КАК ДА ПРАКТИКУВАМЕ
Свършената поза за медитация е както следва: прав гръб, леко притворени очи, насочен надолу към основата на носа поглед, леко сведена брадичка, кръстосани крака с ходила върху срещуположното бедро, ръцете – нито прибрани към тялото, нито издадени навън, длани върху скута, обърнати нагоре, дясната върху лявата с допрени върхове на палците, затворена уста, езикът леко докосва небцето. Трудно е да останем за дълго в тази поза без продължителна практика, а ако е прекомерно мъчително, достатъчно е да седнем изправени на стол с прибрани в скута ръце. Въпреки това, положението на тялото недвусмислено отразява нагласата на ума ни, затова е важно да заемем поза, която позволява ефективно да контролираме мислите си, докато медитираме.
В началото на сесията оставяме настрани грижите, надеждите, страховете и спомените и довеждаме ума си до състояние на безпристрастност. Можем да го постигнем, като се съсредоточим върху дишането си и следваме с пълно, умиротворено състояние мисълта всяко следващо вдишване и издишване. Двайсет подобни вдишвания и издишвания би трябвало да ни позволят да установим спокойно и умиротворено състояние на ума. Ако си наложим да медитираме, преди в ума ни да се е установил покой, най-вероятно ще задълбочим обзелото ни безпокойство и напрежение.
ПОСТИГАНЕ НА МЪДРОСТ
Сега съсредоточаваме ума си върху пустотата. Нека първоначално превърнем идентичността си в обект на своята концентрация. Повтаряме си “аз съм” и анализираме аз в това изречение. Какво и къде е “аз”? Макар белегът пустота, приписван на аз, да е тъждествен с пустотата при другите феномени и макар да не е наложително първоначално да се съсредоточим върху алтруизма си като личности, казват, че е по-лесно и по-ефективно да тръгнем от себе си като обект на своята медитация върху пустотата.
И така, къде е азът? Възможно ли е това да е тялото? Умът? Прецизно анализираме начина, по който азът би могъл да е, ако реално съществуваше. След това полагаме усилие да установим, че подобен аз не може да бъде установен сред съставящите ни елементи, нито пък извън тях. Стигаме до извода, че следователно той не съществува. Осведомеността ни също прави очевидно за нас несъществуването на подобен аз. Погледнем ли се в огледалото, непосредствено ще почувстваме, че “Аз всъщност не съществувам!”.
Впоследствие пренасяме вниманието си върху нещата, на които основаваме своето предположение за аз. Опитваме се да припишем индентичност на всяко едно от тях. Вглеждаме се в тялото си сред съставящите го части – това главата ни ли е, гръдният кош, ръцете ни, краката? – и стигаме до извода, че както не можем да установим аз сред мисловните елементи, които изграждат “азовостта”, така не установяваме и тяло сред неговите физически части. Отражението на тялото ни спонтанно ще ни напомни за собствената ни същностна лишеност от субстанционалност. Аналогично, запитаме ли се за ума си, стигаме до заключението за отсъствието на действителен ум, установим сред съставящите го части. Така се убеждаваме, че азът съществува единствено като име, което налагаме върху съставящите го елементи.
Изводите от нашата аналитична медитация не са непосредствено очевидни. С практика и в течение на времето все пак, когато привикнем към това ново отношение към себе си, ще забележим промяна. Чрез задълбоченото разбиране на пустотата ще разпознаем възможността, или поне принципната възможност, да постигнем свобода от цялата верига причинно-следствени отношения, посети от изначалното невежество, вкопчено в нашата представа за азовостта.
“Проникновен ум” – Далай Лама
Работя цял ден, през нощта полупиян.
Събуждам се в четири в беззвучен мрак, взирам се.
С времето завесите ще просветлеят.
А дотогава виждам това което винаги е тук:
Неуморимата смърт, цял ден все по-близо,
Правеща всички мисли невъзможни но как
И къде и кога самият аз ще умра.
Безплодно питане: и все пак ужасът
На умирането, и да бъдеш мъртъв,
Проблясва отново обхваща и ужасява.
Умът заглъхва при отблясъците. Не от разкаяние –
За несвършеното добро, недадената любов, времето
Откъснато неизползвано – нито от отчаяние защото
Един живот продължава толкова дълго пълзиш
За да се освободиш от погрешните му начала, може би никога;
Но поради всеобхватната извечна празнота,
Сигурното изчезване към което пътуваме
И в което ще се загубим завинаги. Няма да сме тук,
Няма да сме никъде,
При това скоро; нищо по-ужасно, нищо по-достоверно.
Това е особен вид страх
Никой трик не го разсейва. Религията го използва,
Тази огромна проядена от молци театрална завеса
Създадена за да се преструваме че никога не умираме,
И привлекателната измама гласяща Нито едно разумно същество
Не се страхува от това което не чувства, не вижда
Точно от това се страхуваме – да няма поглед, звук,
Докосване или вкус или мирис, нищо за мислене,
Нищо за обичане или за свързване,
Наркозата от която никой не излиза.
Винаги остава в крайчеца на кръгозора,
Малко нефокусирано петно, хладина
Това забавя всеки импулс до нерешителност.
Повечето неща може никога да не се случат: това непременно,
И осъзнаването му избухва
В пещ-страх когато сме хванати без
Хора или пиене. Куражът е безполезен:
Това означава да не плашим другите. И смелите
като всички – лежат в гроба.
Смъртта не различава хленчещите от устояващите.
Бавно светлината се засилва, и стаята придобива форма.
Тя стои обикновена като гардероб, като това което знаем,
Винаги сме знаели, знаем че не можем да избягаме,
Но и не можем да приемем. Едно от двете трябва да изчезне.
Междувременно телефоните присвити, се готвят да зазвънят
В затворените офиси, и целият равнодушен
Заплетен арендован свят започва да се пробужда.
Небето е бяло като глина, без слънце.
Работата трябва да се свърши.
Пощальоните като лекари ходят от къща на къща.
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Затворени като изповедални, по пладне
Пронизват гръмко градовете, не връщат
Нито един от погледите които попиват.
Светло гланцово сиво, обятия на плака,
Ще дойдат да почиват при всеки бордюр:
Всички улици навреме биват посетени.
Тогава деца осеяли стъпала и пътя,
Или жени връщащи се от магазините
Покрай мириси на различни обеди, виждат
Празно бяло лице да лежи върху
Червена носилка-одеяло в моментите
В които се пренася и натоварва,
И усещат решаващата празнота
Която лежи под всичко което правим,
И за секунда я постигат изцяло,
Като трайна и безжизнена и истинска.
Залостените врати се отдалечават. Бедната душа,
Шептят те на собствената си злочестина;
Защото понесени в повехналия въздух
Може внезапно да изчезнат затворени
В орбитата на нещо което е почти в края,
И това което е свързано с него отвъд
Годините, уникалната случайна смесица
От семейства и маниери, там
Накрая започва облекчението. Далеч
От размяната на любов за измама
Недостижими в едно помещение
Трафикът се разделя за да пропусне
Приближаването на оставащото да се случи,
И отдалечаването от всичко което сме.
Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.
Then children strewn on steps or road,
Or women coming from the shops
Past smells of different dinners, see
A wild white face that overtops
Red stretcher-blankets momently
As it is carried in and stowed,
And sense the solving emptiness
That lies just under all we do,
And for a second get it whole,
So permanent and blank and true.
The fastened doors recede. Poor soul,
They whisper at their own distress;
For borne away in deadened air
May go the sudden shut of loss
Round something nearly at an end,
And what cohered in it across
The years, the unique random blend
Of families and fashions, there
At last begin to loosen. Far
From the exchange of love to lie
Unreachable inside a room
The trafic parts to let go by
Brings closer what is left to come,
And dulls to distance all we are.
ПОЧИТ КЪМ БЛАГОСЛОВЕНИЯ, ДОСТОЙНИЯ, НАПЪЛНО ПРОСВЕТЛЕНИЯ СЪС СОБСТВЕНИ УСИЛИЯ
САМЮТА НИКАЯ ЧАСТ II: Книга за причинността (Ниданавагга) Глава IX 20 Опаммасамютта 7
Ани сутта: Щифт за барабан
В Саватти. [Благословеният казал]: “Монаси, някога в далечното минало, Дасарахите са имали един барабан наречен Призовкар.* Когато Призовкарят се счупил, Дасарахите втикнали друг щифт. Накрая настъпило времето когато оригиналната кожа на барабана Призовкар изчезнала и останал само един набор от щифтове.
“По аналогичен начин, монаси, същото нещо ще се случи и в бъдеще. Когато тези беседи, изречени от Татаагата, които са дълбоки, дълбоки по значение, отвъдсветски, занимаващи се с празнотата – когато се рецитират, съществата няма да искат да ги слушат, няма да им надават ухо, нито ще напрегнат своят ум за да ги разберат; и те няма да считат че тези учения трябва да бъдат изучавани и овладявани. Но когато беседите които са просто поезия, сътворени от поети, красиви като думи и фрази, създадени от външни лица, говорени от [техни] последователи – когато се рецитират, съществата ще бъдат нетърпеливи да ги слушат, ще им надават ухо, и ще напрягат своят ум за да ги разберат; и те ще считат че тези учения трябва да бъдат изучавани и овладявани. По този начин, монаси, тези беседи които са изречени от Татаагата които са дълбоки, дълбоки по значение, отвъдсветски, занимаващи се с празнотата – ще изчезнат.
“Затова, монаси, вие трябва да тренирате себе си така: ‘Когато тези беседи, изречени от Татаагата, които са дълбоки, дълбоки по значение, отвъдсветски, занимаващи се с празнотата, се рецитират – ние ще бъдем нетърпеливи да ги чуем, ще надаваме ухо, и ще напрягаме своят ум за да ги разберем; и ние ще считаме че тези учения трябва да бъдат изучавани и овладявани.’ Така трябва да тренирате себе си.”
*Съгласно Коментарите, това е бил рода на Каттиите. Призовкар (анака) се е наричал техният барабан, направен от щипките на огромен рак. Неговият звук е можело да се чуе на дванадесет йоджини, и този барабан са използвали, за да събират хората от окръга за празненства.
В будизма има дума, която го обхваща изцяло. Тази дума е шунята, или празнота, празнота от същност, празнота от каквото и да било, за което бихме могли да се привържем с всички сили, мислейки го за „свое”. Проникновеното виждане (випассана), водещо до осъзнаването, че всички неща са лишени от всякаква същност, че не си заслужава да се привързваме към тях е ядрото на Дхарма. Шунята е ключът към Будистката практика. Когато стигнем до ясното осъзнаване на това, че всичко от какъвто и да е вид е лишено от същност, спокойно можем да кажем, че знаем Дхармата на Буда в цялата й пълнота. Една фраза „празен от същност”, обобщава думите „непостоянен (анича), неудовлетворителен (дукха) и лишен от същност (анатта)”.
Когато нещо непрестанно се променя, лишено е от каквито и да било постоянни или неизменни елементи, може да се каже че то е празно. Когато нещо е изпълнено със свойство съдържащо разочарование, то може да бъде охарактеризирано като празно от каквото и да било, за което да можем да се привържем трайно. Когато при анализиране ние откриваме, че то не притежава никаква стабилна съставка, включително и чувството за „аз”, тогава то се явява само като природа, променяща се и колебаеща се в зависимост от обстоятелствата, и ние нямаме право да го наричаме същност, следователно то може да бъде охарактеризирано като празно от същност.
Когато човек започне да усеща празнотата на нещата, в него възниква осъзнаване на това, че няма какво да притежава и няма какво да бъде. Това чувство на нежелание да притежаваш или да бъдеш, притежава силата да защитава човека от пропадане в робството на заблудите или каквато и да била емоционална въвлеченост. Когато човек достигне това състояние, той вече не е зависим от омрачаващите ума състояния. Той от нищо не се увлича и в нищо не участва. Него нищо не го привлича и съблазнява. Неговият ум е познал свободата, свободата от страданието.
Съсредоточаването върху ментални обекти, като пространството или празнотата например, дава много по-дълбок покой, отколкото съсредоточаването върху форма, в резултат на което човек се привързва към това състояние. Никой Архат обаче не може да се очарова от каквото и да било състояние, каквото и да било приятно чувство, независимо от това къде е възникнало то, защото Архатът автоматично осъзнава непостоянството, неудовлетворителността и безсъщността на всяко състояние или чувство. Много отшелници и мистици, практикуващи медитация в горите, не усещат скритите опасности от това блажено състояние, очароват се и се привързват към неговия аромат, така както незрелите хора се привързват към аромата на чувствените обекти. По тази причина Буда и в двата случая е използвал една и съща дума – „желание” (танха). Ако още веднъж помислите над това и действително го разберете, ще се изпълните с възхита и уважение към хората наричани Арии.
Веднъж Блаженият [Буда] пребивавал в Саватхи, в горичката Джета, в обителта Ападхандика. В същото време, в областта подвластна на цар Пасенади, живеел разбойник на име Ангулимала – закоравял, безжалостен убиец. Ангулимала вярвал, че щом животът е белязан от непостоянство и неизбежно носи страдание, убивайки хората, той им прави услуга. Вярвал също, че ако отнеме живота на сто човека, ще постигне същността на Дхарма. Заради него околните села обезлюдели, а търговията и населените места в областта западнали. На врата си носил огърлица с деветдесет и девет пръста от убитите от него хора.
Една сутрин Блаженият облякъл връхната си дреха и с купа в ръка тръгнал из Саватхи за милостиня. Походил из Саватхи, събрал милостиня, похапнал и поел по път, който минавал през местата където Ангулимала извършвал своите набези. Видели го пастири на стада, орачи и друг пътници, че се е отправил по път който ще го отведе до разбойника. Те предупреждавали три пъти Блажения: „Не тръгвай, монахо, по този път. На него в засада дебне разбойник на име Ангулимала – закоравял, безжалостен убиец. Заради него околните села обезлюдяха, а търговията и населените места в областта западнаха. На врата си носи огърлица с пръсти от убитите от него хора. Ти си тръгнал сам, но по този път са минавали групи от по десет, двайсет, трийсет, четиресет човека и всички до един попадаха в ръцете на Ангулимала. Блаженият мълчал и вървял.
Отдалеч видял Ангулимала Блажения и си помислил: „Направо чудесно, наистина необичайно! По този път никой не минава сам, минавали са групи по десет, двайсет, трийсет, четиресет човека и всички до един попадаха в ръцете ми, а сега изглежда този монах се осмелява да премине без спътник. Защо да не убия този монах?“ Сложил си ризницата, взел меча, лъка, колчана със стрелите и се спуснал по петите на Блажения.
Блаженият по някакъв чудодеен начин направил така, че самия той не бързал, а разбойникът Ангулимала тичайки след него с всички сили не успявал да го настигне. Тогава Ангулимала си помислил: „Направо чудесно, наистина необичайно! Преди ми се е случвало бягащ слон, бягащ кон, бързо движеща се колесница да настигна, а сега този монах върви без да бърза, а аз тичам с всички сили и не мога да го настигна!“ Уморен Ангулимала спрял и се провикнал към Блажения: „Спри, монахо! Спри, монахо!“
– Аз съм спрял, Ангулимала, ти спри!
Ангулимала си помислил: „Тези монаси от клана Шакя, учат на правдивост и считат себе си за праведни. Как тогава този монах върви, а казва: „Аз съм спрял, Ангулимала, ти спри!“ Защо да не го попитам за това.“
– Връхната ти дреха е на клана Шакя, който се слави с праведност, тогава защо лъжеш? Виждам че вървиш, а ти казваш: „Спрял съм.“ А на мен ми казваш: „Спри ти!“, въпреки че аз съм спрял. Отговори ми, монахо, как да го разбирам това?
– Спрях, Ангулимала, веднъж и завинаги, когато престанах да вредя на всички същества. Ти обаче, в жизненото си дихание си необуздан. Ти продължаваш непрестанно, защото да спреш е трудно. Ето защо аз съм спрял, а ти още не си.
– Ще спра, когато убия още един човек.
– Затова реши да убиеш мен?
– Ти трябва да разбереш, че аз го правя, за да те освободя от страданието.
– Нима изглежда, че аз страдам? Ако сравним нас двамата, то кой страда – аз или ти?
– Но аз знам, че всички неща са непостоянни, че в същността си всичко е страдание. Нима не учиш на това? Значи и двамата страдаме!
– Смисълът на нашето учение е в това, че ние сами трябва да видим висшата истина, за да се откажем от привързаностите. Когато няма привързаности, животът е свободен от страдания.
– Не разбирам.
– Ангулимала, аз дойдох, за да ти помогна да постигнеш същността на Дхарма.
– Не ми е нужна твоята помощ! Трябва да убия само още един човек. Ако те убия, моят ум ще стане абсолютно чист. В това е същността на Дхарма! Виж сам!
Ангулимала започва да медитира.
– Ангулимала, моля, насочи вниманието си към своя ум.
– Добре. Медитирам над него още от дете. Лесно е.
– Но този път ще те помоля да го разгледаш в светлината на Дхарма. Първо, всички неща са непостоянни. Непостоянен е и твоят ум. Съзерцавай го и ще видиш, че той непрестанно се променя. Второ, в същността си всички неща са страдание. Не трябва да се привързваме към нищо. Помисли, може ли твоя ум да ти донесе истинно удовлетворение? Ангулимала, трето… всички неща нямат собствена същност. Това, което ти наблюдаваш, не е твое истинно „аз“. Ангулимала… привързването към „аз“ и „мое“ е причината за всички страдания.
Потресен от истината в думите на Буда, Ангулимала казал че отхвърля злото, свалил меча, лъка, колчана със стрелите и ги хвърлил в една пропаст. Поклонил се в краката на Блажения и го помолил да го постриже за монах. Буда със състрадание му казал: „Ела с мен, монахо.“ Така разбойникът Ангулимала станал монах.
След време, Ангулимала седнал под едно дърво да медитира и чул в ума си гласът на своя „аз“.
– Как можа да се откажеш от своята цел? Как можа да тръгнеш по друг път? Къде е обещаната ти Нирвана? Още не е твърде късно. Нужен е само още един живот. Тогава и двамата ще постигнем същността на Дхарма. Как мислиш, кой съм аз? Ти си всичко на всичко физическо тяло, а аз съм твоето истинно „аз“.
– Всички неща са такива, каквито са.
– Откакто се родих, всички се отказаха от мен. Аз преживявах всички големи страдания. Как можеш да казваш, че аз не съм твоята истинна същност?
– Всички неща са лишени от собствена същност. Невъзможно е да бъдеш отделен от мен. Погледни дъжда! Животът на човек прилича на отделен поток, вкопчен в мисълта за индивидуалност. Но всъщност всеки поток се състои от множество капки вода, произхождащи от едно и също небе. И накрая те текат в една посока. Целта на Учението на Буда е: да се осъзнае тази истина и да се въздържаме от привързване към „аз“ и „мое“. Достигайки просветление, може да се живее без страдание. Това е Нирвана. Точно сега е времето да осъзнаем, че това не е „аз“ и не е „мое“. Време е да спрем…
Dhammapada Verse 46
Maricikammatthanika bhikkhu Vatthu
Phepnupamam(1) kayamimam viditva
chetvana marassa papupphakani(3)
adassanam maccurajassa gacche(4)
Verse 46: One who knows that this body is impermanent like froth, and comprehends that it is insubstantial like a mirage, will cut the flowers of Mara (i.e., the three kinds of vatta or rounds), and pass out of sight of the King of Death.
- Phepnupamam: like froth; it means that this body is perishable and impermanent like froth.
- maricidhammam: lit., mirage+nature; nature of a mirage, i. e., insubstantial like a mirage.
- marassa papupphakani: flowers or flowertipped arrows of Mara. These flowers or arrows of Mara represent the tivattam or the three kinds of vattam (rounds), viz., kilesavattam ( the round of moral defilements), kammavattam (the round of volitional action) and vipakavattam (the round of resultant effects). According to the Commentary, this chain or round is broken when cut by the sword of ariya magga nana.
- adassanam maccurajassa gacche: In this context, out of sight of the King of Death means the realization of Nibbana.
The Story of the Bhikkhu who Contemplates the Body as a Mirage
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (46) of this book, with reference to a certain bhikkhu.
On one occasion, a certain bhikkhu, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, went to the forest. Although he tried hard he made little progress in his meditation; so he decided to go back to the Buddha for further instruction. On his way back he saw a mirage, which, after all, was only an illusive appearance of a sheet of water. At that instant, he came to realize that the body also was insubstantial like a mirage. Thus keeping his mind on the insubstantiality of the body he came to the bank of the river Aciravati. While sitting under a tree close to the river, seeing big froths breaking up, he realized the impermanent nature of the body.
Soon, the Buddha appeared in his vision and said to him, “My son, just as you have realized, this body is impermanent like froth and insubstantial like a mirage.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 46: One who knows that this body is impermanent like froth, and comprehends that it is insubstantial like a mirage will cut the flowers of Mara (i.e., the three kinds of vatta or rounds), and pass out of sight of the King of Death.
At the end of the discourse the bhikkhu attained arahatship.
The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories
Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.
Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka
Association Rangoon, Burma, 1986
Now let us discuss the method of gaining right understanding by way of the Four Truths. The Four Truths are not separated from the five aggregates, outside of which the; are not to be sought. The understanding of the true nature of the aggregates implies the realization of the Four Truths. It is, therefore, very necessary to
have a clear idea of the five aggregates.
The Buddha’s analysis of the so-called being into five ever changing aggregates, makes it clear that there is nothing abiding, nothing eternally conserved, in this conflux of aggregates (khandha-santati).
Change or impermanence is the essential characteristic of phenomenal existence. We cannot say of anything, animate or inanimate, ‘this is lasting’; for even while we say it, is undergoing change. The aggregates are compounded and conditioned and therefore ever subject to cause and effect. Unceasingly does consciousness or mind and its factors change, and just as unceasingly, though at a slower rate, the physical body also alters from moment to moment. He who sees clearly that the impermanent aggregates are impermanent, has right understanding.
The Buddha gives five very striking similes to illustrate the changing nature of the five aggregates. He compares material form or body to a lump of foam, feeling to a bubble, perception to a mirage, mental formations to a plantain-trunk and consciousness to an illusion, and asks: ‘What essence, monks, could there be in a lump of foam, in a bubble in a mirage, in a plantain-trunk, in an illusion?’ Continuing, the Buddha says:
‘Whatever material form there be whether past, future or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; low or lofty; far or near; that material form the monk sees, meditates upon, examines with systematic attention, he thus seeing, meditating upon, and examining with systematic attention, would find it empty, he would find it unsubstantial and without essence. What essence, monks, could there be in material form?’ The Buddha speaks in the same manner of the remaining aggregates and asks: ‘What essence, monks, could there be in feeling, in perception, in mental formation and in consciousness?’
Thus we see that a more advanced range of thought comes with the analysis of the five aggregates. It is at this stage that right understanding known as Insight (vipassana) begins to work. It is through this Insight that the true nature of the aggregates is grasped
and seen in the light of the three signs or characteristics (ti-lakkhana), namely: Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness and No-Self.
The Master explains it thus:
‘The five aggregates, monks, are impermanent; whatever is impermanent, that is dukkha, unsatisfactory; whatever is dukkha, that is without Self. What is without Self, that is not mine, that I am not, that is not my Self. Thus should it be seen by perfect wisdom (sammappannaya) as it really is. Who sees by perfect wisdom as it really is, his mind not grasping is detached from taints, he is liberated.
Nagarjuna only echoes these words when he says “When the notion of an Atman, Self or Soul ceases, the notion of ‘mine’ also ceases and one becomes free from the idea of I and mine.”
By PIYADASSI THERA
Cognition Is Like an Illusion (Pheṇapiṇḍūpama)
Enter the Buddha: The first early Buddhist text that demands immediate examination is the Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta, located in the Pāli canon within the series of texts on the five aggregates, at SN 22:95, and with a parallel in Chinese translation at SĀ 265. In this sutta, the meditator contemplates the five aggregates as follows: form as “a lump of foam” (pheṇapiṇḍa) (from which the text derives its name); sensation as “a water bubble” (bubbuḷa); perception as “a mirage” (marici); formations as “a plantain tree” (kadalikkhandha); and cognition as “a magical illusion” (māyā) respectively. The five passages for each of the aggregates are otherwise identical, and we may thus just here cite in full that for the aggregate of cognition which utilizes the “magical illusion” metaphor:
Suppose, monks, that a magician (māyākāro) or a magician’s apprentice (māyākārantevāsī) would display a magical illusion (māyaṃ) at a crossroads. A man with good sight would inspect it, ponder, and carefully investigate it, and it would appear to him to be void (rittaka), hollow (tucchaka), coreless (asāraka). For what core (sāro) could there be in a magical illusion (māyāya)? So too, monks, whatever kind of cognition there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: a monk inspects it, ponders it, and carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void (rittaka), hollow (tucchaka), coreless (asāraka). For what core (sāro) could there be in cognition?
Such contemplations lead the ardent meditating monk to develop revulsion toward the five aggregates, thus becoming freed from the passions, and finally liberated. The above—all in prose—is then rather unsystematically represented in verse, which includes the following stanza:
Vadhako esa akkhāto,
sāro ettha na vijjati.
Such is this continuum (santāno),
This illusion (māyāyaṃ), beguiler of fools.
It is taught to be a murderer;
Here no core (sāro) can be found.
The SĀ version of this text, sūtra 265, *Pheṇapiṇḍa (Jümo 聚沫), differs only slightly. Firstly, it provides specific examples of the illusions that are created, giving t he t raditional four t ypes of military forces, namely, elephants (xiangbing 象兵), cavalry (mabing 馬兵), chariots (chebing 車兵), and infantry (bubing 步兵). Though it uses the same five metaphors as SN 22:95, it uses not three but four adjectives to describe each of the aggregates, adding “nothingness” (wusuoyou 無所有; *akiṃcanya) before solid (wulao 無牢; riktaka), unreal (wushi 無實; tucchaka) and insubstantial (wuyou jiangu 無有堅固; asāraka). Also, in the final verse of the text, the SĀ adds “without self, or what pertains to self,” as a basic synonym to these terms. Other than this, the SĀ content matches that of SN.
Developments and Commentaries on Foam (Pheṇapiṇḍa)
Earlier, we discussed the notion that the aggregate of cognition is like an illusion in the early Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta (SN 22:95 and SĀ 265). We shall here examine some later mainstream sūtras, which may have developed from this and related texts, and also commentaries on these.
A first partial parallel of this material is found in the later EĀ 35:9,
*Pheṇapiṇḍa (Jǜmò 聚沫). With similar prose and verse to SN 22:95 and SĀ 265, it adds: “Fully contemplate all conditionings as empty pacification (kōngjí 空寂; *śūnyaśānti).” The text’s final comments suggest that the Buddha’s own full awakening was accomplished through just such a contemplation.
Elsewhere in EĀ we see the use of “illusion” and other metaphors. For example, EĀ 26:7 gives several metaphors to describe the impermanence of the human body as like “a ball of snow” (himapiṇḍa), “a heap of dirt” (mṛttikarasi), “a mirage” (mṛgatṛṣṇa; literally “deer thirst”), “an illusion” (māyā), or “an empty fist used to fool a child” (riktamuṣṭi / *°hasta).
In Lalitavistara verse 13:98:
Complexes have no inner might, are empty in themselves;
Rather like the stem of the plantain tree, when one reflects on them,
Like an illusion (māyopama) which deludes the mind (citta),
Like an empty fist with which a child is teased.
Similarly in verse 13:107
He discerns the cessation and becoming of an act of cognition
(vijñāna), The cessation and origin of consciousness (vijñāna). The Yogin sees that it has come from nowhere, gone to nowhere, That it is empty, and like unto an illusion (māyopama).
In both these verses, the term is identical to that in the Pheṇapiṇḍa,
namely, māyopama. The underlying themes of this whole thread of verses, however, are really dependent origination and emptiness, and the relationship between the two. “Illusion” is just one of many metaphors and rhetorical devices to explain this profound teaching.
In the notes to his translation of the Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta, Bodhi
provides some explanation, referring to this text as “one of the most radical discourses on the empty nature of conditioned phenomena.” While alluding to the general discourse on emptiness by stating that the imagery was later predominantly used by the Mādhyamika tradition, he warns against an “illusionist sense of the world,” interpreting the text’s intention to simply “show that our conceptions of the world, and of our existence, are largely distorted by the process of cognition.” Ontologically speaking, he argues that the illusion is still “based on real existents,” which is effectively in fact an interpretation of the Theravādin commentarial position, rather than a necessary reading of the sutta per se. This is more clearly laid out when Bodhi refers to the Pāli commentary on the SN, the Sāratthappakāsinī (Spk):
Cognition is like a magical illusion (māyā) in the sense that it is insubstantial and cannot be grasped. Cognition is even more transient and fleeting than a magical illusion. For it gives the impression that a person comes and goes, stands and sits, with the same mind, but the mind is different in each of these activities. Cognition deceives the multitude like a magical illusion (māyā).
Illusion and the illusory person
Fifth, the conditioned aggregates and also the various transmundane fruitions of the holy ones mentioned in the meditative cognition above are described metaphorically as “illusions” (māyā; huàn). Near the center of chapter 1 (§538b-c), we learn that to the bodhisattva, form and the other aggregates are illusions, and there is no difference between the bodhisattva who so contemplates and an illusory person. In the middle of chapter 2 (§540c), the range of this metaphor is extended to the realizations of the four stages of sanctity that culminate in the state of an arhat, also in that of a pratyekabuddha and a fully awakened Buddha. Nirvāṇa itself, we are here told, is also an illusion; and so too anything that may surpass even nirvāṇa. Just like the passage on the purity of mind, above, CONZE and others also considered this notion of illusion to be a core Mahāyāna teaching. He saw the idea of nirvāṇa as illusory was a “novelty”, “so startling” that it needed an apocryphal appeal to the Buddha’s authority, a “shocking departure from accepted ideas” (CONZE 1967:126-7). I have elsewhere demonstrated that the Prajñāpāramitā use of the illusion
metaphor was not at all a Mahāyāna creation, but had a long history in pre-Buddhist and early Buddhist thought (SHÌ 2016). Despite it not being entirely novale, it is still a powerful idea, and the illusion which is at once both perceived to be real yet remains elusively insubstantial has continued as a crucial metaphor for the otherwise ineffable Prajñāpāramitā.
XIAŎPĬN PRAJÑĀPĀRAMITĀ SŪTRA
Subhūti addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Blessed One! If I were asked: ‘If an illusory person were to train in sarvajñā, would they accomplish sarvajñā, or not?’ O Blessed One! How should I answer?”
[The Buddha replied to Subhūti:] “O Subhūti! I will ask you a counter question, answer as you see fit. What do you think: Is illusion other than form? Is form other than illusion?Is illusion other than sensation, perception, volitions, or cognition?”
Subhūti said: “Illusion is not other than form; form is not other than illusion. Illusion is that very form; form is that very illusion. Illusion is not other than sensation, perception, volitions, and cognition; cognition is not other than cognition. Illusion is that very cognition; cognition is that very illusion.”
[The Buddha replied to Subhūti:] “O Subhūti! What do you think: Are the five aggregates known as the ‘bodhisattva’, or not?”
[Subhūti said:] “So it is, O Blessed One!”
The Buddha replied to Subhūti: “[When the] bodhisattva trains in anuttarā samyak saṃbodhi, they should train just as an illusory person. For what reason? One should know that the five aggregates are the very illusory person. For what reason? It is said that ‘Form is like an illusion’; it is said that ‘Sensation, perception, volitions, and cognition are like an illusion’; cognition is the six sense faculties, which is the five aggregates.”
[Subhūti said:] “O Blessed One! If a bodhisattva of novice aspiration hears this teaching, will they not become startled, afraid, dismayed and turn away?”
The Buddha replied to Subhūti: “If a bodhisattva of novice aspiration follows a bad friend, then they will become startled, afraid, dismayed and turn away. If they have heard this teaching from following a good friend, then they will not become startled, afraid, dismayed and turn away.”
Thereupon, the gods conceived this thought: “What sort of person is able to hear in accordance with what Subhūti has taught?”
Subhūti knew the thoughts conceived in minds of the gods, and spoke to the gods, saying: “An illusory person is able to hear in accordance with what I have taught, yet they will neither hear nor realize [anything].”
The gods conceived this thought: “Is it only the hearer who is like an illusion? Or are living beings also like an illusion? Is the fruition of a srotāpanna, up to, the path of a pratyekabuddha, also like an illusion?”
Subhūti knew the thoughts conceived in the minds of the gods, and spoke to the gods saying: “I teach that living beings are like an illusion, like a dream; the fruition of a srotāpanna is also like an illusion, like a dream; the fruition of a sakṛdāgāmin, the fruition of an anāgāmin, the fruition of an arhat, and the path of a pratyekabuddha, also like an illusion, like a dream.”
The gods said: “O Subhūti! You even state that the Buddha dharmas are like an illusion, like a dream?!”
Subhūti said: “I teach that the Buddha dharmas are also like an illusion, like a dream. I teach that even nirvāṇa is also like an illusion, like a dream.”
The gods said: “O Virtuous Subhūti! You teach that even nirvāṇa is also like an illusion, like a dream?!”
Subhūti said: “O Gods! If there were any other dharma that surpassed nirvāṇa, I would that it, too, is also like an illusion, like a dream. O Gods! Illusions and dreams, and nirvāṇa, are not two, are not divided.”
Thereupon, Śāriputra, Pūrṇa the son of Maitrāyaṇī, Mahākauṣṭhila and Mahākātyāyana, asked Subhūti: “Teaching the meaning of Prajñāpāramitā in this way, who will be able to take it up?”
Then, Ānanda said: “Teaching the meaning of Prajñāpāramitā in this way, avinivartin bodhisattvas, those who possess right views, and arhats who have fulfilled their aim; [people] such as these will be able to take it up.”
Subhūti said: “Teaching the meaning of Prajñāpāramitā in this way, none will be able to take it up. For what reason? Within this dharma of Prajñāpāramitā, there is no dharma that is effable, no dharma that is showable, and by this principle, none will be able to take it up.”
Thereupon, Śakra, Lord of the Gods, the kings of the brahmās, the sovereign god kings, the lords of living beings, the gods and so forth, were all overjoyed, and exclaimed thrice in unison: “Excellent! Excellent! Due to the Buddha coming forth into the world, Subhūti is therefore able to demonstrate and teach this dharma.”
Thereupon, the assembly of gods all addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Blessed One! If bodhisattvas are able to practice without being separated from Prajñāpāramitā, one should see these people as like unto Buddhas.”
The Buddha replied to the gods: “So it is! So it is! In the distant past, [when] I was at the city of Dīpavatī, the abode of the Buddha Dīpaṃkara, I practiced without being separated from Prajñāpāramitā. At that time, the Buddha Dīpaṃkara predicted that I, in the future, after asaṃkhya kalpas, would become a Buddha, by name of ‘Śākyamuni’, a Tathāgata, Worthy of Offerings, Completely Realized One, Endowed with Wisdom and Deeds,
Well Gone, Comprehender of the World, Unexcelled Man, Skilful Charioteer, Teacher of Gods and Men, Buddha, Blessed One!”
The gods addressed the Buddha, saying: “It is amazing indeed, O Blessed One, that the Prajñāpāramitā of the bodhisattva mahāsattvas is able to include and take up sarvajñā.”
sarvajñā, sarva-jña (Sanskrit). Term literally meaning ‘awareness of all’ and denoting a form of omniscience or awareness. This awareness, whether possessed by an Arhat or a Buddha, knows all the general attributes of phenomena.
1] “Arising,” “enduring,” and “disintegrating;” “existing” and “non-existing;” “inferior,” “middling,” and “superior” do not have true existence. These terms are used by the Buddha in accordance with worldy conventions.
 All phenomena must have either self-existence or non-self-existence. There is no phenomenon which is other than these two, nor are there any expressions which do not come under these two catagories. All phenomena which are the subject of this treatise are similar to nirvana because all phenomena are devoid of inherent existence.
 What is the reason for this? It is because the inherent existence of all phenomena is not to be found in causes, conditions, aggregations or individualities. Thus all phenomena are devoid of inherent existence and are empty.
 Some assert that a result already exists inherently in the nature of its cause; but then it cannot arise because it already exists. Others assert that a result exists inherently but not in the nature of its cause; so it cannot arise becuse it is not in the nature of its cause. Yet others assert that a result both does and does not exist inherently in its cause; but then they are asserting contradictory views about an object because an object cannot simultaneously both exist and not exist. Because phenomena do not arise inherently so also they do not endure or cease inherently.
 Whatsoever has already arisen will not be able to arise. Whatsoever has not arisen will not arise. Either a phenomenon has already arisen or else it will arise; there is no other possibility beyond these two. Whatever is in the process of arising should have already arisen or else it will arise in the future.
 The cause of a result which already exists is similar to that which is not a cause. Also in the case where a result does not already exist, then its cause will be similar to that which is not a cause. A phenomenon should be either existent or non-existent but cannot be both non-existent and not-non-existent because these two are contradictory. Therefore it is not suitable to assert that there is either an inherently existing cause or an inherently existing result in the three times.
 Without one there cannot be many and without many it is not possible to refer to one. Therefore one and many arise dependently and such phenomena do not have the sign of inherent existence.
 The twelve limbs of dependent origination result in suffering: since the twelve limbs and suffering do not arise independently of each other, they don’t exist inherently. Furthermore, it is not acceptable to assert that the twelve limbs are based on a single moment of a mind nor on successive moments of mind, as such moments arise dependently and do not exist inherently.
 Because contaminated things arise in dependence on one another they do not exist inherently as permanent phenomena nor do they exist inherently as impermanent phenomena; neither as phenomena with self-nature nor without self-nature; neither as pure or impure; neither as blissful nor as suffering. It is thus that the four distortions do not exist as qualities which inhere in phenomena, but rather are imputed to phenomena.
 There are no four distortions which exist inherently and thus there can be no ignorance arising from them. Because that ignorance does not exist inherently it cannot give birth to karmic formations, which means karmic formations will not arise and so also the remaining limbs too.
 Ignorance cannot originate as a cause except in dependence on the karmic formations. Also, the karmic formations cannot originate except in dependence on their cause, which is ignorance. Because ignorance and karmic formations are interrelated as cause and effect so these two are known by a valid cognizer not to exist inherently.
 By itself none of the twelve limbs can originate inherently, but must depend on the remaining limbs. How then can one limb produce another limb? Moreover, because one limb has originated as a cause in dependence on the other limbs, so how can it act as a condition for the origination of results such as the other limbs?
 The father is not the son and the son is not the father. These two are mutually not non-existent and the two of them cannot arise simultaneously. It is likewise with the twelve dependent limbs.
 Just as in a dream, happiness and suffering depend on dream objects and upon awakening these objects are known not to actually exist, likewise any phenomenon which arises in dependence on another dependent phenomenon should be known not to exist in the manner of its appearance.
 Vaibhisika: If you assert that phenomena don’t exist inherently then you are asserting that they don’t exist at all. So how can you make distinctions like inferior, middling, and superior or that there are different beings in the six realms of existence? How then can you assert the manifestation of a result which arises from causes?
 Response: When you assert that phenomena exist inherently you are asserting that they do not originate in dependence on causes and conditions and thus that phenomena actually do not exist. For if phenomena do not depend on causes and conditions, then they should have independent existence throughout the three times. Therefore there cannot be inherent existence for functional phenomena which arise from causes and conditions or non-functional phenomena which do not arise from causes and conditions, and there cannot be any third mode of existence for phonemena.
 Opponent: If phenomena do not exist inherently, how can you use terms to refer to their own characteristics or their characteristics in relation to other phenomena or non-functional phenomena?
Response: Although phenomena lack inherent existence, still we can use terms like own-characteristics, other-characteristics and non-functional phenomena for although these are unfindable upon analysis, still, like objects of a dream they appear to have existence to ordinary perception. So the way they exist and they way they appear are different and these conventional existences are called distortions or false.
 Opponent: If phenomena are devoid of inherent existence then they will be completely non-existent like the horns of a rabbit, and so there can be no occurrence of their arising or their cessation. As Buddha has spoken about arising and cessation, they must exist, so how can things be devoid of inherent existence?
 Response: An object cannot simultaneously arise as a functional phenomenon and cease as a non-functional phenomenon. If a non-functional phenomenon does not exist then a functional phenomenon cannot exist because an object cannot arise and endure as a functional phenomenon without depending on its cessation as a non-functional phenomenon, or else it would exist at all times. If a non-functional phenomenon which is different from a functional phenomenon does not exist then it is impossible for a functional phenomenon to exist.
 If there is no arising and enduring, which are functional phenomena, then there can be no disintegration or cessation, which are non-functional phenomena; so the latter would be completely non-existent. If a phenomenon were to exist inherently it must have arisen from its own nature or from some other nature, but it cannot arise from its own nature and because a phenomenon cannot have a different nature than its cause, so it cannot arise from some other nature which has inherent existence. Because of that, a functional phenomenon cannot exist inherently and because a functional phenomenon cannot exist inherently, so a non-functional phenomenon cannot exist inherently.
 If a phenomenon were to exist inherently it should be permanent. If a phenomemon were to disintegrate completely then you must accept the annihilationist view. If a phenomenon were to exist inherently it would either exist permanently or else undergo complete disintegration: it cannot occur in a way which is different than these two. Therefore one should not assert that a phenomenon has inherent existence.
 Opponent: Because of continuity there is no danger of the two extreme views. Acting as a cause of another causal phenomenon the original causal phenomenon ceases to exist.
Reply: As explained before, the cause and the result, like a functional phenomenon and a non-functional phenomenon, cannot arise with inherent existence either simultaneously or sequentially. In your view their lack of inherent existence makes them completely non-existent, in which case you cannot assert their continuity or that of the moments between them. Therefore the faults of the two extremes remain in your view.
 Opponent: When Buddha explained the path to liberation he spoke about arising and disintegration, so they must have true existence.
Response: It is true that Buddha spoke about arising and disintegration, but they are devoid of inherent existence. For that reason the way they appear and the way they exist are dissimilar, and they appear in a deceptive way to the world.
 Opponent: If arising and disintegration do not exist then suffering can not exist, so what cessation will bring forth nirvana? But because nirvana can be attained that means there is suffering which has inherent existence and therefore there is arising with inherent existence and disintegration with inherent existence.
Response: Nirvana refers to that state where suffering does not arise with inherent existence and does not cease with inherent existence. Don’t we call that state the naturally abiding nirvana? therefore arising and disintegration do not exist inherently.
 You have accepted that the extinction of the continuation of suffering is nirvana, in which case you have held an annihilationist view. And if you modify your position and assert that nirvana is a state where suffering has inherent existence and has not been extinguished, then you accept permanent suffering which even includes the state of nirvana, which is an eternalist view. Therefore you cannot assert that nirvana refers to a state where suffering is a non-functional phenomenon which has been extinguished nor can you assert that nirvana refers to a state where suffering is a functional phenomenon which has not been extinguished. These two assertions about nirvana are not appropriate. Therefore nirvana refers to that state where suffering does not arise with inherent existence and does not cease with inherent existence.
 If you assert a cessation that is different than a functional phenomenon then you are asserting a cessation which does not depend on a functional phenomenon and which exists inherently and permanently. Because we have refuted the inherent existence of a functional phenomenon and also the inherent existence of a non-functional phenomenon which depends on a functional phenomenon, so here a cessation cannot have independent existence and so it cannot exist inherently or permanently.
 Without depending on the defined one cannot establish a definition and without considering the definition one cannot establish the defined. As they depend on each other, they have not arisen by themselves, so therefore the defined and the definition are devoid of inherent existence and also they do not exist inherently in a mutually dependent way, so none of them can be used to establish the inherent existence of another one.
 Following the logic of this explanation of mutually dependent origination one cannot use the cause of a result to prove that the result has inherent existence. The same applies to all the pairs of such as feeling and the one who feels or seeing and the seer, and so forth. Taking these as examples one should understand how all the pairs are explained as being devoid of inherent existence because they originate in mutual dependence.
 Time does not exist inherently because the three periods of time do not maintain continuity by themselves, but are dependent on each other. If the three times were to have inherent existence in a mutually dependent way, then we could not make distinctions between, but because we can make distinctions so time itself cannot be established as having inherent existence. Because time does not have inherent existence, the functional basis on which the three times is imputed cannot have inherent existence, so therefore the three times do not have inherent existence and are merely imputed by concepts.
 Following the reasoning just given, the three characteristics of a composite phenomenon which are arising, enduring and ceasing are unfindable upon ultimate analysis even for you, so then a functional phenomenon which is characterized by these three attributes is also unfindable, in which case the functional basis of a composite phenomenon becomes unfindable. So when a composite phenomenon cannot exist inherently, how can a non-composite phenomenon which depends on a composite phenomenon have inherent existence in the least.
 At the point of its complete disintegration does a phenomenon disintegrate which has already disintegrated or at that point does a phenomenon disintegrate which has not yet disintegrated? In the first case the process of disintegration is complete, so this cannot be accepted. In the second case it is free from the function of disintegration, so this cannot be accepted. The same applies to enduring and arising. If a phenomenon were to endure at that point when it has alrady endured then the process of enduring is complete and we cannot say that it is enduring at that point. And a phenomenon which has not endured cannot be accepted as enduring at that point because it is free from the function of enduring. If a phenomenon were to arise at the point of arising which has already arisen then the process of arising is already complete, so this cannot be accepted. and if a phenomenon were to arise at that point which has not arisen then that case is not accpetable, because it is non-existent.
 If we examine composite phenomena and non-composite phenomena then we cannot find them as one, because then we cannot differentiate between these two types of phenomena, and we cannot find them as many, because then these two would be completely unrelated. If a composite phenomenon is asserted to exist, then it cannot arise because it is already existent and if it is asserted not to exist, then it cannot arise because it is non-existent. If it is asserted to be both existent and non-existent, this is not possible because such a state is contradictory. Every different type of phenomenon is included within this criterion of non-inherent existence.
 Opponent: The Peerless Subduer has taught that there is continuity in the flow of actions. Likewise, he has taught about the nature of actions and their results. He has also taught that the results of actions performed by an individual sentient being must be experienced by him and that whatever actions are performed are certain to bear fruit. For these four reasons actions have inherent existence.
 Reply: Buddha taught that actions do not exist inherently and so they cannot arise inherently. Although actions do not exist inherently, they will not be wasted but it is certain that they will bear fruit. From these actions arise consciousness, name and form, and the rest of the limbs of dependent origination. Conception of self is generated through focusing on the person who is merely imputed upon these dependent limbs. Also, it arises from the preconception which takes imporper objects and overestimates them.
 If actions were to have inherent existence then they would not be impermenent but would have the nature of permanance, and then the body which results from those actions would also be permanent. If actions were to be permanent then they could not give rise to suffering, which is the ripening of actions. If actions were non-changing then they would have the nature of permance and then they would have self-existence. But then Buddha would not have taught about the lack of self-nature.
 If actions were to exist at the time of conditions, those actions could not arise from those conditions. And if conditions do not have the potential to give rise to actions, then actions cannot arise from conditions because those conditions are similar to non-conditions. Because actions cannot arise even slightly from non-conditions, so therefore all composite phenomena are like an illusion, and a gandharva town and a mirage, and therefore they lack inherent existence.
 Actions are caused by delusions. Our body arises from the nature of delusions and actions. Because the cause of the body is actions, and actions arise from delusions, so therefore these three are devoid if inherent existence.
 When actions do not have inherent existence there will be no person to perform actions. Because both of them do not exist, results do not exist. When there are no results there will be no person to experience those results physically and mentally. Because of that reason that actions do not exist inherently, so all phenomena are devoid of inherent existence.
 If one understands how actions are devoid of inherent existence, then he sees the suchness of actions. When he has seen suchness he will have eliminated ignorance and when there is no ignorance then the actions which are caused by ignorance cannot arise in him, and so the results of actions such as consciousness and so forth up to aging and death will not be experienced by him. When consciousness ceases to exist the dependent limb of aging and death cannot occur; thus he will attain the state of liberation free from aging and death.
 Through his miraculous powers, Tathagata the Subduer emitted an emanation and that emanation emitted another emanation. As the emanation emitted by the Tathagata is devoid of inherent existence, it is hardly necessary to say that the emanation emitted by the emanation is also devoid of inherent existence.
 When we say that these two emanations do not exist inherently, that does not mean that they are completely non-existent but rather that both of them, just like actions and the one who performs actions, merely exist through terms because they are separated from the nature of inherent existence. They do not exist, but merely through imputation by thought in a deceptive way.
 The person who performs actions is said to be similar to the emanation emitted by the Tathagata because he is led by ignorance. And so his actions are said to be similar to the emanation emitted by the emanation. All of these are devoid of inherent existence, though they do have a slight existence as mere imputation supported by terms and concepts.
 If actions were to have the nature of inherent existence, then they would be permanent. But if actions were permanent then they would not depend on a person, and if there were no person to perform actions, then actions would not exist. In that case, nirvana, which is the state of cessation of delusions and actions, could not be attained. If actions did not exist through mere terms and concepts then their ripening results such as happiness and suffering could not arise.
 Whatever is said by the Buddha has the two truths as its chief underlying thought; it is hard to understand and must be interpreted in this light. When the Buddha says “existence” his chief underlying thought is conventional existence; when he says “non-existence” his chief underlying thought is non-inherent existence; when he says “existence-and-non-existence” his chief underlying thought is conventional-existence-and-non-inherent-existence as a mere object of examination.
 Neither does inherently existent form, having the nature of elements, arise from elements nor from itself and not even from others. Therefore, it does not exist, does it?
 A form cannot have the fourfold nature of the elements because if the form has four elements then it will be fourfold and the four elements cannot have a singular form or else they will become one like form, so how can form arise from the four great elements as its cause?
 Form is not apprehended as inherently existing, so therefore the form does not exist inherently. If it is said that the inherent existence of form is understood by the mind which apprehends it, then such a mind does not exist inherently because it has arisen from causes and conditions to it cannot be used as a reason for proving the inherent existence of a form.
 If a mind apprehends a form with inherent existence then the mind will apprehend its own nature. Such a mind has arisen from causes and conditions, so it is a dependent arising which lacks inherent existence. In the same way, form does not exist truly, so how can that mind apprehend a form with true existence?
 The kind of form, which has arisen but not ceased to exist, that I have explained is not apprehended by each moment of the mind in the present. Therefore, how can such a mind apprehend forms of the past and also of the future?
 In all times color and shape do not exist as two different things. If they were to exist as two different things then a mind could apprehend shape without considering color or color without considering shape. Because these two do not exist as two different things, so therefore there is not a mind which apprehends shape without taking color into consideration nor color without taking shape into consideration. In the world, a form is known to be singular; if its shape and color were to exist as two different things then the form would appear to the world as two instead of one.
 The eye has no consciousness because the eye is a form but eye consciousness is formless and that which is formless cannot adhere to form. In the same way the form which is observed has no eye consciousness, nor is it between eye and form. Because eye consciousness is generated in dependence on eye and form, if it is apprehended as having inherent existence, that is a mistaken concept.
 When the eye does not see itself, how can it see forms? Therefore the eye and the forms do not have self-existence and the remaining entrances should be understood in the same way.
 The eye is devoid of its own self-existent nature. It is also devoid of the self-existent nature of another. In the same way, form is devoid of its own self-existent nature as well as that of another. And it is the same with the rest of the entrances.
 When any of the six internal entrances arises simultaneously with contact, at that time the rest of the entrances will be devoid of the nature of contact. The rest of the entrances which are devoid of the nature of contact do not depend on the nature of contact. That which is not devoid of the nature of contact will not depend on that which is devoid of the nature of contact.
 The eye, eye consciousness and its object arise and immediately disintegrate, so they cannot exist as abiding in their natures and so those three cannot assemble. When these three cannot assemble, contact cannot exist and if contact cannot exist, so there cannot be feeling.
 Consciousness arises in dependence on internal and external entrances. Because consciousness arises in dependence on the entrances, so it is like a mirage and an illusion which are devoid of inherent existence.
 Consciousness cannot arise without taking its object, so it depends on the object of knowledge. The object of knowledge cannot arise without depending on the consciousness which apprehends it, and therefore because they exist in a mutually dependent way both of them lack inherent existence. The object of know ledge and the apprehension of the object do not exist inherently, therefore the person who knows the object does not exist inherently.
 Buddha has seen no essence in composite phenomena with inherent existence so he said that all composite phenomena are impermanent, so therefore they are devoid of inherent existence, or because he said that all composite phenomena are impermanent, so how could they exist inherently in the nature of permanent phenomena? If phenomena were to have inherent existence they should either be permanent or impermanent; but how can there be phenomena which are both permanent and impermanent at the same time?
 Through superimposition one develops the three distorted preconceptions toward pleasing, repulsive and neutral objects, which respectively cause attachment, hatred and closed-mindedness. Because they arise in dependence on these conditions, the essential nature of attachment, hatred and closed-mindedness is without inherent existence.
 A pleasing object does not exist inherently because some persons develop attachment towards it, others develop hatred towards it, and still others develop close-mindedness towards it. Therefore such qualities of the object are merely created by preconceptions, and these preconceptions also do not exist inherently because they develop from superimposition.
 Whatever may be an object of examination does not exist inherently. As the object of examination does not exist inherently, how can the thought-consciousness of that non-inherently existing object exist inherently? Therefore, because the object of examination and the thought-consciousness arise from causes and conditions, they are empty of inherent existence.
 The mind which directly understands emptiness is an unmistaken mind which eliminates the ignorance that arises from the four evil preconceptions. Without that ignorance the karmic formations will not arise, and so neither will the remaining limbs.
 Anything which arises in dependence on any causes will not arise without those causes. Hence, functional things in the form of produced phenomena and non-functional things as unproduced phenomena would be empty of inherent existence which is the natural state of nirvana.
 The Teacher, Buddha, said that the conception of true existence of functional things which arise from causes and conditions is ignorance. From this ignorance arise the twelve dependent limbs.
 Understanding the non-inherent existence of things means seeing the reality [i.e., emptiness] which eliminates ignorance about the reality of things. This brings about the cessation of ignorantly grasping at an apparently true existence. From that the twelve limbs of dependent origination cease.
 Produced phenomena are similar to a village of gandharvas, an illusion, a hair net in the eyes, foam, a bubble, an emanation, a dream, and a circle of light produced by a whirling firebrand.
 There is nothing which exists inherently. In that fashion even non-functional things do not exist. Therefore, functional things which arise from causes and conditions as well as non-functional things are empty of inherent existence.
 Because all things are empty of inherent existence the Peerless Tathagata has shown the emptiness of inherent existence of dependent arising as the reality of all things.
 Ultimate reality is contained within the limit of the non-inherent existence of a thing. For that reason, the Accomplished Buddha, the Subduer, has imputed various terms in the manner of the world through comparison.
 What is shown conventionally to the world appears to be without disintegration, but the Buddha has never actually shown anything with true existence. Those who do not understand what is explained by the Tathagata to be conventionally existent and empty of the sign of true existence are frightened by this teaching.
 It is known in the way of the world that “this arises in dependence on that.” Such statements are not refuted. But whatsoever arises dependently does not exist inherently, and how can that non-inherent existence itself have inherent existence? In fact, that non-inherent existence must definitely not exist inherently!
 Those who have faith in the teaching of emptiness will strive for it through a number of different kinds of reasoning. Whatever they have understood about it in terms of non-inherent existence, they clarify this for others, which helps others to attain nirvana by abandoning grasping at the apparently true existence of cyclic existence and non-cyclic existence.
 By seeing these internal and external phenomena arising from causes and conditions they will eliminate the whole network of wrong views. With the elimination of wrong views they will have abandoned attachment, closed-mindedness and hatred and thereby attain nirvana unstained by wrong views.
This volume contains a translation of Seventy Stanzas, a fundamental work of Nagarjuna on the Madhyamika system of Buddhist philosophy, along with a commentary on it from the Prasangika viewpoint by Geshe Sonam Rinchen. David Komito summarizes basic Buddhist doctrines on perception and the creation of concepts, which have traditionally served as the backdrop for Nagarjuna’s teachings about how people consistently misperceive and misunderstand the nature of the reality in which they live and the means through which they experience it. This book will interest Buddhist practitioners, scholars, and psychologists who seek a deeper understanding of Buddhist psychology and epistemology.
Text: English, Tibetan (translation)
About the Author
David Ross Komito received his PhD from Indiana University. He has published numerous articles on Buddhism and its relation to Psychology and Ecology and is the editor of Paths and Grounds of Guhyasamaja According to Arya Nagarjuna. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Wesleyan University, John F. Kennedy University and is currently at the University of San Francisco.
Geshe Sonam Rinchen (1933–2013) studied at Sera Je Monastery and in 1980 received the Lharampa Geshe degree. He taught Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, as well as in dharma centers around the world. His books include How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent-Arising, The Heart Sutra: An Oral Teaching, The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas: An Oral Teaching, and more.
shizukasa ya kosui no soko no kumo no mine
in the depths of the lake
Even though Issa is known for his comic haiku that have surprising, spiritual resonance; he is just as capable of revealing the sublime. French translator Jean Cholley translates the first word, shizukasa, as “sérénité” (“serenity”).
Indeed, shizukasa denotes tranquility, quiet, calm. Of English possibilities, I’ve decided to use “stillness” – but the reader should be aware that Issa establishes a sense of deep peace before showing billowing mountains of clouds reflected “in the depths of the lake.” The haiku serves as a substitute for experience – or, perhaps, a clear window into experience – allowing the reader, in contemplation, to see that same lake, those same clouds, and to feel the serenity and stillness of the moment.
ume no ki no kokoro shizuka ni aoba kana
the plum tree
with heart at peace…
Kai Falkman believes that “peaceful” (shizuka ni) modifies the leaves, not the tree’s heart; see Understanding Haiku: A Pyramid of Meaning (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2002). Shinji Ogawa is even more specific. He writes, “The phrase kokoro shizuka ni (heart peaceful + ni) is an adverb phrase (not ‘tree’s heart’). The ni functions like ‘-ly’ in English to change an adjective to an adverb. Therefore, the phrase can be translated as ‘heart-peacefully’.” Shinji concludes: “The haiku can be translated as ‘the plum tree is heart-peacefully green-leafing’. Once we reach this translation, it is rather easy to translate it into more ‘natural’ English. Therefore, the haiku may be translated more or less as ‘The plum tree is peacefully leafing’.” Plum trees, when they bloom, are one of spring痴 glories. Here, Issa pays attention to a plum tree in its “off-season,” in summer–noticing its green leaves. Thousands of poets have written tens of thousands of haiku about plum trees blooming in spring, but Issa writes about the plum tree in summer, no longer surrounded by excited, drunk blossom-viewers, unfurling its green leaves in peace.
noki no ame hachi utsu sakura shizukeshi ya
rain on the eaves –
the potted cherry tree
calm and still
Perhaps the blooming tree is “calm and still” (shizukeshi) because it is shelted from the rain, protected by the house’s overhanging eaves.
nodokeshi ya ugo no hatake no asa kemuri
spring peace –
the rained – on field’s
fuyu kare no hagi mo nodokeku uriya kana
winter’s withered bush clover
house for sale
nodokasa ya kozo no makura wa dono ki [no] ne
spring peace –
last year which tree root
was my pillow?
Now that spring has returned, Issa is ready for a delicious nap.
nodokeshi ya ume wa naku [to] mo o-shôgatsu
spring peace –
no plum blossoms yet
this First Month
The throngs that will flood the countryside to view the plum blossoms have not yet arrived.
susu haite nodoka ni kururu na hata kana
the sun sets in peace…
tsuji dangi chinpunkan mo nodoka kana
a crossroads sermon
In my article, “The Dewdrop World: Death and Other Losses in the Haiku of Issa,” I write:
Issa regards the crossroads sermon as a lot of “gibberish” – long-winded and fundamentally meaningless. However, his attitude is not one of disdain, but rather of quiet, peaceful acceptance, for the sermon, too, is part of the lovely spring day. The final words, nodoka kana, translate literally as, “peacefulness!” but in the shorthand of haiku nodoka specifically connotes the tranquility of springtime. Hence the monk, his listeners, Issa, and the crossroads are all seen as part of a greater picture – the spring day itself: green fields, blue sky, and the peace evoked without and within. The poet is not condemning the sermon or the monk; his calling the sermon gibberish, in the whole context of the poem, sounds almost like a loving tribute, for the outdoor sermon is as much a sound of spring as the warble of birds. However, its content is evidently not to be taken seriously.
nodokeshi ya ômiyabito no suso-bokori
spring peace –
in the great courtier’s hem
The courtier has dragged his ceremonial robe in the dust, gathering it in its hem. Perhaps he has been in the countryside viewing the spring blossoms. Issa hints that even the rich and powerful are tainted with dust: a Buddhist metaphor for worldliness.
yamikumo ni nodoka ni narishi karasu kana
all of a sudden
he shuts up…
Or: “they shut up/ crows.” Shinji Ogawa explains that yamikumo means literally “dark and cloudy,” but idiomatically expresses the idea, “all of a sudden,” or “abruptly.”
The sudden silence is deafening. The crow is becoming “peaceful” in a very specific sense, since nodoka designates the tranquility of springtime. Up to this point, the crow has been shattering that tranquility, but now, finally and suddenly, has gotten with the program.
ôbirana yuki no bota-bota nodokesa yo
blatantly the snow
Winter was long in Issa’s snowy, mountainous province. The old expression bota-bota denotes the ever-so soft sound that snowflakes or blossoms make as they fall, one after the other; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983).
sumigama no chobo chobo keburu nodokasa yo
the charcoal kiln’s smoke
puff by puff…
Normally, nodokasa denotes in haiku the peacefulness of springtime, but in this case the charcoal kiln, a winter season word, signals that Issa is using nodokasa to mean simply “tranquility.”
nodokasa ya asama no keburi hiru no tsuki
spring peace –
Mount Asama’s smoke
and the noon moon
Mount Asama is a volcano in Issa’s home province of Shinano, active during the poet’s lifetime. The eruption of 1783, when Issa was twenty-one years old and living in Edo (today’s Tokyo), killed 1,151 people.
nodokasa ya nezumi no nameru sumida-gawa
a mouse licking up
Shinji Ogawa notes that this haiku is popular in Japan for the “interesting contrast” between great Sumida river, swelled with rain, and the tiny mouse.
Lucien Stryk translates nezumi as “wharf-rat”–a choice that I believe drastically changes the feeling of the poem; The Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa (Athens Ohio: Swallow Press, 1991).
hana no tsuki no to chinpunkan no ukiyo kana
“moon” and “blossoms”
of a floating world
This haiku is one of mixed seasons: “moon” suggests autumn (the harvest moon), and “blossoms” suggest spring. The opening phrase evokes Issa’s haiku journey through life.
shira tsuyu mo chinpunkan no korori kana
even for silver dewdrops
Issa’s meaning seems to be that the silver dewdrops, like people, exist in a world of meaningless chatter for their short “lives,” rolling to oblivion. This is not his most optimistic haiku!
fûrin ya chinpunkan no toshi no kure
empty babble ends
Shinji Ogawa points out that the wind-chime (fûrin) is put up in the summer and taken down in autumn. Why does it still hang at the end of the year? Perhaps this relates to the fact that Issa’s first wife, Kiku, died in Fifth Month 1823; she would normally be the one to take down the wind-chime, but now she’s gone. Shinji comments, “Issa might be pondering his wife’s death, on his yet-to-come own death, on the meaning of life and so on. His conclusion is, chinpunkan (empty babble). I think that Issa is saying, ‘Go ahead and preach what you may. But I understand none of it!'”
karappôna toku hondô ya aki no kaze
the main temple…
hiiki u wa mata mo kara mi de uki ni keri
my favorite cormorant
again floats up
with an empty beak
Japanese fishermen use cormorants. Tied to a tether, these sea birds dive for fish that they are forced to disgorge. Originally, I translated hiiku u as “his favorite cormorant” because I couldn’t picture Issa as a cormorant fisherman. However, Shinji Ogawa notes that by Issa’s time, as in today’s Japan, cormorant fishing had become a form of commercial entertainment. One can therefore assume that Issa was a guest at a cormorant fishing party. His favorite bird comes up “empty-handed” (kara mi), which literally means, “empty body.”
shira tsuyu to shiranu kodomo ga hotoke kana
the child unaware
of the silver dewdrops
Shinji Ogawa points out that shiranu ga hotoke is an idiom for “ignorance is bliss.” He paraphrases the haiku, “The child who doesn’t know them as the white dewdrops is blessed.”
Shinji’s explanation makes me wonder: Is Issa alluding to the Buddhist notion of transience, of which dewdrops are a standard literary symbol? The lucky child is unaware of the fading, temporary nature of the universe: his or her ignorance comprises a state of bliss and, perhaps (paradoxically), enlightenment.
hana no yo wo misumashite shinu hotoke kana
this world of blossoms…
This haiku refers to the Second Month, 15th Day festival of Buddha’s Death Day, commemorating Gautama Buddha’s entrance into nirvana (i.e., his death).
David G. Lanoue
Завършвайки четенето на Сънуват ли андроидите електроовце на Филип К. Дик за трети път, намерих много повече нюанси отколкото по време на предишните четения.
В книгата има една пропусклива мембрана между „човек” и „андроид”; „човек” и „животно”; „нормален” и „особен”; „човек” и „бог” – сякаш всички тези позиции са фикции една спрямо друга. Декард казва някъде към края на романа: „Всичко може да е истина”, „Всичко, което някой някога си е помислял”. Нашите фикции присъстват във всичко, което ни заобикаля: от компютрите които правим, до животните, които храним. „Тук няма спасение”, а само животът, който ни заобикаля и изборите, които правим, за да живеем с него.
Изглежда книгата внушава предположението, че сме способни на емпатия, съпричастност. Човек или андроид, разграниченията са неподходящи: ние създаваме наши собствени реалности и се налага да се справяме с последствията, независимо дали са правилни или погрешни. Ние имаме дълг към нашите фикции (реалности), веднъж създадени те трябва да бъдат изпълнени, като индуистката дхарма: „Иди и върши работата си, дори и да знаеш, че това, което правиш, е погрешно”. Понякога нашите фикции се сблъскват помежду си, но избори трябва да се правят, дори когато част от реалността се налага да бъде унищожена. Фикцията на Декард – ловец на глави (неговата работа) се сблъсква с нарастващата му съпричастност към Рейчъл Роузен (физическо желание). Докато тя го улеснява да изпълнява задълженията си като ловец на глави, признава че участва в заговор, целящ да направи всички ловци на глави в света безсилни. Моралната дилема на Декард възниква от противоречието между машиналния му дълг към държавата и новопоявилите се чувства към живота, който го заобикаля – дори ерзац живота на андроидите.
Иронията тук остава във факта, че няма спасение във вселена, където всичко е на път да се разпадне в саван от сива прах: където ценните неща са само кипъл и ентропията поглъща всичко в крайна сметка. Фикциите се разпадат също в кипъл до такава степен, че героите могат да се обърнат към всичко – Бъстър Приятелчето и Неговите Дружелюбни Приятели, Емоционалния Синтезатор Пенфийлд, Мерсеризма – за да не се налага да се сблъскват с безмълвната празнота на света, който става все по-слабо населен, тъй като хората емигрират, стават „особени“, или умират. С заминаването на живота от света, емпатията става предпочитана фикция на деня: съпричастността дефинира човека.
Джералд Р. Лукас 1998г.