The Mélange of the Absolute

Vasubandhu characterizes this last segment with the following delineations:

If there were no defiling phenomenal impediments, all corporeal beings would already be liberated.

If there were no Pure Transcendent Absolute, any effort for liberation would be frivolous activity.

Stcherbatsky:

If the Absolute Reality underlying all Elements of phenomenal life could remain uncovered by accidental, non-substantial, phenomenal impurity, then, in the absence of phenomenal impurity, all living beings would attain Final Deliverance (automatically), without any effort, even without having recourse to purifying remedies.

If defiled phenomenon were not extant, what need of any remedies? If such an ideal-state existed, would there really be any need of deliverance? Of course, there would still be recourse open for Union with the Absolute, but would not some form of union already be present minus the impurities? In effect, All would be absolutized.

By the same token, if the Pure Transcendent Absolute were absent, then sentient beings could not be liberated. [Stcherbatsky] The phenomenal impurity (of our life) could never disappear, even when profound meditation would create an antidote against it.  The Self-Realization of the Absolute is an absolute necessity as a Path towards Salvation where the accidental, non-substantial phenomenal impurity must disappear.

*From the absolute perspective of śūnyata, any distinction between pure and impure do not exist:

Nevertheless, it makes sense to posit instances of being stained and unstained from the perspective of how things appear to sentient beings. If it were the case that there were never an occurrence of emptiness having adventitious afflictions, then there would be no afflictions from the very beginning and all corporeal beings would be free effortlessly. On the other hand, if emptiness did not manifest as the identity of complete purity and the experience of purity did not exist, it would not make sense for anyone to exert themselves on the path because such efforts would yield no result, even after cultivating a remedy. Thus, because the essence of suchness is naturally luminous, afflictions have no bearing on the way things are. The way things appear, on the other hand, involves the appearance of adventitious stains. From this perspective, there is no absence of affliction either. Therefore, the basic field cannot be one-sidedly explained as either pure or impure. (Middle Beyond Extremes, Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham, pg. 44-45)

Final Summation

Stcherbatsky:

Vasubandhu states: Summarizing the contents (of the chapter dealing with) the Absolute we can regard it (as divided in two sectors dealing respectively, the one) with the definition (of the Absolute, the other) with the establishment (of that definition). This definition contains two features, a negative one (negation of duality) and a positive one (subjacent reality). The positive feature is again double: 1) being “the reality of unreality”, the Absolute is neither mere affirmation nor mere negation, 2) it is neither separate from nor identical with (the Thing-in- Itself).

Freedmann then follows-up with Sthiramali’s subcommentary:

Summarily the NonSubstantiality is to be known by means of its Essence and by means of its general arrangement. “Essence” is to be understood here in the sense of unreality as well as in the sense of real background of unreality. And unreality means here phenomenal unreality, i.e. unreality of duality. And in this sense we should understand [the Undifferentiated pure Monistic Essence in the role of] the real background of the unreality of duality.

It is in its Essence beyond being and non-being as well as beyond identity and difference. Now this is the Essence of the Non-Substantiality. Hence, it is neither different from nor identical with the Constructive Ideation. Such is the survey of the NonSubstantiality in so far as its Essence is concerned.

Freedmann’s translation next breaks-down the “subjacent-reality” of the Absolute as “its General Arrangement”. This General Arrangement is in sync with today’s blog title, as it all represents a vast mélange of attributes—like a mixture of conjunctous elements that make up the subjacent face (and thus made cognizable to sentient beings) of the Absolute.

1) the Svalakṣaṇa, the Particular Essence.
2 ) the Kamalakṣaṇa, the Essence of Action.
3) the Samkleśavyavadānalakṣaṇa, the Essence of Defilement
and Purification.
4 ) the Vidyālakṣaṇa, the Essence of Wisdom.

The Particular Essence in this respect serves as a counteragent of false discrimination. For this consists of such [affirmative and negative] judgments as: “There is existence, there is nonexistence; there is both existence and non-existence; there is identity, there is difference”. The Essence of Action [serves as] a counteragent of the fear of those who remain sceptics, [even] after having been taught as to the essence of the NonSubstantiality (Absolute). These actions [lead to the realization] of the “Non-Illusion” and the “Absolute Essence” [as well as to the realization of] “Non-Perverted Wisdom”; [they also lead to] the renunciation of all characteristics; they are the actions which abide in the Sphere of the Transcendental Infinite Wisdom and those which are the cause-substance of the attainment of the Āryadharmas, the “Elements of the Noble Ārya “. The Essence of the Differentiation [serves] to remove the indolence of those lazy inert people who are full of all sorts of misconceptions, just because they heard something about the true nature of the NonSubstantiality (Absolute) as well as about the actions [which serve to realize the Absolute]. The Essence of Wisdom [serves] to destroy the doubt of those doubtful people [who put such questions as]: “In what manner is the [Absolute subject to] defilement or purification?

Āryadharmas: this is in reference to the pure and unadulterated seeds (anāsrava-bīja) which are incorruptible once activated. Even though they are present in sentient beings with the [potential] of ripening, within the Noble Ārya they are vibrantly being nourished within the Dharma-womb (Tathagatagarbha). Whereas the prithagjana are dispossessed of such a Noble-Awakening.

 

This ends our series. Our study of the Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya+ṭīkā (and thus Vasubandhu and the Absolute) demonstrated how this endeavor was related to the soteriological-function of the Vijñaptimātratā enterprise. It truly was a science of delineating how both Transcendent and Immanent elements and their ongoing correlation within the Supreme Absolute were analyzed for the sake of greater appreciation within the minds of those diligent ones who desire to awaken from the transcendental illusion; yea, a pure-resolve to breakthrough the barrier of phenomenally-diseased associations that keeps Mind perpetually enslaved to its own colorfully creative, yet self-binding, prowess. Truly distinguishing the Middle Ground from falling into the extremes of nominative-realism and nihilism, that denies the Reality of Absolute and Transcendent categories. Beatus studium!

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