Here is where some ancient and current Christian writers and some ancient and current Buddhists find agreement:
Separate objects and separate subjects are not ultimately real. Yes, they are distinguishable, and we can certainly call them real in a non-ultimate sense, but ultimately they are abstractions from (partial reflections of) what I choose to call the “transjective,” which is uniquely and ultimately real. While the transjective is unique, it is not a separate individual alongside other separate individuals. Individuals, to use St. Paul’s terminology (Romans 11:36), exist “from, through and in” the transjective. This is present in every experience of individual subjects and objects, though it often goes unnoticed.
I came up with this term while trying to explain a passage from Paul Tillich: “God can never be object without being at the same time subject.… The same experience expressed in abstract language is the disappearance of the ordinary subject-object scheme in the experience of the ultimate, the unconditional.… [The unconditional] is present beyond the cleavage of subject and object. It is present as both and beyond both” [Dynamics of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2001 ), pp. 12-13].
Tillich never called God “transjective.” I’m using a newfangled word here. When the ordinary subject-object scheme disappears in the experience of the ultimate, what remains is the “transjective,” present beyond the cleavage of subject and object, present as both and beyond both. The transjective “can never be object without being at the same time subject.”
Interestingly, one of the most unwittingly avid fans of the transjective is one of the “new atheists,” Sam Harris: “[In meditation] our sense of “self”—of subject/object dualism in perception and cognition—can be made to vanish, while consciousness remains vividly aware of the continuum of experience” [Sam Harris, The End of Faith (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004) p. 217].
This (again unwittingly, it seems) is almost a direct paraphrase of what Tillich said decades previously about the experience of God. Harris is giving a Westerner’s modernized account of Buddhism as he practices it. He thinks this has nothing to do with the Christian experience of God. He is aware of theologians like Tillich, but he thinks that they are trying to substitute an updated version of religious experience for what Christians traditionally claimed. But as Tillich himself correctly points out (p.12), he is only describing what Christian and other mystics have reported for centuries.