The confusion between mind an energy is reflective, I think, of the frequent tendency to think in dualities. Most people (and I think this is true across all cultures)limit their consideration of phenomena to “spiritual” vs material. Deeper consideration reveals that all phenomena are an inseparable combination of measurable physical aspects (matter) and un-measurable non-physical aspects (spirit). The essential identity of any phenomena, however, is neither physical or non-physical. In Buddhism this relates to the concepts of non-duality and dependent origination ( ).

Taking the example of the phenomena known as water, it is apparent that where oxygen and hydrogen are not compounded, water does not exist. Yet is is also true that when oxygen and hydrogen compound water comes into existent. Therefore the essence of water cannot be expressed in terms of existence or non-existence, but can be expressed as an ever-present potentiality in an environment where oxygen and hydrogen exist. This is the dependent origination of water. Likewise, water has both material and “spiritual” aspects; or better called measurable physical aspects and un-measurable non-physical aspects. It is a clear solvent that has three phases (gas, liquid and solid); all measurable physical properties. It is also cleansing, refreshing, life giving, soothing; all subjective “spiritual” attributes that cannot be objectively measured since depending on the subject water can also be a contaminant, or a destroyer of life. So then is the essential identity of water material or spiritual? The reasonable answer is neither; that instead its essential identity lies within the broad potentiality of the universe of all phenomena and is neither material or spiritual. This is the meaning of non-duality.

This is why Buddhists don’t like to use the word “soul”. Soul suggests pure spirit; a notion Buddhism rejects. All phenomena are an inseparable combination of spirit and matter. The essential nature of all phenomena is neither spirit or matter. Instead, the essential identity of all phenomena is a state of potentiality. The combined potentiality of all phenomena is referred to as the Law of the Universe. The purpose or Buddhist practice is to build awareness of the workings of this Law as expressed through your life force and to use this force to create value.

SGI Buddhist, Loves Irish and Latin American Literature, History buff, knows a great deal about Medicare

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