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The Personal and the Cosmic Experience According to the Buddha

"[A]ll experienced phenomena are empty (sunya). This did not mean that they are not experienced and, therefore, non-existent; only that they are devoid of a permanent and eternal substance (svabhava). Since they are experienced, they are not mere names (prajnapti)." -- Nagarjuna, Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way

Thus all experienced phenomena are devoid of permanent and eternal substance i.e. experiences are transitory, just as our feelings come and go, and our mood gradually revolves around the moderate centre of calm, the "eye of the storm".

For what is memory's purpose except to help us learn from our mistakes?
Its seeming permanence is an illusion, much like chips of volatile memory in a computer do not retain data when the power is turned off.

Accordingly, emptiness confirms that all experienced phenomenon are experienced and existent, being devoid of eternal substance.

Since they are experienced, they are not labels but actually based on experience.

So if I feel sad (phenomenon), that is experienced as sadness (noumenon). Ergo, sadness is a cosmic quality in the sense that it may be experienced by all sentient beings. Thus in this sense, "cosmic" means "generalized". Likewise, "feeling sad" is what I feel, which is specific to me.

Thus feelings are specific to each sentient beings, while emotions such as sadness may be generally felt by all sentient beings.

However, abstractions of the mind such as Dr Who, an imaginary character in a fiction of a quasi-scientific nature, are experienced phenomenon which only exists in the mind (the sixth sense) but not in the real world.

Instead the actual noumenon of Dr Who would be when a bunch of Whovians share their experience of the phenomenon called Dr Who with each other!

For the cosmic experience of the mind-only phenomenon called Dr Who is the shared experiences of people of like mind discussing Dr Who based on the particular series they've watched.

One could certainly say this is true of the Buddha and even Jesus, though fundamentalists would beg to differ.

On this note I will conclude this article by stating again that Buddhism helps people generalize their personal experiences either through empathy or through sharing with like-minded people their personal experience of phenomena.



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