The Choice
(Michael McCarty)

Between the rebel and the monk, it seems the choice, at least for me, is one of expediency. In my lifetime I have been both; though, in looking back, it is difficult to fully distinguish between the two. That line of separation has blurred somewhat, not because of passing time, but because of a greater awareness.

Yes, while I was in the moment, I owned the perception of what I thought was a clear distinction between the two and I embraced each with equal and separate excess. As a rebel I tested boundaries, pushing the line as far as possible indulging in eccentric behavior ... and as a monk I explored the paradigm of self-centricity through detachment. The rebel in me sought truth in contrast, in terms of black and white ... and the monk in me sought truth in homogeneity, in infinite shades of grey.

As I look back now I can relate to the concept of adaptive strategy relative to those instances of excess as expedient means. You’ve heard the expression, “The end justifies the means.” At first impression the phrase has an admitted Machiavellian slant. But consider, as a path to enlightenment, a process involving the pragmatic use of various means. One means may not represent the best or most enlightened choice but it may lead to a place where other means may be employed. There is however this caveat; one must always opt for more desirable means as they become apparent. The rebel becomes the monk and the monk becomes the “Rebel” Monk. The implication is that even if each excess was not ultimately “true” in the highest sense, each may still be considered a valid and expedient path in the sense that each path inched closer to true realization anyway.

In time you come to see that discrimination is an illusion. That, the rebel and the monk are not necessarily separate paths leading in opposite directions; but in fact can be unified steps within a single stride. As one cohesive process, and as unified in the Rebel Monk, they include the right paradigm of non-discrimination, non-separation, the absence of a pair of opposites and unity of a pair of opposites, and ultimately freedom from duality. From an artistic viewpoint: the process of the Rebel and the Monk reminds me of Chiaroscuro, an Italian term which literally means “light-dark” where three-dimensional volume is suggested by the value gradation of color and the analytical division of light and shadow shapes—often called shading. The contrast created by line (as representation of the Rebel) creates shape but the graduating homogeneity of shadow (as representation of the Monk) gives shape its recognizable form. Even so, the resulting image is only a mirror of reality and is, alas, an illusion itself.

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