Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Neither Nor

Scott Bradley

The Buddha has no doctrine to convey. The truth is ungraspable and inexpressible. It neither is nor is not.
(The Diamond Sutra)
I once suggested to both Trey and Ta-Wan that we have a mature debate on this blog; both have agreed; but none of us can think of anything to debate about. I see this as a good sign. My motivation for suggesting a debate was in part due to a temporary drying up of my own well of blabber. But there was also the desire to see if we could actually have such a debate, a mature one. How would that differ from any other debate? It would have as its aim the mutual growth of each of its participants. And our positions would not, therefore, support themselves by attacking the positions of the other participants. Each position would rest on its own merits and would not require the negation of any other position for its validity.

All this maturity is merely hypothetical, needless to say. I need only look at my own posts to see this. It disturbs me that so much of what I write here is supported by the negation of what someone else wrote. Were I to edit all this negation (or reactive thinking) out of what I have written, there might not be much left.

The image which comes to mind is of a hamster on his wheel, running endlessly, yet going nowhere. This addiction to concepts as if they had anything at all to do with Reality is precisely this self-contained, futile exercise. Yet, we come away thinking we have gotten somewhere. Though, for my part, I often feel a distinct spiritual nausea from it all.

How and what we think must certainly be of great importance for how we are in the world. But having a particular world-view, no matter how ‘spiritual’, is not the actualization of that view. Mitchell, together with his wife, Byron Katie, suggests that what is more important still is our relation to our thoughts, rather than the thoughts themselves. Perhaps we could say that it is more important that we are not our thoughts, than that we have ‘correct’ thoughts.

This is not a new idea, needless to say. We are often told that the liberated person watches his or her thoughts come and go like so many clouds passing overhead. They mean nothing and find no place to rest within us. We are not these thoughts. But without thoughts, what are we?

This neither nor of “truth” is an invitation to find out. It is a wormhole into a reality inaccessible to the thinking mind. It neither is nor is it not. And this cannot be thunk.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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