Why Birth, Why Death?

Having now covered a healthy dose of this series on the Sagathakam, you may have observed that many of these gathas (verses) are repetitious in nature. It’s as if the Sagathakam is one long spiritual exercise for students of the Lanka and that elements of its composition was not composed by just one scribe, but several. Since the Sagathakam basically covers the most prominent themes found within the Lanka, these different scribes composed many variations based on the same themes. In this fashion, the diligent and astute adept would be sure to memorize what was essential to the integrity of the Lanka as a whole.

Therefore, at this junction of the series, I have decided not to cover what has already transpired time and time again, but to pick and choose which gathas warrant further treatment. Thus the numbering will not follow a strict sequence, but will advance forward by which given number offers additional insights.

  1. Non-duality, suchness, emptiness, ultimate limit, essence (dharmata), non-discrimination, – all these I teach as belonging to the aspect of perfected knowledge (parinishpanna).


The third form of knowledge is the Parinishpanna, perfected knowledge, and corresponds to the Right Knowledge (samyagjnana) and Suchness (tathata) of the five Dharmas. It is the knowledge that is available when we reach the state of self-realisation by going beyond Names and Appearances and all forms of Discrimination or judgment (vikalpa). It is Suchness itself, it is the Tathagatagarbha-hridaya, it is something indestructible (avinasa). The rope is now perceived in its true perspective. It is not an object constructed out of causes and conditions and now lying before us as something external. From the absolutist’s point of view which is assumed by the Lankavatara, the rope is a reflection of our own mind, it has no objectivity apart from the latter, it is in this respect non-existent. But the mind out of which the whole world evolves is the object of the Parinishpanna, perfectly-attained-knowledge. (Studies in the Lanka)

  1. (Chapter III, v.9) As far as the duality of being and nonbeing extends, there is the realm of intellection; when this realm vanishes, intellection completely ceases.

Intellection is the mother of all dualisms and the instigator of the turbulent mind. When the falsely imagined mind-realms vanish, then the Faculty of intellect will finally cease.

  1. Whatever things that are thought to have been in existence in the past, to come into existence in the future, or to be in existence at present,—all such are unborn.

The three-times have nothing to do with the Realm of the Such. No-thing either comes into existence or goes out of existence, or is even present in-between—all about is unborn by default. Hence, there is no yesterday or tomorrow or the present moment…only the Unborn Mind THAT is adorned with Deathlessness.

  1. (Chapter IV, v. 6) But [from the absolute point of view] the tenth is the first, and the first is the eighth; and the ninth is the seventh, and the seventh is the eighth.

From the Lanka series:

The concluding gathas (verses) in this section is a real eye-opener, “The tenth stage thus becomes the first/ the first becomes the eighth/ the ninth becomes the seventh/ and the seventh becomes the eighth, ect…but which is free from projections?” (Red Pine, pg. 237) It’s as if the Buddha is playing Mind Games with Mahamati (as well as with the reader). Any “linear” gradation is not important where “imagelessness” (what Red Pine calls projectionless) prevails. The truth of “absolute solitude” occurs when the “discrimination of all images is quieted.” There are no real “stages” then…just the stuff that dreams are made of.

  1. (Chapter III, v. 56) Where all things are wiped away, even a state of imagelessness ceases to exist for the Yogins; in the sameness of existence and non-existence, the fruit [of wisdom] is born to the wise.

Even the vaunted [imagelessness] is a byproduct of language and [ultimately] ceases to be of any concern for the advanced Yogin—whose very Spiritual-Life rises above any need to expressly define it. Ultimate reality is beyond the letter. The Unborn cannot be pinned down. IT needs to be lived (and all that entails) no more, no less.

  1. Why is birth spoken of? Why is not the perceived world spoken of? When the perceived world, which has no existence, is yet perceived as existing, what is that which is spoken of? To whom is it? And why?

The turbulent mind-flow is obsessed with birth and birthing; as long as this turbulence persists, there will be no end to the diurnal wail of perpetual-regenesis. Yes, birth, life and death are obsessions for the dull-witted. When Mind awakens from its slumber, all matter of perceived existence or non-existence will finally desist. From the Dhammapada in Light of the Unborn:

10. Turbulence

Mind transcends the duality of being and non-being as well as all turbulent personifications of the triple world like the fear of death and the love of life. [Why birth? Why Death?—inclusion mine]

The barren woman dreams of birthing her child; the dreaming mind lost in transmigration imagines birthing thoughts of ill-will towards other imagining minds lost in the same transmigratory fantasia.

Who is there to harm whomever?

  1. [Cleary]: Individual awakening, Buddhahood, sainthood, the vision of Buddha: it is a hidden seed that grows in wakefulness and in sleep.

Cleary’s translation is stating something marvelously profound: all of the attributes leading to non-becoming, Buddhahood itself, Bodhisattvahood and the beatific-vision of the Lord’s Dharmakayic-kingdom AS IT IS, are in essence being engaged by the inner Light-Child—the perfect heir to the Deathless Dharma. This is the beloved Bodhi-seed that grows in wakefulness of the Recollective Resolve as well as resting and ever-growing unhindered in the Dharma-Womb of the Tathagata-garbha.

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One Response to Why Birth, Why Death?

  1. Vyartha says:

    Screenshot from text I’m reading: https://i.imgur.com/LhSsaRi.jpg
    For some inspiration to the readers

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