Sweet Sixteen

There is another subdivision of the Absolute, which is sixteenfold; Stcherbatsky refers to these as sixteen modes of Relative Reality, or those which the Absolute is subjacent to:

1) the Relativity of the internal Elements of life;
2) the Relativity of the external Elements;
3) the Relativity of our body (which is the residence of both) the internal and external (Elements);
4) the Relativity (of Space), i.e. of the world which is the residence of that residence;
5) the Relativity of (the knowledge) of Relativity (itself);
6) the Relativity (even) of the Highest Truth;
7—8) the (mutual) Relativity of both the conditioned and unconditioned Elements of life;
9) the Relativity (of that Element Of the Bodhisattva) which is supposed never to have an end;
10) the Relativity (of that feature of the Bodhisattva) which is supposed to have neither beginning nor end;
11) the Relativity (of the resolution of the Bodhisattva) never to forsake the living beings;
12) the Relativity of the permanent nature of a Bodhisattva;
13) the Relativity of the (beautiful) tokens on the body of a Buddha;
14) the Relativity of the miraculous powers of a Buddha;
(To summarize)
15) the (general) Relativity or Unreality in all these points; and
16) the general subjacent ultimate Royalty in all these points.

Absolute Reality is a Universal. Its essence is Monism. It appertains to all the separate Elements (of Relative Reality which in their ultimate essence are not divided in the two parts of subject and object). Since it is impossible otherwise to demonstrate the varieties (of what is unique in itself), its division into varieties is made from the standpoint of those (phenomenal) objects (in which Reality is concealed).

This is in reference to the abstractions of relative-reality. Another way of stating this is that of the Absolute in abstraction, or pluralized obstruction mode. While these are obstructions to the Absolute in regard to Its inner and essential integrity, they are non-the less abstractions from pure-essence into differentiated and concretized formal realities. Thus we have externalizations as listed above in the sixteen modes of experimentality. Indeed, these modes are based on experience in the relative-sphere and all the sensate (organ)izations that accompany and are associated with it.


The Bodhisattva absorbed in deepest meditation during a fit of transic enlightenment intuits the Absolute Reality behind the veil of the phenomenal Relativity of the four categories of these cognizable objects (viz. the sense faculties, the sense objects, the body and the world); (he intuits directly the unique Reality concealed by the manifoldness of phenomena). But (when the trance is over and) he realizes the same Absolute by attentive discursive (conceptual) thought, a new form of the objectivizing habit manifests itself.

Indeed that intuition of the Absolute through which he realizes the inanity of the internal and external Elements of existence (being then realized in a special variety of conceptual thought requires an object and thus) the subject-object habit of thought (reappears anew).

Unique observation of the dynamics that are experienced by a mind adept when in deep-samadhis. Within the “trance” or deep contemplation-mode itself, the veil of phenomena begins to dissipate and Absolute Reality is slowly revealed. After the meditation session is over, discursive thought patterns once again are reactivated initiating recurrent patterns of mental habituality. Thus, while the Absolute is not absent, the former intuitive-realization that was heightened in the session evaporates, leaving very little of what was encountered in the process of self-actualization. This is unfortunate since within deep-samadhis the inanity of phenomenal exposures are recognized for what they truly are—sūnya.

(On the other hand) we must consider the manner in which this renewed conception, attained again after it was lost in the direct intuition of the Absolute, presents itself as having the form of Ultimate Truth. Now, both these conceptions, the conception of the inanity of the Elements of phenomenal existence and the conception of this (knowledge) as being the Ultimate Truth, both are the consequence of a direct mystic experience, they prove after minute examination to be themselves also relative. They contain that objectivity which constitutes a variety of Transcendental Illusion, that variety which still persists after (some of the highest) degrees of transic enlightenment have been attained. We thus have two further varieties of Relativity covering the subjacent Absolute Reality, they are called, the Relativity of Relativity and the Relativity of Ultimate Truth. They mean 1) the Relativity of the conceptual “knowledge” of Relativity and 2) the Relativity of the “form” (or of the concept) of Ultimate Truth. They represent the manner in which the Absolute is conceived in the moments following on-the moment of mystic vision. The word “knowledge” in the first case and the word “form“ (concept) in the second case are omitted and they are simply designated as the Relativity of Relativity and the Relativity of Ultimate Truth.

The gnosis attained in the mystical-encounter is twofold: direct-exposure of the phenomenal realm for what it truly is and the direct-realization of Ultimate Truth, or Paramārthā. Yet, it must be stated that these direct-realizations are relative in their cognizance. Thus, Stcherbatsky stresses here “the manner” in which they were realized. Relative cognizance is the (usual) manner (or the means) in which they are observed and realized, and thus are stamped with the seal of relativity, even in the cognizance of Paramārthā, i.e. the direct-realization (within the sentient being) of Absolute Truth occurs through a cognitive-faculty; hence Stcherbatsky refers to this as the Relativity of Ultimate Truth.

(As to the expression Relativity of the Highest Truth, it has also the following meaning). When all the Elements of Existence, internal and other, have been intuited (as inane) owing to a knowledge of the Absolute, this is the Highest Truth. The subjacent Absolute Reality corresponding to this form of knowledge is called the Relativity (and the subjacent Absolute Reality) of the Highest Truth. Why? Because the Highest Truth is an intuition, it is devoid of every feature constructed by abstract thought.

Keep in mind that (Absolute Reality) is subjacent to relative-modes of recognition. The other side of this, however, is that when the mind-adept approaches “unknown” modes of Being within the ecstasy of deep-samadhis, relative cognition takes a backseat to the ineffable that can only be intuited and never cognized through relative consciousness; yea, this is when the advanced Bodhi-Being enters into the Absolute Mindstream of the Tathagatas.

It is also suggested by these words that the realization of the Absolute In profound meditation is the only direct expedient of attaining transubstantiation into a Budda’s Body of Supreme Bliss for one’s own Final Deliverance and into the Buddha’s Cosmical Body for Final Deliverance of all living beings.

This is all astounding because this singular passage sums-up the process of Mind-development that was presented in our Dharma-series, The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead. The Buddha’s Cosmical body is, of course, the Dharmakaya. The ultimate transubstantiation occurs during what that series describes as the Bardo of the Dharmatā, or Dharmakaya Arising. Please read and contemplate along with its accompanying video.

Thus, (says Vasubandhu), should we envisage the system (of the sixteen varieties of the manifestation) of the Absolute). This means that the Absolute which is impure in the phenomenal condition and pure in the (transcendent) purified form, this unique Absolute, can be recognized (in another form, viz.) a form divided into sixteen varieties called the Absolute (subjacent to the Relativity) of the subjective Elements of existence and to all other varieties (of relative reality).

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