Svabhāva

  1. (Chapter II verse 156) [Cleary]: This world is representation, made of names, not there as it appears.  The clusters are makers of optical illusions imagined by the naïve.

I Like Cleary’s description here of the skandhas as “clusters”. Suzuki’s translation says that the skandhas are like a “hair-net wherein discrimination goes on”; Cleary refers to this as being akin to an optical-illusion maker. We are indeed just made-up like clusters of an active imagination—just naïve and complacent dupes of our Skandhic-Overlords.

  1. [Cleary]: Nothing comes to be from nonexistence, nor perishes conditionally; when one sees the constructed as the child of a barren woman, a flower in the sky, then, seeing grasper and grasped as confusion, it ceases.

Both the grasper and the object grasped are like optical illusions. There is no birth. There is no Death. For as the Lanka teaches there is “nothing that is to be born, nor is there anything that has been born.” (kshanti-anutpatti) When one does ultimately discern that both birth and death are constructions based in nothing substantial, both the “grasper and the grasped” vanish. For what is there [real]ly to grasp and by whom?  This is all about the way of deathlessness and no-thing else.

  1. (Chapter II verse 179) [Cleary]: I do not enter nirvana by cultivation, ritual or appearance; I attain nirvana by cessation of the consciousness causing imagination.

Suzuki delineates this as when the Vijnana which is caused by discrimination ceases. We will next learn this to be the manovijñāna, or conscious volition. Indeed, this is the agent that prevents one from awakening the Nirvanic-Mind. The awakening of the Nirvanic-Element can only occur when the manovijñāna is deactivated.

  1. (Chapter II verse 181) Like a great flood where no waves are stirred because of its being dried up, the Vijnana[-system] in its various forms ceases to work when there is the annihilation [of the Manovijnana].

A verification of #25. A more thorough breakdown is such:

manovijñāna. (P. manoviññāṇa; T. yid kyi rnam par shes pa; C. yishi; J. ishiki; K. ŭisik 意 識). In Sanskrit, “mental consciousness”; the sixth of the six consciousnesses (after the five sensory consciousnesses). Unlike the sense consciousnesses, all of which entail forms of direct perception (PRATYAKṢA), the mental consciousness is capable of both direct perception (pratyakṣa) and thought (KALPANĀ). Also, unlike the sensory consciousnesses, the mental consciousness is not limited by object: whereas the eye can only see visual objects, the ear can only hear auditory objects, etc., the objects of the mental consciousness are said to be all phenomena (DHARMA) because it is capable of thinking about anything that exists. The mental consciousness also differs from the five sense consciousnesses in terms of its precondition (PRATYAYA). For the five sense consciousnesses, the respective sense organ serves as the precondition; thus, each of these sense organs has a physical dimension (RŪPA). However, for the mental consciousness, the precondition is a previous moment of consciousness, which allows for either the next moment of mental cognition of a previous object or the first moment of cognition of a new object.

Buswell  Jr., Robert E.; Donald S., Jr. Lopez. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Kindle Locations 40125-40126). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

  1. [Cleary]: Empty, devoid of inherent existence, analogous to illusion, unborn, these dreamlike things are not found to be real or unreal.

Further clarification of the manovijñāna and all that stems from mental-consciousness. There is no true self-nature inherent in this skandhic-agent and thus al that it conveys is self-empty and unreal. Indeed, this can only be reserved for what is stated next in #28.

  1. [Cleary]: I teach one nature, apart from thinking and representation; the celestial realm of the wise, beyond two natures.

This is in reference to svabhāva, or the intrinsic self-nature of the Unborn. Suzuki describes this realization as belonging to the exquisite [spiritual] realm of the wise. It needs to be underscored that this is exclusively reserved for the Absolute, for “things” in the phenomenal worlds exist only conventionally and lack the Intrinsic-Self of the Unborn. Our recent series on Nāgārjuna expressed it thusly:

Conventional truth (saṁvṛti-satya) is what we primarily attribute to our everyday associations, i.e., what appears to be true to our ordinary consciousness. Whereas ultimate truth, Paramārtha-satya, is NOT Self-empty of its own intrinsic nature (svabhāva), but rather fully endowed with Its own Nirvanic-Suchness—and is devoid of all conventionally conceived connotations. For Nāgārjuna everything that we conceive and perceive through our ordinary and thus conventional lens is null and void due to its dependent structure; hence no-thing is original but just carbon copies of nominally-diseased constructs.

Also, everything is bracketed by the Buddhadhātu, It is the uncreated, utterly pure, unconditioned, inviolable, indestructible, firm and unshakeable, eternal Buddhic Essence (svabhava) of all sentient beings. (Dr. Tony Page)

The reader is encouraged to explore our archives with the search-box at the top of the page for further refined connotations of svabhāva.

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