Foreword by Prof. Ashok Gngadean
Part One - The End of Suffering
- Why do we Suffer?
- Our Limited View of Our Selves: Duality and Two-Value Logic as a Cause of Suffering.
- Looking Beyond Aristotle - Freedom and Non-duality in Language and Thought
- Nagarjuna's Philosophy - Changing Your Mind and Choosing Peace.
- Nagarjuna and The Challenge of the Two Truths
Part Two - A Guide to Naked Awareness
- Introduction to Non-locality and Non-duality
- Life in the Non-local World: Remote Viewing of Space and Time.
- Healing the World with Your Non-local Mind
- The Nature of New Identity - The Universal Self.
- Release from Suffering - The Path of Self Liberation
Cast of Characters and their Concepts, in Order of Appearance:
Aristotle -- Greek philosopher who enshrined duality and the law of the "excluded middle."
Duality -- The idea that I am who I am, and entirely separate from you.
Nagarjuna -- Indian philosopher who showed that most ideas are neither true, nor not true.
Non-duality -- The non-conceptual view that there is only one of us here in consciousness.
Four-Logic -- My truth together with your truth, where the middle is not excluded.
Madhyamika -- Middle Path of Buddhism emphasizing compassion and surrender to emptiness.
Einstein -- Physicist who felt Quantum Mechanics requires "a ghostly action at a distance."
Locality -- Physical theory that objects and events separated by space or time don't interact.
J. S. Bell -- Physicist who proved that non-locality could be tested for in the laboratory.
Non-locality -- Universal property by which apparently separate items are still entangled.
by Russell Targ
Everybody suffers, yet most of this suffering is unnecessary--it can be overcome. Suffering results from our delusional social conditioning created by family, school, television, and from our personal story of who we think we are. From earliest times, it has been known that suffering can be transformed when we finally learn to change our minds.
Buddha's first great Truth identifies suffering as caused by our awareness of life's impermanence and fragility. I recognize that from time to time everyone experiences unavoidable pain that we call naked suffering. This can come from intractable poverty, physical illness or injury, or from the grief and pain we feel in our heart over the loss of a loved one. Our heart breaks from the death of someone we deeply love or from the loss of a loving partner who simply decides to leave us. We experience these kinds of losses as tragedies in our hearts and in our lives. In fact, it was the untimely death of my beloved daughter and research buddy, Dr. Elisabeth Targ, that motivated me to start examining my own suffering. Such an examination is, no doubt, the natural way for me as a scientist to move through my own grieving process.
On the other hand, the suffering we address in this book--"the slings and arrows" that seem to attack our ego--what I call "our precious story"--is in essence nonexistent because it doesn't actually exist in present time where we live. Almost all of our suffering is in our mind--guilt or depression over things that have occurred in the past, or from anxiety over things that might or might not happen in the future. Unless we happen to be in a concentration camp, our suffering almost always arises from a time frame not of the present. We can carry in our memories, anger, guilt, and especially resentment toward people who have mistreated or betrayed us even long after those nasty people have departed or died. But, we can choose to empty our mental backpack instead of lugging around our treasured old garbage. We cling to this garbage because it is part of our story--who we think we are. Our social environment continually and pervasively conditions us to harbor grudges, to feel resentment, fear, guilt, revenge, and above all to express judgment about everything. These learned behaviors cause suffering principally to ourselves, but also to others. It is a well-known psychological dynamic that the more we judge other people, the more we are unhappy ourselves. So why do we continue to behave in ways that cause us suffering? The explanation is not simple and represents the main body of this book. Based on the authors' experience, however, we propose that it is not difficult to learn to consciously transcend fear, resentment, and desperation for a life of gratitude, peace and love--if that's what the individual would like to experience.
We create the conditioned suffering by our desire to defend our stories--our business cards so to speak--and our picture of who we think we are. On television recently, I watched a young prisoner dressed in detainee orange explain to the judge, "I had to shoot him. He disrespected me." It was as though he had no idea of what else could be done at the moment.
Several years ago I was offering to rent a spare room in my Palo Alto home to Stanford graduate students. An attractive woman in her late twenties came to look at the room. By the time she finished writing her rent check, I had learned not only that she was earning a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology, but also that as a teenager she had been sexually abused by her father. As a landlord, I didn't really need to know this information; however, from her point of view, it defined who she is! It is a major plot point in her story. She had become attached and comfortable with her suffering. Even a decade later, as an adult graduate student, she was still suffering as an abused teen-ager. That's what we mean by ones story.
The hidden craziness underlying the conditioned behavior that makes us suffer is the dualistic, "either/or" mode of thinking we have been immersed in since childhood. And its all Aristotle's influence. Aristotle defined a profoundly dualistic system that he called the "law of the excluded middle"--which asserts that everything in the world is either black, or it's not black, excluding any other possibilities. This kind of dualistic thinking is what makes political propagandists such as President Bush, say things like "those who are not with us are with the terrorists"--ignoring the huge majority of the world that sees other possibilities. The goal, of course, is to make us feel fearful. With a yellow alert we are told to feel pretty fearful, and with an orange alert we should feel very fearful, while always watching out for "doomsday red." But, there is an important middle ground of vigilance between fearfulness and complacency. The middle ground we seek is not a case of either/or, this or that. Given the choice, our goal is to choose fearlessness and freedom every time.
Most things we read or encounter in life are neither true, nor not true. For example, physicists know it is true that the light we see is neither a wave nor a particle, but can manifest as either. Also, who we truly are as conscious beings is neither physical, nor not physical. The so-called wave-particle paradox and the famous mind-body duality are both examples of incorrectly posed questions, confusingly masquerading as dichotomies. Think of the well-known "glass half-full or half-empty" metaphor ... What if it's neither?
Our usual black and white dualistic frame of mind almost inevitably creates suffering for ourselves and others, because we seriously misperceive reality -- polarizing it into incommensurable opposites and therefore experience delusion. But, once we learn to shed our conditioned awareness and move our consciousness to what the Buddhists call naked existence, we are finally able to experience our lives free of our habitual conditioning.
This non-dual understanding of reality was perfected by Nagarjuna--the second-century Indian genius and teacher of the "Middle Way"--whom the Dalai Lama described as one of the truly enlightened people of all time. The Middle Way is a very generous path that runs brilliantly between dogmatic, materialistic absolutism and insubstantial nihilism (where nothing means anything). It teaches that ignorance of who we really are and attachment to materiality are at the root of all our suffering.
The Middle Way is not to be confused with the newly developed "fuzzy logic" loved by computer scientists, which simply explores a linear range of possibilities for a statement that can run from true to false in arbitrary little steps. Instead, Nagarjuna explored an entire other dimension of possibilities. He taught that as we go through our lives, we give all the meaning there is to everything we experience. In other words, our experience is almost entirely subjective (or projective). This is why different people will have such strikingly different responses to the same event, picture, or performance. The Buddhists would say that nothing at all is happening, except to the extent that we assign our personal meaning to it--and we have the freedom to make that decision. Shakespeare knew this when he has Hamlet say, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" (Act II, Scene 2).
The Vinegar Story:
Long, long ago, the Buddha was strolling through the sands of time along the Ganges River. He spied an earthenware jar, and pulled it from the riverbank. He opened the jar and tasted its contents. It was extremely bitter and sour. It represented a potential source of great suffering to the world so he poured it out on the ground.
Five hundred years later, Jesus of Nazareth was meditating in the desert near Galilee. As he pitched his tent, he came upon an earthenware jar buried in the sand. He opened the bottle and tasted the bitter and sour contents, and thought that this represents great potential suffering for the world, so, he drank it all himself.
Last year two lovers were strolling along the beautiful beach at Santa Barbara. As they were putting down their blanket for a picnic, they came upon the same little earthenware jar buried in the sand. They opened the bottle, tasted the liquid inside, and spent the entire warm afternoon licking the delicious drops from each other's fingertips.
We have the opportunity to give all the meaning there is, to everything we experience. The message is to question reality. Each day we have the choice to defend our ego and relive our story, or we can find a way to choose differently, give up dualistic thinking, and reside in love. That's the choice we will explore in this book.
© The New Yorker Collection, 1997, Mort Gerberg, cartooonbank.com all rights reserved.