The Essence of the Absolute

What is meant by the Essence of the Absolute?

Stcherbatsky’s translation:

The unreality of both (The object and the subject),
And the reality (subjacent) of this unreality,
(This is the essence of the Absolute),
T’is neither (exclusively) assertion,
Nor is it (exclusively) negation
(And the Constructor of phenomena)
Is neither different from it Nor is it quite the same.

This indicates the [unreality] of duality. Yet, the Real all-encompassing background of this unreality is the Monistic Absolute. If the Monistic-Essence were not the background [sole Reality] of the defiled [duality], then the duality would somehow subsist on its own.

Thus it is that we maintain that the Absolute is absence of duality; and that this absence (of duality) is present in (the Thing-in-ltself which is) the foundation of all phenomena. The Absolute is a positive concept, the counterpart of a negation. It is clearly shown that it means the sum total of all the Elements of Reality.

Recall that the foundation of the phenomenal-realm is the Constructor of Phenomena (Friedmann’s Constructive Ideation); the Constructive Ideation is not something separate from the Absolute, yet neither is it the same:

But if the Constructor of phenomena would be quite the same thing as the Absolute, the latter would not represent that (transcendent) Pure Reality (which the Superman alone can cognize directly in a moment of mystic intuition), nor would it be a Universal Ens (and therefore eternally the same). It is thus very clearly established that the essence of the Absolute is something quite free of being either identical or separate from the Constructor of phenomena.

the Superman: Stcherbatsky’s term for an advanced yogin, clearly titled as a Noble Ariyan of the highest designation. From his Buddhist Logic, Vol I, “The main idea of this mysticism consisted in “the belief that through practice of concentrated meditation (biguan-inclusion mine) a condition of trance could be attained which conferred upon the meditator extraordinary powers and converted him into a superman.”

Friedmann’s take:

Again, if the Non-Substantiality is the Dharmatā, the Ultimate Essence of the Constructive Ideation, [we may ask] whether it should be explained as different or as non-different therefrom. Therefore he says: This is the essence of the Non-Substantiality: It is indeed the true nature, [the background] of phenomenal unreality, or rather it is that [absolute] existence, in which the negation of [separate] phenomenal reality is implied. It is therefore an Essence neither different from nor identical with the Constructive Ideation.

If it should be different, the dharmatā, the Ultimate Essence could not be different from a dharma, an element of existence. What do you mean? If [the Non-Substantiality should be different from the Constructive Ideation, i.e. from the component parts of the stream of consciousness] it would have the character of a dharma, different from the other dharmas; it would itself become a dharma. But it is not possible that a [certain] element of existence, a dharma could become the dharmatā, the Ultimate Essence of another dharma. For in that case we would have a regressus ad infinitum.

Dharmatā: essentially, the real-nature of things. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism also refers to it as “The intrinsic nature (SVABHĀVA) of dharmas, which is constant (NITYA) and transcends all discriminative phenomena.” Remember the Lankavatara Sutra teaches about the Dharmatā-Buddha that alone establishes the Noble State of Self-realization, which at the same time transcends the phenomenalizations of the empirical mind. The Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn says that it is “the inner-essence that is realized by one’s inmost Self.” This passage teaches that if the Dharmatā were to be merely the same as all sundry dharmas, it would simply replicate itself in Anavasthā (infinite regress), which would be a perpetual instability. Also, it would mean as if all dharmas were simply equal to the Ultimate Essence—this would indicate a state similar to that of pantheism. Whereas the truth is exactly the opposite, it’s a matter of pan[en]theism., wherein dharmas subsist [in] the Essence of the Absolute.

Stcherbatsky’s translation indicates a possible [objection] to all this, in that the Absolute is actually identical to “the-thing-in-itself”, which is a clear fallacy:

Objection. (We thus maintain that the Absolute, being the Universal Thing-in-Itself, is neither separate nor is it quite the same as the Constructor which represents the particular Thing-in-Itself. Now the Jaina philosophers are known by their theory of universal indetermination which allows them at the same time to affirm and to deny every predicate in regard of every subject). When we maintain that (the Absolute) is indeterminable as being at the same time neither separate nor identical (with the Constructor), do we not side with the Jain as well? Indeed that philosopher, who maintains that a thing which is a reality (a real Element) is indeterminable as to whether it is the same or not (in regard of another real thing) has embraced the Jaina view.

Answer. The accusation (of Jainism) is not founded, since our Absolute is not a thing, (it is a Universal and we only maintain that a Universal is neither quite the same nor is it separate from the particular under it).

This is critical! The Absolute is not [a thing]. Now, we can ask ourselves, since IT is not an objective-particular-thing, does IT have a consciousness, i.e. does consciousness=the Absolute?  Consciousness is mental activity, like the perpetual stream of consciousness within the Alaya-receptacle. It is a function, but not some-thing [existing] within the Absolute Self. Tsung-mi expounds about “associability” [Mind’s phenomenal function, oftentimes bordering on avidya], and “dissociability”, [Mind AS the unchanging Absolute Principle]. For instance, the Alaya-consciousness [the associability factor] is not something apart from the Mind Absolute, yet oftentimes there are those who equate it AS the Absolute Principle. Vasubandhu was quick to discern the ambiguity that can often arise in Mind-Only formulations of the Yogācāra and why the element or position of the Vijñaptimātratā became his main prerogative. As we have seen, he was the great cataloger of Mind’s functionability, but as the great philosophers like Hegel and Husserl, he was able to bracket them all AS functions of the Mind Absolute, whereas the [True Nature] is always superimposed upon them all:  The true nature of consciousness only Is the true nature of all dharmas. [Remaining as it is at all times, it is Suchness.]  Many times Mind is equated as the Universal, or Cosmic Consciousness. Today such terms are described as being about an intelligent-energy, or all-knowing substrata that encompasses all—like a giant Cosmic-Mind entity. Remember, the [monistic reality] should never be equated with objective, empirical reality. It is never characterized as “an entity”. Thus the Mind Absolute is not a Cosmic-Consciousness, but rather a Cosmic-Reality that far encompasses and transcends the functionability of consciousness. In other words, “YOU” are not the Absolute as It Is In Itself, get over it.

Conclusion. We have thus elucidated the essence of this our Absolute from all (kinds of view-points, viz.) 1) it has a negative essence (as a negation of duality), 2) it has a positive essence (subjacent to) the negative one, 3) it has a monistic essence (as the merger of object and subject), 4) it has an (undefinable) essence, being neither identical nor separate (from the Thing-in-ltself).

Friedmann’s take on this is an excellent realization of the True Essence of the Absolute. Please read and take-time to digest:

So this Non-Substantiality {Absolute} has the character asat (non-being), the character of abhāvasvarūpa (non-existential entity, having no particular formal identity in-ITself), true nature of non-phenomenal existence and the character of the Unique Principle, of the Undifferentiated Monistic Essence. In this manner it has been made clear that [the Non-Substantiality] is beyond the characteristics of identity and difference.

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