Thursday, December 17, 2015

Yoshiro Tamura on the Selfish View of the Self

Yoshiro Tamura (1921-1989): Don't be self-ish!

The selfish view of the self is a matter of seeing the self as fixed and unchanging, as a kind of absolute, and then seeing and judging other things on that basis. In other words, it is false subjectivity; it is deluded and clinging. In reality, nothing like an unchanging, fixed, absolute self exists. In other words, the self is a self-less self or a self-emptying self. A self that sees itself as impermanent sees things as they are. To know the true appearance of the self as a self-less self or a self-emptying self is to see things phenomenologically in accord with the way they are. It is, in brief, to be genuinely objective.

The selfish view of things involves seeing things as fixed and unchanging and then clinging to them. It is, in brief, a false objectivity. It is also deluded and involves clinging. In reality no unchanging fixed things exist. In other words, things are without independent reality; they are empty of independent reality. To know the true appearance of things as being without independent reality is to have a phenomenological mind, one free from clinging to objects, and conversely to be able to participate in the reality of objects from a phenomenological or non-selfish perspective. In this way, emptiness is not a matter of falling into nihilism but of enabling both objects and the self to exist and live as they should.

Yoshiro Tamura was a Japanese professor considered the leading authority on Tiantai, Tendai & the Lotus Sutra. The above quotation is taken from Tamura's excellent book ‘An Introduction to the Lotus Sutra,' published by Wisdom Publications: A very accessible work on the subject of the Lotus Sutra.

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