Re: Some Questions
May 20, 1999 05:01 AM
by Jerry Schueler
>>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.<<
Let me summarize what I have said:
Most everyone who believes in reincarnation and karma accepts the idea
of liberation from samsara (not necessarily an escape to nirvana)
eventually. When we ask ourselves the purpose of such reincarnation,
it is almost a universal belief that it implies some kind of evolutionary
development culminating in liberation/enlightenment. The idea of
"liberation in one lifetime" is a fallout of the possibility that this
very life could be the one in which that evolutionary culmination
germinates and bears fruit. The fatalistic idea that it has to occur in a
future life, so prevalent in modern Theosophy, is self-defeating and will
lead to the same apathy and stagnation found throughout India for
centuries. The West is supposed to be the home of the next subRace,
with Theosophy (cap T intended) its nurturing inspiration, but this
won't happen under the current atmosphere. I did not expect this
warning to sit well with Theosophical purists or those whose minds
are already set, but was not prepared for the actual bitter responses I
received, so reminiscent of my essay on sex some years ago. I have
to suppose that it will take time before these new ideas can ever
hope to be accepted.
>>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?>>
Yes and no. Hinduism accepts the Breath of Brahman idea of the Arcs
of Ascent and Descent that HPB uses in her Globes & Planes Model.
However, Buddhism does not accept any kind of divine creation or
Creator of any type. According to the Mahayana, our own karma creates
this world and everything in it, and we will incarnate over and over
forever until we consume or transcend our personal karma. Buddhists
do not believe in divine grace as understood in Christianity. For some
schools, liberation from reincarnation is the karmic result of transcending
karma. For other schools, like the Great Perfection, there is a divine
Basis, the Source of both samsara and nirvana, which transcends them
both (rather like HPB's Beness) and liberation is recognizing this Basis-
an event that is not karmic at all because such recognition is neither a
cause nor an effect. I would say that Zen's Original Face is a similar
teaching. But all schools of Buddhism recognize that evolution is maya.
Most schools teach that samsara is maya. The Great Perfection (Dzogchen)
would include nirvana as being maya as well.
>>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. >>
Golden chains are as binding as iron. Whether karma rewards or
punishes makes no real difference because both are binding and
restricting. I have not found the idea of the Arc of Descent followed
by the Arc of Ascent anywhere in Buddhism, although it could
be that I simply have missed it. The Hindu teaching of Kundalini
as the feminine evolutionary force within every human being is
not found in Buddhism to my knowledge. Hinduism emphasizes
evolution. Buddhism emphasizes liberation or enlightenment.
Hinduism places Kundalini in the Root Center and strives to
awaken her. Buddhist Yoga seldom ever uses the Root Center
at all and when they do they generally place a mandala there
rather than Kundalini.
>>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? >>
Eventually all sleeping people wake up. Liberation will come to
everyone in good time as they progress through reincarnation and
karma, but without the bodhisattva or suitable inspired message,
it would theoretically take counteless kalpas. But such a condition
is impossible, because Buddhists insist that buddhas and bodhisattvas
are everywhere, in all universes, and we only have to recognize them
and listen to them, and then emulate them.
Your question requires at least some attention to the idea of time
itself. Time is very relative, and there is no such thing as forever
(time ticking on without end). A kalpa is the blink of an eye to the
divine monad. Two weeks is an entire lifetime to some insects.
<<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
The Great Perfection teaches that we already are one with the universe.
I developed the I-Not-I Monad Model in my Enochian Physics some
years ago to show that we each carry around our own world. It is
not so much a question of becoming as it is of recognizing what
>> Basically, my question is, it is necessary to struggle against
one's "nature" to gain liberation?>>
Yes. Such a struggle is essential at first. But with Adepthood
there is acceptance and no more need for struggle as such.
>> 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? >>
Jung's individuation, when carried to its ultimate fruition, results in
the transcendence of the personal ego. Liberation results in the
transcendence of personal karma and the realization that there is
no ego as a thing-in-itself to begin with. If we compare life to a
dream, then liberation would be equivalent to waking up.
Mindfulness, in the Buddhist sense, would be equivalent to
lucid dreaming. The problem is that we have multiple natures,
and as we go through our incarnations, we take on multiple
identities. Our sense of identity is a frail and temporary thing
at best. So, who is incarnating? The divine monad is already
divine and perfect and doesn't need to evolve.
>>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?<<
Yes, there are many differences between schools. There is a
need for both struggle and acceptance. However, the acceptance
must come out of a long serious struggle for it to be meaningful.
Acceptance of our human condition is OK, but remember-we
are more than human and we have to struggle to fully realize this.
>>My second question is: In the traditions of Buddhism, what is the
teaching given regarding the original cause of ignorance?>>
It varies with schools. Some would say that ignorance is like dust
settling on the surface of a mirror. It is the obstruction or distortion of
>>Is an original
cause meant to be understood as both personal and universal or just
Universal. There is no "person" for it to attach to.
>> 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? >>
Speaking as a Buddhist, there is no absolute ignorance any more
than there is absolute enlightenment. Ignorance and enlightenment
are dualities and both are maya (they only exist in a relative sense).
Most Buddhist schools agree with the doctrine of two truths: there
is relative truth and absolute truth.
>>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?>>
Tibetan Buddhism posits six kingdoms of living beings, humans
and animals being only two of these. All six are in karma and all
six have a thirst for manifested life. It is this thirst that brings
us all here, and keeps us here. There is no Manu or God forcing us
>>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?>>
Depends on the school. However, all manifestation is
relative and periodic. Causes have to do with karma, and
most schools of Buddhism teach that karma can be consumed.
The divine monad is outside of our spacetime solar universe
and so is outside of karma, and is neither cause nor effect.
The idea that the divine monad is the cause of manifestation
and that its gaining of self-consciousness an effect renders
it part of karma and IMHO this idea degrades it. Many
Theosophists would agree with this idea, claiming karma is
"universal law" and so on. This is not a Buddhist teaching.
>> 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.>>
The three poisons are the natural result of assuming a sense of
separate identity, a sense of selfhood. So yes, they are universal
and found as driving forces behind all worlds in samsara-below
the Abyss. Buddha-worlds do not have these poisons.
>>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
Why do we go to sleep and dream at night? Why do we go to
the movies? Why do we read a good novel? Why do we do
things that we know will get us into trouble? Why do we
take unnecessary risks? These questions have the same
answer, but it is one that we each have to find for ourselves.
>> Is this a requirement of Manifestation or a choice, like
the self imposed rules of a game? Law or choice? >>
Again, law and choice are a duality--two sides of the same
thing. The divine monad is in non-duality and thus neither
law nor choice apply.
>>Are there other "games" of manifestation it could play or is it
always this one?>>
I think that there are countless numbers of games.
>> 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 ...>>
When I say self-expression I am, of course, making an assumption.
Every model must have basic assumptions before they can work. The
teaching that a divine monad sends forth a "ray" from itself that
enters time and space is a model, and the inherent self-creative ability
of that monad is a logical assumption that must be made. HBP
assumes 7 planes and 12 globes and monads to populate them, and
then goes on from there. These are universe models. If we think that
all of the SD is an eloquent literal description of truth, we will get
>>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?>>
All manifestation is maya, relative. There is no such thing as
absolute manifestation except in a relative sense. Manifestation,
according to HPB, is a gradual series of steps downward into
space-time-form. There is no "goal" as such, because goals
and purposes and such things are time-dependent concepts.
Why would perfection need a goal? Why does Zen suggest
that when we finally awake to our spiritual being, we will see
our Original Face?
>>Fourth question: Why/how does the personal experience of
enlightenment equate with the arising of compassion? >>
It doesn't. Black Brothers, pretyekabuddhas, and so on also
are enlightened. Mahayana Buddhists accuse the Theravadins
of lacking compassion, and this is true in a relative sense.
Compassion is helpful when crossing the Abyss--transcending
our human condition--but not absolutely necessary. The
idea of compassion requires a corresponding idea of other
living beings in need.
>>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?<<
This is confusing and I have to guess what you mean here.
Compassion and selfishness are two polar opposites, and
each generates its own corresponding actions.
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?>>
Enlightenment does not require compassion, but usually compassion
develops naturally when enlightenment clearly shows others in
need. The Theravadin holds to the idea that the notion of other
people in need is maya, (which logically it is) and thus sees no need
to help. The Mahayana schools teach and encourage
compassion in order to avoid selfishness. The doctrine of
anatman or an-atma (emptiness of self) is hard to grasp when
one has a strong sense of self opposed to others. Compassion
helps to eliminate the opposition so that self and others can be united
(both are empty of thingness).
>>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?>>
There are degrees of enlightenment. But after it, whatever the degree,
life still goes on and we must eat and sleep and dress and so on. If one is
spiritually selfish (a tricky phrase) one continues on as one did before.
But if one is compassionate, one wants to share one's experiences,
and the desire to teach/help others arises.
>>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? >>
Yes. Enlightenment is equated by most schools as non-duality,
the transcendence of duality. Both sides of all dualities have to go.
Non-attachment does not mean avoiding or eliminating or
hating. It means not getting personally attached. That's all.
When you see things as they really are, you won't tend to
get attached to them anyway because you will realize their
>>Should we not affirm and say "Yes" to Life? How does
one continue to have a personal and/or emotional life after that
Enlightenment is seen by some as an escape from samsara
or life. The bodhisattva doesn't see it that way, though. They
have no desire to escape life, but rather to see it for what it
really is. One can see the emptiness of form and still affirm
life. Enlightenment or spiritual insight does not kill
emotions. But when angry, you will be aware of your
anger. When hungry, you will be aware of your hunger,
and so on. Most people are not in touch with their emotions
at all and so are dysfunctional in their behaviors. Buddhists
try to get in touch with emotions, to be aware of them, so
that they are not unconsciously controlled by them. This
is healthy psychology.
>>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.>>
In most cases, this is probably true (he did say "normally" which
allows for exceptions).
>>It makes you wonder then just what is meant by true
love and why the image of love is so misrepresented in our culture? >>
Every culture has its representations. Jesus
said it best when he said greater love has no man than to
give up his life for a friend. Our culture tends to equate
love with sex, which is sad.
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?>>
Buddhism is not much different from Christianity or any
other religion on family life. Traditional teaching has it that
you can't raise a family and become enlightened (the classic
book Siddhartha showed how hard it is to be a good parent).
However, Ramakrishna took issue with that idea and was
Mental health depends on finding meaning in life. We can
easily find meaning in our relationships with families and friends.
I do not believe that we need to give up and disown our family.
Olcott and Blavatsky both did this, but it was more to found
and run the TS than because of being enlightened. When
one is enlightened, one usually doesn't care much about
one's circumstances, one's financial condition, and so on.
These are all karmic conditions that will change in time.
Other things become more important, like love and meaning
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