virus: Susan: Sense and Solubility

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 2 Apr 1999 14:07:17 -0500

>>> might be more productive to
>>>take another approach: you seem to be saying that your
>>>ego is reborn every time you stop meditating. That's
>>>actually OK, temporarily, but from a Buddhist point of
>>>view, if your meditative technique is OK, you should
>>>start getting insights into the nature of the ego (and
>>>other stuff) that cause it to be weaker every time it's

But insight into the structure of something doesn't mean that the thing understood is weakend. Insight into the structure of matertials has lead us to the construction of plastics, carbon fibers, magnesium alloys...all stronger, more resillient substances than the stones, sticks and ironmongery of previous ages. In general, insight leads to a stronger something, not a weaker something.

>>But why would I want to weaken my ego? ...
>>What do you think "ego" means?
>To have an ego, in this context, is to believe that
>you have independent existence. Ego is thinking of
>your self as separate.

I can understand why it would be undesireable to hold such a model as an exclusive view of reality. Even so, I think there are a number of contexts when viewing people as individual has it's merits.

>>To be Buddhist, I presume, is not total mind-suicide
>>but selective destruction of those components which
>>are deranged. What is left behind, however, must
>>be a complete must function.
>What's left doesn't just function, it functions much
>better after being dis-illusioned about its
>relationship with the rest of reality, i.e. not
>separate-from but part-of.

Agreed. Insight leads to a more effective something not a less effective something. What word shall we use to describe this something? What is it that has gained insight? What has become more effective?

>>A functioning human being can have a "self" attributed
>>to them...they can be given a name. Is this a
>>convenient fiction, or a truth? Is there a difference?
>I hope you aren't bringing up these big questions
>just to hit me over the head with them. That
>would be rather unkind.

I don't understand what you mean. I ask it as an earnest question hoping that you might respond in a way which will enlighten me.

To state my question a different way:

One idea which I have tried to make apparent is that we must use metaphor to understand our perceptions of material reality. A metaphor is a paradigm which emphasises some perceptions and patterns and demephasises others. Even something a simple a sight involves a simplyfing mechanism
which allows one to construct an apparently continious field of visual perception from the inadequate and discontinious melange of raw visual input from the cones and rods of the eyes. Sight is not reality, but an internal representation constructed according to a evolutionarily hardwired set of biochemical metaphors.

I can understand the process of dis-illusionment. It is valuable to pop the hood and scrutinze the processes and preconceptions of perception. Lets climb in the engine and tinker around!

But, eventually, you have to reconstruct the engine. Maybe you never have to put the hood back down but, eventually, the thing has to run again. Unless you decide that you don't have anywhere you want to go. But if you don't want to go anywhere, why not sell your car? After all, you don't need it.

>>>Are you forcing nothingness, or just
>>>letting it happen?
>>I don't know. How do you characterise nothing?
>The concept of nothingness I'm trying to work with
>here is your own -- you say you've achieved it, so
>I guess you must know what it is. Did you get
>there by making an effort, or by relaxing?

Both. I don't claim to have achieved anything. I understand only as much as I communicate; If I understood anything more I would tell you about it. I don't have any secret reserve of information...this is the best I can do on Friday 4/2/99 at 1:40pm. What is beyond that, I don't know.

As McLuhan said, people who think about the future are always looking into the while looking through the rear-view mirror. Understanding the future is in one sense easy and in another sense impossible. The quite difficult but possible thing is to live in, to perceive, and to describe the present moment.

>>Silence isn't, itself, an end to craving. There are still patterns
>>within the silences...meanings in the nothingness. Meditating
>>itself doesn't lend a seeker of pattern any rest. One has to allow
>>things not to make sense, to suspend disbelief. But the longest
>>senselessness will collapse again into what you're calling insight.
>There's a big difference between restless pattern-seeking
>and spontaneous insight. And "senselessness" seems a very
>misleading way of characterising the cessation of cognition,
>while the senses remain highly alert.

Buddhism is littered with images of the enlightened learning to accept the creatures of the earth which are normally hated and feared: the maggots, spiders, and snakes. These creatures, in turn, respect the inner strength of the story goes, anyway.

All I asked you to do was accept an ambivalent word in the context I provided it: Senseless meaning a state of suspended disbelief...a state of accepting patternlessness. You chose to seize on an alternate definition.

If I offer you a rose for it's beautiful sent, why do you seize it by the thorns? Are words so important that you would wound yourself rather that change your preconceptions?

>>there is something beyond simple innocence which characterizes
>>what you would call enlightenment. There is something
>>which affords the constancy, focus, and resilience. This is
>>why the enlightened may be described as child-like, but they
>>are not children.
>>What is this thing which differentiates the enlightened from
>>the child?

Maybe. But if we define "experience" as the accumulation of a historical life, memory of past events and a hodge-podge of theories and metaphors to categorize and rationalize them... well, there are may experienced people who are not enlightened. There must be a special kind of "experience" which differentiates enlightenment from age.

>>I don't think it's always desireable to be silent.
>But you think it might be desirable sometimes?

Of course.

>[about the Meme Machine]
>>If ones point is nothing, why not say nothing?
>I don't think her point is nothing -- it is rather
>to promote a state of mind to which "nothing" is
>a pointer, unfortunately one with a dire tendency
>to mislead.
>An alternative pointer is: "the experience of
>emptiness that is pregnant with infinite
>potential". Hope that's not too "mystical"
>(abstract?) for you!

No, they seem to mean the same thing.

>>Her business? It's everyone's business! She's writing
>>books about how to think. I think I want to know how
>>she thinks before I go taking advice. I need to think
>>about it before I think with it.
>I think you're getting a little entangled here. In
>order to untangle such stuff, you need to focus on
>what that book can do for you. Are its memes
>symbiots or parasites, for you? Everything else is

The question becomes, should I recommend her book to others? This requires me to think beyond the confines of self-utility. Can you understand how a book which might be useful to me might not be the first I would recommend to everyone? I have to think about other people collectively and as individuals with understanding of their state and interests.

Sometimes it is more effective to think of myself as seperate from them. For this reason, I choose to preserve my ego.


  Reed Konsler