Chapter 12
This Chapter also includes an Epilogue for the Whole Book

“The once believed ultimacy of the line of division between the “self” and the “not-self,” the subject and the object, is rejected as untrue” (K. Venkata Ramanan, quoted by McFarlane 2002: 66).

“the self that is the whole universe” (Katagiri Roshi 2007: 108).

Contents: Self-Reference - The Environmental Crisis - Ethics and Morals - Hate - Love - Object-Referral - Story of a Father - Self-Referral - Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence – A Joke - The Mandala is also Self-Referential – Different Interpretations and Transformations of the Mandala - The Map is not the Territory - Eat the Meal, not the Menu - Closing the Circle - Dzogchen Meditation: Skygazing – Summary – References - Epilogue

Subject-object division means thinking that the subject and object are separate or should be considered separate. Therefore, when we talk about an object such as a tree, we refer only to that object and not to ourselves. Contrary to this view, self-reference implies the unity of subject and object. Hence, when I talk about an object such as an animal, I also refer to myself, at least to some extent.


Self-reference plays an important role in logic because it leads to logical paradoxes. An example of such a paradox is the statement: All humans are liars. If we disregard self-reference in this statement, then there is no paradox. The statement may be correct or incorrect, but it is not paradoxical in this case. However, if I recognize that the statement refers also to myself, then the paradox arises: if all humans are liars, then I am also a liar; and being a liar, my statement is a lie, which means that not all humans are liars.

The significance of self-reference goes far beyond logic. In a way it seems always with us when we refer to some object because of the underlying unity of subject and object. Here are three examples:
1. Humans are open systems.
2. Animals are open systems.
3. Plants are open systems.
Self-reference seems obvious in the first example. Apart from the logical self-reference, the openness creates self-reference: since humans are open toward their environment, they are also open to myself, and therefore referring to another human being implies reference to myself, at least to some extent. In other words, because of the interconnection between another human being and myself I can see myself in the other human being at least to some extent. People who consciously or subconsciously deny self-reference try to avoid a deeper relationship with other human beings and thus tend to look at themselves as separate subjects. This leads to alienation and coldness in human relaions (see also
Chapter 1).

drawing hands by M. C. Escher
Drawing Hands by M.C. Escher

The second and third of the above examples appear self-referential because plants, animals and humans, due to their openness, are integrated into one system. Thus, when I talk about a plant or animal, I refer, at least to some extent, also to myself. Recognizing this self-reference again affects the way in which I relate to plants and animals and nature as a whole. Thus, when an animal is tortured or badly treated as it happens to many animals on big commercial farms, I feel this torture or ill treatment in myself. And I feel compelled to do something to reduce or eliminate this suffering. Hence, self-reference is not just a theoretical, philosophical issue. It touches us deeply and demands a response.

The Environmental Crisis

Why is it so difficult for us to find solutions to the environmental crisis and why did we create it in the first place? We can see many reasons one of which is that we tend to ignore self-reference. We tend to look at the environment as separate from us, as something that is not part of us. However, once we realize that we are inseparably linked to the environment, our behaviour changes. If we realize that what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves, then we treat it with as much respect and love as we have for ourselves. Therefore, since we do not want to pollute ourselves, we also do not pollute the environment. We care for the environment and this care is at the same time for ourselves.

Ethics and Morals

Ethical and moral imperatives such as “Love thy neighbour as much as thyself” have not been followed to a great extent. Otherwise we would live almost in paradise. One reason for this failure is again a lack of recognition of self-reference. Often our neighbour is considered to be separate from us and therefore, so we think, what we do to him affects him, not us. But in a way what I do to him, I do also to myself. This recognition makes a fundamental difference. In fact, with this recognition ethical and moral imperatives become superfluous. Unless I am a masochist, I will not do anything to my neighbour that hurts him.
Thus, awareness of self-reference changes both the perception of “the other” and our relationship with “the other”. It transforms otherness into oneness, wholeness. And since wholeness is related to holiness, everything acquires a touch of sacredness.


Normally when we hate somebody we see only how this hate flows from us toward the other. An awareness of self-reference shows, however, that when we hate the other, we also hate ourselves: the hate refers not only to the other, but also to ourselves. Thus, in hating the other, we do not only poison the other, we also poison ourselves. And once we are poisoned, inevitably we poison the world around us.

Unless we deeply look at ourselves, it will be difficult to stop the hate. And what applies to hate is also the case for other negative emotions such as anger and fear. Fortunately, it also applies to positive emotions such as love, acceptance, and peace.


When I love another person, the lovingness also affects myself. Lovingness unifies so much; so how could I not be touched by it! As I become more loving toward myself, this in turn will make me more loving toward others. Thus love creates more and more love unless it degenerates into possessiveness, which in turn may create negative emotions such as hate and fear. Jampolsky (1979) wrote a book entitled
Love is letting go of Fear. In this book he illustrated how fear perverts our love and how we can become more loving as we face our fear and learn to release it.


Deepak Chopra (1990) wrote about object-referral and self-referral. These two notions are related to, but not the same as subject-object division and self-reference. Object-referral means that we are dependent on objects such as a car, a house, a man, or a woman. And we derive our identity through the objects on which we depend. Dependence sooner or later may create suffering and even misery because we want the object to remain as we desire it; however, objects are not static. They change and they often change in a way we don’t like. When we are dependent on an object, such change may throw us into misery. Of course, objects may also change in a way we like which makes us happy. But this happiness is based on dependency and therefore it will turn into unhappiness as soon as the object changes in an undesirable way.

In object-referral we relinquish our power to the object(s). Our life seems like a roller coaster ride: up and down, up and down, as objects change. As this ride continues, we eventually become fatigued and ultimately we may even become sick.

Story of a Father

There are at least two versions of this story. The first one illustrates object-referral (Deepak Chopra: Magical Mind, Magical Body. Disk 5, Track 6). The father’s happiness was dependent on two objects: his son and a horse. So when one day the horse disappeared, the father was devastated. But when the next day the horse returned with a beautiful white stallion, he was elated. Now his son took up horseback riding. One day he was thrown off the horse and broke his leg. Now the father was again in misery. But then a war broke out and because of his broken leg the son did not have to go to war. The father was again happy. And so the story continues from happiness to unhappiness depending on changing circumstances.

The second version of this story is very different because the father has the wisdom of a sage: his happiness is not dependent on external objects and events. When the horse runs away, the father's neighbour, who feels sorry for him, says, “Poor man, how will you manage without your horse?” And the father replies, “How do you know that I am poor?” When the next day his horse returns with another horse, the neighbour says, “Lucky man, now you have two horses!” But the father replies, “How do you know that I am lucky?” Then when his son breaks his leg, the neighbour returns, exclaiming, “Poor man, how will you manage your farm without your son’s help?” And the father replied, “How do you know that I am poor?” And so the story continues. Obviously, the father knew that circumstances change and that therefore lasting happiness cannot be derived from external objects and events. In other words, lasting happiness - more appropriately called bliss - cannot be obtained through object-referral - but through self-referral.


Contrary to object-referral, in self-referral we are not dependent on objects. Thus, we may feel wonderful regardless of circumstances. Shinzen Young (1997, Session 2 ) calls it happiness independent of conditions, or it has been referred to as bliss. Ordinary happiness happens because of something that makes us happy, but when that changes we become unhappy. In contrast, bliss is not dependent on something; it is seen as rooted in the very depth of our being that is connected to the universe.

For most of us it seems difficult or impossible to even imagine how we can be blissful when faced with illness, violence, war, or torture. So how could it be possible to reach the blissful state? Through non-reaching, which means that it cannot be forced. However, meditation, insight and understanding can be helpful.
Shinzen Young (1997, Session 16) recounts how the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei in Japan perform incredible feats that to us would be torture with a smile on their face. For example, they sit immobile in Lotus posture for nine days without food, water, and sleep. Shinzen adds that this is the result of long training and practice. In our culture sometimes we may also attain to blissfulness under very difficult circumstances. For example, it happens that people face severe illness and death in a calm, serene, blissful state of mind with a smile on their face.

Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence

As I mentioned already, object-referral implies dependence. Does self-referral mean independence? It might seem so. But a deeper experience of self-referral shows that it seems grounded in interdependence - an interdependence in which I experience myself as one with existence.

Independence, in a way, is against existence because I resist being an integral part of the whole of existence. I want to control existence. Thus, independence is rooted in a strong egoistic mind-set. But when I accept interdependence, I flow with the whole. I am not dominated by the concepts of the outer and inner circle of the mandala of this book. I become the witness in the centre of the mandala and I can be one with the whole mandala.

A Joke

Osho (1999: 303) told the following joke:

Two rats in a laboratory are having a conversation through the bars of their cages.
“Tell me,” says the first rat, “how are you getting along with Professor Katzoff?”
“Pretty good,” replies the second rat. “It took me a while, but now I have finally got him trained. Whenever I ring the bell, he brings me dinner!”

The Mandala is also Self-Referential

The mandala of this book refers to the whole universe: the concept pairs to fundamental phenomena, the manifest in general; the centre to the unmanifest, the unnamable, that which is beyond the grasp of language and concepts; and the mandala as a whole represents the Nondual, the identity of the unmanifest and the manifest. If the unmanifest is thought to be symbolized by the paper on which the mandala is written or drawn, then the manifest is what is written or drawn on it. The paper and the writing or drawing on it belong together. Or to use another analogy: the writing and drawing arises out of the paper as mountains arise from the plane of the earth; again they are one (not two).

the self-referential mandala of this book
The conceptual version of the mandala of this book.

So the mandala refers to the universe. And it also refers to itself, that is, we can see it as self-referential. In what sense can we see it as self-referential? Let us look at the concept pairs of the mandala:
1. Wholeness and Fragmentation - Wholeness we find in the universe and also in the mandala. Since the mandala represents nondual reality of the unmanifest and the manifest, it appaers whole. At the same time, there is also fragmentation in the mandala because of the separate concepts.
2. Continuum and Discontinuum - Since there are many discontinuities in the mandala, it represents the discontinuum. But it is also meant to imply a continuum between the outer and inner circles (see
Introduction). This continuum is not explicit in the conceptual version of the mandala but is (imperfectly) indicated in the pictorial version by the rainbow of colours.

the continuum in the mandala
The pictorial version of the mandala of this book.

3. Fuzziness and Exactness - Exactness (sharpness) is also evident in the mandala, especially in the outer circle of the pictorial version, whereas the symbols of the inner circle and the rainbow of colours show fuzziness.
4. Openness and Closure - As a circle, the mandala shows closure. But through its empty centre it remains open. Emptiness has no boundary; it represents ultimate openness.
5. Organic and Mechanical -The figures of the outer circle look mechanical, whereas those of the inner circle appear more organic and the rainbow of colours also conveys a more organic feeling.
6. Cooperation and Competition - Outer and inner circle concepts could be seen as competing with each other as in science and society they often do. However, as I have pointed out repeatedly, these concepts can also complement each other and in this sense they appear cooperative.
7. Dynamics and Statics/Dynamics - At a first glance, the mandala appears completely static. However, dynamics is implied in at least two ways: There is a symbolism of fluidity in at least the pictorial version (see, for example, the waves representing dynamics), and, as pointed out in
Chapter 7, the mandala is meant to be transformed in many ways. In this sense it implies dynamics.
8. Flexibility and Rigidity - Because of its inherent dynamism, the mandala has flexibility, although at first glance it appears rigid, especially in its conceptual version.
9. Variability and Invariance - Similarly, because of its transformations (that are indicated in Chapter 7) it retains variability, although it appears invariant, especially in its conceptual version.
10. Context-Dependence and Isolation - One can look at all the concepts of the mandala in isolation, but, more profitably, one can also see each concept in the context of other concepts and the whole mandala.
11. Complexity and Simplification - One can see the mandala simplistically just as a double circle of concepts, or one can perceive a great deal of complexity in the concepts and their pictorial representation. Furthermore, since every concept can be connected to any other one, the mandala can be seen as a net (see
Chapter 11).
12. Self-Reference and Object-Subject Division - For all these reasons the mandala does not only refer to the universe, but also to itself. It mirrors to some extent the universe and in this mirroring it also refers to itself. The mirroring becomes more complete as one experiences the mandala holodynamically, which means taking into account its transformations and even its dissolution. Furthermore, we have to include different interpretations of the mandala as explained in the following section.

Different Interpretations and Transformations of the Mandala

Although the way the mandala of this book is presented appears static, different interpretations and transformations of the mandala render it dynamic (for details see the
Introduction of this book and The Dynamic Mandala and Transformations of the Dynamic Mandala). Depending on how we see the outer and inner circle in relation to each other and the centre of the mandala, we arrive at least at five different interpretations of the mandala as a whole:

1. Throughout this book I have referred to the complementarity of the outer and inner circle. According to this view, all concepts of the concept pairs complement each other; for example, fragmentation and wholeness complement each other. Furthermore, the centre of the mandala can be seen as complementary to its periphery with the two circles. Complementarity could mean that the concepts of each pair are equally valid or that one of them is more comprehensive. In my opinion, the concepts of the inner circle are more comprehensive then those of the outer circle. Nonetheless, outer circle concepts have a limited usefulness. For example, referring to a particular person can be useful, although, ultimately, this person does not exist as a separate entity.

2. Each concept may partially contain its opposite in a Yin-Yang fashion. For example, there may be some wholeness in fragmentation and vice versa.

3. We may interpret the mandala in a hierarchical fashion. Accordingly, inner circle concepts comprise their corresponding outer circle concept, and the centre of the Mandala comprises its periphery. How this works can be illustrated, for example, with the concept pair of simplicity and complexity. In the pictorial mandala simplicity (as simplification) is symbolized by three lines that do not meet, whereas complexity is represented by a net. How does the net include the three lines? If we draw connections between the three lines, we obtain a net. Therefore, the net includes the three lines; because of the additional connecting lines it goes beyond the scheme of three lines. In general, complexity transcends simplicity (as simplification) and thus represents a higher level of organization that seems closer to reality than simplified schemes.

This interpretation of the mandala seems compatible with the Great Chain (Nest) of Being. It also agrees with Wilber’s (2000, 2006) hierarchical (holarchical) view if we incorporate into it the idea of the “Big Three,” which means that for each concept pair we have to distinguish three aspects: an exterior aspect that provides an objective, scientific view, an interior aspect that reveals the subjective experience of the self, and another interior aspect that represents the culture in which the self is embedded (see
Introduction and Chapter 2).

4. We can see a continuum from concepts of the outer circle to those of the inner circle and possible beyond toward the centre of the mandala.

5. We may interpret the mandala as representing the web of life and the universal web. According to this interpretation, concepts and the centre of the mandala are not hierarchically related; they are all interconnected and thus form a web or net.

Finally, we can see all of the preceding interpretations as complementary to each other, each of them showing a different aspect of reality. Apart from different interpretations, the mandala of this book can be transformed in many different ways, which renders it even more dynamic. Some of these transformations as well as the general principle of transformation have been explored in
Transformations of the Dynamic Mandala.

sky and water by Escher
Sky and Water by M. C. Escher

The Map is not the Territory

All mental constructs including hierarchies and nets, represent maps of reality, not reality itself. This means that they represent some aspect(s) of reality in a simplified way. In other words: compared to reality itself, maps appear partial and very crude. Furthermore, we have to realize that different maps convey different information. Let me illustrate this by different maps of, let’s say, Canada. We can have a geographical map of Canada that shows its geography. We can have a geological map that indicates the various geological strata. We can have maps that convey vegetation, climate, natural resources, population density, ethnic groups, etc. All of these maps differ from each other, although there may be partial correlations between at least some of them such as the climate and vegetation maps. A super map that contains the information of all maps would be very cumbersome. But even if a super map could be constructed, it would be still a map and not its territory.

As with maps of Canada, so with maps of reality. Many maps of reality have been constructed. They present different aspects of reality. Some of these maps are more comprehensive than others. But I have not yet encountered a super map of reality that comprises all other maps. Wilber’s (2000, 2006) AQAL map goes a long way in this direction toward a super map (see
Chapter 2). But since it is hierarchical (holarchical), it does not sufficiently represent other aspects of reality (see Wilber's AQAL Map and Beyond and Ken Wilber's AQAL Dogma).

Eat the Meal, not the Menu

The menu represents the map of the meal. It is not the territory, which is the meal. Mistaking the map for the territory, as it happens so often, in this case would mean eating the menu instead of the meal. Mistaking any mental construct, any scientific theory or philosophy about reality for reality itself, seems like eating the menu instead of the meal. Yet so often mental constructs are considered real and it is not seen that they represent only maps of reality. Sometimes they may be good maps, sometimes poor maps. Often a map appears good in one respect and not so good or bad in another respect. But even the best map cannot territory as it is (see
Korzybski and his Structural Differential).

Closing the Circle

The distinction of the map and its territory closes the circle of the mandala of this book because it leads us back to the fundamental topic with which I began
Chapter 1, namely abstraction and words that refer to the abstracted mental constructs. Maps are such mental constructs abstracted from the territory. Confusion often arises because maps are thought to be the territory and then people eat the menu instead of the meal. For example, it is often thought that there are Christians in reality; it is forgotten that Christians are abstractions. People called Christians may identify so much with their Christian belief system that they perceive their being Christian as an ultimate reality. However, every Christian is infinitely more than just a Christian and through this infinity he or she is interconnected with atheists, adherents of other religions and the whole world. Being Christian is only one aspect that has been abstracted from this infinity. For a Christian this may be a very important aspect and identifying with it creates a feeling of separation from atheists and adherents of other religions. But ultimately there remains a deep connection with everybody and everything. Ignoring this deep connection and thinking that the separation is the ultimate reality is like eating the menu instead of the meal, that is, mistaking the map for the territory.

To move from the map to the territory we have to move from thinking and talking
about life to actual living. In other words, we have to move from the outer and inner circle of the mandala into its centre and the mandala as a whole. Meditation may help us to make this leap.

A Dzogchen Meditation: Skygazing

According to Lama Surya Das (1999: 7), “Dzogchen, or the Great Perfection, represents the ultimate teaching of Tibet. Dzogchen meditation is practiced by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism - and by the Dalai Lama himself." “
Skygazing is the core practice of dzogchen meditation... In this skygazing meditation, we dissolve into the infinite by becoming one with the open [blue] sky” (Surya Das 1999: 10-11).

Choose a place, preferably in nature, from which you can see the blue sky or at least a large portion of blue sky. Sit or lie down, whatever feels best for you. First close your eyes and relax (see the end of
Chapter 6). Let all tension melt away with each exhalation. Then open your eyes and softly, without straining, look at the sky and merge with it. Since the open blue sky is the most wonderful symbol of emptiness, this means dissolving into emptiness. With each exhalation pour yourself totally into the infinite sky and empty yourself of all remaining thoughts, feelings and emotions. Let go of everything. Then with each inhalation breathe in the emptiness of the pure, pristine sky.

Note that emptiness entails desirelessness (Osho 1974: 327). If in that emptiness and desirelessness a thought or feeling or desire arises, watch it and let it pass away. Bring your attention back to the sky, the infinite. When you have become completely one with the sky, close your eyes and remain in emptiness.

If you cannot see the blue sky because it is cloudy, Osho (1992: 166) advises to close your eyes and be aware of the inner sky. Watch how in the emptiness of this inner sky thoughts and feelings arise. Don’t get lost in the thoughts and feelings. Remain aware of the gaps between them in which the emptiness of the inner sky shines though. Thoughts and feelings are like the clouds that traverse the clear sky. (For more details see Osho 1974: 326-328 and Osho 1992: 165-167, and for a more detailed guided meditation on skygazing read the study guide and/or listen to cassette 4A of
Natural Perfection by Lama Surya Das (1999) or read Sustaining Present Awareness by Lama Suria Das; for Dzogchen practice in everyday life see HH Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche and Sogyal Rinpoche 1992).


Subject-object division means thinking that the subject and object are separate. Self-reference implies the unity of subject and object; hence, when I talk about an object, our environment or the universe, I also refer to myself, at least to some extent. The recognition of self-reference may dramatically influence our actions. Thus, once we realize that we are inseparably linked to our environment, our behaviour changes because we realize that what we do to the environment, we do also to ourselves. We do not even need a moral code to make this change. Love, hate, and other emotions also refer back to us. Object-referral that refers only or mainly to objects outside us lacks the awareness of self-reference, whereas self-referral involves deeply looking into ourselves and our universal connection, the interdependence in contrast to one-sided dependence or independence.

The mandala of this book can also be seen as self-referential because the concepts of the mandala that refer to the universe also refer to the mandala itself. Five different interpretations of the mandala are offered. The circles and the centre may complement each other, contain each other partially in a Yin-Yang fashion, form a hierarchy, a continuum, or a network, and these interpretations may be seen again as complementary to each other. Each interpretation represents a map of the universe, including ourselves. Confusing the map with the territory it refers to has been compared to eating the menu (a map) instead of the meal (the territory). Yet so many people fail to see that their ideas, theories, philosophies, ideologies, religions, etc. are not reality but only incomplete maps of it. In other words, they represent abstractions, a topic I dealt with in the first chapter of this book. Thus, the topic of this chapter connects to that of the first chapter and in this sense closes the circle of the mandala. A short epilogue highlights some of the most basic insights of this book, which relate to fragmentation, wholeness, and the unnamable, or in other words, form and emptiness (in the Buddhist sense) and their oneness (not two-ness), which can be experienced and which one can be through a Dzogchen meditation called skygazing and Dzogchen practice in everyday life.


Chopra, D. 1990.
Perfect Health. Harmony Books.

Hoggan, J. 2016.
I'm Right and You're an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Jampolsky, G.G. 1979.
Love is Letting Go of Fear. Millbrae, CA: Celestial Arts.

Katagiri, Dainin Roshi. 2007.
Each Moment is the Universe. Zen and the Way of Being Time. Boston & London: Shambhala.

McFarlane, T. J. (editor) 2002.
Einstein and Buddha. The Parallel Sayings. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.

Mitchell, S. 1992.
Tao Te Ching. A new English Version with Foreword and Notes, by Stephen Mitchell. New York: HarperPerennial.

Osho. 1974. The Book of Secrets. 112 Keys to the Mystery Within. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Osho. 1992.
Meditation. The First and the Last Freedom. A Practical Guide to
. Cologne, Germany: Rebel Publishing House.

Surya Das, Lama. 1999.
Natural Perfection. Teachings, Meditations, and Chants in the Dzogchen Tradition of Tibet .4 cassettes and study guide. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Sogyal Rinpoche 1992. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Wilber, K. 2000.
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. 2006
. Integral Spirituality. Boston and London: Shambhala.

Young, Shinzen. 1997.
The Science of Enlightenment. Teachings & Meditations for Awakening through Self-Investigation. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Epilogue for the Whole Book

Being stuck and remaining stuck seems one of our greatest problems. It may lead to much hardship, suffering and misery for ourselves and others; it may ruin the most beautiful relationships; and it may even lead to violence and war. Stuckness may be very subtle, so subtle that it may be barely noticeable or unconscious. It may involve our greatest aspirations such as noble philosophies, ideologies, religious doctrines, etc. With regard to the mandala of this book it may involve concepts of the outer and inner circle (materialism and holism) and even the centre of the mandala (the unnamable). Nonetheless, the mandala may help us in many ways to overcome stuckness, and in this sense it may lead to or toward liberation from all sorts of straight jackets:
1. It can lead us from the limitations of materialistic and mechanistic thinking (that is still common in mainstream science and society) toward a more inclusive holistic worldview.
2. It can lead us from either/or thinking toward both/and thinking and fuzzy logic, and thus materialism/mechanism, although less comprehensive than the holistic worldview, is not totally rejected but seen as complementary, which means that the outer and inner circle of the mandala complement each other and furthermore are seen as a continuum (as fuzzy). Thus we can overcome the common stance: I am right and you are wrong, which can lead to the even more extreme view that "I'm right and you're an idiot" (Hoggan 2016).
3. In keeping with Buddhist and Jain logic that in addition to either/or and both/and includes the neither/nor, the indescribable, the unnamable, the mandala can lead us also beyond the namable (the two circles of the materialistic and the holistic worldviews) by recognizing that "Whatever you might
say something "is", it is not"(Korzybski). Since meditation may help us to move from the namable of the two circles of the mandala to the unnamable (the empty centre of the mandala) and the integration of the namable and unnamable (the whole mandala), I concluded each chapter of this book with a meditation; and to jolt us out of our stuckness at least momentarily I have included some jokes. The poems and visual art that I included may also elevate us beyond limiting fixations.

If readers of this book have begun liking the mandala because it can be helpful in so many ways, I hope and wish that they will not become stuck in it. I hope that they will use it as a tool and then let go of it. Just as we use a boat to cross a river, once at the other shore, we leave the boat behind; we don’t carry it with us. But as long as we need it, we use it; and whenever we need it again, we return to it.

In this chapter and Chapter 7 on Dynamics and Statics/Dynamics, I emphasized that the mandala should not only be perceived as static but also as dynamic because it can be interpreted and transformed in many ways. As we change its form, we remain fluid. I pointed out that as we subsume all concept pairs under wholeness/fragmentation and its transcendence, the mandala dissolves. What remains can be seen as form and emptiness (boundlessness), which ultimately are not two (
nondual) because form is emptiness and emptiness is form, as the Heart Sutra points out (see Chapter 11). The first chapter of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) conveys the same insight using different words:

"Yet mystery [the unnamable, emptiness] and manifestations [the namable, form]
arise from the same source" (Stephen Mitchell's translation).

Tibetan monks spend days to construct elaborate sand mandalas. Once they are finished, they are not preserved or included in a museum. The monks take a broom and sweep the whole mandala away. Then, some time in the future, a new mandala will be made and that one will also be swept away. No holding on. No stuckness. Life flows. So we have to let go even of our most precious "possessions" because ultimately we possess no-thing. For ultimately “who” is there to possess “what” and “whom”?

“Understanding is the fruit of meditation. Understanding is the basis of everything” (Thich Nhat Hanh). Love also requires understanding. "Without understanding your love is not true love" (Thich Nhat Hanh). If you do not understand a person, you may hurt that person, although you may have the most loving intentions.

author of this book revering alpine flowers
The author of this book revering an alpine meadow.

Preface (including the Table of Contents) and Introduction of this book.

Appendix 1:
The Human Condition

Appendix 2:
Lessons from the 20th Century for the 21st Century


Contact Me