Strategies for Deconstructing Jealousy
Freiburg, Germany, March 2004
Session Three: Categories and Concepts
I thought to begin with some questions, if you have.
Question: Andrea says that she would fairly agree that she has no right to have demands, but what about a child? Doesn’t a child have a right to be loved, or does not every human being have the right to at least have the minimum that is necessary for life? In terms of what can we expect…
Alex: Well, if we want to look at that issue in an objective type of way, I think we need to look at it not just exclusively in the realm of human beings, if we want to see if there’s some inborn thing that is inherent. But if we look in the animal world, then there are many baby animals, I mean His Holiness always uses this example, the sea turtle that lays the eggs on the shore and then leaves. And they hatch and the baby turtles basically take care of themselves. So I think it would be difficult to prove that there is an inherent right.
Now, a totally different question is whether or not as parents we have a responsibility to take care of our children and to love them as best as we can. That I think we do, if we are going to take the decision to be a parent. But I don’t see how you could establish, or prove, a certain inherent right on the side of even the child. It’s our responsibility to love them as parents and take care of them, regardless of what they do. They don’t have to deserve it. But His Holiness doesn’t use the example of sea turtles in this case. He talks about this in terms of the whole issue of affection, of there being a natural affection for children. That’s why His Holiness says it would be an interesting experiment to bring the mother sea turtle together with her children after they’ve hatched to see if there’s any natural affection she shows toward them, or if the sea turtle is an exception in this case.
Now, His Holiness also uses the example that everybody wants to be happy, not to be unhappy, and everybody has to right to be happy and not to be unhappy. But I think we have to examine even that a little bit closer. I think that’s conventionally true, but if we search deeply into the issue, I think that we have to conclude slightly differently. I think that what we have to say is that in my pursuit to be happy and not to be unhappy, I don’t have the right to do that at the expense of other people’s happiness and to cause them unhappiness. It’s not so much that they on their side have to be happy, but I do not have the right to make them unhappy and to block their happiness in order to get my happiness. That I think is more fitting with a deeper way of looking at it from a Buddhist perspective. In our pursuit of being happy, which everybody wants to be happy.
Translator: So if somebody comes up saying to me, “The liberties you’re taking for yourself, they’re making me unhappy,” then, she says, perusing her own life style, of course she comes into difficulties because it’s not possible to make everybody happy.
Alex: So, first of all we have to see in this discussion that I do not have an inherent right – “inherent,” this is the underlined word – the inherent right to be happy regardless of what I do. That doesn’t mean that I have no right to be happy. And that I can’t be happy – that’s not allowed. We’re not saying that. Don’t misunderstand. Everything depends on cause and effect; on how we behave, what we do, and so on. If we only take and we expect even more and we don’t give anything in return, that’s not reasonable. Or if we’ve only given and the other person hasn’t given anything in return to us, that’s not reasonable. Now we’re not talking about little children, we’re talking about partners. And we’re referring to both ways: if I’m only giving and you’re only taking or you’re only giving and I’m only taking. It’s the same in both cases.
For example, I’m putting in my contribution to the relationship, my contribution to raising the kids, and in a conventional sense I’ve earned the right to have some time off. And you have to give something as well. So that’s fair. That’s not as an inherent law, but this is just relatively how things work. And if the other person won’t accept that, then we have to reconsider the whole arrangement. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be the martyr and the victim and give in. That’s not the ideal solution. Because “I don’t have the right to be happy; I must just be the servant all the time.” That’s not what we’re saying here, not at all. That’s easy to get the wrong idea from what we were saying, so thank you for clarifying that.
Buddhism always tries to avoid the two extremes, and sometimes when you point out one extreme, you forget to point out the other extreme. It’s like denying that this person dressed as Santa Claus is Santa Claus, but then forgetting to reaffirm that it’s a person.
Translator: The way you expressed yourself on democracy, she’s absolutely not in accord with that because you seem to de-evaluate it, and to her knowledge there is no better way of letting the people take part in the power. Then you seem to have put it just into jealousy and rivalry.
Alex: Well, yes. I have again pointed out one extreme without pointing out the other extreme. So thank you for bringing it up. This doesn’t mean that I’m advocating royalty or despotism or anything like that, or chaos. But what I was saying is a very difficult situation is an election campaign which is based on putting down the other person and spending all your time trying to find scandals and all sorts of completely farfetched things of how bad the other person is comparing to me. There’s a big difference between an election which is based on what we call in American English a “smear campaign” – you know, to try to make the other person look bad – as opposed to campaign which is simply based on “These are my good qualities.” And you present what your good qualities are without putting down the other person. Then the people can chose. And if it’s a society like the Tibetans, in which it would be very immodest to say what your own good qualities are, then you have somebody else do that on your behalf.
Now of course this is perhaps being a little bit – not a little bit, but a lot – idealistic about the whole system. But you were asking what I would imagine would be the ideal system. Now of course underlying all of that is the person who is running for office is totally honest about what their good qualities are and doesn’t hide their weak points. And that would be quite difficult to find out, but I mean from a totally honest point of view, this is how it would be based. Nobody’s perfect, so to pretend that you’re perfect is absurd. And to say, “Well, I smoked marijuana when I was twenty years old, thirty five years ago,” and so what? We’re not trying to hide that. OK, so I did that. I’m not doing it now.
But, you know, often these politicians running for office, even if they’re not putting down the other person, sound like one of these really sleazy untrustworthy used car dealers who’s trying to sell a used car that really is broken down and is presenting it as the most wonderful thing in the world. Completely unrealistic. If democracy is based on that, and you’re choosing between who’s the best used cars salesmen, it’s pathetic. And spend a whole year, my goodness, on this whole thing, as opposed to just do it a few weeks or one month or whatever. Then it becomes a sport. We might as well have gladiators. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with democracy; the point is how to make it ethical and not based on real disturbing emotions.
Question: Her question is how to bring out criticism in terms of making things better, not in terms of making people down or making them bad persons, but just for the righteousness of situations or to improve situations to bring on your critique. How to do that?
Alex: Well, I think that we need to first of all reassure the person that, if they’re particularly oversensitive to criticism, that, “Look, I’d like to give you a constructive piece of criticism, Is that OK?” And if you have to even say, “Of course, I still love you, I don’t think you’re a terrible person.” But I mean, you tell them what you’re doing. Then you can offer the critique.
And there’s a difference between giving it as a scolding and giving it as a suggestion of how to make your life go better, get the job done better – tone of voice and motivation. “You know, I’m really pissed off that you don’t do the job well,” and then we criticize them, that’s very different from, “OK, I asked you to do something, because I was too lazy or busy to do it myself, so it’s unreasonable to expect that you’re going to do it the way that I wanted it to be done…” However, with patience, you suggest to them how to improve. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Could you do this?” Tone of voice and motivation, very important.
Personally, myself, I try to follow the advice that’s given in the Buddhist training sometimes called “mind-training.” I prefer “cleansing of attitudes,” improving our attitudes, which is to accept the fault of the defeat on ourselves and give the victory to the others. And what this means is to say that, “It was my fault that I didn’t explain myself clearly enough, what I wanted.” I put the blame on myself. And then explain to them, “I don’t say it was your fault; it was my fault, I didn’t make it clear enough.” Then people can accept – usually. Or at least accept more easily that they need to improve, without our blaming them. Well that’s indirect; that’s a very Tibetan way of doing it, implicitly. There’s no need to point it out, no need to point it out if the other person was the one who made a mistake. Take the blame on yourself.
Let me give an example. I asked somebody to translate some things from my website and they didn’t really have experience. That’s the first time they were going to translate. And they translated it, and after this person gave it back to me, I sent it to other people who were working on that language section and they sent it back with a lot of things that they corrected on it – lots and lots of things. And so, I can say that it was my fault. I didn’t explain clearly enough that this is your first try and that I don’t expect it to be perfect and I’m going to send it to other people to check so that you can learn. So it’s my mistake for not explaining everything clearly what the process would be. Indirectly, this new translator got the message, from my saying that this was a learning experience, that I expected that she would improve.
Question: She says she can very much accept what you said on the personal level, between two persons. What she aimed more with her question was on a broader level, like between organizations, like an environment oriented organization has to stand up against some industry companies, and especially if there are some not so clean things on the other side. Her question was then how to do that, how to bring your criticism out in a correct way?
Alex: I think there’s a difference between fact-finding and condemning the other party for the evil that they’re doing. Fact-finding is fact-finding; just present it as objective information. And then try to get people to implement that and act on that. But calling names, “You’re such terrible polluters,” and you know, the bad ones – anybody who’s on the receiving side of that is automatically going to become defensive and then more likely to attack back. What other response do you expect if you’re so aggressive?
But if you’re going to point out weak points in somebody else, what they’re doing, first of all you have to take in a large picture, not just look at one tiny little aspect of it, because they have a point also – that if you stop the lumber industry in a certain area, nobody in this town will have work anymore. And so how are these people supposed to feed their children? So you have to come up with some follow-up, of how to deal with the problem, even if all these people are involved in making weapons, and then they lose their jobs.
Well, don’t be so totally idealistic. Come up with a workable solution that will solve the consequences of what you’re proposing. Otherwise you’re going to be attacked back, if you just idealistically say, “No more weapons, and no more anything.” How would people live? So you need to then come up with a plan for them. It’s called constructive criticism. Then it’s possible for them to implement; you give them another alternative. That’s realistic. So then we see that these sorts of problems are not very easy to solve.
OK. Now let’s continue with our discussion.
We had started to get into the topic which is a very important topic, which I’d like to pursue next, which is the issue of categories – dividing the world and ourselves into winners and losers. Because this gets into the whole topic of what’s called in Buddhism “mental labeling,” which is very, very much involved with the discussion of voidness. Now, this is not at all limited to the discussion of duality – you know, dividing the world into winners and losers. That’s just a small variation of a much larger theme of, as I said, in a simple word that is the easiest for most people to relate to in the West, is the word “categories.” What are these categories in which we view the world?
Now, when we look at categories, categories are the way that basically we try to understand the world and our experience. And categories are things which are just made up by minds; it’s mentally constructed. So, let’s just use an example that I often like to use because I think it’s fairly easier to understand, is the whole issue of color. If we look in general, there’s a whole spectrum – I’m not a scientist, so please excuse me if I’m not completely accurate – but there’s a whole spectrum of wavelengths of light. Now, how we divide that spectrum of colors? It’s totally arbitrary; you could divide it any way, any way, whatsoever; it’s not fixed from the side of the spectrum. And so one particular culture decides – they make up their own definition of a category: between this wavelength and that wavelength is going to be one category of color. It’s totally arbitrary.
Whether you define in terms of this number to that number or you define it in terms of pointing, then saying, anything that’s darker than this is red and anything lighter then this is orange. It doesn’t matter; you’re making a boundary, you’re giving a definition. It’s the whole issue, “Are definitions inherent in anything, or are definitions made up by culture, by mind?” And they’re made up by culture or our mind. So, we’re setting the boundaries, this is a definition: between this point and that point I’m going to make it into a category. Or our culture is going to divide that into categories, into a color. There aren’t lines out there in the universe, or a wall dividing red from orange. So, even in terms of sensitivities, there’s still a boundary; what’s going to be in one category, what’s going to be in another category. It doesn’t matter what the basis of making the category is, it’s irrelevant. The point is the boundaries are set arbitrarily.
And then, what the culture does, is, there are acoustic patterns. An acoustic pattern would be like O, eR, Ah, eN, Ju. Now, that acoustic pattern, those sounds, have no inherent meaning in the world whatsoever. And the culture puts that together, and says “This acoustic pattern has a meaning. And it means, what we’ve set up a definition between this point and that point of a color.” Now, I don’t think people sat down and, “Aha, now let’s do that.” But if you speak in terms of a mental process, this is a mental process. We make words – these are just sounds; these are acoustic patterns. Did you ever listen to a language that you don’t understand anything in, you can’t even differentiate it into words. It’s just sounds? It’s clear. Sounds don’t have any inherent meaning in them.
So, we set up these categories, and each society makes divisions; some may make the same division, but societies don’t divide things in the same way. And so you can have one society, one culture, that has the categories “red,” “orange” and “yellow,” and another culture only has the categories “red” and “yellow.” Half of orange is in red, half of orange is in yellow. And maybe their “red” goes a little bit into what we would consider “brown.”
There were interesting experiments carried on at Harvard when I was there, which was showing people different images of colors from different cultures and asking them what color was this. And some would say “blue,” some would say “green.” There’s nothing inherent from the side of the color. Different cultures set different concepts of categories and colors; the boundaries were different, the definitions were different.
And so, what is visible to a human eye, the boundaries are different for what is visible to an eagle’s eye. It’s relative. And so, the point I’m trying to do is to introduce what is meant in Buddhism in terms of “concepts.” Conceptual thinking – what’s involved? And what’s involved is thinking in terms of categories. And categories are deeply connected with language, although not necessarily, because certainly animals think in terms of categories, but they might have not words for them. A dog has certainly formulated the category “my master,” and thinks in terms of this category when for instance it’s alone, locked up in the house, and misses the master and cries. A dog has a concept of “my territory”; a dog has a concept of “enemy” or “intruder.” But none of these are verbal categories, nevertheless they are categories, and you would have to say that a dog thinks conceptually in terms of these categories.
So, if we can understand this in terms of colors, then we can apply this to more subtle things like emotions. Certainly, what one culture calls “jealousy,” another culture could define something slightly differently. And well, maybe that wouldn’t fit into the Tibetan concept which is indicated by a different word. These don’t necessarily overlap; these are mental constructs. It’s not just disturbing emotions, any emotion – the boundaries don’t exactly overlap. And, I mean, as it came up during lunch time, even the distinction in English between “jealousy” and “envy” isn’t exactly the same distinction as the two words in German “Eifersucht” and “Neid.” You said that one was more, in German, aimed at persons and relations and one was aimed more at material things.
Question: And that’s not the case in English?
Question: You’re jealous that somebody has an ice cream?
Translator: Then it’s different…
Alex: So we’re not even talking about the difference between a European and an Asian point of view. Even within our European cultures, these categories – particularly when it comes to emotions – are defined quite differently and our words, although they overlap in many cases, they’re not exact correspondences. Even within one language, there can be quiet different understandings of words and usages of words, they’re defined differently.
And so, that means that on the side of the emotional spectrum, there are no solid lines out there, making categories. There’s something which is decided upon by – the word that’s used in Buddhist analysis is “convention.” It’s a convention, an agreed upon convention. Even we make up our own conventions, what we call something. It is a convention. It’s convenient; the word “convenient” is related to convention. It’s convenient for communication and for comprehending what’s going on.
Think about it that, that’s really true, we might even be speaking the so-called same language, but two partners in a relationship might define very differently what “faithful” means or what a “relationship” means or what “relating well” means, what “being responsible” means. And what makes our conventions more valid than somebody else’s conventions? Take a simple example like “polite.” What’s polite and what’s impolite? That is so different in different cultures. What makes our customs, our definition, correct? And the others wrong? But the mistake is thinking that these categories exist out there; that the world actually exists in categories from its own side. Inherent, that’s what inherent means – it’s established from its own side, these categories.
The image that I find useful here is a children’s coloring book. We tend to think – not consciously – but it’s as if we imagine that the whole world exists like a picture in a coloring book, with a black line, a solid line around everything, you know, and it’s this or it’s that. Did you ever have these things, paint by number? There’s a little number in it – paint this little box this color. The categories are out there, with a big line around them. That obviously is – if we use the word that we were using this morning, Quatsch – that’s garbage. The number in the box, that paint-by-numbers picture, the numbers are the example of definitions being inherent of the side of the objects. You know, there’s a definition, “This is number one,” painting this color, this meaning, into this box, because the number is inherent on the side of the page. The “defining characteristic” is the technical term.
Now this is terribly, terribly subtle, and terribly, terribly profound. So let’s take more than a moment to try to understand this. But this is certainly what’s behind this whole thing of, you know, winners and losers, isn’t it?
Now, what we are saying about there being no inherent lines around things out there, no inherent categories out there – that doesn’t mean that the whole universe is one big undifferentiated soup. That’s a common mistake, a mistaken conclusion from this. And we’re all One, you know, it’s all One. That there’s really no division between “me” and “you,” so there are no boundaries, so I can use everything of yours that I want to. That’s not the conclusion that follows from this.
So, we need to make a difference: these categories and words, they relate to the way things are; they relate to something, they’re referring to something, but the universe doesn’t correspond to these words and categories. They refer to something, but what they refer to don’t correspond to these things. There’s a difference. Because these categories, these words, are conventions. So conventionally it’s true, “This is my house; it’s not your house.” Conventionally, “It’s my partner, not your partner.” When we use these words, when we use these categories, it refers to something – a convention. So, that convention, that conventional truth, is true. However, that doesn’t mean that, like some cattle, there’s a brand on the side person over there, “Mine,” as if they came like that out of the mother’s womb; that things actually correspond to this solid, permanent, category; that it actually corresponds to that. Because categories are fixed, a category is a fixed thing. You know, “Here it is, look, in the dictionary, this word. It’s fixed, what it means.” The universe doesn’t correspond to that.
But when we use language, it refers to something, and we need it, otherwise we can’t communicate. And we couldn’t make sense of anything that we experience if we didn’t have categories; if we couldn’t recognize that this is a door, and also that’s a door, even though they look really quite different, don’t they? And that that’s where you walk through to get to the other side. How would we even function? We’re not just talking about words here; we’re talking about meanings. Buddhism differentiates “word universals” from “meaning universals” That there is such a thing as “doors,” defined in such and such a way – well, it’s a convention. I mean, the universe didn’t start with doors. Yet, we all know what a door is, regardless of what word we get for it; even a cow knows what a door is. The cow doesn’t walk into a wall when it wants to go into the barn. And a cow can recognize a door in many buildings. So we need these things; you don’t want to through them away, “Ah, it’s all conceptions,” forget about that.” It’s convenient, we need them. But the universe doesn’t correspond to them. But we need them, otherwise we really couldn’t function.
That’s a good example: the map is not a territory; the street map is not the street. I mean it’s very interesting that in many cultures they don’t have maps. And to try to explain the concept of a map to somebody from some isolated tribe in New Guinea or whatever, it’s really difficult. We take it totally for granted, don’t we? But the street map is useful; it refers to the layout of streets in a city. But it’s not the same color, it’s not the same size, it’s doesn’t have written in the middle of the street the name. Does it? So that’s a silly example, but concepts and language and categories, it’s the same. So let that sink in, understand that point. These are subtle points. We’re going quite quickly here, because it’s like, the English expression taking the carpet out from underneath somebody, it’s really quite, “Oh, I never looked at the world that way.” And you have to really make sure that you don’t misunderstand and think, “Oh, it’s all an undifferentiated soup.”
The relevance of all of this – so you don’t lose the relevance here – is that we’re putting “me” into a certain category: winner, loser, successful, unsuccessful, this sort of things. These are just categories. “Conventionally, I lost the race. You won the race.” It’s true. “You got the promotion at work, I didn’t.” “My partner is now with you and not with me.” Conventionally that’s true; it describes the situation. But that’s all what it does is describe the situation. It doesn’t mean that I’m in this solid category of “loser,” “failure,” and you’re in the solid category of “winner.” And add on top of that, “You didn’t deserve it.”
When that really, really sinks in and we really, really can see that, and we understand, “Yes, that’s true,” our emotional response to the situations is totally, totally different. We don’t have this big line between intellectual understanding and emotional understanding. It’s also made in categories. When we really understand something, we feel it; it feels like that. There is the deeper emotional understanding. There’s no a solid “Bahhh, I have to go from one to the other; and it’s only this and it’s not that; it’s only intellectual, it’s not emotional.” It’s a spectrum, just how you describe it. Understanding effects emotions, definitely.
So let’s take some last minutes here to digest these points.
Question: The difference between the thing itself and the concept, the appearance of a thing and the appearance has to do with the concept I’m making of it, and I might make better and better concepts by the time, but are there any means to get through to the thing in itself, beyond the concept to reach the phenomena itself?
Alex: Well, this is an interesting question and is an issue that’s also obviously there in Western philosophy; “the thing in itself” in German philosophy. But certainly in terms of concepts, categories, there are those which are more accurate than others; categories that are accurate, categories that are inaccurate. And there are many different criteria for seeing whether or not it’s accurate. That’s a big long discussion – validity of cognition.
And also the answer to your question, if I put it into how it would be formulated in a Buddhist way, it is, well, can you actually find the object, the thing in itself, go beyond the concept? And this is a question which is looked at very, very seriously in Buddhist philosophy, and there are different levels of explanation. So you don’t immediately jump to the most sophisticated subtle explanation; you approach it in stages, and it takes years and years. And the whole issue of voidness is, on the deepest level, dealing with this issue of whether ultimately anything is findable.
So, there’s no simple answer to your question. The issue here with voidness is what proves that something exists? And “exists” means, in the Buddhist definitions, that it’s validly knowable. I can think that there’s an invader from the fifth dimension underneath my bed, but that’s not a valid thought. You’re not going to find an invader from the fifth dimension under my bed, just because I think it exists. And then there’s a big long discussion of what it means to be “validly knowable.” So even though I think it, that doesn’t prove that it exists.
The less sophisticated explanations say – as this is the one right beneath the deepest understanding – it says, “You know, OK, I’ll accept all these things that you say about categories and so on, that it’s only, you know, conventions.” But, nevertheless, you could actually find what words and concepts refer to; the referent object is findable. That proves that it exists. I can find it. When I say “flower,” sure, it’s a category and it’s a convention, all this sort of things, and it’s universal, and like that. But when I say “flower,” this is referring to a flower, over there. Here it is. From its own side, the definition, growing from the ground, however we want to define a flower. That’s what they say it proves that it exists, it can be found, there’s the referent of the word for it.
And so, we’re not just speaking on a very simplistic level that, “I can’t find an invader from the fifth dimension under my bed, but I can find a cat underneath my bed, and if I look for where did the cat go, I can find it under my bed.” We’re not talking on that level of finding something. Otherwise we can never find our keys; we can never find our way home.
So, the point is when we analyze, are the defining characteristics findable on the side of this thing under my bed, that makes it a cat, that proves it’s a cat there? “Well, a long tail and makes this special sound when you pet it, and things like that. Well, where is that defining characteristic, can I find it? Is it in this cell of a tail, is it in that cell, where is it? And you look deeper and deeper, under an electron microscope, you can’t find it, can you?
And is there anything that you can find on the side of this thing under my bed that makes it even a knowable object? Is there a line around it that separates it from what is one atom away from it? The space in between the hairs, that’s not the cat? There’s a line around it, dividing and making it to a solid object? You can’t find the line. Where does the atom of the cat end and the atom of the air next to it begin? There’s no line. Where is the line that the energy fields of the two atoms separate? Here is the cat on this side of the wall and here’s the air on the other side of the wall.
This is going deeper than categories. Categories, that’s not the deepest level of what we’re projecting. We’re projecting that the defining characteristics on the side of the object, let alone the category, and we’re even projecting that there’s a line around it, that it’s a knowable object; that there’s something on the side of the object that makes it an individual, knowable object with a line around it, regardless of what box we put it into. Even that is mentally constructed. So it’s not enough to just stop where we normally think is a conceptual thought and think that then we’ve got it. It goes much deeper than that. So, you can’t find a thing; there’s nothing out there that makes it into an item, a knowable item, a thing.
Question: Can we not measure the concentration of cat hair?
Alex: That’s a convention, that you say, “Above this number it’s this and below this number it’s that.” It’s a convention; all of these things are conventions. We’re not saying that everything is an undifferentiated soup – remember, that was the other extreme – but this extreme is that there’s actually something findable out there, inherent on the side of the object. Not just a convention. Building the category of where the cat ends on the basis of a density of cat hair is again – we’re still talking about numbers – is it forty-six point three or forty-six point two? Where is the line? That’s exactly the thing, it’s a convention. And as a convention it functions, we’re not denying that.
So, that doesn’t prove that something exists, that it’s findable. That’s like saying, you know, what proves that I exist is that I can go to the fifth dimension. That’s a ridiculous reason, you can’t even go to the fifth dimension; you can’t even find something, so how could you say it proves that something exists. So in fact in the end you can’t say anything, what proves that something exists on the side of the object. All you can say is that we have these conventions, and it’s merely convention, that it’s the cat, and that the boundary is like this, and be satisfied with that, because on that basis everything functions. That’s what voidness is all about. Being findable is impossible. So in the end you can’t make any statement in terms of what proves on the side of the object that something exists. That’s what’s void.
The cat, well, sure, that’s a convention, it refers to what’s under the bed. But, where am I going to find this thing? In this atom, in that cell? You can’t. “I lost my partner;” “I lost my job.” OK, that refers to something, but there’s nothing on the side of “me” that I can find that makes me a loser, from its own power, something inherently is wrong with me. OK? We will explore this much more tomorrow because then, well, is “me” just a concept? What is that all about?
A cat is not just a concept. Everything isn’t literally an illusion, just in my head. But we have to be very delicate here. And language is tricky. Language is tricky. That’s why we need to go beyond language, eventually. Language always gives the wrong idea. Yet we need to work with language, otherwise we can’t communicate.
We’re not saying that everything is just a concept; concepts are useful for how we describe things. And as soon as we start to put it into language, we’re involved with concepts. And that’s why eventually we need to go beyond words. But that doesn’t forget about words, don’t ever use language again.
So, let’s end with the dedication, we think whatever understanding we gained in the beginning, may it go deeper and deeper so that eventually this really sinks in and starts to make a difference. Because it definitely will, in terms of our experience of life, especially our emotional experience. And that through that, not only we overcome our own problems, but we will be in a better position to help everyone.
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This website relies completely on donations. Its maintenance, preparation of the remaining 70% of our planned material, and further translating is costly. Although we currently have 80 volunteers, 23 essential team members require payment. Help us raise the 100,000 euros (US $150,000) required each year
to continue providing our website free of charge.
Reaching Our Goal (35%)