Phantom

What philosophers busily try to put in abstract and often abstruse terms, a mystic simply sees. From time to time, he describes his experience of accidentality of the things created, saying that the world is an illusion. So bluntly expressed, the thought is, of course, unacceptable to the Judaic, Christian or Islamic faiths, because each of them invariably proclaims the reality of all that God has called into existence (otherwise Jesus would only be a phantom), but is traditionally embedded in the Buddhist and Hindu heritage.

What is in the present, on closer examination shrinks to an elusive point, which by definition disappears as soon as we try to catch it. Thus, anything that is “in” time, never “is”; you can talk about it as something that was or will be, but these expressions are only meaningful when the perceiving subject is assumed. Things that do not have memory, owe their continuous identity only to our minds, but in themselves they hold no past and no future, so no identity whatsoever.

We bestow perseverance to the world of things that are subject to destruction, and thus keep it in existence; but in the very act of mental creation of the world, we become aware of the lack of our own identity, if it has to be something more than the content of individual memory. This in turn means that whatever is, is timeless. In this way, we go back to the great initiators of European metaphysics, Parmenides and Heraclitus, who, from two opposite sides, set in motion this dizzying carousel of concepts: what changes, is not; what is, is beyond time; if there is nothing out of time, nothing exist.

Leszek Kolakowski – If there is no God

Perfect Knowledge

Buddha had once said: “The things, Oh Sariputra, they do not exist as they seem to the ordinary unenlightened people, who are attached to them.” Sariputra said, “So how do things exist, my Master?” Buddha replied: “They exist only in such a way that they actually do not exist. As they do not exist, they should be called Avidyā, which means non-existent. It is them that the ordinary unenlightened people are attached to, who imagine that objects in fact exist, while none of them are existent.”

Then Buddha asked the Venerable Subhuti: “Do you think Subhuti that illusion is one thing and body another? Is illusion one thing and feeling another? Idea another? Shape another? Knowledge another?” Subhuti replied: “No, my Master.” Then Buddha said: “The nature of illusion makes things what they are. This is done in such a way, Oh Subhuti, as if a skillful wizzard or wizard’s apprentice pointed at crowds of people at the crossroads and, upon showing them, made them disappear again.”

Prajñāpāramitā (Perfect knowledge)

In Time of Spirits

I must find myself behind thoughts – namely, as their creator and owner. In the time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies – an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, e. g. God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: “I alone am corporeal.” And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself.

Max Stirner – The Ego and His Own

poster

Before the Law

“What do you still want to know now?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.”
“Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is it that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?”
The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him:
“Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”

Franz Kafka – Before the Law

The Way

There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it the Way.

Laozi

Esse est percipi

It is indeed an Opinion strangely prevailing amongst Men, that Houses, Mountains, Rivers, and in a word all sensible Objects have an Existence Natural or Real, distinct from their being perceived by the Understanding. But with how great an Assurance and Acquiescence soever this Principle may be entertained in the World; yet whoever shall find in his Heart to call it in Question, may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest Contradiction. For what are the forementioned Objects but the things we perceive by Sense, and what do we perceive besides our own Ideas or Sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any Combination of them should exist unperceived?

Some Truths there are so near and obvious to the Mind, that a Man need only open his Eyes to see them. Such I take this Important one to be, to wit, that all the Choir of Heaven and Furniture of the Earth, in a word all those Bodies which compose the mighty Frame of the World, have not any Subsistence without a Mind.

George Berkeley – A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

My Problem Child

The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a central concern of philosophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experience.

The first planned experiment was therefore so deeply moving and alarming, because everyday reality and the ego experiencing it, which I had until then considered to be the only reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations. Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receiver, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank.

The entry of another reality may be explained by the fact that the brain, the seat of the receiver, becomes biochemically altered. The receiver is thereby tuned into another wavelength than that corresponding to normal, everyday reality. Since the endless variety and diversity of the universe correspond to infinitely many different wavelengths, depending on the adjustment of the receiver, many different realities, including the respective ego, can become conscious. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings.

This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition, which under favorable conditions can be evoked, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.

(…)

A concept of reality that separates self and the world has decisively determined the evolutionary course of European intellectual history. Experience of the world as matter, as object, to which man stands opposed, has produced modern natural science and technology—creations of the Western mind that have changed the world. With their help human beings have subdued the world. Ecclesiastical Christianity, determined by the duality of creator and creation, has, however, with its nature-alienated religiosity largely obliterated the Eleusinian-Dionysian legacy of antiquity. In the Christian sphere of belief, only special blessed men have attested to a timeless, comforting reality, experienced in a spontaneous vision, an experience to which in antiquity the elite of innumerable generations had access through the initiation at Eleusis.

As a path to the perception of a deeper, comprehensive reality, in which the experiencing individual is also sheltered, meditation, in its different forms, occupies a prominent place today. The essential difference between meditation and prayer in the usual sense, which is based upon the duality of creator nad creation, is that meditation aspires to the abolishment of the I-you-barrier by a fusing of object and subject, of sender and receiver, of objective reality and self. Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time.

Albert Hoffman – My Problem Child

Correctness

Today we call it political correctness. Most people want to belong to their peer group. They want to be the same as everyone else when it comes to opinions. In fact they judge their own personal sanity by bouncing ideas of their neighbors and friends, who will answer back and agree on the same topics and kind.

It doesn’t matter if the topics or the way you are given the facts are utter nonsense, as long as everyone agrees at the same time. And your friends will all agree because they have the same information given to them.

Alan Watt – Shock and Awe

In Captivity of Habits

Pure experience informs us about permanent sequences of facts; but does not tell us that one fact results from the other. If you pull the trigger of a shotgun, you will hear a shot; but what we really find is that there has been a shot after pulling the trigger, not that it arose from, not that was its effect. How it happens, that one fact follows the other, is not given by the experience; so if we have to stick closely to the experience, we must renounce causal connections, and be content with just setting permanent sequences. It was the most unexpected and unique thesis by Hume.

There is, therefore, no basis to recognize causal relationships as necessary: ​​neither rational, nor experiential. And yet in life and in science we always recognize them, and we expect that when the cause happened, inevitably too the effect will happen. Such attitude of mind requires explanation; it was, in turn, a new issue for Hume: why, although we have no basis for this, we recognize the existence of causal relationships?

We do this because we rely on previously gathered experience and we move this experience ahead. So far, after pulling the trigger of a shotgun, the shot fell, so we think it will continue to be the same. But in doing so, we no longer stay within the limits of pure experience, but we cross them. These two sentences are by no means equivalent: “I found that this object here is accompanied by such a result” and “I expect that other objects, which, as far as we know them, are similar to that, will be accompanied by similar effects.” From one of these sentences to the other we would go only through reasoning, but is there such reasoning? Do we have the right to extend into the future our previously gathered experience?

There is no reasoning, which entitles to extend the existing experience into the future. There is no contradiction in the assumption that although certain event had some result, a similar event will have a different result. Moving the experience to the future is not done by reasoning, but by a factor of a different kind altogether; the conclusions from cause to effect are not a matter of reasoning. These are the matter of habit.

Constant repetition of certain relations changes nothing in the nature of these relations, but changes our attitude towards them. In the mind, it produces the tendency to expect further repetitions. Since we are used that after pulling the trigger, a shot falls, we think it will continue to be so. But the basis for this conclusion is purely subjective. Although this inclination has a certain objective basis, namely regularity in the occurrence of the relations previously observed; but precisely this basis alone is insufficient to draw conclusions. The actual basis for the conclusion is not objective, but subjective, and it is emotional, not conceptual. The inference here is an act of faith, not the act of knowledge.

The sense of necessity is not the basis for our conclusions, but their outcome; the greater it is, the more conclusions we have drawn. The search for causal conclusions is the instinct that nature has given us. It gave us the instinct without giving the understanding. We conclude about future things without knowing the basis of our conclusions, just as we can move without the knowledge of muscles. But instinct is not knowledge.

Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz – History of Philosophy Volume II Modern Philosophy until 1830.