Introduction: I used to think that knowledge meant words. I was sucked in by the promise of a superior knowledge, I thought it would be the knowledge of something. But the book they gave me was titled "Be Here Now." I found out that words are not the thing.There is a BIG story about words. There is a whole lot more going on than just what words can say. But even before we get to that, Zen says, "Do not mistake the pointing finger for the moon." Words are all we got to talk with, but that doesn't mean what words say is real. And especially ALL that is real. Once freed of this self-imposed constraint, once we throw out the old, we can use words like the tools that they are. Play with them, knowing that it is all bullshit. These words are the very best I have found. The key thoughts of these great intellects.


Words and Language


"Out of what is in itselt an indistinguishable, swarming continuum, devoid of distinction (sunyata), or emphasis, our senses make for us, by attending to this motion and ignoring that, a world full of contrasts, of sharp accents, of abrupt changes, of picturesque light and shade. Helmholtz says that we notice only those sensations which are signs to us of things. But what are things? Nothing, as we shall abundantly see, but special groups of sensible qualities, which happen practically or aesthetically to interest us, to which we therefore give substantive names, and which we exalt to this exclusive status of independence and dignity."



"Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things." [TDOP Huxley 23]



"Indeed, to some extent it has always been necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things up, if we tried to deal with the whole of reality at once, we would be swamped. However when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man's notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives, (i.e. in his world-view) then man ceases to regard the resultant divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and this world as actually constituted of separately existing fragments. What is needed is a relativistic theory, to give up altogether the notion that the world is constituted of basic objects or building blocks. Rather one has to view the world in terms of universal flux of events and processes."



Bergson was also aware of the spurios reality of "things" because, - as he himself pointed out - thought creates things by slicing up reality into small bits that it can easily grasp. Thus when you are think-ing you are thing-ing. Thought does not report things, it distorts reality to create things, and, as Bergson noted, "In so doing it allows what is the very essence of the real to escape." Thus to the extent we actually imagine a world of discrete and separate things, conceptions have become perceptions, and we have in this manner populated our universe with nothing but ghosts. Therefore the Madhyamika declares that Reality, besides being void of conceptual elaboration, is likewise Void of separate things.The doctrine of mutual interpenetration and mutual identification of the Dharmadhatu represents man's highest attempt to put into words that non-dual experience of Reality which itself remains wordless, ineffable, unspeakable, that nameless nothingness. The Dharmadhatu is not entirely foreign to Western thought, for something very similar to it is seen emerging in modern Systems Theory, in Gestalt psychology, and in the organismic philosophy of Whitehead. As a matter of fact, Western science as a whole is moving very rapidly towards a Dharmadhatu view of the cosmos, as biophysicist Ludwig von Bertalanffy states: "We may state as a characteristic of modern sciece that the scheme of isolable units acting in one-way-causality has proved to be insufficient. Hence the appearence, in all fields of science, of notions like wholeness, holistic, organismic, gestalt, etc, which signify that in the last resort, we must think in terms of systems of elements in mutual interaction."




"The principle is that all dualities and opposites are not disjoined but polar. They do not confront eachother from afar, they expoliate from a common center. Ordinary thinking conceals polarity and relativity because it employs terms and terminals, the poles, neglecting what lies inbetween them. The difference of front to back, to be or not to be, hides their unity and mutuality."


"According to the philosophy of Zen, we are too much a slave to the conventional way of thinking. which is dualistic through and through. No "interpenetration" is allowed, there takes place no fusing of opposites in our everyday logic. What belongs to God is not of this world, and what is of this world is incompatible with the divine. Black is not white, and white is not black. Tiger is tiger, and cat is cat, and they will never be one. Water flows, a mountain towers. This is the way things or ideas go in this universe of the senses and syllogisms. Zen, however, upsets this scheme of thought and substitutes a new one in which there exists no logic, no dualistic arrangement of ideas. We believe in dualism chiefly because of our traditional training. Whether ideas really correspond to facts is another matter requiring a special investigation. Ordinarily we do not inquire into the matter, we just accept what is instilled into our minds; for to accept is more convenient and practical, and life is to a certain extent, though not in reality, made thereby easier. We are in nature conservatives, not because we are lazy, but because we like repose and peace, even superficially. But the time comes when traditional logic holds true no more, for we begin to feel contradictions and splits and consequently spiritual anguish. We lose trustful repose which we experienced when we blindly followed the traditional ways of thinking. Eckhart says that we are all seeking repose whether consciously or not just as the stone cannot cease moving until it touches the earth. Evidently the repose we seemed to enjoy before we were awakened to the contradictions involved in our logic was not the real one, the stone has kept moving down toward the ground. Where then is the ground of non-dualism on which the soul can be really and truthfully tranquil and blessed? To quote Echart again, "Simple people conceive that we are to see God as if He stood on that side and we on this. It is not so; God and I are one in the act of my perceiving Him." In this absolute oneness of things Zen establishes the foundations of its philosophy. The idea of absolute oneness is not the exclusive possesion of Zen. There are other religious and philosophies that preach the same doctrine. If Zen, like other monisms or theisms, merely laid down this principle and did not have anythng specifically to be known as Zen, it would have long ceased to exist as such. But there is in Zen something unique which makes up its life and justifies its claim to be the most precious heritage of Eastern culture. The following "Mondo" or dialogue (literally questioning and answering) will give us a glimsp into the ways of Zen, A monk asked Joshu, one of the greatest masters in China, "What is the ultimate word of Truth?" Instead of giving him any specific answer he made a simple response saying, "Yes." The monk who naturally failed to see any sense in this kind of response asked for a second time, and to this the Master roared back. "I am not deaf!" See how irrelevantly (shall I say) the all-important problem of absolute oneness or of the ultimate reason is treated here! But this is characteristic of Zen, this is where Zen transcends logic and overrides the tyranny and misrepresentation of ideas. As I have said before, Zen mistrusts the intellect, does not rely upon traditional and dualistic methods of reasoning, and handles problems after its own original manners....To understand all this, it is necessary that we should acquire a "third eye", as they say, and learn to look at things from a new point of view."


A Sermon

Reverend Sirs, time is precious. Don't make the mistake of following others in desperately studying meditation or the Path, learning words or phrases, seeking after the Buddha or patriarchs or good friends. Followers of the Path, you have only one father and one mother. What else do you want? Look into yourselves . An ancient sage said that Yajna-datta thought he had lost his head [and sought after it], but when his seeking mind was stopped he realized that he had never lost it.

From Sources of Chinese Tradition (de Bary, Chan and Watson, ed. and trans.), pp. 360--363
Typed 31 March 1995

Ken Wilber

And when we pause from all this research, and put theory temporarily to rest, and when we relax into the primordial ground of our own intrinsic awareness, what will we find therein? When the joy of the robin sings on a clear morning dawn, where is our consciousness then? When the sunlight beams from the glory of a snow-capped mountain, where is consciousness then? In the place that time forgot, in this eternal moment without date or duration, in the secret cave of the heart where time touches eternity and space cries out for infinity, when the raindrop pulses on the temple roof, and announces the beauty of the divine with every single beat, when the moonlight reflects in a simple dewdrop to remind us who and what we are, and when in the entire universe there is nothing but the sound of a lonely waterfall somewhere in the mists, gently calling your name-where is consciousness then?

"My friend, all theory is gray, and the Golden tree of life is green."