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Idem and Identity - Johannes Aagaard

- An Experiment in Emptiness and Nothingness


Buddhism has a problem - at least one problem, which harrasses it again and again and creates other problems. There is no athman but the an-athman (which means that athman is substituted by a negation) makes the analogous negation necessary, whereby also brahman is negated into shunyat, emptiness. That is how it works out!

This creates, however, an impossible problem, for when an-athman is a negation, is then some meaningful continuity possible, so that it is the same reality which somehow continues? from the negation an-athman?

This means no I, no soul, no mind. How can shunyat then be a continuity to an-brahman? Is there then a possibility to speak a language by which the identical reality is dealt with? Can continuity in any form come from a negation? That is a problem.

The escape seems to be the split of the problem! Buddhists speak in that way when they explicitly use a conventional language. Dalai Lama seems to do it all the time, when he speaks publicly! Then he deals with both soul (as athman) and God (probably as some sort of brahman). That is. however, hardly Buddhist at all.

The other possibility is to speak ultimately only using ultimate language but then one somehow seems to end in a lack of communication which opens up for endless interpretary variations.
A Strange Experiment

In this essay we will try another approach by speaking of "idem" (the same as identity). What is idem will not be defined or described, but the term idem will be tried out functionally  as an experiment in evading the blockade from soul, mind, I!

In this way it could be possible to escape both a substantialist and a nominalist understanding. When we escape the problem - if that is what we do - then we will try to escape the usual Buddhist tendency to formalism and complication.

Idem exists - whatever that means. And idem is neither athman nor an-athman, but can be tried out in connections with both these concepts, in order to see if it works without definition.

Idem is fundamentally caught up in karma and caught by samsara and in principle has reached the ultimate and final solution which is shunyatta or nirvikalpa samadhi.

The result is that salvation and liberation takes place, and idem is saved and liberated! Will it give meaning? At any rate salvation/liberation means that salvation is there, but no-one is there as a saved something or somebody! Is that meaningful? No of course it is not, but the meaninglessness has a meaning, since the system is now seen for what it is, emptiness in the only real meaning of this word, which is nothingness.

There is no emptiness, for no-one is emptied and nothing has been emptied. There is nothing but nothingness, but thereby we are liberated from the haunting search for emptiness. It is a search in vain, and salvation/liberation means to recognize this fact.

Nothingness and emptiness of course is not and cannot be the same, even when language is twisted. Nothingness is no-thing, but emptiness is some-thing. Thus an element (or even more) of nihilism is and remains inherent in nothingness, but not in emptiness. On the other hand emptiness entails an emptying the yogi of everything by the meditation exercises of yoga and its technology.