May 18, 1999 01:52 AM
by Mark Kusek
I put these questions out to you and the list at large, although I am
particularly interested in your responses. Your correspondance has been
very helpful to me in the past. I find your understandng beneficial. To
the list at large I offer my sincerity in asking, and welcome all of
I have been observing my own inner processes for some time and want to
put these questions out to a sounding board. I am interested in the
understanding you possess of traditional Buddhist perspectives and see
you as an informed source. (To any dissenters, I welcome your comments
To those of you who feel inclined to speak on behalf of an understanding
of traditional Theosophy (as I'm sure there are many), I only ask that
for my own clarity, you specify your position as either Theosophic or
Traditionally Buddhist. Thanks for your kind indulgence.
Aum Namo Prajnaparamita Aum.
I have heard you talk about the "endless rounds of rebirth in Samsaric
existence" and the possibility of "liberation in one lifetime." I have
followed the thread that these ideas generated on the list.
My first question is: Do any schools of traditional Buddhism adhere to
the notion that evolution will, of it's own momentum (i.e., as a
supra-personal cosmic impulse) ,bring all beings to eventual liberation?
What I am after here is your opinion of the traditional Buddhist view as
to what happens to a person who merely follows their natural instincts
and impulses life after life, rebirth after rebirth. Will following
these natural impluses, in the long eons of manvantaric time, (and
hopefully learning the karmic lessons of cause and effect along the way)
eventuate in liberation or merely continue to bind them to the wheel of
rebirth endlessly? Is there an eventual naturally prompted escape,
enlightenment, realization? Is their an evolutionary plan active in
Nature itself regardless of any cooperative effort of our personal
will? Will Nature itself bring the Buddha seed within us to fruition as
it does any other flower?
I cite Taoism and it's attitude of "harmony with Nature" and the notion
of becoming "one with the universe" (one with the Tao) as a positive
example. Basically, my question is, it is necessary to struggle against
one's "nature" to gain liberation? Or is there a wise and enlightened
attitude of understanding and cooperation with nature that is possible?
Must we reject and struggle against our nature or seek to understand and
accept it to gain liberation? Isn't this what mindfulness (and Jungian
Individuation) is all about? What are the traditional Buddhist views?
Are there differences between Buddhist schools on this point? Is
struggle against nature a necessary requisite to enlightenment or is
acceptance and understanding a healthy and valid approach?
My second question is: In the traditions of Buddhism, what is the
teaching given regarding the original cause of ignorance? Is an original
cause meant to be understood as both personal and universal or just
personal? If both, is the cosmic part of it meant to be understood as
only manvantaric and thus relative and limited in scope, or do Buddhists
posit an absolute ignorance? If manvantaric, is the paradox of
manifestation then (whether cosmic or personal) one of relativity in
terms of ignorance and its opposite: enlightenment? I understand the
Buddhist concept of tanha or "thirst for manifested life" to be said to
be dependant upon and conditioned by a sentient being's past karma. I've
always heard it spoken of in terms of the personal dimension. Does this
also hold true for a sentient being occupying transpersonal dimensions?
Is there therefore an absolute original first cause of all
manifestation, or is the concept of "first cause" always meant to be
understood as manvantaric and thus relative and periodic? Is every
universal manifestation the result of some cosmic individual's karma,
subject to and conditioned by their continually relative state of
enlightenment/ignorance? Would the same be true of all the traditional
Buddhist "Poisons"; Ignorance, Lust and Hate? Are these merely the
results of a karmically regulated and relatively unenlightened state of
manifesting sub-cosmic sentient beings or the very conditions that
manifestation in any dimensions of the limitations of Time/Space/Form
require? I know that I'm mixing up my cosmic and intra-cosmic analogies
in this question. I hope I haven't been too confusing.
Third question: Why would a manifested cosmic "being," in a state of
relatively "perfect enlightenment at it's own level," ( compared to any
mayavic sub-individualities that arise or "exist" within it's dream of
manifestation) desire to manifest into that self-created dream, knowing
that it would necessitate a position of ignorance toward it's own true
nature while in the limitations of the positions it would inhabit during
participation? Is this a requirement of Manifestation or a choice, like
the self imposed rules of a game? Law or choice? Mandate or creative
caprice? Are there other "games" of manifestation it could play or is it
always this one? I've heard you say that you believe the impulse for
manifestation is the desire for "self expression," but by that do you
mean it to be a conscious choice of that supra being or an unconscious
natural impulse that it cannot choose to avoid (i.e., is even the cosmic
hierarch of a maha-manvantara conditioned by a superior law of karma,
subject to it's own relative ignorance/enlightenment, swabhava and tanha
regardless of the manifested dimensions that it would occupy?) Is it
already under the illusion of Maya even at cosmic levels? Is there such
a thing therefore as absolute enlightened manifestation or is it always
relative to that manifested being's relative state of
enlightenment/ignorance and only seems absolute to sub-individualities
within that being's sphere of manifestation? What do you believe the
goal of that self expression would be?
Fourth question: Why/how does the personal experience of enlightenment
equate with the arising of compassion? If the manifested field of
opposites must of necessity posit compassion against it's opposite, why
does that experience bring about the arising of a motivation toward
compassionate action and not it's opposite or does it? Is the
transformation into compassionate bodhicitta a direct de facto result of
the experience of enlightenment or a personal/individual (re:
temperamental) choice or inclination? If a personal/individual choice
(one way or the other), how can that be taken seriously in view of the
realization of anatman?
I cite a story I once heard about some Zen practitioners. The master of
a certain temple was teaching a young monk about the Dharma. A wandering
mendicant came into the temple and irreverently appoached the sanctuary
where they stood. The hermit looked at them and then wheeled with
contempt and turned to face the elaborately carved statues of the Buddha
and Bodhisattvas. He shreiked out loud and violently spat upon the
statues. Then he turned around abruptly and left. The young acolyte
anxiously questioned his Master, "Sir, why has that man acted so?" The
Master replied, "Before enlightenment, some spit and some bow. After
enlightenment, some spit and some bow." Why, upon enlightenment, did the
Buddha get up and teach?
Next question: If the result of enlightenment is said to be the
understanding of the Middle Way, then does that mean non-attachment to
pleasue as well as pain, beauty as well as ugliness, enjoyment as well
as suffering, love as well as hate, health as well as disease and life
as well as death? Should we not affirm and say "Yes" to Life? How does
one continue to have a personal and/or emotional life after that
Last question: I've heard the Dalai Lama say that what we normally
consider to be love for a spouse is not true love but attachment. I can
kind of understand that. Jesus even said something to the effect that
"if you are not prepared to give up your wife, husband, family, etc. for
me, then you are not ready to follow me," (or something like that, ...
I'm paraphrasing). It makes you wonder then just what is meant by true
love and why the image of love is so misrepresented in our culture? How
should one regard personal and familial relationships? What attitude
toward them is correct? How do we participate in the family, in the
marriage, in the personal life, etc.? What is the traditional Buddhist
teaching for married householders who choose to remain lay people, raise
a family and live in the world instead of retreating to monastic life?
Aum Namo Prajnaparamita Aum.
Thanks for your patience,
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