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Buddhism on monads

Sep 10, 1995 03:21 PM
by Richtay

Jerry S.:

> Dear, dear, Rich. Would you please, just for me,
> give one (yes, just one) quote from a Buddhist
> (especially Tibetan) text that clearly asserts such a
> notion. I would love to read it.
> Buddhists don't
> even believe in monads, Rich. How could they
> possibly believe in 'evolutionary progress' without a
> monad or soul or 'entity' that is progressing? Only
> a person's 'skandas' reincarnate.
Well, it so happens that in my PhD program in Buddhist studies at UC Berkeley
last year we discussed this subject in some detail. The Pali texts do indeed
teach that only the skandhas reincarnate, like a stream of flowing water,
ever changing but caused by whatever went on up stream.

There are many schools of Buddhism, though, and I did find many texts and
many schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism that teach we are in essence
"Pure Mind" or "Clear Light" that is ever above all of our incarnations. Our
incarnations, and universal manifestations, are approaches to this "monad."

This quote is from *THE CRYSTAL AND THE WAY OF LIGHT* by Namkhai Norbu, one
of the Dalai Lama's close associates, from page 12:

"The teaching of Dzogs-chen is in essence a teaching concerning the
PRIMORDIAL STATE OF BEING that is each individual's own INTRINSIC nature from
the very beginning. To enter this state is to experience oneself as one is,
as the center of the universe -- though not in the ordinary ego sense."
There is also the Yogachara or Cittamatra of Mind-Only School, which teaches
that we are pure consciousness from the beginning, changless throughout all
our incarnations.


"When the substratum consciousness ceases there remains, shining in its own
purity, a ninth consciousness, the "immaculate consciousness" (AMALAVIJNANA).
 This consciousness is the PERMANENT, ultimate, true reality."

Sounds like "monad" to me, but I could be wrong ...
Buddhist texts which teach this idea of a permanent conscious essence in all
beings include:

Samdhinirmocana sutra
Aksayamatinirdesha sutra
The Abhhisamayalamkara
The Madhyantavibhaga
The Dharmadharmatavibhaga

There are related Mahayan and especially Tibetan traditions which teach the
inherent "Buddha-essence" of all beings (tathagata-garbha), and these texts
and schools are too numerous to name.


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