Perhaps we have said too often that objects do not exist, perhaps we have repeated - so often that it has become an empty formula - that there is no self; and, perhaps, it may not even be quite true? Indeed nothing expressed by split-mind could ever be anything whole.

After all, do we not know that every dharma (thing, object) neither exists nor does not exist?

May we not have stopped half-way, failed to penetrate to the heart of the matter, remained only half-turned away from the wrong direction of looking? We may have lacked the insight to insee the living truth.

If a monk had said to a T'ang Master what we have been saying, with the same assured self-satisfaction that we have said it, would he not have received thirty blows with the magisterial staff instead of the acquiescence he smugly anticipated? if so, what would he have said if, as a result of his beating, he had been happy enough to see the whole truth in a flash of pure insight?

Would he not have said 'Objects are not objects at all, no 'object' is an object.

The phrase 'an object is not an object' is not the same as the phrase 'no object exists'. Why so? It may mean that an object is something else. Non-existence is a mode of existence, existence and non-existence are a pair of interdependent counterparts, neither of which can exist alone, as 'half of a pair', as Huang Po told us: they must find their resolution in their mutual negation.

Let us take an example, the classic one. We have said that an ego does not exist, is not at all, at all. But in fact it neither exists nor non-exists, so what? 'Ego is not an ego at all' - that is surely the inseeing of the matter? And what does that mean? It means the 'ego' is never an object. It does not state that it cannot be something else. But what could it be, what could anything be, that is not an object?

All we can say is that the nearest we can get to indicating anything that is not an object - for even subject becomes an object for us when it is objectified as such in thought or its verbal expression - is to refer to it as non-object.

So, since objects are not objects at all they might perhaps be considered as non-objects, and 'an ego' (or 'a self') as being non-ego (or no-self). But what is non-object or non-ego (or no-self)?


The Corral

What is it? Is it not the object, ego, self, when that is not an object, ego, self? Is that not why the Masters of Ch'an as of Vedanta, that is of all Advaita, occasionally shake us up by remarking that phenomena are real, that even concepts are real? After all, nothing is either more or less real than anything else - for reality too (being a concept, an object), is not at all 'real' (since it is objective), and can only be such in its negation.

Then all that is left to us to ask is what is anything, what are all things, 'material' or 'psychic', when they are not THAT, when they are 'devoid of all trace of objectivity' (Huang Po)? Obviously since they are not any thing objective at all we could not, in the seriality of time, find a name for what they are, for whatever name we found would make them that which they are not. So an answer as such, can only be negative from our dualistic standpoint.

Colloquially might we not say that it is misleading to think that 'all things are nothing', but revelatory to perceive that 'every thing is no-thing, i.e. not a thing'? Why? Because this non-conceptual non-objectivity which they, all things, ARE - is THIS, not that.

How obvious the answer is! But how frustrating! - since we cannot think it, much less give it a name, make a word of it, without thereby turning it back into the object which it is not!

But does that matter? Does it not suffice to insee it? Does not that inseeing itself destroy all need, together with all possibility, of conceptualising it? And that just because the inseeing is the answer? The eye which cannot see itself knows neither need nor regret for the non-eye that it is.

Note: Let us be careful not to draw conclusions that the premises do not warrant. Let us remember that 'that which is perceived cannot perceive', as Huang Po told us. The perceived is the 'object' which, as such, cannot perceive - only this which it is - non-object - can do that. And that because object is subject and subject is object.
In short: the sensorially-perceived universe is not at all objective.
And THIS is not the see-er of that, but the looking at it.

It is thought and no-thought, mind and no-mind, action and non-action, self and no-self, object and no-object, as concepts, each one and all regarded conceptually, that are not as such, and their so-called suchness, isness, quiddity is the presence of their phenomenal and conceptual, absence.

(© HKU Press, 1964)

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