Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nonduality, prajna paramita, nihilism and yep, "Western" Buddhism

Duff McDuffee at the Beyond Personal Growth blog wrote:

If we believe things are ultimately meaningless, then we must constantly, consciously, and willfully be constructing this meaning. This leads naturally to the highly aggressive happy seeker who must at all times be in control of what things mean, bringing more people into their worldview or else it will all fall apart. While we do in fact construct meanings in our lives, there are not infinite possible storylines but likely clusters, common themes, etc. that bind us together as human beings. These aren’t exactly “objective” but more clusters of subjective possibility that we can select from and edit appropriately to fit the specific details of actual events in our lives.
Thus the events of our lives do have a sort of pre-given possibility for meaningfulness, meaningful specifically to the human subjects that participate in them. There is no need to fear any meaningless “objective” universe for such a thing is an abstraction—not an ultimate, observable reality—and instead we find that by surrendering into an unknowing void of meaning, we discover a peace of Being that is beyond aggressively grasping for meaningfulness or imposing our chosen meanings onto others.

 For me, the mention of " a peace of Being that is beyond aggressively grasping for meaningfulness or imposing our chosen meanings" is already saying too much, but there's an interesting point to ponder under this:  To what degree are we willfully constructing a narrative of meaninglessness or other "-isms" in our heads?

It is true that nihilism is a dictatorial approach to Existence, attempting to pin down yet another narrative onto it; putting another existence onto Existence by putting another's head onto one's own. It's just like any other narrative in that regard.

The practice for which we should be aiming should be that which arrives at a viewpoint which is truly non-dual in this regard: not one, not two; not separate, not together, the absolute inter-co-existing with the relative. It should be with "no eyes no ears no nose no tongue no body no seeing no hearing no smelling no tasting no touching no world of sight no world of consciousness no ignorance and no end to ignorance no old age and death and no end to old age and death no suffering no craving no extinction no path no wisdom no attainment."  It should avoid excessive scrupulosity and laziness. It should take effort, but not with anxiety and excessive tautness, and not being sleepy either.

Coincident with the point Duff made, but on  different subjects, the Guardian article  about which I'd written earlier is stirring more responses from the Buddhist blogosphere (e.g. here and here).  It simply astounds me how many compartments people make for things and ideas.

1 comment:

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