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Highlights for Thursday April 20th

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  • andrew macnab
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2000
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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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