Conversation with ‘H’ – & 6th part

You (H). ‘…… perhaps we both ought accept that Planck was right: matter exists. Or are you saying that matter does not exist; is that really your position, Dr. M? Are you saying that not only is consciousness the substrate of matter and of the world, but that ultimately, matter and the world do not exist, and all that does exist (whatever that might mean within such a definition) is consciousness?……’

Me (M): A3. Plank was an empirical scientist with a philosophical bent. Was he a thoroughgoing or pure non-dualist? His position seems to be like yours, except when he adds (or is attributed to him): ‘non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.”  YES!

Everything=phenomena appear(s) as physical but are intangible and reducible to consciousness from which they ultimately originate… despite time, space, and causation not really existing, as from the higher perspective of AV. Again, this is metaphysics! Also spirituality. Also mysticism, but not of the passional kind (as in St. Theresa of Avila), and not devoid of rationality. And this is Advaita Vedanta.

You (H): ‘Awareness (the illuminative aspect of consciousness) of the tree can never be abstracted from the tree itself, and vice versa’.

Me (M): A4.  The tree exists only in consciousness and ultimately is not other than consciousness.

You write: ‘ND (non-duality) is not about space and time, and ought not to be assumed to conform to that paradigm.’ Right, and I add causation to those two, but it – the notion of ND – has to account for all three – and for everything else – otherwise they would be hanging in mid air, totally unexplained.

You complain about the employment of apostrophes, but these, or the use of italics, are unavoidable, that is, necessary in philosophical or metaphysical discourse; same thing with metaphysics, not always equivalent to spirituality, depending on the context. The use of diacritical signs, together with metaphors and analogies, avoids possible confusion and, thus, facilitates communication. In this regard we all frequently take recourse to two levels: empirical, and higher or metaphysical, and I offered some examples, such as individual and ‘individual’, person and ‘person’, thus distinguishing the conventional from the non-dual understanding. A good example of this was ‘multiplicity’. If you say that ND admits multiplicity, all alarms go off, but if that word is written between apostrophes, one understands that it must not be taken literally but as pointing to another (doctrinal or metaphysical) sense. May be I have belaboured this point a bit too much.

There may perhaps be something more to discuss or clarify but, for now, I must regrettably say, H, that I find your position – as we have discussed it in so much detail – to be untenable from the viewpoint of ND. And this is due to the fact that I find it to be inconsistent and, thus, inadequate. On occasions you have referred to physical objects as real, physical tout court, and at other times as apparent – ‘apparent objects’, ‘apparent world’. With respect, and kind regards, M


Dear H: If something can go wrong, it will go wrong (Murphy’s Law). For me it was the word ‘apparent’. You had written: ‘apparent objects, apparent observers, and apparent multiplicity’. It so happens that a connotation of that word is: ‘appearing (but not necessarily) real or true; seeming’. Evidently this was not the meaning you attached to that word and, in the context at hand, I interpreted it as per that secondary meaning, which is the usual one when writing about these things.

Example: “Mahayana Buddhist teachings sometimes talk about ‘the nonduality of emptiness (shunyata) and appearance.’ The distinction between the conventional or relative ‘lower’ truth, and the ultimate or absolute ‘higher truth,’ is the difference between how things usually appear to us, and what they really are.” David Loy.

Max Planck: “Consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.”

For me that clinches the issue of ND – and, thus, of Yogacara Buddhism, AV, and other types of ND. No divisions or dichotomies permitted within what alone is real. No objects, distance between objects, cause and effect, time… no tree in the yard, and no observer in front of the tree… no ‘you’ and ‘me’; only It. Ultimately, though, everything – all appearances or phenomena – ‘go back’ to consciousness or awareness from which they never emerged.  Kind regards, M.

P.S. True, you were not – or do not seem to be – inconsistent in the account you give of ND and the premises you put forward to defend it which, being unintelligible (to me) and self-contradictory in themselves, are altogether unacceptable. My apologies.