The whole Truth and nothing but the Truth so help me Buddha

I love reading and often have 4 or 5 books on the go at once. So I thought it was interesting that when I picked up my copy of “My View of the World” by Erwin Schrödinger and started turning the pages I found a quote that he cited that stems from the writings of the great Indian Philosopher Nagarjuna in roughly year 200 CE. that I had just read in another book about Nagarjuna. Here it is “A thing is neither A nor not -A, but yet it is not a ” neither A nor not -A”, nor can one say that it is “both A and not -A. ” So what is it? Logically we come to a mathematical answer of zero or philosophically we could say the truth. But what did Schrödinger mean when he quoted Nagarjuna, what could he have been getting at?

Erwin Schrödinger was one of the most renown scientists of the 19th and 20th Century was only interested in one thing, Truth and not just any old truth. He was not interested in finding or reiterating the same old same old that was in his words “perusing a line of thinking that is so obviously going to lead us to bankruptcy, just as it did 2000 years ago” He was dedicated to finding the ultimate truth with all the scientific furore he had. So when he came across this symbolic expression of contradictions he must have known that he is onto something. His words are more poignant today than ever in our age of big debt, fake news, and lying politicians.

Pictures speak a thousand words, don’t they?

Nagarjuna is arguably the most pre-eminent philosopher of his time and maybe even our time as well. Born into a Brahmin family in India he lived from circa 150 to 250 CE. Nagarjuna was the head of the Buddhist university of Nalanda and has at least 8 major philosophical texts attributed to him and maybe more. Another quote from his madhyamakakarika is:

“The Buddha’s teaching rests on two truths: Conventional Truth and ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction between them do not understand Buddha’s profound truth. Ultimate truth cannot be taught without basis on relative truth; without realisation of the meaning of ultimate truth enlightenment cannot be attained.” Nagarjuna, madhyamakakarika, Ch. 24, Vs 8-10

Let’s return to our series of contradictions that Nagarjuna proposed 1800 years ago. These statements are simply a dualistic expression like neither good and bad or not up or down. He says we cannot understand the ultimate with understanding the relative, so our ground level basis must be the world we live in now, be it black and white or left or right wing we must understand the polarization and the dualistic contradictions we see all around us. Relativity in a philosophical sense tells us that shortness exists only to an idea of length. We need an opposite to see the relation and therefore the relative truth behind what is to be understood. For example, we could never truly understand light without ever having experienced darkness. We need to know the truth so we can know when we are being lied to. Without some super quantum computer, how should we ever hope to understand all the duality in our universe? Enter the Buddhadharma a logical system for the discovery of Ultimate Truth, or dharmakaya. Dharmakaya or the truth state in Vajrayana Buddhism is one of the three kayas states or bodies that lead to enlightenment, and cannot be explained very easily but let’s try. Dharmakaya is synonymous or leads to an understanding with emptiness or Sunyata. This simply is that no thing made or constructed, thought of or conceived of, or conditioned or habituated has any existence in itself, of itself, or by itself. All the “things” we know of, are dependent on a plethora of other external factors required for our perception or knowledge of them. They are empty of an independent existence. When there is no thing that is independent then everything is therefore interdependent. This interdependence is crucial to the Buddhadharma because when I realize how connected I am to you I could never do anything to hurt you without hurting my self. Moreover, when I love you I love myself and all other beings all at the same time. That is emptiness, not so easy eh?

Are you ready to embark on a journey of truth for yourself? There is no better way than the Buddhadharma to reach this goal and all along the way to benefit all sentient beings in their search as well brings new meaning, joy, and freedom to this existence that is constantly challenged by the elite of this world who are purveyors of lies and dissatisfaction.

Let me know what you think,



Your local Buddhist Centre is not a replacement for your Therapist.

In the last few years, there have been a growing number of Psychiatrists and therapists who have been successfully treating their patients with meditation. Meditation can be a powerful tool in one’s possession to help heal and integrate a patient’s troubles into a well functioning and mentally stable member of society. I am personally convinced that the Buddhadharma itself is a path to wellbeing like no other. It encompasses parts of religion, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and philosophy so seamlessly and effortlessly and at the same time, it stands alone in a category all unto itself. Buddhism is far more developed in the west now than the religious fad it was in the ’60s. Since then it has grown and matured such that in most major North America and European cities one can find many different Buddhist offers nearby at the stroke of a few keys and your favourite search engine. But in this day and age of fad treatments and rising health care costs can one expect to solve their mental health issues by just sitting on the meditation cushion and seeking solace in the welcoming arms of the well-meaning and altruistic Buddhists down the street? As with any big question, its answer has at least two sides that I would like to explore with you now.

I am blessed with many great friends and one of my favourite people in my friendship mandala is Franzi, she is a psychologist and works with people who have quite severe behavioural and mental disorders such as depression, psychosis, borderline, and schizophrenia. She had mentioned to me once or twice that she uses meditation in her practice and I thought that now was a good time to sit down with a good cup of coffee and have a chat with her. First I wanted to know how she used meditation in her treatment plan for her patients and how successful it is. For her openness to meditation in her patients was the first consideration. Many people would not consider it due to religious or cultural objections, and if there was openness the doctor-patient relationship needed to trusting enough to use it successfully. The next consideration was what meditation therapy was appropriate? The first of two main treatments was a simple awareness meditation designed to bring the patient into the here and now. For example, the patient was asked to walk through a park and find 5 things to touch, smell, and describe like fragrant flowers and colourful leaves. For many patients, this exercise was helpful to bring them into the here and now that you and I know, in a stable and easy way. This type of meditation was helpful especially for patients with PTSD. The second meditation uses breathing, or a basic Shine type meditation to relax and bring a patient into a calm mindstate. It is used with patients with depression of various degrees with good success as well, but this was almost never used in more difficult cases as many patients when relaxed were prone to mental disturbances arising uncontrolled and in damaging ways. Meditation was never used in Borderline and schizophrenia patients for this exact reason. Meditation was also never the only form of treatment and was always used in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy in its many forms, “meditation is only one brick in the wall.” or as my picture suggests one tile in the complete mosaic of mental health. I then asked her if and when she would ever recommend a patient to go to a Buddhist centre and to learn meditation. She would gladly recommend things like yoga and Buddhist meditation but only as an option for patients who were already quite healthy, never for patients with severe disabilities.

The last part of our conversation focused on Buddhist centres and how they could deal with patients who are walking through their doors at an ever-increasing rate due to the very high cost of psychological treatment in countries with little or no public health care. I was surprised to hear much the same advice from Franzi as from my Lama. Severely mentally ill people should not meditate and in some cases such as with borderline patients, the group itself would be in danger with the behaviour of the patient. It is well known that Borderline patients are particularly challenging for even the most experienced groups of medical professionals let alone for a group of well-meaning, altruistic, but completely untrained Buddhist practitioners. Moreover, the complex meditations leading to very relaxed and open states of mind are completely inappropriate for many patients especially when there is no supervision. Franzi was clear the group should talk about anyone in attendance in the centre who is under the care or should be under the care of medical professionals and find a kind way to ask them to leave, and maybe even have an outside person not from the local group but within the tradition to help. This is not an easy task I can tell you from personal experience as I have had to do this once myself it was extremely challenging to do in good style.

Now for the good news and the other side of the story. Everyone’s life can be profoundly improved if they are lucky enough to come in contact with the Buddhadharma. The trick here is that meditation is not a tool to take lightly. Now, strictly learning about things like the four noble truths, the eightfold path, karma, compassion, and Metta would be of benefit to anyone including the mentally ill. But here is the key and its a problem Buddhists have had since the very beginning and the answer is wisdom. Wisdom must be balanced with compassion and be used in situations where mental health is an issue. Compassion without wisdom is mushy and stupid, wisdom without compassion is cold and hard, here we need the middle way. What does this mean? If you have a mild depression from a bad breakup or are neurotic with your cell phone use as the rest of us, in other words, normal, please feel free to practice meditation in any way in which you like but if you have a chronic, diagnosable, or serious mental health problem, seek out and follow the best medical advice and treatment you can find and follow their professional advice. Do not come looking for it in a Buddhist centre, we are not capable and not trained to help you.

Buddhist centres should also educate themselves about the warning signs of mental illness and be prepared to wisely deal with uncomfortable situations. And any Buddhist centre advertising a course on “dealing with disturbing emotions” should be aware of the Pandora’s box that they are opening when eager customers walk through their the door.

Do you have anything to add or a bone to pick please feel free to comment below,