Category Archives: Medical/health

Deconstruction of self-existence allows “something else” to shine forth

From the Introduction, page 4, by David Loy in his edited collection Healing Deconstruction: Postmodern Thought in Buddhism and Christianity:

According to Madhyamika, our taken-for-granted world is mentally-constructed by our delusive attribution of self-existence to objects, which makes us experience that world as a collection of discrete things interacting in space and time; and that leads to suffering insofar as we understand ourselves to be such self-existing things, who are nonetheless subject to the ravages of time and change–who are born only to fall ill, grow old, and die. Merely by subverting such ontological claims, and without offering any views of its own, the Buddhist deconstruction of such self-existence (especially our own) can allow “something else” to shine forth.

In my recent training experience, I have the sense that Aikido is physically deconstructing my perception of an independently-acting self.

Several close friends believe we have immortal souls. Not sharing that faith makes Marci’s impending death more lonely for me, a forever loss. Far from belief in a discrete immortal soul that does not die, the Madhyamika Buddhist view is that we don’t have that individuality, even in this life. But it seems to be a view into a bigger space.

SunyataThere are now brief moments of doing it right in my otherwise relatively unskilled Aikido practice, when, with no push and no pull, I move someone much bigger than myself — it happens, not often! It is without effort, but by congruence. Something else shines forth?

“toxic mix of individualism and fear”

A couple of weeks ago our Saturday morning discussion group in the hospital cafeteria talked about how the lack of care and medical treatment for pain and addiction patients seems to stem from a lack of empathy rooted in a culture overemphasizing the “I’ at the expense of the “we.”

Came across the following that uses clear language to describe a parallel situation school children face:

Collini, Stefan. “Side by Side: On Britain’s School Wars.” The Nation, November 1, 2011.

Recent schools policy in Britain, like so much of current politics in Britain and the United States (and elsewhere), is founded on a toxic mix of individualism and fear. The fear is evident in the various metaphors of contamination that turn up in responses to any proposal that suggests the more advantaged may have to share life experiences with the less advantaged. Even parents who profess to believe in greater equality among adults want their children’s schooling to be protected against behavior associated with the lower orders. But the deforming perspective of individualism is more poisonous still—a refusal to place one’s experience and concerns in a larger social context, an indifference to the overall pattern, an obtuseness about the social determinants of behavior, a denial of the legitimate claims of others.


A Buddhist approach would talk about the illusion of the independent self, the consequences of attachment to that illusion, and the fearlessness arising when that attachment dissolves.

Addictions are our human tendencies to be neurotic taken one step further into the realm of brain disease

From a draft manuscript by our friend Dr. Kimber Rotchford:

Addictions are our human tendencies to be neurotic taken one step further into the realm of brain disease.

So, attachment, in the Buddhist sense, is psychological and social fixation on desire (neurotic), but  is also physiological, in that it is physically embodied, including but not limited to in the brain. The brain is altered by the process. At some point this physiological alteration becomes sufficient for it to be called a brain disease. That then, in Kimber’s perspective as I understand it, is the point where it is designated as addiction. Some addictions involve irreversible physiological changes and thus require ongoing drug treatment to maintain functional brain chemistry.

Notice here that all attachment, all fixated desire, has a physical element. When of  character and degree to be signficantly disfunctional (by some standard), then it is a disease, like other physical diseases.