Stopping point

How do we get to the point in the empirical sciences?

Every test of a theory, whether resulting in its corroboration or falsification, must stop at some basic statement or other which we decide to accept. If we do not come to any decision, and do not accept some basic statement or other, then the test will have led nowhere. But considered from a logical point of view, the situation is never such that it compels us to stop at this particular basic statement rather than that, or else give up the test altogether. For any basic statement can again in its turn be subjected to tests, using as a touchstone any of the basic statements which can be deduced from it with the help of some theory, either the one under test, or another. This procedure has no natural end. Thus if the test is to lead us anywhere, nothing remains but to stop at some point or other and say that we are satisfied, for the time being.

— Popper (1934/1959, 86)

Mediately present

Every mind which passes from doubt to belief must have ideas which follow after one another in time. Every mind which reasons must have ideas which not only follow after others but are caused by them. Every mind which is capable of logical criticism of its inferences, must be aware of this determination of its ideas by previous ideas. But is it pre-supposed in the conception of a logical mind, that the temporal succession in its ideas is continuous, and not by discrete steps? A continuum such as we suppose time and space to be, is defined as something any part of which itself has parts of the same kind. So that the point of time or the point of space is nothing but the ideal limit towards which we approach, but which we can never reach in dividing time or space; and consequently nothing is true of a point which is not true of a space or a time.
… ideas which succeed one another during an interval of time, become present to the mind through the successive presence of the ideas which occupy the parts of that time. So that the ideas which are present in each of these parts are more immediately present, or rather less mediately present than those of the whole time. And this division may be carried to any extent. But you never reach an idea which is quite immediately present to the mind, and is not made present by the ideas which occupy the parts of the time that it occupies. Accordingly, it takes time for ideas to be present to the mind. They are present during a time. And they are present by means of the presence of the ideas which are in the parts of that time. Nothing is therefore present to the mind in an instant, but only during a time. The events of a day are less mediately present to the mind than the events of a year; the events of a second less mediately present than the events of a day.

… Let us now see what is necessary in order that ideas should determine one another, and that the mind should be aware that they determine one another. In order that there should be any likeness among ideas, it is necessary, that during an interval of time there should be some constant element in thought or feeling. If I imagine something red, it requires a certain time for me to do so. And if the other elements of the image vary during that time, in one part it must be invariable, it must be constantly red. And therefore it is proper to say that the idea of red is present to the mind at every instant. For we are not now saying that an idea is present to the mind in an instant in the objectionable sense which has been referred to above, according to which an instant would differ from an interval of time; but we are only saying that the idea is present at an instant, in the sense that it is present in every part of a certain interval of time; however short that part may be. The first thing that is requisite to a logical mind, is that there should be elements of thought which are present at instants in this sense. The second thing that is requisite is, that what is present one instant should have an effect upon what is present during the lapse of time which follows that instant. This effect can only be a reproduction of a part of what was present at the instant; because what is present at the instant, is present during an interval of time during the whole of which the effect will be present. And therefore since all that is present during this interval is present at each instant, it follows that the effect of what is present at each instant is present at that instant. So that this effect is a part of the idea which produces it. In other words, it is merely a reproduction of a part of that idea. This effect is memory, in its most elementary form. But something more than this is required in order that the conclusion shall be produced from a premise; namely, an effect produced by the succession of one idea upon another.

— Peirce, W3:68-71 (March 8, 1873)

Hsueh Tou directly says, “If you want to see the old yellow-face right now, every atom of dust in every land lies halfway there.” Usually we say that each atom is a Buddha-land, each leaf is a Shakyamuni. Even when all the atomic particles in the universe can be seen in one atom, you’re still only halfway there; there is still another half of the way yonder. But tell me, where is he? Old Shakyamuni didn’t even know himself; how would you have me explain?

Blue Cliff Record, Case 94 (Cleary and Cleary)

Peircing Dogen

Dogen’s Genjokoan (‘Actualizing the Fundamental Point’) is Peirce’s phaneron.

It contains past and present, the three worlds, the ten directions, delusions, enlightenment, all buddhas, sentient beings, birth, and death.

— Nishiari Bokusan (Weitsman, Wenger and Okumura 2011, 12)

The Firstness of the phaneron is punctuated by its Secondness, while the two are married and mediated by its Thirdness. These elements of the phaneron do not obstruct one another as they collude in composing the interbeing of all phenomena.

Outsight unseen

When He Himself reveals Himself, Brahma brings into manifestation That which can never be seen.
As the seed is in the plant, as the shade is in the tree, as the void is in the sky, as infinite forms are in the void –
So from beyond the Infinite, the Infinite comes; and from the Infinite the finite extends.

The creature is in Brahma, and Brahma is in the creature: they are ever distinct, yet ever united.
He Himself is the tree, the seed, and the germ.
He Himself is the flower, the fruit, and the shade.
He Himself is the sun, the light, and the lighted.
He Himself is Brahma, creature, and Maya.
He Himself is the manifold form, the infinite space;
He is the breath, the word, and the meaning.
He Himself is the limit and the limitless: and beyond both the limited and the limitless is He, the Pure Being.
He is the Immanent Mind in Brahma and in the creature.

The Supreme Soul is seen within the soul,
The Point is seen within the Supreme Soul,
And within the Point, the reflection is seen again.
Kabîr is blest because he has this supreme vision!

Kabir, I.85 (‘Sâdho, Brahm alakh lakhâyâ’) (Tagore)

The turn that can be expressed

Upon ‘discovering the principle of all things in the point of a moment of thought’ (Avatamsaka Sutra, Cleary 1984, 1163), the universe is a single turning.

How is it when it is expressed completely in a single phrase?

— Dogen, EK 2.133

Your turn.

Dongshan instructed the assembly saying, “Experiencing the matter of going beyond buddhas, finally capable, you can speak a little.”
A monk immediately asked, “What is speaking?”
Dongshan said, “At the time of speaking, you do not hear.”
The monk said, “Master, do you hear or not?”
Dongshan said, “Just when I do not speak, then I hear.”

— Dogen, EK 9.50

A thought

I never actually collect together, or call up simultaneously, all the primary thoughts which contribute to my perception or to my present conviction.

— Merleau-Ponty 1945, 71)

No particular thought reaches through to the core of our thought in general, nor is any thought conceivable without another possible thought as a witness to it.

— Merleau-Ponty (1945, 465)

In more Peircean terms, a ‘particular thought’ is an abstraction from the continuum of semiosis, whose ‘core’ is living the time. Sign, object and interpretant (Merleau-Ponty’s “thought as a witness”) are all abstracted from the process in order to symbolize and explicate semiosis.

… thought is not at all only the moving around of fixed entities, concepts that are defined, ‘pieces’ of knowledge. Thought is always very largely implicit and, as I tried to show (in ECM and in ‘Thinking Beyond Patterns,’ 1992) the implicit is not some fringe or periphery around what we centrally think. Rather, the sense we are making, the central point we are making, is had only as a carrying forward of an implicit complexity. What is implicitly functioning is the point itself, of what we are saying or thinking, just then.

— Gendlin (1998, 8a)

One thought

How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop!

Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán ¶107

Wan-sung says: ‘The moment one particle is brought up, the whole earth is contained in it. Who is it that can open the borders and extend the land as a lone rider with a single lance, and so can be the master anywhere and encounter the source in everything?’

— Cleary 1997b, 323

Do not think that to face a person is to understand a person. Do not think that not to face a person is not to understand a person. Those who understand a speck of dust understand the entire world. Those who master one thing master myriad things. Those who do not master myriad things do not master one thing. Because those who study mastering see myriad things as well as one thing through penetration, those who study a speck of dust simultaneously study the entire world.

— Dogen, ‘Shoaku makusa’ (Tanahashi 2010, 102)

One thought. fills immensity.

— Blake (MHH)

This is the abode of those with unobstructed eyes
Who perceive infinite lands, buddhas, beings,
And ages, in a single point, going in and out
Without encountering any boundaries.

Gandhavyuha Sutra (Cleary 1984, 1459)

One statement removes obstructing fixations; one statement fills everywhere. Tell me, which statement do the enlightened ones use to help people?
I have a statement that the enlightened ones have never made, and which I will quote to you.


— Dogen (Cleary 1995, 47)

A single total experience

There is only one phaneron, and there is no difference between this and the experience of this. In its Firstness, the buddha-nature is the buddha.

All buddhas are realization; thus all things are realization. Yet, no buddhas or things have the same characteristics; none have the same mind. Although there are no identical characteristics or minds, at the moment of your actualization, numerous actualizations manifest without hindrance. At the moment of your manifestation, numerous manifestations come forth without touching one another. This is the straightforward teaching of the ancestors.
Do not use the measure of oneness or difference as the criterion of your study. Thus, it is said, “To reach one thing is to reach myriad things.” To reach one thing does not take away its inherent characteristics. Just as reaching does not make one thing separate, it does not make one thing not separate. To try to make it not different is a hindrance. When you allow reaching to be unhindered by reaching, one reaching is myriad reachings. One reaching is one thing. Reaching one thing is reaching myriad things.

— Dogen, ‘Gabyo’ (Tanahashi 2010, 444)

To ‘reach one thing,’ 法 通 (ippō tsū), is ‘the total experience of a single thing’ in Hee-Jin Kim’s translation:

‘The total experience of a single thing’ does not deprive a thing of its own unique particularity. It places a thing neither against others nor against none. To place a thing against none is another form of dualistic obstruction. When total experience is realized unobstructedly, the total experience of a single thing is the same as the total experience of all things. A single total experience is a single thing in its totality. The total experience of a single thing is one with that of all things.

— Dogen, SBGZ ‘Gabyo’ (Kim 1975, 66)

In the Firstness of its Thirdness, there is no difference between these two translations of ‘Gabyo’, or between the total experience of a single thing and 法 通.

For Dogen, the enlightened person was adept at appropriating the semantic possibilities of ordinary words in order to express and act out the extraordinary, and even the ineffable, according to the situation. Dogen’s characteristic way of thinking here in connection with the use of language was that the meaning of an ordinary word was totally exerted so that there was nothing but that particular meaning throughout the universe at that given moment. This was the idea of the total exertion of a single thing, which was central to Dogen’s entire thought.

— Kim (1975, 88)

The total exertion of a single meaning is a pure expression of what Peirce called thought, which comes naturally to children learning to use language, before they learn about the difference between words and meaning, or thought and expression.

The child, with his wonderful genius for language, naturally looks upon the world as chiefly governed by thought; for thought and expression are really one. As Wordsworth truly says, the child is quite right in this; he is an “eye among the blind,”
“On whom those truths do rest
Which we are toiling all our lives to find.”
But as he grows up, he loses this faculty; and all through his childhood he has been stuffed with such a pack of lies, which parents are accustomed to think are the most wholesome food for the child,— because they do not think of his future,— that he begins real life with the utmost contempt for all the ideas of his childhood; and the great truth of the immanent power of thought in the universe is flung away along with the lies.

— Peirce, MS 464-5 (CP 1.349, 1903)

Hence the advice of all the sages that realization of this great truth, or of the buddha-nature or the Kingdom of Heaven or the Firstness of Thirdness, depends on learning from little children.

Phenoscopy 5

All things and all phenomena are just one mind; nothing is excluded or unrelated.

— Dogen, ‘Bendowa’ (Tanahashi 2010, 15)

Everthing is related
to everything else. More or less.
All right. But do you see, feel or know
how this relates to that?
Do you relate to that relation?

Or as we say, Does it make any sense?

Sense-making is semiosis,
the Thirdness of things,
triadic relations
waking up the wind
making up the mind,
winding up the wake.