From the ‘Jata Sutta’, in the Samyutta Nikaya

“A man established in virtue, discerning, developing discernment & mind, a monk ardent, astute: he can untangle this tangle.

Those whose passion, aversion, & ignorance have faded away, arahants, their effluents ended: for them the tangle’s untangled.

Where name-&-form, along with perception of impingement & form, totally stop without trace: that’s where the tangle is cut.

From the ‘Jata Sutta’, in the Samyutta Nikaya

From ‘Being and Time’, by Martin Heidegger

“because logos is a specific mode of letting something be seen, logos simply may not be acclaimed as the primary “place” of truth. If one defines truth as what “properly” pertains to judgment, which is quite customary today, and if one invokes Aristotle in support of this thesis, such invocation is without justification and the Greek concept of truth thoroughly misunderstood. In the Greek sense what is “true” indeed more originally true than the logos we have been discussing is aisthēsis, the straightforward sensuous apprehending of some thing. To the extent that an aisthēsis aims at its idia [what is its own]—the beings genuinely accessible only through it and for it, for example, looking at colors—apprehending is always true. This means that looking always discovers colors, hearing always discovers tones. What is in the purest and most original sense “true”—that is, what only discovers in such a way that it can never cover up anything—is pure noein, straightforwardly observant apprehension of the simplest determinations of the Being of beings as such. This noein can never cover up, can never be false; at worst it can be a nonapprehending, agnoein, not sufficing for straightforward, appropriate access.

What no longer takes the form of a pure letting be seen, but rather in its indicating always has recourse to something else and so always lets something be seen as something, acquires a structure of synthesis and therewith the possibility of covering up.”

From ‘Being and Time’, by Martin Heidegger

From ‘Chanting from the Heart’, by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Order of Interbeing

Le Petit Dojo, La Gendronniere, France

3. Touching the Earth
Opening Gatha 

The one who bows and the one who is bowed to 
are both, by nature, empty.
Therefore the communication between them 
is inexpressibly perfect.
Our practice center is the Net of Indra 
reflecting all Buddhas everywhere.
And with my person in front of each Buddha,
I go with my whole life for refuge.

Offering light in the Ten Directions,
the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Teaching and living the way of awareness 
in the very midst of suffering and confusion, 
Shakyamuni Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Cutting through ignorance, awakening our hearts and our minds,
Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Great Understanding,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Working mindfully, working joyfully for the sake of all beings,
Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Great Action,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Listening deeply, serving beings in countless ways,
Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Fearless and persevering through realms of suffering and darkness,
Kshitigarbha, the Bodhisattva of Great Aspiration,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Seed of awakening and loving kindness 
in children and all beings,
Maitreya, the Buddha to-be-born,
to whom we bow in gratitude. 

Showing the way fearlessly and compassionately,
the stream of all our Ancestral Teachers,
to whom we bow in gratitude

From ‘Chanting from the Heart’, by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Order of Interbeing

From ‘Buddhism without Beliefs’, by Stephen Batchelor

“Religious  interpretations  invariably  reduce  complexity  to  uniformity  while  elevating  matter-of-factness  to  holiness […] And  the  crucial  distinction  that  each  truth  requires  being acted  upon  in  its  own  particular  way  (understanding  anguish, letting  go  of  its  origins,  realizing  its  cessation,  and  cultivating the  path)  has  been  relegated  to  the  margins  of  specialist doctrinal knowledge. Yet  in  failing  to  make  this  distinction,  four  ennobling truths  to  be  acted  upon  are  neatly  turned  into  four  propositions  of  fact  to  be  believed.  The  first  truth  becomes:  “Life  Is Suffering”;  the  second:  “The  Cause  of  Suffering  Is  Cravings—and  so  on.  At  precisely  this  juncture,  Buddhism  becomes  a  religion.”

From ‘Buddhism without Beliefs’, by Stephen Batchelor

From “Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt”, by John Foley

“[A]ccording to Camus, if the absurd is not to degenerate into moral nihilism it must rehabilitate itself in the light of revolt, and that if revolt is not to deteriorate into a regime of tyranny and oppression, it must remain conscious of its origins in the absurd premise.

[…]

In Hazel Barnes’s translation of Being and Nothingness, the Sartrean absurd is defined as “That which is meaningless. Thus man’s existence is absurd because his contingency finds no external justification” (Sartre 1956: 628). In marked contrast, for Kierkegaard, the absurd refers to that quality of Christian faith that runs counter to all mundane human experience or, in Kierkegaard’s terms, “The absurd, precisely by reason of its objective repulsion, is the dynamometer of the inwardness of faith” (Lowrie 1938: 336; cf. Kierkegaard 1941: 189).

[…]

Reviewing Sartre’s Nausea in 1938, […] Camus criticizes the author for “thinking that life is tragic because it is wretched”, and argues that “the realisation that life is absurd cannot be an end in itself but only a beginning”. “It is not the discovery which is interesting,” argues Camus, “but the consequences and rules for actions which can be drawn from it.”

[…]

Camus claims that the absurd arises out of the “confrontation between human need and the unreasonable silence of the world” (MS: 32; E: 117–18). Human beings are naturally inclined to want and expect the world to be intelligible “in the full and familiar ways that religious and philosophical systems have portrayed it”. This kind of intelligibility purports to be comprehensive, to explain the world as a whole, and crucially, it purports to explain the world “in terms that human beings care about”, in ways that make sense “with respect to human values”. In Camus’s view, neither human existence nor the world are themselves absurd. Instead the absurd arises because the world is resistant to this kind of intelligibility: “we want the world to make sense, but it does not make sense. To see this conflict is to see the absurd” (Kamber 2002: 52). “If there is an absurd,” Camus says at one point, “it is in man’s universe” (MS: 38; E: 124). What normally brings the individual into confrontation with his absurd condition, suggests Camus, is the awareness not of human mortality per se, but of his own personal mortality. In the case of Camus himself, this awareness came with his f irst attack of tuberculosis, in 1930 or 1931, at the age of seventeen. For someone whose juvenile writing displayed a profound bond with the natural world, the sudden visceral awareness of his own mortality, the imperviousness of nature to the private traumas of humankind, the feeling of dying slowly from the inside, the painfully asphyxiating experience of the pneumothorax treatments that denied him even the pantheistic prayer of uninhibited respiration, left clear fissures in the latent pantheism of his earliest, mainly lyrical, writing.3 However, this is not to say that the absurd is born of an irrational response to the realization of human mortality. While feelings of the absurd may thus be awoken, awareness of the absurd, Camus insists, is specifically a rational, intellectual discovery, deduced from the recognition of the division between our expectations of the world and the world itself, unresponsive to those expectations (MS: 26; E: 112).

[…]

It is Camus’s contention that ordinary human existence tends to take this level of perfect coherence for granted, but that occasionally, or perhaps inevitably, “the stage-sets collapse”, and one is wrenched from one’s ontological complacency and forced to confront the radical incoherence perceived to be at the heart of the relation between the self and the world, that sense of absurdity which a recent critic has characterized as “the feeling of radical divorce, of living in a once familiar but now suddenly radically alien homeland, of being adrift between past and future and unable to rely on either to give meaning to the present, of being a stranger to the world and to oneself” (Carroll 2007b: 56–7).

[…]

He asserts repeatedly that it is the implications of the absurd that interest him: “I was looking for a method and not a doctrine. I was practicing methodical doubt.” The absurd, then, as conceived by Camus is fundamentally an epistemological claim addressing an ontological need; that is, a claim regarding the knowledge we can have of the world.

[…]

For Camus the absurd describes “a tension, born of a discrepancy between external reality and the human desire for familiarity”, but this does not discount such things as the existence of beauty, friendship, health, satisfying work and creativity.”

From “Albert Camus: From the Absurd to Revolt”, by John Foley

Jiddu Krishnamurti, in interview with the BBC

“One has to be light to oneself, and you cannot possibly depend on anyone. You cannot have light from another. It cannot be lit by whoever it is — God, or saviours, or Buddhas — it cannot be handed down to you. One has to be totally, completely, a light to oneself. This doesn’t mean selfishly.”

Do you mean then that none of us needs any of these teachings handed down to us, that we can all discover these things for ourselves?

It is certain that every man is the story of mankind. Obviously. And if one knows how to read oneself, the story of oneself, which is very complex, which needs a great deal of attention… A mind that doesn’t distort facts, what is actually seen, that such an attentive sensitive awareness (that’s easy to cultivate, easy to have), then one can read about oneself, without any illusion.

– You say you will never be put under any pressure, and indeed I can see and understand that. One only has to look at you, or read you, or listen to you to know that. But how about the rest of us? How do we get out from under this burden?

If we all say ‘we won’t be under pressure’…

We all ARE under pressure.

No. We won’t be.

– How can we refuse it? I mean, how can we live in the real world, the job is waiting for us, we are going to be late, we’ve got an appointment….

That brings up whether society can be changed. […] The communists tried it, the socialists are trying it, various systems are trying to change society. Now, what is society? It is an abstraction of our personal relationships. If our personal relationship changes — radically — society changes. But we are not willing to change. We admit wars, we accept all this… terrible state of existence.

– How do we stop it?

No, revolt against it! Not in the sense of become a communist, all that kind of stuff. Psychologically revolt against it.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti, in interview with the BBC

From ‘Why Buddhism Is True’, by Robert Wright

“Advanced meditators sometimes report experiencing a “witness consciousness” that seems to roughly fit this description of the second kind of consciousness, and some of them experience it for a long time. Maybe if it lasted forever they could claim to be enlightened. Maybe this “witness consciousness” is where the “you” that is left over after liberation resides.

Maybe. Or maybe we should just acknowledge that Ajahn Chah was onto something: trying to understand the idea of not-self by “intelectualizing” could make your head explode. And maybe, in light of this possibility, we should stop the intellectualizing right here.

Of course, your head, though intact, may still be in a somewhat confused state. But I have good news: you don’t have to dispel your confusion right now; you can wait a few years, until you’ve meditated so much that you become fully enlightened. Then, having directly aprehended not-self, you can explain it to me.

Meanwhile, here’s what I recommend: Continue to entertain the proposition you’ve probably been entertaining your whole life, that somewhere within you there’s some thing that deserves the name I. And don’t feel like you’re committing a felony-level violation of Buddhist dogma just because you think of yourself as being a self. But be open to the radical possibility that your self, at the deepest level, is not at all what you’ve always thought of it as being. If you followed the Buddha’s guidance and abandoned the massive chunks of psychological landscape you’ve always thought of as belonging to you, you would undergo a breathtaking shift in what it means to be a human.

[…]

[Peter] Harvey believes the not-self teaching “is not so much a thing to be thought about as to be done.” And who knows, maybe that was the Buddha’s view of the matter. Maybe he wasn’t really try ing to articulate a doctrine but rather to draw you down a path. And that path involves showing you how many things there are that you think of as part of your self but that don’t have to be thought of that way. In this view, the Buddha, in that first discourse on the not-self, wasn’t delivering a lecture about metaphysics or the mind-body problem or anything else so purely philosophical; he was just trying to get the monks to think about their minds in a way that would lead them toward liberation.

This might explain that feature of the discourse that people who think of the self as a CEO find odd: that the Buddha’s criterion for labeling a part of you not-self is that it’s not under control rather than that it’s not in control. Maybe by not-self the Buddha just meant something like “not usefully considered part of your self” or “not to be identified with”. In which case he was basically saying, “Look, if there’s part of you that isn’t under your control and therefore makes you suffer, then do yourself a favor and quit identifying with it!”

From ‘Why Buddhism Is True’, by Robert Wright

From ‘Bayes Nets as Psychological Models’, by Clark Glymour, in “Explanation and Cognition”, ed. Keil and Wilson

“Psychology has two traditional models of learning, classical and operant conditioning. In classical conditioning an agent learns the association of features, food and bell ringing in Pavlov’s famous example, provided the features meet various conditions, such as proximity of time of occurrence. Measured by drops of saliva, Pavlov’s dogs learned to expect food from bell ringing, and I count that as learning an association, but they did not learn anything about causation—they did not learn the effects of any intervention; for example, how to bring about or to prevent either the presentation of food or the ringing of the bell.

Some associations between a prior feature and a subsequent feature hold because the occurrence of the first feature caused the occurrence of the second feature, and some associations hold for other reasons—often because some third feature caused both the first and the second: Pavlov (or his assistants) caused both the bell to ring and the food to appear. By contrast, in operant conditioning an agent learns both an association and at least a fragment of a causal relation. Skinner’s pigeons learned that pecking a target is associated with the appearance of food pellets, and they learned at the same time how to control or influence the appearance of food pellets—by pecking the target.That partial causal knowledge was evidenced by an acquired skill, a competence at bringing about the presence of food by appropriate pecking, and of course not by anything linguistic. Skinner and his assistants arranged the mechanism, but given that mechanism each bird learned a causal conditional: if it pecks, food appears.


The causal knowledge acquired in operant conditioning may be radically incomplete if it is confined to implicit knowledge of the effects of the learner’s own actions, and not generalized to yield an understanding of the effects of other sources of intervention. It is one thing to know that if I peck on the target, a food pellet will appear, another to knowthat if there is a blow on the target, from whatever source, a food pellet will appear. A full causal understanding separates events that are subject to a system of causal relations from interventions that alter them, and implies a general grasp of the relevant interventions. Learning by imitation seems to indicate a more complete causal understanding. Meltzoff and Moore (1977) showed that very young babies imitate some of the actions of others, and of course older children and adults imitate all the time. Imitation can be for its own sake, from which useful consequences may later be discovered, or may be acquired along with knowledge of the consequences of the act imitated. In the latter case, imitation is the manifestation of an efficient way of acquiring causal knowledge, a way that identifies an act as a generic kind, that recognizes the causal power of the kind, and that recognizes the agent’s own action as an instance of the kind, no matter how different from the observed action of another one’s own action may look or feel to oneself. There is, of course, a reverse inference, from observation of the consequences of one’s own actions to knowledge of the consequences of like actions by others.

Learning causal relations from observations of others’ actions is essential for the accretion of causal knowledge that constitutes culture. It is, therefore, interesting that recent studies suggest that nonhuman primate modes of learning by imitation may be seriously limited in comparison with humans, either because they do not imitate, or do not learn from observations of others the consequences of imitated actions.


7.10 Categorization


Whatever the biological constraints and imperatives concerning the formation of concepts of kinds, it seems likely that humans and perhaps other creatures also have the capacity to fashion kinds to suit their environments. Adults certainly fashion many categories to discriminate causal powers, and presumably children do as well.There may be many ways that causal roles influence categorization, but consider just one of the ways suggested by network representations. From the point of view of Bayes nets, fashioning kinds is fashioning variables, deciding when perceptual or historical differences should be used to separate things into distinct kinds, and when they should be ignored. The “should be” has to do with whatever promotes causal understanding, prediction, and control.
Simon has often insisted that intelligence works best in an “approximately decomposable” world, a world where not everything is hooked up to everything else, and the influences of causes are approximately separable. One of the morals of computational research on Bayes nets is that their utilities are only available when the domain is structured so that the networks are sparse. If every variable is in fact dependent on every other variable, conditional on every other set of variables, little about causal structure can be learned from the data short of a complete set of randomized experiments, and, were such a complex causal structure to be known, prediction and control would be infeasible to compute with it.
But knowledge of a causal structure is useful in prediction and control only if the structure is not completely empty, only if some features influence other features. Causal knowledge from fragmentary observations, possible when the causal structure is sparse, is useful only when some things influence others, but the structure is still sparse.
Whether the causal relations in a domain are sufficiently sparse to be tractable and sufficiently dense to aid prediction and control depends in part on how the variables are specified—on the kinds. Dense causal structures are sometimes resolved into sparser causal structures by introducing new kinds.”

From ‘Bayes Nets as Psychological Models’, by Clark Glymour, in “Explanation and Cognition”, ed. Keil and Wilson

From Eihei Kōroku (永平広録), the extensive record from 1236-1252, by Dōgen Zenji 

” [32]

Life has no whence; it is carrying forth, and carrying forth again. Death had no whither; it is carrying away, and carrying away again. Ultimately, how is it? If the mind does not differ, myriad things are one suchness.

[35]

Cease and desist, and you are like an ocean taking in a hundred rivers. When you get here, there is no grasping or rejection.

Let go, and you are like a great tide riding on a high wind.”

From Eihei Kōroku (永平広録), the extensive record from 1236-1252, by Dōgen Zenji 

From ‘Transmission of Mind’, by Huang-Po (9th century)

Still Water Meditation Hall, Plum Village

“So students of the Way, only recognizing the actions and movements of perception and cognition, empty out their perception and cognition, so their minds have no road to go on, and they attain no penetration. Just recognize the basic mind in perception and cognition, realizing all the while that the basic mind does not belong to perception and cognition and yet is not apart from perception and cognition.

Just do not conceive opinions and interpretations on top of perception and cognition, and do not stir thoughts on perception and cognition. Do not seek mind apart from perception and cognition, either, and do not try to get to reality by rejecting perception and cognition. When you are neither immersed nor removed, neither dwelling nor clinging, free and independent, then nothing is not a site of enlightenment.”

From ‘Transmission of Mind’, by Huang-Po (9th century)