The Beginner’s Wish-List


‘How Deluded I Was! How Deluded Indeed!
Lift-Up The Screen and Come See The World!
‘What Religion Believest Thou?’ You Ask,
I Raise My Hossu And Hit Your Mouth.’

Chokei [Ch’ang-ch’ing Hui-ling, 853–932 CE]

The legend goes that the above ‘Moment of Enlightenment’ verse was still not considered confirmatory and Chokei had to get back on the Meditation Mat. Shūnyam would relish this verse just as it is.

From the Diamond Sūtra:

Moreover, the Tathagata has no formulated teaching to enunciate. Wherefore? Because the Tathagata has said that truth is uncontainable and inexpressible. It neither is nor is it not. Thus it is that this unformulated Principle is the foundation of the different systems of all the sages.’

Foundation of the different systems of all the sages‘? In other words, Religion [from Re-Ligaire: ‘to bind back’]. Religion in every shape and form. Man-Made Gods, Heavens and Hells, a modeled-reduction necessitated by a cleaving, a stopping-short of Shūnyam.

In its widest interpretation, from the traditional and the organized to the transient and the trivial, Religion births on a presumption, the beginning presumption, that of a cleaved and Separated ‘Self’.

If someone stops by your door and asks: ‘What is Truth?’, you pack him a sandwich, show him the ‘Backward Step’, and suggest that he watch-out for falling rocks and deceptively shallow puddles. Other than that, you don’t say a word. [The late-stage teachings were Rahásya, ‘Secret’; ‘Mute’, from the Sanskrit Mūka]

If you must say a word, it may only be as Self-Eating Expression. And its limit is as the Symbol ‘0’.

Religion in its broadest sense begins with the assignment of a Name other than as ‘Nameless’, a certified Self-Negating Expression.

An far back as the early Upaniṣads, names proliferate: Subtle Essence; Imperceptible; Omniscient; Omnipresent; Omnipotent; Unattached; Unfetterred.

Cherished human virtues are foisted on top of them: Compassionate, Happy, Generous, Just, Kind, Loving, Merciful, Motherly and so on. The standard wish-list of the beginning practioneer.

You will find close variants of this list in every formal religious tradition. Just skim the opening pages.

Here is a short-list, premature photographs clicked in a stopping-short of Shūnyam. 

‘The All’, Absence, Awareness, Being, [A Physical] Body, [A] Code, Co-Dependence, Consciousness, Emptiness, Energy, Essence, Existence, Form, Groundlessness, Impermanence, Infinity, Inner-Being, Intelligence, Life-Force, [Man-Made, Man-Like] Gods, Mind, No-Mind, No-Thought, Nothingness, Now-ness, Not-Nothing, Nullity, Organizing-Principle, Presence, Silence, Soul, Space, Spirit, Stillness, That-ness, Totality, ‘True-Self’, Unconscious, Unity, Void…

Many on the above list are in fact perfectly good Self-Eating Expressions [‘The All’, for example]. The problem is that they have not been recognized as such and the self-scuttle is prematurely truncated. [That is, truncated before a sighting of ‘True Nothing’]

Then come the new vocabularies denoting mysterious, self-sustaining higher-powers and self-tripping abstractions coming out of Universities, Research Houses and Scholarly publications. And of course the best-selling airport-paperbacks of Pop-Philosophers.

It’s a long list. We’ll look at them gradually in the course of the Posts.