We have to nourish our insight into impermanence every day. If we do, we will live more deeply, we suffer less, and enjoy life much more. Living deeply, we will touch the foundation of reality, nirvana, the world of no-birth and no-death. Touching impermanence deeply, we touch the world beyond permanence and impermanence. We touch the ground of being and see that which we have called being and nonbeing are just notions. Nothing is ever lost. Nothing is ever gained. The Second Dharma Seal is nonself. Nothing has a separate existence or a separate self. Everything has to inter-be with everything else.

Excerpt from "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching"

Is the bold phrase grammatically correct? And what does it mean?
Would it be better to replace 'which' with 'what'?

  • 2
    That which equates to your what, so logically another that is required, odd as it seems. Apr 16, 2022 at 7:39
  • where should "that" go?
    – inviolable
    Apr 16, 2022 at 7:52
  • "see that that which we have called being~~ are just notions", is this possible??
    – inviolable
    Apr 16, 2022 at 7:53
  • 2
    "See that that which we have called being..." is the only way it makes sense to me. 'That which' could be replaced with 'what' - I wouldn't say it should be. Apr 16, 2022 at 11:30
  • 1
    I think that this might be a duplicate of That that vs That what vs What vs That Apr 16, 2022 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


I think the confusion is over the use of the the word that. Broken down, the original sentence is "We see (A) is (B)", which I feel is fine, and "that which" is part of A. If one prefers, it can be constructed as "We see that (A) is (B)", but this produces "(see that) (that which)". As commented by Kate, what is equivalent to that which, making the full reconstruction

We touch the ground of being and see that what we have called being and nonbeing are just notions.

So yes, the original sentence is grammatically correct. Which can be replaced with what to improve understanding, but the reasoning is more complex.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .