Svabhāva

(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 Read more [...]
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In A Lotus Palace

[Cleary]: Constantly strengthened with impressions by the intellect as a basis of permanent reliance, the mind rambles in the realm of the senses like iron drawn to a magnet. Ruled by the intellect alone, the result is being permanently marred with sensate phenomena. Suzuki refers to this as “the root being [incessantly] nourished with habit energy.” Thich Nhat Hanh offers a good observation on the nature of this habit energy: This impregnation of our consciousness, the habit energies Read more [...]
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What Value Meditation?

(Chapter II verse 8) Those who see the Muni so serene and beyond birth and death will be cleansed of attachment, stainless both in this world and in the other. The Muni (Enlightened Sage) is not like others and never takes his cue from defiled dharmata. All karmic-ties have been severed and thus no longer confer imprisonment within the three-times. The skandhas no longer rule over him and thus he stands triumphant upon the crushed head of Mara. His domain is deathlessness itself—clear Read more [...]
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Like an Ethereal Flower

[* 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 Read more [...]
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A Mystical Odyssey through the Sagathakam

As mentioned back in August, our winter series will be based on the concluding segment of The Lankavatara Sutra entitled Sagathakam. The title succinctly translates as Verse Anthology. Red Pine writes of the significance of this final section of the sutra: Before passing the results on to the reader, I should note that I have decided not to include the collection of verses that were appended to the Lankavatara sometime between Gunabhadra’s translation (443), in which it is absent, and Bodhiruchi’s Read more [...]
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Comparisons and Contrasts

Don Mak The outstanding feature between these major thinkers from diverse spiritual traditions is how they both employ the negative-way to drive-home their Weltanschauung. Nāgārjuna downplayed conventionalities in their reliance upon other dependent structures thereby betraying their lack-of-self-substantiating truth rendering them void and essenceless.  The nada as found in John of the Cross also bespeaks the limits of human faculties (Intellect, Memory, Will) that, in the face of the Unborn Read more [...]
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Nada and Silence in John of the Cross

We have extensively covered the rich apothatic spirituality of John of the Cross in a prior series. Our focus now is on the significance of this Nadayana and its twin sister, Silence. John’s negative path is a cradle of nothingness in that no-thing can withstand the awesome splendor of the Unborn Absolute: To reach satisfaction in all Desire satisfaction in nothing. To come to possess all Desire the possession of nothing. To arrive at being all Desire to be nothing. To come to the knowledge Read more [...]
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Nāgārjuna and the Two Truths

Nāgārjuna is perhaps the most celebrated philosopher-sage of Mahayana/Mādhyamika Buddhism. Despite the enormous popularity very little is actually known concerning his Biographical details apart from the generally-held belief that he lived during the 2nd century CE. While rooted in rich mythical soil, his name is in reference to the “Nagas” from whom he received the Prajnaparamita teachings. The Śatasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā, which the Buddha had especially entrusted to the Nagas Read more [...]
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The Way of Negation

Apophaticism is employed as a Way of Nothingness, not in a morose and nihilistic fashion, but simply as a vehicle that points to what is ineffable. In Christian parlance it bespeaks the unknowable qualities of the Godhead; the best way to come to this understanding is to UN-know all nominal paradigms and thus come to the Absolute under Its own terms—THAT which is devoid and self-empty of all knowable constructs. In Buddhism this Way is engaged as śūnyatā, also one of self-emptying but not Read more [...]
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Nothingness in Nāgārjuna and John of the Cross

Our offering for this autumn season is a series based on the Negative-Way as found in the notion of Nothingness. Two proponents of this Way are Nāgārjuna and John of the Cross. From the Mādhyamika thrust of Nāgārjuna it is considered as śūnyatā, and from the mystic-pen of the Discalced Carmelite John of the Cross it is coined as nada. Thus we have emptiness clearly exhibited in two diverse spiritual traditions yet containing a kernel of comparability, although singularly expounded in Read more [...]
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