False Imagination


Andrew Gable

  1. What is known as multiplicity-seeds multiply in the mind (citta); in what is revealed, the ignorant imagine birth and are delighted with dualism.

Thought is derived from a multiplicity of seeds in the mind tinged with associative functions in the Alaya-receptacle. The ignorant-minded perceive birth smothered with dualistic ramifications. Perhaps the best simile for the dualistic mind-show is a character found in Edmond Spencer’s (c. 1552–1599), The Faerie Queene—Duessa. Duessa is the opposite of Una, who represents primordial unity:

Character Analysis

Like her pal Archimago, Duessa is primarily known for never being what she seems. In contrast to Una, her very name implies she is two things, not one (‘duo’ meaning two) and so it makes sense that she is always trying to find ways to deceive people that she meets.

Her skills of disguise are obviously quite impressive since she can pretend to be Fidessa, whose name itself (‘faith’), means exactly the opposite of what Duessa stands for. Indeed, Duessa is so opposed to the ideal of true faith, embodied in Una, that when she becomes the girlfriend of Orgoglio and rides her pet monster, she is described as looking exactly like the infamous Whore of Babylon who is a kind of Antichrist in the Book of Revelations.

Finally, we can see Duessa as a manifestation of the poem’s larger obsession with duality (see Symbols, Allegory, Images) and the dangers of false or misleading replication. Duessa’s bad. You don’t want to be like Duessa, even if being Duessa means getting to ride around on a pet monster. It just sounds fun.

Orgoglio: an ogre-like man who has an enormous penis—thus you get the meaning of Duessa “riding her pet monster”.

  1. Ignorance, desire, and karma-they are the causes of mind and its belongings; as they evolve thus [relatively], they are [recognized] by me to be Paratantric.

Paratantra: a term used in the Yogācāra school for one of the form-aspects of the manifested cosmos. It’s one of the three-forms of existence, or Trisvabhava:

Trisvabhava, (Sanskrit: “three forms of existence”) in Buddhism, the states of the real existence that appear to a person according to his stage of understanding. Together with the doctrine of storehouse consciousness (alaya-vijnana), it constitutes the basic theory of the Vijnanavada (“Consciousness-affirming”) school of Buddhist thought. The trisvabhava theory was first taught in the Prajnaparamita (“Perfection of Wisdom”) sutras, a group of Mahayana texts composed between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE, and was elaborated upon by the Vijnanavada school.

The three forms of existence are:

  1. Parikalpita-svabhava (“the form produced from conceptual construction”), generally accepted as true by common understanding or by convention of the unenlightened.
  2. Paratantra-svabhava (“the form arising under certain conditions”), the real form of phenomenal existence free from verbal expression; the world of dependent origination (pratitya-samutpada).
  3. Parinishpanna-svabhava (“the form perfectly attained”), the ultimate truth of transcendental emptiness (shunyata).

Each of these three forms should not be regarded as independent existences but as the forms that appear to different individuals according to their existential attitudes toward reality. Through ultimate transcendental wisdom, which denies an illusional superimposition of the reality, a person comes to understand the essence of the phenomenal world as emptiness (shunyata)—i.e., as the form perfectly attained (parinishpanna-svabhava). Thereupon one clearly sees the true nature of phenomena as it is without verbal fiction—i.e., in the form of paratantra-svabhava. In short, paratantra is the pivot that transforms the illusion of parikalpita to the enlightenment of parinishpanna.

The trisvabhava is inseparably connected with the practical purposes of Yogachara (“Practice of Yoga”), as knowledge of the doctrine can enable one to break through the painful chain of death and rebirth, or samsara, and attain the state of enlightenment, or nirvana.

  1. When the field of mentation gets confused, they imagine that there is something [real] to take hold of; in this imagination there is no perfect knowledge, it is false imagination rising from delusion.

Hence, the title for today’s blog, False Imagination. This is the real downside of imagination, because when it’s allowed to run amok it leads one to imagine the false to be real; usually this wreaks havoc for everyone concerned. False imagination is the exact opposite of perfect-gnosis, wherein one can perfect even in the imagination sphere, the very best—witness the writing of the sutra’s themselves.

  1. When bound in conditions there evolves a mind in all beings; when released from conditions, I say, I see no [mind arising].

The real meaning of no-mind—when illusion is extinguished, then the effect is having [no-mind] whatsoever. Of course don’t confuse this no-mind with Mind. In this sense it can be rendered as no-thought, or the classic Wu-shin. From our Platform Sutra, series:

“No-thought” in these passages is also rendered as “no-mind”, or Wu-hsin. This Principle is widely used by Hui-neng and essentially breaks-down as nothing calculated, but simply allowing Mind Itself to spontaneously meet, in non-formal fashion, what is required in a given moment. Hui-neng also includes, Non-form/ formlessness=Mind’s Essential Substance; It abides in no-thing as Its basis. Hui-neng drives home here the point that abiding in Mind-Only bests abiding in no-thing (sensate phenomena, including all thought-formulations) Hence, being un-fettered means to break the successive patterns of thought-obstructions by remaining “prior-to” them through spontaneous non-abiding via the principle of Wu-hsin that nullifies all impermanent phenomena through the exchange of the permanent Nirvanic-Element of Truth That is always ready to respond in appropriate and vivifying ways. Another way of looking at this is that one no longer has any relationship with the external, forever changing, environment; rather, one faithfully and spontaneously abides in the Nature of True Reality (Dharmadhatu), always prior-to and in union with the Pure Mind of Unborn Permanence. In Recollecting this Principle, says Hui-neng, whatever thought vexations appear will make no difference as you no longer abide in them (no-thing), but rather apperceive them through the Unifying-lens of the Nirvanic Mind.

  1. When the mind, released from conditions and unsupported by thought of self, abides no longer in this body, to me there is no objective world.

The objective world ceases to be because there is, in reality, no subjective agent that espies outward-objective phenomena. This is being released from conditionality on all fronts. In effect, Mind is free to Recollect Itself, outside of any limited dualistic and skhandic constructs.

54 & 55. (Chapter II verse 147) As a king or a wealthy householder, giving his children various clay-made animals, pleases them and makes them play [with the toys], but later gives them real ones.

(Chapter II verse 148) So I, making use of various forms and images of things, instruct my sons; but the limit of reality (bhutakoti) can [only] be realised within oneself.

Similar in scope to the father who saves his children from the burning house by utilizing various images in order to coax them away from danger. Just so has the Blessed One throughout the millennia applied various expedient measures—including the use of all manner of form-based dharmata to illustrate his salvific purposes. Yet, the “original edge of reality”, or bhutakoti, has much to do with being cognizant of the Tathagata-garbha, which as the Lanka teaches can be “known only by oneself alone.” Which, as you may recall, was realized inwardly by the Lord of Lanka, who, “thoroughly understood the Tathagatagarbha, the stage of Buddhahood, the inmost self, found himself abiding in the Buddha-gnosis.”

  1. [Cleary]: As waves on the ocean aroused by the conditions of the wind go on dancing with no end in sight, so too the flood in the receptacle, always agitated by the wind of objects, goes on dancing with manifold waves of consciousness.

A reference to the Alaya-Vijnana and its effects. Something that will be covered more extensively in our next blog.

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