Non Buddhist Mysticism: Performing Irreducible and Primitive Presence

(Part 8. To read additional sections, go to the ToC and scroll down to “Non-Buddhist Mysticism“)



“You should love [God] as he is nonGod, nonspirit, nonperson, nonimage, yet as he is the pure, unmixed, bright ‘One’ separated from all duality; and in that One we should eternally sink down, out of ‘something’ into ‘Nothing.’” If, in mystical performance, divine love is possible only once God is rendered—or, indeed, is seen as—Nothing, what of us? If Nothing is what issues once the hallucinated separation dissolves, where does that leave us? It leaves us in-God. This is the logic of mystical union according to World- or religious-mysticism. But, given that Eckhart von Hohheim was a heretic, we must take this logic further, and elsewhere. On the road to Damascus: 

Saul was breathing out murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord…As he drew near to Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him [and he fell to the ground]…The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless. They heard the voice [of Jesus] but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground and with open eyes saw nothing.

The heretic elaborates: “As he got up from the ground, with open eyes he saw nothing, and that nothing was God…God is a nothing and God is a something. What is something is also nothing.” The heretic’s “Nothing” is non buddhist mysticism’s “first things” the “unmixed” a priori, the “essence” that is devoid of Authoritarian predicates, qualities, characteristics, attributes, determinations. I say this, however, not out of a desire to preserve the purity of apophasis, not in order to honor the ineffability of infinite negation. The heretic’s nonGod, nonspirit, nonperson, nonimage, is a pure, unmixed, bright One. So, yes, let’s speak of essence here and, following Laruelle, consider this void of qualities a “completely positive sufficiency.” This essence is a “sufficient Solitude.” This means that, against the Authorities’ machinations otherwise, it never exits the unmixed One. In a typically difficult but illuminating gloss, Laruelle tells us, “The essence of man remains in the One, that is, in the inherence that is non-positional (of) itself, in a nothing-but-subject or an absolute-as-subject, that is, a finitude.” The essence of the human, the One, the in-God is not such in relation to an other. Such relation cannot but be ultimately determining, to some decisive degree, of that essence, in which case it is no essence at all. We are speaking here again of the crucial concept of determination-in-the-last-instance. It will be useful to repeat: 

Determination-in-the-last-instance contains the novel meaning of a unilateral—non-reciprocal or non-reversible—determination. The stake of a thought of individuals as they are, or as minorities, is the experience of a radical irreversibility or uni-laterality in thought.

In light of this unilaterality, we can recast the Master’s statement—we should eternally sink down, out of ‘something’ into “Nothing”—as: we are absolutely-finitely irreversibly but in-Nothing. The “in-” signifies a lowliness that is beneath any conceivable sinking into, indeed, beneath even Abyss. It signifies a solitude that is even “too far below ‘solipsism’ to have to extricate myself from it.” It is this positionless, finite, lived solitude that makes possible the combat with Hell. Recall:

Assistance is not service, reciprocity, exchange (even unequal); it is the work of solitude without-consistency. Only inalienable poverty in essence is capable of doing combat with Hell.

Eckhart’s words speak of “love.” May we name such assistance love? Marguerite Porete gives us occasion to do so. Essence/Soul, in being “oned with God,” in being “naughted” of all Authoritarian/Church “affections,” “is alone in love.” It is in being thus “oned to Love,” that we realize the poverty and destitution that is our “sufficient Solitude,” such that “we can no more speak [even] of God.” World-Buddhism, too, speaks of an impoverished Solitude which has no prior, no beneath, no other. It names this solitude the ordinary.

Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the Way?”
“Ordinary mind is the Way,” Nansen replied.
“Should I try to seek after it?” Joshu asked.
“If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Nansen.
“How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Joshu.
Nansen said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?”

With these words, Joshu came to a sudden realization. 

Let us hope that Joshu’s realization encompassed the fact that the very concepts of “reaching” and “Way” were exacerbating his struggle. Let us hope, too, that he recognized that “vast and boundless as outer space” is a trope of irreversible non-positionality and of an unbreachable void of predication. Let us hope, finally, that Joshu disentangles himself from the complex network of postulation and predication that is World-buddhism, wherein “ordinary” signifies (the) everyday (according to) Zen and nothing added (except all of Zen). For not to do so is for Joshu to remain fixed within the Order of the (Zen) Authorities. The Order/Ordinary of the non buddhist mystic, by contrast, is altogether different. We render Laruelle’s “Theorem of the Sufficient Ordinary” a heretical koan.

The ordinary is the intimate, irrecusable, nothing-but-subjective experience of order. It is order in its finitude. World-buddhism does not know the finitude of the real order; namely, irreversibility or unilaterality. World-buddhism knows orders penetrated by Buddhist Awakening, partially imaginary or transcendent and which it strives to impose with its customary violence on man, who is the real order to which the World surrenders without violence.


You should love. Meister Eckhart, Sermon 83, Renovamini Spiritu.

He saw nothing. Quint and Largier (eds.) Meister Eckhart: Werke, Predigt 71: 211, 223. Here, Eckhart offers four possible senses of the passage. I am employing his first sense: dö er ufstuont von der erden, mit offenen ougen sach er niht, und daz niht was got…Got ist ein niht, und got ist ein iht. Swaz iht ist, daz ist ouch niht.

completely positive sufficiency. Laruelle, A Biography, 9. sufficient Solitude, 9; The essence of man remains, 8-9; too far below “solipsism,” 9.

oned with Godwe can no more speak of God. Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls, chapters VII and XI.

Joshu asked Nansen. Case #19 of the Gateless Gate collection.
The ordinary is the finite. François Laruelle, “The Scientific Theorem of Ordinary Sufficiency,” translated by Jeremy R, Smith, Endemic Theory, website, Reworded.

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