Archive for February, 2012

Quora answer: What is meant by ‘Amanifest’?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Amanifest? What does it mean?

You ask a deep question. A rare delight. Thank you so much for your question, and your curiosity about the utter depths of existence.

I would just like to say I owe a lot of these insights to Dr. Scott Anderson with whom I have been discussing these issues many years. And if not for his probing questions I would have little to say on this subject.

I began reading DzogChen because of my general interest in Buddhism. I have an undergraduate major in East Asian Studies and was taught Buddhist Philosophy by a great teacher Alfonso Verdu at the University of Kansas. He also taught me Heidegger and Husserl and set me on an intellectual journey by linking these two great philosophical traditions in my mind. I have always thought Fa Tsang’s Hua Yen Buddhism was the deepest thought that anyone had ever had about existence. And I have always been partial to the Awakening of Faith which Verdu taught me. But I went on to study Western Philosophy rather than going to the Orient to study Buddhism as I had expected. And this was because I encountered a cultural mirror when I was taking Japanese in Summer School I had a teacher who when I told him that I was studying Japanese to study Zen Buddhism in Japan he said that Zen was the most conservative part of his culture, and much evil had been done in the name of Zen by the conservatives of his country, and that he had come to America for the very reason of escaping what I wished to study. This moment changed my life because I realized I did not know my own tradition and I needed to understand it before I tried to go elsewhere or I would make the mistakes of the Orientalists and just interpret everything I found in the orient by occidental standards without knowing my own prejudices and how they were affecting my sight.

So I studied Western Philosophy, but never lost my interest in Buddhism and Taosim and so I read sutras on a regular basis, and the new Tibetan translation opens up a new world to us of a tradition that never stopped from the Buddha down to today. A living tradition is always so much more interesting. And with Tibetan Buddhism you get the Spiritual equivalent of CIRQUE DU SOLEIL to boot. So I started reading all the original texts that had been translated from that tradition about DzogChen that I could find. But I was very disappointed because what I found was not up to the standard I usually found in Buddhist Sutras. The clarity just was not there. But eventually I focused on Manjushrimirtra and Mipham. Mipham is the soul of Clarity. One of the most brilliant commentators. I trusted him. So if you only have two points you can trust in a tradition, that is not good. But then I found the Bon Book and that confirmed for me my interpretation based on reading Manjushrimitra ( based on the Beacon of Certainty. So if you take Manjushrimitra seriously then you can see that what he is doing is destroying Buddhism by using the very logic of Nagarjuna against it. It sees the two truths as a dualism, and the only way to get out of that fundamental dualism is to go outside Buddhism. I think it is quite possible that Garab Dorje ( )was not Buddhist or at least was saying heretical things. And that is why Manjushrimitra went to challenge him for what he was saying, traveling from the school where Manjushrimitra taught to challenge him to a debate, on the Cemetery grounds. As in so many of such stories the teacher has three statements that summarize his teaching. In this case it was:

  • One is introduced directly to one’s true nature or “Direct introduction.” (Tibetan: ngo rang thog tu sPrad)[4]
  • One attains certainty about this natural state or “Remaining without doubt.” (Tibetan: thag gCig thog dug Cad)[4]
  • One continues with confidence in liberation or “Continuing in the non-dual state.” (Tibetan: gDengs grol thog du ’cha’)[4]

I interpret these verses in relation to the Special Systems. Each statement indicates a Special System.

  • One is introduced directly to one’s true nature or “Direct introduction.” (Tibetan: ngo rang thog tu sPrad)

The first special system is the Dissipative Ordering of Prigogine that manifests negative entropy. Direct introduction is transmission, and that introduction is the spread of a dissipative ordering of the anti-Dharma, the Dharma that destroys the Dharma. This is a heresy spreading in Buddhist lands that is essentially destroying the duality of the the two truths. Which is odd because one truth is dualistic and the other nondualistic, and so this destruction must point to a higher nonduality between dualism and non-dualism as indicated by Majushrimitra. This is the first jewel the Dharma, but it is really an Anti-Dharma that is spreading in Buddhist lands rather than a Buddhist heresy spreading in non-Buddhist lands.

  • One attains certainty about this natural state or “Remaining without doubt.” (Tibetan: thag gCig thog dug Cad)

Dharma and Aniti-Dharma in an autopoietic symbiotic dance. The autopoietic system is stable, and thus remains. It is an anomalous natural state. This is a closed state in which mind and body are one symbiotic whole. It represents the stability of the transmission between Garbe Dorge and Manjushimitra in their conversation, and dispute and dialogue. Like the meeting of Rumi and Shamsa Tabriz, the one was disseminating heresy and the other orthodoxy and these two speeches because stable and indicated the second Jewel which is the Body of the Buddha, but in this case it is two speeches that cancel each other out. It does to Buddhism what Buddhism had already done to everything else, show its emptiness. It shows the emptiness of the distinction between the two truths.

  • One continues with confidence in liberation or “Continuing in the non-dual state.” (Tibetan: gDengs grol thog du ’cha’)

Two Autopoietic Systems of Dharma and Anti-dharma, or four Dissipative Ordering Special Systems point toward the reflexive special system. There are therefore two dharmas and two anti-Dharmas circulating around each other. So lets think about Buddhism and Bon. There is the Dharma of Buddhism, and the Heresy of Dzogchen. There is what ever is the equivalent of Bon teachings (prior to their adulteration by Buddhism, we assume something like Shinto and Taoism) and the DzogChen heritage that collapses what ever their equivalent to the Void might have been. Buddhism and Taoism circle around each other in China. If you understand each well enough you can skip from void line to empty line and back again as Stonehouse does. The poetry of Stonehouse shows us the reflexive circling of Emptiness and Void around each other.

I am assuming that the secret of Gareb Dorje three statements are the perfect statement of nonduality by pointing at the Special System. If the Autopoietic Special System is stable then the Reflexive Special System is meta-stable. It is the third jewel the Sanga.

I call this the fourth turning. It is Buddhism turning on itself going beyond itself, having Najarjuna’s logic applied to its own structural dualisms. But since one of those duals is the nondual itself, then we have to go to a deeper level of nonduality. If void and emptiness are dual nonduals, then there must be ‘manifestation’ beyond them which is completely nondual with no structural dualisms to base itself on. It thus encompasses the three jewels Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha. Dharma meets Anti-Dharma in the application of the Nagarjuna’s logic to the Dharma itself. Buddha meets Taoist Sage. Sanga meets Taoist recluses. For instance in StoneHouse and his criticism of monks who beg, and his praise for the life of the hermit that supports himself. StoneHouse was was ordered to come out of his hermitage to become the head of a Monastery. And when he was released from that obligation he returned to his hermitage. How many people are there that can stand both in the shoes of the Zen Monk and the Taoist Sage? From that vantage point he turns either toward Void or Emptiness and differentiates them. But I have searched in vain for a hint of an understanding of manifestation that goes beyond emptiness and void in his poetry. He remains both a Zen Monk and a Taoist Hermit, but he does not step over the line into pure manifestation where even that duality between Emptiness and Void is effaced.

What helps us is the fact that we can understand these turnings of Buddhism as meta-levels related to Being of the Indo-European tradition, which is the source from which Buddhism came and the place to which it must return. And it is returning with the interest in Nonduality among Spiritual practitioners and through the refuge immigration of a population of monks from Tibet who represent a non-reified living tradition of Buddhism. In essence the Dali Lama has become the Good Pope. We  can relate to religions with Popes (or their equivalent), i.e. heads of the church. One thing that we can relate to in Tibetan Buddhism that it is organized. And it also satisfies the wish to have Shamanic as well as Religious experiences. We can more or less find out Don Juan and our Zen Master at the same time in the same person. And this is to be expected because Taoism, Shintoism, Bon are shamanic essentially based on extraordinary people with extraordinary experiences, and Buddhism is a religion based on beliefs and with meditation, non-experiences and non-conceptuality of the embodiment of emptiness. So Tibetan Buddhism just happens to be a way we can have our pristine religious spirituality of the cake, and eat the shamanic icing too.

However, it is really DzogChen which is considered the pinnacle of Tibetan Buddhisms nine ways that is of interest because it is Buddhism going beyond Buddhism which legitimates the combination with Shamanism that Tantraism tends toward anyway. And it is interesting because it opens up the possibility of the fourth turning of Buddhism which has now come to the West and captured the interest of Western Intellectuals which has been in the process of trying to find nondual ways in order to escape the nihilism of the West and its inherent dualism. It is intellectually deep and also experientially fascinating, and of course the refugees that have brought it are colorful characters, many of whom like the Dali Lama clearly embody wisdom.

So to understand the future of Buddhism we must understand what will happen when Tibetan Buddhism which has been living in isolation in Tibet for hundreds of years unaffected by the world until the Chinese invasion, comes into contract with the Western worldview which has cherished its Duality for so long and rejected, and even killed anyone who had a nondual perspective. Many of those who had a nondual perspective became Muslim Sufis in the past when civilization was being safeguarded by the Greeco-Islamo-Roman empire that preceded Colonialization of the Middle East (which is really just the heartland of the Western Worldview).

So it is necessary to go further and to look at the points that are made about the fourth turning. One way to do that is to look at my commentary on Manjushrimitra’s sutra [LINK]. But another way to do that is to look at the eleven Adamantine points of Longchenpa. (See Germano, David Francis (1992). “Poetic thought, the intelligent Universe, and the mystery of self: The Tantric synthesis ofrDzogs Chen in fourteenth century Tibet.” The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Doctoral thesis. ( (

  1. the Ground and basis of reality (Tib. གཞི་, Wyl. gzhi), how that ground dynamically manifests itself (Tib. གཞི་སྣང་, Wyl. gzhi snang);
  2. how sentient beings stray from the Ground;
  3. how all beings have the essence of Enlightened energy;
  4. how primordial wisdom (Tib. ཡེ་ཤེས་, Wyl. ye shes) abides within us;
  5. the pathways, and
  6. the gateways, and
  7. domain for primordial wisdom;
  8. how primordial wisdom is experientially accessed;
  9. signs of realization,
  10. signs in the dying and bardo transition; and
  11. ultimate fruition as the manifest realization of the kayas.

DzogChen would not be the fourth turning of the wheel of Dharma, i.e. the Anti-Dharma, if it did not reveal a deeper level of enlightenment, that was hither to revealed. The fact that this deeper level is also approximated in different ways by Hau Yen and Tien Tai Buddhism in China also tells us that this is not just an isolated phenomena, but a very profound shift in understanding of the nature of enlightenment. And what is revealed is the basis of reality or what is called the Ground above. Because of its Western Connotations we prefer not to use the term ground, and so I will use the term manifestation following M. Henry’s use of Meister Eckhart’s nomenclature in The Essence of Manifestation. There is from this point of view three standings beyond existence with are manifestation, the Unmanifest Essence, and the Amanifest which is the nondual root of the Manifest and Unmanifest Essence. But to understand what these phase transitions of standings beyond existence might be we must take them one at a time and do a careful dialectical thought process in order to make sure that each is really different from the last. What we are concentrating here is upon the Four Turning so we can build a basis on which to explore what the Fifth Turning of the Wheel of Dharma might be which I call the Homeward Path, because it is the point where the heresy of Buddhism, and other nondual ways that differentiated from the Western Tradition come home, and this is what is beginning to happen in our time, so we ought to try to understand it.

Now there are many terms used for the translation of Ground, or as I prefer Manifestation, because it is relatively unpolluted by Western Philosophical meanings. However the term is གཞི། (Wyl. gzhi) n. Pron.: shyi = substratum, basis. The problem with using Ground as a translation is that Western philosophy is all about First Philosophy and Grounding, and has recently discovered the impossibility of grounding, and thus we get anti-foundationalism that denies there can be grounds, and it goes on and on. Manifestation is not burdened with all these extrinsic meanings. But the actual terminology does not matter as long as the concept is clear. And the concept is that what you see when emptiness and Void evaporate as being different from each other is a deeper nondual of Manifestation. Just to be clear, the equivalent term in Islamic Sufi nondual tradition is Sifat, which is usually denoted as the attributes of Allah. But the idea that Allah has “attributes” is a Greek theological idea, and misses the essential point. But we are not interpreting DzogChen based on Islamic ideas. Merely pointing out that other nondual traditions have similar standings to Manifestation that is revealed in the Fourth Turning of the wheel of the Dharma in Buddhism. Many of the ultimate concepts in various nondual traditions are the same. It helps to be aware of these parallels.

Here what gzhi means is a very different kind of ground than one might expect. It is what manifests when the difference between nondual emptiness and nondual void collapses. There is a domain wall between these two kinds of nondual existence (Striated and Unstriated) which as we have said elsewhere is Ultra Being, i.e. the part of being that is extant, i.e. illusion seen externally. When that collapse happens we cannot have Buddhists who do not believe in the External Physical world anymore, nor Taoists (Bonvivants) who reduce everything to nature. Both have to accept the other’s position and the nihilistic opposition between them collapses. And thus these nonduals cease to be duals of each other. When the duality between nondual interpretations of existence collapse, basically what is collapsing is the distinction between inside consciousness and outside in the physical world. Nonduality at its depths does not accept this distinction and the fact that both Taoism (Bon) and Buddhism have these limits means that their interpretation of Existence is flawed to some extent. Existence is what is found (Wajud). There is what is found inwardly and what is found outwardly, and Buddhists are clinging to one and denying the other and the Taoists have the opposite position. When there is no difference based on position looking outward from the inward or inward from the outward, then we enter into the nonduality of the nondual completely without reservation. If Existence is what is found, then we are talking always about local things found. But what is the global source of all that finding, that is what manifestation is. Things are manifest in order to be found. Manifestation as the root of nonduality is the spontaneous, non-fabricated coming into manifestation which supports existence. In this sense that manifestation supports existence then it is gzhi.

We hear terms like primordial, pure, direct experience etc as well as others. But the one phrase from DzogChen that sums it up best is ‘Mind is like Space’. Literally when the domain wall between Emptiness and Void collapses then mind is like space and space is like mind, and there is no difference that can be pointed to which is a nihilistic distinction between them, even though they are in fact already nonduals. Buddhism and Taoism can be seen as Monisms that have suppressed their opposite non-duality, just like dualities suppress their opposites to try to become Monisms. These are nondual monisms and to me that is not nonduality because Nonduality means to me Not One! Not Two~ Not Many! Not None! Something else than all the logical possibilities. That is the key from the point of the Tetralemma. And it also cannot be distinguished by the difference between inward and outward which is probably one of the most fundamental distinctions. It is utterly distinctionless in the sense of having limits. It is what appears how it appears in each moment without any fabrication, any elaboration, and any distinctions of a theoretical type projected on it, especially not inward/outward, or number of any kind. Badiou calls this the ‘Multiple’. The heterogeneity prior to the arising of the Ultra One. But Badiou believes that this is Being. We are talking about a standing beyond the Meta-levels of Being, beyond existence, and which by itself can be called manifestation meaning by that what is meant by gzhi.

One thing we can say is that this is not the ‘Ground of Being’ ( See “Caveat lector” of the semantic field of the sanskrit term “ashraya” (आश्रय; Etymology: आ- √श्रि. ) the best terms seem to be source or origin, but the other nuances are also interesting and should be kept in mind. It is really the semantic field as a whole that should be considered, because the whole field is what has arisen naturally, spontaneously, in language and that is what we value in manifestation.

“Process-oriented rdzogs-chen has as its pivot the notion of gzhi which means both ground (the static, sort of steady-state) and reason (the dynamic, the intensity with which the unfolding of the initial pure potential occurs). As such pure potential (gzhi ka-dag chen-po) it is discussed in terms of a triune dynamics, referred to as facticity (ngo-bo), actuality (rang-bzhin), and resonance (thugs-rje). “  in Goodman, Steven D. & Davidson, Ronald M. (1992). Tibetan Buddhism: reason and revelation. SUNY series in Buddhist studies. SUNY Press. ISBN 0791407853, 9780791407851.

“Dzogchen-as-process where the praxis albeit ‘natural’ (Wylie: lhan skyes; IAST: sahaja)[6] and ‘effortless’ (Wylie: lhun grub; IAST: anābhoga)[7] has the sense of ‘spontaneity’.[8][9]

“The Ultimate Nature (rang bzhin) is said to be unaltered (ma bcos pa), because the Basis is spontaneously accomplished (lhun grub) in terms of its innate potential (rtsal) for manifestation (rol pa). The non-duality between the Ultimate Nature (i.e., the unaltered appearance of all phenomena) and the Condition (i.e., the Basis of all) is called the Identity (bdag nyid).“[28]

Sentient Beings stray from this gzhi or ashraya or the standing of manifestation which is non-fabricated, non-elaborated, pure appearing of what appears as it appears without distinction between inward and outward, quality and quantity or other categorical distinctions. We might call this primordial upwelling phenomena. In one of my books I called it Primal Archetypal Wholeness. (See also concerning rig pa translated as reflexive apperception). Straying must be explained if we are to recognize that all there is ultimately is manifestation which is nondually nonudal in every sense, not just outward globally unstriated void or inward local striated emptiness.

Probably the most interesting of the meanings attributed to manifestation is spontaneous accomplishment. A good example of this is the fact that nature calculates the optimal surface area of bubbles so they are minimal in each moment, and it does this spontaneously and instantaneously and effortlessly. There is no need for calculation to determine that structure, the bubble surface just snaps to that minimal configuration which is the lowest energy formation “Naturally”. In DzogChen everything does that production of the optimal effortlessly. That is what Manifestation is the spontaneous, un-fabricated, un-elaborated, natural, production of optima in appearance where appearance is no different from reality, identity, presence, or truth as one merged aspect that cannot be differentiated into separate aspects. Existence of things found still has separate aspects like Being. Existence unlike Being is unstriated, yet it still has the differentiated aspects. Manifestation loses that differentiation of the aspects as it like the Multiple of Badiou, loses the ability to differentiate quantity at all, either one or many, and as it loses the ability to differentiate quality and quantity or any other synthetic a priori categorization.

When humans stray from Manifestation the first things that appear are the differentiation of the Pleroma. These are the striated and unstriated opposites such as in our worldview: emptiness/Void; Being/Beyng; Forgetfulness/Oblivion’ Clearing/Open; etc. Emptiness/Void is merely the center of the cyclone of the worldview. But all of these striated and unstriated oppositions evaporate at the level of the standing of Manifestation.

So with this background in mind we can begin to think about the Fifth Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma, one that to my knowledge has not happened yet and is announced here first (or rather in my various working papers on the subject). It has to be an even deeper nondual that manifestation. It is unclear how deep the levels of nonduality go. We are having a hard time just thinking the fifth meta-level of Being. We noted that the the Fourth Turning responded to the fourth meta-level of Being as illusion. So we are suggesting that the fifth turning has somehow to do with Ultra Being. But Ultra Being as we have seen previously is what separates the dual nonduals into emptiness and void, at it is exactly the getting rid of it that reveals manifestation. There is in fact a strange turning here.

At this point I would like to mention just for the sake of comparison that this deeper nondual than manifestation is called Dhat in Arabic and is seen as the core of the attributes of Allah. It is sometimes called the essence, but of course this is merely more Greek theology and has nothing to do with the Dhat, which by the way is often noted to be a linguistic mistake due to the feminine nature of this word.

So the fact that there is an equivalent to this even deeper nondual in another spiritual tradition, i.e. Sufism within Islam, gives us hope of discovering the nature of the fifth tuning of the Dharma. I have also equated this final turning with the Homeward path. That is the path to the nondual core of the Western worldview itself. Something so extremely dualistic as the Western worldview cannot help but turn into its opposite, and so that opposite is the nonduality that is made accessible though its fragmentation into the meta-levels of illusion, or Being. Each meta-level of Being is a more intense form of Maya/Mara, Dunya, Dukkha. Each needs its own homeopathic treatment. Existence is unstriated but it responds to the various meta-levels of illusion differently based  on its ultimately skillful means. But Existence as a standing transforms into Manifestation, and then the Amanifest as we enter the higher standings beyond Being which are in fact deeper nondualities. Perhaps there are even deeper dualities than these but we will be doing well if we can understand these. In order to approach the fifth turning we have gone back and taken up the fundamentals of DzogChen which are part of the fourth turning. It is the Turning that informs us about what is Beyond Buddhism, which we also see in Hua Yen and Tien Tai Buddhism.

To go back to Special Systems theory for a moment we can know that there is a difference between a system and a meta-system (what Bataille calls the Restricted and General Economy). We discussed how the three statements of Garab Dorje can be seen to correspond to the Special Systems. We can see that any given religion like Buddhism or Taoism even though they are nondual have their self-imposed limitations which make them a restricted economy. Then we saw that Garab Dorje opened the door of heresy and opened up ways to both Bon (Taoism, Shintoism) and Buddhism to go beyond themselves to discover the ultimate and perfect path. What we neglected to mention is that Systems and Meta-systems are duals. System (restricted economy) is a whole greater than the sum of its parts, while the Meta-system (general economy) is a whole less that the sum of its parts, i.e. a whole full of holes like a sponge. The Special Systems are the interstices between the meta-levels of Being, and so we see that Ultra Being is on either limit beyond the system and the Meta-system. Special Systems are wholes exactly equal to the sum of their parts, and there are three of these like the perfect, amicable and sociable aliquot numbers. Thus we can see that what is beyond the three statements of Garab Dorge that frees us from limited religions that are systems or restricted economies, is the Meta-system (also known as OpenScape). Thus the fifth turning must have something to do with the Meta-system that lies beyond the Special Systems that come between the System and the Meta-system. Ultra Being appears on either side as the limit beyond both the System and the Meta-system.

Now we have a framework for appreciating more fully what Garab Dorje taught Manjushrimitra. Garab Dorje manifested the rainbow body at his death. And he called back down the three precepts to his disciple when the disciple pleaded for more guidance. But this guidance abounded in the celestial realm before it was absorbed into any human form. Garab Dorje discovered how to break out of Buddhism or Bon or any religion without leaving it, and without permeating its boundary. Thus this is a heresy that never quite throws you out of the religion you are pursuing, but then once you adopt this viewpoint then you are never really in it completely again. And this can only be done because of the connection to the Special Systems which are ultra-efficacious (hyper-efficient and hyper-effective). What is beyond Garab Dorge’s three statements that point at the special systems is the meta-system to the system of religion, i.e. the system of thought and belief which strives for communal coherence.

So this suggest that the Homeward Path is into the Wilderness of belief and thought that is the meta-system beyond any given restricted economy of belief or thought, or for that matter experience. Actually when you think about it the three jewels as Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha are basically the same as these special systems as well. But there is a difference because there is Dharma and Anti-Dharma (Najarjuna’s nondual logic applied to Buddhism itself). There is buddha and anti-Buddha (Garab Dorje). And there is Sanga and Anti-Sanga the monks of Bon, the ulterior Buddhism. So the three jewels in conjunction with their anti-jewels give rise to the Meta-system which is a set of endless complementaries. (See Complementarity by Arkady Plotnitsky). The deeper ground beyond the Basis Source, Origin revealed by the Fourth Turning is revealed. The Basis, Source, Origin are a figure on this Ground.

Did I mention that the Western worldview is a meta-worldview, it is not merely a world like other worlds, which are destroyed continually along with their languages by colonization, global economic war and globalization. The Western worldview gobbles up other worlds and destroys them extremely efficiency and that is because we are actually living in a meta-worldview. That meta-worldview has its roots in  settled Egypt, Sumeria, nomadic Semitic and Indo-European worlds. At the traditional center of western civilization, i.e. the Middle East there was a blending of the various worlds that abided there where humans met Nanderthals and interbred. We have only recently became aware of what the writings of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians contained which were recently retrieved from Oblivion. So now we know quite a bit more abut the deeper roots of the Western worldview. And if we say that it is a meta-worldview we are also saying it is a meta-system or OpenScape as well. Therefore, as the Fifth turning deals with meta-systems beyond the Special Systems, so to it can deal with the world dominant meta-system called the Western worldview.

M. Henry in his book The Essence of Manifestation, argues against Heidegger that there is a part of Manifestation that does not ever reveal itself, never becomes manifest, but is therefore implicitly manifest within manifestation itself by its very holding itself away from manifestation. He equates this with the Godhead of Meister Eckhart. He says that Heidegger’s fundamental assumption is Ontological Monism, or Badiou criticizes Deleuze for saying that Being is Univocal, where he is following Aristotle. Badiou wants to introduce a true heterogeneity prior to any numericallity called the Multiple. Henry only wants to introduce what amounts to the ontological unconscious which he calls the Essence of Manifestation. This Essence which is the opposite of manifestation itself cannot be utterly nondual, so we specify that there is something deeper than either of these called the Amanifest, which neither shows itself nor does not show itself, yet both shows itself and hides. In other words the Amanifest is the tetralemma applied to manifestation. This idea has resonances with The aconceptual mind: Heideggerian themes in holistic naturalism By Pauli Pylkkö. Except here we are trying to avoid all dualisms, even the dual to Manifestation which would be the Unmanifest, or the equivalent to the unconscious of manifestation. Of course, we could construct a Greimas Square and contrast Anti-Manifest to Non-Manifest and produce the Chasm of Non-Anti-manifest and Anti-Non-Manifest but this is unnecessary since I don’t think we can go beyond this finite level because our ability to conceptualize fails us. And also it is unnecessary to go any further because we have reached the Meta-system, and what is on the other side of the meta-system, only the singularity of Ultra Being (ultra-one for Badiou) which by the way is also prior to the System, and is the limit of the entire series of Systems that are interlaced with the Meta-levels of Being. So this is why it is Ultra Being that appears at the level of the fifth turning, i.e. it is the generation of the singularity of illusion, for instance the iron ball that gives rise to the hundred cousins of the Pandavas. These are as the Greeks are called autocathonic. They stand opposite the Trojans who are the Pandvas the children of the Gods married to the same woman (Helen had five lovers we are told my myth) which the Avatar Krishna helps.

It is from the advent of Ultra Being, existing illusion and delusion, that causes the straying from Manifestation into the morass quicksand known as Maya/Mara, Dukka, Dunya which is straying into the meta-system or OpenScape beyond the belief and thought systems that strive to make life coherent which are the religions.

Dzogchen believes that primordial wisdom (Skt. jñāna) abides in us all just as we are without taking on anything, which is a very Chan/Zen like position to take. In DzogChen there is no distinction of meditation from any other activities, just like in Chan/Zen. In effect one could argue that DzogChen is the Zen of Tibet developed out of Tantra. The Tibetans early rejected Chinese Buddhism, and so they would have to produce their own version if the were to reach that level of spiritual development. Of course, there are many differences between Chan/Zen and DzogChen but the fundamental similarity at a deep level is striking. This is a story similar to Buddha nature being in everyone, but with the twist that it does not have to be Buddha nature as we know it, but something beyond Buddha nature that means you don’t have to be a Buddhist to partake in it.

We are just at the beginning of understanding the nature of the fifth turning of Buddhism but I believe that it is a Homecoming in the sense that Buddhism sprung as a heresy from one branch of the Indo-European worldview, and now it is returning to a different branch, that of the Western Meta-Worldview. Since the Western Worldview itself does not understand that it has a nondual core due to the fragmentation of Being, and the fact that the Special Systems separate the meta-levels of Being from each other. But the Western worldview has become a meta-worldview and thus a meta-system, and the only place to go for the fifth turning is to the level of the meta-system, and so I predict that Buddhism will yet again transform and have a flouring in the west as it and other nondual faiths exploit the nonduality in the heart of the Western worldview. Embody the nonduality of nonduality in nonduality and stand in the core of the Western worldview and it will transform around you because duality is like the desert of the godhead of Meister Eckhart, and the boliing of the godhead is like the production of nihilism, and the appearance of the nondual avatar is like the appearance of Christ or Krishna. As Jung says Christ is the nature of the Self in the Western worldview, and we all have to deal with it. He also said that we have to deal with the archetypes of our own tradition and it is impossible to substitute other archetypes from other traditions for our own night monsters and goblins. Nietzsche wrote that the fundamental duality in Greek Culture, and thus our culture was between Apollo and Dionysus. But, we think of Apollo as the good of Reason forgetting that he was the wolf god of initiations. Thus both Apollo and Dionysus are not exactly the most savory characters. But in the Hindu Tradition they are Brahma and Shiva. And the primal scene of that tradition has Vishnu, like Blake’s Albion, sleeping. He is asleep on an ocean floating on the back of a serpent with many heads, i.e. the dragon of existence. Vishnu is the nondual manifestation of the Godhead beyond the duality of Brahma and Shiva or Apollo and Dionysus. Below Existence is the ocean upon which Vishnu sleeps, i.e. manifestation. And there are unmanifest depths to that ocean. But the surface of the ocean which is a mirror from both sides is the Amanifest. In Hua Yen this is known as images in the depths of the ocean. The analogy here is the Birds and the Fishes. When it is calm the fish look up and see reflections of themselves and the blur of the  flock of birds above the surface mingling with their own reflections. When it is calm the birds look up and see reflections of themselves and the blur of schools of fish below the surface mingling with their own reflections. The two sets of reflections and dark vague shapes mingle in the surface of the sea. There is only that surface. I call it the cliff edge of existence from which you see the surface of the sea of manifestation. There is the manifestation of the entire sea, but its depths are unmanifest. However the surface with all its reflections and ominous darknesses is Amanifest because the two sets of reflections and shadows cancel out.

Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas.

“3. Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.”

“8. And he said, “The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!””

“20. The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what Heaven’s kingdom is like.”
He said to them, “It’s like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it falls on prepared soil, it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.”” Marvin Meyer Translation

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Quora answer: Why are there so many sex scandals among American Zen communities (cults)?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I would like to say that nonduality supports and is a resource for morality. Immoral behavior always sets up a duality perpetuator/victim for example. Therefore, the scandals in the Zen community, like all other communities in pursuit of nonduality merely shows us who is and who is not a genuine teacher in terms of the most basic level were we are dealing with human desires. Immoral  behavior is all to human, and should be expected, but not accepted. The idea that we have here in the US that Zen is anti-institutional (which is of course an illusion if we look at its history in the East) should not blind us to abuses within (zen, or any other) cults which are all to prevalent in our society, and should not be tolerated as it casts doubt on the nondual way and causes disparagement of the Dharma.

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Quora answer: How does one practice Dzogchen meditation?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Technically speaking DzogChen does not believe that there is any difference between meditation and non-meditation, in this way it is like Zen. It does not believe that there is any difference between the two truths, i.e. mundane reality and emptiness as ultimate reality of existence. DzogChen says that there is a deeper ground, called the basis, or primordial awareness which in which the nonduals emptiness and void are the same. Just like in Zen it is said that this state can be transmitted from practitioner to student directly.

Now of course in Tibetan Buddhism there is a lot of meditation that goes on prior to this, and tantric practices of the imagination as well. And this type of Buddhism is considered the highest type, after you have mastered and learned all the other practices and theories. It is the highest because in DzogChen you step beyond Buddhism, because it is an approach to things that can be practiced either by Bon adherents or Buddhists. But there is not that much difference between these two religions, at this pont. Bon has been assimilated into Bon. The difference is not like that between Buddhism and Taoism in China.

In Dzogchen there is a key saying that Mind is like Space, which is to say that the emptiness of mind is like the Void of Space. This is the formula that captures the idea that emptiness and void are ultimately the same. When you realize two duals are ultimately the same that is nihilism. But when you recognize nonduals as the alternative to the extreme artificial opposites of Buddhism and Taoism for instance which pursue different nondual goals, then instead of alienation, anomie, you get unfolding of meaning instead. Nihilism saps meaning from the world, but Nonduals when recognize become the fount of meanings flowing into the lifeworld.

In DzogChen they speak of non-fabrication, non-elaboration, self-removal of impediments to the recognition of the primordial awareness beyond the difference between emptiness and void. I call that Manifestation, following M. Henry in The Essence of Manifestation who is in turn following Meister Eckhart.

Meister Eckhart talks about the Godhead. We can think of this as the fourth point of a tetrahedron that has the trinity as its base. In Hinduism it is called the Nirguna Brahman. Nirguna means without characteristics. Where the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have characteristics, the Godhead does not. This is more in line with the ideas of pseudo-Dionysus than with the Western Catholic church. So the Inquisition, you know the one who the current Pope was head of before he was elected Pope, almost got Meister Eckhart, and he is still an outcast from the Catholic Church. ( Like so many Christian Heretics, he was so much more wise than his persecutors who were in fact evil. To my mind he is the wisest of those who called for the recognition of nonduality in the Western tradition. He drew quite a bit on the Sufis of his day, as did the Franciscans, but he was a Dominican. Now if the Trinity is really a tetrahedron, i.e. the minimal solid at the next higher dimension, i.e. in three dimensions, and the godhead is the fourth point, then precisely like the argument concerning logic by Nagarjuna, what is at the center of that triangle or tetrahedron is emptiness. In Logic it is and, or, nor, and nand that are the logical operators that form a tetrahedron, the discontinuities between which shows that emptiness is at the center of what ever is differentiated. Being is differentiated and thus is empty at its core, thus nondual in its kernel. Same is true for the trinity with or without the Godhead. The Godhead is not unity, not completeness, but the undifferentiated ground that the three persons of the trinity arise from. Eckhart characterizes that manifestation as a boiling of the desert of non-characterized non-attributed Thatness of Existence. The emptiness is in the center of the triangle, or the tetrahedron and is there because of the discontinuities between the elements of the trinity, or the quadrinity, or what ever we imagine about God in our theological fantasies. The Godhead is like Badiou’s idea of the Multiple. It is what is there before there is a ONE arises to claim unites the three persons of the trinity. But emptiness is not in any of these elements, but rather appears as the interstice between the elements as they are differentiated from each other. So Being is fragmented and thus empty and thus nondual at its kernel, and the same goes for the Supreme Being and his avatar, the Christ worshiped by the Paulists. This is an Indo-European notion, as we can see with Odin who hung on his horse the WorldTree Yaddrasil for nine days and nights as a sacrifice from himself to himself in order to gain the secret of the Runes. It just so happened that the Paulist legend concerning Christ which combined Messianic Judaism and Mithrism struck a chord in the Indo-European psyche.

So recognition of the Godhead, Nirguna Brahman, implies emptiness as Eckhart saw and discussed in his works. If you are having a mystical experience or some ideas about God that get fulfilled somehow, that is in fact illusion, because emptiness stands between us and the Godhead, and that is aconceptual and aexperiential. So no experience or concept can reach him including trinity, oneness, goodness, and transcendental characteristics we assume that God has as the Supreme Being of our Ontotheological Metaphysics (as Heidegger calls it).

So what does this have to do with DzogChen? All this is fabrications, elaborations of primordial awareness of manifestation. As M. Henry says following Eckhart, there is a part of manifestation, it’s essence that never manifests. And that is what is called the Nirguna Brahman, or the Godhead. It never manifests and there is an uncrossable sea of emptiness between the Persons of the Trinity and the unconscious of the trinity prior to its personhood and differentiation. Affirming the unity and oneness of God is just a way of trying to reclaim that prior undifferentiatedness. But this whole structure, is an elaboration or a fabrication about something we by definition cannot know anything about if God is the Absolute. All we can know is what is the opposite of the absolute which is contingency and limitation exists for everything else besides the Absolute. DzogChen says that such contraptions of the mind naturally are set free, and obliterate themselves. Of course, not without a struggle. It is equivalent to saying that there is entropy and all structures of experience and concept will fall prey to entropy eventually, because that is the lowest energy state and things tend toward that optima. It is just like the surface of a Bubble. It naturally goes to the optimal surface area which is the lowest energy state. In a similar fashion all delusions, illusions, projections, all naturally unfold themselves and unknot themselves and evaporate. DzogChen embodies that free and natural flow of unbinding, relaxation of distortions and un-knotting. All this is natural to the fourth dimension for instance, and so DzogChen is like a viewpoint on things seeing them unbinding and turning inside out in the fourth dimension. In fact, I realized the other day that turning inside out to reveal all that is hidden is the rotation of time in the fourth dimension, which can be seen as orthogonal to time as a line or circle in Metaphysics. Of course this is what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel of Thomas which is pre-Q. And it is what Nietzsche has Zarathustra see when he descends to the Sea, and looks at its Oblivion, and what is hidden there which will be revealed.

Hopefully bringing in these other religious motifs help clarify rather than rendering the subject more obscure. But the whole thing is pretty obscure to begin with especially if you read Buddhist DzogChen texts, that seem to me completely impossible to understand. I base my understanding on the first book of DzogChen by Manjushrimitra, and Mipham, and a modern Bon practitioner, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

I have only read his book, and it made sense to me, more than the Buddhist DzogChen books. So this is no endorsement, since I have no idea what he is like in person.

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Quora answer: How important is meditation to Buddhism?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

There has been a basic misunderstanding of the relation of theory to practice in Buddhism, due to how it was introduced into the USA from the 1960s on, and due to cultural proclivities that lured us toward it.

If we look back on the history of Buddhism we can see that theory and practice always went together hand in hand, as we might expect from something that claims to follow the middle way. In other words nothing is to be rejected, not even thought, reasoning, conceptualization. And these are only satisfied if the mediator and the philosopher work together to define the new states of consciousness that are discovered in the meditation laboratory. And that is precisely what has happened in the history of Buddhism, the Buddha has been saying more and more interesting things throughout the ages. But of course we know that it was different schools defining each other against the others and competing for adherents. It is in this way that Buddhist Philosophy became so subtle. It started off pointing at nonduality from the illusory structure of the Indo-European worldview. But as time went on it refined this idea of nonduality a lot, so later versions of Buddhism were extremely sophisticated. The pinnacle of this development in my opinion is Hua Yen of Fa Tsang. This becomes one of the main theoretical foundations of Chan/Zen. And so when Chan/Zen was introduced it was based on this very developed form, which was said to reject all the sutras, which appealed to us, but was in fact wrong. One was not just one in one school of Buddhism but one could at the same time draw from several. For instance Zen and Pure Land seem so different but they were practiced together. And one of the sutra schools would be chosen as the theoretical background for that practice. It was not that Reason,and Theory was left out of account, but rather that these had developed to such a subtle and sophisticated level that no one saw how they could be improved. So they just became the assumed background. In Soto tradition there was more of this theorizing, than in Renzai, but still both drew their inspiration from these sutras, for instance the Platform Sutra of Hui Neng is very sophisticated even though it appears to be rustic.

Let us just think for a moment. If you don’t have a any concept of what you are doing, how are you going to do it? From a Phenomenological point of view, noesis and noema always combine meaning and sensory content. There is no such thing as stopping the mind from operating. It is as Dzong Ka Pa said, reason plays a specific role in enlightenment process. The Lankavatra suttra pushed by Bodhi Dharma which talks about Mind Only but which has the practice of stopping cognition is a Buddhist heresy because it departs from the middle way. The Buddha describes his own enlightenment journey in terms of words, and that meant it was intelligible to him, and could be expressed in words that indicated concepts.

Meditation in Hinayana entailed things like sitting around and watching corpses decompose in order to understand ones own mortality. Mahayana transformed the meaning of meditation though various more sophisticated theories that sought consistency in the doctrine of Buddhism. One of the things that assures us that we know what the Buddha really said is the inconsistency in it.
Abidharma  analyzes all the sutras and attempts to work out the consistency of the Buddhas teaching at a superficial level.

But it was the philosophers who worked to give it deeper consistency, and to do that they had to go more deeply into the phenomena, there they discovered deeper states of consciousness, which in turn led to more sophisticated theories, and so on until we get to probably the most subtle way of looking at existence in the world, because of its refinement from the time of the Buddha right up until the present, since it was kept alive by the Tibetans, who developed a kind of Anti-zen, in which meditation is given up all together. Saying that you are to be mindful all the time is a step in that direction. In DzogChen there is no difference between Meditation and Non-Meditation, no difference between emptiness and form, no difference between the two truths.

But we have come to a turning point where we need to go beyond the fourth turning of the Wheel to a fifth turning, that is in consonance with the return of Buddhism to the other Indo-European branch which as rejected Non-Duality so vehemently. That new turning needs to take the Homeward path back to the nondual core of the Western worldview that appears when we realize that Zen/Chan and DzogChen as duals point to a deeper nondual beyond Emptiness and Void. There is no meditation at that more profound level, both Zen/Chan and DzogChen have gotten beyond that each in their own way, when they accomodated themselves to Taoism/Bon/Shintoism.

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Quora answer: If Godel, Escher, Bach could be updated to explain modern ideas of creativity, what names should be substituted and why?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Godel Escher and Bach (GEB) are perfect names for what Hofstadter wants to say, that has not changed, and is not likely to change any time soon, because he picked the three people in math/logic, art, and music that exemplified the same point, and the whole point of the book is to show that in different media they were doing the same thing, which was producing paradoxical images of the limits of human experience and reason. For me the most interesting part was the connection to music because I had not appreciated that about Bach previously.





It was the playfulness of the book, and the way he blends many examples together to show that these structures are intrinsic to our ways of cognition. But this is a perfect example of what I call the limit of the divided line of Plato which is the paradoxical limit.

The divided line is the center of the Western worldview in the metaphysical era.

The line A is the the limit on the side of DOXA (opinion, appearance). That limit is Contradiction, Paradox and even Absurdity. GEB is about the fact that this limit has structure, it is not just a blank wall but has depth given by the problems of self-reference in logic, and these very problems can be seen in the art work of Escher and the fugues of Bach. The other end of the Divided Line where the RATIO ends is the Supra-rational which we normally do not talk about in our culture but we can see operative in Zen Koans for instance.

The key image of hands drawing each other from Escher describes the essence of this limit of paradox via mutual self reference very well. The paper is two dimensional. But the illusion of  each hand becoming three dimensional, suggests each is drawing the other. thus it is a kind of Chicken and Egg paradox because one hand could not draw the other unless it had already been drawn. If there is not enough hand to draw then the other hand cannot be drawn, and so we find a moment in flight, so to speak, as in Zeno’s Paradoxes which can have no reasonable origin. Also this is the right hand drawing the left hand and vice versa: Dexterous and Sinister. The right hand is drawing right and the left hand is drawing left. The left hand looks more awkward which we would expect. But this should not be a problem in drawing because there is no right handed bias. However, if a right handed drawer were to draw with his left hand he would be awkward. So we can expect that these are in fact the hands  of Escher himself. If this is the case then the two hands are those of the creator of the work, and thus he is drawing a part of himself, and this is self-reference giving rise to mutual reference that prevents an origin.

It is quite clear when we look at Escher’s two hands drawing each other that there are two different elements in this paradox of mutual self-reference. In effect a paradox is two contradictions mixed, and an absurdity is two paradoxes mixed. We see this in N. Hellerstein’s Diamond and Delta logics where there are two paradoxes not one, and when we combine these into a mixture then we get the absurdity which is a singularity.

You notice that in the logical square there are two contradictories that are structurally held apart by the contraries and the entailment. But if these mix then there is paradox. But Paradox as Hellerstein shows also come in pairs, if we accept his interpretation of the Laws of Form’s logic from G. Spencer-Brown. and similarly if we mix the paradoxes we get absurdity. This mixture can occur through self-reference as Godel’s Diagonalization shows.


And this mixture can occur by recursion …

… or mirroring as in Citizen Kane.

Or a spiral in time . . .

There is a difference between reflexivity and reflectivity. Reflexivity involves an action, where as reflectivity merely involves the manipulation of light that may not involve an action, as in the scene above. This is like the difference between illusion and delusion. Illusion does not require action, but if you act on illusions then you become deluded.

An example of reflexive theory is the works of B. Sandywell.

For other examples of Reflexive Theories see


List of . . .


Of course the real master of this Genre is Joseph Heller.

See other references on self-reference. Each of their covers indicate the book itself which is about self-reference. And each book has a title printed on it that indicates what book it is. Thus the title on a book is a self-reference, and it only becomes an other reference in a citation, or catalogue, in some media outside the book itself. Many novels include their own titles within themselves as part of the text not just the title of the book. An example of this is the The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón,

================ Other works on Self-Reference ==================


Thomas Bolander, Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen

Self-reference: reflections on reflexivitySteven J. Bartlett, Peter Suber

The Death of Philosophy: Reference and Self-Reference in Contemporary Thought Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel

Reflexivity: the post-modern predicament Hilary Lawson
Raymond M. Smullyan

Diagonalization and self-reference

Raymond M. Smullyan

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Quora answer: What are some socially acceptable addictions?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I up voted those who said reading. I have always been addicted to reading. But there is no 12 step program for readers. It is considered laudable, and and there is no help for those for whom it has gotten out of hand. What goes with that is the addiction to buying books. And what also goes with that is writing copiously thinking you have something unique to contribute but the results of which no one is interested in but oneself. And what goes with that is intellectual loneliness, if one happens to live in an anti-intellectual society, and are not part of academia. And what goes with that is a consequent addiction to social media. And what goes with that is neglect of other things that one should be doing in life.

There is a viscous cycle with regard to this addiction. First, one reads a good book, concerning a subject one is fascinated with. Then you get all excited, and you read another book referenced in the first book that looked interesting. One thing leads to another and you have read all the available books about that subject. So now you know a whole lot about something no one cares about but yourself. But while you were reading about that subject you managed to get side tracked in other subjects, and so having exhausted everything written about the first subject you then get lost in the second subject, and so it goes from subject to subject in this never ending cycle, because no more is it possible to read everything about everything. 

But there is a problem which is that most of the books or articles on a given subject are not worth reading. So finding something that is actually worth spending your time reading is difficult. This leads to endless searching for the right book, on a given subject, or the best article. And so before you know it you are spending more time searching than actually reading.

But then a strange phenomena occurs that was noted by Gregory Bateson in Mind and Nature which is that one starts to actually pursue two subjects simultaneously, because the subjects worth reading about are piling up faster than they can be absorbed, and you notice the phenomena that Bateson noticed which is you get better information about two subjects by studying them simultaneously. And so you start to have ideas about interesting connections between subjects that no one noticed before. And this is very problematic because one starts to think that one should capture these insights. So one gets a notebook and writes them down, and then another notebook, and so on until you have stacks of notebooks full of little known ideas, that no one cares about but you. And that is because the others are not reading significant works.

So you get an idea that you would like to write down these ideas that are stacking up, and starting to reinforce each other, and taking on a life of their own. So one day you put pen to paper and the flood gates open, and you write and write and you realize you are not just addicted to reading but also writing, but you have no audience, because no one knows what you are talking about. But what you learn is that writing itself is a source of even more ideas. In fact, the flood gates of writing causes a deluge of new ideas that you would never have had if you had not started writing, and so you realize that when ever you have an idea you need to try to write a short working paper on it. But those papers get longer and longer until you have a few thousand page books that you don’t know anyone who is interested in reading. So you put them on the internet, people download them, but very few comment about what they have read, so you don’t get any feedback.

But then the worst thing happens, you actually discover something significant. This is where a run of the mill out of control addiction becomes a real horror story. Since you think you have something to say of significance, after years of ideas that were interesting but not “significant” then you start going to conferences and publishing papers and giving talks. Of course, everyone at those conferences has their own ideas, and so they are not really interested in your significant idea, so you continue to publish and go to conferences, but really all you can do is to continue to research your significant idea, and it becomes more and more significant, and connects to more and more things, until you believe that it is the best thing since sliced bread. Once you think that your “significant”idea has become the center of the universe and the key to understanding everything, then one starts to be seen as a crackpot. Because like the rhyme of the ancient mariner one is going around and grabbing wedding guests and sitting them down and letting them know about this idea that you have that is going to change the world. Of course, wedding guests that will sit transfixed while you tell your story are rare, and people start avoiding you so they do not get harangued, and slowly but surely one enters ones own world, which is different from everyone else’s world, because it is a world in which things make sense to oneself, which do not make sense to anyone else. It is at this point that one starts to see scenes in movies where there is a wall with bits of paper glued to it of every sort that makes a mess, but which to you makes perfect sense. And you realize that you have entered the twilight zone of the Perfect Mind like John Nash and others before you have entered, and found it difficult to leave.

And there are others in this world whom you can talk to and who become your friends. People who also had “significant” even “crucial” ideas but who were socially accepted, at least after their deaths, and a few during their lifetimes, and who were rehabilitated by the tradition and become part of the Canon. These others have names like Plato, or Kant, or Hegel, or Heidegger, or Husserl, or Merleau-Ponty, or Sartre, or Bataille, or Badiou, or Zizek and others too numerous to recount. They become more real than the people around you because they actually had something significant to say too, but everyone thinks they were significant, but no one things that what ever you have to say is significant. But secretly you know that what ever idea you have had is just as significant as theirs, in fact it explains what their ideas really mean.

If one had only listend to all those skeptical souls who said it was better to go to the beach, one might have avoided this state of affairs. One could have avoided walking down the street and seing Kant, or Descartes in the coffeeshop. Or Heidegger cleaning windows outside the bookstore one has taken refuge in. One looks around at the customers that are there with you in the last bookstore on earth, all seeming to have a similar desperation, as they search though the bookshelves looking for something to read. But you don’t find any self-help books on reading addictions, or the horror of becoming a crackpot, or how to market your idea within the market place of attention, because all the books are about how to crate a business that sells something tangible, like sliced bread.

But then one day one realizes that the fact that everyone is walking around like zombies in a perpetual daze, not seeing the world that is right before their eyes, is not ones own problem. One did not make them blind and ignorant of their own worldview, one was just as ignorant as they are at some point. And one realizes that the world is unlikely to change, not matter how good one’s “significant” idea is, and one stops caring whether anyone gets it or not. It has been published on the web, it is there written down for those who are interested to pursue if they desires, and so one can return to one’s quest for more knowledge, and deeper understanding of the nature of the worldview. And so the cycle begins again. One returns to ones friends, the ones who understood, their worldview, the ones that have said something significant and others realized it mostly after their deaths. And that makes one wonder about ones own death, and this causes a bad case of authenticity which is hard to shake, but eventually that too passes.

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What are some of the most famous uses of maps?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Map of Middle Earth

This map probably modeled on the West coast of Britain was where the Lord of the Rings saga took place. That Saga took place in a world already invented in the Silmarillion. ( Tolkein was however not just an explorer of space but also time, as he was experimenting with Dunne’s ideas of multi-dimensional time, and each character has a slightly different understanding of time in Lord of the Rings.

For more on that see

Time in the Stone of Suleiman
by Verlyn Flieger

The rhetoric of vision: essays on Charles Williams
By Charles Adolph Huttar, Peter J. Schakel p.75

So Lord of the Rings is also a map of time.

See also . . .

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Quora answer: Who is the most interesting literary critic?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Harold Bloom

Especially for . . .

A Map of Misreading. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.

The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. New York: Oxford University

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Quora answer: What exactly is the distinction between nihilism and skepticism?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Skepticism is the old strawman and Nihilism is the new strawman. The strawman is the thing that everyone attacks but does not really take seriously. It used to be almost every philosophy book would start out by attacking skepticism. But then David Hume came along and Kant took him seriously and Philosophy got a lot more complicated as a result and took an Idealistic spin in order to solve the problems raised by Hume, and suddenly Skepticism was no longer the strawman because it was realized that the overcoming of Skepticism could actually boost philosophy into a new level, and so skeptics were taken seriously. Besides that Hegel based this modern dialectics on the work of Sextus Empiricus (a classical skeptic) as a way of understanding ancient dialectics. Nihilism appeared as the new scape goat, but of course is worse that skepticism. Gorgias becomes the new key figure ( which is the closest thing to a nihilist in the ancient world. People like Gorgias who deny everything are called Academics in Skepticism. They are seen as the opposite of Dogmatics who affirm something about invisibles like Parmenides for instance. Because Nihilists appear in Skepticism it is possible to draw a distinction between them. For Plato, these various characters appear in Dialogues. In many of these Socrates becomes the main voice to which others merely agree. But in some poems other characters take the lead, like the Sophist, Parmenides, and the Laws. In these dialogues the Author and Narrator are hidden behind a veil, and we feel as if we are listening to a conversation between the characters, with Socrates being the hero of the piece. We are just so lucky to have these works whose meanings we are still plumbing. Of all these characters it is Gorgias who comes the closest to being a real nihilist. He like Nagarjuna negates everything. But Gorgias does so just to show off his powers of rhetoric, whereas Najarguna has the purpose of pointing at emptiness. Gorgias makes the radical claim:

The argument has largely been seen as an ironic refutation of Parmenides’ thesis on Being. Gorgias set out to prove that it is as easy to demonstrate that being is one, unchanging and timeless as it is to prove that being has no existence at all.”

“Gorgias begins his argument by presenting a logical contradiction, “if the nonexistent exists, it will both exist and not exist at the same time” (B3.67) (a violation of the principle of non-contradiction). He then denies that existence (to on) itself exists, for if it exists, it is either eternal or generated. If it is eternal, it has no beginning, and is therefore without limit. If it is without limit, it is “nowhere” (B3.69), and hence does not exist. And if existence is generated, it must come from something, and that something is existence, which is another contradiction. Likewise, nonexistence (to mê on) cannot produce anything (B3.71). The sophist then explains that existence can neither be “one” (hen) or “many” (polla), since if it were one, it would be divisible, and therefore not one. If it were many, it would be a “composite of separate entities” (B3.74) and no longer the thing known as existence.”

We know that Parmenides, as has been said in other answers, has three ways: Being, Appearance and Non-Being (existence). Parmenides denies all the other ways than Being. And Zeno develops arguments that show that if there is motion then there is argument. Gorgias used Paradox actively in his arguments, and appealed to Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction to prove his points. We have shown tentatively that these three ways line up with the Existentiels of Heidegger which are Rede (Chatter, Opinion, Appearance), Befindlichkeit (Existence, what is found), and Verstehen (intelligibility equals Being for Parmenides). Now when we look at the denial of Gorgias we see:

to me on (non-being) as a statement and this is the same as existence. (befindlichkeit)

The next denial is concerning knowledge which relates to verstehen and intellligibility which is the identification of thought with Being. He is denying intelligibly a basis characteristic of Being. Since knowledge is the most stable of anything in our experience, this is a big denial. It is also a denial of learning the process of attaining knowledge. (verstehen)

Next he denies communicability of knowledge, even if it existed. Communication as it was known in the Ancient world was talk (Rede).

Finally Gorgias denies the incentive to communicate. This seems to go beyond the three Existentiels. But we must remember that the mysterious Goddess that is teaching Parmenides is probably Persuasion. Persuasion is based on Rhetoric, and it is precisely the attempt to plant an incentive in the hearer.

Heidegger says that the core of the Existentiels is Care. To have care is to have incentive, to have within oneself rather than to be persuaded. Thus Dasein is authentic to the extent that he extracts himself from the They (mitsein) to concentrate on its own cares in the face of death.

So where Gorgias exceeds the ways of Parmenides gives us more information about the Existentiels that we would have otherwise, and makes us remember the Door which at which Parmenides meets the Goddess, whom some have said is probably Persuasion. In Persuasion you care what others do and you want to give them incentives to act the way you think they should act. Basically you care enough to make an argument attempting to persuade them.

Now lets look at these four ways, and see if they are not like the four ways that Plato discusses in his Timaeus and the Sophist.

In each beginning of the Timaeus there is a different kind of Being that is indicated. In the beginning the contrast is between Parmenidian stasis and Heraclitian flux. But when Plato begins again he talks about a third kind of Being which is synonymous with Hyper Being or Difference of Derrida, or -B-e-i-n-g- crossed out of Heidegger. When Plato begins again he does not talk about a fourth kind of Being but he is talking about nature and if read carefully we can see in it hints of the fourth kind of Being in the text when we contrast it to the other beginnings.

Notice that we might compose an interleaving as follows:

beings, men of earth
befindlichkeit, existence, to me on, Defense of Palamedes, means did not exist to do permit treason, System of things.

Pure Being, Parmenidian Stasis, greater mystery
verstehen, intelligibility, thought, knowledge as process of learning (dissipative ordering SS)
Process Being, Heraclitian Flux, lesser mysteries
rede, communication, chatter, nihilism, inauthenticity (autopoietic SS, cf Luhmann)
Hyper Being, Differance, -B-e-i-n-g- crossed out
incentive, persuasion, inclination, tendency, Care dispoistion (reflexive social SS)
Wild Being, Hierophant who initiates
Goddess at Gate, door to meta-system (DUAT). Helen child of Zeus and Leda (defended, we are persuaded of her innocence in the Encomium)
Ultra Being, God of the cult being initiated into.

So what we are seeing here when we compare Gorgias, Parmenides and the Existentiels of Heidegger is the correspondance with the Special Systems.

This is quite unexpected.

Gorgias brings the Antimony to Parmenides and in that preserves the structure of his own argument, and allows us to undersand more than we would have otherwise. His Academic nihilism is merely the inversion and negation of the the positive argument of Parmenides the Dogmatist. To this Sextus Empiricus introduces a third way which is similar to Buddhism in many ways. Basically the skeptic wants to keep the dialectic going at all costs and will even say things he does not really believe to keep the argument going. The skeptic is content in the process of the argument of the dialectic continuing. The Skeptic is the one who like Kant is critical of the Dogmatist and the Academic both. But since he will say what he does not really believe to keep the argument going he is seen as a threat to serious philosophical argumentation.

In general the Skeptic is the one whose words cannot be believed, and so you never know what he believes because he will keep the dialectic going at all costs, and he finds peace in that exploitative process, as long as it continues. He does not believe it will reach a conclusion, but is satisfied that the participants are trying.

The Nihilist on the other hand is one who is an academic and so will deny anything like Gorgias just for the heck of it. He is the one who has lost all meaning in his world, ultimately. Nihilism ends up with Alienation, Anomie or Madness. For instance, the obsession with Nihilism in Will to Power eventually drove Nietzsche insane. Achilles on the other hand loses meaning when he sees that the Acheans are no better than the Trojans (both steal women), and his response is doing nothing in the midst  of war (alienation from his comrades), and then Berzerker Mode once his friend Patroclus is killed (Madness). Alienation sometimes results in serial killings, suicides that take others with them, because the blame is projected outside the individual and exists in society.

Deleuze and Guattari deal with socially induced madness in Capitolism and Schizophrenia trying to understand it and create a philosophy at the level of Wild Being.

Badiou ( [Being and Event, transl. by Oliver Feltham; (New York: Continuum, 2005)] and Zizek ( in their own ways are going beyond this to try to understand Ultra Being. In Badiou the ultra-one is the ONE which appears out of the Multiple, and produces the countable ones. The Multiple is the absoute heterogeneity that Deleuze did not attain for all his talk of difference [Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, transl. by Louise Burchill; (Minnesota University Press, 1999)]. Zizek on the other hand uses Lacans (; idea of jousissance and other tropes to describe singularities within the field psyche expressed by the registers Imaginary Symbolic and Real that form a Borromean Ring (

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Quora answer: What does it feel like to attend a world-renowned university?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I went to a world renowned university that no one knows about here in the USA.

It is called University of London. But because it is broken up into a number of Colleges all over London, no one quite notices that it is there. And certainly few in the US know it exists, because somehow they think that there is only Oxford and Cambridge that are “world renowned”.

For instance in this list it is broken up

But actually it is just one big institution

“The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. The teaching is carried by the 19 Colleges and Institutes that comprise the University.  When studying with the University you belong to a particular College as well as the University of London itself.” 


“Between the Colleges and Institutes we have over 120,000 students studying over 3700 courses. Not all of our students are actually located in London either: some study at the University of London Institute in Paris or in the Marine Biological station in Millport, Scotland and we have over 50,000 students studying by distance and flexible learning in 180 countries with the University of London International Programmes.”

So hopefully this will establish the University of London as world renowned, well except for those who live in the USA.

Of the schools that make up the University of London I attended the London School of Economics.

The Fulbright Commission states that “The London School of Economics and Political Science is the leading social science institution in the world”

These rankings would be higher I am sure if the various colleges were aggregated. We do not talk about individual colleges in Oxford or Cambridge.

Anyway, what was it like from1973 to 1982?

First of all it is in London which is the Culture capital of the world. So there are lots of cultural things to do there. But the flip side of that is that there is no student life. You only see other students in class. So the real draw of the University of London is in fact the cultural life of London. The school has become much bigger than I was there, but at that time it was almost invisible down an alley way, with fairly old buildings, but famous faculty. The most famous professor I actually had was Gellner who sent his time making fun of Wittgenstein (

If you are a student at one School you can take classes at any of the schools of the University of London so I audited classes at Kings College about Philosophy of Science, the schools speciality when I was there. I arrived just after Lakatos had Feyerabend teaching at the school. (; He died the year I arrived.) It was very popular at the school at that time so I oriented my research toward Philosophy of Science even though I was in Sociology, and that was allowed at the school at that time. Basically once you got in you could follow where ever your research took you. I was rare at that time because I was interested in Continental Philosophy and trying to apply it to understand philosophy of science problems. My dissertation was called The Structure of Theoretical Systems in relation to Emergence. (

Also you could use the libraries at Senate House, University College London, whose philosophy library is incredible. Basically they buy everything published in Philosophy within the commonwealth I believe. And across the street is the British Museum. So I would check philosophy books out of the Senate House library and then go across the street to read them in the British Museum Library, and anything they did not have was available in the British Museum Library. So basically any book was available, and so I dedicated myself to reading what ever fascinated me. Then when I was tired of reading I would go to movies. For instance you could walk across the Waterloo Bridge and go to the National Film Theater across the Thames. And there were myriad other cinemas, playhouses etc that one could pass the time with, and if you were not doing that then there were teashops, and pubs to visit. And just walking though London itself was a fascinating experience because there were people there from all over the world, and the architecture in every part of town was different based on when it was built. At that time there were lots of interesting bookstores and books were fairly cheap, even though they were dear on a students budget. I especially liked going to the various museums over and over to see the new exhibits, but also the permanent displays. In those days you could live in a bedsit for 10 pounds a week. So there was enough money to eat out every night at the myriad restaurants with foods from all over the world and to buy books. I got there before they raised the fees on International students and so I think my tuition was about about 250 pounds per semester, and after three or four years that went down to 10 pounds per semester continuation fees. My fees did not go up even though they raised them on new students so I lucked out on that score.

I went to do a masters. But when I went to my courses they handed out bibliographies of about 300 books for each of four classes. I asked my advisor how I could read 1200 books in a year, and he said that the other students had spent 3 years reading those books, and they were just suppose to brush up and read those that they had not read already. So when I asked how I could do that with only 24 units of Sociology before arriving, my advisor said one path was to try to get into the Ph.D. program because the masters was for those who did not want to go on to a Ph.D. So I transfered to M.Phil, and then to Ph.D. after I produced some papers that was the equivalent to writing a masters, but was just a rite of passage and not a degree. So I went on to do the Ph.D. I made the mistake of not writing anything until the end. And then I wrote too much and had trouble condensing it. Eventually I had to write on a subject that I did not know as well so that I would be limited in what I could write. I had written 1000 pages of working papers when I finally decided I had read enough, and then they asked me to summarize the argument in that, and that was a fairly long outline, and then I was asked to define my terms and I was in the letter C when I realized I would never graduate at this rate, so I picked another subject and wrote my dissertation on that and it passed, not without drama. And then I was done once the External had decided based on my orals that I actually knew what I was talking about. The orals went all over the place, and lasted a long time, several hours, and I was questioned about all kinds of things not even related to my dissertation. I was glad I had spent so much time reading irrelevant material because it allowed me to pass that exam. But when I was finished I asked my main advisor whether it had taken me too long to finish and he said I was about average. I think they had 15 years as the limit at that time and I came in at nine years. After the orals he said now I had a General Education and I could get on with my real studies. I was shocked at that because I thought I had specialized, but rather he saw that as laying the ground work for future research rather than an end point. And it is true I have gone on to do lots more research over the years in many subjects. I had picked a subject that fascinated me. When I read a book I read the things mentioned in that book that fascinated me. So I was always interested in what I was reading, and it took me all over the map in terms of subjects, but that was good because I knew about a lot of different subjects when it came to the wide ranging questions in the orals. Everything was based on the final Dissertation that had been written. No courses were necessary. Mastery of ones field was what was expected.

How to survive a thesis defence
Survive your viva

Preparing for the PhD Viva

When I was there I called up Ph.Ds from the USA from interlibrary loan and compared them to the ones I was reading at University of London. There was no comparison. This was extremely sobering to realize the difference between education in the UK and education in America. And I believe that the same kind of disparity exists between Germany and the UK. Defenses are public in Germany. In the UK it is by someone from another University. There is no departmental committee that one has to please. One  never knows who one’s external is going to be.

I did a PhD and did NOT go mad
Actually I did go Mad.

How not to get a PhD ..
I overestimated what it would take and did way more than was necessary in terms of writing, but in terms of the Oral exams I was glad I studied lots of irrelevant subjects.

Chances of getting a PH.D. — PhD ‘failure’ rates revealed

“At LSE, a 45 per cent qualification rate compares to the 67 per cent benchmark.”

Ph.D. Comic

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