“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Object-Oriented Buddhism 11

Name ONE Buddhist view that says “behind appearances there is an undifferentiated mush/flow/process.”

Stuck? Thought so.

The idea that there is nothing “behind” objects (qua OOO objects) is PRECISELY like the Buddhist theory of emptiness.

The higher up into esoteric Buddhism you get, the more like OOO it becomes. Interrelatedness (pratityasamutpada) is a Theravadin concept. This is what most of the posts have been discussing so far, with a little bit of Mahayana thrown in (thanks Fabio! and Adrian for the most recent post).

At the Dzogchen level (“where rigpa meets anima” as Adrian writes) reality is much more like a magical display. There is no “causation” as such—that's a superficial illusion, a presence-at-hand as Graham would say. Like Al-Ghazali, for whom God provides the causal links between unlinkable objects, a kind of magic happens (without God) and we see flames emerging out of candle wicks and billiard balls smacking one another.

There is NOTHING UNDERNEATH this display. And the display happens whether “we” observe it or not.

In other words, Mahayana and Vajarayana Buddhism view interrelatedness as just as much of a present-at-hand illusion as any other form of correlationism.

And yet, we die, yes? OOO can't POSSIBLY be saying that objects are ETERNAL. Neither does Buddhism. It's just that when we examine them, they become MORE strange, not LESS.

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