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The Middle Way is not Oneness
September 11th, 2012

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

The Middle Way is not Oneness.

Many people recently claimed on g+ that there is only one Truth, that there is only "I am," or the selfless version, "is." They also claim that we are all One, and at one with Truth, et cætera. Very quickly, one gets to Jesus 'is' Buddha, 'is' Krishna, 'is' you, 'is' Love, 'is' Truth, 'is' Reality, 'is' Self, 'is' Awakening…
Truth is abusively re-interpreted as everything is perfect as it is. Tell that to the people who are dying of thirst or hunger, or to the people who are being raped or sick or stoned to death… Under the name of Truth, this is equivalent to actually injecting oneself with a massive dose of anæsthetic, de facto a refusal to engage with suffering… This is the opposite of waking up. Running away from suffering is known as a self-defeating strategy: even when it temporarily 'works,' the possible return of suffering is enough to make anguish and anxiety (i.e. new suffering) arise.

A Zen master will invariably whack his stick on the head of the novice happily running toward him and claiming he has understood Non-Self, and that his Self does not exist… and so should the blow fall! Not a gentle rub to loosen up some tension in the shoulders, no! A snappy, hurtful whack on the head! Little else was found to be better to bring the novice back to the Middle Way: when you deny your existence, check your awareness of discomfort! Awareness is the only 'existence' undisputed by philosophers…

The sūtras contain several warnings against the perils of misunderstanding Emptiness, of teaching Emptiness to those who are not ready, of concluding Non-Existence from Emptiness…
When reminded that non-essence is not non-existence, many people then state that because the ego has no essence, it has no effect on Truth, or my true Self. This is 'selective emptiness,' applying it to the ego but not to the 'creations' of the ego, i.e. a world with meaning.

There are two levels of truths: the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. The conventional truth applies to the reasonably predictable and 'solid' world we experience, and to the feelings, perceptions, thoughts, ego and suffering, which are all real and existent. The ultimate truth applies to the relativity and emptiness (of independent essence) of all phenomena. Misunderstanding anātman, Non-Self, or Emptiness leads to nihilism: nothing 'truly' exists…
[I already explained how this is the very same mistake as Essentialism ( )].

If you believe in oneness alone and that the 'illusion' of conventional truth may safely be ignored, let others beat 'you' up, insult 'you' online and in real life, kill 'you'… It doesn't matter! In a way, perpetrators are doing this to themselves or you are doing this to yourself (except none exists). If you believe that "because the ego has no essence, it has no effect on Truth, or your true Self," it doesn't matter what people do to 'you' since 'you' are not your True Self… That's ridiculous and (by having a simple look at your life since you woke up this morning, in that you didn't take the false 'you' as irrelevant to your True Self) you don't actually believe that; you just think you do.

The conventional truth is an illusion, yes. That's what ultimate truth is about: the illusory nature of conventional truth… However, the illusion is 'real,' the illusion exists! And pretending it doesn't exist is not the same as seeing through it, it is not the same as tearing the veil of illusion away; pretence is only adding to the illusion! The illusion is co-dependently arising with the world: the illusion is the meaning, the sense we project onto the world, without which the world would simply be an unknowable, indiscriminate chaos. To understand the illusion doesn't make the illusion vanish any more than the world vanishes; to see through it doesn't make it disappear; to see through it affects how you relate to it, how you take it seriously or with some sense of humour, it affects the power of the illusion onto you but the illusion is still there… as long as there is a world other than a chaotic blurb.
Truth is not unique, is not permanent, is not static; Truth is a veil. Existence is, life is, but Truth is only a fabrication by an entity putting 'sense' onto existence. The entity may be God or may be you; Truth is still dependent (on a perceiver) and conditioned and illusory and empty of inherent essence. Truth provides God or us with a filtered Reality or an augmented Reality, Truth is not Reality (that's why we have two different words).

The Middle Way is a creative engagement, the navigation between the conventional and ultimate truths, and it is not a third (definitive, encompassing) truth! The Middle Way leads to the ability to act, while not taking things personally, while maintaining the ability to take a step back… but it fundamentally remains between two truths (both of them 'real' truths), not a third truth: the Middle Way doesn't define, designate, point to… Emptiness is empty, i.e. it itself denies that it should be the unique 'Truth'! Saṃsāra is nirvāṇa, nirvāṇa is saṃsāra: same reality (life), two different truths (and yes both relative to reality!). Suffering (samsara) is true, the emptiness of suffering (nirvana) is also true…

The word 'existence,' from the Latin existere (to appear, to arise, to become, or to be), means "to stand out" (ex- 'out,' stare 'to stand'). Any existence is a misconception at its core as it requires discrimination between a background and foreground. Such a misconception is unavoidable, such a misconception constitutes 'existence'. We don't (and actually cannot) 'perceive' or 'conceive' oneness; oneness cannot 'stand out' hence oneness doesn't exist. May Oneness be? Yes. But if it 'is', there is no way for us to access it or to 'interact' with it; Oneness is irrelevant to our experience. And suffering, or its cessation, is about our experience… Making it relevant is enough to introduce a split in oneness and make it vanish before our eyes…

Oneness can be a beneficial mystical, spiritual path… Many ascetics realised high achievements with such a path, higher than most of us will in this life, but such a path unites with Brahman — Ātman. It is not the Middle Way, as Non-Self (anātman: an- + ātman) suggests.

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