Saturday, July 04, 2009

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section VII

This should clear up some points at least as far as how Buddhists view the world.

  • Buddhism is not nihilism.

  • Creation ex nihilo is not Buddhist. There is no "First Cause."

  • Reasoning as to cause is the same as reasoning as to that which is not caused.

  • Those who do not view they myriad things and experience, etc. as projects of Mind make dualism.(And let me go on a corollary tangent here: It is one thing to say all beings are inherently enlightened, but it's a whole different ball of wax to act moment to moment within and on and through this knowledge. We're well wired to perceive dualism; and wisdom comes in setting dualism aside, or setting monism aside, as both dualism and monism are projects of Mind, two sides of a coin.)

A Bodhisattva, on the other hand,

The Bodhisattvas-Mahāsattvas, Mahāmati, will before long attain to the understanding that Nirvana and Samsāra are one. Their conduct, Mahāmati, will be in accordance with the effortless exhibition of a great loving heart that ingeniously contrives means [of salvation], knowing that all beings have the nature of being like a vision or a reflection, and that [there is one thing which is] not bound by causation, being beyond the distinction of subject and object; [and further] seeing that there is nothing outside Mind, and in accordance with a position of unconditionality, they will by degrees pass through the various stages of Bodhisattvahood and will experience the various states of Samādhi, and will by virtue of their faith understand that the triple world is of Mind itself, and thus understanding will attain the Samādhi Māyopama. The Bodhisattvas entering into the state of imagelessness where they see into the truth of Mind-only, arriving at the abode of the Pāramitās, and keeping themselves away from the thought of genesis, deed, and discipline, they will attain the Samādhi Vajravimbopama which is in compliance with the Tathāgatakāya and with the transformations of suchness.

I could make a "Big Mind" remark here, but I won't.

But seriously, this text is so redolent of Zen, that it very clearly points to why Zen claims it's a tradition outside of words and letters: it's not because it's in any way in conflict with the sutras, but because it's, in the spirit of the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton's simile, more akin to playing tennis than to studying mathematics (if studying mathematics were about knowing the sutras).

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