About The Posts

This is largely a collection of old Posts picked-up from my file-boxes and prettied-up. Scripts I wrote going back to 1999 [Print, 2004] at various times and for varied purposes.

Scripts written when I was more earnest, eager to convince. The Covid Lockdown accounts for the renewed enthusiasm.

The old Posts remain unedited, as is. The new Posts follow once the file-box shows empty.


Stop this day and night with me and you
shall possess the origin of all poems

You shall possess the good of the earth and the sun there are millions of suns left

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…
Nor look through the eyes of the dead…nor feed on the spectres in books

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself

I have heard what the talkers were talking…the
talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now.
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now

To elaborate is no avail…Learned and unlearned feel
That is so

Sure as the most certain sure…plumb in the uprights,
well entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery, here we stand

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst,
age vexes age;
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things while
they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?…I do not know what it is
anymore than he

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections,
They scorn the best I can do to relate them

These are thoughts of all men in all ages and lands-
they are not original with me;
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing,
If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing,

If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle
they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant
they are nothing

Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams;
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of
every moment of your life

Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore;
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me,
shout, and laughingly dash with your hair

I am the teacher of athletes;
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own, proves
the width of my own;
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy
the teacher

I teach straying from me- yet who can stray from me?
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present hour;
My words itch at your ears till you understand them

I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up the time
while I wait for a boat;
It is you talking just as much as myself-I act as the
tongue of you; tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to
be loosened

Walt Whitman
Selected Verses
‘Leaves of Grass’ [1855]

Vishnu’s Dream

Vishnu’s Dream
Anghor Wat [Yaśodharapura]

Cambodia [Khmer], 12th Century


I’ll start with a story. Everyone loves a story. Especially old stories. One about Gods and Dreams.

Here is my favorite version of Genesis [Latin: literally, ‘Birth’].

A Story of Creation is told in the Vishnu-Purāṇa where Vishnu as primordial divinity is stretched in slumber on the cosmic ocean of milk.

He rests his head on the abyssal serpent Ananta [‘Endless’] and dreams a great and grand dream of the universe.

Vishnu is dreaming a great and grand dream that He is dreaming a great and grand dream, and all men and women, all living things in Vishnu’s dream are in turn dreaming a great and grand dream of the Universe in which Vishnu is dreaming a great and grand dream.

[Lots of meticulous synchronization needed; but then that is why Vishnu is Divinity while you and I take the bus to work.]

Vishnu awakes and a lotus unfolds. Brahma, the divinity of Creation emerges and rules the created world of Vishnu for 100 cosmic years [Maha-Manvantara: 311 trillion human years, rounded-off].

At its end, Vishnu closes his eyes and returns to slumber. The lotus folds and the universe and all that is in it return to their source in the Cosmic Dreamer. In time Vishnu awakes, a lotus unfolds, a new Dream begins.


Stop. [I kinda thought you might try this…]

You may not interpret the myth of Vishnu’s Dream in any conventional way. For any commentary you have on this myth is itself part of the myth.

If ‘All is Dream!’ so is my claim that: ‘All is Dream’.

You reading these lines, right here, just now, about this Dream, according to this Dream, is in the middle of this very same Cosmic Dream.

To not see that is to slip into the Self-Loop. And this Site is all-about the Loop.

Now you may choose to not wake-up in the Dream in which case Vishnu will dream that you chose to remain asleep. And that’s fine too.


You know, in the early days before the now favored Abrahamic Seven-Day Creation story, Hindu-Purāṇic, Egyptian and Greek Myths all carried multiple versions of Genesis.

And they typically involved two themes: Dreams and Incest. Cronus and his sister Rhea fathering Zeus [the Greek cognate of the Rig-Vedic Dyauas]; Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, the first Gods of ancient Egypt and so on.

Why so? Well, you can’t dream your neighbors dream. The same notion floats the incest theme. ‘The One’ had to double, divide itself, to get a partner or a play-mate. I’ll get to Myths and Symbols at the tail end of this Site.

Śaṅkarācārya’s Elephant

Here’s another story, this time not an exalted Purāṇa but a common folk-tale, more telling than any dissertation stored in a University Library.

A skeptical prince who was a pupil of Śaṅkarācārya [around 700 CE], the revered teacher of the Vedantha School, decided to test his teacher.

Once when the illustrious scholar was walking up the royal pathway to the palace, the prince unleashed an elephant from the army stables directly onto Śaṅkarācārya‘s path.

The Brahmin, not known for valor of this sort, proceeded to climb up the nearest tree.

The prince approached the teacher, bowed respectfully and inquired as to why he had climbed the tree, since according to his own teaching, all, including the approaching elephant, was illusion.

‘Indeed’ said Śaṅkarācārya ‘the elephant was unreal, but so was your presumption that there was a me, climbing a tree.’


To ‘See’ is all about catching the beam in your own eye. You catch the beam, you catch yourself catching the beam…all the way back to ‘True-Nothing’.

That simple. And that difficult.

Hui-neng To Heidegger

From the first Nothing is!’ roared Hui neng.

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.


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.

Co-Dependence: The Pink Universe

Anything I spot is only spotted in relationship to what it is not. This is the basic idea underlying the much-mauled Principle of Co-Dependence.

There has to be a minimum of two colors showing in order for me to see one color. Place a yellow banana on the dining-table and confirm it for yourself.

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.

[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 Observing ‘Self”.

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

In other words, Professor Heidegger simultaneously affirms himself.


What Is ‘Self’? and subsequent Posts

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?


‘Not-Two’

‘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, Naught. They all come from the same gene, the Sanskrit ‘Ña’.

One big troublesome joint-family.

The term ‘The-Not’ [‘Nought’] is the most terse of lingual Self-Eating Expressions going back directly to the lay-out of Yājñavalkya’s Rule. I use the better-known term ‘True-Nothing’ but as used they are perfectly synonymous. [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.

Note the self-referential trail.

‘Not’ And The Laws of Science

This idea of ‘Not’ has a very long reach, a reach not fully appreciated by most of us. Here’s just one more example which might give you reason to give it its due respect. The Post is trimmed to a quarter of its original length.  


‘Scientific-Law’ is a  forgivable exaggeration by the scientific-community. They are in fact generalizations from limited observations, tentatively affirmed hypothesis leading a precarious existence. 

The Mother Principle of Experimental-Science is the Principle of Induction. And along with the Contradiction Principle, it holds up much of what we know as modern Science.

And Induction’s ‘Rejection-Machine’ becomes functional, takes life, because of the word ‘Not’. And its sidekicks, ‘Always’ and ‘Never.

The Principle says: ‘Like tomorrow’s sunrise, what is happening will continue happening until it doesn’t happen.’

The Induction Rule is formalized in the Mathematics of ‘Probability Theory’. And the First Affirmation of Experimental Science is that a hypothesis is never proved. It only stands unrejected. Via Negativa.

The Principle of Falsifiability and its numerous variants.

It is impossible to prove that a man always speaks the truth, but easy to test if he never lies. One lie is proof.

‘Hide And Seek’


If your pulse doesn’t race, you should be seeing a Doctor

Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Fellini’s: ‘La Dolce Vita’


My entire school education on Buddha-Dharma was summarized in the travesty of insight: ‘Desire is the cause of all suffering’.

So how does one: ‘Desire to Not-Desire’?

‘Desire is the cause of all suffering’ is a literal take on the Buddhist ‘Second Noble Truth’, if you are curious as to where this beam of light came from.

‘Detachment’ is the single most emphasized injunction in the Dharma. So how do you intend to detach if you are attached to ‘Detachment’?

How do you ‘Remember To Forget’?

How do you play ‘Hide And Seek’ with yourself?

What denatured Elysium do these pilgrims seek sans wine, women and earthly-folly?


[The correct formulation should be: ‘Detachment from all things-including ‘Detachment’, a full-fledged Self-Eating Expression.]

The Very Slippery Meta-Trinity

Thought, Mind and Consciousness: The Meta-Trinity.

‘Meta’, from the Greek, originally meant ‘Beyond’ as in Aristotle’s ‘Metaphysics’. Lately though it is a prefix assigned almost exclusively to reflective, self-referential states. Metadata is ‘Data about data’; Metatext is ‘Text about text’.

There are two aspects which define the Meta-Trinity.

First, their self-referential nature. And second, their intimate, inviolable relationship to ‘Me’.

Any trek to the Symbol ‘0’ requires extensive time spent in intimate [and not always pleasant] proximity with these three fellows.

So let’s take a few Posts to get to know them.


Wouldn’t you know, now there is a new word, sophisticated and mysterious, heard in Academic corridors called ‘Metacognition’. I’ll leave you to figure it out.

What Is A ‘Thought’, Professor?

Do you know what a ‘Thought’ is?

I don’t. [But then, nor do Universities which do a fine trade in refining it.]

The problem is that every time I work up a thought to nail this buzzing fly called ‘Thought’, I’ve stuck myself in a very unpleasant Loop.

This thing I have nailed as ‘Thought’ by thinking about it, by that very fact, cannot be ‘Thought’.

Is :’Don’t Think!’ a Thought? Or Not? What do you Think?

It’s origin is unknown [grab that next thought please, and ask it where it came from].

It’s stage can’t be located. [Inside my head? Beneath the sink? In Kiev?]

It’s terminus is not found. [Where do all those thoughts go, like stairs in an escalator?].

I can’t see it. I can’t hear it. I can’t smell it. And any thinking about it, muddles it more.

No self-respecting scientist would take seriously something to which he cannot give the simplest of coordinates.

There is nothing I understand less than this thing called ‘Thought’. Yet nothing is more real to me than this which I understand the least.

Think

Courtesy IBM Corporation

The ‘Backward Step’ begins in direct sighting and extends to inferential claims. And the steps in turn get increasingly slippery.

My Thought? My Mind? My Consciousness? My Voice?

Are you certain it is your thought you are thinking right now?

Dodgy Fellow, this ‘Thought’. So try and not think a thought for the next sixty seconds.


At least one noted Philosopher majisterially defines a Philosopher as one who: ‘Thinks about Thinking’. It is roundly celebrated in academic circles as marking a penetrating summary insight.

What Is A ‘Thought’, Dr. Kant?

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804]

Immanuel Kant, whose roots go back directly to Aristotle, defined the domain of Academic Philosophy for over two centuries.

‘Thought’ proffered Immanuel Kant ‘is cognition by means of conception’. [See the later Posts on his: ‘Critique Of Pure Reason’]

What’s a ‘Conception’? That sounds like a difficult idea. Let’s start with ‘Concept’.

A ‘Concept’ says the Dictionary, is a: ‘a General Notion or Idea; a Conception’.

Great. So what’s an ‘Idea’? The Dictionary says it’s a: ‘Thought, Conception or Notion.’

We’ll, OK. So what’s a ‘Conception’? The Dictionary says it’s a: ‘Notion, Idea, Concept’.

Cognition is a concept. A Concept is that which is ‘conceptually differentiable’. But ‘conceptually differentiable’ is itself a concept.

Concept; Conception; Concept of Conception; Conception of Concept. All Concepts; or are they Conceptions?


[A concept has a public understanding while ‘conception’ is just a private view. Yet concept is for you a conception and conception becomes a concept in the dictionary, unchanged regardless of who looks at it.]

Orangeness

Orange

What is the ‘Orangeness’ in an Orange?

What is common between a sliced and a peeled Orange? A ripe and a rotten Orange? A nibbled Orange and a fresh one?

A picture of an Orange, the sound ‘Orange Juice’, the taste of Orange pop, the smell of Orange peel, the touch of Orange pip, the letters ‘O R A N G E’, on a page. The negation: ‘Not-Orange’.

Orangeness is an idea, a concept. A thought.

But then, what is an ‘Orange’?

‘I don’t exactly know what Orangeness is Professor, but I sure know how to pick an Orange’.

Or do I?

Cogito Ergo Sum!

You and I like to think. Some like Golf, others like Prada. We like to think. But then what happens if we get very attached to this Thinking Business, begin to see ‘Thinking’ as Who/What we are?


490px-Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_Descartes
René_Descartes, [1596-1650]
The Louvre, Paris

The moon-landing was faked. Doughnuts widen arteries. My mother really loves me. Perhaps, perhaps not.

But I don’t have these insidious doubts about whose thoughts are bouncing around in my head.

The thoughts in my head are my thoughts. What happens in my mind is mine! mine! mine!

There is nothing else on the planet that is so taken for granted as belonging to ‘Me’ as ‘My Thoughts’. That’s why it is so real. As long as I have my thoughts, I have me.

I can wear your cuff-links and you can borrow my cologne but my thought is my thought and your thought is your thought.

I might own a Bentley and only leg into silk underwear. But my thoughts are closer to me than both.

So it was that Rene Descartes, founder of Cartesian method and Father of Western Academic Philosophy exclaimed:

Thinking. At last I have discovered it- Thought. This alone is inseparable from me.’

‘I am Thinking. Therefore I am’: Cogito ergo sum.


René Descartes, like Aristotle before him and Kant and Leibniz after, and in sharp contrast to most other philosophers, knew when he was edging the territory of the absurd. His rationale was more nuanced than the  standard academic bumper-sticker interpretation. I’ll get to it later in his less-known letters.

Man

What Is A ‘Thought’, Socrates?

Socrates [477-399 BCE],
The Louvre, Paris

When Thaetetus asks Socrates to describe ‘ Thinking’, Socrates replies:

As a discourse that the mind carries on with itself about any subject it is considering.

You must take this explanation as coming from an ignoramus. but I have a notion that, when the mind is thinking, it is simply talking to itself, asking questions and answering them, and saying yes or no.

When it reaches a decision-which may come slowly or in a sudden rush-when doubt is over and the two voices affirm the same thing, then we call that its ‘judgment.’

So I should describe thinking as discourse, and judgment as a statement pronounced, not aloud to someone else but silently to oneself.


I can silently unfold the phrase: ‘Elvis Lives!’ in my mind syllable by syllable in complete comprehension of its meaning.

Mental Verbalization is ‘I’ talking to ‘Me’. Monologue as Dialogue.

A particular, often paralyzing bain of the Reflective Man.


Japanese Zen Training especially in the Martial Arts seeks a state it calls Mushin [‘No-Mind, No-Thought’]. The Chinese synonym, Wuxin, begins with the character for ‘Not’.

Importantly, there is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with Thought, the notions of ‘right and wrong’ being themselves binary expressions in Thought.

I note this because there are numerous Dharmic schools that make the muting of ‘Thought’ a measure of success, a consequential error.

Man

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, Circa 1490 CE, Gallerie dell'Academia, Venice
Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, Circa 1490 CE,
Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice

Homer’s Odyssey begins with the word ‘Man’ [Andra, from the Attic-Greek Aner, as in the English Anthropo].

One among the various derivations of the word ‘Man’ [as in the Sanskrit ManushManas] is as: ‘That which has Mind’.

How is ‘Man’ different say, from a Mattress? Man is different because Man alone has Mind. This has been the traditional answer since antiquity.

Man is different because Man alone ‘Thinks’.

The defining attribute of Man is his Mind. And with this Mind, Man constructs his World as Model. And its central character is his model of himself as ‘Man’.


Cogito Ergo Sum!

Mind

‘If you use your Mind to study Reality, you won’t understand either your Mind or Reality’ quipped the famously laconic Bodhidharman, the first Patriarch of Zen.

I don’t know what Mind is. But I do know this. Every time I say: ‘Gotcha!’, every time I use Mind to hold forth on the Nature of Mind, I am back in my circular whirl.

Very wise-men have been trying to get a handle on this thing called ‘Mind’ for a few millennia and have gotten nowhere.

Divine origin? The center of cognition, emotion and volition? The firing of synapse on brain tissue?

But this ‘Mind’ of mine [which of course I know exists] keeps giving me the slip. And to further confuse matters, folks who Know say that Mind is also the depository of ‘Thought’, the dodgy character we just met.

I can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it. And yet, darn it all, it feels awfully real to me. This ghost behind my nose and between my ears.

And anything I pick and label as ‘Mind’ using this Mind of mine cannot be Mind, can be anything but Mind.

So. ‘What is ‘Mind’? As I said, that’s about where the wise-men left it.

Relief


Everytime I feel dispirited about the future of this creature called ‘Man’, I reach for this learned quote:

One aspect that sharply differentiates Man from Nature is his highly developed capacity for thought, feeling and deliberate action. Here and there in other animals, rudiments of this capacity may occasionally be found, but the full blown development that is called Mind is unmatched elsewhere in Nature‘.

We don’t quite know if a Giraffe has a Mind. But we are absolutely sure that we have one.

Our Mind told us so.

Mind On Mind

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 painful.

The other is to buy yourself a durable Meditation Mat.

What Is a Model?

The Thinker in Rodin Museum in Paris

The word ‘Model’ is etymologically related to the Sanskrit Māyā, from the root Ma: To Build’. 

A ‘Model’ is a creation, a re-construction of the original, a re-presentation, not the Real McCoy.

A toy-car is a model. So is a doll’s-house. But the most important models are mental-models, the ones we build inside our heads using things that ‘double’.

Sign and Symbol that refer and come alive in such building blocks as the Alphabet, the Number System and other such kits of complex referencing signs. All mediums in fact conducive to referential traffic.

An understanding built on Assumptions and corresponding Beliefs, conceptualized in binary structures [True: False; Up: Down] and expressed in the vocabulary of Signs and Symbols [typically Language and Logic],  is called a ‘Model’.

So what is my First Assumption? That there is such a thing as a ‘Me’ with such things called ‘Assumptions’ stuffed inside my head. Sort of like socks in a drawer.

And watch out. To elaborate breezily on Model as an ‘Interpretation’ and equate a Modeled-Reality to an ‘Interpreted Reality’ is to miss the point.

The very notion of ‘Interpretation’ is a Modeled-Idea as is the notion of Model. Fresh Academics and Deconstructionists are the most susceptible to this take.

What Is An ‘Explanation’?

‘Explanation’ is from the Latin Ex-planationem: ‘to make plain, to flatten [planus].

Everyone wants one, feels obliged to ask for one, and acts deprived if denied one. [‘Why does my bottom hurt so, Mom?’ ‘Because I just spanked you, Darling!’]

An ‘Explanation’ flattens things out so that they fit within a Modeled-View. Just like plaining a piece of irregular wood.

In this tripped age where Reason is confounded with the Rational, the most insistent and socially-sanctified demand is for an ‘Explanation’.

‘Oh! That makes sense!’. In other words, an explanation falls in line, takes its assigned slot within the broad mix of paradigms, preferences, prejudices, conveniences and cultural cues that grant a view acceptance, and when tightly in conformance, applause.

When you say: ‘That explanation makes sense!’, it means it tucks nicely into your backpack, logically fits [i.e., ‘is consistent’] within the umbrella of Convention, views widely accepted as valid.

And the base of this umbrella is the assumption of an Independent and  Separated ‘Self’. The ‘Subject-Object’ Divide.

‘Two-ness’

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’.


The word: ‘Two’ [Dvaitham] 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.


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

‘Two’ and ‘Not-Two’ is itself a construct in Two-ness. Just as the notion of ‘Model’ is itself very much a Modeled-Idea; as is the notion of “Modeled-Idea’.

Hey! Does this backward step look familiar?


The ‘Subject- Object Divide’

The Normal Curve

‘What we observe is not Nature in itself but Nature exposed to our method of questioning’ noted Werner Heisenberg [who was very familiar with the old Gaussian Curve].

You know, there’s been this flip question floating around for a few centuries as to whether Mathematics measures a ‘Real World’.

Or is it just us painting with a palette limited to the colors we can see. And then claiming we’ve caught the ghost in our picture. [See the later Post on Kurt Godel’s celebrated Theorem.]

Sort of like the Nobel Committee limiting the Literature Prize to a Writer writing in a language it can read [about 5 out of around 7,000].

Same thing here. Most scientific testing is grounded on the perfectly symmetric Gaussian Curve [the ‘Normal Distribution’: see the Diagram].

It is arguably the most widely used tool in Applied Mathematics. Various theorems prove that all things sampled in sufficiently large quantities converge to the Gaussian Curve.

If you are taking a daily pill for blood-pressure, a vaccine for Covid, you can be certain that somewhere in the process of being approved, the Gaussian Curve had to stamp its approval.

The Curve is conceived on a binary platform and mounted on the critical assumption [among others] of ‘Independent, Separate Observations’, a fairly dodgy idea but embraced in the Scientific community as perfectly realistic and sensible.

Is this the way Nature really curves? Or is this the only way Nature knows to curve given how how we’ve rigged the rules, given how we think?


I won’t get into the entrails of this issue. But if you are curious, it revolves around the notion of ‘Independent and Separate’, the claim to samples of ‘Independent Observations’ that underlies much of this theory.

The First Law Of Consciousness

‘Consciousness’: from the Latin ‘Con Scire‘: ‘to be awake; to know’; and related to Cognitionem, as in the words ‘Cognition’ and ‘Science’.

The First Law of Consciousness states that you may not investigate your consciousness while being in an actively conscious state.

You cannot, however hard you blink, wiggle or scheme, stand outside Consciousness to orate upon it. If you feel hemmed in, that is the idea.

If you can consciously point to something as your ‘Consciousness’, by that very fact, what you have pointed to cannot be your consciousness.

You cannot be conscious of being ‘Conscious’. You can be conscious. That’s it.

To be conscious of being ‘Conscious’ is the high road to fatal self-contradictions. An unwarranted, illegitimate doubling that makes what is simple and unclouded into a belligerent complexity.


Taking the ‘Backward-Step’ with Consciousness is one of the less confusing ways to get to ‘The-Not’. Unlike ‘Thought’ and ‘Mind’, Consciousness is intimate, immediate and intuitive.

I am Conscious. I am Conscious of being conscious; I am Conscious of being conscious of being conscious..

Park Avenue

If you can convincingly hold-forth on the conscious ‘Unconscious’ in addition to the merits of mentating about Mind, your talent should not go unnoticed.

The most convincing Freudian Couch Therapists all live on Park Avenue.


Listened in recently on a major convention of international scientists on ‘Consciousness and Science’ [I think that’s what the title was] presided over by the Dalai Lama.

The convention was major news in the media for weeks. The eminent scientists have assured the viewers that they are close to cracking the code.

The word Self-Reference never occurred even once.


You know, there is actually a book titled ‘Consciousness Explained’ by a chaired professor of a famous university. I can’t wait to buy it and get myself a little education. once it is out on paperback. I’ll let you know.]

‘The Highest Principle Of Human Cognition’

The idea of Consciousness, its centrality in the minds of the most influential modern thinkers, has never been fully appreciated. Nor their short-stops.

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

So come with me now to Königsberg, Prussia, circa 1750 CE.

Immanuel Kant from his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, a volume that helped mark the domain of Academic Philosophy for several generations:

The ‘I Think’ must accompany all my representations..I call it pure apperception..because it is a Self-Consciousness..it is in all acts of Consciousness one and the same and unaccompanied by it no representation can exist for me.

The unity of this apperception I call the Transcendental Unity of Self- Consciousness..and this principle..is the highest principle in all human cognition.

So how does this ‘Unity’ catch itself?

Immanuel Kant, unlike most philosophers, was alert to the Loop but back-stepped at the Cliff’s Edge. He was after-all a University Professor and a devoutly religious one at that.

Wilhelm Leibniz: ‘The Twin Truths’

Step into my old Porche Convertible for a long drive south to Hanover, Germany, 1,000 kilometers and a 100 years away. Let’s go meet Dr. Wilhelm Leibniz.

Gottfried_Wilhelm_Leibniz

Here is Dr. Leibniz on his celebrated ‘Twin Truths’:

The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts furnishes us with the first a posteriori truths, or truths of Fact, the first experiences, while identical propositions embody the first a priori truths, or truths of Reason, the first illuminations.

Neither admits of proof and each may be called immediate.’

‘Transcendental Unity of Self-Consciousness’? ‘The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts’?

So. Am I ‘immediately aware’ of my ‘Immediate Awareness’?

How far do I have to Back-Step?


No. We are not in the Himalayas amidst a mystical mountain-sect. Nor the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

We are in Hanover, at the Study of Dr. Wilhelm von Leibniz, a founder of Modern Logic and the Mathematical Calculus.

If you want someone to blame for the big zero you got on your beginning Calculus course, here’s the man.

The Self-Loop

The Axiom of Sight is the Virgin. It is not to be violated. So what happens if I do? I then: ‘Give Birth To Myself’. [See front page.]

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.


Goofy vividly demonstrating the Self-Loop. If you understand what Goofy is up to, you understand the Self-Loop.
Goofy demonstrating the Self-Loop

I can Understand; but I may not try to Understand ‘Understanding’.

I can do a lot of things with ‘Understanding’. But I may not try to Understand it.

Mind may not mentate about Mind.

I can mentate about all things in this great and grand universe of ours. But I may not mentate about Mind.

Consciousness may not grasp at consciousness. Thought may not seek its beginnings in another thought. Concept may not conceive itself in another concept.

Logical Symbol may not grasp for its genealogy using other symbols of Logic, nor Mathematics in the axioms of Mathematics.

Language may not seek its source using Language. Word may not seek its meaning through other words.

I may not seek for the definition of  the word ‘Knowledge’ while in the ‘Know’. I may not search for the ground of ‘Being’ while in the ‘Be’.

And ‘I’ may not inquire about ‘Me’.


Do not confound the Loop with domesticated general-issue fallacies like ‘Circular Reasoning’ and such, a truncation far short of True-Nothing. I’ll get to them when we look at the ground assumptions of Epistemology and Ontology.


Front Page

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’?


A search for the Symbol ‘0’ without a Meditation Practice in place is not a good idea.

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

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


Dhyāna, or Formal Meditation, 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. 

And the dividing line between Vedic and Hindu although both belong in the same family.


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.


Do not teach, write books [or websites], or hold-forth on the Dharma until your bottom is permanently numb from long hours of Sitting.

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 paradoxes whether in Logic or Language or Mathematics 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. [See the later Posts on modern logico-mathematical ‘Paradoxes’.]

A Pious Insanity

Here’s my old File-Box Post:

I had been around. And I had slid. From an amused bemusement, past simple bewilderment, beyond all sophisticated skepticism, to a lurching unquiet desperation.

A pious insanity is afoot.


Scrape the surface and nothing makes sense. So I sit on the side and agree to pretend.

Cherished, coddled paradigms and pet intellectual props that are deeply conflicted are preserved precariously with strips and patches of facile assumptions, specious logic and authoritative bluster. A Learned Ignorance replaced by an erudite cleverness.

I am ready to allow the possibility [and just the possibility] that most explanations are deflections, denials and exalted rationalizations.

The modern equivalent of the mythic: ‘Disease, Old Age and Death’, the rousing that must precede every entry into the forest. A gentler sensibility than mine would have flagged the Buddhist ‘Suffering’ [Dukkha] instead of a futile senselessness.


Perhaps you are one of  the blessed, one with an easy resilient faith. You don’t see what all the fuss is about. You are unfazed by contradictions, stand firm in conflicts.

You don’t need this tortuous trek. Go home.

‘Venerable And Awful’

Zeno, the favorite of Parmenides [‘Venerable and Awful’], a pioneer of the logico-mathematical paradox, describes his new treatise to Socrates:

It is…a defense of Parmenides against those who make fun of his ideas…this book is a retort against those who assert a Plurality…pays them back in the same coin with something to spare. For it shows that on a thorough examination, their own supposition that there is a Plurality leads to even more absurd consequences than the Hypothesis of ‘The One’.’

The Parmenides is considered the most difficult of the Platonic Dialogues. That is because Parmenides [and a few others; see the Posts] was alert to the Loop, and to which his modern interpreters are conspicuously innocent.

Not-Two [Àdvaitham] is a more careful construct than ‘The One’ [Ekam: see the Posts]. But ‘The One’ will do for now.


This and all other excerpts from Plato’s Dialogues are from the Hamilton and Cairns, Princeton, ’61 Edition.

It Takes A Fool

It takes a Genius to answer: ‘Gravity makes the Apple fall’. And a Fool to ask: ‘Why does Gravity make the apple fall?’

Isaac Newton, wise, died a pious Catholic seeing no quarrel here between law, origin and purpose.

‘Space was the Sensorium of an omnipresent God’ was what he wrote to Wilhelm Leibniz, a co-founder of Modern Logic and the Calculus. [Calculus? You know, that business about ‘Tending to Zero’.]

‘That’s ancient stuff’ you say ‘It’s not Gravity; it’s Space-Time. Matter tells Space-Time how to curve and curved Space-Time tells Matter how to move’. Nice. So who kicked the  ball first? [Hey! What difference does it make?]

What was there before the ‘Big Bang’? And where did the Monkey come from that Man descends from?

If my body temperature changes by a measly 6 degrees F, I pass out. [I’m still looking for my ‘Consciousness’ in the rest of the range.]

So is the sky out there blue? Or is it right here, the electro-chemical rinse coursing along my neurons as I look?

What caused the butterfly to whip his wings in Brazil that it can whip me up a tornado in Dakota?

Why does the gene reproduce? Because it has to compulsively replicate itself in some form or other. Why does it compulsively have to replicate itself in some form or other? Well, that’s an easy one. That’s because Nature’s primary goal happens to be Self-Preservation [well, now you know].

Our rules of arithmetic repeatedly fumble at the ‘Measured Speed of Light’. So what does addition mean? [See the posts on Kurt Godel.]

What defends the ‘Conservation Principles’ of Physics [or the classes of Classical Logic] which themselves underived from the laws of Physics [of Logic], arbiter the entry of laws into Physics [into Logic]?

The visible part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is about a third of one percent. ‘Real’ seems a dodgy idea to me if my visibility blanks out at 0.3 %. [Where did the Universe go?]

You can’t study the so-called ‘Unconscious’ while firmly residing in the Conscious. The very division is one made in a conscious state. Anything you extrapolate to the 99.7%, when read in the range of the 0.3% [including the divide of 99.7 versus 0.3] puts you smack-dab into the Loop.

‘Ask the lady in the corner office’ says the annoyed Scientist. ‘These are questions above my pay-grade. Science is not designed to answer stuff like that’.

Schrödinger: ‘The Objectivation Principle’

Erwin Schrödinger [1887-1961] Nobel, Physics, 1933

‘The Objectivation Principle-the hypothesis of the real world..is a simplification where without being aware of it, we exclude the subject of cognizance from the Nature that we endeavor to understand.. which by this very procedure becomes the objective world.

At the end ..I put myself which had constructed the world as a mental product, back into it- with the pandemonium of disastrous logical consequences that flow from this chain of faulty reasoning..

The antinomy cannot be solved at the level of present day Science..[which is] entirely engulfed [in it]- without knowing it..Science must be made anew..’

‘Awake And Asleep’

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. Models are fine and helpful. As long as you remember both ends of the Two.


If you can say: ‘I am asleep!’, that’s convincing evidence that you are awake. [Is that a Self-Eating Expression?]

The distinction of ‘Awake’ and ‘Asleep’ is always and only made in a wakeful state. 

I tell you about my dream when, and only when, both of us are awake. We know nothing about ‘Dream’ and ‘Sleep’ except as very wakeful ideas.

[Doctors reassuringly measure sleep-meters only when they are awake, thank you very much.]

None of this hair-splitting lessens the veracity of my pronouncement today that I slept like a baby last night.

‘Life And Death’

We can give the Divide some more Gravitas. All talk of ‘Death’ is always and only done when ‘Alive’. You just can’t wink your way out of this one.

You really know nothing about ‘Death’ except as gossip from some very alive people.

All this is in effect a sleight-of-hand, a fast wave of the hand-kerchief by the Divide-Magician who hopes you are not looking too closely.

But this slip when carried forward in sprees of grand abstract elaborations [as in the University ] can get seriously misleading. If you start telescoping such situations, soon enough you will have totally lost the thread.

Yet no amount of double-talk will convince me otherwise that my dear great-aunt, bless her good soul, is resolutely dead.

Symbol: Origin And Decline

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

The Diamond [or ‘Diamond-Cutter’] Sūtra goes back to around 400 BCE and in the original is called the Maha Prajñā Pāramitha Vajrachedika Sūtra. [Yes, we will go with the English title.]

The Symbol ‘0’ seeds in the verses of the Chandogya Upaniṣad and gets formalized in the dialogues of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka.

The written documentation of these verses, itself descended from a longer Oral Teaching Tradition, goes back to around 1,000 BCE based on the style of the Sanskrit used and orienting historical references.

The trek with all its principal elements laid-out are to be found in a handful of verses [Brahmanas] in the Yājñavalkya section [Kanda] of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.

Yājñavalkya himself does not give a name for Absolute Absence leaving it to the investigator to cognize the place on arrival as found at the converging terminus of his Algorithm. The Symbol was as yet unborn.

Yājñavalkya [‘Big Y’; also as ‘Why?, a preeminent SEE’] is the Fountainhead. We’ll get to the details of his Algorithm in later Posts.

Arguably the oldest of the principal Sūtras, the Diamond Sūtra is a compilation of verses, each in the form of a Self-Eating Expression [‘SEE’], confirming its authentic ancestry. You will not find this in the Sūtras preceding or succeeding it.

It is almost certain that the Symbol ‘0’ took shape sometime between the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad and the scripting of the Diamond Sūtra.


By 200 CE or so the decline in the meaning of the Symbol commenced, a slow descent into illegitimate conceptualizations and reductive reifications.

There was an opening for a revival, and this time in the West, when it birthed what we call: ‘Scientific Method’ [Copernicus; 15th Century]. It stopped-short. Beginning presumptions, mostly of religious origin, were not allowed to be crossed. [See the Posts.]

The first translation of the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra was into Chinese in 179 CE by Lokashema [The Tao-Hsing]. With it the Symbol went East. And took on local forms.

Around 1,000 years later, the Symbol headed West and docked in Venice. And did the same [Fibonacci’s Modus Indorum].

We follow it in both directions.

Śūnyam

The best known and most widely used lingual equivalent [in Indic Languages] to the Symbol ‘0’ is Śūnyam. Its popular use today [Śūnya, in commonspeak] retains no link whatsoever to its original meaning of Absolute Absence.

[‘That milk carton was 70 Rupees, mister. That’s what you gave me. No, I don’t owe you any change. Zip. Śūnya.’]

There are others, as in Pūjyam, a mystical expression marking: ‘That worthy of worship’. It was a simultaneous reference to both a Completeness [the Plenum of the Iśopaniṣad] and one of Absence.

The Symbol’s auditory equivalent is the sound: ‘Silence!’ [You violate the silence in commanding: ‘Silence!’]. It is also related intimately with the Mantric Expression: AUM. Both terms have been appropriated by the religious-minded and have lost their pedagogic power. [But I’ll give it another try in a later Post.]

Śūnyam itself is not to be confounded with the numerous pre-fix versions that evolved in the regional Dharmic literatures well into the 10th Century [ŚūnyaBrahman, ŚūnyaPurusha et al].


The word Śūnyam originates etymologically in the notion of hollowness, of ‘Empty Inside’. The term ‘Empty’ as used in English translations of Śūnyam originates in the notion of the Empty Set, a foundational term in the vocabulary of Classical Logic and picked-up by a few pioneering and intrepid translators.

[Yet its origins in the vocabulary of Logic is largely unknown, draws a blank from every guru [fee-speaker, book-writer] I’ve met, which might explain their wildly creative interpretations of these terms.]

The English translations of Sanskrit scriptural texts, in contrast to their Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Persian counterparts, are all less than 150 years old. Translators, as do the rest of us, pick their lingual equivalents as of their Time and Season.


‘Not’ And The ‘Ña’ Family

Śūnyathā

There area at least two other terms which enter the history of the Symbol ‘0’. The term: Śūnyathā [‘Emptiness’]. And the term Nāmarūpa.

Nāmarūpa, in English: ‘Form’, is a term that originated in the Platonic Dialogues and was then appropriated into Logic’s emerging new vocabulary. I have devoted a whole Post to its meaning in the section on Logic. So take a look.

Both terms enter the stage in the Hridaya Sūtra [‘Heart Sūtra’], the 25 Sloka compacting of the MahaPrajñāpāramithā, although the latter has a longer history.

The term Śūnyathā has its roots in the problematic extension of an earlier term ‘That-ness’ which is commonly interpreted in scholarly circles as an abstraction of ‘That’.

You can’t abstract ‘That’. It has gone well-beyond such binary divides as concrete and abstract. If you don’t see that, you haven’t understood ‘That’. [See the Post]. The same applies to Śūnyathā when it is, as is common, treated as an abstraction of Śūnyam.

At last count I know of at least 6 different definitions of Śūnyathā, from the early Theravada Schools to the later Mahayana appropriations. So watch out.

The only stable definition that has stood steady over time is as Śūnyathāsūnyathā: the Emptiness of Emptiness itself.

A Self-Eating Expression. Naturally. Necessarily.

The Oldest Printed Text

The ‘Diamond-Cutter’ Sūtra
[Mahā Prajñāpāramithā Vajracchedikā Sūtra]

Man’s Oldest Preserved Printed Text
Ink on Paper, Cave 17, Donhuang, China

Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th day of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong’
[May 11, 868, CE]

British Museum Library, London


Sūtra, cognate with ‘Suture’, a strung-together lock, was originally meant as a mnemonic arrangement [hence the repetitious reinforcements], the anchoring reference to an oral teaching tradition.

The recensions of the Maha Prajñā Pāramitha Sūtra expand in stages and reach as high as 100,000 Slokas [Sloka, a metrical unit of 32 syllables].

By the time the Sūtra reaches these rarefied heights of loquacious amplification, the core insights of the original text are lost or faded into footnotes.

Pious scribes and well-meaning monks had tamed the Symbol’s fierce bellow into a feeble whimper, a reverent purr.

The confusion arises because this Sūtra, and for the first time in the mainstream literature, dares to treat ‘Self’, not as a mysterious undefinable creature but as an explicit, identifiable entity. If you can’t point to it, it cannot be investigated. It is to be ignored as just a bunch of unverifiable claims.

The oral tradition and its dependence on mnemonic phrasing did not transfer well to the written word in high Sanskrit. A downward spiral progressively compacting the now unwieldy texts. The 300 Sloka version is the Vajrachedika Sūtra, [In Englishthe ‘Diamond’ or ‘Diamond-Cutter’ Sūtra].

The language of the Diamond Sūtra is manifestly opaque to one unfamiliar with its intent. It is special because it is uniquely cognizant of the centrality of the Self-Loop. The Self-Eating Expression is the principal, the only theme of the Sūtra.


‘Arouse The Mind With No Abiding Place’ say’s the Sūtra. In other words, get thee to ‘The Not’.

For the below brief excerpts, I’ve chosen the simpler but remarkably precise A.F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam translation from the Chinese[1947]. 

On ‘Enlightenment’:

Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment?

Subhuti answered: As I understand Buddha’s meaning there is no formulation of truth called Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.’

Subhuti, what do you think? Does a holy one say within himself: I have obtained Perfective Enlightenment?

Subhuti said: No, World-honored One. Wherefore? Because there is no such condition as that called “Perfective Enlightenment.

World-honored one, if a holy one of Perfective Enlightenment said to himself “such am I,” he would necessarily partake of the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality….

[‘Enlightenment’ is realizing that there is no such special state to be called ‘Enlightenment’. When you realize that, you are ‘Enlightened’; until you realize that, you drift in ‘Ignorance’.]

On ‘Teaching’:

Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata conceives the idea: I must set forth a Teaching. For if anyone says that the Tathagata sets forth a Teaching he really slanders Buddha and is unable to explain what I teach.’

‘Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata a teaching to enunciate?

Subhuti replied to the Buddha: World-honored One, indeed, the Tathagata has nothing to teach.’

[The Teaching is the deep understanding that there is no Teaching. When you understand that, you gain the Teaching; until you understand that, you are held back in class.]

On Achievement [‘Acquisition’]:

Then Subhuti asked Buddha: World-honored One, in the attainment of the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment did Buddha make no acquisition whatsoever?

Buddha replied: Just so, Subhuti. Through the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment I acquired not even the least thing; therefore it is called ‘Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.

[You can try this yourself.]


In the later periods, it was common for senior scholars to try and insert, delete or alter key phrases in the reconstructed verses as means of elaborating and legitimizing their own views or in a misguided attempt at straightening and simplifying the Loop. 

The way to spot a slide in the core content is to stay alert to sudden qualifying lines, lines conflicting with an earlier or later primary metric, or inappropriate, redundant refrains.

In general, if the language slips to the linear, if it is avoiding confronting the Loop, it is most likely a later addition.

So watch your step if you are reading the aged lines of the full Sūtra. They can be very helpful to the informed reader, fatally beguiling to the casually curious.

London



This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 13298386-7011115-_get_me_a_ladder_boris_cried_out_in_mock_despair-m-73_1557414984200.jpg

London, Glorious London. The weather is damp as ever, but the food has markedly improved.

And I still get lost in its streets and parks and pubs and museums, happily so.

The original print of the Diamond Sūtra is at the British Museum in London.

The original document [The Bakhshali Manuscript] for the earliest displayed Symbol ‘0’ is an hour away at the Bodleian in Oxford.

It’s time somebody took the bus across and connected Text and Symbol.



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Suzuki/Conze

The magnificently erudite Dr. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki
[1870-1966]


'[It] would be difficult to find anything as remote
from the interests of the present day as the contents of this site. This in itself may recommend it to..those for whom it is intended.'
Edward Dietrich Conze
1904-1979

[It] would be difficult to find anything as remote from the interests of the present day as the contents of [the Sūtra].

This in itself may recommend it to…those for whom it is intended.

A life dedicated to translating the Prajñā Pāramitha. Descendent in the high tradition of Kumārajīva [334-413 CE] and Xuanzang [602-664 CE].

Dr. Conze’s translation of the Ratnguna [Mahā Prajñāpāramithā Ratnaguṇa Saṁcayagāthā] is a core text that lashed me to the mast as the leaky ship tilted headlong into the big waves.

Drawing on Haribhadra’s Abhisamayalankaraloka, Nagarjuna’s Commentaries and others, it refused to dumb-down the radical content of the verses, something repeatedly done by more linguistically knowledgeable Sanskritists.

The Ratnaguna is arguably the oldest of the principal Sūtras. Almost all the core lines of the ‘Diamond’ [Vajrachedika] Sūtra can be traced back to its 41 extant verses. I suggest holding off on reading it until you are in the vicinity of the Symbol ‘0’.

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Brahman

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

Vedic Truth is irreducibly, ridiculously simple. There is Brahman. There is only Brahman. There is nothing else here.

It is also an extraordinarily dangerous claim in untrained hands. It may be talked about only in the light of True-Nothing, in the understanding arisen from alighting on Śūnyam.

The Symbol ‘0’ took birth, found formulation, as a direct result of 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‘.

This is reflected in an early interpretation of the Symbol ‘0’ as Pūjyam, a mystical expression marking: ‘That worthy of worship’.

It was a simultaneous reference to both a Completeness [the Plenum of the Iśopaniṣad] and one of Absence.


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.

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The Gnostic Christ

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.

[The orthodoxy didn’t take kindly to such heretical ideas; you go with the Prophet who is in direct touch with God.]

I’ll reach for an extract just to convince you of the universality of this idea of ‘The All’.


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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The Plotinus ‘One’

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 number..is under no limit of any kind..is 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.


‘God is a Namelessness’, wrote Meister Eckhart [1260-1328 CE], the pioneering Christian Mystic who taught Aristotle at the Sorbonne.

‘The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one’.

Eckhart was promptly arraigned by the Vatican. Like I said, the Orthodoxy of the Abrahamic Faiths didn’t care much to party with its Mystics.

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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.

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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.

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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Axiom, Assumption… [What Was That?]

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.

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‘Does God Exist?’

‘Does God Exist?’, a common question, 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.

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‘God’ And The Limit Of Man

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 around 1,000 BCE 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.

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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.

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‘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.

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In-dividuus

‘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?

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Ahankára

Here is an excerpt from the translation of the Vishnu Purāṇa [1840] by the remarkable Horace Hayman Wilson [1786-1860], first translator of the Rig Veda and the first occupant of the Boden chair for Sanskrit at Oxford:

The sense of Ahankára cannot be very well rendered by any European term. It means the principle of individual existence, that which appropriates perceptions, and on which depend the notions, I think, I feel, I am.

It might be expressed by the proposition of Descartes reversed; ‘Sum, ergo cogito, sentio,”

Cogito ergo sum. Sum, ergo cogito, sentio.

Both stop-short of True-Nothing.

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‘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’.]

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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’.

A preposterous presumption, a comic conceit, and a sanctioned vanity.

Indeed. But who is presumptuous? Who stands conceited? For there is no ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self” here to grandly declare its Independence and Separateness.

You are firmly on Big Y’s ‘Backward Step’. And that trek ends only at True-Nothing.

Read on to the Post on the Circle of Self-Deception.


The Binary Code
The Layers Of Not-Two

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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 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, along with Schrodinger and others, a founding father of the New Physics, was now unabashedly talking about the Observer influencing the Observed.

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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.

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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

‘Know Thyself’: Gnothi Seauton. In the Sanskrit: Atmanam Viddhi. You can find variants of it in every literate culture. The oldest, most ubiquitous injunction in Language.

But its original meaning bears no relationship to its contemporary interpretation, today’s La-La Land.

Self-Inquiry is an absurd idea. I can inquire about any and all things in this great and grand world of ours. Except inquire about me.

Self-Awareness? I can never be aware of that which is aware. I can be aware of anything but the source of my awareness.

Self-Knowledge? I can know about all things in this our magnificent cosmos. But I may never know myself.

The Loop is ‘I’ seeking ‘Me’.


Gnothi Seauton. The celebrated words on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

The new Christian Theodosius razed it to the ground hoping to end all remnants of Paganism. It didn’t work.

Oscar Wilde proposed an appealing alternative, a big hit with the New-Age community: ‘Be Thyself’. [There is a view that the modern ‘New Age’ is the old Paganism in new guise. Perhaps.]

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

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].


1542-1591

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.

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.’

Jung: East And West

Carl Gustav Jung [1875-1961]

‘The goal of Eastern religious practice is the same as that of Western mysticism: the shifting of the center of gravity from the ego to the Self, from man to God. This means that the ego disappears in the Self, and man in God.’

Sri Ramana Maharishi

1879-1950

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.’

Thiruvāchakam

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.]

Ramana Maharishi’s Metaphor

‘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.’

1879-1950

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.]

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.


[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.]

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.

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.

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.

‘Ana’l-Ḥaqq’. al-Halláj And Rumi

‘Ana’l-Ḥaqq’: ‘I am God Itself!’ [‘I am the Real’, in other translated interpretations].

These famous words deeply entrenched in the psyche of every pious Sufi Muslim, were uttered in Baghdad by Mansur al-Halláj [922 CE] a Persian Mystic who was was arrested and later executed. [Impaled they say, meriting the full wrath of God.]

Al-Halláj himself pointed to Jesus for his inspiration. One crucified a millennia earlier for saying something very similar:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life‘ [John 14:6]

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known‘ [John 1:18].


Jalaluddin Rumi [Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī; Byzantine Roma; 1207-1273 CE] wrote of the event:

‘When the (Halláj) said ‘I am God’ and carried it through, he throttled all the blind (sceptics). When a man’s ‘I’ is negated (and eliminated) from existence, then what remains? Consider, O Denier!

Men and Women imagine that Ana l-Haqq: ‘I am God Itself!’ is a presumptuous claim, whereas the really presumptuous claim is to say Ana l-abd: ‘I am the slave of God’, for [the latter] affirms two existences, his own and that of God.

But he who says ‘I am God Itself!’, has exited, has given himself up and holds: ‘I am naught, He is the All; there is no Being but God.”

An inch closer. But still short of ‘The-Not’.

Deux Factus Sum

You can go a step higher than St. Paul.

Deux Factus Sum: ‘I am become Divinity!’ You can’t get any higher than that.

An early declaration, without qualifier or compromise, found in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad is: Ahaṁ Brahmāsmi: ‘I am Brahman‘. Short, simple, take it or leave it.

In today’s India the phrase ‘I am Brahman’ said with enough gravity and vigor will get you a supplicant crowd by lunchtime and by sunset you will be settled in the Guru-Business. And there is no business quite like it.

In its proper interpretation the opening word Ahaṁ in its breakdown by syllable is not equivalent, not even analogous, to the conventional ‘I’.

And Brahman is not identical with ‘Divinity’ as commonly understood. But for as far back as I recall it has been understood as: ‘I am Divinity’.

Though unlike elsewhere, nobody got killed for saying it. In fact, quite the opposite. It became a cliched term, a pretense at philosophical depth from the incorrigibly callow.

Gnana Marga: The Path Of Knowledge

Photograph from the 1800’s; South India. The failproof method used by Brahmin students to stay awake

What is so special about the word ‘Know’? A word for which, after 5000 years of Language, intriguingly overlapping with the birth of the Kali-Yuga, we still do not have a proper definition.

The  word ‘Know’ traces its roots directly back to the Latin Gnosis, which in turn traces back to the Sanskrit Gnana.

Why are the Religious Classes of every Culture, those granted closest access to the Deity, the Brahmins and the Pastors, the Rabbis and the Imams, always from the ‘Learned Class’?

This inner circle to the sanctum [did I forget the Professors?] whose proudest possession is the claim to ‘Know’?

Gnana Marga: The ‘Path of Knowledge’. All other Paths [the Yogic, Devotional, Service, et al] get you in the periphery, but the seal of conviction is impossible unless one goes through and past this word ‘Know’.

So what is it about this word ‘Know’?

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…

Immanuel Kant’s ‘Organic Contact Lenses’

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

Immanuel Kant’s work had much to do with the ideas of Knowledge and ‘Knowing’.

Kant tried to identify the ‘First Principles of Knowing’ itself, reaching back to Aristotle’s Principle of [Non] Contradiction and Categories [Cause, Necessity, Contingency, etc ].

Along with ‘Space’ and ‘Time’, the ground conditions of Sensibility, they made up the Kantian Grid.

You cannot but view the World through these fundamental constructions, said Kant. They are organic contact lenses, hard-wired processors, the immutable framework within which must arise all Knowing and Understanding.

But what about these conditions themselves? How does one see one’s own organic contact lenses? How does one ‘Know the Knowing’?

Unlike most philosophers, Kant was vividly alert to the Loop although he never took his own understanding to its necessary, implosive limit.

From Kant’s: ‘Critique of Pure Reason’:

If deduction of these conceptions is necessary, it must always be Transcendent. All attempts at an empirical deduction in regard to pure and a priori conceptions are in vain, and can only be done by one who does not understand the altogether peculiar nature of these conceptions.’

If you don’t see the significance of that qualification you will elaborate learnedly on the nature of Kant’s organic lenses while wearing them securely atop your nose.

And find yourself willy-nilly in the center of the vortex. Which is exactly where Universities are today.


[Kant was perhaps the first modern philosopher to use the word ‘Transcendent’ widely and in its proper meaning.]

The Epistemological Pirouette

You are a restless seeker, a Philosophy-Junkie. And you want to know all about ‘Know’. You want to know what ‘Knowledge’ means.

Not to worry. There is such a subject. And it is called Epistemology. You’ve come to the right department.

Epistemology is the scholarly study of ‘Knowing’ while firmly resident in the Know. It is knowing all about ‘Knowing’ and ‘Knowledge’.

Can you smell the Loop?


Empistemology [‘Know’] and Ontology [‘Be’] are the twin foundations of Philosophy. Any grand discourse on Philosophy without a clear investigated statement about these two stances is not worth the paper it is written on.

Socrates: ‘The Most Vicious Of Circles’

From the File-Box:

So you ask a Professor of Epistemology for the definition of the word ‘Knowledge’.

He might give you list [a safe response] but odds are that on that list is the phrase ‘Justified True Belief’ or something very close. [The original translated phrase from the Classical Greek is ‘True Belief with an Account’].

What’s so special about ‘Justified True Belief? It is the closest thing we have to an original definition for the word ‘Knowledge’. And it first emerges in the Theaetetus, in Plato’s Dialogues. Hence it is the ‘Classic’ definition.


The Theaetetus is where it all began. It is the source, the Mother-Lode for this subject called Epistemology.

And the Theaetetus, the founding source for the classic definition of the word: ‘Knowledge’ is not about what ‘Knowledge’ is, but rather about what it is not. And why the word ‘Knowledge’ cannot be defined. [Read it]

Socrates asks Theaetetus, the meaning of the word ‘Knowledge’. Theaetetus proceeds to list the known disciplines, Geometry and Cobblery, the Sciences, et al.

Socrates stops him short: ‘But the question Theaetetus, was not what are the objects of knowledge..or sorts of knowledge..but the thing itself, knowledge, is,..do you fancy it is a small matter to discover the nature of knowledge? Is it not..the hardest?

After a lengthy and labored discussion of various definitions, ‘Justified True Belief’ is proposed, the one felt least presumptive of those explored.

Socrates himself does not propose an answer, staying instead with the negation. He offers Theaetetus his celebrated analogy of the barren midwife who can only help another give birth. Socrates continues:

Doesn’t it strike you as shameless to explain what knowing is like, when we don’t know what knowledge is?

The truth is, Theaetetus, that for some time past there has been a vicious taint in our discussion. Times out of numbers we have said ‘we know’, ‘we do not know’, ‘we have knowledge’, ‘we have no knowledge’, as if we could understand each other while we still know nothing about knowledge…

All that we have brought to birth..today about knowledge..our midwives skill pronounces to be mere wind eggs and not worth the rearing..

To tell us to get hold of something we already have in order to know something we are already thinking of suggests a state of the most absolute darkness..the most vicious of circles will be nothing compared to this injunction..

Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know, for that and no more is all that my art can effect..’

‘Knowing What You Do Not Know’

‘Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know’. This is the limit of honest Epistemological insight.

The Good Professors could not come to terms with Socrates’ negation, this descent into infinite regress. So they declared victory and retreated.

But they needed some legitimizing link to Plato’s Dialogues in order to attest classical origins. So they took with them this ‘Least Presumptive’ definition of Knowledge and started a new Subject called Epistemology.

The study of Knowing while firmly resident in the Know. The absurdity had been winked away. It was back to business as usual.

Why was it so important to force a definition on the word ‘Know’? What’s wrong with ‘Business as Usual’?  

If you can’t claim to know what ‘Know’ means, you have a great deal of annoying explanations to give. And this can get very tiresome. As when you teach subjects claiming ‘Knowledge’. Subjects like Philosophy and Religion; Science and History; Logic and Law.

If you are not sure what ‘Know’ and ‘Not-Know’ mean, how do you plan to hold forth on: ‘True and False’? Or: Real and Unreal. Or the meaning of the words: ‘Meaning’ and ‘Word’.

Did you make sense of this morning’s Newspaper? Have you really understood a single word on this Page?

Including this very sentence about understanding a single word on this Page? [Is that a Self-Eating Expression showing its head?]

How To Learn Tibetan

Let’s work through an example to understand Socrates’ scathing dismissal of the various proposed definitions for ‘Knowledge’. 

We understand [and create] the new only in reference to the old, only in counterpoint to that which is not-new. Co-Dependence, once again.

Your most imaginative construction of distant galaxy and strange alien is little more than a rearrangement of decidedly familiar idea and image. [‘R2-D2’ not-withstanding, a true alien must remain alien to your known world.]

New learning begins in an extension of what is already learnt. The unfamiliar originates in the conversant and the familiar. The Unknown begins in the Known.

I start with what I know in order to know something new.

I teach a child the meaning of the word ‘Cat’ by pointing to a picture of a cat. I do not read her the dictionary definition of Cat: ‘A species of carnivorous quadrupeds, of genus Felis.’

I speak American-English and I wish to learn Tibetan. I go to a teacher who speaks Tibetan and American-English.

I don’t go to a teacher who speaks Tibetan and German, nor to a teacher who speaks American-English and Japanese.

How To Use A Dictionary

Samuel Johnson: 1755

A Dictionary defines new and unfamiliar words in terms of old and familiar ones.

In order to use a Dictionary I must enter with a ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’.

And this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ must itself be sourced outside the Dictionary.

I must already possess this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ before using a Dictionary and without it the Dictionary is of no use to me.


I search Webster’s for the meaning of the word ‘Metropolis’.

Metropolis: ‘The main city, often the capital, of a country, state or region’. But what is a City?

City: ‘A large important town’. But what is a Town?

Town: ‘A place enclosed or fenced in; a collection of houses enclosed within walls; a hamlet; a village’. But what is a Village?

Village: ‘A group of houses in the country, smaller than a town or city and larger than a hamlet’.

We have come full circle. This is all a Dictionary is meant to do. We can go no further. A Hamlet is defined in terms of ‘Village’; a Village in terms of ‘Hamlet’.

In order to use the Dictionary, I must enter with knowledge of what is a ‘Hamlet’ or a ‘Village’. If I do not, I will find myself in a permanent loop within the Dictionary with no exit.

If I am alert to that, I close the Dictionary and find a ‘Hamlet’, take a trip and visit  a ‘Village’.

If I am not alert to it, I keep turning the pages and look for new definitions without ever leaving the Dictionary. And enter the boudoir of the Loop.


[Literati say a Dictionary spirals down in terms of ‘simpler’ words. The simplest words in Language are ‘is’ and ‘not’ and men have been struggling to define them clearly for 2 millennia. So watch out.]

‘Delusion’: Living Inside The Dictionary

I cannot find the meaning to the phrase ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’, within the pages of the Dictionary to which, in order to use, I must bring this ‘Minimum-Knowledge’.

But what happens when I seek for the definition of ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ inside a Dictionary without being aware that I am already using this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ when I seek it?

In Socratic speak: ‘To tell us to get hold of something we already have in order to know something we are already thinking of…‘.

With Language. it is possible to work backwards. In other words, it is possible, with due care and diligence, to identify your beginning inventory of English, the ‘Minimum-Knowledge’ that you bring with you in order to use a Dictionary.

With ‘Knowledge’, it is impossible.

If you can understand this line you are reading you are already well into a state of advanced ‘Knowing’. Much more so when you seek for a definition of the word ‘Know’. 

In Primal Forgetting, I build my entire vocabulary using words that define other words in a closed self-referential loop with no appreciation of the preemptive and prior ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ that I have brought with me.

This is the original state of ‘Delusion’[Avidya, Agnana].


[Do not to confound it with its Post-Vedanthic interpretation as ‘Error’. You are well into ‘Knowledge’ when you start binary classifications such as ‘Accuracy and Error’.]

‘The More You Know, The Less You Understand’

Until I know what ‘Know’ means I live inside the Dictionary, defining each word using another word, earnestly expanding my vocabulary of erudite ignorance.

I go from page to page chasing my tail with no hope of exit. Hence ‘Delusion’.


‘Knowing’ precedes Model, is prior to Alphabet, preemptive of Number. You cannot newly define it, for it precedes the concept of ‘Definition’.

You cannot newly seek it, for it preempts the concept of ‘Seek’. You cannot newly prove it, for it is prior to the notion of ‘Proof’.

You can never know anything about Knowing without being in contradiction to the act of Knowing itself. ‘Knowing’ and ‘Not-Knowing’ is a distinction always and only made in a state of ‘Knowing’.

If you can newly define the word ‘Know’, by that very fact, what you have defined is not the word ‘Know’.

If you say: ‘I Know’, you are off; if you say: ‘I don’t Know’, you are equally off. What’s common between them is the letter ‘I’.

Or as Lao Tzu put it: ‘The more you know, the less you understand


‘Awake And Asleep’

‘When I know that I know that I know’

‘There was a young man who said: ‘Though,

It seems that I know that I know,

What I would like to see,
is the ‘I’ that knows ‘Me’,

When I know that I know that I know.”


As for the limerick, I’m pretty sure I got that from one of Alan Watts’ passionate little paperbacks. In Sausalito. A long time ago.

Mr. Holmes

Holmes2

‘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]

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.


The Axiom Of Sight

From Subject To True-Nothing

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

‘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.]

Any ‘True-Self’ I discover other than as ‘True-Nothing’ is simply a short-stop in a confounding of ‘Object as Subject’.


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’.

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 tradition descended from oral-teaching to written word around 1,000 BCE. 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 didn’t go all the way. They stopped short of ‘True Nothing’ settling instead for a ‘Subtle Inner Essence’.


Well, they actually stopped at a very interesting and hugely influential expression called Tát [literally, ‘That’] which then inappropriately gets reified as ”Subtle Inner Essence’. This is the beginning of the idea of ‘True Self’ which pervades Vedantha and related schools. See the later Posts.

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.

Equus Asinus: The Doctor of Philosophy

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. 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’.

‘Irrelevant Things…’

In the best known lines from Plato’s Phaedrus:

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.

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’]

Formulation: Yājñavalkya’s Rule

Uddalaka’s distinguished disciple Yājñavalkya, in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad [the written version descended from an earlier Oral Teaching Tradition, around 1200 BCE], 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.

The common interpretation 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.

Not so. The complete rule properly interpreted is a self-scuttling circular loop: ‘It is not this!’; It is not: ‘It is not this!’

This is the layout of the original Self-Eating Expression. And its most brusque and uncompromised rendering is simply as the word ‘Not’ [‘Nought’; see the Post]

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’.

Ātman And An-Ātman

Yājñavalkya’s formula in time becomes the algorithm that begets the Symbol ‘0’. But he himself had no access to it and relied on the Inquirer to recognize the spot on arrival.

The Symbol was not complete and established until the time, centuries later, of the Mahā Prajñāpāramithā Vajracchedikā Sūtra.

If the Symbol was established he would have stopped his pedagogic elaborations at ‘True Nothing’. There was nothing more that needed to be said.

The Self-Scuttling Sight-Insight [‘Observation/Understanding’] on the very nature of Sight-Insight. The natural limit of Inquiry. A full-blown Self-Eating Expression.

He called his terminus: ‘Not-Two’ [Àdvaitham] and elaborated it in what would later be called Coincidentia Oppositorum. His Ātman was simultaneously: ‘A mass of Intelligence’ and ‘An Inner Controller’, and so on.

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’.]


The term Ātman that Yājñavalkya used, an expression synonymous with Brahman, soon got appropriated, first as an “Inner Self’ of the Vedanthins and later by emerging Buddhist monks who countered it with the new term An-Ātman, or ‘No-Self’.

The early use of the term An-Ātman was problematic. You can’t counter Coincidentia Oppositorum unless you have no understanding of what it means.

The common sangha-lecture on An-Ātman, usually done with much vigor by the monk, can be laid out as a short-stopped Self-Eating Expression: ‘I don’t exist!’ or ‘There is no me!’.

All this began to change with the arrival of the The ‘Diamond-Cutter’ Sūtra [The Vajracchedikā] where the idea of ‘Self’ is brought down from obscurantist mystical heights to explicit identifiable ‘Subject’.

The price for such plain-talk was that, unlike traditional Buddhist Teaching with its linear comprehensible rules, all references may now only be done in the form of Self-Eating Expressions. And thereby risk egregious confusion which happened aplenty.

The Layers Of Not-Two

Not-Two’: Àdvaitham, Àdvayadharmam, terms that predates Śūnyam.

Yājñavalkya defined it as simply: Neither before nor after; Neither inside, nor outsideneither silence nor speech. Its earliest scriptural definition was as: ‘One without a second’ [a reckless simplification of Ekam Sat: ‘One Truth’].


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. 


‘Not-Two’ is a statement of Truth, not an appellation, not a name for an ‘Object’ [concept, process, state, sentiment, anything you can objectify]. And its confounding as a conventional reference, a name, is pervasive in the historical literature.

It actively locks in the Inquirer in a verbal hog-tie. You may not not say a word [or write a Post] about it. Except to call it ‘Not-Two’.


‘Not-Two’ has lots of layers to it and you won’t really notice them until you slip on one. But the most relevant can be readily listed.

First, the ‘Subject-Object’ Divide. More generally, the Self-Loop.

Second, the open-ended: ‘Not’. [See the Posts for this and the above.]

And finally, our ready tendency to abstract and reside in referential structures [‘Doubles that Refer’] and hence make our World amenable to Logic and Language.

In particular, expressions formulated as ‘Sign’, and further extended in ‘Thought’. And then cheerfully contracted or expanded until we get seriously lost. [See the later Posts on Language.]

‘Not-Two’: You can carry it around in your shirt-pocket. Bounce it, baby it, bully it. It will spring back to shape.


‘Two-ness’

Nirvāṇa And Saṃsāra

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.

‘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’


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’?

The Rolls-Royce Dealership


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

But Nirvāṇa has no independent definition. It is defined only in relationship to what it is not.

My Search ends when I no longer find myself searching.


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.

‘That’

A principal expression of Vedic insight is Tát [literally, ‘That’].

The Summum Bonum of popular, if redacted Dharmic Teaching is: Tát Tvam Asi, the same Tát [‘That’] of the Rig Veda. In translation: ‘You are That’. It preceded the birth of the Symbol ‘0’ by as much as a millennium.

‘That’ is an Expression of Inexpressibility. A self-scuttling assertion in negation, an immediate, unregenerate self-contradiction. It is neither noun nor verb, is grammatically homeless, a lexicographer’s nightmare, and meant to be so.

No identities. aspects, elements, endowments, features, qualities, temperament, tendencies. You may not source it for ethical or social directives [rules], go philosophical or poetic on its attributes…

Point a finger, draw a line, a thought, emote a feeling towards ‘That’ and by that very act, what you have pointed a finger to, drawn a line of, thought, emoted, is not ‘That’.

‘You may not express ‘That’. Anything you express as ‘That’, by that very fact, is not ‘That”. To even call it ‘Inexpressible’ violates its inexpressibility.

The ‘Exhaustion of Philosophical Views’.

‘That’ has the exact same Logical Form as the Symbol ‘0’. And if you want to get to original meaning of ‘That’ you will have to first get to True-Nothing.


The core of Vedic [later, Hindu] insight as laid out in its best interpretive commentaries circles around this central notion of ‘That’.

But ‘That’, is red-meat for the book-read and the religious-minded. I have seen it translated as a word for ‘The Supreme’, ‘The Infinite’, the ‘One True God’, the ‘True Inner Self’ and numerous other variations all of which are meant to reign in its implacable inexpressibility to the domain of the comforting and the familiar.

If it was ‘The Supreme’ it would simply be called ‘The Supreme’. The vocabulary is rich enough. The term ‘That’ is a verbal equivalent of throwing up your hands in abject capitulation.

Of course, in every case these breezy claims are only made by one standing a mile away from True-Nothing.

Tát-āgathā: ‘That-Gone’

The literature of this period shows that Siddhartha Gautama’s formal schooling, that of a high-born Kshatriya Prince, was firmly in the classic Dharmic paradigm.

He was educated under the stern eye of five established Brahmin scholars. The first Upaniṣads would have been standard fare for every beleaguered student of his rank and of his day.

Siddhartha Gautama’s chosen name for himself was not as ‘The Buddha’ [a later appellation] but as the Tát-āgathā [literally, ‘That-Gone’] againthe same Tát [‘That’] of the Rig Veda.

A Tát-āgathā is one: ‘Entered in Tát’ [‘That’] or in its literal but more ambiguous translation: ‘That-Gone’.

It says nothing about any ‘Object’ [such as an imagined ‘That’]. It is all about the Subject. Or rather, the absence of it.


Unlike in the mystical Upaniṣadic verses, ‘Self’ in the Buddhist Sūtric articulation is consistently an empirical one. It is not simply to be asserted but directly observed in undeniable inferential link, as an identifiable Subject in counterpoint to an identified Object.

A-natman [‘No-Self’: See the Post] is the element that differentiates the literature of the Buddha-Dharma from its Vedic roots. But what is common to both is the centrality of the Self-Negating Expression. The Symbol ‘0’.

‘I Am Not The Buddha’

Dharma Chakra Mudra
Sarnath Museum, 450 CE


‘If someone would for a hundred thousand eons constantly look at the Tathagatha Without relying on Ultimate Reality but only seeing the World’s Saviour that person is attached to Form and enlarging the Net of Ignorance and Illusion Tied up to the prison of Birth and Death Deluded, he does not see the Buddha.’

The Avataṃsaka Sūtra [Around 100 BCE; also as the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka [Flower-Ornament] Sūtra]

‘I am not the Buddha’. A Self-Negating Expression of-course. Naturally. Necessarily.


‘That’

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