Session VI

Here’s a short VR film produced by Jordan Quaglia on Richie’s Plank. Funny, revelatory. What is real?

Quotes for the week:

Ken Wilber:  Different phenomenological worlds—real worlds—come into being with each new level of consciousness development. . . . There isn’t the world of ‘naive empiricism’ just lying around out there waiting to be seen. . . Different worlds are brought forth by the structures of consciousness doing the perceiving and co-creating. All real objects are first and foremost perspectives. NOT ‘are seen from perspectives,’ but ‘ARE perspectives.’. . . Assuming there is something pre-existing in an ahistorical world and waiting to be seen is just metaphysics (and the myth of the given). That is to say, “pure physical objects” do not exist; “the ‘physical world’ is not a perception but an interpretation. We don’t live in a pre-given, ‘real’ world that awaits perception—we merely live as part of ‘mutually disclosing perspectives awaiting enactment.’  The myth of the given, chaining minds to illusions, lives on in these endeavors, whose own self-image claims liberation, and yet the myth of the given creates the children of the lie.

David Loy: If we can realize that there is no delineated ego-self which is alive NOW, the problem of life and death is solved. Such is the Buddhist goal: to experience that which cannot die because it was never born.  [The core logic of our course]

Buddha, Diamond Sutra: Subhuti, what do you think? Let no one say the Tathagata cherishes the idea: ‘I must liberate living beings.’ Allow no such thought, Subhuti.  Wherefore? Because in reality there are no living beings to be liberated by the Tathagata. If there were living beings for the Tathagata to liberate, he would partake in the idea of selfhood, personality, ego entity and separate individuality.

Dogen: Just understand that birth and death is itself nirvana. There is nothing such as birth and death to be avoided; there is nothing such as nirvana to be sought. Only when you realize this are you free from birth and death.  It is a mistake to suppose that birth turns into death. Birth is a phase that is an entire period of itself, with its own past and future. For this reason, in buddha-dharma birth is understood as no-birth. Death is a phase that is an entire period of itself, with its own past and future. For this reason, death is understood as no death. In birth there is nothing but birth and in death there is nothing but death. Accordingly, when birth comes, face and actualize birth, and when death comes, face and actualize death. Do not avoid them or desire them.

The following quote by Loy could have been written by Nagarjuna, the king of emptiness (it’s a classic Madhyamaka statement.) I recommend using our “rules of contemplative engagement” and reflect deeply on the logic here:

When at the time for dying there is nothing but death – with no repulsion from it nor seeking after it – then death is experienced as no death. . . . I must accept my death in order to experience the NOW which is outside time. . . .  In that NOW, birth is no birth because no ego-self is ever born. But if no “I” is ever born, then there is only the act of birth, and if there is only the act of birth then there is really no birth. Instead, the act of birth-in-itself and (in exactly the same way) the act of death-in-itself become lacking-nothing events [Great Completion events], each of which may be realized to be complete and whole in itself when not experienced in relation to something else. . . . When Buddha is in life and death there is no life and no death.

Loy continues: If the ego-self is not some self-grounded consciousness but the process whereby consciousness tries to grasp itself – only to end up self-paralyzed – unmediated experience “of” the unborn is the final shipwreck of that project. [WHERE WE’RE GOING WITH OUR MEDITATIONS] The problem is resolved at its source. The ego-self, which has been preoccupied with making itself real, collapses and becomes no-thing. In terms of life-versus-death, the ego-self forecloses on its greatest anxiety by letting go and dying right now.

Wittgenstein: Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.