19 July 2010

the visuddhimagga, a fifth century indian text, poses a riddle:

"precisely where is what we call a 'chariot' located? is it in the axles, the wheels, the frame? is it in the poles that connect to the horse?"

the answer: nowhere. what we mean by the term 'chariot' refers to the temporary arrangement of its component parts. it's an illusion.

the ancient text uses that insight to illustrate the elusive nature of the self, which resides neither in our memories nor in our thoughts, perceptions, sensations, or actions (an analysis that anticipated modern philosophy's deconstruction of the self by 1,500 years).

/ excerpt from 'tricycle' from the buddhist review, summer 2009