the nothing…

when i was younger, i thought it was possible to find the Truth. i should have known better, really: my first literary loves were the french existentialists sartre and camus, the latter of whom especially could not have spelled out the situation more clearly. i accepted their ideas on an intellectual level, and it seemed to me that the discovery of life’s meaninglessness was great news. i could never quite understand why so many others who had read these philosophers took it so hard, or wore themselves out denying it. but though i had read, i had not quite understood, and my very humanness still stood guard against a fundamental (versus merely intellectual) acceptance of the idea that behind every something was not its truth, but a deep and abiding nothing. it took undoing to finally hold me down and make me swallow it.

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many modern writers on buddhism and other traditions that emphasize nothingness as a foundation of all existence attempt to pretty it up by saying, “i know, nothing sounds bad, but what they really mean is nothing like no-thing, like no specific thing, cuz it’s, like, everything, bro!” this attitude seems a bit misleading to me, even patronizing; in my experience, the nothing that resides beneath the many layers of delusion is not this mystical everything, but quite simply an absence. i can’t help but wonder if those who care to qualify nothing as a mystical all-is-one stopped peeling back the layers just a little too early. i cant blame them; mystical union, as a direct experience, is perhaps the most powerful and convincing of all delusions, and quite possibly the most exalted experience possible for a human.

but…what was it you’re supposed to do when you see the buddha on the road?

-riley