The Operations of Thought

Karl Jaspers (1883 –1969) was a German  psychiatrist and philosopher. He wrote a book called The Great Philosophers. This is from his chapter on Nagarjuna, the first section, “The Operations of Thought.” I like it.

All existence is dharma. The goal of this thinking is stated to be “nonattachment” to the dharmas.

By breaking free, the Enlightened One “will stand outside appearance, outside sensation, outside concepts, outside forms and outside consciousness. “

A Bodhisattva does not learn any dharmas, “to him the dharmas are present in a different way.”

Detachment require a last step. I might suppose that at least the doctrine exists, that his one dharma has being, that the Buddha existed, that the Bodhisattvas who attain Perfection of Wisdom exist. Are they not reality? No, this too is empty.

“I do not see that dharma Bodhisattva, nor a dharma called Perfect Wisdom.”

Perfection of Wisdom cannot be perceived, it is not present as an existing thing. For we cannot speak of appearance in the face of that which is no perfection of appearance, nor speak of consciousness where there is no awareness of sensation, concept, form, this is the fundamental and radical idea: to detach myself from all things then from detachment; to cling to nothing.


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