Thursday, May 22, 2008
the beginning of the end for the continuum
Wow, illustrations. Can you guess what they denote? Oh, all right, I'll tell you. They are representations of the reality of the continuum. I don't expect that that will actually clarify things, but all will be made clear.
As impressed as I have been with the continuum, I'd always been nagged by a simple question. How come I'd never seen it anywhere else? It's so simple and so elegant that there's no way known I'm the only person to have thought of it. (Perhaps it does exist elsewhere. Feel free to fill me in if you've seen it.) But I suspect it doesn't exist and the reason is simple. The continuum is flawed and must be rejected.
But before the big picture, let's attack the small stuff. There were certain technical problems that came clear to me as I wrote the anti-buddha piece below. The continuum is obviously asymmetrical. The two ends are not alike. The selflessness end is straightforward. Achievement of selflessness and arrival at Buddha-dom is a full-stop. There is nothing beyond oneness with the universe. I may change my mind on this matter later, but for now, it's what I think. Let's wait until I'm Buddha, ha ha.
The selfishness/antibuddha end of the continuum is fundamentally different. For starters, it has no full-stop. Any ultimate act of evil you can think of, I could top it. And sure, you could then top me. When Michael Palin in Life Of Brian said that crucifixion was very terrible, Eric Idle replied that it wasn't as nasty as something he just thought of. Exactly. There is no end to the variety of selfish behaviour and there is no end to the magnitude of it. Anti-buddha is an abjectly imprecise term.
Do the pictures make more sense now? The selfless end of the continuum now comprises a single centre. The selfish ends are beyond counting. This depiction illustrates the singularity of selflessness and the multiplicity of that which is not selfless. As I rolled this image around in my head it became clear to me why no one has bothered with a continuum that gives equal time to selfishness. Selfishness (which is to say sin) is without end. To dwell on it is to never find selflessness.
Monks in zen monasteries are given a series of koans, or riddles. Invariably the first of these is 'mu' or nothingness. I met a fellow who had spent three years contemplating just this first one. I look forward to doing the same thing. And in contemplating nothingness it really doesn't do to give proportional time to everything-elseness. And that's what the selfishness end of the continuum is - an outsize distraction. Here's a thought - If you're trying to figure out where you're going what's the point of thinking about all the places you don't want to be?
So. The continuum is too complicated. One end of it is unnecessary. All that's required is the pursuit of selflessness. Dwelling on selfishness is worthless. Ha ha ha ha, the obvious question now is - whither this blog?