AN UNPUBLISHED DISCOURSE OF BUDDHA
(It is found in the second Book of Commentaries and is addressed to the Arhats.)
Said the All-Merciful: Blessed are ye, O Bhikshus, happy are ye who have understood the mystery of Being and Non-Being explained in Bas-pa [Dharma, Doctrine], and have given preference to the latter, for ye are verily my Arhats. . . . The elephant, who sees his form mirrored in the lake, looks at it, and then goes away, taking it for the real body of another elephant, is wiser than the man who beholds his face in the stream, and looking at it, says, “Here am I . . . I am I”—for the “I,” his Self, is not in the world of the twelve Nidânas and mutability, but in that of Non-Being, the only world beyond the snares of Mâyâ. . . . That alone, which has neither cause nor author, which is self-existing, eternal, far beyond the reach of mutability, is the true “I” [Ego], the Self of the Universe. The Universe of Nam-Kha says: “I am the world of Sien-Chan”;* the four illusions laugh and reply, “Verily so.” But the truly wise man knows that neither man, nor the Universe that he passes through like a flitting shadow, is any more a real Universe than the dewdrop that reflects a spark of the morning sun is that sun. . . . There are three things, Bhikshus, that are everlastingly the same, upon which no vicissitude, no modification can ever act: these are the Law, Nirvâna, and Space,† and those three are One, since the first two are within the last, and that last one a Mâyâ, so long as man keeps within the whirlpool of sensuous existences. One need not have his mortal body die to avoid the clutches of concupiscence and other passions. The Arhat who observes the seven hidden precepts of Bas-pa may become Dang-ma and Lha. ‡ He may hear the “holy voice” of . . . [Kwan-yin],§ and find himself
* The Universe of Brahmâ (Sien-Chan; Nam-Kha) is Universal Illusion, or our phenomenal world.
† Âkâśa. It is next to impossible to render the mystic word “Tho-og” by any other term than “Space,” and yet, unless coined on purpose, no new appellation can render it so well to the mind of the Occultist. The term “Aditi” is also translated “Space,” and there is a world of meaning in it.
‡ Dang-ma, a purified soul, and Lha, a freed spirit within a living body; an Adept or Arhat. In the popular opinion in Tibet, a Lha is a disembodied spirit, something similar to the Burmese Nat—only higher.
§ Kwan-yin is a synonym, for in the original another term is used, but the meaning is identical. It is the divine voice of Self, or the “Spirit-voice” in man, and the same as Vâch…śvara (the “Voice-deity”) of the Brâhmans. In China, the Buddhist ritualists have degraded its meaning by anthropomorphizing
Late Sung dynasty
The Art of Indian Asia. Bollingen.
within the quiet precincts of his Sangharama* transferred into Amitâbha Buddha.† Becoming one with Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi,‡ he may pass through all the six worlds of Being (Rupaloka) and get into the first three worlds of Arupa.§ . . . He who listens to my secret law, preached to my select Arhats, will arrive with its help at the knowledge of Self, and thence at perfection.
It is due to entirely erroneous conceptions of Eastern thought and to ignorance of the existence of an Esoteric key to the outward Buddhist phrases that Burnouf and other great scholars have inferred from such propositions—held also by the Vedântins—as “my body is not body” and “myself is no self of mine,” that Eastern psychology was all based upon non-permanency. Cousin, for instance, lecturing upon the subject, brings the two following propositions to prove, on Burnouf’s authority, that, unlike Brâhmanism, Buddhism rejects the perpetuity of the thinking principle. These are:
1. Thought or spirit|| — for the faculty is not distinguished from the subject—appears only with sensation and does not survive it.
2. The Spirit cannot itself lay hold of itself, and in directing attention to itself it draws from it only the conviction of its powerlessness to see itself otherwise than as successive and transitory.¶
it into a Goddess of the same name, with one thousand hands and eyes, and they call it Kwan-shai-yin-Bodhisat. It is the Buddhist “daïmon”-voice of Socrates.
* Sangharama is the sanctum sanctorum of an ascetic, a cave or any place he chooses for his meditation.
† Amitâbha Buddha is in this connection the “boundless light” by which things of the subjective world are perceived.
‡ Esoterically, “the unsurpassingly merciful and enlightened heart,” said of the “Perfect Ones,” the Jîvan-muktas, collectively.
§ These six worlds—seven with us—are the worlds of Nats or Spirits, with the Burmese Buddhists, and the seven higher worlds of the Vedântins.
|| Two things entirely distinct from each other. The “faculty is not distinguished from the subject” only on this material plane, while thought generated by our physical brain, one that has never impressed itself at the same time on the spiritual counterpart, whether through the atrophy of the latter or the intrinsic weakness of that thought, can never survive our body; this much is sure.
¶ [Course of the History of Modern Philosophy by M. Victor Cousin, N.Y., D. Appleton & Co., 1854, Vol. I, p. 374 fn. in translation by O.W. Wight.]
This all refers to Spirit embodied, not to the freed Spiritual Self on whom Mâyâ has no more hold. Spirit is no body; therefore have the Orientalists made of it “nobody” and nothing. Hence they proclaim Buddhists to be Nihilists, and Vedântins to be the followers of a creed in which the “Impersonal [God] turns out on examination to be a myth”; their goal is described as
The complete extinction of all spiritual, mental, and bodily powers by absorption into the Impersonal.*
* Vedânta Sâra . . . translated by Major G. A. Jacob in A Manual of Hindu Pantheism. [London, Trübner; Boston, Houghton, 1881.]