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October 06, 2010

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Even the idea of 'time' can be shown to be a non-absolute property that is intrinsically dependent upon physical relationships in the universe. For an excellent, rigorous demonstration of this concept, check out Julian Barbour's "The Nature of Time," written for one of FQXi's essay contests (it won first prize):
http://www.fqxi.org/community/essay/winners/2008.1

While much of Buddhist poetry is quite beautiful in its reflections on emptiness, and points to something we need to understand in order to be more skillful in the world, the tendency to tell folks they "are nothing" is misconstruing what the Buddha taught, and in ways that are potentially dangerous. If I am "nothing" then so are you, so there's no basis for concern over what I do to you. The Buddha didn't say there was nobody home at all, he simply denied that the sense of self we have as our default position has any permanent, separate, unchanging essence to it -- he also said that the separate self is the basis of our problems and we can do without it. That isn't the same as saying people "are nothing". Because we are something -- that is changing, interconnected, ephemeral -- morality matters.

'course I realize you were quoting a Sufi master not a Buddhist poet... I know very little about Sufi schools of thought so no comment there. It just reminded me of all the times I've heard "no do-er" poetry coming out of Buddhism.

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