“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 13—A Primer

OOO is not a form of Buddhism. Buddhism is a form of OOO.

Like OOO, Buddhism is a form of realism (full respect to those who think otherwise—you are wrong!). Buddha-nature, for instance, is real.

Some Buddhist objects DON'T CHANGE. Which ones? The REAL ones.

(That's why my Buddhist first name is Gyurmë: it means “changeless” in Tibetan.)

Buddha nature is real; samsara consists of nothing but sensual objects. Sure, things SEEM to change. It's called samsara baby.

What does “changeless” mean? It means “You could explode a million nuclear bombs and it wouldn't be affected” (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche). Sounds withdrawn to me!

All objects have a real and a relative side, simultaneously. The real side is withdrawn. In Buddhist, “withdrawn” is “empty.”

Sitting under the Bodhi tree, Buddha's first words upon awakening were: “I've discovered a a dharma that is sparkling, nectar-sweet, uncompounded and simple. But since no one will believe me if I try to speak about it, I shall remain silent.”

In OOO, “dharma” means “object.” “Uncompounded” means “not made of other things” and “simple” means “not caused by other things.” So this object is NON-RELATIONAL.

Buddha was tongue tied about this object (which some traditions call rigpa). So he tried various other ways of teaching.

Buddha taught interdependence for beginners. It was easier than the 100% teaching he gave to the really smart guys.

OR: he only said ONE thing. But three different types of people heard it three different ways.

•The shravakas heard individual liberation from a world of atomic flux;
•The bodhisattvas heard liberation of all beings from the delusion of changeful samsara
•The vidyadharas heard “no need to DO anything to liberate yourself...read the small print, baby”
...because reality, REAL reality, is CHANGELESS

When you are enlightened, do you see an object, e.g. a mountain, differently? (Thanks @thewarmjets!)

I don't know I'm not enlightened! But Buddhism feels free to make SPECULATIVE assertions about enlightenment. Why? Because ego (OOO: “correlationism”) is an illusion.


•a shrakvaka would see the mountain again as atoms
•the bodhisattva would see the mountain as empty of apparent existence
•while the vidyadhara would see the mountain as a completely enlightened female Buddha (did I say human?)

Guess which one is seeing totally REAL reality? That's right, number 3.

Otherwise Buddhism is nothing more than perspectival nihilism (as @thewarmjets pointed out on Twitter this evening—thank you mate), and utterly worthless imho.

Reality is Buddha nature. It's not nothing. It's a real “object” in the OOO sense. That female Buddha is REAL. Part of that means she is WITHDRAWN (OOO: “vacuum sealed” or in Buddhist, “empty”). Otherwise she's just a Hindu goddess or whatever. She's present-at-hand (bad, bad, bad!).

I am not asking you to believe this. I am simply asking you to recognize that Buddhism is a kind of OOO. It may not be YOUR kind of OOO.


ai said...

Lovely post, Tim. I especially love the triplicities (and don't mind the vidyadharas coming out on top ;-).

A quick question: what else besides Buddha-nature (/rigpa) is real (and therefore changeless and non-relational)? What are the other objects in your Buddhist OO ontology?

(Okay, maybe not such a 'quick question' after all... since if there are no other real objects, then Levi & Graham fly out the window, and if there are, then rigpa flies out the window, no?)

(I also have trouble with the equation ego=correlationism, which suggests to me that some non-correlational objectivity gets us beyond and outside of ego, which sounds like a trick of ego to me. But then I'm just a posthumanist/nonanthropocentric correlationist all the way down...)

Timothy Morton said...

Hi Adrian,

Easy. All enlightened entities!

Timothy Morton said...

Or..."Heaven is a place exactly the same as where you are right now...only much, much BETTER." Laurie Anderson

Timothy Morton said...

Or..."When Bagpuss wakes up, all his friends wake up too."


Timothy Morton said...

Or...I haven't got a clue, I'm not a Buddha!

Timothy Morton said...

...or, you can't lose something that doesn't exist!

Timothy Morton said...

...Or, your ego doesn't exist right now. Neither does Graham's. But there he is! And you can brush your teeth!

ai said...

Or, "Heaven... is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens." (Talking Heads)

As for flying out the window, it could of course be that the window is only there for those who can't fly in & out of it. Or the other way around.