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Nonduality Salon (/\)

Highlights #324

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"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech;

If it is pearls you want
Or just meat
Opening an oyster
Can be difficult

Gulls fly high
Clutching the oyster
Then drop it on a rock
It shatters

Starfish engulf
With many arms
And forcefully
Open the shell

Use a knife
To pry the shell
To obtain the contents

Another way
To open the oyster
Is to place it in a bath
Of nutrient rich water


==Gene Poole==

Here is a site to examine:



If you are up for a good cerebrum-busting concept-orgy, this is the place.

(Of special interest to 'western philosophers'.)

==Gene Poole==

Games, competition, creation;

> ~ If you don't mind my throwing in a couples of pennies, here,
> It just occured to me that games seem to always include
> an idea of competition. Even in solitaire one competes against
> randomness or some such. If this assumption is so, would
> all games end when the idea of "me and other" ends entirely?

Ed: There has been the *idea* of "me and other" ending
when words ceased...but we still participate in God's
game of Creation, if you can accept that interpretation.
I wonder if your question might really boil down to: 'can
we end competition'?

Jan: An idea of creation, no... The nightmare of the creator of
the creator of the creator of... Disneyland.. Just having a
pair of fun-glasses on that magically are producing all
appearances. No competitive game but a seeming excursion
serving entertainment like a one day visit to Disneyland...
Who can be serious about competition while on a visit in
Disneyland? Only when falling asleep and waking up in the
house of horrors (LOL)

As an empath my whole life, it was difficult for me when I was a kid to play
another in any kind of competitive game when they were losing. I felt their
frustration! I would lose the games on purpose, so they would be happy --
and they were! It made me very happy too.

One day, I explained to my then 9-yr-old son.... that I've never really liked
playing games anymore because of the competitiveness. He said ''noooo, it is
fun!" I said, ''noooo it isn't because some people get hurt or mad when they
lose!" He said ''no they don't!" I said that wasn't true from what I've
seen... could he explain what he meant? This is what he said:

"Ya' know when I play tetherball? I'm not playing with anyone else, but I
pretend I am. I'll hit the ball one way... then the 'other person' will hit
it the other way. And one of me wins... and the other me loses. And I never
get mad at myself! I always win, even when I lose! So when you play any
game, think of it like tetherball."

Outta the mouths of babes,

Yes, Xan Penny-thrower,
your penny thrown in the lake spreads ripples:
there's no game when there's nothing
contested. When there's no intent
to use rules to achieve an outcome,
there's no game. When there's no
investment in a structure,
there's no game.

I remember reading something Jim Morrison
wrote: at the center of every game
is the idea of death.


Exercising braincells, selfness, Madhyamika;

- a major unresolved (unresolvable?) question in
Buddhism is the nature of
selfness. Saying there is no permanent
self or identity, anatman, doesn't say what
selfness is.

Hi Dan-ji,

Perhaps unresolved means no universal agreement. In Madhyamika Buddhism
(the Dalai Lama's sect), they think about these things a lot; it's not an
unresolved matter to them. In that school atman/self means "that which has
inherent existence." And inherent existence is existence "on its own
side," or "by its own power." Something has inherent existence if it is
not dependent any of the following relations:

-causes and conditions
-part/whole relations
-perceiver/perceived duality

And they argue that there isn't anything that is independent in these ways,
so there's no inherently existing self. There is a *conventional* self,
which they speak of as the aggregates - basically our mind/body complex.
This conventional self is the one spoken of in conventional parlance, the
one that goes to the store, writes e-mail messages, etc.

So because there's no real fixed entity anywhere according to Madhyamika,
there's no real fixed entity that accumulates karma. That isn't seen to be
problematic, because there's no real fixed entity that lives a single life
either. Madhyamika speaks of the transmigrating self sort of the same way
that Theravada speaks of it: my self in life A is neither the same as nor
different than my self in life B. And they give the example of a candle
lighting another candle. The flame is neither the same nor different from
one to the other.

With love,


Hi Greg.

Thanks for this informative reply.

I don't think it's fully resolved in
Madhyamika, although as you
say, they may believe it is.

To say there's no fixed entity says
what isn't, but it doesn't say
how there can be a
meaningful statement that
there's no fixed entity.
Even if you say there neither is
nor isn't a speaker, for the
statement to have meaning,
"selfness" is indicated, i.e.
the meaning of the statement
One can say, "this statement neither
is nor isn't meaningful," but
such an indication, for me,
would point to the nonresolution
of the question of selfness.

For me, it comes down to this:
we say something about this and that.
this is because of that and that is
because of this.
how is it we can say "this" and "that"?
for the statement to have meaning,
there is a point of observation.
without such a point, no word can
have meaning and there is no coherent
statement such as "interdependent being".

so words have meaning, because something
is said, something is indicated.

there must be a point of observation
that allows meaning to "interdependence"
or "mutual definition".
this point could be called "selfness"
and isn't resolved by the philosophy
of interdependence of phenomena.
Perhaps this was what Dogen was attempting
to resolve with "being-time".
Being-time could be construed as a point that
contains all time and is all time, simultaneously.
If so, this comes very close to the Western
mystical idea of God as simultaneously
immanent and transcendent, presented
in symbolic forms such as the burning bush
or the figure of Jesus.

Where is the observation
point to say that this is because of that
and that because of this, or to say the
self is like a flame that neither is
the same nor different?
One could say there is and is not such a point,
and that point is and is not being-time.
One could say that point is selfness, or God.

unresolvable, and thus resolved
as openness.


Hi Dan,

If I'm reading you right on this, it is one of the more sophisticated
charges against Madhyamika. It charges that Madhyamika is nonsensical and
self-defeating, because for its statements to carry weight and have
meaning, self-ness is unintentionally entailed. If there really is no
self-ness, goes the charge, then none of Madhyamika's statements point to
anything, therefore they can not be taken seriously. Like "this statement
is false." Madhyamika claims to have no views. How does this itself
escape being a view?

Actually, Nagarjuna himself dealt with this point, in the last chapter of
his _Treatise on the Middle Way_. Jay L. Garfield, a philosopher who wrote
an excellent translation/commentary of this text(1), also wrote a fine
paper on the same topic.(2) It boils down to this, that there is no
ultimate claim made by Madhyamika. It makes no claim to meaning. It is a
verbal thorn-to-remove-a-thorn, that the opponent, who believes in meaning,
*interprets* as an ultimate and meaningful claim. The very thorn that
Madhyamika can remove is the opponent's own attachment to meaning. When it
is understood as such, almost like a verbal hit with a stick, then there
are no charges of self-defeat. Madhyamika's view is that it is the
opponent's grasping onto a very subtle notion of meaning and inherent
existence that motivates the self-defeating claim.

So actually, Madhyamika is saying the same thing that Dan-ji seems to be
saying most of the time on NDS!!! To say that something is unresolved --
what would "resolved" be????

(footnotes below)


(1) Nagarjuna, _Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's
Mulamadhyamakakarika._ Oxford University Press, New York, 1995.

(2) Jay L. Garfield, "Emptiness and Positionlessness: Do the Madhyamika
Relinquish all Views?," , Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion,1,
1996, pp 1-34.





Hi Gregji --
Footnotes, too! Thanks, indeed.
You're right, I do question views often,
see reality as no-thingness, and
hence enjoy Buddhism. So I'm questioning
the M. view - why not... and that's the main
reason for using a silly term like "selfness".
I could say "x-ness" and it would be the same.

You went further than me by using words like
"nonsensical". I don't see M. as nonsensical,
except maybe in the way that G-d is nonsensical.
I see M. as not resolving the issue of selfness.
I do see the point of M.
The way you explained it, it seems to me
there is 'selfness' evident
in the very use of M. to 'release' attachment.
If no selfness, why would it be devised and used,
and how would be ascertained the situation and
way to use it, and for whose sake?

It is this unacknowledged, indispensible selfness
I'm noticing, not calling the entire project
nonsensical (except if it be taken as an absolute
ending of selfness, or as recognition of
an ultimate nonselfness reality). I'm fully
in agreement with you that any fixed notion of
"selfness" is contradictory. Selfness uses limits,
it isn't ultimately definable with limits.

In questioning the opposition of 'this'
to 'that' and pointing to 'mutual arising
of this and that', the
questioning/pointing itself is the selfness that isn't
'this' or 'that'. Itself is the meaning that doesn't
depend on meaning, the reality that doesn't depend
on any other. That's why it was able
to raise the question of attachment to meaning (selfness)
in the first place! Its very questioning presents
that which is the object of the questioning.
It's a no-self self, not merely no-self.
If I am the basis of meaning and no-meaning,
then my attachment to meaning is absurdity itself.
Nonattachment isn't a goal for meditation, it's
reality itself when selfness is seen as noncontradictory
with no-selfness.

There is no opponent for it -- the thorn isn't
needing to be removed; in fact, the thorn is the reason
the questioning can take place, the opportunity
to 'show itself to itself' as questioning/pointing.
My suggestion: let's enjoy the
situation as is, as it reveals 'selfness' whether
in the form of Buddhism, or any other
form of pointing/questioning that seems relevant
and attentive to deep biases/assumptions.

The resolution of the issue
of self isn't the positing of a fixed position
for self, nor a self-entity, but is the
manifestation of particular reality in flux "from"
an unimaginable nonflux total being. Because
these two are one, selfness is all-pervading and
nonexistent. This, its seems, is how we manifest
as 'this particular living universe'. There is
nothing out of place anywhere.

I am calling this 'selfness' (it could
as easily be called 'godness') only because it's
not a void or lack. Unacknowledged
selfness seems the only major
"stuck point" I've found in Buddhism.
But yes, that's kind of major if it's truly
not resolvable.

Perhaps this tendency in Buddhism arose from
its insistence on maintaining a tool that
would combat the tendency toward
fixed views of self, or self as ultimate entity,
found in many versions of Hindu thought.
Perhaps, Buddhism went to the opposite extreme,
and thus is a kind of Hinduism in reaction
to its own tendency to fixate on notions of Self.

If we find the selfness
hidden in the 'statement of no entity',
the no-self position paves the way for
a selfness that is infinite, all-pervading,
spaceless, and timeless. So selfness is
just a word for what is there/not there when both
thorns are discarded.

This unresolvable issue of selfness -
it's very much the same for me as the Hebrews
saying that YHVH can't be represented.
What is that very statement itself,
if not representation? (Let alone the
rest of the Holy Bible ;-)
There's unknowable selfness there, as well.

If selfness isn't resolved in Buddhism, Hinduism,
or Hebrew teachings,
what would resolved selfness look like?
Clearly, if I speak, I lie.
But what an opportunity for grandiosity! How can
I refuse to answer?

It would look like this:
An infinitude of meaning with endless
self-ripples manifesting as constant
flux, endless living-universes of
changing meaning, yet without any change
occurring in all-pervading self-evident self-nature.
The 'catch' is: this self-nature
isn't to be found anywhere, and can't be said to exist, ever.
Without existing, it is merely self-evident (to who else?)
as its own manifestation as living/dying
endlessly living universe here, now.
I am all that is, hence I am no one and no-thing.

So infinite, it must limit itself to present itself
to itself - which it is doing constantly
through all these apparent intertwined
and resonating lives/universes of

Its own self-limitation (contraction, apparent division)
is itself infinity, self-presenting by defining
this from that, contrasting this with that and that
with this.

First (and, in a sense, the only meaningful sentence)
of the Bible: "With beginning, Infinite Meaning (Elohim)
created by dividing the sacred waters from the manifested
infinity." From there, meaning is created by division
upon division - the rest of the text.

Creation is division, hence creation neither
occurs nor doesn't occur. This is true astronomically,
physiologically, cognitively, and socially.
The self divides without splitting, hence it is
no-self selfness.


Experience reality, no comparison;


I was getting tangled up with your word experiencing.
It seems that so much of my life I live totally unawares.
My question is that if I am not present for it is it Real?
Take two men the first of which lives his life totally
mechanically and unawares and the second who lives
a life during which he has moments of awakening.
At the end of these lives can you say that one man
has lived a more real life?


Hi Marcia,
You can only say that if you believe there
are two separate beings that exist
and live lives, and that the quality
of the life of one existing being
can be meaningfully compared and
constrasted with the life of another.

For me, it is more fruitful to question
the whole notion of existing beings that
go through lives that have certain
qualities which can be compared.

For me, awakeness is seeing the point
where there is no comparison.

As for reality:
If it were not real simply because you
weren't aware of it, then how real
would it be? An image of a red elephant
is real when you see it and believe it
to be real. So reality would then be
like that image, real only if you see it.

No, for me, reality *is*.
It is the case of all cases.
Thus, it includes everything
and the opposite of everything.
Its *isness* includes *non-isness*.
Equally valid would be saying that
it neither is *isness* nor *non-isness*.

Its reality includes 'you' and includes
the experiences of 'seeing' and
'not-seeing'. It doesn't become
more real when seen. Knowing that
it's not an it, not dependent on
being seen, *is* "seeing".



Consciousness and the brain;

Neo : "The question comes down to whether the brain
generates our awareness or consciousness (...) . It is
important because it determines if we survive death of
the body. "

As Dan rightly says, we can't expect that "anything
definitive, any ultimately "proven" or "irrefutable"
truth will be established in words. " Why? For at
least two reasons, I think :

Because our beliefs do not only depend on reasons, on
arguments, but also on motives, on emotions, both
conscious and subconscious. It takes a very free,
unselfish mind to get rid of personal biases and
prejudices and become really open, neutral, objective.

And also because, even with an open mind, there are no
facts. The only undeniable fact is the sense "I am".
Everything else is conjecture, belief. This is so even
in mathematics, where one has to proceed starting from
conjectures: all theoremes are deduced from postulates,
which cannot be proved.

In our case, trying to prove the source of
consciousness is especially tricky. On a scientific
level, that is impossible, because consciousness cannot
be observed from the outside, as an object. Even with a
person in coma, you cannot be absolutely sure if he has
some consciousness or not. Only he himself could say.
There can be no way of proving it. Because not even an
electro can measure it, but only electric activity in
the brain, which is not the same as consciousness.

And from a philosophical point of view one is faced
with two alternatives: consciousness evolving from
matter, or consciousness in the beginning of
everything. A product or the source. I dispair of
proving either. When I say proving, I mean irresistibly
persuading another person one way or the other. What
one can do is persuading oneself, which basically is
the same as opting, choosing.

Whatever you believe is always a choice. Nobody can
force you. It is up to you to decide what makes most
sense, which alternative is the more meaningful.

For me the only meaningful thing is to believe is that
protons, neutrons and electrons, however well they are
ordered, cannot generate such a product as
consciousness. Because the result cannot qualitatively
excede the source. If atoms cannot be said to
be conscious, then neither can their union into
molecules, nor their union into neurons.
Consciousness is substantially different from matter.
It has none of its qualities. Whereas magnetism and
gravity are physical, measurable objects, consciousness
is mere subjectivity, pure life, unmeasurable,

On the other hand, the fact remains that the first and
only undeniable truth I find is the sense "I am". This
is the only real fact. So I must procede from this.
What is the sense "I am"? Consciousness. And what is
the first thing that I know about everything else? That
it appears in my consciousness. So there you have it.
The whole world appearing in consciousness. Does this
mean that the world doesn't also exist outside of my
consciousness. Not necessarily. But why not? You'll
never find a proof against it. Because you, your
consciousness, never comes in direct touch with the
"real world" but only with the impressions it is
supposed to leave on your mind. Why then assume that
these impressions are photographs of a "real world"
rather than mere beautiful artistic pictures, an
impressive breathtaking movie, a wonderful dream?


Gospel of Thomas;

29 Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a
marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel
of marvels.

Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."

Rephrasing this into a practical question that might be approached
experientially: What is the relationship between consciousness & the body?

Take for example emotions: anxiety, fear, greed, anger, lust etc.

All of these emotions imply consciousness or essence dependent on or
subordinate to the body. These emotional states imply that consciousness is
involved in the arena of material gain & loss. Greed is the presumption that
consciousness/essence somehow gains from some material enterprise. How could
one have
greed if there were no actual gain in it for one's essence?

The question is this: is your essence dependant on the body? If so,
these emotions seem even reasonable because you are actually gaining/loosing
something: the emotions are justified if you are dependant on the body.

It would appear from ordinary experience that consciousness is dependant on
the body.

Consciousness might even seem subordinate to thought. Are you aware of the
whole chain of thoughts/emotions that lead up to the thought you are having
now? If there are times when thoughts are not being observed, this implies
that consciousness is not always present. You can think yet and actually be
UNconscious about the thought process? consciousness seems subordinate! How
could consciousness create the body if we're not even conscious all the

Consciousness seems constantly varying when it is considered to be dependant
on the body. Eat a big holiday dinner or have too many beers: hey, anybody
see where I left my consciousness?


The very intention to be vigilantly aware of all that arises seems to break
identification with emotion & thought. Emotional attachment dies once
clearly seen as the illusion it is.

The relationship between consciousness & the body is distinctly different
when all that arises is seen in awareness, yet awareness is not overwhelmed
or subsumed by what is seen.



Stepping out;

Do not look directly at me.
You will not see me,
Only my appearance will be there.

Look out of the corner of your eye.
Where sight is not possible,
I am there shining like the sun!

Step outside of yourself to see yourself.
What you see is only a shell,
The illusion is itself perfection.

Rise far far above the earth.
Glancing down you see a mere speck,
Gazing about see your true self in all its glory!

Shall we dance?

>From the Awakening Heart - Mu


Step out? Yes! A friend says
The sun shines on all
Who step out of the shadows.

The sun in this flower shines blue,
Now is a fading red tulip.
Unseen, you are never absent.

Outside, a red hawk circles
Writing this, on my hand
Is a butterfly.

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