things as they [are] allows you to become better able to make changes when change needs to happen.
The above is in the context of a larger discussion about how what I guess could be called "spiritual materialism" (I wish that term could be separated from its creator, sigh) is often misinterpreted as being spirituality itself. Meaning that the trappings — the ritual, the language, the behaviors, even the insights themselves — are not the same thing as actually being an enlightened person who tries to do the right thing and keep his mind in mind. Nice talk isn't the same thing as enlightened action, but since you're the easiest person in the world to fool, you can always fool yourself into believing it's your nice talk that's really enlightened action.
One of the reasons I liked Brad Warner a great deal more than most of the folks I'd bumped into who had some kind of background in Zen Buddhism was because he was deeply skeptical of a great many aspects of the way spirituality in general is transmitted between people and refined across time. He didn't like the idea of becoming a "spiritual teacher", because his time in punk circles taught him how authority manifests even when you're explicitly denying it. He took the mantle only because it seemed like the right thing to do, not because he felt it would confer him any particular advantage in his work.
I think the most crucial and difficult insight he made above is the line "Accepting things as they are does not mean you need to be complacent about them." We're used to the idea that there's either acceptance/complacency or action/engagement, with no shades between the two. You're in or you're out. Shit or get off the pot. But the reality of things is more nuanced than that; it's only when you see things as they actually are, are you able to take the action that most needs taking. And again, in reality, you can never see things completely as they are; you can only push yourself out of the way so much. But if it's a choice between pushing yourself out of the way somewhat and doing that not at all, I imagine the former is a better path.
(And as for the title — well, it wouldn't be a proper Zen post without a John Cage reference, would it?)
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind