New Civilization News: The Nameless    
 The Nameless15 comments
picture12 Jul 2004 @ 11:13, by Tom Bombadil


"I have many names, and none of them matter. Names are not important.

To speak is to name names, but to speak is not important. A thing happens once that has never happened before. Seeing it, a man looks upon reality. He cannot tell others what he has seen. Others wish to know, however, so they question him saying, "what is it like, this thing you have seen?" So he tries to tell them. Perhaps he has seen the very first fire in the world. He tells them, "It is red, like a poppy, but through it dance other colors. It has no form, like water, flowing everywhere. It is warm like the sun of summer, only warmer. It exists for a time upon a piece of wood, and then the wood is gone, as though it were eaten, leaving behind that which is black and can be sifted like sand. When the wood is gone, it too is gone." Therefore the hearers must think reality is like a poppy, like water, like the sun, like that which eats and excretes. They think it is like to anything that they are told it is like by the man who has known it. They can only know of it. But fire comes again into the world, many times. More men look upon fire. After a time, fire is as common as grass and clouds and the air they breathe. They see that, while it is like a poppy, it is not a poppy, while it is like water, it is not water, while it is like the sun, it is not the sun. and while it is like that which eats and passes wastes, it is not that which eats and passes wastes, but something different from each of these apart or all of these together. So they look upon this new thing and they make a new word to call it. They call it "fire". If they come upon one who still has not seen it and they speak to him of fire, he does not know what they mean. So they, in turn, fall back upon telling him what fire is like. As they do so, they know from their own experience that what they are telling him is not the truth, but only a part of it. They know that this man will never know reality from their words, though all the words in the world are theirs to use. He must look upon the fire, smell of it, warm his hands by it, stare into its heart, or remain forever ignorant. Therefore, "fire" does not matter, "earth" and "air" and "water" do not matter. "I" do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformation of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming.

The thing that has never happened before is still happening. It is still a miracle. The great burning blossom squats, flowing, upon the limb of the world, excreting the ash of the world, and being none of these things I have named and at the same time all of them, and this is reality—the Nameless.

To define is to lose. The essence of all things is the Nameless. You sit therefore, in the midst of a dream. Form pass, but the essence remains, dreaming new dreams. Man names these dreams and thinks to have captured the essence, not knowing that he invokes the unreal. These stones, these walls, these bodies you see seated about you are poppies and water and the sun. They are the dreamers of the Nameless. They are fire if you like. Occasionally, there may come a dreamer who is aware that he is dreaming. He may control something of the dream-stuff, bending it to his will. He may be mighty for good or for ill, as we look upon him---though these terms, too, are meaningless."

—Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light


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15 comments

12 Jul 2004 @ 11:35 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : Delightful
I had forgotten about this.  


12 Jul 2004 @ 11:45 by bombadil : So had I
I found this one excerpt buried in a comment somewhere in the MUD of NCN.
(It's a good place for it.)  



12 Jul 2004 @ 11:51 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : Truth, Freedom, Beauty, Technology
"The answer, the justification, is the same for men as it is for gods. Good or ill, say the sages, mean nothing for they are of Samsara. Agree with the sages, who have taught our people for as far as the memory of man may reach. Agree, but consider also a thing of which the sages do not speak. This thing is ‘beauty’.... The Nameless, of which we are all a part, does dream form. And what is the highest attribute any form may possess? It is beauty. The Nameless, then, is an artist. The problem, therefore, is not one of good or evil, but one of esthetics."
--Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny  



12 Jul 2004 @ 12:08 by bombadil : Good one
he, he, Zelazny did put a spin of his own on to the Buddha's teaching. He had to add that in there to spice up his story and give his character a reason to take action. I do like the concept of the Nameless as an artist.  


12 Jul 2004 @ 12:37 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : Sakyamuni Buddha,
the so-called ‘historical Buddha’, lived and died some time between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. . . . The following is taken from pages xiv–xvi of the General Introduction to Âhantideva, The Bodhicaryavatara: A Guide to the Buddhist Path to Awakening:

"Ourselves and others, animate and inanimate, are composite collections which come together and part again bringing life and death, purpose and apparent uselessness.  That is the nature of things, against which we fortify ourselves through the misapprehension of grasping an unchanging identity which is at variance with the way things really are...The principal dimension of this misapprehension is reifying ourselves into Selves, the feeling that somehow I must have an unchanging core which is the ‘Real Me’.  Thus, unlike other spiritual teachers in India, the Buddha did not teach the search for the True Self behind the changing world, but rather the opposite: he taught that there is no True Self either in or behind the changing world... The permanent truth is that there is no such thing.  To seek to dissolve away apparent unities into their constituent flow of parts is a hallmark of the Buddhist approach.  Thus, as far as we can tell, the Buddha seems to have taught that what we call ourselves is actually a construct superimposed upon an ever- changing flow of physical matter, sensations, conceptions, further mental contents such as volitions and so on, and consciousness.  That is all there is.  There is no unchanging Me or Self-identity."  



12 Jul 2004 @ 15:41 by Aiden @69.33.46.10 : Socially Engaged Buddhism
I understand that Buddhism in Asia is not just a meditative vehicle for spiritual liberation, but is now also a vehicle that includes liberation movements for social and political change.  


12 Jul 2004 @ 15:45 by Aiden @69.33.46.10 : For example,
I've heard that in South Asia, millions of Indian Untouchables have converted to form a Buddhist movement for social change and an end to the misery of the caste system.  


12 Jul 2004 @ 16:55 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : Engaged Buddhism
What has come to be known as "socially engaged Buddhism," or simply "engaged Buddhism," is a vast array of Asian movements with millions of adherents dedicated to addressing the economic, social, political, and environmental as well as the spiritual needs of modern humankind.

The perception of Buddhism as a "navel-gazing", "do nothing" detached way of life, is a misleading misconception. (Dependent co-arising (interbeing), and the Bodhisattva Vow, dissolve the dualism of Otherworldliness and Thisworldliness.)

This need not be interpreted in terms of liberal/conservative agendas. Buddhists apply their practice by volunteering at schools or hospitals; or by activist work for such issues as the environment or the rights of women. (And if some feel their calling is to live a life of contemplation, that’s fine too.)  



12 Jul 2004 @ 18:03 by Aiden @69.33.46.10 : Do all Buddhists believe
in reincarnation?  


12 Jul 2004 @ 18:38 by Hanae @69.33.46.10 : ^@#&! you’ve got to be kidding me!
What am I, the Online Buddhist Encyclopedia or something?

To most Buddhists (and, just for the record, Tibetan Buddhism is only one manifestation of Buddhism among many) the concept is linked to the notion of "pratityasamutpada" which is more a general understanding about the production of existence than it is about individual reincarnation per se. Let's just say that, because Buddhism includes such notions as "anitya" (impermanence of every thing) and "anatman" (the absence of any "self”), such concepts as reincarnation or karma are notions that are more closely related to Hinduism than they are to Buddhism. Buddhism in general treat belief in reincarnation in the same way the belief in a god is treated: it doesn't give it much thought. What's important is not which Buddhists believe in reincarnation and which don't, but that ALL Buddhists do strive to awaken to one central teaching: the universal truth of the impermanent and interdependent nature of all life. As one’s awareness of this truth awakens, so does one’s awareness of compassion.  



8 Aug 2004 @ 15:57 by Hanae @209.178.129.251 : The Illusion of a Permanent Self or Soul
The Buddha taught that there is no essential or permanent core to a living being that could be considered one's true self or soul. What appears to be an individual person is actually a changing process of mental and physical qualities combining temporarily in a particular way. Through possessive attachment, the mind identifies with part or all of this process, and this gives rise to the thought of 'me' and 'mine'. In fact, all phenomena, animate or inanimate, are dependently arisen from causes and conditions. In a constant state of flux, all things are empty of independent inherent existence and the entirety of reality is a continuous flow of interconnected, causally conditioned events arising and passing away in the present moment.

Rebirth however, still occurs without a soul. Consider the simile of a candle burning low ad about to go out. A new candle is then lit from the old one. Though the old candle goes out, the new candle now burns brightly. What went across from the old candle to the new? There was a causal link, but no 'thing' went across. Similarly, there was a causal link between one's past and present life, but no soul went across.

The Buddha taught that it is precisely this deep misunderstanding, the illusion of a self, that is the root cause of all human suffering. The illusion of self manifests as the ego, and the natural unstoppable function of the ego is to control. Big egos want to control the world, average egos attempt to control their immediate surroundings of home, family and workplace, and all egos strive to control what they assume to be their own bodies and minds. This attempt to control leads to attraction and aversion which consequently proliferates to acquire possessions, manipulate others and exploit the environment.

[What is Buddhism?]  



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