« Why blasphemy is justified (mostly) | Main | How do we know someone is enlightened? »

September 25, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"intrinsic nature: an essential nature whereby something comes to have an independent way of existing without being posited through the force of consciousness. The sheer absence of this is emptiness."

---How did that "something" come to have an independent way of existing? What is this force, that this consciousness supposedly has? How is intrinsic/essential being used here?

"To take the snake example: When a person sees a rope and imagines a snake, there is no snake at all in the rope. But even when there actually is a snake and we perceive a snake, the snake as we perceive it is also completely absent. It is just as nonexistent as the rope-snake."

----How does that person know that the seen rope is actually a rope? We can perceive and conceptualize a rope, but what absolutely is a rope?

I presume Newland will not be bitten by a ~"rope"~. But he might be bitten by a ~"snake"~.

Personally, I would prefer to avoid the latter.

Robert Paul Howard

"When a person sees a rope and imagines a snake, there is no snake at all in the rope. But even when there actually is a snake and we perceive a snake, the snake as we perceive it is also completely absent."

Huh? The snake is present, and it isn't mistaken for anything else, so how is it completely absent? I think Guy is misnaken.


Where did you explain, in your post, how consciousness is related to Buddhist emptiness? What is the relationship?

cc and Roger... some responses from my incomplete, yet also partly complete, understanding of Buddhist emptiness.

cc: I think what Newland is saying is that nothing, repeat NOTHING, has an intrinsic nature. Yet almost everyone looks at a snake and thinks, "there's a snake." That much is true. A snake is there.

What isn't there is the fixed intrinsic nature of a snake that is normally attributed to it. That, I believe, is what Newland means by the snake being "also completely absent." It exists, but not in the way we think it does, absent both an analytical and intuitive understanding of emptiness.

It's the same with us.

We consider ourselves to have an intrinsic nature, something objectively true and real, something unchanging, even though we can sense our body and mind changing. So we are correct in positing that we exist, but deluded when we think that we exist as something independent of other existing things, and independent of consciousnesses aware of us.

Roger: I could have been clearer about how emptiness relates to consciousness. Maybe my comment above to cc helps with this. Here's some further explanation.

Buddhism denies that things have an objective intrinsic nature that isn't (1) interdependent upon other things, or (2) existent apart from a mind/consciousness aware of things.

In the past I've looked upon emptiness mostly in the first way. Nothing stands on its own. Everything is interdependent. I couldn't exist for a moment without energy, food, the laws of nature, genetics, evolution, etc. etc.

But let's assume that I could. The second part of emptiness still holds. What am I, even if I really do have an intrinsic nature, apart from a mind or consciousness that is aware of me? How would it be possible to know what I am like absent a mind/consciousness aware of me?

Buddhists make arguments like this to show the emptiness of phenomena absent mind/consciousness. We can't imagine what the universe is like without consciousness, because we are a consciousness doing the imagining.


The title of your post could be,

"How human consciousness doesn't relate to Buddhist "emptiness".

One could consider a stream of Consciousness(non-human consciousness), the Absolute, the Void, etc., to be what the Buddhist consider emptiness.

"We can't imagine what the universe is like without consciousness, because we are a consciousness doing the imagining."

Consciousness is imagining the snake, and when the snake strikes, consciousness is imagining the consequences, and when consciousness is lost due to snakebite, that's all, folks.

The question is whether imagination is an intrinsic aspect of the universe.

We(subject) can engage in imagination, by objectifing the universe into an object. Human consciousness can through imagination create a snake out of a rope, and the striking. Imagination could be an intrinsic aspect of one's brain based subjectivity.

Oh, .........what the hell is a universe? I don't know.

"Oh, .........what the hell is a universe? I don't know."

Assuming the universe is everything and that imagination is what you are, the universe is what you imagine. But because the universe was here before you were and will be here when you're gone, you can't imagine what the universe is.

Neurosurgeon experiences a void. Was it Buddhist "emptiness"? Don't ask me:


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.