Thursday, February 14, 2019

On the Dangers of Translation

One of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism is the Bodhipathapradipam ("Path to Awakening") by Dipamkara Shrijnana Atisha, commonly referred to simply as Atisha (982-1054). In this text, a path to awakening is laid out in a wonderful format which, in my view, promotes a path of empathy. Here are two examples of a possible translation of verse 5 from this text. A well-known translator and long-time practitioner has translated this magnificent text for us--and has done a great service for doing so. 

Here I include his translation first and my corrected rendering of the same verse with a twist. I hope you appreciate the intent of this modification. It has great bearing on how one views and practices Buddhism. I have simply eliminated his interpolated material and kept the rest. His translation may serve, as I see it, to obscure the intent of the verse. It is based on presuppositions, that are axiomatic in our Western philosophical tradition. In fact, I find his interpolation to reflect a Cartesianism that hides in the background serving--in far too many instances of translated, taught, and practiced aspects of Buddhist and non-Buddhist Indian (as well as Chinese) traditions--to reinforce the underlying beliefs that keep human possibilities framed and locked inside of a noose of deleterious limitations as evidenced today in far too many problems from pollution to insane inclinations toward war. 

See if you agree. Husserl would have objected to his translation (interpolation) on the basis of his view of empathy within phenomenological intersubjectivity. 

5) Anyone who fully wishes to eliminate completely
All the sufferings of others
As (he or she would) the sufferings included
in his or her own mental continuum
Is someone of supreme motivation.

Anyone who fully wishes to eliminate completely
All the sufferings of others
As the sufferings included
in his or her own experience continuum
Is someone of supreme motivation.

I sincerely hope you find this challenging, interesting, and helpful. Buddhism needs your help. 

                                                        --Gene Kelly 14 February 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Time and Death are the Way to Ultimate Knowledge Not Freedom

Please, consider this an ongoing meditation and not a completed piece. I invite you to meditate along with me.

Death, awareness is the great Seer, not one that is self-conscious, but fully engaged and joined with the seen--a non-dualism that when made explicit is no longer.  

Time and Death will provide the ultimate knowledge but not Freedom. This is what the Buddha knew. To know the movement of nano-moments watching experience form with death as the witness is this highest knowledge. Freedom combines both death and time, non-dualistically.

To know and feel what the all is, is to simultaneously know what it feels like to lose it. Death haunts the all every moment of its fullness. In paying quiet attention to that all at any given moment--right down to the tiniest microsecond--it dissolves. Awareness haunts appearances with a vengeance. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Use of the Words π™‡π™žπ™«π™žπ™£π™œ and π˜Ώπ™šπ™¨π™žπ™§π™š

Experience may be viewed as a sentient, breath-driven, incarnate, vectorial, and recursive impulse of conditioned intentions accompanied by a multiplicity of self-senses and responses that simultaneously manifest as their ephemeral and complementary meaning-laden circumstances fulfilling or obstructing those intentional impulses.

We may legitimately speak of this momentum as living and those intentional impulses as desires. This may be interpreted as the intentional desire-driven momentum of past acts (karma) incarnating as a vector: Experience, in use here, means the pregnant present expecting the perfect child of fulfillment in the ardently anticipated future—the only future that may be said to incarnate sentience. This present is not graspable, attainable, nor fulfilling. It is soaked with disappointment, patent or latent, from its roots, arousing vectorial maturity, i.e., anticipation, aiming toward inevitable failure. 

“...desire is the seed of the mind,….” Rg Veda 10.129.4

                                                           --gene kelly, 12/2018

Our time is up. Let's be serious about our lives for others. What others are to you is what you are to them. Please be kind. Compassion is the wisdom filled wish for the well being of all others. In constituting ourselves we constitute others. Be kind & practice it to the end.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Some thoughts--So what is Consciousness and Its Friends?

First and foremost, consciousness is an illusion. Talk of sentience, consciousness, awareness, and phenomena are all words of utility. Words are utilities. These words--and, by the way, there are no words either--are used, as tools in our toolbox. They are the means by which we, in our naivete or expertise, attempt to point back to some fictitious purified form of experience in which we are said to find freedom or some liberation from suffering or difficulty. So, let us set our record straight and declare that all of the writing that appears on this (my) blog are, in this sense, a practice of convenience with little to no pretense of reflecting something we may call, much to our detriment, reality. 

In anticipation of some objections, I will attempt to clarify what I likely did not say. Our saying is just that, saying. Whenever thought is used indexically, i.e., to point to, it necessarily lies. It cannot tell what has already taken place or what truly is a case in the completeness of experience, another vaunted word that allegedly points to the living that supposedly grounds our use of indexicals. We might say that our knowledge--after biting that famous fruit of the tree--banished us from Eden.

Now, with utmost urgency and certainty, we must declare that the possibility of a reduction or minimization of our difficulties is available to us when we come to a recognition that experience is a structured and meaningful movement. Throughout this blog, we have been attempting to index this movement as time.    

As always, much more needs to be said...eventually...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A Dangerous Narrative: "I am looking for happiness."

One of our, call it "epistemic," mistakes is to attribute sentience to our sense of self. To ascribe sentience, as such, to any phenomenon is an error that continues to support the erroneous notions of free will, substantial self-nature, and a denial of the conditioned nature of all phenomena. Sentience--or awareness, or whatever the most apt metaphor one uses at the time--is a distinct non-phenomenon that is a necessary aspect of all experience. One would not be wrong in saying that sentience is pure subjectivity. 

Allow me to add, that this "understanding" demonstrates the simple, yet often difficult to realize, fact that no one gets free nor does anyone get enlightened. It is simply, but not obviously, a matter of a sort of recognition that awareness has never been, nor will it ever be identified with appearances (phenomena). As such, awareness is and what remains the actual freedom that we paradoxically search or yearn for. One might even say that freedom is what is already the case for awareness, or pure subjectivity, and is not and cannot be an attribute of a person. The search for personal happiness is grounded in a misunderstanding of Buddhist or, dare I say, "authentic" spiritual teachings/teachers. Personhood, or selfhood, is a phenomenal and as such an ephemeral appearance only. Like sound or a candle flame, the so-called self or person is merely an apparition. This ephemerality of self-appearance is, in its appearing disappearing. If one cultivates a watchfulness regarding this phenomenon, one may detect the distinct nature of consciousness and realize that "it" has always abided in freedom. The biographical narratives, so prevalent in our cultural-historical reservoir (alaya-vijnana), have a tendency to "hook" consciousness making it appear that sentience belongs to the narratives. So, if the narratives declare that one is unhappy, miserable, suffering illnesses, etc. then the process of identification with phenomena leads to "personal" suffering instead of distinguishing the sky-like nature of awareness from the narratives and, surprisingly, the pain we suffer. (Of course this latter usually requires great skill and yogic practices that most of us have not cultivated. However, there are some few gifted who realize this constitutionally.) The "take-away" for us average folks is "Beware of Biography."

Monday, December 24, 2018

Unedited version

I believe that 'consciousness,' when once it has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphaneity, is on the point of disappearing altogether. It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right to a place among first principles. Those who still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the faint rumor left behind by the disappearing 'soul' upon the air of philosophy.*

                                                                                           --William James

This quote from an article by the great William James, published in 1904, has yet to infiltrate much of academic philosophy let alone the proliferation of New Age thinking that takes consciousness to be some sort of fundamental reality. The use of consciousness by many in the New Age movement and its progeny is a regrettable metaphysics. Consciousness in some of this thinking has become a substitute for God, the Divine, and no small amount of Non-Dualistic thinking. In this article, William James points to the need for consciousness to be seen as a function and not a thing. He goes on to make this explicit a few sentences later.

In this blog, we have emphasized that consciousness (sometimes awareness) is an aspect of all experience. As such, it is all-pervasive or omnipresent. Experience, all that is known, cannot occur without consciousness. Therefore, we may say that it is all-knowing or omniscient. All knowledge is contingent upon consciousness. Finally, consciousness is absolutely necessary for the production of anything in experience. Therefore, we may say that it is omnipotent. All of this sounds an awful lot like God, does it not? Well, with our understanding of consciousness as an aspect of experience even God is contingent upon our consciousness for his/her existence. God is a phenomenon that appears in my life, illuminated by consciousness. So, given what we have stated here, we may say that all of life, even other people, is made possible in our experience because of consciousness--and, of course, the multitude of phenomena it illuminates. In this quote by James, he does not acknowledge the role that the diaphaneity of consciousness may play in freeing us from the grip or clinging of/to the pleasure, pain or insensitivity often accompanying phenomenal manifestations. However, I am quick to add the following. All sentient beings, if we experience them as such--and that is something that many contemporary embodiment views conceal or ignore--open us to the possibility of realizing that our sentience is their sentience. Strangely enough--and we shall unfold this view below--we may even perceive that our awareness is their awareness precisely because of its impersonal nature--at first glance a seeming paradox. 

Contemporary views on embodiment and enactive views often make it possible for us to lose sight of the sentience of the other in the manner in which we have just mentioned.* This brings us to a discussion of intersubjectivity.

All thoughts, for starters, occur in a sort of sentient space. Thoughts carry with them the implicit notion both that they can be heard, i.e., that they are directed to or shall we say they are vectorial, that some sort of listener hears them. Thoughts carry the implicit notion that they will be heard. This is not an explicit idea or thought construct. This is implicit in the very nature of thinking itself. Or else, why think? In addition to being listened to, thoughts carry the implicit notion that there is someone, the self, who thinks them. Again, this is not thematic or explicit. It is an underlying and, very importantly, a felt belief--as is the listening. Thoughts are not only that which is thought but that movement which is felt. All thoughts, regardless of their lack of great significance, even the most subtle of thoughts, are felt. The feelings may be very subtle but if one is quiet and attentive enough, these two being two sides of a coin, one may actually feel even the most subtle of narrative movements as feeling-vibrations moving from the lower regions of our abdominal area all the way up to our mouth, if spoken. These feelings give rise to the sense that the self thinks them as well as hears them. Feelings are the basis of, or support for, the belief in the listener and the thinker. Our feelings, being aligned with the narrative content of thoughts, generate specific senses of self and the nature of realities, i.e., the very movement of conventional experience. Also included are the movements of perception which is configured in the same fashion, except perception operates through the sense-realms giving rise to cognitive, felt narratives in association with the perceived. Our perceptions, not simply those we are conscious of but those which configure the realities we face at an ulterior level of awareness, also become felt realities giving rise to pleasure, difficulty, or insensitivity, i.e., not caring or paying much attention to, or perhaps insignificant to us at the moment. 

Now, on the other hand, awareness or consciousness is totally indifferent to all appearances. This is due to its nature of pure diaphaneity as William James was aware of. He made it a point to warn us to avoid the reification of consciousness. Reification tends to overlook the role of consciousness in all experience and places it in a conceptual framework of metaphysical speculation, now even some far-out scientific speculation. This movement, at present, tends to overlook or relegate to the background the importance of seeing the role consciousness can play in the alleviation of suffering or difficulty for all of us.

(For the present, we are not going to focus on the ethical implications of taking pure experience as our fundamental reality--as William James suggests in his Does Consciousness Exist? I hope to get there in the near future. I very much hope others will join in this endeavor.)  

The Usurpation of the Function of Consciousness  

As we mentioned above, thought rests on the tacit beliefs that they are both listened to by a hearer and thought by a thinker. Now here is the tricky part. This subtle (cognitive) belief is concomitant with the feelings felt when movements of thought or perception are in motion. 

Those feelings serve to authenticate the movements of cognition thereby granting them the sense of being actual or real by their intimate association with those feelings plus consciousness. So, we might say that the visceral nature of all cognition instantiates or, better, incarnates knowing thereby giving the self-sense--implicit in all narratives--validity and solidity and the sense of selfness, the I-am. Hence we are embodied. I am. I am the knowing and am is the feeling. All this is made possible by the additional fact that consciousness is present and providing this movement of instantiation or incarnation that which turns it into experience. Consciousness is experience rendering. It gives sentience to phenomena, in this case, to narratives and feelings inclusive of the presuppositions of there being a thinker and a listener. Here is the moment that the role of consciousness is usurped. Since consciousness is diaphanous, a word carrying the Greek for phenomena as that which appears, it is that which phenomena can be seen through (dia-phanous). Again, it renders phenomena sentient, alive as experience. It is distinct from phenomena and yet implicit in all phenomena. There are no appearances without it. Its distinct nature may be exploited in at least two ways, one to our detriment and the other to our benefit. The detriment is found in our unexamined sense of self. Because of the Janus-like presence of diaphanous consciousness and meaningful phenomena, the presumed audience and thinker become the self-sense. This presumption--the exquisite usurpation, has no perceivable beginning. But, it does have an end.   

The Janus-like relation between awareness and phenomena, i.e., phenomena  meaning the evanescent appearances, implies feeling--in all cases. We do not normally focus on the incarnate aspects of the movements of (what we call) mind. Mind, in our sense of the term, is the movement of the narrative structuring of the entirety of experience. If we closely observe the movement of sound we can easily peer into the structural and ephemeral workings of mind. Sound is an ephemeral movement. In its appearing, it is disappearing. A visual analog would be a flame. Looking at the flame, it is a visual paradigm of evanescence, it must continually disappear to appear, just like all experience. Vision, if not informed by this, will seem to grant us access to stable things, there for our use or observation. This is not the case at all. If we focus on the experience of those same things and take our cue from that, we will note that movement, i.e., time as experience, is on the move. One can feel this, but not necessarily see this. Take a look at a faded curtain and give it some thought.  

Narratives are evanescent and meaningful agents accompanied by feelings. In other words, mind is always incarnate in feelings, not in an abstract, conceptual version of a body-- which is a substance narrative. The feeling-body is not a thing; it is a felt movement informed by narratives, taking informed to mean forming, structuring--a dynamic and evanescent movement. This felt movement is structured not only by the explicit words we hear in thinking but by a process of anamnesis, a remembering that makes thought seem rational and meaningful. The implications are staggering. How far back do we go to find the most basic elements that serve to grant meaning to the present moment, to our present meaning-full present? There is no perceivable beginning. The reservoir must be ever-present, alive and infused with consciousness without which it would not function. It is consciousness which grants it life.  

All sentence-like thoughts are granted meaning from the unfathomable depths of history, the wellspring that makes any explicit thought meaningful. This wellspring is ever-present as the sustaining source, the reservoir that grants significance to the explicit. Of course, this is a speculative movement of mind and is not direct experience. The Buddha, for example, would not have approved of this movement--to theorize about this would have little to do, in his eyes, with the alleviation of our difficulties. I'll try to adhere to his outlook. 

More often than not, we in our narrative cultural movement, take mind to be an inhabitant of a flesh body in a physical or natural or material world. From our perspective, this narrative, this belief is and has been a terrible curse. How? It inclines us to ignore feeling the movement of narratives in the experiential feeling-body, or subtle body, and observing that it also conceals much of the movement of experience. It conceals the movement of the meaning-granting acts of situation creation. Each of our moment-to-moment experiential circumstances, inclusive of both self and what we call objective reality, is being granted life and significance through this sentient movement of narratives, or intentionality--as Husserl termed it. He saw that the transcendental ego was the underlying intentional agent of the constitution of experience. 

Here you are, on a park bench, alone with your thoughts--and the silence in which they occur. As you realized from the preceding, this silent-sentience is not thematic, it is the presumed listener to and author of thoughts--if without much consideration you pause to reflect and take note of this underlying aspect of experience. Now, suddenly, a friend approaches and you, in an effort to capture her attention say, "Hello." Now please consider this carefully. You may even wish to experiment with this if it comes to mind in a similar situation. As you say hello, the sentient-silence has gone from your implicit experience of it and may now be considered to have disappeared. But, what if it did not disappear? What if it is now the presumed listener to your "Hello"? The sentient-silence has taken birth in the other. Is this your experience? Is this what happens? What can we then say about the SS? What conclusions can we draw? More importantly, is this what we actually experience just under the radar of reflection? There was once a popular saying. It went like this, "The eyes are the mirror of the soul." Now, I'm not sure what "soul" means, but the expression was usually taken to mean that when we look into another's eyes, we have some insight into their soul. Well, let's take a closer look at this expression. What about taking it to mean that when we look into another's eyes they are the mirror of our soul?  


*Current narratives, promulgated by many financial interests, seek to reduce human beings to material entities at the expense of their living subjectivity. Inherent in these narratives lurks the danger of a reduction of empathy narratives and an increase in our capacity for violence. The sentience and subjectivity of all living beings must be respected and made primary in our moral attitudes at the expense of profit maximization. By profit, I do not mean only financial profit but all self-interest material maximization at the expense of other sentient beings.
** Some in the sophisticated Tantric traditions of so-called "Hinduism" and Buddhism speak of this "body" in Sanskrit as the sΕ«kαΉ£ma Ε›arΔ«ra, pronounced (suk-shma-sha-ree-ra) in Sanskrit.  

Monday, December 10, 2018

Time, Narratives, Control and Configuration

Narratives, although not necessarily conscious, are what configure experience. Experience is vectorial*, i.e., experience is selflessly directed movement from the past aimed toward a future in the present. 

All three times are alive and conscious, configured by the past and intentional, i.e., structurally directed toward a possible future. In other words, experience--even what we may believe "happens to us"--is structured by fundamental beliefs about what is (the past) and what we will do (the future) with what is. In this sense, experience, as such, is a vectorial configuration constituted by past acts that anticipate or intend a possible future. This aim toward a possible or imagined future is as central to the configuration of experience as the past. In the oft repeated words of the Buddha, "Karma/kamma (action) is intention (cetana)". Thus, both past and future configure present experience in view of present conditions.

Present conditions are configured by the sensorium, covert cognitive and proprioceptive** processes that are, more often than not, covert or latent. Conscious thought plays somewhat of a superficial narrative role as our "consciousness of" an objective reality--the only kind we can be conscious of. However, that objective reality has become what it is via those covert processes of cognition, sensorial activity, and proprioception. These processes not only result in thought processes but also provide three general types of "feeling" (Pali: vedana), pleasurable, undesirable, or indifferent. Remarkably, there is no independently existing objective realm which is "worked on" by the three inner organs mentioned above, i.e., the sensorium, covert cognition, and proprioceptive--and our positing these is merely a tentative gesture at best.***  The only objectivity that is perceived to be independent is through the consciousness of and this is the result of a set of unspoken and unjustified assumptions. Reality, as the great Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset has stated, is "...what we do with what there is." In our sense of the term reality is experience. Since experience is fundamentally ephemeral it does it an injustice to attempt to freeze it and reduce it to the image of thought, something that began for Western Civilization, to impose a convenient start to it, with the great Parmenides who told us that "thought is the way to Being." So, reality for him, must be like thought and thought freezes and reduces movement to frames, pictures, and unicorns. To paraphrase Ortega, "Whoever guaranteed that "thought reflects reality?" Pragmatic results do not justify the hidden and mostly unquestioned materialist metaphysics. To be continued... 

*For a definition of "vectorial" see:

** For "proprioceptive" see:

***You might even say, with some hesitation, that the positing is a conciliatory gesture to our brothers and sisters steeped in physicalism.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Home Away from Home*

When asked "Where do you live?" many of us will provide a geographical answer, e.g., Chicago, or on Main Street, or some such place. However, when looked a bit more closely, one may justifiably say, "I live in experience." Experience [as experiencing] may now be viewed as a home away home. Home is a habit of mind.

Therefore, whatever appears [as appearing/disappearing] to us at any given moment-situation is our ultimate home. Based on this, we would have to say that ecology is better viewed as taking care that experience is skillfully constituted. The skillful constitution of experience is brought about by various practices that aim toward peace of mind. Peace is an important component of experience. It renders us attentive to the mind’s essential sentience, one of two aspects of our binary nature. The evanescent arising and dissolving of phenomena, now seen to be accompanied by awareness, grants phenomena their sentience.

                                 Our Binary Life Movement

This binary distinction is an important perspective. Awareness--not some sort of existing "thing" or "entity," such as some have done with consciousness in making it a sort of foundation or ultimate reality--is not a separate thing from phenomena but the aspect the of experience that we can distinguish from phenomena with a calm focus.  However, most of us pay little attention to awareness itself as it is all to often tied, or better yet "bound," to the phenomena which are being lit by awareness turning them into the contents of experience. Peace of mind offers us the possibility of realizing that there is a distinction between awareness and the contents that are being illuminated by it, in it, through it--however one wishes to point to this aspect. Again, our mirror metaphor may serve to illustrate this. Awareness functions much like the mirror's surface. How often do we look at the surface of a clean mirror? We are, much more often than not, focused on the image within the mirror and not the mirror. No problem there. Taking our metaphor to experience, awareness functions in a similar, unnoticed, and unappreciated fashion. This is due to our not realizing that there may even be a distinction between what appears as experience (dharmas, phenomena, etc.), i.e., its contents and not that which goes on being taken for granted, awareness. The two are distinct but not two separated "entities." In point of fact, we are here discussing experience, in which all phenomena are movement, evanescence, and process; identity (things) are not our focus--although identities may appear in the stream. Awareness and the contents of experience are here considered to be alive as a moving and sentient current. However, in quietude, one realizes upon reflection that awareness defies characterization. One can only point in the hope that the pointing is not taken for the pointed to. Things do not play a role in this specific context. Awareness and the contents of experience may yield things but things are a conceptual reification of contents which may be considered a process of identification--often necessary but at times dangerous. I cannot stress this enough. In this context, things are our experience of things and not things in themselves in the context of our present discussion. Thinking may identify, i.e., grant identity to, but identification may shift the focus from process to identity. That discussion is for another time.

                                        * * * * * * * * * * *

Awareness functions as the eye of the storm, a truly dispassionate, non-conceptual spectator at peace and aloof despite the whirls** of the experienced.

Awareness, a function of which is to grant sentience to phenomena, may be realized to be distinct from phenomena and as such, it may become a door to liberation. Its distinct nature is untouched by the selfless arising of phenomena and as such it provides the possibility to allow for the synchronous arising and cessation of difficulty. This is not to be confused with effort as we normally regard it. As the surface of a mirror is indifferent to the passing phenomena it yields as reflections, awareness, a purified subjectivity, may be seen to have been a posture of indifference from a time without a perceivable beginning. Thus, in discovering the role that awareness has been playing all along, one may now regard awareness as our domicile the protection of which calls for civil liberties.

The civility required to protect and encourage the care of our liberation from difficulty may now function as the ground and justification of virtue. Civil liberties may now function to protect the peace of society, i.e., the sentient nature of all phenomena--inclusive of all the sentient others that arise in our experience--is our society.

*This entry first appeared on "The Spiritual Civil Liberties Union" where the title was "Home and the Need for Civil Liberties." Here:

*"Whirls," interestingly employed by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the conscious movements of experience, citta-vrtti.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Ultimate Reality

The ultimate reality is the life of each one of us as it is lived. All other realities, even god, are rooted in the “my life.” The bio-life of each one of us, i.e., life as it is lived, is where all things gain their life as they are lived in us. Taking care of “my life” is to take care of all that appears in my life as a living. The universe that takes place in my life is the only universe. It has commonalities with others but will never be “the universe.” The notion that there is such a universe is an abstraction that is rooted in a belief that is—with very few exceptions—is uncritically held, presupposed, assumed, and in the minds of most scientists, axiomatic. The demand that all adhere to the notion of “the universe” is not only tyrannical but wrong-headed. It is an epistemic dream that science, politics, economics, society, etc. exist as independent realities.

What makes this ultimate reality mine? This movement or bio-life includes a phenomenal I-sense that is generated within phenomenal manifestations. The I think, I know, I am, mine, me, and mine are circumstantially situated along with the movement of experience and as such, they are felt phenomena, i.e., dynamic, animated--a living appearance. The sense of self is ephemeral, mercurial. As an appearing it is an ephemeron, ever appearing and simultaneously dissolving. Reality is a movement, a flux that includes all three times--past, present, and future. Not one moment is devoid of all three times. This is not conceptual or contrived time but living time--experience as time itself. Without the three times being present, it is not possible to take even one step forward. Time is evanescent experience. 

“In its coming, it is going; in its going, it is coming.” (Gurani Anjali)

Monday, August 13, 2018

On Ultimate Reality: The Bio-Life of Each One of Us

The ultimate reality is the life of each one of us as it is lived. All other realities, even god, are rooted in the “my life.” The bio-life of each one of us, i.e., life as it is lived, is where all things gain their life as they are lived in us. Taking care of “my life” is to take care of all that appears in my life as living. The universe that takes place in my life is the only universe. It has commonalities with others but will never be “the universe.” The notion that there is such a universe is an abstraction that is rooted in thought. The demand that all adhere to the notion of “the universe” is not only tyrannical but wrong-headed. It is an epistemic dream that science, politics, economics, society, etc. exists as independent realities.

What makes this ultimate reality mine? This movement or bio-life includes a phenomenal I-sense that is generated within phenomenal manifestations. The "I-think," "I-know," and "I-am" are circumstantially situated along with the movement of experience and as such they are felt phenomena,i.e., dynamic, animated a lived appearance. As an appearance it is an ephemeron, ever appearing and simultaneously dissolving. Reality is a movement, a flux that includes all three times--past, present, and future. Not one moment is devoid of all three times. This is not conceptual or contrived time but living time--experience as time itself.


The eye cannot see itself. The eye sees, but cannot be seen, even when looking in the mirror, the one in the mirror is the seen, never the seer. In awareness, self is not everything else. It is, without exception, the truly unique. So, what does it mean to call it “self”? Why that word? In experience, not theory, not concept, what justifies our use of that word? Is it a self? If so, how would we know? What does that word “mean”? How is “self” being used? The how is always accompanied by a when. Is there any other time when “self” is also present? This so-called “self” is accompanied by past and future historical and projectival aspects(?). Subjectivity, the wholly other to all that is, is never at risk of being found. The familiar “self” is used because it is familiar. Can anyone actually say what this word means? Is it ever what it is claimed to be? It rises and falls in living and dynamic contexts, always mercurial. It is no more a what than a who. Looked at very closely there is no one there. There is no one home. Then why call it “self”?

I don’t have any answers of the kind most looked for, to some degree I can address life as each one of us lives it. After all, the living of each one of us is the fundamental reality, is it not? When speaking history, politics, economics, literature, and many more languages, more often than not, the living and breathing life of each one of us as it is lived is not considered as a necessary ingredient of the narrative. Instead, we settle for imaginary beings--who may just as well be thought of as things--to discuss what is best, or politically appropriate, or medically applicable. Think about it, how often is a living being, in living and dynamic situations considered in any narrative context? Strange, to say the least, since it is this living that makes all of the others possible, even theology.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Enactivism, Embodiment, Extended Mind, etc.

Zen Koan: A monk was meditating by the pond with his master one day. While meditating there the monk saw a frog jump into the pond. He asked his master who was sitting beside him how this happened. The master replied: "If you can explain what happens when the pond jumps into the frog then you will have your answer". The monk realized, in that instant, the meaning of his master's statement and then began to meditate some more.

As the koan shows, if the monk/student can imagine or fabricate his way to an explanation of how the "pond jumps into the frog," he will understand how the frog jumps into the pond, how it occurs. Please note that it is how and not why. Our knowledge, our experience, our "embodied consciousness" does not stop at the skin. What is known, at this [mostly occulted] level of perception is the manner in which mind extends into living circumstances. Each moment of our sentient living demonstrates an incarnate construal of self-body-mind-world instantiation. These moments provide much of the sediment for subsequent moments of life's movement as living time. As I have discussed in previous blog entries, a process of deposition is at work; we might call it a process of an assimilating deposition. The immediate conditions of each moment, a fractal frame, imposed upon all of the prior frames already deposited, is structured as a new past conditioned by both the present conditions and all of the prior fractal frames. This movement includes a paradoxical looking back to the future thus conditioning all subsequent moment-frames. All looking forward relies upon the present and the past for its vector. All acts of body, speech, and mind—past, present, and future—reside in dependence on the entirety of the past as well as present conditions carrying intentions forward. There is no room for a free will but the all-inclusive present conditions offer novelty in each moment thus offering the possibility of innovation. Nothing remains the same. Given this analysis, there can be no eternal return Γ  la Nietzsche. The past provides the working material from which, influenced by present conditions, the future holds out the possibility for change. We may view this as the unfolding of history or karma. Innovation is made possible by the openness of the present to unique conditions into which the past enters to undergo modification in its vectorial movement to future acts. The process is far too complex to rationally compute. However, it may be said that what we do in the present, which is the result of past acts that have been perfumed all along by unique presents, offers us the possibility of changing our futures. TBC


Burning as living, Living as burning

On the Dangers of Translation

One of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism is the  Bodhipathapradipam ("Path to Awakening") by Dipamkara Shrijnana Ati...