Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Expand Messages
  • Jerry Katz
    #1131 - Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - Editor: jerry - Home: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm [Image] Illustration by Jennifer Ormerod/Salon Samsara Divided
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2002
      #1131  -  Wednesday, July  10, 2002  -  Editor: jerry  -  Home: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm

      Illustration by Jennifer Ormerod/Salon

      Samsara Divided by Zero


      Thanissaro Bhikkhu

      Copyright © 2000 Thanissaro Bhikkhu

      For free distribution only. You may reprint this work
      for free distribution. You may re-format and
      redistribute this work for use on computers and computer
      networks provided that you charge no fees for its
      distribution or use. Otherwise, all rights reserved.

      The goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana, is said to be
      totally uncaused, and right there is a paradox. If the
      goal is uncaused, how can a path of practice -- which is
      causal by nature -- bring it about? This is an ancient
      question. The Milinda-pañha, a set of dialogues composed
      near the start of the common era, reports an exchange
      between King Milinda and a monk, Nagasena, in which the
      king asks Nagasena precisely this question. Nagasena
      answers with an analogy. The path of practice doesn't
      cause nibbana, he says. It simply takes you there --
      just as a road to a mountain doesn't cause the mountain
      to be. It simply leads you to it.

      Nagasena's response, though very apt, didn't really
      settle the issue within the Buddhist tradition. Over the
      years many schools of meditation have taught that mental
      fabrications simply get in the way of a goal that's
      uncaused and unfabricated. Only by doing nothing at all
      and thus not fabricating anything in the mind, they say,
      will the unfabricated appear.

      This view is based on a very simplistic understanding of
      fabricated reality, seeing causality as linear and
      totally predictable: X causes Y which causes Z and so
      on, with no effects turning around to condition their
      causes, and no possible way of using causality to escape
      from the causal network. One of the many things the
      Buddha discovered in the course of his Awakening,
      though, was that causality is not linear. The experience
      of the present is shaped both by actions in the present
      and by actions in the past. Actions in the present shape
      both the present and the future. The results of past and
      present actions continually interact. Thus there is
      always room for new input into the system, which gives
      scope for free will. There is also room for the many
      feedback loops that make experience so thoroughly
      complex, and that are so intriguingly described in chaos
      theory. Reality doesn't resemble a simple line or
      circle. It's more like the bizarre trajectories of a
      strange attractor or a Mandelbrot set.

      Because there are many similarities between chaos theory
      and Buddhist explanations of causality, it seems
      legitimate to explore those similarities to see what
      light chaos theory can throw on the issue of how a
      causal path of practice can lead to an uncaused goal.
      This is not to equate Buddhism with chaos theory, or to
      engage in pseudo-science. It's simply a search for
      similes to clear up an apparent conflict in the Buddha's

      And it so happens that one of the discoveries of
      non-linear math -- the basis for chaos theory -- throws
      light on just this issue. Back in the 19th century, the
      French mathematician Jules-Henri Poincaré discovered
      that in any complex physical system there are points he
      called resonances. If the forces governing the system
      are described as mathematical equations, the resonances
      are the points where the equations intersect in such a
      way that one of the members is divided by zero. This, of
      course, produces an undefined result, which means that
      if an object within the system strayed into a resonance
      point, it would no longer be defined by the causal
      network determining the system. It would be set free.

      In actual practice, it's very rare for an object to hit
      a resonance point. The equations describing the points
      immediately around a resonance tend to deflect any
      incoming object from entering the resonance unless the
      object is on a precise path to the resonance's very
      heart. Still, it doesn't take too much complexity to
      create resonances -- Poincaré discovered them while
      calculating the gravitational interactions among three
      bodies: the earth, the sun, and the moon -- and the more
      complex the system, the greater the number of
      resonances, and the greater the likelihood that objects
      will stray into them. It's no wonder that meteors, on a
      large scale, and electrons on a small scale,
      occasionally wander right into a resonance in a
      gravitational or electronic field, and thus to the
      freedom of total unpredictability. This is why your
      computer occasionally freezes for no apparent reason,
      and why the same thing could happen someday to the
      beating of your heart.

      If we were to apply this analogy to the Buddhist path,
      the system we're in is samsara, the round of rebirth.
      Its resonances would be what the texts called
      "non-fashioning," the opening to the uncaused: nibbana.
      The wall of resistant forces around the resonances would
      correspond to pain, stress, and attachment. To allow
      yourself to be repelled by stress or deflected by
      attachment, no matter how subtle, would be like
      approaching a resonance but then veering off to another
      part of the system. But to focus directly on analyzing
      stress and attachment, and deconstructing their causes,
      would be like getting on an undeflected trajectory right
      into the resonance and finding total, undefined freedom.

      This, of course, is simply an analogy. But it's a
      fruitful one for showing that there is nothing illogical
      in actively mastering the processes of mental
      fabrication and causality for the sake of going beyond
      cause and effect. At the same time, it gives a hint as
      to why a path of total inaction would not lead to the
      unfabricated. If you simply sit still within the system
      of causality, you'll never get near the resonances where
      true non-fashioning lies. You'll keep floating around in
      samsara. But if you take aim at stress and clinging, and
      work to take them apart, you'll be able to break through
      to the point where the present moment gets divided by
      zero in the mind.


      from NDS

      The message is --- DIE!--- but its not the death of the
      body which is asked for. To go beyond Life one must die
      into Life. Not away from the ego but THROUGH it.


      The funeral pyre is a nice metaphor, like the phoenix
      arising from its ashes...

      For "factual" nonduality, the sense of "i" dies out but
      it doesn't have to feel like dying: when having 'passed'
      the gates of Yama, what dies first are the feelings you
      never asked for, like fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment,
      ownership, greed: that is rather joyful.

      Without the possibility to feel pain, what could convey
      the sense of dying?

      When  considering the ego to be equivalent with
      responsiveness, only physical death ends it. Without
      the possibility to feel pain physical death is a
      non-issue: the video (sight & sound) is unplugged from
      the powerline.

      The Buddha is one of the very few having known that even
      love and compassion can die before the body ceases to
      function. According to the dictum "less conditioning =
      more bliss", something that dwarfs the "union of lover &
      beloved" to a non-event, in the same sense the "union of
      lover & beloved" dwarfs the "apperception" event...

      Nirvana, when translated with "making cool by blowing",
      hints at fire too: smouldering ashes will set to fire
      any fuel thrown on them (and the thread goes on).
      Blowing fiercely actually will intensify the fire first,
      making it so hot that even the ashes burn out, leaving
      no trace...


      GEORGE T.
      from The Other Syntax list

      Night Skies

      Finding your openings into energetic reality
      greatly improve
      when you are able to use the quandaries of your life;
      the personal stumbling blocks,
      as  edifice or doorway.
      When you are unable to use those `problems',
      you become the seeker of comfort and fall into a deadly sleep.
      If you remain detached and at ease,
      you enter the doorways without becoming morbid and obsessed.
      The doorways seem oppressive and guarded by fears,
      but they are
      – in reality –
      as open as the night skies.

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.