So I understand the physicists framing of casuality as follows: given an initial value of a system, say a cart on a piece of land. I add a fictitious (and privileged) initial condition, say a push. Then I say I calculate the force on the cart. And then I make statements like if I hadn't pushed the cart, it wouldn't have moved. Cause precedes effect, blah blah blah.

What blew me away was in "Part Two, Chapter one - Examination of Conditions" of the book the fundamental wisdom of the middle way - Jay L Garfield, Nagarjuna argues against such privileged fiction and concludes in dependent arising of phenomena.

Now, while I haven't completely read the book. The western thought then gives motive of seperating mental events from physical and perhaps a notion of language where we explore the fiction of our minds.

With such a starting point how did the Buddhists solve(/think of) the mind body problem?

  • 1
    The push is fictitious. Maybe even privileged. But so is the cart.
    – Daron
    Jul 16, 2023 at 9:03
  • 1
    The native American Whorfian Dan 'Moonhawk' Alford has some interesting writings on how European languages with subject-object structures create the illusion of inevitability of predicates that 'hang onto' subjects. See. More generally. The well known example from Whorf is that the English sentence The light flashed suggests that the light is different from the flash. Whorf argues that this is not an intrinsic of the world but a superimposition
    – Rushi
    Jul 16, 2023 at 9:10
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    The book called the Abhidharma is probably the answer to your question.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 16, 2023 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


There is no mind. So there is no mind/body problem. Everything is a product of Pratitya Samputpada (dependent origination). I could rattle on about it ad nauseum. So you tell me, if there is something else that you want to know. True self is no self.

  • Perhaps if you could elaborate on "True self is no self." Jul 17, 2023 at 3:25
  • @MoreAnonymous anatta is a core Buddhist idea.
    – Rushi
    Jul 17, 2023 at 3:58
  • Mind-oriented people are prone to shock when they see through this particular illusion. Remember the story of the Arhats who finally realized shunyata?
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 17, 2023 at 10:08
  • If you read a bit about Nagarjuna or about Buddhism, in general, you will quickly come to find that they believe that the ultimate reality is “empty of self-existence”. Everything arises and passes away and that there is no permanent self that travels through time. Hence, one of their main problems is explaining why it seems to. Jul 17, 2023 at 11:27
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    "There is no Bodhi-tree Nor stand of a mirror bright. Since all is emptiness Where can the dust alight?"
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 17, 2023 at 16:21

The Abhidharma is dualist, and Nagarjuna would have been aware of that. Nagarjuna denies that either mind or body have substance - "svabhava". According to the Buddhist canon, the Yogacara masters Vasubandhu and his older brother Aryadeva then arrived and proved "mind only", as a panacea for the nihilism of what would later be developed into "Madhyamaka" (you are probably reading a translation of a translation of a translation of Nagarjuna). However, like the zen narrative of transmission to Bohidharma (through all of these monks) in general, modern history says this is mistaken - Yogacara predates Nagarjuna.

This is well known. Working out how "Emptiness" relates to substance dualism is a philosophical and comparative problem, one which probably has little scholarship on, as substance dualism is not very fashionable.

  • long winded way of saying idrk but yeah
    – user66760
    Jul 16, 2023 at 23:34
  • Yes. The Buddha said that there are different ways to teach different people, and for some, you have to exhaustively go through dualism to its absurd conclusions to show them Nonduality. I find an experimental approach better, but it is hard to set it up, and non-repeatable, and impossible to explain. I met someone who could talk people into satori, but that's unusual.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 17, 2023 at 10:03

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