Sunday, June 2, 2013

splitting



As the spider moves along the thread, as small sparks come forth from the fire, even so from this Self come forth all breaths, all worlds, all divinities, all beings. ~ Upanishad

By God I mean an absolutely infinite Being, that is, a substance consisting of an infinite number of attributes each of which expresses an eternal and infinite essence.
~ Spinoza; Ethics I Def. 6

Nondualism, one of the foundational tenets of Buddhism, is a philosophy of no-difference, i.e. one that holds there is no substantial difference between conceptually polarized opposites such as the transcendent and the immanent, the absolute and the relative, essences and appearances, subject and object, etc.   Individuals are conceptual abstractions, only as separate from Unity as waves are from the ocean rearing up from its unique and indivisible whole.

There is no transcendent or absolute Being or Truth in a genuinely nondualistic ontology; hence the godlessness of Buddhism that sets it apart from other religions, and even from science when it forgets that its postulates are mere conceptual abstractions. 

Nondualism does not take the content of any thought as “real”, as existing “out there” (or even “in here”!  It is not a form of solipsism).  It knows that, by compulsively mistaking immanence for transcendence, we populate the cosmos with figments of our own split-off imagination- with a God or Gods, atoms or quarks, and even with Emptiness.

In psychological terms, the tendency to run with part of the whole is called, simply, “splitting”.  It is the compartmentalization of experience into discrete and polarized objects of understanding, classified according to a reductive and random schema.  Splitting dissolves the complexity and ambiguity of human experience in favour of black and white solutions, an expeditious treatment that ill tolerates the quest and questions that normally arise in the course of a human life.

NO is the antidote to splitting, the sword that ultimately cuts two into one.  It negates the process of negation that is first expressed at birth as separation from the mother, then in the oppositional two-year old’s tantrum and later in adolescent sturm und drang.  Negation is the indispensable first step.  But it ultimately has to negate itself, to think beyond the threshold of any negation and simply think the gap.  

I am not a fan of Hegel but I found this quote (inspired by Spinoza) that says it well:

When man begins to philosophize, the soul must commence by bathing in this ether of the One Substance, in which all that man has held as true has disappeared; this negation of all that is particular, to which every philosopher must have come, is the liberation of the mind and its absolute foundation.
~ Hegel;  Lectures on the History of Philosophy



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