Advaita Vision

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Advaita for the 21st Century

Pure and Simple Being
Harry Liantziris

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Who "we think" we are is a life-long production that occurs within a field of language, knowledge and power. Paradoxically, this field pre-exists the very formation of our identity. On the one hand, it is commonly thought that we express ourselves through language. In a sense, this is the case because we do acquire and produce language as a way of self expression. And yet, because this expression of who we are (our identity) takes place (emerges) within this field of language/knowledge/power, it is also logical to say that this same field produces us (our very sense of self). As a result, we could say that language/knowledge/power produces the linguistic, epistemological and experiential beings that we become. In other words, the formation, construction, or emergence of identity occurs within language.

It seems that we are perched on horns of a dilemma. Do we express ourselves through language or does language express us? Similarly, do we acquire and produce language or does language acquire and produce us? Now because this field of language/knowledge/power pre-exists the formation of our identity then on the one hand it looks as if we are simply spoken into being. Therefore, where is there room for a notion of agency, of individual freedom and of language acquisition? In fact, where is there room for a speaker, an acquirer, or a "doer" of language who then uses it to express who and what they are? But once again, we can also argue that we do speak, acquire and produce language as a way of self expression. Is there not simply an "I" who picks up language, like picking up a tool, to then express what it is? In short, do "I" not think, speak and do? I would suggest that instead of attempting to resolve this paradox by taking an "either" "or" stance we see it as "both" and "neither". That is, we both express language for ourselves and are the very expressions of it. Putting this differently, we are both the producers and the products of language. Moreover, I want to point out that we are neither. What I am initially proposing is that there is a kind of language acquisition and production without anyone actually doing the acquiring and the producing. Likewise this would mean that there is a kind of speaking without a speaker, learning without a learner, and of course teaching without a teacher.

As Friedrich Nietzsche says in The Genealogy of Morals, it is only the snare of language (of the arch-fallacies of reason petrified in language), presenting all activity as conditioned by an agent - the "subject" - that blinds us to this fact… But no such agent exists; there is no "being" behind the doing, acting, becoming; the "doer" has simply been added to the deed by the imagination - the doing is everything.

Trapped in language, and its conventions that constitute the "subject" as the thinker and the doer - that is, the conceptual, experiential, and linguistic reference point called the "I", the "I" can not see that what appears to be happening is a kind of thinking without a thinker, doing without a doer, and being without anyone to be. And yet, like Nietzsche, we have not followed this logic to its natural conclusion. Now when we do so, we will see that because there is no thinker to do the thinking then there is also no thinking to be done. After all, we can not have one without the other, which in this case means we have neither. So not only is there no thinker, or no doer, but neither are there any thoughts, or anything at all to be done. What this all points to is the simple truth that because there is no one to do anything and not-a-thing to be done then all there is is to just BE!!

NOT-A-THING but PURE and SIMPLE BEING

To just BE means not to be this and not to be that but to just BE. This is not about becoming "something", which is to become "a thing", but to simply BE the not-a-thing that we are. The truth is that we already are THAT, always were, always will be. There was never a time that we were not. There will never be a time that we will not. Therefore, there is not-a-thing that we need to be or become because we are not-a-thing. Not-a-thing but PURE and SIMPLE BEING. So what else is there to do or to be but to just BE.

Visit Harry's website - Self Inquiry.
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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012