What Do You Mean ‘I Don’t Exist’?

Are Buddhists being serious when they say nothing really exists? Surely not! But wait …

Paul Thomas Zenki
Thinkpiece Magazine

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Man’s face partially lit in darkness
Image via Pixabay (Creative Commons)

Do circles exist?

Well, if you mean “Do they exist in the wild, can we we find one?” then, no, because for all real-world things, roundness eventually breaks. Anything we call a circle, if we start zooming in on it, at some point reveals itself not to be a circle at all. At first we notice angles, at least at some microscopic level and inevitably, if we zoom down close enough, we find ourselves adrift in the quantum foam.

But so what? Circles are all over the place — on signs, in machinery, as balloons and bubbles and globes, in the roadways we navigate — and we certainly behave as though all that circular stuff is indeed circular. To say circles philosophically “don’t exist” when we have to call things circles to live a sane life, what use is that? It’s silly.

OK, point taken and point taken. So… where does that leave us? Maybe we could ask, do circles really exist? In other words, if all sentient life in the universe were to vanish in a flash of stipulation, would there be circles?

It’s a badly formed question. For certain purposes, we can take the view that circles aren’t real, and that is useful, sometimes necessary. For other purposes…

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Paul Thomas Zenki
Thinkpiece Magazine

Ghost writer, essayist, marketer, Zen Buddhist, academic refugee, living in Athens GA, blogging at A Quiet Normal Life: https://www.quietnormal.com/