The Science of the Absolute

We shall soon come to realize in this series that the Madhyāntavibhāga and its commentaries are a unique Science that directly dissects the inner and outer nature of the Absolute. Lankavatarians have a particular interest in this as the Absolute, or “Unborn” as it’s adoringly Self-realized, will become in this series evermore familiar as Its [attributes] are analyzed and thoroughly anatomized.


Stcherbatsky’s translation:

1) Those who aspire to become omniscient Noble Āriyans must know
the essence of Absolute Reality, because the Absolute represents the pure object*, (purified from all the filth of phenomenal existence, the object which they strive to cognize).
2) They must know it by its names, in order not to be led astray when in different scriptural works it is alluded to by different names.
3) They must know it according to the (precise) meaning of these names, because when the identity of the meaning of all these names is realized, we will know with precision that the Absolute is the absolutely pure objectivity of the transcendent world.
4) They must know it according to its “division”. (The division really affects only the phenomenal aspect of reality, but its absolute purity is attained by removing all the influence of phenomenal impurity.
Therefore in order to stimulate the effort for the (gradual) extinction of (all vestiges of) phenomenal impurity, the Absolute must be known according to its (indirect) division.
5) They must know the argument establishing the division, because when this argument will be well known it will be easy to understand that the Absolute, although it represents an undifferentiated unity, is nevertheless divided (indirectly, through the degrees of its attainment by the Noble Ārya.)

*Object: it needs to be unequivocally stressed that when Stcherbatsky utilizes this term (in reference to the Absolute) he’s stressing that the [monistic reality] should never be equated with objective, empirical reality. It is never characterized as “an entity”.

the Absolute must be known according to its (indirect) division: this is in reference to seeing its essential nature as it is reflected in the “Constructive Ideation”. “The Constructive Ideation constructs the phenomenal world, the world of the subject-object relation.” Thus, the Absolute becomes [indirectly divided] within the phenomenal sphere; yet it never loses its True Transcendent Stature.

the Absolute, although it represents an undifferentiated unity, is nevertheless divided (indirectly, through the degrees of its attainment by the Noble Ārya): Paramount observation: when the noble-minded adept, through time spent in deep-samadhis, begins to clearly discern the nature of the Absolute, the Absolute, in turn, begins a symbiotic attunement within the adept’s spiritmind; in so doing, It is [indirectly] known, but not known as a [direct] variant of Its own undivided Selfhood.

Friedmann’s take:

[The Non-Substantiality—{Absolute}] in this respect is characterized by that [monistic] essence which transcends the reality as well as the unreality of phenomenal existence], because, in its various forms, it pervades everything.

Again, what is the reason that the Non-Substantiality should be understood by means of these [different] aspects. Since it is the object of purification, it is to be known in accordance with its essence, by [those sentient beings] who are desirous of spiritual purification.

For Friedmann the [monistic essence] is the characteristic of what both he and Stcherbatsky term as the “object of purification”. It transcends empirical reality as well as its phenomenal aspects. It is UN-empirical and does not reside in the unreal; rather, the unreal (phenomenal manifestations) dwells [In IT].

At the same time the empirical-phenomenal consists as a [concretized reality]; although it is śūnya—in itself devoid of any [Real] Essence. As stated earlier, the Absolute becomes [indirectly known] for the sake of those desirous of spiritual purification. Thus It has many different synonyms through which one enters [can relate with and be purified] into that symbiotic attunement with It.

As Stcherbatsky states in element (4), It can only be *known according to Its division; but this division only affects that phenomenal aspect of reality; in this sense it is only “apparently” becoming divided, but not in [Reality], within Its Un-divided Self-nature. This is known as Its soteriological-import—for within Its apparent division the Absolute-cleansing can occur, one that only transpires in transient and impermanent realms.

*Known: aspiring adepts can come to [know about] it through normative division, but they can never come to know-it As It Is In Itself—because within the Self there is no-knowing, but only pure Self-Actualized Realization. As Friedmann translates, “it is to be known in [accordance with] its Essence,” not AS the Essence Itself…

…A little Husserlian bracketing:

[That is, until being graced by the Such, one is also untainted—beyond the realms of thought and knowledge and into pure ISNESS.]

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