Philosophy for Fools


The Vienna Circle, neopositivism, was never able to bridge the difference between sign and reality. And those great philosophers of language, Wittgenstein and Heidegger, accept there remains an inaccessible mystery to meaning.

But who requires the abstractions of philosophers when, every day of our lives, we ‘do’ meaning in the world? Our ordinary lives display our embodiment of meaning in everything we do.

And there we have the answer to those who would complicate life with their arguments, those who persist in the questioning of that which is obvious to everyone else.

Philosophy, really, is the province of fools!

But wait…

How can such pragmatism be so willfully blind to the equally obvious fact that what we intend to do and what is done do not always coincide? No one believes themselves to be evil and yet history and this world today are full of evil.

Philosophers might be academic fools, but at least they have woken up to the fact of the mismatch between our intentions and the results of our actions derived from them, however rational.

The willful ignorance of human beings, who go on throughout their lives destroying, while all the while telling themselves of their virtue, creates their own suffering, the suffering of those close to them and the suffering that spills out across the entire cosmos.

It is possible by narrowing vision to become blind to suffering. The vast majority of people live just such narrow lives.

Except…they cannot.

How is it possible to ignore the suffering of the world in which you live and which is you?

So human beings live narrow lives of suffering while claiming their happiness in order to stave off the pain.

It is difficult to comprehend why it is everyone continues on in their lives hurting those they love and themselves in a willful and ultimately self-defeating ignorance of their own suffering?

We are not evil, our actions need not cause pain and yet we are content to continue hurting and being hurt.

The answer is not difficult, it is clear in every moment. What stands in the way is the ego self that will not accept to have the world see it for the narrow-minded, ignorant evil-doer that it is.

This is delusion. The truth of delusion is that it is delusion. Seeing true self is the beginning of the path out of delusion by seeing reality. What is reality? Seeing everything just as it is.

Reality is then this phenomenal world. Ordinary mind is the way. But only if true self is seen, not as some goal, but as the underlying reality that informs all.

Do not be too hasty in disparaging Mazu’s ‘Original Enlightenment’. It may be that no-one becomes enlightened, but that is not to say that this must not be…real-ised!


About Jamie Nicol

Living in the forested hills of Catalonia, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Zen teacher, recovering philosopher, small-scale natural farmer. Writing just what comes.
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