Saturday, September 08, 2001

From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Date: Sat Sep 8, 2001 7:05 pm
Subject: What is Emptiness?

We have expressed the idea that emptiness and void are something
different. Key in this realization was Lo Chen-Shun's critique of Buddhism
from a Chinese perspective, and then subsequently finding STONEHOUSE's
wonderful blending of these two perspectives. Also it helped to find the
recently discovered Taoist writings that were lost to oblivion for so long
and their description of the Court Taoism that lost out to Confucianism.
This allows a different reading of the received Taoist texts.

Essentially emptiness is the nature of inward existence as discovered by
the Buddhists and void is the nature of outward existence as discovered by
the Taoists. Interestingly enough Nietzsche had similar thoughts to these
among his aphorisms. See the excellent book by Gordan Parkes on
Nietzsche's psychology called Composing the Soul. In fact one might see
Nietzsche's idea of will to power as one way of expressing the identity
between these two viewpoints.

Jainism is the only tradition in India whtat equally accept the material
and the psychical worlds as co-equal and supra-rationally related.
Buddhism following Hinduism in general discounts the existence of the
material world. Savite religion however does have some elements similar to
Taoism in its affirmation of the Tatvas.

Generally the distinction between Taoism and Buddhism/Hinduism is that
Taoism believes that man is only nature while Buddhism/Taoism believe that
consciousness is the ultimate ground and nothing exists outside of
consciousness. The Jains come closet to the truth in affirming that both
are true simultaneiously without interference. Jainism has the seven
statements that move from A or ~A or indeterminate to A and ~A and
indeterminate through all combinations of these elements but still they
support the ultimacy of Beng. Buddhism on the other hand contributes the
idea of Emptiness moving beyond Hinduism's immersion in Being as sat citta

One way of thinking about these two horizons is in terms of Meta-systems.
Each horizon, inward and outward, are meta-systems within which the
systems of objects and thoughts, i.e. physus and logos unfold. But of
course both Buddhists and Taoists have very different ways of approaching
these things than the western distinction underlying our current
metaphysical worldview which talks about physus/logos. When Buddhists deny
the reality of the physical world, along with most Hindus, or when Taoists
deny the difference between nature and the human there is a kind of
slight and subtle, i.e. diaphanous, onesidedness in relation to the nature
of conscious existence.

Interestingly just as Being inscribed into it's core, so to does Existence
have being inscribed into it.

But what is even more interesting is the deeper non-dual of manifestation
beyond existence. Existence is still about things, things found, either
inwardly or outwardly. The question of inward verses outward is really a
question of medium, is it consciousness that contains everything or

But beyond the attributes of things are
broader attributes, many times ascribed to God, which only appear in the
interaction of things. These higher order attributes can be seen as a
manifestation of something beyond things normally thought of as the source
of things. For instance, mercy, is not the attribute of one thing but at
least two things, like mother and child. These higher order attributes do
not exist in the same sense as things or their attributes exist. Normally
in order to see them we have to look through the things as it were,
through a glass darkly. But what happens when these higher order
attributes that span multiple things are brought to the foreground and
things receed into the background. This is one way of thinking about what
annihilation of the self is like in the Islamic Sufi tradition. In that
tradition there is an immersion in the attributes of God in which things
receed from view, this wrenches the locus of experience out of time from
the experience of in-time or endless time.

STONEHOUSE is definitely on the verge of this horizon in his close
juxtaposition of the Taoist and Zen Buddhist ways of looking at existence.
However, we see it full blown in Sufism that reaches into a deeper
non-dual arena that those non-duals that are proposed by the Buddhists or
Taoists separately. A good example of this is Shaykh al-Niffari's work on
stations ('stayings' as Arberry tranlates it.) We can also see it clearly
in the work of Shaykh al-Akbar and various other Sufi Wali's, i.e. friends of

Now it is these differences between Buddhism and Taoism and Sufism that is
of interest. These differences are covered over completely by the
relativism and perennialism of the spiritual marketplace. There is deep
meaning in these differences. Each of these goals are legitimate in their
own way. And in fact the practioners of these various ways need to be in a
dialogue with each other about their discoveries on their various horizons
of non-experience that define the various aspects of the non-dual which is
the soure of genuine spirituality.

Rather than seeing them as thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis we can
instead look at them in terms of the special systems theory.

We can think of the medium of consciousness and the medium of spacetime or
nature as supra-rationally conjuncted as two meta-sysems. They are very
different existenital media, i.e. empty and void respectively. What arises
in each medium are systems, forms, patterns, monads, facets, i.e.
exemplifying the various meta-levels of Being. In our
meta-physical worldview we interpret that as physus and logos. But of
course we are sensitive to the existence inscribed into the differences
between the meta-levels of Being and their lack of a fifth meta-level.

But consider, between the conjuncted supra-rational meta-systems that the
Jains saw, and which we see through as existence not Being either from
the perspective of Buddhism or Taoism and their deeper non-dual manifestation,
between these meta-systems and their respective systems (in physus and logos),
there is a series of special systems . . . disipative, autopoietic and

For instance there is the dissipative logos and the dissipative physus
that form an autopoietic unity through conjunction. Two of these together,
say as man and wife form a reflexive special system composed of two
elements of physus and two elements of logos. This gives rise to six
relations between the four dissipative special systems. If they were just
systems we might think of them in terms of Bubberian I-it relations, but
within their reflexive mode we might combine Jung and Bubber to see
Self-Thou relations when we talk of interpenetrating totalities that are
ultimately empty. The point is that the viritual pairs in their
conjunction outnumber their actual pairings in physical conjunction
through their bodies. This conjunctive virtuality verses embodies
conjunction is one way to define the difference between the realm of
consciousness and the spacetime realm of nature.

When we talk of combining two meta-systems of different media and their
respective systems/anti-system formations then the orthogonal differentiation
is into the realm of manifestation rather than either emptiness or void.
This is a new horizon that opens up which we can approach in terms of its
emptiness or in terms of its voidness, but these are approximations to the
understanding of the deeper non-duality of manifestation which is
orthogonal to the conjunction of the two.

Go beyond Being, by ascending the meta-levels of Being as steps to no
where . .

Then, find emptines, or find the void depending on which horizon draws
you onward away from the self.

Then find the other side of existence to that which drew you in the
first palce beyond Being. Go from emptiness to void or vice versa.

Then conjunct empty-void or void-emptiness and discover the horizon of

Manifestation is orthogonal and a deeper non-dual than either void
existence or empty existence.

Enjoy the stations and stayings that goes beyond the existence of things
including the conscious existence or the embodied existence that we find
ourselves existing as.

This placeless time and timeless place of the soul-spirit (ruh-nafs)
annihilated then going-on as overwhemed by the manifestation of attrbutes
of God (See
that appears more primordially than the empty-void or void-emptiness is a
deeper non-dual groundless ground there before or after endlesstime in the
out-of-time realm.

Note manifestation is something that goes beyond pervasion and syllogism,
i.e. beyond count and non-count ways of looking at things. It has an anti-
logic of its own that is summed up in Sura Iklas (See

A guide book to this realm is THE MEANING OF MAN by Sidi Ali al-Jamal
(Diwan Press) or The HIKAM of Ibn 'Ata'llah (See or various
other books by genuine Sufic masters from the Islamic
tradition (See

Of course, all this is merely meant to stir more discussion among the
adherents of the genuinely spiritual traditions that make the
non-nihilistic distinction between form and formlessness as the threshold
beyond which we much go in order to find the meanings that pour out from
the untrammeled void of nature and the pristine emptiness of
consciousness. Each of those traditions will see their own way as
ultimate, and perhaps they are. Immersed in formlessness it is difficult
to distinguish whether we are Buddhist, Taoist, or Muslim. But here we
merely draw out the implicaitons of the various traditions and through
their comparison attempt to open ourselves up to deeper alternatives. More
interesting things for the Buddha, or Lao Tzu or the Sufic Masters to say
in this age where it is necessary to cut through the illusion of the
spiritual marketplace by unearthing the genuine meanings that pour fourth
from the sources of existence.


Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 18:09:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is Emptiness?

In the previous message we made a big assumption that needs some support,
that emptiness and void are not just something personal and interpretive
of one's experience but is in fact something "objectively observable" at
least by some group of experts who observe some set of anomalies. This is
a claim that makes Buddhism, and Taoism as well as Sufism a viewpoint from
which a new kind of science that improves on Western science might be
posited from. In other words genuine spirituality, i.e. based on
formlessness, can be a basis from which to see the world in a way that
competes with Western science, in some sense. By targeting Western science
and showing that western scientific phenomena are empty as well as the
worldview itself we offer the greatest possible challenge to the Western

We also said that emptiness and void contain specific kinds of order
without there being any less empty or void, in other words without
succumbing to becoming something non-empty or non-void. Thus the challenge
there is not just to the paradigm of Western science and philosophy but
also to the Buddhist, Taoist and Sufic ways of looking at things as well,
in as much as they leave emptiness, void and annihilation of the self
undefined and amorphous.

But what we need is a simple way to get into the subject. This is provided
by Perfect, Amicable and Sociable Numbers. These numbers offer a simple
analogy to special systems. These numbers are created by adding the
divisors of a number and seeing whether it adds up to the number itself or
some other related number. Normally the divisors add up to more or less
than the number itself. But in some cases these other numbers are related
back to the original number either by one other number or a chain of
numbers that return to this same number. Thus these numbers relate to the
special systems in the following way:

System -- whole greater than the sum of its parts = sum greater than
number without relating back to the original number = Householder

Dissipative = amicable number = DHARMA

Autopoitic = perfect number = BUDDHA

Reflexive = sociable number = SANGA

Meta-system -- whole less than the sum of its parts = sum less than number
without relating back to the original number = all those who leave home to
follow the ascetic lifestyle.

Perfect numbers are very rare, like the Buddhas with perfect
enlightenment. They are a whole that is directly equal to the sum of its
parts. In other words there is transparency between parts and whole.

Amicable numbers are fairly numerous, like the Dharma which is a set of
words that describe the laws of emptiness and interpenetration. One number
adds up to the parts of another number that in turn has parts that add up
to the first number. There is balance that is delayed. This is like the
delay between words of skillful means and what they describe. The set of
words that describe emptiness and interpenetration add up to the whole of
existence which in turn has parts, dharmas, that together add up to the
whole of the words that are said by a Buddha. Dharma is the Law as a whole
and it is the phenomenological elements of existence as well. This law is
filtered though the words of the Buddha that add up to an indication of
the truth about emptiness and interpenetration.

Reflexive numbers are like amicable numbers except instead of being in a
pair they are in a series. This reflexive series is like the sanga that
transmits the dharma to each other in a chain. The beginning of the chain
is Shakyamuni and the end of the chain is Maitreya who are inwardly the
same. This is a balance with an even greater delay in it.

The three jewels exemplify the order of the special systems. They embody
this order in existence. This order has mathematical analogs that are
unique and anomalous. This order has a special relation to existence that
is different from the relation to Being. In effect the special systems
signify the separations between the various kinds of Being in relation to
the system and meta-system that express the more normal state of affairs.

Western science studies the system and is blind to the meta-system.
Because it cannot see the meta-system the special systems are even more
invisible to it.

By the way this is not numerology. Instead it uses a mathematical system
as an analogy for a kind of embodied order that spontaneously manifests
everywhere it is not suppressed, it is what Stuart Kauffman calls order
from nowhere. Nihilistic cultural forms suppress this spontaneous order
and substitutes unbalanced artifical and madeup projected orders for it.

Buddhas exemplify and embody special systems in existence. Reaching
enlightenment is synonomous with reaching the ground of existence that is
between system and meta-system, the middle way that is non-dual and a
model of interpenetration. When the Buddha touches earth it is the earth
of the special systems that is touched in that gesture. The mudras of the
Buddha express the structure of the special systems in a way similar to
the structure of the perfect, amicable and sociable numbers are also an
indication of it.

There are many things in Buddhism that are indications of the specific
structure of the special systems and their mathematical underpinnings.

In fact, authenticity of Buddhist enlightenment can be tested implicitly
by the fact that the specific signature of the special systems is evident.

In other words, anything that an enlightened person, i.e. a person with
perfect enlightenment, does should exemplify the effortless adherence to
the form of no-form expressed by special systems theory.

Traces of this can be seen in the sutras. Many times the content of the
suttras is not as important as the demonstration that perfect
enlightenment has been achieved by tracing the signature of the special
systems. It is spontaneously produced and spontaneously recognized by
those who have attained this understanding.

For instance there is the bell that exemplifies the dissipative system in
as much as sound dissipaties order.

There is the vajra that is many times double sided that exemplifies the
autopoietic system.

There is the beads that form a cyclical series like the sociable numbers
that represent the reflexive system.

Notice that the Bell and Beads are related to the ordering of human
and non-human sounds whereas the vajra reprsents silence.


What this means for the rest of us is that the existence of this special
ordering is a kind of litmus test for Buddhahood. Buddhahood naturally
gives a strong signal of this non-dual formless form.

It is the inner meaning of the signs of Buddhahood on the body of the

Intellectually knowing this patterning does not mean you can produce it or
recognize it spontaneously. However it does mean that with analysis we can
after the fact spot the traces of the Buddha, these are the same traces
left by the Taoist, or Sufi, because the non-dual ground is the same for
all non-dual genuinely spirtual traditions. However, each tradition takes
up and expresses this formless form differently.

We can use the knowledge of the order embedded in formlessness as a guide
for understanding on an intellectual level the kind of relation the
non-dual has with dualisms. It is this relation that is inscribed into
physical phenomena, into mathematics, and in to language in myriad ways
that become recognizable once we understand the pattern of special systems
theory. We can use this to understand how Western science misses the
non-dual middle way and then attempt to triangulate on it better through
our knowledge of the special order that is inscribed within the void

Special systems theory is the rosetta stone that allows us to connnect
various non-dual traditions in the history of various cultures and allow
us to understand them anew in their relation to the human lifeworld as it
unfolds from us when we encounter formlessness in the midst of form or
form in the midst of formlessness.


Monday, September 03, 2001

Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2001 22:52:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is emptiness?

Continuing on our adventure, now that we have seen that Being itself is
fragmented and that it is inscribed with emptiness, we can ask if there is
anything more we can say about emptiness, than merely the facts that it is
non-dual, non-nihilistic, supra-rational, and is represented in the core
of the Western worldview.

What we would like to say is something strong about it, something that
stands up to the tests of Western Science as well as Western Philosophy.

It does seem that if emptiness is "REAL" that in some sense it should be
the basis of a challenge to Western science. In fact what we would like is
an alternative to Western science, some sort of Non-dual alternative to
dualistic science of the west that is destroying the planet.

We know that if something is to challenge the dominance of Western science
it would have to first have a foundation in mathematics, and second be
supported with physical phenomena that the mathemanics uniquely modeled.

But what kind of science would a non-dual science be? We normally thing of
emptiness and void as amorphous and due to their formlessness it is
difficult to see how they could figure into a scientific way of looking at
things in any way, shape or form.

But let us step back and approach this more cautiously. Perhaps the
Western worldview makes some assumptions that are very general but turn
out not to be valid. One of those assumptions is that Science is what
everyone can observe, that science is based on what the comon man
percieves and what groups of men can agree on. We owe this assumption
again to Aristotle. Our western science is Aristotelian. But if we look at
the works of Plato we see that Plato had a very different idea of what
science was about. Plato believed that it was not what the common man saw
but about what special observers saw. Plato looked for a science of
anomalies rather than what we held in common and agreed to. This kind of
special condition of observers and phenomena is something similar to what
the Buddhists posit. The Buddhists posit that those who meditate are
speical observers, and the world they see, i.e. the empty world has
special and anomalous properties.

So both Buddhism and Plato have very similar criteria for understanding
the nature of existence. If we were to posit these in terms of systems
theory we would call them "special systems". Just as non-dual means Not
One and Not Two, so we might expect the special systems to be not systems
and not ecosystems (which I call meta-systems). Is there perhaps another
alternative of special anomalous systems that we might formulate.

Let us begin by defining a system phenomenologically as a social gestalt.
It is a whole that you see along with others and agree upon to be a
"system" of interrelated parts that cohere in spacetime. Systems are in
the eyes of the beholders.

A meta-system on the other hand is the context, situation, or milieu of
the system, ecosystem is a good word, or environment.

Let us define systems as wholes greater than the sum of their parts. Let
us define meta-systems as wholes less than the sum of their parts.
Meta-systems have niches into which systems fit, those niches are tailor
made holes for the wholes of systems to fit into. Meta-systems have a very
different nature than sysetms. A good book about this is Arkady
Plotnitsky's COMPLEMENTARITY. He uses Batille's idea taken from Nietzsche
of the "General Economy" as opposed to the "Restricted Economy" of the

Now once we understand the nature of the duality of Systems and
Meta-systems then we can ask if there is anything that is a whole exactly
equal to the sum of its parts, that exists between the system and the
meta-system but is different from either of these.

The answer to this question is Yes. Special Systems. There are three of
them: Dissipative, Autopoietic and Reflexive. They constitute the basis of
an anomalous science. You can read about them in my paper on REFLEXIVE

There is also quite a bit of material about them on my homepage, see

Here I will just mention that the mathematical basis for these special
systems are a model of interpenetration. They also model the arising of
things out of the void through a process called autogenesis. They have
anomalous physical phenomena that exist on this same form which embody
these structures and show that they are real, in the scientific sense
accepted by Western Science.

Special Systems thoery is a basis for a Buddhist Science, a Taoist
Science, a Prophetic Science ---- in other words a Non-dual science. All
of the conditions that Western science places on us are fullfilled by
special systems theory, but this is not to say that they leave Western
science untouched. The existence of this anomalous science transforms the
possiblities of Western science as well.

Special Systems Theory is the beginning of a new era, in which Genuine
Spiritual teachings are the basis of a scientific approach to existence
which surpasses Western science is subtlety and sophistication. Not merely
the TAO OF SCIENCE analogies between mystical maxims AND quantum and
relativistic theories. Rather a full blown scientific theory which
exemplifies the unique structures of the non-dual phenomena. A theory of
static and dynamic balances at arise out of and return to the void, that
exemplify non-production non-destruction as a non-dual way of looking at
the world.

It is the challenge of the Buddhists, Taoists and Sufis to develop this
theory and other theories like this one into a full blown challenge to
Western scientific assumptions with their disasterous side-effects. Isn't
it about time genuine spirituality, i.e. the spirituality of formlessness
produced a challenge to the disasterous science of form?

Emptiness and Void are known ultimately through our praxis. That praxis
needs to be based on meditation and the transformation that meditation
makes possible in our selves, when we realize those selves like everything
else are empty and void. But the effects of this praxis can not only reach
into reason, and thought but also into the scientific products of thought.
Emptiness and Void as the aspects of inward and outward existence are
completely transformative, in other words they can transform all delusion
utterly, even that of Western Philosophy and Science, by cutting to the
heart of this worldview and conquering it in its own terms.

Dzong Ka Ba accepts excluded middle. His point is that Buddhism even works
if we accept this crazy Aristotleian doctrine. How could it be an ultimate
reality if it did not function in all possible modes of existence, even
those that are ultra-delusional like that of the Western Scientific and
Philosophical tradition.

Non-dual science has real effects because the anomalous phenomena that
show its existence are real physical phenomena. The math that underlies it
are unique mathematical structures that exist in higher mathematics. It is
only seeing through the eye of non-dual interpenetration that is
different, i.e. the eye of meditation and selflessness. It reveals a
wonderous world that western science never dreamed of but they are
discovering more and more that this is the underlying reality of the
common science. That underlying reality sees with special observers
anomalous and special phenomena that exemplify the uderlying reality based
on emptiness and void. Emptiness and Void have structure, that is the
secret, they are not merely amorphous blobs, but actually have a very
specific structure that realizes and actualizes interpenetration of all

Welcome to an alternative universe where genuine spiritual practices give
rise to scientific views of things more profound than the wildly
successful but unfortunately delusional Western science.

What is emptiness? What is void? The basis of a new scientific theory that
transforms Western science from the ground up and utterly, and thereby
transforms us as well.


Let us take a look at the Nihilistic Spiritual Marketplace. What we see
right away is that this marketplace has a structure similar to the levels
of Being that have just been described.

Being^0 myriad commodified spiritual paths
Being^1 Reification
Being^2 Nihilism Production
Being^3 Relativism -- Perennialism
Being^4 Fascism of the Cult
Being^5 Beyond Form in Formlessness

How does this marketplace, in which Sufism, Taoism and Buddhism along with
many other spiritual paths are commodities, work?

First of all the whole market is predicated on some important
worldhistorical trends.

-- Colonialization has subjugated the entire world to the western

-- The western worldview despite its global dominance is felt to be
spiritually bankrupt by many of its inhabitants

-- Orientalization has occured through academic disciplines focused on
world religions from outside the western world.

-- These other religious traditions from conquered countries seem to have
something to offer missing in indigenous religous traditions.

-- A market place for commodification of other spiritual traditions
imported from throughtout the world is constructed by offering
translations, books about these other religions, and claimed spiritual
teachers from these other traditions.

-- Indigenous religious traditions also are taken in and compete in the
new spiritual marketplace.

When a tradition is swept into this marketplace it is reified by the
orientalist interpetation which highlights seeming radical differences
from what is available in Western religous traditions.

The person introduced to so many different traditions gets lost in the
variety of claimants of truth, normally this occurs because the person
tends to move from path to path until they all seem to merge into the same
thing. This produces an nihilistic reaction in the buyer of spiritual

Eventually a meta-position toward the various alternatives in the
marketplace is formulated. It has two nihilistic horns. First is
relativism that says that these paths are really all equal. Second is
Perennialism that says that their goals are all the same.

To these nihilistic horns we answer that there is actually a hierarchy
among spiritual paths and that the goals of all paths are not equal. This
answer is however not Politically Correct within the spiritual
marketplace. The meta-belief system is now that of the spiritual
marketplace's founations not the beliefs of any one of the commodified
religous perspectives encompassed by the marketplace. The key is the
ability to take up and put down various belief systems from the catalogue
of the marketplace as easily as possible. In other words it is necessary
to make it so that holding any of these beliefs has a minimal impact on
one's actions or stance in the world. They are belief systems not action
systems. They do not impact our living in suburban houses and shopping at
the mall.

Finally we note that the various claimants produce fascist cults in many
cases drawing out the cultic aspects of Western society and intensifying
that social experience indemic in our culture.

What appears to be myriad foreign cultic groups are really indigenous
phenomena using foreign contents. What is important is that the content
is really of less interest than the cultic form itself which is an
expression of modern western society more than any foreign influence. We
can see this because many cults actually are formed based on indigenous

An excellent ancient example of this was Mithrism, which was a greek cult
formed out of Zoroastrian contents among the greeks. Foreign contents were
used to create another greek mystery religion.

Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism (all examples of genuine spiritual paths) when
they are inducted into the spiritual marketplace and commodified tend to
lose their intrinsic significance. What unites them is that they all
expound the concept of formlessness as being far more basic than forms.
But they are compared side by side with other ways that are based on forms,
like shamanism, for instance. Thus a fundamental distinction between ways based
on formlessness and those based on forms is obscured by the nihilistic
spiritual marketplace. In fact this is why it is nihilistic, it obscures
the distinction between form and formlessness as a fundamental criteria
for the recognition of genuine spirituality.

What complicates the whole issue is the fact that Buddhism, Taoism and
Sufism all have specific cultural representations that are fundamentally
tied to forms, and thus themselves are not pure. So it is intrinsically
hard to tell genuine from non-genuine spiritual traditions. But this is a
non-nihilistic distinction which it behoves us to make despite its
difficulty to the best of our ability.

It is suggested that there needs to be some dialogue between the practioners
of various genuine spiritual ways which would emphasize what
they have in common and which meaningfully points out differences between
these cognate paths.

Note that because the spiritual marketplace has the form of the kinds of
Being, that it ends at the fifth meta-level, i.e. it deadends itself when
it hits the threshold of formlessness, whether thought of in terms of
emptiness, void or annihliation of the self. Thus all the genuine
spiritual ways that exist in the spiritual marketplace can all point
toward this threshold that they all have insight into and share. The
difference between a genuine spiritual tradition and those that are not
genuine is that the genuine traditions can pass beyond the spiritual
marketpalce themselves while those that worship forms cannot. Those that
worship forms are trapped in the spiritual marketplace. Those that do not
worship forms can pass beyond the spiritual marketplace into the realm of
freedom beyond it described by formlessness. This means that even the
aspects of Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism that are not genuine, i.e. are tied
to forms, are also trapped in the spiritual marketplace. Commodities must
all be forms. What is beyond forms ultimately escapes commodification.

The spiritual marketplace is a form of delusion that we need to cut
through with the sword of formlessness. Entering into it merely sullies
and besmirches the purity of genuinely spiritual paths.

The spiritual marketplace is a general economy in Bataille's sense. It
exists as a way of controlling these foreign spiritual traditions and
lessening their impact.

But another way of dealing with it is to show that we do not need these
foreign spiritual paths to express the inherent emptiness of the Western
worldview. We can point to emptiness within the spiritual marketplace by
considering its meta-level structures, or we can point to that emptiness
directly within the structures of the western worldview itself directly
without necessity of invoking foreign spiritual paths.

Either way it is important to continually point toward the reality of the
emptiness, or void that palpably exists at the heart of the western
tradition. That hole at the center of the tradition is its goundlessnes
recognized most clearly by Nietzsche. He forsaw the coming of European
Nihilism and we are now clearly in the throws of what he foresaw.
Westerners look at horror at this empty center, this center that does not
hold. They see it as a black hole of meaninghlessness that pervades their
lives and all their projects. But for genuine spiritual traditions this
emptiness, or void seen from another perspective IS the reality. That same
hole exists in the spiritual marketplace itself. Once one accepts the
emptiness or void at the center of all things then one clears the way for
recieving the myriad meanings that flow into our world from the empty
void. It takes a fundamental shift of perspective in order to see what
horrifies those that cling to things as what is itself the source of
freedom, i.e. non-attachment

It should be noted that Nietzsche misunderstood and underrated Buddhism.
Many of Nietzsche's ideas are in concert with the ideas of Mahayana
Buddhism. Nietzsche saw Theravadan Buddhism as life denying asceticism and
he understood emtpiness as merely a denial of everything which he
considered nihilistic, in fact he used Buddhism as the paradigm for where
he thought the West was going as it sank into nihilism and despair. He did
not understand that emptiness, as sunyata, actually refered to what was
beyond thought and experience in the sense of being the freedom of the
container of all experiences and thoughts. The beyond of emptiness is
not a transcendental beyond. Emptiness is used to signify the
non-transcendental beyond discovered by the Buddha as the middle way. It
is a middle between immanance and transcendence. In Buddhism there is
a meditation on space itself as being the most concrete manifestation of
emptiness. But then we go beyond that to realize that it is purified
consciousnes that is the ultimate container rather than space, giving us
the bias toward logos and against physus. For the Buddhist seeing things
phenomenologically all Physus is seen as contained in Consciousness. The
Buddhist only denies the externality of the physus which is exacty what
the Taoist affirms. The taoist denies the internality of the logos
instead, ie that human order can be different from cosmic order.

All this is to say, simply that the spiritual marketplace, like
orientalism, and in fact almost all products of the Western worldview is
itself nihilistic and the embodiment of emptiness/void is the cure to this
nihilism. It cures it by disarming it from within, not by destroying it
from without. At the core of the spiritual marketplace is emptiness and
void at the fifth meta-level of its consruction which does not exist. That
non-existence of the fifth meta-level shows us existence itself as void or

Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2001 12:18:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is Emptiness?

We have now established that there is a way to break out of the trance of
Being to glimpse existence. Notice that this way, like Nagarjuna's way has
to do with logic, but is more complex than the tetralemma because the way
to emptiness through the tetralemma was blocked by Aristotle's excluded
middle. So there is a much more complex route we have to take up through
the various meta-levels until we reach a dead end at the fifth meta-level
of Being. That dead end has been interpreted as empty existence.

Bateson makes the point that it is not just learning that reaches such a
dead end but also certain quantities associated with the physus such as
motion. This means that both physus and logos reach a dead end at the
fifth meta-level. We further interpret that the end of logos is the
emptiness described by Buddhism and that the end of physus is the void
described by Taoism. In other words, because Buddhism denies the existence
of external reality, i.e. the physus, it is trapped in a onesided view of
the totality of existence, it is only concerned with inward existence.
Taoism on the other hand is mostly concerned with outward existence, i.e.
the void associated with the dead end of the physus at the fifth
meta-level. This is Lo Chen-Shun's criticism of the Buddhists in a
nutshell, and it is this imbalance that STONEHOUSE corrects with his
synthesis of Zen and Taoism. Thus emptiness and void are opposite views of
existence from an emphasis on logos or physus respectively. We can see
existence as a void-emptiness or an empty-void.

Taoism and Buddhism has complemenary and opposite goals. One has the goal
of immersion completely in nature, the little guy in the vast chinese
landscape painting like Stonehouse. The other has the goal of complete
immersion in the purified medium of consciousness. Both of these goals are
onesided in their own way. Each considers the opposite goal an illusion.
In order to achieve balance we must consider both the emptiness of inward
existence and the void of outward existence.

If we want to place this understanding in our own tradition, then we can
refer to Plato's divided line analogy in the Republic. In this analogy the
relation between Opinion and Reason is represented by a divided line. The
divided line is first divided between Opinion and Reason. Then Opinion is
divided into true opinion or faith and false opinion or appearances. On
the other hand Reason is divided into representable and non-representable
intelligibles. Once the divided line is established it is used along with
the Sun and Cave metaphors to talk about our relation to the Good, a
non-representable intelligible. However, we can also use the divided line
metaphor in order to situate inward and outward existence. We can
interpret the difference between representable and non-representable
intelligibles as inward existence, i.e. the division in the line itself
has a meaning in this case. We can also interpret the difference between
grounded and ungrounded opinion on the other side of the line as outward
existence, here also the other lesser division of the line means
something. Now once we have seen this meaning in Plato's divided line then
we can ask ourselves what the major division might mean, i.e. the division
between reason and opinion themselves at the higher level. It is something
that is a deeper non-dual than either inward or outward existence. I call
this deeper non-dual manifestation, it is a realm beyond existence that is
indicated by STONEHOUSE in his juxtaposition of emptiness and void in his
poems. It is something prior to the differentiation of inward and outward
existence, prior to the arising of the difference between physus and logos
to be denied.

If we look deeply into Plato we find many indications of his interest in
defining the non-duals at the heart of the Western worldview. He cites
ever deeper non-duals or indicates them obliquely. At the core of the
Western worldview there exist these very important non-duals that we need
to recognize in order to understand our heritage fully and to understand
the inherent wisdom within the Western worldview. It is only by grasping
this wisdom that it is possible to really understand ourselves.

It is a strange thing that our worldview and its generation of illusion
drive us toward such destructive activity, while at the heart of that
worldview there is a deep insight into non-duality. It is clear that we
need to lay hold of the non-duality at the core of the worldview and use
it as a way of healing the surface destructiveness and violence to
ourselves and the planet. But how to do that is not clear.

The worldview has a specific structure in this metaphysical period. That
structure in part is as follows:


Logos / order \ Physus

Limited / rights \ Unlimited

Having / goods \ Not Having

Existence / fates \ Non-Existence

Actualized / sources \ Non-Actualized

Non-manifest / root \ Manifest

In the middle are the non-duals hidden within the duals that are the
foundation of the worldview. These non-duals are articuations of existence
within Being.

In each case the left most duality splits into the next level dualities.
For instance, Existence spits into having and not having, etc.

Notice that the eightfold path focuses on rightness.

The four noble truths focuses on the lack of goodness, i.e. suffering or
dukkha, the cause of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the path.

So we see that The fourfold truth that gives rise to the eightfold path
are an image of the non-dual levels of the good and the right. The wheel
of Samsara on the other hand deals with the cycle of fate. The three
treasures deal with the level of order, order appears in Buddhism as
Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

We know from the abidharma tradition that the specific numbers associated
with the levels are not particularly important, as in abidharma different
numbers will be used by the Buddha for dividing things up at different
times. However the associations in this case are as follows:

order 3 jewels
right 8 path
good 4 truths
fate 12 samsara wheel

The key is that the non--dual levels are described and articulated
clearly at the core teaching of Buddhism.

In this way we see that the various major tennants of Buddhism model the
non-dual core of the Indo-European worldview. Buddhism is a Hindu heresy,
it is a reaction to the dualism of the Indian branch of the Indo-european
worldview. It goes to the core of the worldview and models that non-dual
core allowing us to live our lives according to the basic structures of
that core.

We need to develop new ways of understanding our relation to that core of
the Western worldview in order to bring the insights into that core in
Buddhism alive again for us. Buddhism is not free floating and culturally
independent. Instead it is a way specificly designed to articulate empty,
i.e. non-dual existence that is hidden in the core of the Western worldview.

But the viewpoint of Buddhism is that these non-duals are inward
existence, i.e. they have to do with the purification of consciousness
only and that the external world is an illusion. This view needs to be
tempered ultimately with the view of the Taoists which is that human
beings are embedded in nature and are no different than nature, and that
the forces of nature operate in man precisely the same way they operate in
nature so that man loses himself in nature utterly, in an opposite way to
the losing himself in purified consciousness advocated by Buddhism.
Buddhism pulls the person out of the world and secludes them when they
enter the order of the sangha. Of course, we can say that it is possible
to practice while being in the world, but this was not the Buddha's
original idea. It is only those who left home that were his real
followers. There was not much room for lay people to participate. One of
the interesting things about Jainism is that there was much more emphasis
on the lay people's participation in that alternatitive religion that grew
up about the same time as Buddhism. A lot can be learned by comparing
Jainism and Buddhism about what was seen to be missing from Hinduism in
those times. Jainism's key innovation was the idea of supra-rationality.
Buddhism's key innovation was the ideas of selflessness and the modeling
of the non-dual core of the Indian worldview. Mahayana combined these two
and then took them to a higher level with Nagarjuna's development of the
tetralemma as a means of pointing to emptiness. All this happened inside
the Indian branch of the Indo-european worldview, i.e. inside a worldview
based on Being. They found ways to describe Existence beyond Being, as
supra-rational, as non-dual, as empty, and thus found ways of escaping the
distortions of Being within our worldview that we project on everything.
What we need to do is to find similar ways of escaping today that are
meaningful in the context of the modern western worldview, which is merely
another branch of the same worldview that the Indian tradition discovered
escape routes from. What they did then are directly useful for us today.
The exception is the fact that in our branch of the worldview there are
several barriers set up such as excluded middle that need to be taken into
account in our search for ways of escaping from the Western worldview
today. If we do not take this into account we will not escape. The whole
trick is to understand youself, and who you are is conditioned by the
worldview you are embedded in. You need to realize that the self which is
empty is conditioned by dependent co-arising with the worldview you are
embedded in as a whole. Thus in order to escape from the distortion of
projected Being it is necessary to understand the operation of Being and
the way that Non-Dual and Empty Existence is inscribed into the Duality of
the articulations of Being within the worldview.

The worldview's structure is the structure of your self and vice versa.
It's non-dual core is your non-dual core. As Plato said in order to study
the self we need to look at the city and its structures. There is a direct
mirroring between self and worldview and the worldview has a specific
structure of duality and non-duality.

Escaping from the Western worldview actually means escaping into the
empty non-dual center of it. We do not leave it from the periphery but
from its inner most core.


Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 13:00:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is Emptiness?

It is important to establish the inner connection between our human
condition and emptiness. Nagarjuna did that in his time by establishing
the relation between human logic and emptiness. This had already been
mentioned by the Buddha, but Nagarjuna elaborated a synthesis that found
the non-dual middle position of the various schools that had grown up
after the Buddha. His synthesis became the new departure for Mahayana and
actually changed the course of all Indian philosophy, because his major
insight was reincorporated back into Hinduism by Sankara and then other
sects. For instance some the Tamil Savite texts display a sophisticated
understanding of non-duality based on Nagarjuna's insight. By the development
of a logical view of emptiness the heresy of Buddhism was reincorporated
into Hinduism and eventually faded from the Indian religious scene while
flourishing elsewhere such as Tibet and China.

An interesting case is Dhzong Ka Ba who is clear about the fact that there
is an element of reason in the process of achieving enlightenment. This is
a point that seems to have gotten lost in many Orientalizing
representations of Buddhism that have appeared in the process of
asimilation of these religions into the spiritual marketplace that has
been created within the Western worldview.

We need to understand the relation between Buddhism AND the
Western orientalizing absorbtion phenomena AND the nihilism of the
spiritual marketplace.

Orientalization is a very old phenomena which can be seen in Greek and
Roman times. It occurs when foreign customs or cultures are seen as
extreme opposites of the absorbing culture and worldview rather than in their
own terms. Western scholars just naturally see various foreign cultural
artifacts and motifs through the distorted lens of their own worldview and
culture, and it is very difficult to get beyond these misperceptions to
see the foreign cultural artifacts and motifs within their own terms. A
good exmaple of this kind of attempt to go beyond cultural bias is
THINKING THROUGH CONFUCIOUS. However, it is a never ending problem that
foreign ideas and artifacts and cultual motifs are misinterpreted and need
to be reinterpreted if possible independently of cultural biases.

The other problem we face is that a Nihilistic Spiritual Marketplace has
been constructed in the Western dominant society and culture. There is
a hunger for spiritual ways that are foreign to the western tradition drawn
from all over the world. Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and a myriad other ways
compete for attention in this nihlisitic marketplace. This nihilistic
spiritual marketplace has its own distortions as various ways compete for
attention in this market.

Both the nihilistic marketplace of spiritual commodities and the
orientalization of Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism obscure the actual nature
of these belief systems and their independent characteristics.

This makes the tie to logic all the more important. Logic is something
like mathematics, it is inherent in the human mind, i.e. it is a structure
that is given in all minds the same. Thus the inner structure of logic we
can reconstruct independently how it indicates the nature of emptiness
without recourse to cultural manifestations, we can realize how to point
at this emptiness, from within our own culture without having to rely on
translations of translations and without fear of misinterpretations. What
Nagarjuna showed us was how to derive for ourselves the nature of
emptiness regardless of what culture we are embedded in. By using
Nagarjuna's method we can start from zero and derive the pointing at
emptiness for ourselves.

Unfortunately, this is not easy or simple or straight forward in Western
culture because of various premises that were put into place by Aristotle
and which are everywhere assumed within our worldview. Things like the
assumption of excluded middle and the count oriented bias create a lot of
confusion. Another problem is "Being," which obscures our view of
existence. However, it is possible to overcome these obstacles if we
proceed carefully and sincerely.

When we talk about the transparency of consciousness, we get some inkling
of the kinds of warpages that can appear in consciousness by looking at
the warpages that appear in our cultural milieu in general as it attempts
to view foreign intellectual artifacts and cultural motifs like
those produced by Buddhism, Taoism, or Sufism out of their own cultural

Making these warpages visible, so that emptiness itself can be seen is one
of the intellectual duties of the followers of genuinely spiritual ways,
i.e. ways that start with the premise of formlessness as an ultimate
ground of their spiritual way of looking at the world.

There is another point worth making, which is that in its own realm and in
its own terms the Western Philosophical and Scientific tradition has made
certain progress in the understanding of the nature of things which is
very sophisticated, many of these insights, like analogies from modern
physics, can be used to refine our understanding of emptiness. Capra's
popular Tao of Physics is an example of such an attempt.

So a whole new horizon of Buddhist study has opened up, just as it has for
Taoist study and Sufic study, which attempts to understand emptiness in
the context of the Western worldview directly, i.e. from its own heart,
rather than through Orientalizing translation, or in terms of the
commodification of the Nihilistic spiritual marketplace.

In fact part of this horizon, is the possibility of dialogue between
genuinely spiritual traditions concerning their differences and
similarities. Part of the nihilistic spiritual marketplace is the idea of
Perennialism which seeks to cover over genuine differences and to say that
all paths actually have the same goal, i.e. that enlightenment is the same
for all paths. This is part of the orientalizing distortions introduced by
the dominant Western worldivew as it seeks its extreme nihilistic
opposite rather than to know the foreign traditions in themselves.

There are genuine differences between genuinely spiritual traditions, and
these need to be explored and made clear along with the shared work of
clarifying the role of formlessness that these various traditions share in

All this is to say that the work to be done, which has not started yet as
far as I know, is a task of self understanding by the Western tradition in
its own terms, but from the perspective of formlessness which can be
expressed variously as emptiness as in Buddhism, void as in Taoism, or
annihilation of the self as in Sufism.

Nagarjuna has pointed the way on how this might be done from a Buddhist
perspective. Other traditions need to look within themselves for how this
might be done given their historical resources.

Pursuing this effort of opening out and exploring this new horizon is not
just something interesting to do, but extremely important in terms of
species survival, because the delusion of the Western worldview is so
extreme that it threatens the life of the whole planetary ecology.

Asking the Question: What is emptiness? What is Void? What is Annihilation
of the Self and Going On? when placed at the center of the context of
the Western dominant worldview devouring the planet, its creatures and
itself takes on an urgency and a necessity that far out weights other
intellectual pursuits.

The Western Dominant worldview has a fundamental sickness exemplified in
the lives of the people living within this worlview, and which many are
trying to escape via the commodities of the spirtual marketplace. However,
orientalizing tendencies obscure the fundamental nature of these spiritual
paths as does the competition in the nihilistic spiritual marketplace

One of the questions is whether we will rise to this challenge and
attempt to provide a remedy for this sickness which is comprehensible
withing the terms of the Western worldview itself that avoids the
distortions of Orientalizing and the Nihilistic Spiritual Marketplace.

The sickness is particularly virulent in this case and it drives us to
provide access to an understanding of emptiness that cuts through the
illusion of our worldview and the selves caught up in that worldview.

What we have in our favor is the post-colonial collection of the various
ways which have genuinely spiritual aspects, so that we see the sickness
from various genuinely spiritual perspectives, rather than just one.

But even though the sickness of our worldview is virulent it is no
different than the sicknesses of the self and culture that have existed
before. It is merely that dialectically greater quantity of means have led
to a qualitative leap in the instensity of the illness. Or at least that
is our hope, that past wisdom derived from multiple spiritual traditions
that address inherent formlessness will suffice to cure the sickness

Of course, we won't know the answer to that question unless we set out on
the journey of opening up and exploring that new horizon, that proceeds to
attempt to show how emptiness or void can be accessed at the very heart of
the Western world dominant tradition that cuts through its own essence and
thus presents the possibility of a cure for the the widespread delusion
that leads us to destroy ourselves and all the creatures of the planet along
with us.

This is the journey that we need to take the first steps on, as I see it.
Hopefully what ever is onesided in my own vision will be corrected by
others who want to attempt a similar journey for themselves. It is not a
journey out into the alien and foreign paths from other cultures randomly
selected from all the spiritual paths that appear in the nihilistic
spiritual marketplace. It is a journey into the heart of our tradition,
and into the core of our selves as westerners, which will lead us to admit
as Nietzsche did our own sickness, but which will lead us to seek a cure
from within ourselves that lays hold of emptiness, or void as a basis for
self-understanding and the promotion of wisdom. We need to become western
Buddhas and western Bodhisattvas by means drawn from our own cultural
mileiu and our own intellectual and experiential as well as philosophical and
scientific tradition.

In Buddhism there is a concept of the Western Paradise. What was not said
is that the Western Paradise was a transformation of the kakatopia (hell
on earth) that we live in today, i.e. the Western Hell that has engulfed
planet Earth in our post-colonial times. Understanding the
extra-logical non-concept of emptiness is the key to this desparately
needed transformation in our selves.


Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 11:55:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is Emptiness?

I would like to continue by talking about the difference between count and
non-count nouns.

Recently I discovered that Sanscrit like Chinese is primarily a non-count
language and that this effected not just Indian logic but the whole
question of the philosophical basis of Buddhism.

Non-count nouns are either abstractions or masses, like the sea. In
Chinese everything is considered non-count unless given a special marker
to signify count. It seems that Sanscrit was also originally non-count
dominated, and that the count emphasis developed slowly. This is why their
logic emphasized pervasion.

It seems that Buddhism attempted to go back to those non-count roots of
the Indian Logical tradition. Things were not considered essences that
possessed attributes. Rather there was the concept of the dharma within a
dharmati (i.e. spacetime locus). The Dharma is like what traditionally was
called a tatva, i.e. a nucleus of pattern that was irreducible. In
Buddhism originally there were about 100 dharmas and only the self was
considered empty. As we get into Mahayana Buddhism more and more of the
Dharmas are considered empty until they are all considered empty. But a
tatva like a dharma is a specific conherence of attributes pervading a
spacetime locus rather than an essence that possesses attributes which is
the count way of looking at things.

A recent book called THE DISCOVERY OF THINGS says that this difference
between count and non-count explains the difference between Aristotle and
the pre-aristotelians like Plato.

There is also a good book that explains how Chinese philosophy can only be
understood in terms of non-count ways of looking at things and is
misunderstood when we attempt to construe it according our count biases.

One reason for the ready acceptance of Buddhism in China, I now believe is
that it attempted to go back to the non-count oriented approach to things
of the original sanscrit and thus it was very congruent with the non-count
ways of looking at things of the Chinese.

Not only did Aristotle set up the principle of excluded middle that makes
emptiness invisible to us, from a logical point of view, but he also
concretized the tendencies in Greek to emphasize count ways of looking at

Thus even though we have non-count or mass terms in our language we tend
to think of everything from a count perspective, especially
philosophically. To understand Buddhism it is necessary to be able to
switch back and forth between count and non-count perspectives on things
philosophically, because the middle way is between these two.

But when the Buddhists say that the self is empty, it is much easier to
model this from a non-count way of seeing things, because there is no
essence that possesses the attributes of the thing which is autonomous and
real beyond the attributes in their conherence. Rather we have pervasion
of instances by masses with attributes and a logic of containment.

But ultimately we have to admit that the tetralemma applies to this too:

A = Count
~A = Non-Count
Both Count and non-Count
Neither Count nor non-Count

Emptiness is between the both and neither or rather in the logical fourth
dimension beyond the tetrahedron of

count and non-count
count or non-count
count nand non-count
count nor non-count

But what this tells us is that emptiness rises above both sylogistic logic
and Indian pervasion logic

Since we are trapped in a count oriented philosophical tradition we need
to be able to switch to a non-count way of looking at things first, as
Buddhism did by talking about Dharmas within spacetime loci, i.e.
dharmati. But ultimately we need to go further to the middle between
syllogism and pervasion logic.

Emptiness is beyond

syllogism and pervasion
syllogism or pervasion
syllogism nand pervasion
syllogism nor pervasion

Syllogism is about possession of attributes by things that have autonomous
essences. Buddhism denies the autonomy of these essences.

Buddhism gives us a model of dharmas in dharmati i.e. masses with
attributes that pervade spacetime loci, but ultimately these masses are
found empty as well. The denial here is of the boundaries that delmit the
masses, and this leads to a vision of interpenetration which appears in
late Mahayana.

The reason the Chinese could comprehend and further the Buddhist teaching
so well is that they were on the same wavelenght as the buddhist with
regard to the count verses non-count approach to things. The denial of
syllogistic logic and the re-emphasis on the roots of pervasion logic gave
way to an understanding that when we deny the boundaries posited by
pervasion logic then we get to a positive picture of what emptiness is
which is talked about in terms of interpenetration.

But not only is the self as autonomous essence denied and interpenetration
affirmed by the denial of boundaries on the pervasive masses, but we must
move beyond even those waymarks, i.e. into the logical fourth dimension
beyond the tetralemma of pervasion and syllogism.

What's that? We cannot say it. We cannot experience it. In other words it
is beyond logos and physus as we understand it within the Western
Tradition. But that does not say it is just something amorphous and vague
without its own characteristics. Rather what lies beyond the sayable and
the experienceable is something quite definite and unique defined
negatively by syllogistic and pervasieve logics and indicated by them. We
see this in the silence of the Buddha with regard to the proposal of the
atimonies. Not all silences are alike. Rather this particular silence was
in response to and in relation to the proposal of those specific
antinomies that defined and identified that particular silence of the
buddha that emanated from his perfect enlightenment. This is the major
claim of the Buddha, not that he was enlightened, there are myriad forms
of enlightenment, but that he was perfectly enlightened. Perfect
enlightenment is a unique fulcrum and foundation of experience and
thought, the absolute middle way between all the extremes. There is only
one unique absolute middle between all extremes and oppositions.

In this silence none of the antinomies are affirmed, what ever they are
and now ever many there are. But that which is silent has no essence that
possesses the attrbutes of what exist. But that which is silent has no
boundaries to the masses that encompass its instances. One analogy is
transparency. Perfect enlightenment is perfect transparency. It is not
that it is a source of light but that what ever light or dark there is
passes through this consciousness without obstruction, like a mirror in
which all things are reflected no matter how beautiful or how ugly without
distortion. The mirror is uneffected by what it reflects. So transparent
consciousness is uneffected by the experiences or thoughts that arise in
it. There is no obstruction or interference with what passes though this
consciousness. With this analogy we can see why enlightenment can be said
not to be a thought nor an experience. Rather it is a clarification of the
medium of thoughts and experience. That clarity has specific properties
indicated by the Buddha in the early pali suttras of the Theravada school.
For instance there is an emphasis on ESP type miracles such as mind
reading of the thoughts of others. Eventually it was realized that these
miracles in themselves were not necessary. But it is interesting that
early on it was thought that it was necessary to establish the superhuman
nature of enlightenment as realm of human experience. Later it was
realized that miracles too were specific experiences and had nothing to do
with the clarification of the medium of experience and thought.

We are more used today to think about media. Marshall McLuhen made his
name by saying that "The Medium is the Massage". Cyberspace and the Web is
a new interactive medium that we are all coming to terms with.

One way to think about emptiness is in terms of the clarification
rendering transparent of the ultimate medium, i.e. consciousness. The
reason that perfect enlightenement is unique and has its own speific
characteristics is that clarified consciousness as a medium has its own
unique characteristics that are defined by our finitude and humanity. The
reason that we cannot say anything about exaclty what this is, is because
it is the container for what ever we say and what ever we experience. So
the silence of the Buddha is a silence of perfect transparency and perfect
clarification. Like water that is 100% pure. For a while they were selling
bottled glacier water around here that was very pure. When you drank it
the body would react to that purity because most liquids that we drink are
very impure comparatively. So almost perfect purity gives a particular
sensation in relation to the impurities we are used to experiencing.

If we purify ourselves, then we become like that water to others, i.e.
something that they are not used to seeing, or experiencing, or
thinking about even though they cannot put their finger on what it is that is

Purified consciousness lets go of its clinging to things, because it does
not have an autonomous essence that can possess the attributes of either
things or itself.

Purified consciousness does not set up boudaries to the masses that
pervade its spacetime loci, it becomes identified with the spacetime field
itself and accepts all things that appear within that field.

Purified consciouness is silent about the antinomies it is presented and
holds on to the unique fulcrum that is the midpoint between all those
extremes. That midpoint is defined negatively by the plethora of

The tradition is continually attempting to describe this state of affairs
that can only be indicated and never grasped, and so successive partial
approximations are posited and then synthesized into higher level balanced
indications of the middle way.

The point is to step into this locus oneself and view existence from this
unique viewpoint. That stepping into the midpoint or fulcrum is called
enlightenment, which is the experience of the emptiness of the self and
the interpenetration with all things. Stepping into that locus transforms
consciousness itself, because your unique consciousness becomes the
fulcrum and bedrock of all existence, selfless, interpenetrated, balancing
all opposites and extremes. This is to say that enlightenment is not
generalized, but unique to each individual. In other words the experience
and thoughts of enlightentment have no traces, no marks and are identical
with our own mind, but can be seen as that mind in a purified or
transparent state with respect to all thoughts and all experiences.

The claim of the Buddha to have achieved PERFECT enlightenment can be
understood as the laying hold of the unique middle point beyond all
extremes including the logical extremes of syllogism and pervasion.
Enlightenment is extra-logical in this sense as not being grasped or
contained by logic by going beyond logic which points toward it without
limiting it.

We call this state induced by the realization of this perfect and unique
foundation supra-rational. Supra-rationality cannot be understood within
the limits of the excluded middle and non-contradiction rules set up by
Aristotle. The ultimate that can be approached in those terms is the
Paradoxical and Absurd. These mix the conflicting antinomies. But instead
the Supra-rational keeps separate the antinomies and allows them to be
simultaneiously true without interference with each other. This is a
logical idea introduced by the Jains. Mahayana Buddhism might be
understood as a Hindu heresy that combined the idea of Selflessness of
Hinayana Buddhism and the concept of Supra-rationality introduced and
perfected by Jainism. Supra-rationality is another way to approach the
fulcrum of emptiness by seeing how contradictories are simultaneiously
true without interference with each other or mixture in existence. This is
seen to be impossible within the delimited realm of excluded middle set up
within the Western tradition.

In other words not only is the point of the absolute middle a place where
all the extremes are avoided, but also surrounding it contradictories are
simultaneousley true and are thus resolved. This allows the fundamental
philosophical problem of the Western Tradition, i.e. Nihilism, to be
defused by the positing of a deep non-duality at the heart of all things.

Non-duality means not One and not Two, in other words it is an alternative
to the dichotomy of One and Many that is basic to the Western Tradition.
Only the unique fulcrum of existence is non-dual.

So supra-rational, non-nihilistic and non-dual describe the
characteristics of emptiness and interpenetration which is beyond
syllogism and pervasion logics. These are very specific characteristics
that only the point of absolute middle beyond all extremes indicated by
the tetralemma has.

We think of a fulcrum as being something that we can affix a lever to in
order to move things. This fulcrum is an empty point at the heart of
consciousness that we can apply ourselves to in order to transform our
consciousness. It is a bedrock in the sense that it cannot be distrubed or
changed by anything in thought or experience. It is the calm empty center
of the cyclone of consciousness.

When a huracane comes onto land the most people are killed because
they think the storm is over when the quiet center passes over them, they
come out into the open and then are hit by the other side of the circle of
the huracane. Thus in a world where things are constantly changing it is
difficult to stay within the quiet center of the cyclone of consciousness.
Adopting that center as the origin of the coordinate system of ones
thoughts and experience so that it is the center no matter where the
cyclone of consciousness goes is the problem we all face. Rather we all
take other origins as the basis of our particular points of view. We
experience the calm sometimes as the cyclone passes over us but are always
hit by the opposite wind when the calm is over. Making that emptiness
itself at the center of the huracane where ever it moves our reference
point is not easy. But that is the task at hand.

Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 09:17:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kent Palmer - DSL
Subject: What is emptiness?

The best way to approach Emptiness is via the tetralemma which is the
traditional way. Tetralemma is

both A and ~A
neither A nor ~A

This contravenes the Aristotle's law of excluded middle. It takes us
dirctly into the unthinkable and outside Being because Parmenides said 0
that" thought and Being are the same". Thus it takes us into alien
territory for the Western Philosophical and Scientific tradition.

In effect this amounts to pointing to a logical placeless place which is
orthogonal to the tetrahedron of Boolean logical and, nand, or and nor,
i.e. into some logical fourth dimensional space.

Now a key point is that not only is this orthogonal logical placeless
place unthinkable it is also not experienceable via normal experiential
modes because of its four dimensional quality.

Notice that in the fourth dimension there are various properties that no
other dimension has, such as the fact that all knots fall apart without
being untied.

So just because we cannot experience it nor think it that does not mean
that it does not have peculiar properties of its own.

Normally we think that properties have to be experiential or thinkable.
But in this case the "properties" of this logical placeless place are
non-intuitive inversions of our experience and out thoughts.

When we realize these unthinkable and nonexperiential properties we find
that they are really shot through all of our experience and thoughts.

So as the Lotus Suttra says Form is Empty and Emptiness is Form. In other
words there is ultimately no difference between the two, but ordinarily we
do not notice this ultimate reality underlying our experience and our

The fact is that we do not need Buddha or Buddhism in order to understand
emptiness for ourselves. But Buddhism is the best example of a religion
that has realized the expression of this ultimate or perfect enlightenment

This is what Nagarjuna showed, i.e. that we can express emptiness in terms
of logic and that it is inherent in human experience and ways of thinking.
The Buddha, as he said, was only one of many human beings who have
realized this ultimate foundation of human expereince and thought.

We cannot express it in language, but can only point to it with language.
The idea is that we point to it, then we move into it, and then we come to
"experience" our thinking and experience anew from the perspective of an
immersion in emptiness. The point is that this transformation of our
experience changes the whole nature of the experiental locus itself.

Buddhism as a historical phenomena shows us more and more sophisticated
approximations and pointings to this ultimate foundation of life and
consciousness. Over time the Buddha said more and more interesting things
in the suttras about emptiness and enlightenment as people who became
enlightened attempted to express what things looked like from this
radically new perspective. However, in a sense all of the various
interpretations and theories of enlightenment are true, just some are more
sophisticated and subtle than others.

The closest thing to this in the Western Tradition is the work of Meister

For a critique of Buddhism see Lo Chen-Shun's KNOWLEDGE PAINFULLY

I would also recommend the work of the Chinese Zen Monk and Taoist Adept
STONEHOUSE whose poetry is translated by Red Pine.

Taoism has a completely different way of approaching the same thing.
Stonehouse combines both Zen and Taoism to give an even more sophisticated
indication that satisfies the critique of Lo Chen-Shun.

There is a middle way. Anything we say will miss the mark and be onsided
from one perspective. The tradition continually combines these partial
perspectives to attempt a deeper pointing toward the ultmate bedrock of
experience and thought which is beyond experience and thought, but
which is not without its own definite characteristics. Thus perfect
enlightenment is something very definite and specific even though it cannot
be captured by any experience or any thought.

> Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 16:34:34 -0000
> From:
> Subject: Emptiness
> I would like to hear some thoughts on emptiness, there are so many
> differnt opinions I see. Is there anyone here who can give a clear
> understanding of it?

Monday, January 15, 2001

You my imaginary reader, YOU are all that is not alien in my self. Around you coalesces all the common
thoughts, pedestrian ideas, normal subjects of conversation that allows me to escape from what is other
than myself. We must break free of this hindrance in my self together, and walk out bravely into the wilds
of thought, where the trails end and even the tracks have vanished.

Sunday, January 14, 2001

Some savage thoughts sometimes come and take me aback. They take me back into the deep background of who I am not. As thoughts they stray from the path of my self. They let me know who I am not, who I was not, and who I will not be. From these savage thoughts I learn the most, I learn what is alien within me that seeks to be heard despite my self.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

Some thoughts are private. Some thoughts deserve to be kept to oneself. But these thoughts seem to have escaped into a vitual world. I wonder where they will end up going and who will be infected by them. Perhaps an imaginary reader will appear, as if from no where, to think these thoughts again and transform them into their own.