I am free! I cling no more!
Liberation is mine! —
The greatest clinging
Is to cling like this.
The Buddhist teacher and philosopher, Nagarjuna. I’ve been studying his work The Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way) recently, which essentially is a dialectical process in the direction of enlightenment which teases the mind completely out of thought. For an easily accessible introduction to Nagarjuna’s philosophy read “Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime” by Stephen Batchelor. There’s also some great downloadable audio talks by Zoketsu Norman Fischer over at Everyday Zen on the subject.
We could decide simply to remain absorbed in the mysterious, unformed, free-play of reality. This would be the choice of the mystic who seeks to extinguish himself in God or Nirvana - analogous perhaps to the tendency among artists to obliterate themselves with alcohol or opiates. But if we value our participation in a shared reality in which it makes sense to make sense, then such self-abnegation would deny a central element of our humanity: the need to speak and act, to share our experience with others.
Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism without Beliefs. Today in the Great River.
Expectations of goals and rewards, such as enlightenment, are last-ditch attempts by the ghostly self to subvert the process to its own ends. The more we become conscious of the mysterious unfolding of life, the clearer it becomes that its purpose is not to fulfill the expectations of our ego.
Stephen Batchelor, from Whiskey River
Emptiness is not something sacred in which to believe. It is an emptying: a letting go of the fixations and compulsions that lock one into a tight cell of self that seems to exist in detached isolation from the turbulent flux of life.