‘Thus Have I Heard’

 

Or more grandly:

There is nowhere to be found, either by observation or by inference, and outside of an unexamined, inherited authority and unquestioned convention, an ‘Independent and Separate Observer, Self, Subject.

In contemporary take, there is no Separated ‘Self’ in the guise of:

A Physical Body, a Cell, a DNA Code, a Thought, a Mind, an Awareness, a Consciousness, a Totality, a Nullity, an Unity, an Entity, an Ego, an Energy, a Life-Force, an Intelligence, a Thinker, an Inquirer, a Speaker, an Actor, an Enforcer of Will, a Receiver of Experience, a Vehicle of Emotion, a Receptacle of Sensation, a Presence, an Existence, an ‘Organizing Principle’, a ‘Hidden Abstraction’, an ‘Inner Being’, a Spirit, a ‘Soul’…

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

 


No ‘Enforcer of Will’ or ‘Receiver of Experience’ doesn’t mean there is no enforcement of will or reception of experience. What’s up for questioning is the implicit presumption that there is an ‘Independent and Separated Presence’ doing it.

‘Thus Have I Heard’ is the ritual opening of a primary Sūtra.

Teddy Bear

 

There is no Little Fellow behind your nose and between your ears, no Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs, no Voyeur inside your eye and beneath your brow, that sees and thinks and feels and makes you laugh and makes you cry.

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

There is no center, no essence, no ground, no originating source, no terminating receptacle, no purported independent, separate, knowing ontological presence that is an ‘I’.


Don’t believe it just because I say so. Perhaps there is a Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs. We are going to hunt the critter down.

Note The Loop

 

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 Shrinks defining the word ‘Self’.

The Bio-Engineer knows it is a silicon-chip atop the neurons and between the firing synapse. 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 one from India is: ‘The sense of ‘I-ness”, which means whatever you want it to mean.

We go low-tech. We ask the Grammarian. ‘Self’ is a complicated idea; so we start with ‘Subject’.

‘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 self-loop.

The Professor

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

Here is 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’.

Does God Exist?

 

‘Does God exist?’, the indispensable question of every thinking Man and Woman is premature and presumptuous. The proper question, prior, proximate, more modest in its reach is: ‘Does Man exist?’

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

You never, ever seek the presence of ‘God’, a very man-made idea. You always and only seek to verify the presence or absence of ‘Man’. Answer that, and you answer both.

You always and only orient to Shūnyam.


There is no greater act of comic hubris than to grandstand about ‘God’ [or ‘Reality’ or ‘What Is?’] before first locating ‘Man’. The grander your tag the greater your pretense. Pick any theological text of any religion and be awed at the sweep of reckless excess.

‘Godless cult!’ was the first egg thrown at the emerging new Buddha-Dharma. This was rich.