22n | CR Note on negative propositions [1940]

@ In some ways, negative propositions - of the type
'I am not x' are more appropriate. Their repeated
use in meditation assists self-realisation in 4
ways: (1) They reject the 'I am x'-statements, as in-
adequate, misleading, deceptive. (2) They disjoin, or
detach, any belongings that the 'I' may misappropria-
te (see bk 3). As the intellectual counterpart of
emotional and volitional self-abnegation, they
(+)   (3) To say 'I am not x' - interpreted as 'I do
not exist as x' - may be taken to mean that one
can know, or grasp, neither a continuous subject (I),
nor a property (x), nor the relation of belonging (am).
So one may come to stand above grasped and grasping.
(4) The negative proposition may be understood as the
non-assertion of both x and I, not as a denial of x -
which would be the assertion of a negation.

Used thus, negative propositions render the mind
fit to see that any statement which implies the dis-
tinction between 'is' and 'is not' fails by this
very fact to do justice to the self. To distinguish
between 'to be' and 'not to be', and to hold on to eith-
er, or both, gives sense only as an expression of hab-
itual self-assertion. One alternatively asserts or
denies objects, because all the time one is chiefly
concerned to assert, maintain, preserve one's own ex-
istence. Statements which imply the two-ness of 'to
be' and 'not to be' originate from a revolt against all-
embracing reality and impersonal truth. They thus can
be no more than vehicles of the very thing that veils
our vision of the self.

To dwell on 'I am not x' and 'it is not' propositions
- leading up to 'I am nothing', 'there is nothing' - con-
soles in periods of emotional recoil against this
world, when we wish we were not there. In this wish for
non-existence, however, we have no(t) shaken off our
attachment to a separate self (see p. 28). A negative
attitude to existence may be merely a normal turn of
the clinging to existence. But it may also be used
as an opportunity, as a possible starting point for
discarding the self. It must, however, be realised that
shrinkage of the self carried out with this mot-
ive power alone is not automatically followed, in due
course, by its disappearance. In some ways the desire
for non-existence does, indeed, weaken the self. On the
other hand, in its own way, it cuts off again from the
living sight of truth. The non-being we desire is con-