December 27, 2004

New Use of Language and Sunyata

From the book Calm and Clear, by Lama Mipham, (Dharma Press, 1973), in the foreword written by the great translator and the greatest modern describer of the process of awakening, Herbert Guenther:
Parenthetical meathead statements are by Solburger.

From pp. 12-13:
Tarthang Tulku belongs to the 'Old Tradition', and when we met I had been looking for a representative of this tradition, who would be willing to share his knowledge with those eager to learn more rather than to be content with the few crumbs available. And so, when Tarthang Tulku on my recommendation became a fellow at the Sanskrit University, a time of a most prosperous co-operation began, for Tarthang Tulku was eager to have his tradition known and kept alive, while I was interested in what the 'living spirit' of Buddhism might have to say to modern man. I did not believe that anything had been said when, as is still customary among many academic circles, it is for instance stated that the Tibetan word stong-pa-nyid is the translation of the Sanskrit word sunyata and when the person to whom this profound statement is addressed is not told what those persons who used either word wanted to convey to their listeners. So Tarthang Tulku and I sat together, checking each interpretation of ideas against their textual background in the light of the use of these terms within a given context. For, let it be said quite plainly, we do not understand words and, even less so, ideas by their etymology or their origin, but by the way in which the speaker uses them. (wow).

from pp. 15-16:
Most of our experiences are filtered through a system of categories, constructs, fictions, and rubrics, always ego-centered on the assumption that the world can be seen only from the vantage point of the interests or demands of the perceiver. Such demanding perception actually distorts whatever is so perceived; it is always an attempt to force things to be what they never can be and the self-defeating struggle against a natural response to things by just letting them be. (How pure). Letting things be is another way of getting things into proper perspective. As contrasted with the prevous preoccupation with the fictions of one's own making and imposing them on what there is, it seems as if mind has become 'empty'. (Aha, more seemingness of a nihilist emptiness). It is unfortunate that our language has to use this misleading term for an original term that has nothing in it of this negativism. (That's why we don't run around saying "sunyata, man: emptiness, emptiness," since no one gets it). What has happened is not that mind is lost in a bleak desert or in desolate wastelands in which there is literally nothing, but that it has been enriched beyond measure and that this richness defies any comparison with the paltry contents of ordinary perception. (Whoh....kaboom, fireworks....repeat that please!!!!)
What has happened is not that mind is lost in a bleak desert or in desolate wastelands in which there is literally nothing, but that it has been enriched beyond measure and that this richness defies any comparison with the paltry contents of ordinary perception. (!!)

In the same way as the body is not denied or despised by contrasting it with an allegedly superior mind, so also mind is not suppressed for the sake of a hysterically advertised 'spirituality'. What we call 'body' and 'mind' are mere abstractions from an identity experience that cannot be reduced to the one or the other abstraction, nor can it be hypostatized into some sort of thing without falsifying its very being. (And enough with the "body, mind and spirit" hokum while you're at it). Thus Buddhist meditation differs from other forms by helping man to be, rather than to subordinate him to something or other or to wipe him out by demanding the impossible. By restoring man's being it is therapeutical in the best sense of the word. (Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Peace at last. This may be one of the greatest statements ever made. Take the day off and use this to self correct your whole orientation to life and spiritual approach).

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