What’s in a Name?

Thirty: What’s in a Name?

“Subhūti, what do you think? If a good son or good daughter were to take all the worlds contained in three thousand galaxies and crush them into tiny particles, would these particles not be numerous?”

“Extremely numerous, World Honored One. And why? If these numerous tiny particles had real existence, the Buddha would not call them numerous tiny particles. What does this mean? Those things that the Buddha calls ‘numerous tiny particles’ are not numerous tiny particles. Therefore they are called numerous tiny particles. World Honored One. That which the Tathāgata calls ‘all the worlds in three thousand galaxies’ are actually not worlds. Therefore they are called worlds. Why? To the extent that these worlds really exist, they do so as a composite. The Tathāgata teaches that composites are not composites. Therefore they are called composites.”

“Subhūti, a composite is something that is ineffable. Only immature beings attach to such phenomena.”

All things in the created order are merely “composites” of some larger whole, as the whole itself constitutes the full sum of these composites. From the smallest dust mote to the largest galaxy, all are a composite of assorted elements. Thus the Tathagata teaches that “all these worlds” exist to the extent that they are compositions of the larger Unity of the Whole; but singularly, they are not self-existent composites in themselves. As the sutra states, the diurnal, compositional-spin of these composites is truly ineffable and one should not become attached to any one of them as being self-existent. As the Zen Masters teach, Mountains and Rivers are mere names and do not constitute some self-existent Permanent-Realities in and of them themselves. Immature beings, on the other hand, continue to embrace each and separate phenomena as being self-existent and thus are obstructed from seeing the True Light of the Buddhadharma. Names and appearances are eternally empty and as such are indeed beyond the power of words that vainly attempt to fill-in-the-blanks of the ineffable.

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