Theosophy and Naropa
Oct 15, 1995 05:40 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
I have a quote from a book on Naropa ("The Life and Teaching of Naropa"
by Herbert V. Guenther, Shambhala, pages 136-37) that relates to some
of the topics discussed on 'theos-l' in the past month, from the
standpoint of Buddhism.
> The acquisition of transcending awareness is indicated by two formulas
> ... 'all entities are pure by nature and so am I' and 'I am by nature
> nothingness, transcending awareness and indestructibility'.
This transcending awareness is likely the Atmic consciousness, the
consciousness of the divine. It is where our consciousness is seated
deep within, in our Inner God.
> ... all the entites which make up our world are 'pure' and stainless,
That part of us which is pure and stainless is the Monadic, the part
that stands untouched by our participation in existence in the space and
time *of our world*. The Monad sends forth a ray of consciousness, yet
remains behind, pure, untouched by the excursion into material
> because they are merely appearances and not independent entities as
>From the standpoint of the Monad, this is true.
> Yet they are not unreal. As a matter of fact, 'appearances' are
> the realities which we perceive and it is only by becoming an
> 'appearance' that anything can notify its existence to us.
The act of "becoming an appearance" is our coming into existence. It is
only when we exist that we notify others of ourselves. In an ultimate
sense, that coming into existence refers to clothing ourselves in the
seven principles, including Atman. In a more immediate sense, that
coming into existence refers to our incarnation into a sphere of causes,
where we are in direct physical interaction with other beings.
> The important thing to note is the dynamic aspect of becoming an
> appearance which implies the incessant activity of mind which, in a
> certain sense, I am myself.
Existing as an "appearance" requires the activity of mind, which creates
the sense of self. Atman, as pure, stainless consciousness, needs to
take on the direct perception of Buddhi, then the activity of mind,
creating the sense of self, Manas, in order for us to create our
illusory sense of selfhood.
> Or, put otherwise, I as a mind create the world of objects which
> I knowingly grasp.
The activity of the mind or Manas creates, *to us*, the world of
objects. When this activity ceases, the world *stops*, for us, and we
see deeply into the divine nature of things.
> However, creating the world is not so much creation
> *ex nihilo* as an arranging and revealing ...
This creation is not out of nothingness, because other beings and the
external world preexist our participation in it. It is created *to us*
in the activity of our minds, and so *for us* it has newly appeared.
> The decisive point is that in this activity of mind that which
> appears before the mind is believed to be veridical ... 'the sensa are
> existing in truth'.
"Veridical" means truthful, matching fact and reality. We believe that
the world before us, created by the activity of our minds, is true and
real, that the perception of the senses is of something real in nature.
> Most mentalistic (idealistic) systems both in the East and West stop
> short at this point,
Thus far, we can say that the "mind is the great slayer of the Real".
> but while Western idealistic systems tend to define the sensa as being
> mental, most Buddhist systems reject this conclusion and merely content
> themselves with stating that sensa are experiencable and, while an
> experience is a mental phenomenon, it does not follow that that which is
> experienced is mental.
In the west, the senses are considered a mental activity, whereas in
Buddhism, they are not. Senses are *one form of experience*. The
experiencer and sense of experience is in the activity of the mind,
> ... the second formula which means that on closer inspection the
> subjective aspect,
This is the aspect where we are aware of things outside ourselves, where
we have a subjective appreciation of the external world.
> which has only meaning in relation to its objective reference,
Our subjective appreciation of the world only has meaning when it is
relation to the external world, to the so-called objective.
> is meaningless because in postulating mentalism the subjective and
> the objective instead of reducing the one to the other,
When we say that the senses are a mental activity, we cannot explain
what really happens; we are still caught up in the illusory nature of
the sense of subjective and objective.
> we arrive at an act of becoming aware which is neither subjective nor
> objective, but an act of being aware in itself and brilliantly
> perspicuous in itself.
[Perspicuous means clearly expressed, but using that word is not clear
to everyone without a dictionary!]
There is an activity of mind that is pure awareness, brilliant, clear,
and transcending any sense of objective and subjective. (This is the
consciousness that transcends the sense of self, and is really the
activity of Buddhi, rather than Manas.)
> This is the meaning of 'nothingness (sunyata) transcending awareness
> (jnana) and indestructibility (vajra)' and the conviction that sensa
> are delusive.
This is talking about the sense of emptiness or void or space that
transcends the mental awareness or mental constructs that we use to
interpret and give meaning to life. It transcends the activity of mind
that creates *our* world, and our sense of fixed, personal selfhood, our
sense of indestructibility.
> This whole procedure, however, is not merely an intellectual method;
> on the contrary, the intellectual formulation is the outcome of an
> immediate experience.
And like many of the deeper theosophical teachings, which in this case
comes from a Buddhist book, we find the need for an immediate experience
of life out of which our ideas or intellectual formulations arise. The
inner experience *in consciousness* comes first, and the words follow.
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