Friday, October 15, 2004

the brown chowder splats louder

A lump of crap provides us with the perfect way to understand Buddhist notions of no-self, impermanence, emptiness, and dependent co-arising-- concepts that are all interrelated.

Where do your ass-babies come from? I think it's obvious that crap isn't a self-creating, self-sustaining thing-in-itself. No: your warm, steaming offspring are a labor of love, the result of the concerted efforts of your desire to eat, the dutiful (doodieful) choreography of your digestive system, the culture/society that makes certain forms of food available to you, the world history that gave birth to that culture/society, the galactic history that gave rise to our world, and the cosmic history that gave rise to our galaxy. You, right now, sitting on the toilet, asshole puckered and about to utter that maternal chocolate scream, are an event that's been billions of years in the making.

Crap doesn't simply get shat out, either. It's going somewhere; it's doing stuff. Crap might be revolting if you're asked to eat it in pie or burger form, but ask any farmer about the value of crap and he (or she!) will tell you that it's worth more than gold. Crap, once crapped, doesn't stop being part of a larger, intercausal, cosmic process.

"Emptiness" in Buddhism refers in the main to a given object's (or concept's, or phenomenon's) primary characteristic: it has no self-nature and no permanence. What's more, the given object exists in relationship with other objects. Relationality is integral to what emptiness means. Can you think of anything non-relational? Of course not: the moment you think of it, you're relating to it through thought!

Brad Pitt's character in "Fight Club," Tyler Durden, gleefully crows, "We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world!" How true. We are precisely that. We crap out crap, cover the ground with it, then eat the plants that suck on the crap for nutrition, as well as the animals that eat those plants (leaving quite a load of crap themselves). The whole thing is a web of inter-causation: holy shit.

Go here for a longer spiel about emptiness.


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