Astus wrote:What mystical attitude started with Mahayana?
You're looking at it but you can't see it. 'Emptiness', 'transcendent wisdom', 'bodhicitta', 'one mind', are all the language of mysticism. You keep pasting in all of these passages as if they prove something else, but that is how I understand all of them.
Anyway - what are
you trying to say? What was your original question?
What if we were told that the nature of mind is that all experiences are impermanent? That's quite obvious, isn't it? Is there anything mystical about that?
Yes, as a matter of fact. Zen Buddhism is deeply mystical. How did it start? With the Buddha gazing at a flower and smiling. One particular monk 'gets it' and also smiles. There you go, birth of a grand tradition, via 'mind to mind transmission outside the scriptures'. How is that not
mystical? What do you think we're discussing?
If you check Madhyamaka, they recognise the normal six consciousnesses, while in Yogacara there are eight. In Vajrayana they match the five aggregates with the five buddha families and the five wisdoms, in Yogacara the eight consciousnesses with the four wisdoms. In the Awakening of Faith in Mahayana the tathagatagarbha is matched with alayavijnana. And all these consciousnesses correspond to the mental aggregates in the five skandhas. Where is the extra mystical component?
The alayavijnana is a mystical conception. It is often equated with Jung's idea of 'the collective unconscious'. Go into any University - say, the psychology department, or the philosophy department, and say 'hey, there's this entity call alayavijnana, it's the 'collective consciousness'. What are they going to say? 'How do you demonstrate it? How do you prove that it exists? What is it?' If you talked to a normal academic outside Buddhist studies or Indian philosophy, they would not have even the slightest idea of what you were talking about. (They don't even study Carl Jung outside religious or cultural studies departments.) There is no way you can point to 'the collective unconscious' and say 'that is what it is'. The conception is only meaningful within a realm of discourse. Of course it is meaningful in Dharma Wheel, because that is a realm of discourse within which such concepts are meaningful to the contributors. But that doesn't mean that such ideas as 'alayavijnana' and 'one mind' are what most people would understand as empirical realities. They're meaningful to you because you're immersed in reading texts about them, but outside that, what are they? What is the reality they signify? You seem to think they are something very quotidian, everyday, clear for all to see. But they're not.
Here I have a book called 'No River to Cross'
, by Zen Master Daehaeng. Almost every page is about 'one mind', which, she says in one place:
Juingong is the fundamental mind with which each one of us is inherently endowed, and the mind that is directly connected to every single thing. Through this connection, Juingong functions together with everything as one.
There are many such statements throughout this text, which also says in various places that you can call this one mind 'God' or 'Love'. I am not criticizing this book or it's author. It is a very edifying book. Passages from it could also be taken directly from (for instance) Maimonedes or Plotinus. That is what I mean by 'quasi theistic' - 'contains ideas which can plausibly equated with Deity'. I perfectly understand there are many Buddhists who *don't* like that approach and that's fine, also. I am not saying it is the right or only approach, but it is an approach.
Granted, many translations of the Awakening of the Faith are influenced by the fact that one of the original translations were by Samual Beal who was a Christian chaplain. But the text is about 'the world soul' and 'the one mind'. These are religious ideas, they are not simple straightforward descriptions of phenomena. If you study comparitive religions there are analogous ideas in Kabbalah, Hermeticism, and other traditions. That doesn't mean they're all the same, or saying the same things, but they're analogous. And they are, broadly speaking, religious and mystical ideas. And why is that a problem? What is the problem with the mystical? To the mystics, it is a fact of life, but one which, apparently, many people don't see.
(Asvaghosa) talks about not grasping at phenomena and also seeing that all phenomena arise inter-dependently.
Right. But this *is" a 'renunciate philosophy'. It is not like a worldly philosophy, like European existentialism or linguistic analysis or logical positivism. Those texts by and large originated with renunciates, sages and yogis. They do have a perspective which is quite different to that of the worldly mind, or the modern mind, in most cases. They are different kinds of people.
It doesn't talk about anything beyond appearances, it says that the nature of appearances is unborn and empty.
And I don't think you're conveying a sense of what 'unborn and empty' actually mean. It isn't just a mental attitude or a way of combining words. What does it mean
? How does that give rise to 'great compassion'? What is the dynamic?
And I emphatically disagree with 'seeing nothing beyond appearances'. The notion of the 'equality of nirvana and samsara' - and remember that is a very radical idea, which to this day the Theravada Buddhists have never accepted - is not that the uninstructed worlding is no different to the Buddha. How does Suzuki put it:
D T Suzuki wrote:Buddhism is the story of relationship between the two groups of beings: the one is called Buddha who is the enlightened, the Tathagata, the Arhat, and the other is generally designated as Sarvasattva, literally "all beings", who are ignorant, greedy for worldly things, and therefore in perpetual torment. In spite of their hankering for worldly enjoyments, they are conscious of their condition and not at all satisfied with it; when they reflect they find themselves quite forlorn inwardly, they long for real happiness, for ultimate reality, and blissful enlightenment. They look upwards, where the Buddha sits rapt in his meditation serenely regarding them with his transcendental wisdom. As he looks down at his fellow-beings inexplicably tormented with their greed and ignorance and egotism, he is disturbed, for he feels an inextinguishable feeling of love stirring within himself—the feeling now perfectly purified of all the defilements of selfishness, which embraces the whole world in pity though not attached to it. The Buddha leaves his transcendental abode. He is seen among sentient beings, each one of whom recognises him according to his own light.
Transcendental wisdom (prajna) and a heart of all-embracing love (mahakaruna) constitute the very reason of Buddhahood, while the desire or thirst for life (trishna), and ignorance as to the meaning of life (avidya), and deeds (karma) following from the blind assertion of life-impulse— these are the factors that enter into the nature of Sarvasattva, all ignorant and infatuated ones. The one who is above, looking downward, extends his arms to help; the other unable to extricate himself from entanglements looks up in despair, and finding the helping arms stretches his own to take hold of them.
So - we're quoting the same texts, talking about the same ideas, but we're obviously seeing very different things in them.
Sometimes spirituality is a liberation, and sometimes it's an alibi ~ David Brazier