Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Duality, Dependent Origination and Emptiness

"The consciousness that perceives each thing as existing separately is false. Actually, nothing exists in this way. When we set out to investigate things on this basis, the more deeply we look into objects and concepts, the more they dissolve."
-- H.H., the XIVth Dalai Lama --
("Essential Teachings")
There is, the Buddha said, nothing that is in and of itself separate, everything is infinitely divisible. As much as this seems particularly relevant to science today, as physicists probe ever more deeply into the sub-particular, microcosmic world of such exotic entities as muons, gluons and quarks, it is still more relevant at the level of our everyday reality, where the vast majority of us go through life with the unchecked assumption that we are separate and individual actors on the global stage.

Albert Einstein, the father of the 'New Physics," called our sense of separation and separate existence "an optical delusion of consciousness" that imprisons us, and severs our connection with each other and the cosmos itself.
"A human being," he observed, "is part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness."

"This delusion," he remarked, "is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"The true value of a human being," he observed, "is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive."
(Albert Einstein, 1954)
In the attached video lecture on "duality" and the Advaita Vedanta, author Rupert Spira, examines how this "optical delusion of consciousness" arises, and how it effects the way we view ourselves and the world around us.

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