Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Glass of Water

This is such a nice quotation. I'm getting back into studying Zen. I'm a Tibetan Buddhist but the first ever book on Buddhism I read was Zen Mind Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. When I finally met Alan, whose fault it is (!) that I am a Buddhist, it all fell into place as he had been Suzuki's student in the late 60s to early 70s.

OOO fans: when Katagiri says “object” he means “ontically given.” It's really rather OOO, I feel.

The Buddhist way of seeing the world is quite different from the objective way that we usually see things. In the usual way of seeing, you look at a glass of water and say, “Oh yes, that is water.” Then maybe your mind compels you to be curious, so you study what water is: a chemical composition of hydrogen and oxygen. In order to study it, you have already acknowledged that water exists as an object with substance. First, you see that water exists, and then you study it objectively. The purpose of this scientific way is to have knowledge. Buddhism doesn't see water this way.
     Of course, Buddhism doesn't ignore the existence of water, but the purpose of Buddhism is to save us from suffering. So it explains that nothing has its own permanent substance, because all phenomena in the world are constantly appearing, disappearing, and changing based on the conditions functioning in a moment. If you study water according to Buddhism, you may say, “Well, as a human being I think it is water for me to drink, but if I were a fish I would think that it is my house, my world. To me it is water, but to a fish it is not water.” There are a hundred different ways to understand water, because a moment of existence is really complicated.
… When you examine something analytically, seeing it as an object, concept, or idea, you are not facing it vividly.

1 comment:

linmu said...

Hmmm. … Many of us westerners who studied Buddhism came first to it as an object outside of any normal experience. If we spent more time with-in it, moving around, looking and touching, we found it quite different from what we were prepared for. It seemed to allow “things” to be much more than the “things” we use rationality to grab hold of. For me the interdependence of objects was never as startling as the “emptiness” of the idea of objects.

It was some many years after leaving Thailand, (1972 - ’74 ish, ya I was one of those guys), that the sound of the bell made any kind of sense to me. Today it is just a sound, like any other. What is different is that all sound now has a quality that is completely separate from its cause, … in an OOO sense the bell the made the sound “withdraws” …

Is the water that Katagiri is describing here, ontologically withdrawn?