This and That

Discussion in 'Interfaith Text Study' started by Thomas, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Snoopy posted on the Buddhist forum a very interesting text ... one to which, as a Catholic, I'd like to respond, but no so as to divert the discussion at hand. Thus I have copied it here.

    The blue text treats of the Buddha's thinking on rebirth in which I can identify correspondences. The red text signifies that with which I have difficulty.

    Central to the Buddha’s teaching is the profound and subtle insight that permanence is never to be grasped. In other words, if we settle the mind and look carefully, we do not find a self within human experience.
    Then what, I must ask, is it that experiences?

    Does not the aggregate of experience lead to the notion of self? If there is no self, no core, to what and about what does experience aggregate? If there is nothing there, what causes experience to coalesce as experience?

    That is to say, simply seeing through the illusion of self is the release.
    Here I would mark a correspondence in ideas. Christian doctrine, of course, affirms the existential and concrete reality of the person, the self, but in a very particular circumstance, in that the idea of 'self' is at once an illusion, at at the same time the greatest gift of God ... many regard 'mind' or 'being' as a divine gift, indicating our creation in the divine likeness and image, however, an even more profound gift is the gift of self-hood, of self-knowing, self-awareness ... of something that is rational and reflective; self-aware and self-observing.

    The upshot of all this is that it seems quite unlikely that the Buddha endorsed the notion of reincarnation, since it goes so strongly against his most powerful, subtle, and profound insight—namely, anatman, the unlocatability of a self.
    Now here we have a remarkable correspondence. Whilst, as I have said, Catholicism affirms the concreate reality of the self ... nevertheless this real self is not self-subsistent, but is dependent upon the divine for its being and its existence.

    To take a great theological step, Catholicism locates the self as something that rises in and is sustained by the Logos ... so the Logos is the ultimate reality of the being and nature of 'self' but the self is not coequal nor co- or consubstantial with the Logos, the self is caused to be, whereas the eternal Logos is ...

    ... and going further, the Logos of God, which is God, is Itself unlocatable. The Christian Scriptures refer to this, in both St Paul "Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12) and St John "We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2)

    Both these texts identify the known (the contingent self) with the knower (the eternal Logos). Furthermore both texts identify the knowledge of the knower being known, to the known ... we shall know ourselves as the Logos knows us because we shall know the Logos as the Logos knows Itself ... not because we are the Logos, but because we participate in Its interiority.

    If we know one thing, we know one thing, if we know as the Logos knows, we know all things, beyond the limitations of their 'thing-ness' ...

    ... thus the self — the known thing — receeds in the face of the Knower, for that which knows is necessarily metaphysically prior to that which is known.

    ... what could he have meant by the term rebirth consciousness ... Simply that the immediate experience of this moment does not appear as this moment but, rather, as continuous change. In other words, this moment appears as very like, but different from, what appears to have immediately preceded it. The world appears as reborn, over and over, moment after moment.
    I could cite many Catholic mystics who have made this point. However ...

    In contrast, rebirth consciousness refers to nothing more than the awareness that this moment appears now, with its own unique before and after, without ever entailing any presumed entity that persists through time.
    ... we know that this moment, which appears now, appears as it does because of what went before, and will have its after ... so this moment is, surely, bound in time and space?

    It cannot be outside of time, surely, for to suggest as much is to suggest that there is no connection at all between this moment and the next ... that between each moment is a momentary nothingness, if you will ... that each moment appears 'out of nothing' and yet shows remarkable consistency with the unrelated moment that went before ... that any commonality between the two is entirely arbitrary and accidental?

    (Not even to mention the implication of creatio ex nihilo in the idea of unique and unrelated moments.)

    And that the before that affects this moment is not at all unique, but belongs as much to the all as this moment exists within the all ... one cannot disassociate one moment from the rest of the cosmos, any more than one can suggest that something exists, absolutely unrelated in any way, to everything else that exists.

    In other words, while reincarnation requires a self that persists through time—something that is not directly experienced, and that was thus rejected by the Buddha—rebirth consciousness makes no reference to anything that is not directly experienced or observed.
    But directly experienced or observed by what ... that's the point.

    And if everything has to be directly observed or experienced, then surely Buddhism reduces to an entirely empirical philosophy, which undermines it?

    In short, it relies not on abstraction, speculation, or belief, but on immediate, direct experience."
    I think this misses the point. The Buddha experienced the same thing as everyone else around him, but he was enlightened, and they were not.

    Wherein lies the difference? Not in the experience, but what that which experiences draws from what it experiences ... what the Buddha brought to the moment ... now the breakthrough might happen in a moment, but the determination that the breakthrough is 'real' rests entirely on the aggregate of experience to date, otherwise we would dream and assume the content of our dreams are real.

    Just some thoughts?

    Thomas
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Great stuff Thomas...

    It seems much is semantics, rebirth, reincarnation, incarnation....tis the definitions and implications we have issues with.

    Before I continue, what is Jesus? Is there a 'self' that existed before and after?

    I say there is no self...there is a higher self, that continues from life to life (not simply in succession but simultaneously)
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Wil —
    Thanks, Wil.

    Indeed. I'm not disagreeing ... as a Christian, I don't agree with the common concept of reincarnation, but nor do I assume that Buddhist or Brahminic philosophy is without rigour ... I really, honestly, don't understand.

    Well I suggest that's another and entirely ancilliary question ... however, as you ask:
    The aeternal Logos of God who, by virtue of an hypostatic union, became incarnate as man.

    Are you still talking about Jesus?

    The humanity of Jesus is common to humanity as such, finite, contingent, created, etc. The divinity of Jesus is common to the divine nature, infinite, absolute, uncreated, etc.

    The general assumption is that the divine Christ 'enters into' the human person of Jesus ... Patristic (and continuing) theology carefully guards against this idea, as it undermines the idea of Divine Union.

    The Christian view is that the divine took on a human nature, not the human nature of some other person, who was elevated, annihilated or in some other way displaced, but rather the divine took on a human nature of its own causation ... there is not two people, Jesus and Christ, any more then there are two people, one a body and the other a soul ... rather the Incarnate Son of the physical manifestation of God, by the union of the divine with the human.

    So Jesus exists always, aeternally, there was the Cross 'before' (an inadequate term) there was the Cosmos.

    Or put another way, from the moment the Cosmos came into existence, the Cross was known.

    But back to the notion of 'self'
    Is there a 'self'?
    God is that which is the only self-subsisting self — uncaused, uncreated — all other 'self' subsists subsequently and anterior to that Prime Self.

    But to say therefore that all other, finite and contingent selfhood, is illusory is not the whole story — illusory in relation to the higher, but no illusory in relation to its own substantiality. Were that so, then it would not matter what we said or did ...

    The self finite, contingent and dependent, a created thing, but a 'thing' is according to its act, and it's act arises from its potentiality of being ... its selfhood ... and most importantly, it is not closed upon itself.

    So I would say, outside of God, all self is conditional, but nevertheless real, in the sense that it acts, and acts upon others.

    OK, but you are still positing a self, something that endures, and now I ask you, what does this self comprise of? Is it not just the principle of life itself?

    If you posit a higher self, that that is not the carnal self (and I am not sure how one can posit one without the other? What is your frame of reference?) and that everything that we consider self is ephemeral, then nothing matters?

    And you're left with that what lives on, which is in no way connected to, determined by, or determinate upon, the acting agent?

    And if there is no acting agent ... to what, or by what process, is 'experience' experienced?

    Thomas
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I believe so...

    Don't your prophets say we are G1ds?
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Not as you understand it. The exegesis of that expression is well known within both the Judaic and Christian Tradition. We follow the Judaic in that.

    But I don't want to get too far off the point.

    Thomas
     
  6. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

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    Originally Posted by wil [​IMG]
    I say there is no self...there is a higher self, that continues from life to life (not simply in succession but simultaneously)


    I posit this:

    We spirits in material bodies are taking birth to fill work "Positions" [aka, Job Title].

    Let me explain my postulation, predicated on "Job Titles/Work Positions":
    There is the work "Position" of Pope ---this Job Title has been around for 2 thousand years ---each time one Pope exists, a new one takes over the Position.


    Similarly, there is the work "Position" of mayor, general, president, taxi driver, warrior et al ---these work position or assignments DO NOT DIE ---yet they are taken up by "those who would be born".

    Similarly, we spirits in material bodies are taking birth to occupy a Position ---that is always avaiable for the candidates as per their qualifications & timing & as circumsatnces allow and/or as per the gumption/determination of the candidate's innitiative.

    When the future birth is determined ---it is predicated upon the Availble Open/Vacant Position.

    We are filling in "Positions" of work responsibilites that are filled by the candidate that is well inclined to do that type of work ---when the time comes.

    We are born to do a job. The Job is absolute and the passing labor-force come and go as time goes by.
     
  7. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    The six sense bases (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind).

    It may do. But is it a true notion?

    Consciousness is one of the five aggregates (skandhas). These are the categories of phenomena that serve as bases for a sense of self. But the Buddha taught that nothing among them is really "I", “me” or "mine".
    The connections between karma, vipaka (the fruit of action) and rebirth is set out in the concept or dependent origination. Consciousness is usually shown as the third of these links. Karma and vipaka establish in current consciousness a basis for future consciousness's existence.



    I don’t know if the Buddha analysed time in quite the way you are looking to, but Eihei Dogen’s Being-time concept is (briefly, ha ha) that time is our being. Time is a flow of being. Time is being, being is time. I think nativeastral said this is like Heidegger’s Dasein concept. Early Buddhism is more psychotherapy I would say, rather than quantum mechanics.


    The six sense bases (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind).

    I don’t think the author means everything, does he? I took it he is referring to the understanding that comes from meditation or zazen.



    What is the point that is missed? The Buddha realised his own awakening. There is no difference; awakening is always available to us, as it was to Gotama.


    Some!!!:p

    s.
     
  8. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

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    This is so wrong wrong wrong.

    The Machine is made of multiple aggregates ---it is consciousness that oversees it.

    There is the elemental chart of Chemists.

    There is the tool box of mechanics.

    There are the text books of the teachers.

    The script of the actors.

    The cosmos to the beholder.

    We change automobiles; We change clothes; We enter 'within' and bring with our presence, the driving Consciousness.

    Consciousness is over and above evolution of any kind whatsoever.

    No one is attempting to down-grade Buddhist doctrine ---we want to define of terminology.

    When meditation perfect silent sitting mantra meditation
    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/classical-silent-mantra-meditation-12727.html
    we are withdrawing the sense organs toward their center (like a defensive turtle).
    The center of the senses is the self.
    When meditation perfect silent sitting mantra meditation we stop in-coming stimuli, and when this is achieved ---we can sense our own "Center of Being".
    Our own "Center of Being" is blissfull by nature.
    Samadhi, is the state of seeing our own "Center of Being" without affects from outside stimuli's interference ---this is a blissfull state because "Anxieties from contact with sensual stimuli" is omitted from important things in life to contend with.

    If there are no things in life to contend with; and we have perfected the ability to BE ONE WITH our "Center of Being" [without affects from outside stimuli's interference] will be blissfull. This directly is the result & goal of sitting mantra meditation.
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    But the senses are organs of a given faculty? The senses all belong to one faculty?

    I can agree to that ... but I would say that something is conscious ... I'm still pointing towards something that one can identify as the 'I' about which all phenomena occurs.

    I grabbed this from wikipedia:
    From this I draw the conclusion that I have been labouring under, that something exists as 'I', which experiences ... the experience may be ephemeral, and the associated emotions with them, such as suffering, or pleasure, can be illusory ... but then we could get into very Catholic ideas of 'suffering', (and would suggest, for example, that both Buddhist and Catholic refute the Western cultural understanding of suffering as something to be avoided at all costs — and thus its ideas of assisted suicide, euthenasia, etc., as founded on a false premise and fear.)

    But consciousness is an activity of something, it does not exist as itself, something is conscious ...

    Thomas
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Wil —
    A quick look at Google will show how often this phrase has been put up to support some order of divine aspect of human nature.

    It will also show a raft of exegetic explanations which demonstrate the error in that assumption. I don't know of any Bible scholar who claims either Psalm 82 or John 10 infers that human nature is intrinsically divine.

    In fact, the exegesis of both texts asserts the condemnation of man given in Genesis — that he usurps his position and his authority, both given by God, by assuming it to himself, and thus assuming himself the equal of God.

    There is, I think, a full and complete exegesis of this text on the University of Notre Dame website ... I certainly intend to make it an object of study.

    In short however, if verses 6 says:
    I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.

    verse 7 gives us something to think about:
    But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes."

    So no ... not gods at all ...

    Thomas
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Yes.
    No.

    e.g. ear + sound = ear-consciousness arises.



    As a Catholic, I would expect this to be a given. But I think it is absent in Buddhism:

    Pacavaggi Sutta: Five Brethren


    Suffering is the usual translation of dukkha, but it is so much broader than that, not just birth, aging, sickness and death.

    s.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    OK. But something in us puts the various streams of consciousness together, by which we are informed about the nature of the world and ourselves.

    Because there is sound, that does not imply hearing, nor indeed consciousness.

    So hearing arises outside of the sound; it is a response to the sound — even if that first response was simply to vibration, and has subsequently, through evolution, hearing has emerged.

    The eye and the ear receive data, and transmit data to a place to be considered, that is neither the ear, nor the eye ...

    And I agree ... but then this is still talking about externals? Is this not simply saying 'what I experience is not me?'

    What is it that makes the determination that what is sensed is not 'me'?

    And how can the Buddha say anything about anything if everything is illusory?

    I'm not trying to be difficult, it's just that in the Christian Tradition, for example, we also hold that what is sensed is 'not me', but it does not logically follow that because every that the self senses is subject to error, that there is no sensing subject ... just that the 'self' is fallible?

    It is just this that some Christian speculative mystics push to the very limit, and in so doing, it seems to me, they push on beyond the point where the Buddha seems to stop, and I still can't fathom why, except as a recourse and reaction to the overtly polytheism of his contemporary religious scene?

    Eriugena, for example, goes on to draw a closer and closer line between that which senses, and God, until it's almost impossible to distinguish where the person ends and God begins. Eckhart famously does this (nor is he unique, he's just the one everyone's heard of), so does Bonaventure ... and so do many others ... but they all affirm the concreate actuality of the being as something not only in act, but something that is, and is aware that it is, no matter howe fragmented or incomplete its knowledge of itself and its environment may be.

    As Our Lord said to St Catherine of Sienna: "I am He Who Is. You are she who is not."

    Thomas
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    But you are making your assertion again that there is “something…” I think it shall remain that you will find the Buddhist analysis ( and / or my understanding of it) incorrect or incomplete. Non-self (anatta) is a fundamental foundation.
    Of itself no; the ear is required as well, for the arising of ear-consciousness. It is described as arising when the two come into contact.


    Not just that… it is saying the skandhas are not me (mine, or I).




    The absence of a continuously abiding separate selfhood.

    I think here he is referring to the illusion of a separately existing and abiding self.


    I know! :)


    ...Well if you want to be logical: if what is sensed is 'not me', it does not logically follow that there is a self. (And we can all pull out a card called logic I think? To an atheist there may logically be no creator deity).

    It is not that there is not something (as in emptiness means nothing). Emptiness is all. The error comes from the division; this is the creation of an abiding self, separate and acting on and within the world. This is delusion, in my understanding of the Buddhadharma.

    s.
     
  14. earl

    earl ?

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    Something is conscious but what? The ultimate koan:p. The Chan folks like to encourage their aspirants to continuously keep in mind the question "who/what" is experiencing. St Francis said "we are looking for that which is looking." Perhaps, they're on the same track which will never be filled in with concepts.:) earl
     
  15. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

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    Bhaktajan to Snoopy:
    BUT EVERYTHING ELSE & EVERYWHERE ELSE [other than a selfhood] EXISTS as a continuously abiding separate Form and/or dynamism.
    The PRESENSE of a continuously abiding separate selfhood EXISTS EVERYWHERE.
    It exists along with its field.

    PERSONALITY accrued during a lifetime is worthless ---we are judged by our actions ---we are not judged by a skills of repartee.

    Many arrive and pass on but EVERYWHERE ELSE [other than a selfhood] EXISTS as a continuously abiding separate Form and/or dynamism.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    I think we are conflating the 'means to enlightenment' with "the subject of enlightenment".

    We are real-- so we must realise that we are false = the 'means to enlightenment'

    We think we are real but we are false --and that is the reality behind the falsity = the subject of enlightenment".

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    What? Maybe it's the grammer that throws me*:
    Non-self is the foundation. ---???

    We accept the "foundation" upon which the edifice is elevated.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    IMO
    anatta is "Un-born"
    anatta is "real" [vs the material forms that rise and fall]
    anatta is "not created/maintained/desolved"
    anatta is "not tinged nor relegated by material variety"
    anatta is "transcendant to time and death"

    It is ONLY inrespect to Enlightened Realisation that the one may consider how the atma is anatta.

    Before such enlightened insight the atma rules in a dynamism of 'the rulers & the ruled'. the only other option is to seek refuge in anatta-ism.
     
  16. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    .
    i agree with wil, this is a wicked thread Thomas.

    But you should've picked a better title!!!

    i almost missed this one cuz of it

    Remember, this is the same "what" which has never been objectively verified.

    Can you verify the existence of my "what"? Nope.

    I am not a Buddhist, but I give them due respect for this insight. But now, on to business:

    As far as "my" understanding has taken "me," "I" can say that since "I" can imagine what it is like to "be" anything "I" see (for example, "I" can imagine what it must be like to be a tree, or bird, or whatever) there must be something fundamentally common to the experience of "me" and "that" which "I" am seeing.

    Think about it this way: if two people can have a conscious experience of the color "blue" there is nothing different about that experience of "blue," is there?

    So why do people make the assumption that there is something fundamentally different between two consciousnesses, when the nature of the consciousness experience is the same?


    Now of course the obvious objection to this is that the perception of that experience is never exactly the same. Which is why human experience/knowledge can never arrive at true objectivity. However, does it necessarily follow from this that a relativity in perception equals a separation in being? After all, is not the fundamental concept behind relativity that everything is intimately connected in spacetime?

    I think this is what is meant by the verse in the Quran which states that the creation of all human beings is like the creation of a single soul.



    =-===-=--==--==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


    Now, with that said, here's a question for you Thomas:

    Do you think that the nature of your "consciousness" is the same as the "consciousness" of God?

    My answer is -NO-

    Because God's "consciousness" encompasses and transcends that of His creation.
    I don't even want to use the word "consciousness" to describe what God has.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Ah (he said sagely), thank you ...

    Yes, yes I get a sense of it now.

    Thanks chaps.

    Thomas
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi C0de —

    Understood ... but then you're 'what' does present itself to me, even if I don't know what my what is.

    I would add, by the way, that Christianity confronts this in Scripture ... St Paul's 'through a glass and darkly' 1 Corinthians 13:12; St John, 'and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be' (or, indeed, what we are) 1 John 3:2 — so I'm not arguing against the idea.

    I know what you mean, but then Lonergan would say it's common sense...

    Agreed.

    That's a good point. I would say that being transcends relativity, or spacetime, anyway ... but that's by-the-by ... if the lower is a reflection of the higher, then the intimate connection of everything in spacetime reflects the intimate connection of everything above it.


    I can agree.

    I would also say, as St Thomas said, that God created multiplicity — multiple essences; different orders of being, different orders of soul, multiple instances within any given order — because no single essence, no single soul, could adequately sum up the idea of Divine Plenitude ... so we have multiple, that each might reflect itself for itself (the gift of being that God possesses, His own 'is-ness' or esse, and itself for another ...

    My answer is YES — but relatively and conditionally so —

    Yes.

    Agreed.

    But ... and it's a big but ... for me to say 'God' means there must be some commonality, even if that commonality is 'I am more unlike God than I am like anything else in the cosmos.

    I believe God wishes to be known ... in hard theological terms I could say I cannot predicate 'consciousness' of God, for the same reason you would not, but God does manifest to my consciousness, by an act of 'condescension' (by which I mean God displays a love of His creature by coming to us in ways we can comprehend.)

    Thanks C0de, for the discussion.

    I'm thinking of studying 'Christian (by which I suppose I should say Catholic) Cosmology', so that's the direction my discussions will be heading ... I would look forward to talking with you down the road.

    Someone, somewhere said the relationship of science and religion should be a symbiotic one. Makes sense to me.

    Thomas
     
  19. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    Amazing quotes.

    The second one I think is about existence in the afterlife. Thinking in terms of the physical dynamics of living in a universe in which the second law of thermodynamics does not apply really are mind-boggling *(i.e. trippy)

    I think one can also use the word "awareness" here. After all, relative perspective is really just a matter of awareness.


    I understand your point of view, and this is a very central idea in your belief structure (just as saying no to that is central behind mine). Just wanted to bring it up to highlight the difference in our perspectives (or relativity in perspectives ; )

    ditto
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi C0de —
    Johann Scottus Eriugena drew his first 'division of nature' as that which can be seen, and that which is not — by which he meant that which is perceptible to the intellect, and that which lies outside its perception (but can be speculated).

    Here, of course, is where the potential for illusion lies, as one can speculate unicorns, but that does not mean they exist ... but it's a good way of working.

    If it is possible to assert relative awareness, one can also speculate absolute awareness, which is the same consciousness, in one instance operating under certain constraints.

    Eriugena was getting close to saying each finite consciousness 'creates' the Cosmos it sees, which in some way accords with the notion of energy collapsing into a singularity when under observation (the question being, from when did the observing singularity itself come from — who is watching me?)

    Now there's a thought! Ride with me for a moment ...

    Suppose 'I' exist because I am being observed by •, so the All collapses into a singularity, a rational and reflective singularity, a (my)self, and a self-observing (my)self.

    Such a (my)self always remains a mystery to the observing (my)self, because stripped of its accidents and contingency, it ceases to be a 'self' as an object, a singularity ...

    Thomas
    (OMG ... so when the nuns at Sunday School told me 'He's watching everything you do' they were right! If He wasn't, I wouldn't be here! Lordy ... HE'S WATCHING ME RIGHT NOW! :eek::D;):rolleyes: )
     

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