"I praise the perfect Buddha,
The Supreme Philosopher,
Who taught us relativity ;
Free of cessation and creation,
Without annihilation and permanence,
With no coming and no going,
Not a unity, nor a plurality,
Fabrications quieted, the supreme bliss !"
Nâgârjuna : Mûlamadhyamakakârikâ, I:1-2.
These Studies in Buddhaharma
are dedicated to the Teachings ("Dharma") of
Siddhârtha Gautama (ca. 563 - 483 BCE), Buddha Śâkyamuni, the Awakened One ("bodhi").
He is found to be the gem of the wise.
Three principal geographical sources stand out : India, Tibet & China. As the origin,
India necessitates a study of the Pâli Canon, the Mahâyâna Sûtras and the basic
Tantras. Indian Buddhism was eradicated by Muslim invaders. For over a millennium, Tibet,
the custodian of the
three historical Vehicles of these teachings, called the Lesser Vehicle, the Great
Vehicle & the Diamond
Vehicle, practiced Buddha's "science of mind" in an isolated monastic
environment, characterized by schools, sects & lineages. After 1959, Tibetan
Buddhism spread over the world.
Although strictly keeping to the various Indian sources, Tibetan
scholasticism added, accommodating the continuity of their monastic
practices, its own typical way of organizing them. For example, the distinction
between "prâsangika" and "svâtantrika" Mâdhyamaka
is not found in Sanskrit & Pâli sources. Given the Buddhadharma also
reached China, Chinese Buddhism & Taoism are also to be considered,
especially in the Tantras.
This independent study does not embrace the view of a particular school, sect or
tries to present the teachings of the Buddha with minimal cultural overlay and
aware of contemporary scientific methodology. To do so, the study of the
following proved to be helpful :
Early Indian Buddhism as found in the
Sûtra-pitaka ("Basket of Discourses") ;
Early Mahâyâna sources (in particular the
Heart Sûtra) ;
Early Tantric sources and their relation with
Śaivite Tantra ;
the works of Nâgârjuna, Chandrakîrti,
Śântideva, Atiśa and Tsongkhapa ;
Shamanism, Bön and
the "Nyingma" or "old translation school"
of Tibet ;
Mahâsandhi (Dzogchen) & Mahâmudrâ teachings
in India & Tibet ;
Ch'an Buddhism, the Flower Garland School ;
Ch'i Kung, Taoist alchemy & T'ai Ch'i ;
Parapsychology & the applications of Biofeedback in
Ending suffering by ending ignorance lies at the
heart of Buddha Śâkyamuni's care for sentient beings, i.e. entities endowed with the
capacity to be aware & understand, but misled by themselves & others and so
constantly dissatisfied. The gross conceptual mind suffers from a false
ideation, a mistaken cognitive process. For the Buddha, ignorance is, before all other things,
a cognitive act, a delusion or "mental" hallucination causing emotional afflictions like
anger, hatred, greed, stupidity, excessive attachment, arrogance, jealousy,
pride, malice etc. Mental obscurations, in particular the reification of
thinking, cause emotional woe. Basically, suffering is the outcome of mental
error. Take this darkness away, and the root of
suffering has been cut.
Unwholesome, afflictive emotions take on the form of states of hatred, anxiety, worry, depression,
fear, anger, cruelty etc. The stress accompanying these states
directly affects physical health & mental well-being, shortening our
life-span. In this
way, a vicious circle of defilement is generated.
To start getting out of our personal inferno, morality, meditation and
wisdom need to be acquired.
Meditation (pacifying the mind) and compassionate activity set the tone to
tackle these emotional afflictions. Only after having thoroughly relaxed the
mindful mind, generating the intent to benefit all sentient beings, may the root-cause of the
fundamental cognitive error be correctly identified and properly negated.
Then, in a tranquil setting, analysis is introduced. This is the dawn of wisdom-mind. But as long as stress is the case, thought
follows emotion and no philosophy free of reification emerges. Then, extreme views
cannot be avoided. Delusion cannot end. Enlightened activity remains absent.
Note how humans are deemed naturally empowered to change for the better. No external
Divine Saviour is necessary. All what is needed is already present. There is no
original sin, nor is there the effect of Divine retribution. The law of
cause and effect (determinations & conditions of universal interdependence) is universal and determines the situation we find ourselves in.
To know what is happening right now, observe what has happened in the past. And
to know our future, just witness what we are causing right now. But we need to
turn the mind, considering our human birth, suffering, impermanence, lack of
substance & the laws of interdependence.
The Middle Way of Buddha's wisdom avoids two extremes : (a) positing eternal objects
existing from their own side (as substances) &
(b) turning relativity into nihilism (futilizing compassion & the salvic intent). In the former, substance is affirmed to the
point of denying relativity. This is essentialism, affirming the existence of
self-powered objects. In the latter, relativity is
cherished to the point of denying effective activity. The ground of compassion
When wisdom-mind ends false ideation or misknowledge attributing self-power &
intrinsic reality to objects, the house of suffering cannot be build again. When
sensate and/or mental objects are no longer substantially instantiated,
i.e. when in every instance or moment of consciousness, the cognitive act of attributing static, independent, fixed,
self-powered, substantial & inherent existence is no longer present,
the "Seal of Truth" or "Dharmamûdrâ" has been effectively placed,
allowing full recognition of the Clear Light of the mind.
The Buddhadharma was set
afoot to heal the mind. Without suffering, there is no need for any Buddha
to appear. There is no ignorance to end. Only "nirvâna" is at hand.
But making the
distinction between "nirvâna" and "samsâra" is to merely
exist in "samsâra". The mind is the ground of both.