[* It needs to be stated at the outset that the Sagathakam as translated by Suzuki oftentimes just stated “Chapter/Verse”, in which the reader was forced to go back into the main text to discover the full verses. What follows for this series is taken from the Complete Lanka and Discussion which can be found in our library. At the time in 2002, each chapter of the Lanka had to be copied down in its entirety since no such translation of Suzuki’s Lanka was available on the net. I copied the main body of the text, while the Sagathakam was copied by two other students at the time from Tozen’s Zen School of the Unborn Mind, courtesy of Orphea and Atimaya who copied the actual chapter and verse without the reader having to backtrack time and time again into the text. Their efforts are to be commended.]
At that time Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva said this to the Blessed one:
- (Chapter II verse 1) As you review the world with your transcendental knowledge and compassion, it is like an ethereal flower, of which one cannot say whether it is born or destroyed, as the category of being and non-being is inapplicable to it.
- (Chapter II verse 3) As you review the world with your transcendental knowledge and compassion, it is always like a dream, of which one cannot say whether it is permanent or destructible, as the category of being and non-being is inapplicable to it.
- (Chapter II verse 2) As you review all things with your transcendental knowledge and compassion, they are like visions which are beyond the reach of the intellectual grasp, as the category of being and non-being is inapplicable to them.
The Lanka always compares the “perceptual world” as something insubstantial, like an ethereal flower, or other characterizations referenced time and time again, “Rabbit horns and Gandharvic Castles in the air.” The main qualifier to keep in mind is that the world and its inhabitants are maya-like, just an illusional and transitional stage-show conjured-up until such time Mind grows weary of the colorful-imagery and awakens to Its True Imageless and Essential Stature. Even your own “personhood” is one such conjurers-trick—a fata-morgana sidekick designed to keep one imprisoned within the perpetual charnel-house until such time the animated sense-factory once again discards its weary old bones. Developing transcendent Buddha-gnosis is the key that will unlock the gates of the skandhic-mind and dissolve-away the drug-like induced haze from the disfigured false-face of the Unborn.
- (Chapter II verse 6) With your transcendental knowledge and compassion which are above form, you comprehend the egolessness of things and persons, and are yourself always clean and free from the hindrances of passion and knowledge.
Egolessness: In this instance I’m inclined to agree with The Zennist who describes the murkiness of the term.
January 12, 2010
The murkiness of egolessness
The concept of egolessness never found its way into Buddhism, or even the idea of an “ego” which for moderns comes from the stream of Freud’s psychology. For those who insist that egolessness fits with the notion of anatman which literally means not-the-self, they haven’t a good case to argue before the bench of the Buddhist canon or, for that matter, common sense.
More correctly, instead of denying the self in the sense of there is no self (P., nattha attâ) which is nihilism, the Buddha, almost ad nauseam, spoke against wrong identification with the Five Aggregates, or the same, wrong identification with the psychophysical believing it is our self. These aggregates of form, feeling, thought, inclination, and sensory consciousness, he went on to say, were illusory; they belonged to Mara the Evil One; they were impermanent and painful. And for these reasons, the aggregates cannot be our self.
I will go so far as to say that to assert the Buddha taught egolessness is extra-Buddhist. Buddhist egolessness is the handiwork of latter day, 20th century Buddhists. [e.g. Suzuki]
I’m inclined to assert here that in the above context, Essencelessness needs to be substituted for egolessness. Essencelessness in that things [in themselves] lack Substance and are de facto sunyatic in nature.
- (Chapter II verse 7) You do not vanish in Nirvana, nor is Nirvana abiding in you; for it transcends the duality of knowing and known and of being and non-being.
The Nirvanic Mind is not in a symbiotic-relationship with the apparent you. No, IT is not in you but transcends all categorical imperatives of here or there, being and non-being. IT is a Transcendent Kingdom unto Itself. Oftentimes “Nirvana” is translated as “extinguishment”, like in Clancy’s translation:
You do not become extinct, you are not in extinction, extinction is not in you, beyond intelligence and information, apart from extremes of being and nonbeing.
Nirvana does not indicate extinction. From our series on The Mahāparinirvāṇasutra:
This first portion of the chapter concludes by indicating the importance of not associating the Mahāparinirvāṇa with some form of extinction:
Moreover, good man, when I say the lamp is extinguished, this refers to the nirvāṇa realized by arhats. Because arhats extinguish craving and the other defilements, I use the metaphor of an extinguished lamp…
But mahā [pari]-nirvāṇa is not the same as what happens in the case of an extinguished lamp.
This should permanently settle the age-old argument that [pari]-nirvāṇa somehow constitutes “extinction”. It does not. It rather means crossing-over into the Nirvanic Kingdom of Self.