The Best Glastonbury Gig Ever?

Please follow this link to the blog of Jessica Davidson and watch the video. Buddhism getting down with the kids.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Best Glastonbury Gig Ever?

  1. Hello Peter j, You commented on Agora,” the idea that the universe is a unity.”

    Could you say what this idea means?

  2. PeterJ says:

    Hi ontologicalrealist

    Your question is extremely tricky. The answer is probably no because this is an idea that if pursued takes us beyond thought and language. But I can try. You might like to check out some Buddhist writings on emptiness, and unity receives a lot of discussion in the wider literature.

    A unity includes everything. There is nothing omitted. Indeed, even ‘Nothing’ is included, for this would be a way of describing it. One cannot observe a unity because there can be no division between observer and observed. The intellect cannot grasp it so it appears to be a void or a gap. A unity would be what we are, so we are unable to divide into two and look at one half from the other half. A unity has no parts. Thus it cannot be (in fact) extended in time or space but can only appear to be so extended. A unity is not a numerical value, so should not be equated with ‘one’.as opposed to some other number. It would be prior to number and form. The idea of Unity is closely associated with the ‘Firstness’ of CS Peirce, and this may be worth having a look at as a way in to the idea. Spencer Brown likes it to a blank piece of paper before any distinctions are marked on it. A unity is free of distinctions. A unity is indicated by the name used for the nondual interpretation of the Upanishads, which is ‘advaita’ (not-two). Note that this phrase avoids the suggestion that it is a numerical ‘one’.

    It needs an essay really but this is a start. The idea is that despite the appearance of diversity, multiplicity, time and space and the world of conceptual opposites, underneath or behind this smokescreen is the real phenomenon that contains them all and that transcends all differences and multiplicity. Plotinus calls it a ‘Simplex’. We see this idea in Christian thought in respect of the Holy Grail, an experience said to have the power to ‘dissolve all distinctions’.

    Is this anything like helpful? You remind me that I should write something specifically about this seeing as how I mention it all the time. Unity is an idea in a class of its own, not immediately comprehensible and requiring a lot of work, A mystic would say it’s not worth talking about, only going and looking. The Tao cannot be spoken and all that. Language requires subjects and predicates so is not able to describe a world beyond any subject/predicate distinction.

    It’s the best I can do before I go shopping….

    PS. Just quickly checked out your interesting post on existence and perception. All this would be closely connected with your point about the things we think exist being in fact constructs of our senses and mind. The mystic is not content with such appearances and seeks what is actually real. Take away the constructs you speak of (Buddhism calls them ‘conceptual imputations) and what remains is unity free of division and distinction. Thus ‘enlightenment’ would be a cosmic event. See also Beaudrillards’s ‘Desert of the Real’, the crucial idea behind the film ‘Matrix’. Heady stuff.

    PPS – Aha. I see that you think there are phenomena that exist independently of conscious perception. This may give you trouble in trying to get to grips with the idea of unity. It requires the idea that nothing really exists, that existence itself is not an ultimate phenomenon but an imputation.

  3. ” It requires the idea that nothing really exists”
    What do you mean by “really exist”?

  4. PeterJ says:

    The word ‘really’ here would imply that things do not exist as we think they do. Clearly they exist in some sense but they would not exist independently. They would have only a relative or dependent existence. As such, they would be reducible in metaphysics. Even the subject/object distinction would reduce.

    As the one real and independent phenomenon would transcend the existence/non-existence distinction, nothing would really exist. For more try checking out Nagarjuna. For an introduction I’d recommend ‘The Sun of Wisdom’ by Khenpo Tsultrum Gyamptso.(Shambala). Or maybe check out ‘relative phenomenalism’ in philosophy of mind.

    It’ll be tough going for an ontological realist but it’s not a falsifiable idea and it allows a solution for metaphysics. It is said to be true by those who explore consciousness to the limit but it works in metaphysics even if we don’t. This would be why existence does not make sense in metaphysics when we assume it is a fundamental phenomenon, that it isn’t.

    I hope this makes some sense as an answer.


  5. “It’ll be tough going for an ontological realist”
    I am a realist about noumenon and not about phenomenon.

    “Clearly they exist in some sense but they would not exist independently.”
    Independently of what?

    • PeterJ says:

      That’s an interesting position. It seems to more or less line up with the view I’m describing.

      ‘Independence’ here would be much the same as ‘absoluteness’. A relative phenomenon depends on other phenomena and could not exist in their absence. (A subject cannot exist without an object, existence depends on space-time etc). An independent phenomenon would have no reliance on any other phenomenon. For the ‘Middle Way’ view there would be no phenomenon that exists independently, the very idea would not make sense. What is real and independent,(which I think might be equated logically with your noumenon), would be beyond the existence/non-existence dichotomy and all dichotomies. As everything would reduce to this ultimate phenomenon then for an ultimate view nothing would really exist, or would have only a relative or dependent existence. ‘Epiphenomenal’ would be a roughly appropriate word. .

      Reality then becomes a unity free of all distinction and division, such that a person can find this out in their own experience, ’empirically’ as it were. .

      If you only reify the noumenon then to shift your view around to match the Buddha’s you would just have to say that there is only one noumenon. This would not be quite the same view but very close.

  6. Is Buddhist view the same as advaita view? And what is your view?

  7. PeterJ says:

    Good question. It is my view that the principle of nonduality is the foundation of both. For me the phrase ‘Middle Way’ has the same implication as ‘Not-Two’. Both deny the true reality of division, distinction and duality so they have very little room to differ on significant issues and perhaps none at all. .

    Advaita seems rather stark and frightening to some people but it’s horses for courses. Some people like to leap straight to the end of the story with no frills and some like to take it a small step at a time. I’d see the differences as mostly methodological.

    If one focuses on nonduality as a central issue when studying comparative religion and mysticism then one soon sees that it runs like a thread through the experiential reports of practitioners, cutting across all boundaries and borders, times and places, cultures and languages.

  8. ” It is my view that the principle of nonduality is the foundation of both. ”
    Please state exactly ‘the principle of nonduality’ .

  9. PeterJ says:

    I feel it might be better if you read a good book. I’d highly recommend ‘The Sun of Wisdom’ by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamptso (Shambala).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s