Quora answer: What is the nature of Zen (Chan) Buddhist enlightenment?

Feb 26 2012

In general it is true that enlightenment is a class of “experience” that is the same for all Buddhists. But this class of experience is very wide, and within it many differences that are significant. The way I usually express this is to point out how the Buddha just kept coming out with more and more interesting things to say, and experiences that deepened enlightenment. Funnily enough the Chinese got all these various sutras at the same time. And they did not understand at first that these were really different views from different Buddhist schools and it represented an evolution of thought. So they had to try to reconcile all these various views attributed to the Buddha. First of all they thought it was just another version of Taoism, and translated the Sutras with Taoist language, but eventually they discovered that what the Buddhists meant was different from what Taoists meant and there was a distinct difference between emptiness and void, two kinds of nonduality. Once they came to terms with this difference and realized what the more advanced views were in relation to the more primitive views, then they started producing synoptic syntheses  that went beyond Buddhism to combine Taoist views into one doctrine. The major initiatives in this area were Hua Yen Buddhism and Tein Tai Buddhism. And these in many formed the basis of the Zen Theory later, but at first it was based on the Bodhi-Dharma’s support of the Lankavatra Sutra, which according to some commentators is considered heretical in Buddhism because it departs from the middle way and talks about mind-only. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lankavatara_Sutra).

Now this is a key point that Buddhism as it started out said there was only Dharma that was empty and that was the ego, or self An-Atman. The rest were real. Slowly it was realized that this was an inconsistency and so different schools de-realized more and more dharmas. Note that dharmas are basically the idea of Tattva from southern Tamil Indian philosophy. I have not run into it in the Upanishads, so I don’t think it is a Brahman way of thinking, which is interesting because almost everything else in Buddhism is a reinterpretation of Brahman Hinduism. So Emptiness spread to all the Dharmas, and I believe one of the transition characteristics between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism is precisely the emptiness of all Dharmas. But this does not equate with idealism. Yogachara Buddhism was an idealism and it took Buddhism to an extreme saying that only the mind mattered, which also translated into the the key question of the nature of the relation between Karma and Emptiness which was resolved eventually with the idea of the tathagagagharba (Womb of Thusness Coming) based on the AlayaVijana (Store House consciousness). Basically in the traditional description of mind there was an extra element not associated with any sense, and this extra element was cleverly used to solve this internal contradiction between Karma and Emptiness as we see in the Awakening of Faith for instance. However, idealism of the Yogacara takes an extreme position that there is nothing else but mind, rather than the idea that all the dharmas are empty and thus of equal reality. However, as we see with Kant in Western philosophy idealism becomes a kind of inevitability because we just cannot get around the fact that we perceive things through our senses, and eventually we realize that there is some projection in that, so the tatathata gharba becomes that core of projection, and karma the projection mechanism in Yogacara Buddhism. It is a very sophisticated approach to idealism that embraces emptiness as the ultimate nondual reality. But tries to solve the problem that if everything is empty how can Karma exist, and one way to do that is the Kantian way of idealism to say there is projection from the mind of the framework of reality. Of course, this is a more sophisticated argument in a nondual context. But ultimately idealism is an extreme and a departure from the middle and we have to realize that the Lakavatra Suttra valorizes this idealism, and that it became the vehicle for Chan to enter China.

Now one reason I think this was accepted in China as a key text on which the Development of Buddhism was based is that because it made the Indian Buddhism an extreme then it was easier for the Chinese to recognize this as different from their indigenous philosophies which did not really have idealism as a a basis because even Confucianism is rooted in human nature, while Taoism was rooted in Nature itself human and nonhuman being considered the same. So I think Idealism was a new idea to the Chinese and this very sophisticated form of nondual idealism was extremely enticing to Chinese intellectuals. They took it and developed it and it became a major force in Chinese Buddhism. If the Buddha nature is within, and is the mind, then you really don’t need any sutras to discover it within yourself. It is my opinion that it was Hui Neng in his Platform sutra that rediscovered the middle way within Chan buddhism and set straight the record as to what is the middle way and what is not. It is interesting that he is portrayed as uneducated. Thus he is soppose to have achieved his enlightenment naturally, and not though the reading of sutras. This may have played a role in his ability to refocus on what is the true middle path, that does not reject the reality of what is beyond the mind, but still sees it as empty, without it losing its externality. He says in his poem that there is no mirror to polish. In other words there is no difference between inward consciousness and outward experience, all is empty. After than came Fa Tsang of Hau Yen who Huiwen of Tien Tai who based the schools teaching on a line from Nagarjuna “All conditioned phenomena I speak of as empty, and are but false names which also indicate the mean.” which he interpreted as giving a third and middle state between the two truths. Fa Tsang merely interpreted emptiness positively as interpenetration, and the two schools shared the idea of interpenetration. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tien_Tai; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huayan_school). Both of these schools go beyond Buddhism proper one by posting a middle way between the two truths, and the other by equating emptiness with interpenetration directly. (It is interesting that Pseudo-Dionysus had similar ideas that reality was really a series of mirrors reflecting each other, which was taken up by Dante at the center of Purgatory, as the basis of reality, which is seen as a hall of mirrors reflecting the light of God.)

Of course, Chan goes beyond Buddhism proper by believing that direct experience of enlightenment is possible without knowing the sutras, as Hui Neng experienced as a illiterate. There is some suggestion that knowing enlightenment directly, either slowly dawning or as a quick transformation of consciousness, might be easier for the one who is not steeped in the confusion of the sutras. In effect the sutras were so confusing for the Chinese because the Buddha to them were thinking all these conflicting sayings were said by one man in his lifetime, and they tried to work out these contradictions by ordering the sutras. But in some way it was easier to jettison theory and go directly to practice, but the impetus for doing that came from an idealistic branch of Buddhism, so corrections had to be applied by Hui Neng the sixth patriarch which split Chan Buddhism into Northern and Southern schools. Eventually Chan mixed with Tien Tai was what was introduced into Japan. And after Fa Tsang’s time Chan Buddhists used Hua Yen as their theory which came to Japan as Renzai or Soto, of which the Soto is the most theoretically sophisticated culminating in the teaching of the genius Dogen Kigen.

Now, in my opinion the way to characterize Zen Enlightenment is to think of it as Supra-rational Nondual Awareness and think of it as the opposite of Contradiction, Paradox and Absurdity that is normally considered the limit in the West. We do not talk about the Supra-rational very often in the West. But if we look back at Plato’s divided line we can see that it is the opposite limit to Paradox in the Divided Line in the Republic. It is the limit past which we cannot understand or think because we cannot get past the non-representable intelligibles that Plato confines to the higher segment of the Divided line. The two segments exist in the Divided Line: Ratio and Doxa. The limit of Doxa is ParaDox. The limit of the ratio is the Supra-rational. What is beyond non-representable intelligibles. I carry this analysis of the Divided Line further and look at the nature of the lines themselves. There are two lines dividing Ratio and Doxa. Doxa is divided into appearances and perceptions while Ratio is divided into representable and non-representable intelligibles. I equate the line in the doxa section of the Divided line with Void, and the line in the ration section as Emptiness. That means I further identify the division between Doxa and Ratio with Manifestation, i.e. the deeper nondual. I don’t think anyone has interpreted the actual lines in the diagram before. But this interpretation allows us to get a whole new perspective on the divided line. And this can be augmented by reading Blake who had four Zoas, one of which was Urizen. Each Zoa had a Shadow, a Spectre, an Emanation and himself, and thus each Zoa is four fold. In Plato’s Divided line we are looking at the fourfold structure of Urizen (Reason gone mad, as Hegel saw that it was Kants philosophy that led to the Terror of the French Revolution).

Now once we understand that the Divided line that describes all experience has these two limits, and that we hardly ever encounter in our culture the upper limit of reason, which Hegel tries to transgress by invoking Spirit, then we see clearly that there is a possibility in experience where the ratio is taken to the limit. While Paradox is mixture of opposites. Supra-Rationality is described as non-mixture, i.e. it is the possibility of two opposite being true, real, identical, present, at the same time without interfering with each other or being in conflict, or being allowed to mix. Thus there is some interspace or barrier that keeps them apart so that they do not mix, yet both are available simultaneously as part of our experience, much like a quantum state prior to the collapse of the probability wave. In fact in Quantum Theory the entanglement can be seen as the mixture of paradox, while the super-positioning in the pure state (unobserved) can be seen the supra-rational. And what makes Quantum Theory so wyrd from a Western perspective is the combination of these two extremes in the same micro phenomena. We can understand Supra-Rationality at a meta-level by understanding that in Quantum Mechanics the two extremes co-exist without interfering in reality. On the other hand if we mix Relativity and Quantum Mechanics at the planck scale we get absurdity and paradoxes galore. So Science ultimately is just mirroring back to us the limits of our own worldview which is based on Plato’s Divided line. None of Western Philosophy has ever gone beyond the Divided Line, and all of it has been fascinated with contradiction (as exists with all movement, and in the face of which you can prove anything), paradox which comes in twins (cf. N. Hellerstein DIAMOND, DELTA Logics, based on G. Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form Boundary Logic), and the Absurd where even the twin paradoxes are mixed.

So in effect, there is a hidden limit implicit in Western Philosophy that comes out in literature and especially poetry occasionally as noted by Blythe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Horace_Blyth). My own feeling is that it is this hidden possibility that Zen Buddhism exploits. Zen enlightenment has nothing to do with Zen but is always about supra-rationality. Now one of the reasons for this is somewhat strange. It turns out that both in India and China they had Pervasion instead of Syllogistic logics. So one point of harmony between India and China is the reliance on pervasion logics which are related to masses rather than sets as syllogistic logic is. With a pervasion logic there is no problem with emptiness pervading everything. Pervasion Logics emphasize sameness at the level of instances within a Mass. Sets emphasize difference, and the syllogism sees the emergent properties in the particular not in the Set. On the other hand Masses see the emergent properties in the mass itself not in the instances. Now next step down from a set is a unordered list, which can have repeated elements, sometimes called a bag. On the other hand the mixture of masses is called a Solution. Thus mixture is natural for masses, but it is antithetical to set elements that are all suppose to be different particulars. So in India and China they had the opposite problem to ours. Our problem is how to get particulars that form a whole to have emergent properties in the whole. In China and India with mass bias and pervasion logic the problem was exactly the opposite. Masses always mixed into solutions, that is natural, but how do we have masses that are together at the same time yet separate and unmixed. This drives them toward supra-rationality, as set basis with syllogistic logic drives us toward paradox.

So just if we want to go to the limits of experience we go toward contradiction (happens with all movement as Zeno showed), paradoxical duals, and absurdity, mixture of paradoxes. So if the Indians and Chinese want to go to the limits of their experience they seek out the supra-rational which is a state of non-mixture of masses that can be understood with pervasion logic. Almost all Japanese Zen or Chinese Chan Koans have this structure if you look at them carefully, they push the limit of experience as far as can be done by producing an extreme of Supra-rationality. And it was precisely the Lankavatra Sutra that lead to this extreme because it pushed idealism in a Buddhist context, which was a departure from the middle way, but by that departure it emphasized this limit as a fundamental way of transforming thought and experience. What Hui Neng did was refocus on Manifestation which is the center of the divided line and nondual rather than this limit which is approached by Buddhism. Approaching the limit is not the middle way. However, it is useful for creating transformations in consciousness and experience. It is kind of the opposite of Tantra which uses the limit of Paradox to push the limits of consciousness. Thus we can see that Zen and DzogChen come out of opposite limits of the divided line being pushed to an extreme. It is interesting that they come to a very similar place from these two very different limits that were pursued in their respective contexts, i.e. they both point toward manifestation as the deeper nondual between void and emptiness. The deeper nondual could not have been reached without pushing the limits of Doxa and Ratio instead of merely sticking to Emptiness in Buddism or Void in Bon/Taoism/Shintoism/Shamanism. So there is wisdom in this transgression or deviation, and as Hegel says that shows us the workings of Absolute Reason in actual historical events. And in this case it is the return word emptiness from the limit of reason as apprehended by idealism within buddhism that is the historical event which is key, because with that and the realization of the difference between emptiness and void then we could get the synchronistic movements of Fa Tsang and Tien Tai that indicates a deeper nonduality, and eventually we get poetry like that of StoneHouse that skips back and forth between emptiness and void in alternating lines of the poem, i.e. something rare and beautiful.

So from my point of view Zen/Chan is completely misunderstood in the West because it thinks that Paradox is the only limit of experience, but actually the Chinese and Indians were predisposed by their languages and logics to approach the other limit that is normally invisible to us, and approaching that limit transforms existence in a fundamental way, just the way paradox and absurdity do, say in existentialism, for instance in Kierkegaard.

Now the modern physical metaphor for supra-rationality can be seen in the extension of the soliton into the instantaton. Solitons are waves that do not lose energy if they bounce off a wall, or go through each other, they are mounds of water in troughs or canals originally, but now we realize that almost all physical equations of significance have soliton solutions. Two solitons that are opposite interacting is called a Breather. And the next level up is what is called the instantaton, where the trough that the soliton travels through is a potential well. Thus instantatons seem to jump from one place to the other instantaneously. This has been offered as a model of how electrons can both move and not move at the same time, that they are really instantatons in a potential well in the atom’s rings rather than continuous bodies orbiting through space like a little planet. At different energies these potential wells change size and shape and this is what we are given in the Schrodinger equation.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger_equation). That equation has been linkened to all the patterns of standing waves on a completely oceanic planet. The planet’s standing wave regime would shift from pattern to another given different conditions, for instance perhaps the pull of its moons. But the full analogy with instantitons would me that the water molecules were popping in and out of existence within a given standing wave pattern, their energy would be in the electron passing though a potential trough from one point of manifestation to the next. The instantatons by jumping around in the confines of the different Schrodinger patterns of standing waves could be in very different states at the same time, because who is to say that it is not the same electron that is doing all this discontinuous jumping.

Hinton said that electrons are four dimensional vortices and that is how they can have a “current” without seeming to move. They are just passing electromagnetic potential down the wire and we use imaginary values to understand this phenomena. Maxwell it seems originally derived the electromagnetic equations in the form of Quaternions, i.e. two imaginary values ij dancing around a third k. This quaternion group is the core of four dimensional space, and these equations can describe motions with no singularities in them. All this is just to say that there might be an anomalous physical counterpart for the theory of supra-rationality.

But if we go back to masses we can see that if they are made up of gasses instead of liquids then we can easily see how two gasses, like nitrogen and oxygen can interpenetrate each other without interacting with each other. For a liquid David Bohm talks about the mixing in of Ink into water in such a way that they do not mix, but the ink becomes a latent pattern in the water that can be unmixed he calls that implicate order (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicate_order). It is possible to find examples of this kind of simultaneously present, true, identical or real opposites that do not interfere with each other, but co-exist but without becoming a synthesis. This is not like Hegelian Dialectics where contradictories go though a sublation (aufhebung) and become something that encompasses that conflict that is emergent (a synthesis). Here we are more talking about complementarities, like those produced in a meta-system that co-exist without contradicting each other, without creating paradox or absurdity because they do not interact and there is an interspace (barzak) between them that cannot be crossed.

So my hypothesis is that Zen/Chan and DzogChen both (as DzogChan) are indicating a deeper nondual of manifestation, but they are coming at it from opposite limits of the divided line, one associated with mixture, and the other associated with radical separation. The middle way is between these two extremes which is the central line in the divided line which is manifestation, the deeper nondual. These extremes indicate that possibility by rebounding toward the center from the limit. In the case of Zen it rebounds from idealism of Lankavatara Sutra toward emptiness. DzogChen rebounds from the limit of paradox or absurdity of Tantra toward the void. By rebounding from the limit they discover separately the middle which DzogChen calls the base, primal ground and which I call manifestation following M. Henry who is following Meister Eckhart. This word seems to work well in this kind of meaning configuration as the nondual root of both emptiness and void, dual nonduals. So by this logic what ever actually experiences manifestation directly has to be something like the combination of Chan/Zen and DzogChen. It is as if Chan/Zen and Dzog/Chen were Dissipative Ordering Special Systems (with negative entropy) circulating within an Autopoietic Symbiotic Special System, which of course begs the question what is the Reflexive Special System in which the Autopoietic Systems dance around each other in. I had not quite understood before this that Chan/Zen and DzogChen are duals that each indicate the center fold of the divided line by recoil from opposite limits. In my humble opinion the spiritual path that directly accesses manifestation is Sufism. Sufism does not indicate manifestation but moves to embody it and to go even deeper toward the Amanifest. However, it is also possible that these other traditions have also gone deeper into the nonduals manifestation and the amanifest. I just have not found any evidence of it after years of searching. This is why I advocate that there is a fifth turning of the Wheel of the Dharma and a Homeward path.

If you look at the Sutras, or Koans, there are some deep and perplexing things that are said sometimes and it is hard to know what they are indicating unless you are actually in that tradition under a tutor, for instance like Dante, being led by Virgil in the Inferno and Purgatory, and then suddenly he just vanishes. But the center of the Divine Comedy concerns Love, and love is all about mixture, and is taken to the extreme of paradox and absurdity in Romantic Love. Someone asked in another question why marriage is tying the knot, and it is clear that it means entanglement of one in the others life, and vice versa. On the other hand there is also the super-positioning of supra-rationality in which the partners each are what they are completely and their marriage is a conjunction that is perfect, like the special systems. There is my knowledge and my wife;s knowledge. There is my experience and my wife’s experience. But there is also all the combinations. My experience with her knowledge, my knowledge with her experience, my knowledge with her knowledge, and my experience with her experience. We are mixed up in each others lives and entangled, but in many ways we are completely separate with an unbridgeable chasm between us as male and female brought up in this culture. But out of the entanglement and supra-rationality comes something that is between them both which is the conjunctive relation where we stand together. That is the relation of Odysseus and Penelope, they shared the same friends and enemies, and they gave good to their friends and ill to their enemies together. Their bed was part of the world tree and thus connected to the axis of the Indo-European worldview. When we tap into that axis then we find the nondual core of the Western worldview lurking in the depths. The Alchemical Marriage is both an entanglement, and a super-positioning, as well as both and neither, and the Manifest is what is indicated that is beyond this deeper tetralemma such as the one proposed by Manjushrimitra.

The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu translated by James Green.

“9. The master asked Nansen, “Please say something that is apart form the four statements (tetralemma) and beyond the hundred negations.”

Nansen returned to his room.

The master said, “That old priest. Every day he chatters and chatters, yet at this one question of mine he cannot say one world in reply.”

The attendant said, “It is better if you do not say that he did not speak.”

The master slapped him.” [paraphrased a bit]

Joshu is one of the more outrageous masters of the Koan. Here we clearly see that he wants to go beyond the tetralemma and the the hundred negations. Asking about that leads to silence. But the attendant points out that in his action of leaving to go to his room Nansen was indeed making a statement, full of significance. And the blow to the attendant is the physical transmission of enlightenment that flows out of his recognition that silence an carry even more meaning than the chatter of speech. The tetralemma and the hundred negations form a singularity that transforms chatter into silence. The silence is the emptiness manifest. But it is combined with the action of returning to the source, the monks room without a word. In the terms of the Awakening of Faith the action of return to the source is the function of karma, and the silence is the emptiness that is moved/unmoved by the action of winds of karma. So we have gone up a rung from just the tetralemma, and we noticed that the tetralemma was conjuncted with the hundred negations, i.e. denial of everything. The tetralemma says we need to go outside of the logical possibilities. But the hundred negations is our way of remaining unattached and separate from any attachments or doctrines. This was Nagarguna’s practice just to deny everything, which is a lot like the sophist Gorgias. The difference is that Gorgias just denied everything, and thus took what the Skeptics called the Academic position which is the opposite of the Dogmatic position, that affirms something about the invisible realm. The dual of denying everything is affirming everything. The great YES, contra Schopenhauer, of Nietzsche and at the end of Ulysses by Joyce. The transformation of emptiness into interpenetration is like the difference between the hundred negations to the hundred affirmations. By saying that through emptiness the myriad things interpenetrate gives them a positive status unlike the status of mere phantoms that the idealists would assign them. So the old priest both was silent like the Buddha and also returned to his source, his room in silence, so he shows us silence walking, moving. Another Koan asked whether it is the flag moving or the mind that is moving, and the obvious answer is both at the same time. But the idealist answer is that the moving of the mind is identical to the flag moving so they are not two different things. So is the silent Priest moving or is just our mind moving? The master is interested in the singularity that turns chatter (nihilism) into silence. The attendant sees meaning in the motion of the silent priest returning to his room. This other perspective of the attendant allows us to go beyond just emptiness, and realize the transformation though emptiness of the hundred negations into the hundred affirmations. By pointing out the difference between the singularity his master is interested in, and the meaning that springs from the old priests actions there is a moment of the enlightenment of the attendant, confirmed by the transmission of the slap. The slap is physical contact, while in the priest leaving in silence there is no physical contact. So that shows we have at the higher level of the relation between the master and the attendant reached a deeper nonduality that is embodied in the slap, physical contact, rather than words. Both the slap and the movement in silence of the old monk are physical actions. But the slap makes a sound while the removal to ones room, as the source is silent not just in speech but in action. If the silent action of the monk is significant, then the slap is even more significant, as it is the physical transmission of enlightenment. So we go from significant to real meaning being produced out of the emptiness by the transformation of the emptiness into interpenetration. If we can transform speech into silence, by the presence of the hundred negations in the presence of emptiness, then we can transform the hundred negations into the hundred affirmations by the move from silent movement with no contact that makes no noise to loud movement with contact that makes a loud noise, thus the negative becomes positive in a moment. We know we are talking about the function at both levels because they are movements juxtaposed to silence or negations that bring about noise and affirmations. If we can transform, nihilistic chatter into poignant silence, and we can transform a hundred negations into affirmations, then we should also be able to transform emptiness into interpenetration.

“It is better if you do not say that he did not speak.”

This is the key phrase. The master says something about the others silence. the other was silent about the masters speech. The masters speech transformed chatter into silence. The masters silence transmitted enlightenment to the attendant. Ideally it is better for the master not to speak to the attendant about the old priest and his state. That confidence when the old priest has gone could be considered slander and thus the generation of bad karma. It would be better if the master was silent too after the old priest had gone. But also taking it deeper it might have been better if the master did not produce the singularity that transformed the chatter into silence. Because the chatter is nihilistic it is no different from silence anyway. but it is not equal to the silence of the Buddha when asked about whether there was a God and about other transcendentals. Thus the chatter in itself as unfabricated, and elaborated is in fact already empty. So why leave that primal state where the old monk is acting naturally for him. Why produce the singularity as a transgression, and then further transgress by talking about the old monk when he leaves the room. The double transgression that produces karma, is counterbalanced by the silence of the old priest, and the significance of that silence, and that silence is counterbalanced by the slap that transforms it into its structural opposite and thus reveals that the hundred negations can become a hundred affirmations, and the emptiness that was true of the chatter already, then was represented by the silence, which then was negated by the slap which was its structural opposite. And in that slap the transmission takes place where the hundred negations become myriad affirmations, and the emptiness becomes interpenetration, because in fact there is a perfect juxtaposition at each level of this Koan which throws us back into the primordial base. In other words the masters singular speech, and the comments on the old Priest after he has left is itself really just nihilistic chatter too. But it is chatter than turns the nihilism on itself by producing a singularity in speech that transforms speech into silent action. But it also results in more speech, that results in noisy action, and the two balance the Karmic function with the emptiness to point to a middle state that is nondual between them. Silent action cancels out noisy action, and thereby shows how the master and the old Priest seem different but are really the same in as much as their actions and speech are purely spontaneous and non-fabricated expressions of the primordial ground. In their minds is emptiness, but between them is the empty space of the void. DzogChen says that mind is like space identifying emptiness and void. In this case we have non-contact action of the old Priest being annihilated with its opposite which is contact action of the master. We have the opening of space out and the closing of space to contact. There is perfect balance in all aspects of this koan and that is what makes it an image of interpenetration, and places it on the form of the the special systems that are pure conjunction with neither equal nor hierarchical relations. You can go on and on describing the perfection of this Koan, and this is not one of the famous ones of Joshu which are so outrageous.

From the point of view of the transmission the Old Priest, the Master and the Attendant are the same. The old Priest manifests his knowledge of emptiness by his silence, and the attendant manifests his ignorance by attributing karmic actions to his master. But in this situation the attendant is transformed into one who knows and has wisdom and prajna. The master is between the two, the Old Priest and the Young Man who is the midwife of enlightenment to take an analogy from Plato. There is no master without transmission. There is no transmission without those who are receptive to it, and those who are immune to it because they have already attained prajna. But in this case just emptiness is not the goal, but indicating something beyond emptiness that the Old Monk understands, but the young attendant learns by the way that the dialectics of the situation unfolds to point to something deeper, i.e. manifestation of the transmission itself. Not only do we wonder how in the face of emptiness that karma can act, but we wonder in the face of emptiness how transmission could occur. It can only occur if there is a deeper substratum than just emptiness, and that deeper substratum is pristine nonduality of manifestation. Transmission must move though manifestation as a substrata to the standing of emptiness. If emptiness is to be transmitted as a state between consciousnesses then it can only do so if there is a deeper strata though which that transmission can take place. Like electricity, it is not the transmission that moves but the human beings that move. The master swats the student. It does not just say don’t be a smartalick but says also: there is something beyond emptiness otherwise this transmission could not come to you, which erases your karma. the transmission is anti-karma. Just like emptiness and void cancel each other out, so too karma and anti-karma annihilate. And then all that is left is manifestation from which the emptiness and void, and the karma and anti-karma arise in a dependent arising.

It is the whole situation that is perfect for indicating the deeper reality of nonduality. It is like a perfect number, where all the parts perfect add up to the whole with nothing more nor less missing or left over. This perfect exemplification is happening all the time but we just don’t see it. Absolute reason is the dance of the Karmic Function in the arena of the EmptyVoid. When the situation that highlights the interpenetration of all things occurs both the intellectual understanding of the dialectics of the situation (see Soto Zen) and the perfection of the concrete expression of the meaning coming out of the nondual is recognized by the attendant. We are all attendant on that perfection to which we should pay attention that is slapping us all the time. The deeper nondual is not conceptually described but indicated because even at the level of emptiness we are dealing with the the intuitive apperception of the aconceptual and aexperiential that leads to prajna. So the doubling of the nonduality by getting rid of the duality between non-dualities (emptiness/void) is the hidden secret that overflows existence. Think about it if existence is ecstasy, then it must overflow into something, so there has to be a deeper standing to be overflowed into. if the universe is a far from equilibrium meta-system with unconcerned dark energy pouring in from somewhere that causes the universe to expand into somewhen then, that that deeper meta-system must exist called the multiverse, pluriverse, many worlds etc. The same is true of nonduality. If the nonduality exists as emptiness/void that difference must be carried by a deeper nonduality which has a different standing, i.e. manifestation. Notice manifestation is a positive standing while both emptiness and void are expressed though negation. Thus we are saying that the hundred affirmations comes from the transformation of existence into manifestation. And in that transformation the emptiness within becomes interpenetration of all things. And we know physically this is true from the Bell Theorem because things that were together like everything in our universe at the Big Bang remain connected at a distance, and despite the expansion. In the interpenetration it is like jewels reflecting each other, it is like a hall of mirrors such as we see modeled in the special systems.

All this and probably more is indicated  by a Koan of Joshu . . . the perfection of interpenetration is endless.



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog