“Suchness” or “thusness” means “it is so”.
It cannot be described in words as it is not a mere concept.
It can only be experienced.
Suppose someone asks you what an orange tastes like. Rather than describe it, best to invite them to taste an orange. This allows them to enter the suchness of the orange.
To remind his disciples on the beginningless and endless nature of reality, Buddha asked them to address him as “Tathagata” – one who arises from suchness, abides in suchness and returns to suchness, a non-conceptualisable reality.
Who or what does not arise from suchness? You and I, a caterpillar, a speck of dust – all do. In fact, the words “arise from”, “abide in” and “return to” have no real meaning. One can never leave suchness.
When asked what happens to Tathagata after death, Buddha replied, “As Tathagata cannot be found in form or outside form, cannot be recognized through feeling, perception, mental formations or consciousness, why worry if I will continue to exist or cease to exist, or neither continue, nor cease to exist after death.
Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist known as the father of the first atomic bomb understood this based on his observations of particles:
“To what appeared to be the simplest questions, we will tend to give either no answer or an answer which at first sight be reminiscent more of a strange catechism than of the straightforward affirmatives of physical science. If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say ‘No’; if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time we must say ‘No’; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say ‘No’; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say ‘No’.”
The language of science has begun to approach the language of ancient wisdom. Being a practitioner of science and of ancient teachings, I am starting to see the deep connection between the two. ‘Understanding’ is an intellectual pursuit. Some knowledge is beyond understanding. The above paragraph awakens something within me that has been there, lying dormant for many centuries. Once again, bringing me back to – It is so.