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.
Question: How do I go beyond my resistance to letting go of my deepest and most enduring delusion, which is my resolute belief in substantiality, especially when I can somewhat sense that it only serves to promote suffering?
Response: You can’t force yourself to let go of the impressions you have about yourself and the World. They only drop away by seeing through them. As is shown throughout the book, we make countless unquestioned assumptions about Reality that don’t hold up to scrutiny. Examples appear everywhere, whenever we assume substantiality. You only need to spot the common thread that runs through everything you hold to be True.
Question: Why should one try to look beyond what appears to make sense and is also practical (such as technological advancements that stem from science)?
Response: No reason whatsoever. Certainly not if you’re not bothered by anything. Sooner or later, though, you may get a whiff of how absurd the life you believe you’re living actually is. At that time, it would put your mind at ease to realize that there’s an Absolute remedy for this situation. It is to see that everything you believe stems from a conceptual mistake.
Question: Does living out of Reality—and also living in a world that encompasses the laws of physics (e.g., if I drop a raw egg from 3 feet up, it’ll break)—make a person kind of schizophrenic?
Response: Not if you just see. At that time, you might notice that these are not two different realities, ultimately. See page vii.
Question: You say "Reality is Illusion.” Is Reality the constant coming and going of seemingly separate things? What makes Reality different from the illusory nature of this seemingly concrete, conceptual world?
Response to Q1: Reality is the appearance of constant coming and going of seemingly separate things.
Response to Q2: Can’t rightly say It is different. Can’t really say It isn’t, either.
Question: I was struck by the term “subliminal ideas” on page 24. I think that means any thought, belief or concept that we aren’t aware of having (like “I exist” or “inertia is a scientific fact”) and that keeps us from seeing Reality. If many underlying ideas are “subliminal,” how do we become aware of them enough to let them go?
Response: You do not need to be aware of them conceptually to let them go. You only need to be Aware of a leaning mind.
Question: On the one hand enlightenment is nothing more than the direct and effectively unwilled realization that no concept ever fully encapsulates Truth and in this sense enlightenment is very simple and almost nothing special; on the other hand: without this basic understanding life makes no sense. Is this conceptual description of enlightenment and its significance to sentient beings accurate?
Response: Notice what you are doing. You are seeking a conceptual description of objectless Awareness. Just see.
Question: How did belief come to be equated with religion in the first place? According to John Gray in SEVEN TYPES OF ATHEISM, our earliest religions had nothing to do with belief. They simply offered myths that entertained and explained (though not in the modern sense) and practices to be followed (burnt offerings, observance of rites, rituals, and celebrations, etc.) Beliefs weren't talked about or thought about at all. And Buddha, Confucius, and some others never spoke of beliefs at all.
Response: It probably all goes back to the Apostle Paul. Instead of following the teachings of Jesus, which were basically about observing the Law of God as He understood it, Paul repeatedly wrote that one can only gain admittance into the Kingdom of God by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus—a claim Jesus never made for Himself. For Paul, however, this was the essential matter. As a result, much of the human world has now become infected with the pernicious notion that belief is not only imperative for human life, but necessarily good.
Question: Do you think that we can and will ever give up our delusions and live a happier life with the unfolding present moments? And what percentage of people do you think can actually do this?
Response: Yes, we can, but questions such as these invite vain speculation. My immediate concern in this book is that we Wake Up.
Question: Could you explain the phrase “Things are not what they seem nor are they otherwise”?
Response: This phrase is not in The Grand Delusion, though I have uttered it in many of my talks. Nevertheless, it does fit with the main theme of the book. Things are not as they seem (i.e., substantial, or Something), nor are they otherwise (i.e., insubstantial, or Nothing).