November 16, 2003

Buddhism anyone?

Do you believe in Buddhism? It sounds reasonable enough to me. I thought the other day that I ought explain Buddhism more. It is the sort of thing that needs explaining, cause there are so many people, even Japanese people or tibet people that probably think that Buddhism is a lot of codswollop.

Buddshism, I was taught, diverged from Hinduism when it taught that there is no self. The taught that the self is god. Or that the self is the world. "I am food, I am food," "I am the eater of food," "I am the navel of the universe." And if this doesn't sound unrealistic enough, the Buddhist came along and said that they did not believe in the self either. There is nothing, the void, chaos, or perhaps buddha nature.

This sounds very strange. How could anyone believe such a wacko thing? There is nothing? Or why is there supposed to there is some sort of ancient Indian lingering around here?

Buddhism is not so strange. First and foremost, Buddhism is just humble. The main thing that Buddhism is saying is that, however we view the world, our understanding of the world resembles real world as it is very little indeed. Our perception of the world, me, this keyboard, the room, my wife, our dog, all laid out in space, with three or four dimensions? This conception of the world, in the mind of a large bacillus, bears so little resemblance to the world "as it really is," that it is a joke. The real world...Nothing so prosaic as the bottle humands that we see in the first film in the Wachowski brothers trilogy. Perhaps "reality" has four thousand three hundred and five and a half dimensions, or it is a speck of trifle under the fingernail of a giant whose world exists as a spect of trifle. Perhaps time runs forwards and backwards, or perhaps it runs in both directions, or not at all. Perhaps there are many different types of time, or perhaps there are many different types of "many-ness," of mulitiplicity. Perhaps, just sticking to the dimensions, there are several oogle ways of their being plurality and the "number of dimensions" is very plural in all of them. What of thingness? Or space? These lumps of stuff that I presume spread out in field of light? This speck of a thing that is me, this microbe, presumes that my model of reality has anything to do with the real thing? Jest not!

But it all seems so real. There is me, and there is the keyboard. There is space and there is time. It should be noted that while I go about my day to day business being fairly confident about all this stuff being here, I am pretty much at a loss to what all these things really are. Space? Well space is space. But time? What is that when it is at home? And me? I have no idea what I am. Or rather I do. I have this "model." I think I am me.

Buddhism says it is all cobblers and tells us to flush our minds of the junk. Here I perhaps part company with the Buddhists. They are really sure that when one flushes ones mind of the myths of person hood and thingness, space and time, then one sees the truth, the absolute. It seems to me that this is very unlikely. By switching off my mind I may get as close to the world as is possible it still seems that it is a long way away.

Indeed perhaps the void Nirvana is just as far from the world as this state of caught-up-in-the-illusion ignorances is. After all my powers of conceptualisation are the best that I have. But then again, I don't think that Buddhism denies that. One does not switch off ones mind exactly but one sees it for what it is. Usually I do not do this. Normally I believe in the maps that I am making and think I am one of the symbols that I have created on my map.

Should one ever meet the map maker then I personally do not think that presto one will have seen all and known everything. One will not, as Plato claimed, have seen the froms which our symbols replicate. But on the contrary one will have seen the chaos that we are are trying to make sense out of. Seeing the chaos is probably a very enlightening thing. I am that much of a Buddhist. It is the ulitmate in Socratic Wisdom. If you get in a cave and or chant for long enough then you may get a glimpse, in a flash of inspiration, of the wierd enormity of the blamange that you are tring to make sense out of.

Whatever happens, I am very likely to be wrong about what the world is at the moment.

Posted by timtak at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)