No One is a Solipsist
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Michio Kaku: The Greatest Mystery of Science 15:06 20:45
Here, We are Attending the Conference of Solipsists.
The ego is a committed focus of attention, which has the potential to become infinitesimal to the point of feeling that the self does not “exist” at all – or does not exist in any significant way, and therefore may not have any true meaning.
This sense of self has a tendency to become diminished or inflated – more often diminished. Either one of these perceptions could be true or false, as long as health is maintained. But the greatest perspective sees them both to be true. The finite is connected with the infinite, and the infinite is connected with all finite points. No need to get exclusive.
Alan Watts: The Philosophies of Asia – Intellectual Yoga “Jnana”
“Yoga, or union, means that you do it. In a sense, you are God, tat tvam asi, as the Upanishads say, “You are making it.”
So many spiritual teachers and gurus will look at their disciples and say, “I am God. I have realized.” But the important thing is that you are realized. Whether I am or not is of no consequence to you whatsoever. I could get up and say “I am realized,” and put on a turban and yellow robe and say “Come and have darsan, I’m guru, and you need the grace of guru in order to realize,” and it would be a wonderful hoax. It would be like picking your pockets and selling you your own watch. But the point is, you are realized. Now, what are we saying when we say that? We are obviously saying something very important, but alas and alack, there is no way of defining it, nor going any further into words about it. When a philosopher hears such a statement as tat tvam asi, “You are it,” or “There is only the eternal now,” the philosopher says, “Yes, but I don’t see why you are so excited about it. What do you mean by that?” Yet he asks that question because he wants to continue in a word game; he doesn’t want to go on into an experiential dimension. He wants to go on arguing, because that is his trip, and all these great mystical statements mean nothing whatsoever. They are ultimate statements, just as the trees, clouds, mountains, and stars have no meaning, because they are not words. Words have meaning because they’re symbols, because they point to something other than themselves.
The method of jnana yoga is to exercise one’s intellect to its limits so that you get to the point where you have no further questions to ask. You can do this in philosophical study if you have the right kind of teacher who shows you that all philosophical opinions whatsoever are false, or at least, if not false, extremely partial. You can see how the nominalists cancel out the realists, how the determinists cancel out the free willists, how the behaviorists cancel out the vitalists, and then how the logical positivists cancel out almost everybody. Then someone comes in and says, “Yes, but the logical positivists have concealed metaphysics,” which indeed they do, and then you get in an awful tangle and there is nothing for you to believe.
If you get seriously involved in the study of theology and comparative religion, exactly the same thing can happen to you. You cannot even be an atheist anymore; that is also shown to be a purely mythological position. So you feel a kind of intellectual vertigo that is as in a Zen Buddhist poem, “Above, not a tile to cover the head. Below, not an inch of ground to stand on.” Where are you then?
Of course, you are where you always were. You have discovered that you are it, and that is very uncomfortable because you can’t grab it. I have discovered that whatever it is that I am is not something inside my head-it is just as much out there as it is in here. But whatever it is, I cannot get hold of it, and that gives you the heebie-jeebies. You get butterflies in the stomach, anxiety traumas, and all kinds of things. This was all explained by Shankara, the great Hindu commentator on the Upanishads and a great master of the non-dualistic doctrine of the universe, when he said, “That which knows, which is in all beings the knower, is never an object of its own knowledge.” Therefore, to everyone who is in quest of the supreme kick, the great experience, the vision of God, whatever you want to call it, liberation – When you think that you are not it, any old guru can sell you on a method to find it. That may not be a bad thing for him to do, because a clever guru is a person who leads you on. “Here (little one.) I’ve got something very good to show you. Yes. You just wait… Oh, but you’ve got to go through a lot of stages yet.” You say “Ah, ah, ah, ah. Can I get that? Oh, I want to get (there).” And all the time it’s you.
I was talking to a Zen master the other day, and he said, “Mmmmm. You should be my disciple.” I looked at him and said, “Who was Buddha’s teacher?” He looked at me in a very odd way, and he burst into laughter and gave me a piece of clover. So long as you can be persuaded that there is something more that you ought to be than you are, you have divided yourself from reality, from the universe, from God, or whatever you want to call that, the “tat” in tat tvam asi. You will find constantly, if you are interested in anything like this-in psychoanalysis, in Gestalt therapy, in sensitivity training, in any kind of yoga, or what have you – There will be that funny sensation of what I will call “spiritual greed” that can be aroused by somebody indicating to you, “Mmmm, there are still higher stages for you to attain. You should meet my guru.” So, you might say, “Now, to be truly realized you have to get to the point where you’re not seeking anymore.” Then you begin to think, “We will now be non-seekers,” you know, like disciples of Krishnamurti – becoming spiritually unspiritual. Well, you find that, too, is what is called in Zen “legs on a snake.” It is irrelevant. You don’t need not to seek, because you don’t need anything. It is like crawling into a hole and pulling the hole in after you.
The great master of this technique was a Buddhist scholar who lived about 200 A.D. called Nagarjuna. He invented a whole dialectic, and he created madhyamaka, where the leader of the students would simply destroy all their ideas, absolutely abolish their philosophical notions, and they’d get the heebie-jeebies. He didn’t have the heebie-jeebies. He seemed perfectly relaxed in not having any particular point of view. They said, “Teacher, how can you stand it? We have to have something to hang on to.” “Who does? Who are you?” And eventually you discover, of course, that it is not necessary to hang on to or rely on anything. There is nothing to rely on, because you’re it. It is like asking the question, “Where is the universe?” And, by that I mean the whole universe – whereabouts is it in space? Everything in it is falling around everything else, but there’s no concrete floor underneath for the thing to crash on. You can think of infinite space if you like-you don’t have to think of curved space, the space that goes out and out and out forever and ever and has no end: What is that? Of course, it is you. What else could it be? The universe is delightfully arranged so that as it looks at itself, in order not to be one-sided and prejudiced, it looks at itself from an uncountable number of points of view. We thus avoid solipsism, as if I were to have the notion that it is only me that is really here, and you are all in my dream. Of course, that point of view cannot really be disputed except by imagining a conference of solipsists arguing as to which one of them was the one that was really there.
Now, if you understand what I am saying by using your intelligence, and then take the next step and say, “I understood it now, but I didn’t feel it,” then next I raise the question, “Why do you want to feel it?” You say, “I want something more,” but that is again spiritual greed, and you can only say that because you didn’t understand it. There is nothing to pursue, because you are it. You always were it, and to put it in Christian terms or Jewish terms, if you don’t know that you are God from the beginning, what happens is that you try to become God by force.”
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