The Logician’s Contact Lenses

How lightly can you touch something without violating it by your touch?

Why does the modern Logician not include the ‘Subjective’ presence so integral to Nāmarūpa within his own definition of ‘Form’?

[The Logician’s ‘Form’ as used here is not to be conflated with ‘Logical Form’, a different and very useful concept.]

He doesn’t, because the rules of Logic say that what happens in his Mental-Space belongs to him. In fact it is him.

The Logician recognizes himself, has modeled himself from just that very mix of elements that stand in counter-point to the abstraction he has defined as ‘Form’.

Mental-Space is not in his field-of-vision because it is one with his field-of-vision. It is what makes him who he is. Its elements are part of his organic contact lenses and without them he will not be able to see as he see’s.

To expand on Descartes: I am Thinking, therefore I am; I am what I am now Thinking.

Categorized as The Method

Nāmarūpa And ‘Form’

The  term ‘Empty’ or ‘Null’ as used in English translations of Śūnyatha and Śūnya originate directly from the vocabulary of Classical Logic, [Logic’s ‘Empty Class’] as does the word ‘Form’ as used in the Heart Sutra.

But they were flailing around for an equivalent choice for the term Nāmarūpa [Rūpa; in fact by this time its interpretation in the Sanskrit itself had become entirely flaccid.]

Then the Translators noticed the English word ‘Form’ which happened to be part of the extended vocabulary of Classical Logic. It had a nice ring to it and the meaning appeared very close to the word Nāmarūpam.

And so they went with ‘Form’, a palliative compromise. [The word first appears in Plato’s ‘Theory of Forms’ which is probably where it was noticed. The English word ‘Idea’ originates here.]

But Nāmarūpa is not exactly ‘Form’. And the two words are not perfect translation matches. And to see where and how they are different can make all the difference.

Nāmarūpa has a seriously slippery feature to it: Self-Reference.

‘Form’ as commonly used in Classical Logic is: ‘Something that is marked, has taken shape’. A line, a curve, a color, a smell, a melody, a scratch. Logic comes alive, is operative, only in the abstract, only in the world of Form.

But Nāmarūpa does not exactly overlap with the ‘Form’ as defined by the Logician. Nāmarūpa like Form, is ‘Something that is marked, has taken shape’. But Nāmarūpa, unlike the Logician’s Form, an ‘Objective’ presence, includes within its domain all ‘Subjective’ presence’ as well.

Feeling is Nāmarūpa, a mental-image is Nāmarūpa, internal-dialogue is Nāmarūpa. All that you see with your eyes closed or hear with your ears plugged are part of Nāmarūpa. If you can name it, mark it, express it, put a metaphorical finger on it, it is part of Nāmarūpa.

All references to Nāmarūpa are already contained in Nāmarūpa as are all thoughts you have in response to it.

If you slip on its self-referential feature you will confound Nāmarūpa with Awareness, Consciousness, Presence, Everything and other such heavy concepts, and find yourself thrashing around on the tails of the Self-Loop.

The texts themselves carry numerous and often conflicting versions of Nāmarūpa a term that predates the Sūtra. The version used here is as that used in the Heart Sūtra. The most popular one includes Vasanas, hold-over mental constructions from the past and there are many definitions with such variations.

It’s important not to fall into the Academic Trap of getting stuck on words. If you find any of the above confusing, ignore it and get back on the Meditation Mat.

The material can be expanded substantially if one were to go into the later evolution of Platonic Form and the Academic Philosopher’s love of ‘Universals’. But I shall stop here.

No guru, fee-speaker or book-writer I have met is aware of this connect as the source of the translated terms, which might explain their wildly creative interpretations.

It partly explains why they keep talking about the emptiness of tables and trees instead of what’s doing the observing, making the claim about the tables and trees.

Categorized as The Method

The Circle of Self-Deception

Robert Lee Frost [1874-1963]

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me.‘ So chided Robert Frost.

Self-Deception is complete because there is no deception at all.

That’s The Joke. The great big one. The priceless howler. An artlessly honest Joke, not a clever play of words.

But there’s a big difference between reading it and realizing it. Same as between hearing it and getting it.

‘The claim to an ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” is a preposterous presumption, a comic conceit, a sanctioned vanity‘.

Indeed. But there is no ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” claiming any such thing.

There is no ‘Self’ in torment at its own absence. Nor one feverishly seeking to affirm its presence. There is no ‘Self’ writhing in Error [Avidyā], nor one awakened in ecstatic Realization [Mukthi].

There is no Independent and Separated ‘Self’. And no ‘Self’ realizing [or needs to realize] that there is no ‘Self’. And no ‘Self’…Ad Infinitum. All the way back to ‘True Nothing’.

This idea of ‘Joke’ is deceptively facile. A Joke is not always in the mood to make you laugh. And Absurdity, it’s kid-sister Irony, and it’s kid-brother Paradox, are not always funny.

They can just as well make you weep, bring you to your knees.

Categorized as The Method

Nāgārjuna: ‘Not A Whit Of Difference…’

One of the earliest interpreters of the Prajñāpāramithā was Acharya Nāgārjuna [around 100 CE].

Along with Aryadeva and Chandrakirti, the school broke out of the old canards, the respectable cliches behind which other teacher-monks mystified their Teachings.

‘There is not a whit of difference between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra’, the Acharya famously declared.

And in case you find that ambiguous, he adds: ‘And there is not a whit of difference between Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa‘.

Echoing the same idea 800 years later, here is Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin [circa 850 CE]

‘Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.

When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters.

But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.

Elsewhere Nāgārjuna adds:

He who is in harmony with Sūnyathā is in harmony with all things. Beyond good and evil, profound and liberating, [it] has not been tasted by those who fear what is entirely groundless.

Categorized as The Method

The Rolls-Royce Dealership

Nirvāṇa marks the end of Saṃsāra, the latter term translatable with adequate accuracy as a ‘Disoriented Search’.

But Nirvāṇa is defined only in relationship to what it is not. My Search ends when I no longer find myself searching.

‘There is not a whit of difference between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra’, the Scholar-Monk Nāgārjuna [100 C.E.] famously declared.

And in case you find that ambiguous or unconvincing, he adds: ‘And there is not a whit of difference between Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa’

It is markedly unwise, dangerously facile, to explain the nature of ‘World’ to one who can interpret the explanation only from the platform of a presumed observing and separated ‘Self’. [In other words, don’t write Sites like this one.]

In the common analogy, it’s like explaining life outside water to a fish that has known nothing else and cannot conceive it with any credence.

The fish is an easier case. With us humans, explanation is both unconvincing and deleterious.

It’s sort of like the situation at the counter at the Rolls-Royce dealership. If you need to ask the price you probably can’t afford it.

If you need to have Nirvāṇa explained, you won’t understand it.

Categorized as The Method


If you have properly alighted on The-Not you have run out of questions. There is nothing more to ask or to say. The Trail ends here.

Exalted queries like: ‘What is Reality?’ take shape only on the platform of uninvestigated presumptions and the platform of the ‘Subject-Object’ Divide. They have no more life at ‘The-Not.

But if you still have questions there is a word, one that goes back to the earliest texts, meant to help with the answer.

Here is my old File-Box Post:

Nirvāṇa in its proper definition has nothing at all to do with any empyrean ecstasy, cosmic peace or any of that later rubbish. And no, upon reaching it you still will not be able to part the Red Sea.

The stock explanation of Nirvāṇa is that it marks some kind of Ego-Death, a typically vague gloss that doesn’t mean anything. But it does allow the Teacher to talk for hours about its significance.

The word Nirvāṇa, literally a ‘Flaring-Out’, has its etymological roots in a fire that has ‘Come to Rest’.

The Madhima Nikaya, the source most often cited, says it is like asking the direction taken by a dead fire: ‘To ask: ‘In which direction has [the dead] fire gone?’, is a question that: ‘does not fit the case’.

The answer to the question: ‘What is Nirvāṇa?’ lies in an understanding of the misunderstanding that underlies the question itself.

The self-scuttling has to be done at the level of the questioner.

An early definition of Nirvāṇa was as the ‘Exhaustion of Philosophical Views’. Now, is the ‘Exhaustion of Philosophical Views’ itself a ‘Philosophical View’ or not? Err…is this a ‘SEE’?

Categorized as The Method

St. Paul: ‘I Live; Yet Not I’

St. Paul, the passionate convert: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.‘ [Gal 2:20; Paul’s letters preceded the Gospels.]

‘I live; yet not I’ is a feeling arrived at routinely by anyone in later stages of Meditation Practice. 

[But can you live it? Can you sense it when brushing your teeth?]

This is a classic religious short-stop. You will find vivid examples [and I will post them once I locate them in my old files] in every religious tradition. They range from high abstractions to ethnic, regional and folk deities.

But no one was as spectacularly successful as St. Paul who reached back into his immediate ethnic and regional roots to locate the divine connect in a manger in Bethlehem. More than half the world today celebrates his explanation.

He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross‘. The closing lines of St. Paul’s translation of likely the first Christian hymn.

Categorized as The Method

Meditation: The Original Laboratory

How do I investigate what a ‘Thought’ is without using a thought?

How do I investigate what ‘Mind’ is without using mind?

How do ‘I’ investigate ‘Me’?

Formal Meditation Practice is the original and time-tested tool to get to the ground of Self-Reference.

A search for the Symbol ‘0’ without a Meditation Practice in place is not a good idea. Don’t even think about pursuing the Symbol ‘0’ without a formal Meditation Practice in place.

It is no random choice that all classic renditions of the Buddha are of him in a posture of Meditation .

Dhyāna, or Formal Meditation [a word that in time morphs in C’han-Zen as it heads East], is an elemental, powerful and time-tested tool is the single-best practice to catch yourself catching yourself, to grab the swirling cat’s tail. And it’s free. Take it. 

There are various genres of Meditation Practice. But formal meditation as an investigative tool had its origins in the recognition of self-reference lying at the heart of almost every serious inquiry.

And it is the ancestor of ‘The Scientific Stance’; the sustained aseptic posture of a ‘Disinterested Alertness’. The original laboratory. 

It is the indispensable requirement for Vedic Inquiry and the dividing line between Vedic and Hindu although both belong in the same family. A necessary condition, and in some rare cases, a sufficient one.

The track of the Meditator is fairly well-established. After a lengthy period of investigating conceptual and concrete Objects and repeatedly catching himself chasing his tail in braided, layered self-referential loops, his focus turns inwards towards the Subject, the Investigator himself.

This is the entry into the long hall of mirrors. The very slippery search for ‘Self’ by an assumed ‘Self’. The ‘I’ chasing ‘Me’.

Stop confounding Object as Subject, Something as Nothing.

[‘If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease’ notes the Hsin-hsin Ming. Keep in mind though that there is nothing wrong with dreams. Nice dreams and not-so nice dreams.]

Mystic, from Myein, ‘To close, shut [eyes and lips]’; you have to close the eye to see straight, hold your tongue to speak truth.

I have long held, passionately so, that no person should teach, write books [or websites], or hold-forth on the Dharma until your bottom is permanently numb from long hours of Sitting.

At least five years of a daily one-hour Sitting, ideally ten. This rule should actually apply to teaching any subject in depth. The Numb Bottom Test. But I shall restrain myself.

I continue to remain incredulous that self-referential loops whether in Language or Mathematics or even social-systems such as Post-Modernism or Marxism, can be investigated by learned university professionals who have no basic training in Meditation Practices. Not the least. Most have never heard of it; and the few who have would wince if caught doing it.

There are various types and levels of Meditation Practice. But its core can be summarized in that famous Zen phrase: ‘Eyes Horizontal, Nose Vertical’. A straight spine, a steady breadth and don’t blink.

If I ever get-around to putting some of this on YouTube, I shall get more demonstrative. This medium I am in is less than ideal to discuss it at any practical depth,

Categorized as The Method

Shut-Up And Pack Him A Sandwich

The essential character of ‘The-Not’ is that you may not say a word about it. No aspects, no features, no ‘properties’, not a word.

Big Y’s ‘Neti! Neti!‘ applies: Avyākṛta, Anirvacaniya, Mounam [Silence: a word mystified into high obscurity by the Gurus].

Say something about it, however exalted, however learned, and what you have said about, by that very fact, is not ‘The-Not’.

But unlike the original mystified expression Tát’, an expression of inexpressibility, ‘The-Not’ is explicit and achievable to any one who wants to find out what it means.

The auditory equivalent of the ‘The-Not’ as Self-Eating Expression is the sound: ‘Silence!’ [You violate the silence in commanding: ‘Silence!’].

‘Silence’ [Mounam] has a long history going back to the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad. But ‘Silence’ is also the ripest plum for mystical obscurantists and book-read teachers who have had a field-day with the word for centuries. They can mystify a brick but this one is a particularly rich lode.

‘Silence’ as used here means just that. There is no mystique hidden in it. There is nothing to say and anything you say will be misunderstood. So you hold your tongue. [In particular, don’t write Websites]. See the next Post: ‘Nirvana‘.

‘Truth’, derives from the Old-English Treiewo, [German Treuwaz], with roots in the Sanskrit Dre and Dhr [as in Dharma]. It originally meant ‘Firm, Immovable’. In contemporary understanding it would be that which is ‘Undeniable and Irreducible’.

[Note Zen’s: ‘Immovable Wisdom’; Aristotle’s: ‘Unmoved Mover’, and so on.]

As late as the 19th Century Academic philosophers were coming up with ‘Theories of Truth’ which by that very fact vitiates its end. The Consistency Theory of Truth; the Coherence Theory of Truth; the Correspondence Theory of Truth and so on. Plato would have gulped.

If you look up modern dictionary definitions you will find explanations in keeping with the times: ‘Actuality, Certainty, Conformance with Facts, Accord with Reality’ and so on although each of these terms [‘Fact’] would itself require a lengthy elaboration.

If someone stops by your door and asks: ‘What is Truth?’, you pack him a sandwich, show him the ‘Backward Step’, and suggest that he watch-out for falling rocks and deceptively shallow puddles. Other than that, you don’t say a word.

If you must say a word, it may only be as Self-Eating Expression. Tell him to go find ‘The-Not’.

The best known of the many short-stops to ‘The-Not’ in the literature are ‘Consciousness’ and ‘True Self’. Both names arise as a result of incomplete combustion. The ‘Backward Step’ stops an inch short of True-Nothing. I’ll get to both in later Posts.

The Natural Limit Of Binary Inquiry

The Symbol ‘0’ [Śūnya; Śūnyathā] is complete. There is nothing outside it.

The analytic convenience of the ‘Subject-Object Divide’ is one unit. They are mutually supporting modeling artifacts. When one ends goes it takes the other.

[This experiential confirmation was first recorded, to the best of my knowledge, in the Xin Xin Ming verses, 6th Century, China.]

And the Symbol ‘0’ is the natural and necessary limit of Inquiry. [Inquiry’ with a capital ‘I’. I am still inquiring why my spinach never blanches just right.]

To not end the Inquiry in the arisen conviction of the absence of an ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self”, is to have not awoken to the significance of the absence of a ‘Self’ in the first place.

If you are still asking questions like ‘What is Reality’ or ‘Truth’ or ‘God’, you are not yet alighted on the Symbol.

It is also the point at which, freed from your needless presumptions, the best of inquiry with a small ‘i’ begins.

The Pill to cure Cancer remains unfound and Climate Change is upon us. You have your work cut-out for you. [See the ‘Science’ Posts.]

[I’ll get around to fixing my spinach problem sometime this year.]

Śūnyathā And The Hridaya [‘Heart’] Sūtra

An Inquiry that began centuries earlier with Yājñavalkya in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad finally finds its completion alongside the birth of the two pivotal expressions, Śūnya and Śūnyathā, in the Hridaya [‘Heart’] Sūtra’, itself a summary condensation of the Diamond Sūtra.

The 25 Sloka compacting of the MahaPrajñāpāramithā is the Hridaya [‘Heart’] Sūtra.

If the Diamond Sutra is loopy, circuitous, the Heart Sutra, is in-your-face direct. It is to be read only as supplement to, alongside it, it for its very tight phrasing can seriously miscue the entrant.

[Numerous European language translations from Max Muller to Edward Conze going back over a century are available on the Web.]

Recall that the Diamond Sūtra marks its terminus only as Táthāgatha, a reference not to the terminus itself but ‘One who has arrived at the terminus’ [‘That’-Gone’, the same ‘That’ of the Vedic verse].

This is expressed in the Heart Sūtra’ as ‘The Mantra Of The Prajñā-Pāramithā’ [which I have translated elsewhere but will put up on this Site].

The Sūtra approaches this axial verse by introducing a celebrated line: ‘Form [NamaRupa] is not different from ‘The-Not'[Śūnyathā]; ‘The-Not’, from Form‘. [What is ‘Form’? See the Post: Nāmarūpa And ‘Form’.]

This is identical to the final and foundational Binary: ‘True Nothing'[Śūnya] and ‘Not-True-Nothing’. It is the necessary limit that you need to get to when beginning the ‘Backward Step’ at the ‘Subject-Object Divide’.

There is one last step, as described in the previous Post: the sighting and alighting on Śūnyatha. This step corresponds to the ‘The Mantra Of The Prajñā-Pāramithā’ Hridaya [‘Heart] Sūtra’.

Don’t get stuck or twirled around by the language of the Sūtra. It is 2,500 years old, of a different world and for a different audience.

This basic summary was realigned by Śaṅkarācārya a millennia later using different terminology. I’ll get to it in a full later Post. But Śaṅkarācārya’s paramaguru [Teacher’s teacher’] was Gaudapada who was himself raised in these very verses of the Prajñā-Pāramithā texts, as noted in his Gaudapada Karika.

The common English translation of the approach verse is as: ‘Form is not different from Emptiness; Emptiness, from Form’. For reasons explained elsewhere, I do not use the translated term: Emptiness [replaced here as ‘The-Not’] for the numerous miscues that the term has given rise to in contemporary Sangha culture.

The Final And Foundational Binary

The Trail can be roughly marked in the following steps. There are other ways but this might be the fastest and least ambiguous of the lot.

After repeated confrontations with the Self-Loop, you turn your attention to the nature of Model, its grounding in the construct of the ‘Subject-Object’ Divide and its foisting presumptions.

Work your way laterally across, using the Axiom of ‘Object’ [The Co-Dependency Principle; I’ve done a detailed example step-by-step in one of my earlier releases.]

Then to the ‘Backward Step’ using the Axioms of Sight. True-Nothing is a term constructed to identify its terminus. The ‘Backward Step itself arose from a very simple Sight-Insight [‘Observation-Understanding’].

It was discovered that if you explore this notion of ‘Subject’ with adequate care, there is no element of it that is not recognizable as confounded ‘Object’. [If you have discovered one, it is only because you have improperly defined the notion of ‘Object’.]

But this is just the first pass. The second level is to see that there is no ‘Subject’ here confounding ‘Object as Subject’. The third level is to see that there is no ‘Subject’ here that has noted that there is ‘no ‘Subject’ here confounding ‘Object as Subject’. And so on.

You will find the Symbol ‘0’ [Śūnya; Śūnyathā], at the terminus of ‘The Backward Step’, behind all intertwined Object[s] confuted as Subject and all interpretations of Subject fabricated in intricate diaphanous reflexive loops of logic and language, what we call ‘Self’.

The alighting on the final and foundational Binary: ‘True-Nothing’ and ‘Not-True-Nothing’.

Stay at this platform long enough and you will suddenly, without warning and with complete conviction, realize that the Foundational Divide itself is artificial and unnecessary, a modeling artifact and nothing more.

In other words, you will wake-up to the elemental truth that there is no such thing as True-Nothing. You collapse the final binary. You are in now in plain view of Śūnyatha.

‘The-Not’: ‘The [Self-Scuttling] Sight-Insight on the very nature of Sight-Insight’. That’s it. You are done. Go Home.

You always and only orient to True-Nothing. Never, ever to ‘The-Not’. You default to ‘The-Not’ on a clear sighting of True-Nothing. They are Head to the other as Tail. One Symbol, the symbol ‘0’ is enough.

The Symbol ‘0’ was designed as a guiding-rail. Without it the ‘Backward Step’ is not navigable. You will spin interminably in self-referential loops with no exit.

‘There really is no such thing as True-Nothing’,This is deceptively simple. It can take you a year [likely more] of trial and test in every possible context before you get to it. And many long preceding years to get to that point of trial and test.

For those curious, see if you can spot daylight between the earlier definition of Brahman and the above layout of ‘The-Not’ [See the Posts].

And how is ‘True-Nothing; The-Not’ different than the consequential distinction made popular in later Vedanthic literature between ‘Nirguna Brahman; Sahguna Brahman‘ [It is.] I’ll get to them in later Post.

Absolute Absence

Now, let’s do the hop from from ‘Subject’ to ‘True Nothing’. It’s a very short one.

Śūnya: ‘Absolute Absence’, means it is not in reference to, and in relationship with, any element outside itself.

I cannot have any kind of relationship, sensory, cognitive, affective or volitional with ‘True Nothing’. Any relationship I have can only be with the Concept of Nothing, the idea of Absence, the ‘Confounding of Something as Nothing.’

‘True Nothing’ says: ‘You cannot see me, smell me, love me or hate me, grasp me or recoil from me. You cannot think of me, appraise me, perceive me, comprehend me or remember me, give me features or properties or tendencies, foist names, attributes, aspects. qualities…

In particular, do not confound it with the Concept of Nothing, the Idea of Absence, an altogether-different animal. [As in the arithmetic condition: -1<0<+1; or such extensions as ‘Tending to Zero’ in Calculus.]

There is a later literature that equates ‘Nothing’ [‘Creatio Ex-Nihilo‘, and similar proposals] with variations of a very man-made Creator-God.

What they have in their net is the Idea of Nothing with a host of attributes and properties dangling from it. It is a distant short-stop from ‘True Nothing’. See the later Posts.

One famous modern philosopher referred to Nothingness as a ‘Deep dark, emptiness’. A ‘Deep dark emptiness’ is not Nothingness; it is simply: ‘A Deep dark emptiness’.

The Axiom Of Subject

‘Subject’ is the idea closest to me. With ‘Subject’, it’s not just ‘Seeing’ as in the Axiom of Sight. It is much more.

I can’t see the source of my seeing, I can’t hear the source of my hearing, taste the source of my tasting… In general, I can’t have any sensory relationship with my sensory source.

It’s not just sensory relationships. It’s any and all relationships. I cannot have any kind of cognitive relationship with my cognitive source; affective relationship with my affective source.; volitional relationship with my volitional source. And so on.

I can’t have any true relationship with ‘Me’. Any relationship I have can only be with an idea of ‘Me’ in a ‘confounding of Object as Subject’. All markings of Subject are through, and only through, Object.

This is the Axiom of Subject.

The Object confounded as Subject could be direct or inferred, extrapolated or truncated, clear or contorted, explicit and verbalized or implicit and muted.

Look in the basement. Check the attic. There is no more evasive character you will encounter.

‘Giving Birth To Myself’

The Axiom of Sight are the Virgin Twins. They are not to be violated. So what happens if I do? I then: ‘Give Birth To Myself’.

I look into a mirror. And I am absolutely certain that what I see is the source of my vision. In claiming to see my own eye, I become an Object to myself as Subject. I double, I multiply and divide, while all the time remaining myself.

The ‘Cycle of Birth and Death’. The Self-Loop .

You possess this wondrous thing called ‘Mind’. Right here, atop the synapse and betwixt the neuron.

You model yourself and the world around you in great sweeps of analytic glee. And then the conflicts and contradictions show-up.

No fear. You simply turn this formidable apparatus, this ‘Mind’, on ‘Mind’ itself. [A spot of grease should fix things nicely.]

You just violated the Virgin. You are ‘Born-Again’. 

You only have two practical options. One is to coast along in a confounding of ‘Object as Subject’. Most people do and they merrily go on to live long and happy lives. Ignorance isn’t necessarily debilitating or painful.

The other is to buy yourself a durable Meditation Mat.

The Self-Loop

The Axioms Of Sight

Step into your bathroom. Turn on the lights. Wipe mirror with a damp cloth. Look.

Do you see your eye? Of Course you do. But what you don’t see is the source of your vision.

In fact, what you see in the mirror cannot be the source of your vision. In fact, it can be anything but the source of your vision.

Your source of vision may never see itself.

Furthermore, and of equal importance:

Anything you see as the source of your vision, by that very fact, is confirmed as not being the source of your vision.

These are the Axioms of Sight. There are no claims of error in which I can have greater conviction.

The Symbol ‘0’ takes birth in taking this self-negating sequence illustrated in the Axioms of Sight all the way past the notion of ‘Self’ to its natural, necessary and inevitable limit as the terminus of the ‘Backward Step’.

Note that these Axioms of Sight precede and preempt the Axioms of Formal Logic which originate in primary ontological assumptions such as an existent, independent, separated ‘Self’. I’ll get to them in the Philosophy Posts.

The Redoubtable Mr. Holmes


‘Holmes and Watson’, Richard Gutschmidt, 1906

‘How often have I said to you [Watson], that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’.

Arthur Conan-Doyle: ‘The Sign of Four’ [1890]

‘Who Is It That See’s?’

Just abandon the myriad Dharmas, discard reason, let go of loss and gain, good and bad this instant and return to yourself and look penetratingly:

Who is it that Sees?’

The four elements are without self. I am originally without a master. This masterless master is the body, and this selfless self is true nature.

Body and Nature are not two, and the ten thousand Dharmas are one. In this unity there are no sages and no ordinary people. Where can life, death and Nirvana come from?

The merit of existence and non-existence does not apply to this wondrous wisdom. How can words or silence, movement or stillness affect it?’

From an early File-Box. My scribble on the margin tells me it is by the eminent Japanese Rinzai Zen Master Bassui Tokushō [1327-1387 CE].

Further down the Posts we will see near identical language from Shri Ramana Maharishi [1879-1950: ‘What Am I?’]

The Self-Eating Expression

‘Seeing’ in its analytic meaning is is all about catching the beam in your own eye. This is the purport of the Self-Eating Expression. And the Symbol ‘0’ is the original Self-Eating Expression.

I catch the beam in my eye: and catch myself catching myself; and catch myself catching myself catching myself. And so on.

I See. I See that I See. I See that I See that I See…

I Know. I Know that I Know. I Know that I Know that I Know…

I am Conscious. I am Conscious of being conscious. I am Conscious of being conscious of being conscious…

There is no ‘Self’. There is no ‘Self’ claiming there is no ‘Self’. There is no ‘Self’ claiming: ‘There is no ‘Self’ claiming there is no ‘Self”…

Each element ‘eats’ [or negates] the one prior to it once it catches the beam in its own eye. [This can take its own sweet time so no point in trying to rush it.]

This the idea behind the format of the Self-Eating Expression.

[Try it such on such high abstractions as ‘Why?’ and ‘Cause’. You’ll get a better feel for it.]

To ‘See’ is to take the ‘Backward Step’ and unwind the Self-Eating Expression [SEE] all the way back to True-Nothing and the sighting of ‘The-Not’.

There are various grades of the Self-Eating Expression and I’ll list them all. But the basic intuition in all of them is the same.

Vedic Truth: ‘The One who See’s’


Vedic Truth: from Vid; To Know, To See; Proto-Indo European Weid, as in Vide, View, Video.

Hence Schools of Philosophy as Darśanas, from dṛś: ‘To See’.

The Philosopher [Greek Phílosophía: ‘Lover of Wisdom’] is replaced by the Seer. I can debate you to the grave. But I can’t unsee what I see.

One loves Wisdom of course, yet the conviction is unstable until I see.

So it is that all Vedic inquiry begins with Formal Meditation Practice [Dhyāna], the original ‘Laboratory For Inquiry’. Its defining feature and its indispensable platform [C’han and Zen for example are morphed extensions of the word ‘Dhyāna‘].

The book-read modern Vedic Scholar has mastered the acts of diction and argument, carefully avoiding the evident dangers of the original skill of seeing what is in front of his nose.

Ātman: Yājñavalkya’s Algorithm

Uddalaka’s distinguished disciple Yājñavalkya [Big Y], in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad [the written version descending from a long earlier Oral Teaching Tradition], lays out a simple algorithmic rule to get to Ātman.

Ātman, a central expression of the Upaniṣad is simply: ‘That which animates Life’. It is related to the English word ‘Animate’ as in the Latin Anima Mundi.

The formula is Neti, Neti: ‘It is not this! It is not this!’ As is uniformly true of all radically revealing insights it was simple to lay-out and not so simple to effect.

A meta-statement is an assertion about an assertion. The complete rule properly interpreted is a self-scuttling circular loop: ‘It is not this!’; It is not: ‘It is not this!’

No amount of negating will lead to convergence unless the negating finally turns in on itself. Else, the formula will enter into an insidious and indefinite spin. The formula completes, the circle is rounded only when the aim, act and agent of negation are themselves consumed in full self-scuttle.

When properly rounded Yājñavalkya’s Rule would have been the first formulated Self-Negating Expression. And the earliest definition of the Symbol ‘0’.

Yājñavalkya’s Ātman was simultaneously: ‘A mass of Intelligence and an ‘An Inner Controller’, and other such Self-Eating analogue expressions. He also summarized it using an earlier term: ‘Not-Two’ [Àdvaitham; see below].

The formula in time becomes the algorithm that begets the Symbol ‘0’. Yet Śūnya and Śūnyathā were still centuries away from discovery.

That did not take shape until the time of the Vajracchedikā [‘Diamond-Cutter’] Sūtra and the exploring of the new idea of An-Ātman [‘No-Self’].

Once Śūnya is convincingly settled, Śūnyathā comes into view. Śūnyathā is simply Ātman relieved of all its embedded self-referential loops.

A great deal originates with the pioneering Yājñavalkya, including the intuition for the Axioms of Sight, the most compact definition of ‘Not-Two’ [Àdvaitham] and the plain talk about: ‘The Other Shore’.

The common interpretation of the Algorithm is that this was simply an emphatic negation, a rejection of ‘World as Object’ and a relapse to an ‘Inner Self’ in line with the terminus of the Chandogya Upanishad and later by numerous schools which quickly elevated it to impenetrable obscurity.

The Via Negativa and the Coincidentia Oppositorum are notions later developed in Mystical Traditions, both Jewish and Islamic, but the latter is best known from the Docta Ignoranta of the German scholar Nicolas of Cusa [1440 CE]. For those who believe our best scientists are the new philosophers, Neils Bohr [Nobel, Physics, ’22] chose Contraria Sunt Complementa as the motto on his ‘Coat of Arms’.

Categorized as The Method

Liberalis: The Finished Man

In the early days, before a flat-earth liberalism took over the Universities, if you were educated as a member of the Learned Class, you were educated in the ways of the religious order that provided you the education.

A Modern Liberal Education, wouldn’t you know, was originally conceived as culminating in this momentous achievement.

The beneficiary of a ‘Liberal Education’ in contrast to a technical one or a guild apprenticeship was ‘liberated’ [Latin Liber, ‘Free’] from common blinders and conventional prejudices. A Liberal Education completed and displayed the Finished Man [Liberalis evolved to mean ‘Noble’].

A good education [not to be confused with ‘higher’] gives you the confidence to look your assumptions and beliefs in the eye. It’s really not about knowing the difference between Fahrenheit and Centigrade or the geographic co-ordinates of Khartoum.

The idea is long in the trash, and the Finished Man is now a Gentleman who can properly tie a Windsor-Knot. But that was not the beginning idea.

[I’d still rather share a table with a Gentleman’]

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Equus Asinus: The Doctor of Philosophy

In the best known lines from Plato’s Phaedrus:

The Louvre, Paris

But I [Socrates] have no leisure for them [other inquiries] at all.

And the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription [Gnothi Seauton] has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.

University, from the Latin: Universus, ‘Whole’.

Did you know that by most reliable accounts the world’s oldest University still giving courses is Bologna, founded in 1088 C.E.?

And that it originated in the monastic schools that had been active for nearly 400 years until the University was established?

No? And you have a degree from Oxford [1167 C.E.]?

In those days, you dictated your risky love-letter to a monk who wrote it and passed it on, to be read to the ear of your Beloved by an equally celibate monk. Difficult days.

Now what did monks in the 11th century do when not making fine brandies. Monks meditate, navel-gaze, step ‘Backward’, go ‘Inward’.

When was the last time your Philosophy Professor suggested a moment’s quiet breathing before discussing the ‘Meaning of Meaning’? Ten minutes of Formal Meditation preceding John Rawls? Or more radically, the nature of the ‘Subject’?

You can do a Doctorate in Philosophy today in the best universities without ever raising the question of the ‘Subject’ doing the Inquiry.

If you suggest that it may be relevant, the Professor will likely take you aside and suggest that you might be better suited for Art History.

I’ve long held that Formal Meditation Practice must be made a requirement for a teacher of any serious subject in a University. It is doubly true for teachers of Philosophy. Just as you will need a Drivers License to be permitted to drive a car on a public road.

The word ‘University’, in spite of its loose use, is a very specific term for an institution that birthed in the Western historical and religious tradition. There were Institutions of Learning that predated the specific concept of the University,  Nalanda or Takshasheela for example, but they are not to be called ‘Universities’.

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Origins: The Chandogya Upaniṣad

Upaniṣad is Vedanta: ‘The end of the Vedas, of Vedic Understanding’, a word-play on the fortuitous convergence of the metaphoric and literal, as they are located at the concluding part of the Vedic contracting cone. Abstraction and metaphysical content rise as the cone shrinks.

The dialogues of Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu in the Chandogya Upaniṣad, the first of the two oldest extant Upanishads, lay-out the pioneering of the ‘Inward Turn’, the first seed that birthed the formulation of the Symbol ‘0’.

The assumed Subject had to be first clearly identified, the Inquirer’s Platform laid bare, prior to any investigation on an Object. Honest Inquiry began inwards, backwards.

It was here and for the first time, the Inquirer as the Subject of Inquiry, the platform from which he views his world, was being recognized as pivotal in any proper understanding and assessment of the Inquiry, of the results of the Inquiry.

The modern assumption that the Subject can be ignored as long as the Object was clearly in view was, after repeated and painful experimentation, found to be false.

In time there spread a wider appreciation of the issues involved. That this type of Inquiry was of a very special and perilous character, that any inquiry on the nature of the Subject, by an assumed Subject, was fraught with miscues, wrong turns and short stops.

The Inquirers of the Chandogya went further back than anyone else before them. But Śūnya and Śūnyathā were unknown constructs and their birth was centuries away.

They stopped at the point where all expression failed them, a point encountered by every serious Inquirer, and justifiably assumed that the point they had reached was Tát [literally, ‘That’], a term deified in the original Vedic corpus itself. [‘Tát Tvam Asi’]

Over time this terminus gets further conceptualized and reified and begins to be interpreted as ‘Subtle Inner Essence’. This is the also beginning of the idea of ‘True Self’ which pervades Vedantha and related schools.

A laying-out of the Inquirer, making transparent his presumptions and closeted prejudices, is part of the ‘Scientific Stance’, an integral element of what today is termed ‘Scientific Method’. The roots of Formal Meditation Practice begin here. See the later Posts.

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The ‘First Principles’ List

Methods of Inquiry that have immediate credibility to the modern-ear begin with the early Greek philosophers.

Inquiry must begin, they said, with the assertion of Axiom, the investigative analogue of the atom. [You can’t prove an Axiom. Bad idea. The idea of ‘proof’ itself is rooted in an Axiom. But people try all the time.]

But in most cases we have to settle for the Assumption. In a fogged-in world it is the reasonable man’s truth. And often our deepest convictions begin in the flimsiest of assumptions.

Unlike its ancestor the Monastery, every subject taught at a Modern University begins with implicit, mostly unstated assumptions called ‘First Principles’.

Every known ‘First Principle’, in Philosophy, in Logic, in Language, in Science, in Art, takes life atop this platform. They range from the thoughtful to the fearlessly flippant.

All ‘First Principles’ however are granted legitimacy only when mounted on the critically important ‘First Presumption’. The First Presumption that there is an ‘Independent and Separate Observer, Self, Subject’.

Most Inquiry however cheerfully begins well-past all ‘First Principles’. The professors, busy folks, are unlikely to remember what they are. Ask the lady at the front-desk for the ‘First Principles List’. And wreck her day.

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‘Entia Non Sunt Multiplicanda…’

The Tradition of Formal Inquiry declares that among equally valid explanations, the one with the least assumptions wins: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

And he who needs the additional assumption gets to defend it. The burden of proof rests with the claimant.

Especially on one as bizarre as this, the claim to an: ‘Independent and Separate Observer, Self, Subject’.

But we shall not quibble. And we shall not whine.

This has numerous variants, Falsifiability, the ‘Burden of Proof’ [as in Russell’s Teapot] and so on, much of it directly relevant to investigating the wild religious claims of visiting overnight prophets. I’ll explain in the individual Posts.

Categorized as The Method

The First Presumption Of Inquiry

Now therefore the inquiry into Brahman.’ This is the opening line of the Brahma Sūtra [around 300 BCE], a foundational text for all subsequent commentaries.

So how are we going to get to Brahman? Where do we begin?

Here’s my old File-Box Post on the subject:

The first and fundamental presumption of Formal Inquiry is the accepted convention, the unstated conviction, of the presence of an inquiring Subject ‘Independent and Separate’ from the investigated Object.

[All this presumes that there is a Subject here following conventions and having convictions and presumptions. Let’s keep it simple for now.]

It is meaningless to talk of ‘Inquiry’ if the Subject is conjoined with the Object of Inquiry. But then, the word ‘Meaning’ itself is predicated on the presence of a ‘Me’.

We can spend decades testing an academic assumption that underpins a trite theory. But skip out on testing this first presumption that precedes the posit of Theory itself.

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The Three Symbols

The understanding of the symbols: 0 [Zero], ∞ [Infinity], and I [‘Self’] are mutually inseparable

In other words, I understand all three. Or I understand none

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Nothing And Everything

Here’s a clip I once wrote about the origins of Self-Reference in Classical Logic:

‘In looking for ‘Nothing’, you must remember to exclude any sensory, cognitive or affective representation of it as Object.

‘Nothing’ is radically exclusive.

In looking for ‘Everything’, you must remember to include the Looking-Subject.

‘Everything’ is radically inclusive.

The Symbol ‘0’, the original Self-Eating Expression [‘SEE’], is a synthetic construct that was put together with the very specific objective of helping the investigator get to the bottom of all this.

In particular, this ‘I’.

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‘Infinity’ And Me

The idea of ‘Infinity’ has long attracted the mathematically adventurous. And the philosophically credulous.

The symbol ‘0’ has been around for a long time. But the symbol ‘∞’ for ‘Infinity’ however is relatively new, making its appearance with the birth of Science and its need for abstract measurements [the Universe is ‘Finite but Unbounded’?].

The grizzled Dharmic monks and the geezers around the fountain-square in old Athens didn’t like the word very much, rarely used it. [It parallels their reluctance to grant the ‘Principle of Induction’ the status of ‘Law’; see the Post]. And why not?

‘Infinity’ is from the Latin In-finitas, for ‘Unbounded, Unbordered’. The bells should go off right there. To give definition is to mark a boundary. And here we begin by defining something as the ‘Unbounded‘.

From the Isavasya Upanishad: ‘When taken away from the Infinite Whole [Purnam], the Infinite Whole remains the Infinite Whole’.

Infinity minus ten trillion is still Infinity. That’s the definition for this formally ‘Undefined Concept’. ‘Infinity’ is that which doesn’t budge when you take something away from it. Or add something to it.

We don’t quite know what Infinity is. But we are quite sure that ‘Infinity plus one’ is the same as it.

‘Infinite Regress’? A term coined to suggest its user needs serious psychiatric help. The resolution of the Self-Eating Expression is ‘Infinite Regress’ in its most militant form.

The always effective threat of the Preacherman that brings the obdurate to their knees: ‘Thou shalt fry for all Eternity’ [Infinity on a Time-Axis].

Have you ever had the compelling desire to fly faster than Light? We’ll, you can’t do it. And why can’t you do it?

The folks who worked out the Theory of Relativity found that as you approach the speed of Light, the amount of energy needed to move you an inch [or for that matter, a single electron] ‘Tends to Infinity’.

While you snuggle into the empty space of a vacuum tube [‘Tends to Zero’], enthusiastic Scientists are vigorously seeking a ‘Theory of Everything’.

Any such theory, by that very fact, invalidates itself. The folks don’t understand Self-Reference.

Wilhelm Leibniz along with Isaac Newton is credited with founding the Calculus. Lots of ‘Tending to Zero’ and ‘Tending to Infinity’ in it. He was alert to the Loop but avoided any direct confrontation with it [See Posts]. Explain that to the modern Mathematician.

Categorized as The Method

Chasing Brahman

OK. Now for the tricky part. If you miss this Loop, you miss Brahman.

What is Brahman? I don’t know. In fact I can never know what Brahman is. And why not? Because I am part of this ‘All’, whatever this ‘All’ is. Else it wouldn’t be the ‘All’.

The word Brahman is ensconced in layers of self-reference. It will twirl you around like a top if you don’t stay alert.

I can’t locate ‘The All’ while sitting on my rocker because ‘The All’ includes me sitting on my rocker. And it includes me thinking about locating ‘The All’ while sitting on my rocker. And…ad infinitum.

If you don’t see that, you will reduce Brahman to another Man-Made ‘God’. Which is pretty much the state of things today.

Śūnyathā is simply the original insight of Brahman, emptied, taken to its necessary limit, made-clean of its self-referential loops.

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The Plotinus ‘One’ And The Gnostic Christ

I’ll reach for some illustrative excerpts just to convince you of the universality of this idea of ‘The All’.

Perhaps no other Mystic found followers from all three Abrahamic faiths as did Plotinus [203-270 CE].

His Neo-Platonic ‘One’ [itself sourced in Plato’s Parmenides] held Europe for a millennia deeply influencing everyone from St. Thomas Aquinas to Eckhart and Merton.

Reality, wrote Plotinus is:

‘A Nameless Unity, indescribable, undefinable.. never known measure, stands outside under no limit of any Everything and Nothing..’.

[Enneads, itself linking to Greek and Sanskrit text.]

Plotinus famously joined Gordian’s march on Persia to get to India, failed, and returned to Antioch. It would have been worthwhile. In 3rd Century Bharath, the quality of Inquiry was still high.

The centrality of this notion of the ‘All’ is found in every scripture, Dharmic, Abrahamic, Pagan and all the rest.

The difference is that while it takes center stage in the Dharmic Tradition, it hides, is tucked away in the scrolls of the Mystics in the Abrahamic Creeds.

And for good reason. The orthodoxy didn’t take kindly to such heretical views, hounded them relentlessly until they changed their blasphemous ways. You go with the Prophet who is in direct touch with God.

From the St. Thomas Gospel, a principal Gnostic text [CE 100]:

The Kingdom of God is inside of you and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known..realize that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves you live in poverty..

The Kingdom of God is spread out upon the Earth and men do not see it..when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, then you will enter [the Kingdom].’

‘You read the face of the Sky and of the Earth, but you do not recognize the one before you and you do not know how to read this moment..

I am the All. The All came forth from Me…and attained in Me.’

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Brahman is only that of which the Upaniṣads speak‘ begins the celebrated Kena Upanishad.

The Symbol ‘0’ took birth, found formulation, in the many attempts to understand what this word Brahman meant.

Brahman is from the root ‘Brh‘: ‘To Uphold, Support’. Brahman is: ‘That which upholds’, and was originally a Mantric expression for Yagnic formalities.

So what is this Brahman? What’s been told about it in the primary texts?

The earliest Mahāvākyam, a summary affirmation of primal Vedic Truth, is from the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (3.14.1, among others; around 1,000 BCE):

Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma: ‘All [this] is Brahman‘.

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The ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’

El Primer Beso: Salvador Viniegra y Lasso de la Vega (1891)

What is it about eating of the fruit of the famed Binary, the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’, of having your eyes opened, of having to die, and then ‘Living Forever’?

The ‘Testimony of Truth’, a Gnostic Gospel, stands the story of Adam and Eve and Genesis [and its parallel Koranic version] on its head:

From every tree you may eat [but] from the tree [of the knowledge of Good and Evil, that Gd planted in a garden eastward of Eden, after dividing the light from the darkness] which is in the midst of paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat you will surely die‘.

But the serpent was wise… and persuaded Zoe [‘Life’], the daughter of Sophia [‘Wisdom’], also called Eve: ‘On the day that you eat from that tree, the eyes of your mind will be opened‘.

Eve ate and shared it with her husband. Their eyes were opened and the Jealous God said: ‘Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing evil and good…let us cast him out of paradise, lest he take from the tree of life and live forever…

‘She talked to a man on the phone’ Note the all-male audience.
Faryab Province, Afghanistan

But if you take the conventional interpretation of the genesis story literally, Woman as temptress, Man as victim, Original Sin…

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The Binary Code

A single line divides a page in two. It just takes one cut to separate a Dot and a Dash, to create the couple ‘0,1’, which together can express all Information.

Wisdom may be inexpressible. But Information is eminently expressible. In fact, expressibility is what makes it ‘Information’.

This, they say, is the Age of Information. ‘Information’ is from the Latin: In form-atio. Knowledge which has: ‘taken form’, in other words, given name and dimension.

The Information Age was begat in the Binary System of Number Representation. The ability of the computer’s magnetic core to organize all information in hierarchical structures of pairs in a coding of: ‘0,1’.

‘True: False’, as the Boolean Algebra folks like to say. [Or would you prefer: ‘True: Not-True’?]

But how did you decide on the First-Divide?

If you are sure that: ‘True; False’ is itself a ‘True’ distinction you are a convert, no longer an inquirer to its truth. You stand, already divided.

So, as the Zen-Man would say, what then is your Original-Face before you were born to Male and Female?

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I once sat in on a Sangha meeting where the learned monk was whipping up a lather: ‘Not-Two; Not-Three; Not-Four’, he pounded.

This is not what ‘Not-Two’ means. It is not a swipe at all notions of plurality. ‘Two’ marks the foundational pillars [‘Is’ and ‘Is Not’] of Model, of a Modeled- Reality.

Once you miss the significance of ‘Two’, you can go all the way to quadrillion. And it wouldn’t make any difference. 

The word: ‘Two’ has somehow managed to hold on to its clothes, keep its identity over the many centuries and continents it has crossed. I know of no other word quite like it:

Dvi [Sanskrit]; Duo [Latin]; Dio [Greek]; Do [Persian]; Tvau [Norse]; Tvee [Dutch]; and you can guess ‘Zvei’ and, ‘Deux’. ‘Double’, a word cognate with Doubt, Duplicity and the Devil. The Duo in front of the Deity.

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Cut once; get two. A pair is the first and minimal unit of division, the elemental DNA, the fundamental building block, of every Man-Made Model.

And once you grant the pair a self-evident truth, a string of irrefutable derivative extensions follow. And on this platform, all major Religions have erected their models of Divinity and Philosophy and Science, their altars of Truth.

This is the ancient metaphoric twosome of Purusha and Prakriti, loosely translatable as ‘Man and Nature’ or in folk-form, ‘Axle and Wheel’.

Subject and Object, Center and Circumference, True and False, Right and Wrong, Witness and Witnessed, Existent and Transient, Real and Illusion, Sacred and Profane, Achievement and Shortfall.

Spiritual and Material. Transcendent and Immanent, the Inner-Inviolate versus the Outer-Defiled, an immaculate, permanent, pure Heaven in contrast to a violated, transient, impure World.

And the Diva of all Divides: ‘I’ and ‘Not-I’.

Importantly. there is nothing ‘Erroneous’ about the Dual. Accuracy and Error are themselves ‘Doubled Ideas’, as is the very notion of ‘Double’.

Just as the notion of ‘Model’ is itself very much a Modeled-Idea; as is the notion of “Modeled-Idea’.

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Nisargadatta Maharaj


Nisargadatta Maharaj’s talks and writings drew an active and wide following. Along with Ramana Maharishi, a dedicated teacher of Vedantha in a field crowded with sharp salesmen and feeble consumers.

‘To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not-body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that-nothing, concrete or abstract, which you can perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.

The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being. You are already ‘That’.’

As with Ramana Maharishi, the primary tool of Inquiry is Yājñavalkya’s Rule.

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And here from the Bhakthi [Devotional] Collection:

Māṇikkavāchakar, 12th Century Bronze

My thoughts upon that Nature dwelt
till thoughts there were no more.
There is nothing else other than You.
Approaching and approaching, 
I become worn down to an atom,
then worn away till I was one with Him.
Hail Shiva, dwelling in holy Perunturai!
There is nothing that You are,
Yet without You, nothing is!
Who indeed can know You?’

Māṇikkavāchakar’s Thiruvāchakam
Tiruperunturai, Circa 8th Century

I cite this extract from Māṇikkavāchakar’s rightly celebrated poem in Classical Tamil, just to convince you that this track of being ‘Brought to Nothing’ is both universal and very old.

The above preceded St. John by about 800 years. You can locate parallel verses in any serious Tradition.

[I can’t recall the very talented translator. If you recognize it, drop me a note.]

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Sri Ramana Maharishi


Sri Ramana Maharishi is by common consent seen as the preeminent modern teacher from the Vedanthic Tradition. And here, from the Vedanthic Literature:

‘The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I” thought.. the place [idam] where even the slightest trace of ‘I’ does not exist is Swarupa [‘True Self’: One’s Real Nature]’.

That is called ‘Silence’. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is “I”; the Self itself is God; all is Shiva, the Self.’

‘By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’, the thought ‘Who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.’

This was Ramana Maharishis’ principal teaching metaphor. It is Yājñavalkya’s Algorithm, word for word.

The question is has ‘the stick used for stirring the burning pyre itself fully burnt to ash. Has the circle been rounded, has the Self-Eating Expression consumed itself, has the Ouroboros eaten its tail?

In other words has the Symbol ‘0’ been alighted upon? Or have you stopped-short, pitched tent, and found religion.

[Ramana Maharishi is likely a distant if reluctant relative of mine and my first mentor through his talks and writings. But I had to move on, find and finish chasing my tail. That was a very long time ago.]

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The Sufi: al-‘Arabi al Darqawi

Mulay [Abu Abdullah Muhammed] al-‘Arabi al Darqawi founder, the Darqawi order of [Islamic] Sufis:

As the Sufis affirm, there is no approach to God save through the door of the death of the soul.

Now we see-but God is wiser-that the Fakir will not kill his soul until he has been able to see its form and he will see its form only after separating himself from the world, from his companions, his friends and his habits.’

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St. John: ‘Brought To Nothing’

I didn’t think up this trek to ‘True Nothing’ by myself last night. It’s been around for a very long time. ‘Orienting to Nothing’ is the original ‘Spiritual Path’. A term I recoil from but will suffer for now.

Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live‘ [Exodus: 33].

From my File-Box, an early Post.


When he is brought to nothing, the highest degree of humility, the spiritual union between his soul and God will be effected‘.

So wrote St. John of the Cross, the Spanish Mystic.

St. John of the Cross who gave us the scary poem: ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ [La noche oscura del alma] and his close collaborator Teresa of Ávila, have influenced every famous modern Western Mystic [Merton, Dali, et al].

The roots of St. John’s Mysticism, as that of Teresa, go back to medieval Neo-Platonism, the ‘One’ of Plotinus [Enneads], itself linking to Greek and Sanskrit text.

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Tar-Baby: ‘Dying To Myself’

Let’s leave out the sages and scholars, put them aside for a minute. For you and me this ‘Dying to Myself’ can be a very tricky business.

Here’s my old File-Box Post:

A fatal loop awaits the pilgrim who seriously wants to end it all.

Drawing by E.W. Kemble from: 'The Tar-Baby', by Joel Chandler Harris, 1904

Trying to negate myself is like taking on Uncle Remus’ ‘Tar-Baby’. The harder I try to negate myself the firmer I reinforce myself as Me.

Any attempt to nullify the ‘I’ using the ‘I’, befuddles, stupefies and ultimately immobilizes the ‘I’.

A state taken by the devout as further confirmation of divine oversight.

I am happy to die as long as I can be alive to watch myself doing it.

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The First Order Of Moral Code

Self-Denial is the first order of Moral Code. All Virtue aligns with it. All Vanity scoffs at it.

Religions offer their denouement at the limit of self-denial, in the perfection of self-mortification. They vary only in the details.

‘Civilization is self-restraint’ declared Rajagopalachari, once a distant neighbor, a man of scholarship and of God. The same was a favored maxim of Sigmund Freud, an acute observer of the Human Condition; and an Atheist.

The English word ‘Virtue’ and ‘Virile’ actually have a common root [Latin: Virtut, Virilis; tell that to your Padre] and in turn link to the Sanskrit Vir. Where you see a deficit of Manliness you invariably see a surplus of Cunning. Give me a manly culture any-day.

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Yagñá: The Central Religious Act

From the Vedic Yagñá to the Hebrew Altar, Sacrifice is the central religious act.

The English word ‘God’, the scholars say, derives from the German gott, from the Proto-Indo-European ǵʰu-tó-m, itself sourced in the Sanskrit huta; ‘to pour’ [as in libation to the fire-altar] and its related word hotr [the reciter of the ritual-invocation].

Both words derive from Hu: ‘Of the Sacrifice’ [from the Latin, sacer: ‘to make sacred’] as used in the verses of the Rig Veda.

[Or if you prefer a less severe term, ‘Divinity’, from the Latin: dyēus, later as Deus, Deity; from the Sanskrit: devam, ‘The Exalted Effulgent’.]

It’s not a good idea to be a goat on the Islamic Eid. Nor a buffalo at a Bengali Durga Pūjā. Nor a turkey at American Thanksgiving.

But you cannot sacrifice by proxy. That is cheating. You have to make your own.

The sacrifice is ‘You’ and your cherished Modeled-Reality.

Yagñá in its formal meaning refers to the ritual ceremony of ordering, of God and Man, of Heaven and Earth. But its principal element remains a sacrificial offering. Yagñá today stands domesticated as the Puja and ‘Immortality’ has been toned down to requests for an employable son-in-law. But that is another story.]

Categorized as The Method

‘Not Just For Vegans’

This idea of ‘I’ cuts a wide swath. It is not just for Vegans. It is the original question. And the final fault line.

This is the entire essence of life: Who are you? What are you?’ wrote Leo Tolstoy [I’ve tried to finish: ‘War and Peace’. Twice.]

Here is Dr. Samuel Huntington from his: ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, that sits on every Foreign Ministers bookshelf:

A Civilization is the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity… Civilizations are the biggest ‘We’. [And] cultural identity is the central factor shaping a country’s associations and antagonisms…

The question: ‘Which side are you on? has been replaced by the much more fundamental one: ‘Who are you?’ Every state has to have an answer. That answer, its cultural identity, defines the state’s place in world politics, its friends and its enemies.’

The late Dr. Huntington was the Albert J. Weatherhead University Professor and Director of Harvard’s ‘Center For International Affairs’. Of interest, the above book came out [1996] shortly after Fukuyama’s modestly titled: ‘The End Of History’.

Categorized as The Method

Passport: ‘Who Am I?’

‘Let me get this straight.

Your asking me if there is a ‘Me’? You want me to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to: ‘Do I exist?’ What sort of a dumbassed question is that?

Of Course I exist. Of Course there is a ‘Me’. Jeez! Everybody knows that!

Says so right here on my application. Plain as daylight. Take a look.’

1. Name [Family]
2. Name [First]
3. Sex
4. Height
5. Weight
6. Ethnicity
7. Religious Affiliation [If any]
8. Cell Phone Number and Email Address
9. Residential Address
10. Drivers License State-of-Issue and Number
11. Date of Birth
12. Place of Birth [ City, Country]
13. Current Nationality
14. Marital Status
15. Spouse’s Name [If any]
16. Names of Children [if any]
17. Education [High School, College]
18. Occupation
19. Annual Income
20. Have you ever been convicted of a felony

Categorized as The Method


‘Individual’: from the Latin, In-dividuus: that which is ‘Indivisible-Further’. As in a-tomous, for ‘atom’.

Any wedge of cheese that I can cut once, I can cut twice. Or thrice. In fact I can cut it as fine as I want. I just need sharper and stronger knives.

I can if I am in the mood, cut it a trillion times. Then anther trillion. And just keep going. But this can get tedious. And what I am cutting no longer tastes like cheese. So where should I stop?

[Now make sure to do all this in broad daylight. And do not nick the Higgs-Boson, a.k.a. the ‘God-Particle’, else the scientists at CERN will get very upset.]

What applies for cheese, applies for carrots and broccoli. At some point they get tossed into the salad.

The Atom in Physics, the Element in Chemistry, the Axiom in Logic, the Point in Mathematics, the Word in Language, the Morpheme in Linguistics..

Do you remember where you stopped before climbing into your salad?

Categorized as The Method

The Oak Ridge Atomic Research Center

Perhaps one of the strongest convictions of this, our strange Age is: ‘I am my Body’.

DiBiasi Restaurant dinner. Ernest Orlando Lawrence (left), Harold Walke, and Paul Aebersold (with cake), taken November 17, 1939. Radiation Lab dinner in honor of Ernest Orlando Lawrence for winning the Nobel Prize.

The excerpt below is from the findings of Dr. Paul Aebersold’s [Smithsonian: 1953-54] radioisotope experiments. Earlier he had helped build the first Cyclotron at Berkeley.

Studies at the Oak Ridge Atomic Research Center have revealed that about 98 percent of all the atoms in a human body are replaced every year.

Experts..have concluded that there is a complete, 100 percent turnover of atoms in the body at least every five years. In other words, not one single atom present in your body today was there five years ago.

You get a new suit of skin every month and a new liver every six weeks. [Stomach] lining lasts five days…bones are not the solid, stable, concrete-like things you [thought]…the bones you have today are different from the bones you had a year ago.

This revelation brought great excitement to the New-Age community which claimed it confirmed their long-held belief in out-of-body experiences. It was vigorously attacked by more sober scientists who after diligent research showed that the number was not 98% as claimed, but in fact only 91%.

Later findings on neural-cell DNA and Tooth-Enamel further brought down the number.

Perhaps you are your Tooth-Enamel.

The Oldest Injunction In Language

Categorized as The Method

‘Behind Your Nose And Between Your Ears’

Is there a Little Fellow behind your nose and between your ears, a Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs, a Viewing Voyeur inside your eye and beneath your brow, that sees and thinks and feels and acts and makes you laugh and makes you cry?

If you find this language flip, I shall give it some gravitas.

Is there to be found, either by observation or by inference, and outside of an unexamined, inherited authority and unquestioned convention an ‘Independent and Separated Observer, ‘Self’, Subject’ in the guise of:

A Physical Body, a Cell, a DNA Code, an Awareness, a Totality, a Nullity, an Unity, an Ego, an Energy, a Life-Force, an Intelligence, an Existence, an ‘Organizing Principle’, an ‘Inner Being’, a Spirit, a ‘Soul’…

An ‘Independent and Separate Knowing Ontological Presence as Entity, Process or Abstraction’?

Go ahead and add any I may have missed. Don’t be shy.

Perhaps there is a Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs. We are going to hunt the critter down.

Categorized as The Method

The ‘Laws Of Causality’

Werner Karl Heisenberg [1901-1976]

Although the Theory of Relativity makes the greatest demands on the ability of abstract thought, still it permits the traditional requirement of Science, as it permits a division of the world into Subject and Object and hence a clear formulation of the Laws of Causality.

This is the very point at which the difficulties of the Quantum Theory begin’.

Elsewhere, on the method of proper observation, Heisenberg writes:

‘What we observe is not Nature in itself but Nature exposed to our method of questioning’.

Try and hold on to that insight as you read the Posts.

The contradictions in the Mathematical Science, always present, came to the fore in the early part of the last century with the arrival of Quantum Physics. [500 years is not out of range historically for old Models to buckle].

Dr. Heisenberg and others, founding fathers of the New Physics, was now unabashedly talking about the Observer influencing the Observed.

Categorized as The Method

The Subject-Object Divide

The unexamined, inherited, implicit and arbitrary divide of ‘Subject and Object’ [Self and World; God and Man; ‘I’ and ‘Not-I’] is deeply conflicted, demonstrably absurd. At extreme, violent, at war with itself and its world.

Cut once; get two. A pair is the first and minimal unit of division, the elemental DNA, the fundamental building block of every Man-Made Model.

The Subject: Object Divide doesn’t originate in heaven but in the very terrestrial assumption of an ‘Independent and  Separated ‘Self’.

An ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” [entity, process, elevated abstraction] is procured only at the expense of a long list of fragile assumptions, rarely put under the microscope.

Independent? It is near impossible to find zero correlations in Nature. Yet I magically claim it for myself.

[Outside the language of Journalists and Pop Science- Writers, there is no such thing as partially independent. The correlation is either zero or non-zero.]

The Self-Loop is simply the most general form of the ‘Subject-Object’ divide.

In an earlier piece I had let loose, calling the claim to an ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” a preposterous presumption, a comic conceit, and a sanctioned vanity.

A preposterous presumption and a comic conceit, indeed. But who is presumptuous? Who stands conceited? Is there an ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” here to cognize, let alone grandly declare its Independence and Separateness? We are going to find out.

Categorized as The Method

What Is ‘Self’?

You will have more luck getting a roomful of Biologists agreeing on a definition for the word ‘Alive’, or Logicians for the word ‘Reason’, than you will with a roomful of Psychologists defining ‘Self’. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is simpsons2.jpg

This young man, a Bio-Engineer with doctorates from both MIT and CalTech, knows it is a silicon-chip atop the neurons and between the firing synapses.

The Geneticist sneers at this simplification at what is  clearly a Gene [imminent in its discovery].

We won’t even broach the Mystics for now. But a particularly famous Mystic’s definition from India is: ‘The sense of ‘I-ness”, which means whatever you want it to mean.

We go low-tech. We ask the Grammarian.

‘The Subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is doing or being something. It is what acts or is acted upon.’

Ego is Latin for ‘I’. The Cambridge definition reads: ‘Your idea or opinion of yourself’.

Note the Loop.

Categorized as The Method

The Axiom Of Object: Co-Dependence

The Founding Patriatch of C’han-Zen was Bodhidharman [Around 500 CE: See the Posts].

But the dominant East-Asian [Sino-Korean-Japanese] flavor of C’han-Zen was given to it by its 6th Chinese patriarch, Hui-neng [638-713 CE].

The story goes that the illiterate Hui-neng awoke to his conviction upon hearing the Diamond Sūtra recited just once at a public-square.

From the first Nothing is!’ roared Hui neng.

[So what does ‘From the first Nothing is!’ mean? It’s not clear and his later Platform Sūtra'[T’an-cheng] doesn’t help. We’ll get around to unpacking Hui-neng’s claim in a later Post.]

Now, 1,300 years after Hui-neng, a new and widely-publicized survey solemnly titled: ‘The Most Important Unresolved Question Of All Time’ was carried out among established Intellectuals.

The prize went to Martin Heidegger and his celebrated query [itself, a variation on Aristotle’s ‘ti on’]: ‘Why is there Something and not Nothing?’

Jeez! You know, smart people say the darndest things.

Anything I spot is only spotted in relationship to what it is not. There has to be a minimum of two colors showing in order for me to see one color.

This is the Axiom of Object.

This is the basic idea underlying the much-mauled Principle of Co-Dependence, also called the ‘Doctrine of Dependent Designation’.

There has to be a minimum of two colors showing in order for me to see one color. If the universe was entirely pink, I will never know it to be so. There has to be a spot of purple, a spot of not-pink somewhere so that I can see the pink.

I see a yellow banana only in relation to a ‘not-yellow banana’, only in relationship to the ‘not-yellow banananess’ surrounding it. Nothing mysterious here. Place a banana on the dining-table and confirm it for yourself.

[This gets more involved when we expand the condition to all sensory, affective and analytical blocks such as the use of Language and ‘Thought’. But the result is unchanged. See the Posts.]

And one more thing. I need to be able stand apart from this yellow banana, this pink and purple Universe in order to see that indeed this is a yellow banana, to see that indeed the Universe is pink and purple.

I need, in other words, to be an ‘Independent and Separated Observer’. [‘Independent and Separate’ is a helpful redundancy, a shoulder-strap in addition to a seat-belt.]

When Professor Heidegger affirms a ‘Something’, he simultaneously affirms his presence as an ‘Independent and Separated Observer’.

In other words, he simultaneously affirms himself.

Categorized as The Method

‘Does God Exist?’

‘Does God Exist?’, the indispensable question of every Thinking Man and Woman, is premature and presumptuous.

The proper question, prior, proximate, more modest in its reach is: ‘Does Man exist?’

The Lady doesn’t need you to verify Her presence, thank you very much. She merely asks that you first confirm yours.

Any ‘God’ you find prior to reaching the Limit of Man, that is, the Symbol ‘0’, is not an act of sober piety but one of vacuous ignorance.

A displayed humility is greater hubris. The grander your tag the greater your pretense. Pick any theological text of any religion and be awed at the sweep of reckless excess.

You always and only seek to first verify the presence or absence of ‘Man’. You always and only orient to mortification, never the other way around [a Man-Made ‘God’ or ‘Ultimate Reality’ and such].

The ‘Inward Turn’ of the Chandogya Upanishad arose partly in response to this recognition. ‘Godless cult!’ was the first egg thrown at the emerging new Dharmic Schools, including the BuddhaDharma. This was rich.

When I run out of R.K. Laxman clips or old New-Yorker cartoons, I scrounge my file-box for articles by learned theologians from elite universities, with titles like: ‘The Ontological Necessity of God’. I have a list of even better zingers.

Categorized as The Method

The Dawn of the Gods

Aurora, the Roman ‘Goddess of the Dawn’
Guercino, 1621 CE, Ludovisi, Rome.

The Rig Vedic Ushas, ‘Goddess of the Dawn’, cognate with the Latin Aurora and the Greek Eos, born of Sky [Dyaus, cognate with Zeus] and Earth [Prithvi], and sister to Night. The progeny of the divine dual, the first divide.

Humans were to Gods, Shakespeare noted, ‘as flies to wanton boys’. Self-absorbed, rank-obsessed, occasionally generous, frequently malevolent, they would throw you a crumb if in the right mood. But most of the time they just ignored you.

So one of the Wise-Men finally spoke-up:

‘You know, I’ve been thinking’. We’ve been doing this for over a thousand years and we’ve gotten nowhere. We’ve tried everything; made the Gods look like us, look different from us, tolerated their tantrums, their strange ways. Even allowed them to go immortal on us. And we are still exactly where we started.

And it struck me that in all these years we have never really sat down and said: ‘O.K. Let’s pause just for a second and ask ourselves: ‘So who or what is the Subject in search of this Object?”

Where is the ‘Man’ in search of the ‘God’?

Categorized as The Method

‘Not’ And The ‘Ña’ Family

The two midgets: ‘Is’ and ‘Not’. Two words unparalleled in their ability to create mischief. I’ll get to the first later; for now, the ‘Not.

Not; Null; Nothing; Nonsense; Never; Neither; Neutral, Nought, Naught. They all come from the same gene, the Sanskrit ‘Ña’.

All the above share a common gene, are members of one big troublesome joint-family. [I know of no word that more annoys a trained Logician than the word ‘Not’.]

And here is how the mischief begins:

North America and South America to gether make up the Americas. But North America and Not-North America?

We are not quite sure what exactly is: ‘North America and Not-North America’.

‘Not quite sure?’ That’s right. Not quite sure.

And not quite sure what exactly: ‘Not quite sure’ means.

Nor the above sentence. Nor this one…

Note the self-referential trail.

I’ll get to the Sanskrit expressions Pūjyam, Śūnyam, Śūnya et al, in detail in a later separate Post. The earliest written documentation of the oral rendering of Śūnyatha goes back to about 500 BCE. But their English translations go back less than 200 years.

The original expressions each have multiple definitions [6 to 7 in some cases], as used by commentators through history. And each has been used at times in sharply different ways: Pūjyam as absence and fullness, Śūnyathā as emptiness of objects, Śūnyam as the concept of nothing as opposed to True-Nothing, and so on.

It gets complicated because of the translators borrowings from the vocabulary of Classical Logic [Empty, Null] where there is no exact correspondence for some pivotal terms [e.g. ‘Emptiness’ for Śūnyatha; ‘Form’ for NamaRupa [Rupa] and so on].

The translators did the best they could under difficult conditions. But unfinished modern gurus, unknowing of their source, have done a stentorian job of confusing the matters much further.

Categorized as The Method

The Method

‘Method’ is procedure according to principle. These posts trace the search for, and arrival at, these usable principles,

The actual evolution and the convergence of Method is a very long story, the hits and misses and million wrong turns through history. But it can be loosely summarized along the following lines.

The opening event is the clear recognition of the pervasive presence of the Self-Loop and its consequences if left unaddressed. [I suggest reading ‘The Loop’ section prior to this.]

Then to the nature of the Subject-Divide, the primal and primeval binary distinction, the original cleaving. And its root in the claim to an ‘Independent and Separate ‘Self”.

Next, readying for Inquiry and the coming to terms with the newly recognized fundamental presumption of Inquiry.

Next, the codification of the Axioms of Sight, Subject and Object as happened through history and the resulting birth of the Symbol as a graphic marker.

Then, to the trail of ‘The Backward Step’ and its terminus at True-Nothing and the sighting and alighting on ‘The-Not’.

Next, a display through excerpts as to why the Self-Eating Expression is the indispensable investigative tool as documented through history and across all authentic Inquiry.

Aside from the numerous whimsical sprees and irrelevant asides, that’s the basic layout of the Posts.

I’m laying out the Posts from my file-boxes, as-is and largely unedited. There is much that can be added and improved, many posts that can use a sharp edit. I’ll get around to that once the file-boxes are empty.

Categorized as The Method
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