Graham, I love the way you think about and examine the world. This article, however, was a bit painful for me to read. You spoke as if you have some kind of authority in or understanding of Buddhism, which this article makes apparent you don't. What was worse was the attitude in which you wrote about Kenneth Leong. Quite frankly it felt and seemed arrogant.

Nothing - not you, not me, not a flower, a car, or anything else in and of this world - can exist in isolation, cut off from the rest of existence. The left hand can't exist without the right, the light without the dark, above without below. The same goes for you - Graham, the person. You cannot be without your parents, you cannot be without others, without a social context in which you can exist. You cannot be without the environment, without the sun and earth and its elements, without the air, the water, the dirt. You cannot be without space. You cannot be without the world.

Everything inter-is. We can call a flower a flower, but when we look closer, we see that a flower is made of soil, water, rain, and sun. It actually has no independent self that is stable and unchanging, no essence that we can call self; it is a composite, made up entirely of non-flower elements. Graham, the person (not the independent self) when you look closely (which I encourage you to do), too is made entirely of non-Graham elements: bodily sensations, feelings, perceptions, mind-states, emotions, thoughts, mental activity, and volitions, all of which are continually changing in each moment, interacting with each other, with other people, and with the world.

Buddhism doesn't deny the existence of the flower or of Graham. It simply denies the idea of an independent force, an agent, that falls outside the laws of the world, outside of karma, outside the causal chain. You and everything else are inextricably linked, bound up, with the whole.

You, Graham, are perfectly complete, entirely whole, without beginning or end, unborn and undying.

Don't take my word for it but look for yourself: The thing that feels like you in your head, that feeling of being in the center of experience, somewhere behind your face looking out at the world - is just another content of awareness. It is only felt when it stands in relation to something - to a bodily sensation, to the breath, to another person, to a sound, etc. That is to say, it only arises in thought, which breaks the world into subject and object, which gives birth to the world of things, gives birth to the relative or conceptual world.

Step back, though, and notice what it is that is noticing this felt sense of self and you can touch the ultimate, the unwitnessed witness of experience, the formless open space of awareness; you can touch god or whatever else you want to call that which knows, is, and encompasses all things.

I'm sorry for being harsh and direct. This body of philosophy is obviously something I cherish; it has transformed my life, uplifted it dramatically. But like the Buddha taught, and like you said, clinging to anything, even to the view of non-self, is still clinging - the cause of suffering (the 2nd Noble Truth).

Take care, Graham. Maybe one day we can actually talk this (and other topics) out in person. Perhaps we can do a podcast. In the meantime, keep staying curious and dedicated to truth.

Best,

John

--

--

Student of Life, Love, & Being | johndriggs.org

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store