Re: RE: Karma, causality etc.
Feb 12, 1995 06:52 PM
As Buddhism evolved and developed earlier notions of causality
underwent refinement to aid the life of developing and maturing
First, simple causality was replaced by the notion of
interdepence - found most expressed in the Flower Adornment
Sutra. By that notion the entirity of the universe is one
seemlessly interconnected process; the universe expresses an
aspect of its process by doing the "you" that is your existence.
Secondly, the Buddhists put little emphasis on personal identity
- the mask of personality. Seeing all attempts to make reality
into independently and separately existing things, emphasis was
put on the emptiness or transparency of reality. What does that
mean in practical terms, in skills of illumination?
Much of the fabric of illusionary reality, personalized in that
identification with a self-imagine (which self-esteems), amounts
to maintaining a false sense of separation and separateness
(satkayadrsti in Sanskrit). As illuminating expereince breaks
through that illusion (kinda like looking through a pin prick in
a sheet behold the vastness of the Grand Canyon), life's greater
potentials show themselves. Normal illusions come to be known
for what they are: conditioned and emptiness of absolute
How does this pertain to reincarnation? A tricky matter. One the
one hand reincarnation is just another way of saying immortality.
But of what? Without an illusionary self, what reincarnates. At
this point the buddhists say mum is the word.
Bankei, one of Japan's great mystics, referred to the experience
of gnosis about immortality as a kind of koan: he called it The
Unborn. His zen aims at realizing your unborn/undying nature -
no theology, no theory, no dogma, no speculation - just waking up
with mind/body/core altering experience. Certainly the cost
effective solution for wear and tear.
One of the Ch'an mystery questions from China posed it centureies
earlier: what is (now, in the active voice) your original nature
- before your parents conceived you? Another way of getting to
what we known in the Tibetan inflection as the pure light.
On this note, and despite tremendous investment in Victorian
Puritan views of Buddhism that should be treated as waste ready
for recycling, the most pervasive tradition of buddhism is what
academics call Pure Land Buddhism. Begining in India, then
spreading to Central Asia/China, it finally journeyed to Korea,
Japan and Vietname; last but not least to Tibet. The core
teaching transcends cultural inflections. From several centureis
bc it concerned exactly these questions. The real reason
Buddhism caught on in China is not well known in the West.
Carl Becker, an American, recently published his Breaking the
Circle - a cross cultural study of death, dying and rebirth in
Buddhism. The book is admittedly weak, relying on outdated or
just terrible resources for India and Tibet (e.g., Evans=Wentz
and Jennings). Its great revelations come with China. Buddhism
really caught on there due to maps and practices concerning Out
Of Body Experience and Near Death Experience. As you might
guess, Becker had to find employment as a scholar in Japan - he's
just too challenging to the anglo norte americano buddhist
studies paradigm; the good news is the Japanese love his
revelations of the soul of buddhism. His publisher is Southern
Illinois University press. The buddhism is pure land - even in
So much for my two cents worth. Ciao
Ken O'Neill, kyoshi
White Lotus Society
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