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Buddhist philosophy and pop culture – ever the twain shall meet.
The chittamatra, or Mind-Only school of Buddhism is indeed a trippy one. The idea, nagging suspicion, or paranoid fear that maybe the whole world is just an emanation of our mind has long fascinated philosophical minds, storytellers, Star Trek fans, Twilight Zone fans, and indeed, much of television.
I was reminded of this when in a recent IDP class Ethan Nichtern mentioned the Star Trek: Next Generation episode in which Capn. Picard, beset by an alien probe, not only imagines but actually lives a whole other lifespan, complete with family, livelihood, children, and death. (As I recall, it had something to do with growing grapes in France.)
Later, conversing with my husband, he reminded me of the Jorge Luis Borges stories “The Aleph,” and “The Secret Miracle,” which deal with similar, if not identical themes. And like most kids, I used to think about this kind of stuff all the time, and I remember my utter glee when I first read Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
So, chittamatra-flavored pop — can you think of any other examples of “mind-only” narratives? Donny Darko is one of my faves, but there are LOTS.