Question: If you are a sincere seeker in the West, where should you go to meditate and “study” truth? (Also, I’m a very conceptually driven person, as we all are, so I appreciate you telling me to stop conceptualizing in the book).
Also, I’m studying to become a neuroscientist. You mentioned in the book you mentioned to a physicist how you wrote a paper arguing for the primacy of mind over matter, and you got laughed at, being told soon we’ll have conscious robots. I imagine this viewpoint is even more rampant in neuroscience, and I tend to keep my mouth shut. Do you have advice for scientists who believe in “mind over matter”? I feel it’s unethical to keep my mouth shut if I want to be a scientist who stands up for truth, but I’m also not sure how to not make other scientists angry.
Response to ¶1: It is not possible to seek Truth since Truth is all we ever directly experience. It’s a matter of seeing (perceiving) not seeking (conceptualizing). As for “study,” practicing meditation with one who has eyes is paramount. (I don’t actually tell you to stop conceptualizing in the book but only to recognize when you do. Meditation, when properly carried out, will take care of this.)
Response to ¶2: If believers in matter over mind challenge you, ask them about “the hard problem.” If they get angry because they can’t even approach it, it’s certainly not your fault. You might, however, be able to help them recognize that it’s actually an FEQ.
Question: On page 195 [Chapter 36] of The Grand Delusion you state that Reality with a capital R is “... seamless UNCHANGING World of Totality ...” What I am misunderstanding is that I thought that Reality was CHANGE and FLUX. You state on page 227 [Appendix B, part 3] that “[This objectless] World of [undivided] Wholeness is none other than the everyday world of this and that.” Now the everyday world seems to be one of change and flux. So, if it is identical to the World of Undivided Wholeness, doesn’t that imply Reality is also change and flux? Or are you saying that things only APPEAR to change? That change and Nonchange are the same.
Response: Excellent questions. You’ve gotten to the heart of matter. But notice the title of Chapter 36: The Two Truths. Bearing this title in mind, slowly reread page 195 and continue on for three more paragraphs to where I point out that the “first aspect appears dynamic; the second, eternal.” Then skip to the top of page 207 (near the end of Chapter 37) where ANYONE asks, “What are not two?” Read from there to the end of the chapter. Please take special note of the line where I tell ANYONE to “first set down everything you’re carrying.” Including, I would add here, even the idea that “I exist,” as Zen master Ikkyu points out before the start of Part II. Set down everything. That’s actually the “secret” which, of course, is always in plain view.
Question: My question would be pertaining to your concept of "grand symmetry." What is it? Is it "above" duality? Would an examen of grand symmetry be everything being mind, below which is mind and body?
In other words, everything is one (mind), though that "one" can exist as two (mind and body/matter)?
Response: Symmetry, as used in The Grand Delusion, is defined as the two truths which ultimately manifest in Grand Symmetry where phenomena unceasingly appear in constant flux while Reality, as Whole, remains forever Thus. Consequently, beyond appearances, we cannot say there is either “above” or “below.” Nor can we say otherwise. You might want to reread chapter 36.
Question about Grand Symmetry and participation. Thank you for saying something. If I follow you correctly, some relative truths are more coherent than others, even if none can describe Truth with a capital T. My sense is that thoughts and actions that arise out of seeing may be particularly interesting. Would you say that there is a certain ‘art’ to this dance of participating in the ‘Grand Symmetry’? Kind regards from across the seas.
Response: Thank you. It seems that way, doesn’t it? Just remember that I’m loath to say “is,” or, “is not.”
Question: Many times I’ve heard you state two ideas: concepts won’t give you the Truth. But concepts are useful. Well, concepts are only useful when they conform to the way nature behaves. One can only use Newton’s gravitation to send a spaceship to the moon because nature conforms, at some level, to its mathematical structure. The theory captures some truth about nature. On the other hand, Lamarckism is useless. Why? Because it’s false. One cannot breed animals with longer necks by forcing them to reach out for fruits...
It seems obvious that science does approach truth—in fact, you yourself frequently refer to quantum physics (a conceptual framework) to make points about Truth. Bell’s theorem for instance. In so doing you assume the theorem (a conceptual structure that lead to empirical tests) is true. That render me confused about your stance in regards to conceptual thinking, truth and science in particular.
Response: I agree with your observations regarding Newton’s laws of gravity (though I would avoid the word “only”) as well as Lamarck’s ideas about acquired characteristics. I don’t think, however, that I countered any such general observations (particularly any referring to Newton or Lamarck) in The Grand Delusion—though we could say that Lamarck’s ideas are useful in that they show us what doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. As I state in the book, science does provide us with an impeccable method for uncovering relative truths, but I wouldn’t say that it helps us to approach Truth. It’s impossible to approach Truth. Nor is it necessary. Truth is eternally immediate. As for my making references to quantum physics, Bell’s theorem, or the like, I don’t do this to bolster anything I’m pointing out about Truth. Truth doesn’t need it. I only do this to point out what we’ve discovered about what appear as relative truths—which, unlike Truth, can sometimes seem useful. Please check out the terms concept, conception, truth, and Truth, as well as the term “two truths” in the glossary. And then reread chapter 36.