Many of the problems that are now being discussed by modern logicians are unbeknownst to them already in the ancient Indian books. Problems of semantics, problems of meaning, problems of the nature of time and of memory. All these were discussed with very very meticulous, scholarly sophistication. So that it is my opinion that this was a very very fertile period of human history. And that the philosophy in which it eventually emerged, the philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism is as yet the most mature and really intelligent theory of human life and of the cosmos that man has ever devised. It is characteristic of this point of view. That it adheres to the Middle Way. And the Middle Way doesn’t mean moderation, it means the bringing together of opposites. Of what we might call in our world spirit and matter, mind and body. Mysticism and sensuality. Unity and multiplicity. Conformity and individualism. All these things marvelously wedded together in the worldview of Mahayana. And fundamental to Mahayana Buddhism is the idea of what is called the bodhisattva. Bodhisattva means a person who has as his essence Satva, Bodhi, awakening. And it’s usually used to mean a potential Buddha. Someone who is as it were, just about to become a Buddha. That was the original sense and so part of the Pali Canon is a book called The Jatam Kamala [sic[, the tales of the Buddha’s previous lives. How he behaved when he was an animal. How he behaved when he was a man, long before he became Buddha. And in all these stories, he is represented as sacrificing himself for the benefit of other beings. But since he had not yet become a fully fledged Buddha he’s called in these stories a bodhisattva. That really means a potential Buddha.
But the point is that as a potential Buddha as a Boddhisatva, he is always involved in situations where he is feeding himself for the hungry tigers and so on. Now in the course of time, the term Bodhisattva underwent a transformation. A bodhisattva matures and becomes a Buddha. And what does that mean popularly? It means that whoever is fully awakened to the way things are is delivered from any necessity to be involved in the world any more. In other words, you can go on to a transcendent level of being, where time is abolished. Where all times are now. Where there are no problems. Where there is perpetual eternal peace. Nirvana, in the sense of the word Pari-Nirvana means beyond Nirvana, super Nirvana. So that, if you are fed up with this thing and you don’t want to play the game of hide and seek anymore you can go in the Pari-Nirvana and be in total serenity. However, and again I’m talking the language of popular Buddhism, aperson who stands on the threshold of that peace can turn back. And say I won’t be a Buddha. I’ll be a Boddhisatva. I won’t make the final attainment, because I would like to go back into the world of manifestation they call Samsara. Go back into that world and work for their liberation.
So then, when a Mahayana Buddhist does his formula. For Puja. He says, sentient beings are numberless, I take a vow to save them. Diluting passions are inexhaustible, I take a vow to destroy them. The gates of the method of the method, the Dharma, are manifold, I take a vow to enter them. The Buddha Way is supreme, I take a vow to complete it. All this is impossible. And see numberless sent in beings because their numbers can never be delivered. Diluting passions which are inexhaustible can never be eliminated. So the Mahayana say [chants]. That’s their formula theBoddhisatva, who returns into the world and becomes involved again is in fact regarded as a superior kind of being to the one who gets out of it. And the person who gets out of the rat race and enters into eternal peace is called Pratyekabuddha, which means private Buddha, a Buddha who does not teach. Who does not help others, and in Mahayana literature that is almost a term of abuse. Pratyekabuddha is a class with unbelievers and heretics and infidels and fools. But the great thing is that Bodhisattva. All beings are thought of in popular Buddhism as constantly reincarnating AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN And AGAIN into the round of existence, helplessly, because they still desire. They’re therefore drawn back into the cycle. The Bodhisattva goes back into the cycle with his eyes wide open voluntarily. And allows himself to be sucked in, and this is normally interpreted as an act of Supreme compassion and bodhisattvas can assume any guise. They can get furiously angry, if necessary, in order to discourage evil beings. Even could assume the role of a prostitute and live that way so as to deliver beings at that level of life. Could become an animal, become an insect, become a maggot, anything you know. All deliberately and in full consciousness, to carry on the work of the deliverance of all beings. Now that’s the way the popular mind understands it, and therefore the bodhisattvas are all revered and respected and worshiped and looked upon as gods as we look upon God in the West and as saviors as the Christian looked upon Jesus. But underneath this myth there is a profound philosophical idea. And that is this it goes back to the Hindu philosophy of advice and non-duality. Namely, there the apparent dualism of I and thoue. Of the knower and the known, the subject and the object is unreal. And so also the apparent duality between. Maya the world illusion and reality is unreal. The apparent deluded duality or difference between the enlightened and the ignorant person is unreal.
So the apparent duality of bondage and deliverance, all liberation is unreal. The wise, the perfectly wise man, is the one who realizes vividly that the ideal place, is the place where you are. This is an impossible thing to put in words. The nearest I could get to it would be to say that if you could see this moment. That you need nothing beyond this moment, now, sitting here, irrespective of anything I might be saying to you, of any ideas you might have rattling around in your brains. That here and now is the absolute, which than which there is no whicher. Only, we prevent ourselves from seeing this, because we are always saying there ought to be something more on, I’m missing it something somehow. And nobody sees it. Now. Then also the most far out form of my own of Buddhism is in is called the Pure Land school Jodo Shinju. Jodo means pure land since you true sect. And. This is based on the. Idea that there was an immeasurably past ages a Great Bodhisattva called Amitava and he made a vow that he would never never become a Buddha unless any being who repeated his name would automatically, at death be born into the pure land over which he presides, over this kind of paradise. He did become a Buddha, and so the vow works. All you have to do is to repeat the name of Amitaba, and this will assure the fact that without any further effort on your part you will be reborn in his paradise when you die and in that Paradise becoming a Buddha is a cinch. There are no problems there. There Western paradise, you see, is a some kind of a level of consciousness, but it’s represented as fact, as a glorious place and, see the pictures of it in, sound wonderful pictures where the Buddha Amitabha, who is actually a Persian figure related to a Uhura Mazda, and he means boundless light, and the statue at Kamakura, that enormous bronze Buddha in the open air is Amitabha. So there he sits surrounded with his court and this court is full of ups silence and absoluteness beautiful girls playing lutes, and as you are born into the Paradise what happens when you die because you discover yourself inside a lotus. And the Lotus goes up and there you find yourself sitting coming out. Of the water. And here on the clouds in front of you are the Absaras, sitting, strumming their Lutes with the most sensuous, beautiful faces, and to get this, all you have to do is say the name of Amitabha. The formula is Namu-Amina-Butz [sic] Now I want to know what’s and you get this fast man know what I mean everything I mean about them and I want [chants] I’m set any minute time to see you so you’re quite sure it’s going to happen. But actually only have to say it once. And you mustn’t make any effort to gain this reward because that would be spiritual pride. Your karma you see your bad deeds your awful past is so bad that anything good you try to do is done with a selfish motive and therefore doesn’t effect your deliverance. Therefore the only way to get deliverance is to put faith in the power of this I mean Amitabha Buddha. And to accept it as a free gift and to take it by doing the most absurd things, saying no more I mean the books. Don’t even worry whether you have to have faith in it, because trying to have faith is also spiritual pride.
It doesn’t matter whether you have faith or whether you don’t the thing works anyway so to say now I mean the books and that’s the most popular form of Buddhism in Asia. The two most vast temples in Kyoto, the Inisha and Higashi Hongaji temples, represent the sect. And everybody loves Amitabha, Amita they call him in Japan. Boundless light, infinite but of compassion. Sitting there with an angelic expression on his face, “It’s all right man, all you have to do is say my name.”. So when we add together, try our wheels number, they call it Nembutsu, that’s the means of remembering, but our bookcases and all these things where you just have to put it up, and the the work is done for you. Then wouldn’t we Westerners say, especially if we are Protestants, “Oh what a scoundrelly thing that is. What an awful degradation of religion. What an avoidance of challenge and effort and everything that is required.” Is this is what the Bodhisattva doctrine of infinite compassion deteriorates into.
Now you see there is a profound aspect to all that. Just as there is the diamond in the ice as we were talking about this morning. Just as there is desperation and despair. Nirvana. Desperation and despair of the horrors. So there are two ways of looking at this. Nothing to do, no effort to make idea. Depending completely on the Savior. For who is Amitabha. Popularly Amitabha is somebody else, he is some great compassionate being who looks after you. Esoterically, Amitabha is your own nature. I mean your real self, the inmost boundless light that is the root and ground of your own consciousness. You don’t need to do anything to be that. You are that. And saying Nembutsu is simply a symbolical way of pointing out. That you don’t have to become this, you are it. And Nembutsu therefore and its deeper side builds up a special kind of sage which they call mere Miokonin. Miokonin in Japanese means a marvelous fine man. But the Miokonin in is a special type of personality who corresponds in the West to the holy fool in Russian spirituality, or to something like the Franciscan in Catholic spirituality. And you know Miokonin. Well I tell you some Miokonin stories, that’s the best way to indicate their character. One day I’m Miokonin was traveling and stopped in a Buddhist temple overnight. And he went up to the sanctuary where they have all these big questions like you know for the priest to sit down and he arranged the questions in a pile on the floor and went to sleep on. In the morning the priest came in and saw this tramp sleeping and said “ What are you doing here? Desecrating the sanctuary by sleeping on the cushions, and so on right in front of your order! And the Miokonin looked at him in astonishment and said “Surely you must be a stranger here, you can’t belong to the family.” In Japanese when you want to say that a thing is just the way it is you call it sonomama. So as a Haiku poem which says “Weeds in the rice field, cut them down. Sonomama, fertilizer.” Cut the weeds, leave them exactly where they are, and they become fertilizer sonomama. And so on mama means reality just the way it is just like that now there’s an expression of parallel expression konomama, which means I just as I am. Just little me, with no frills no pretense, except that I naturally have some pretense. That’s part of konomama. And the Miokononin is the man you see who realizes that he can i just as I am Buddha. Am delivered by Amitabha, because Amitabha is my real nature. If you really know that you see, that makes you a Miokonin. But be aware of the fact that you could entirely miss the point and become a monkey instead by saying, I am all right just as I am, and therefore I’m going to rub it in, and I’m going to be going around parading my unregenerate nature because this is Buddha too you see. The fellow who does that doesn’t really know that it’s OK. He’s doing too much he’s coming on too strong. The other people who are always beating themselves, they’re doing the opposite error, you see. The middle way right down the center is where you don’t have to do a thing to justify yourself. And you don’t have to justify not justifying itself which is the mistake that most beatniks make. They justify not justifying themselves. And go too far.
So you see there’s something quite fascinating and tricky in this doctrine of the Great Bodhisattva Amitabha, who saves you just as you are who delivers you from bondage just as you are and you only have to say namu-amina-butz. Fascinating. But that is the principle of Mahayana, and that is, your acceptance of yourself as you are is the same thing as coming to live now as you are, you see now is as you are in the moment. But you can’t come to now and you can’t accept yourself. On purpose. Because the moment you do that you’re doing something unnecessary. You’re doing a little bit more that’s what they call in Zen legs on a snake. Or a beard on a eunuch. You’ve overdone it you see. How can you neither do something about it nor do nothing about it as if that was something you had to do? You see? This is the same problem as originally posed in Buddhism. How do you cease from desiring? Because when I try to seize from desiring, I am desiring not to design. All of this is what is called Upaya, or what is called a skillful device to slow you down so that you can really be here. By seeing that there is nowhere else you can be. You don’t have to come to now, where else can you be? It isn’t a task, it isn’t a contests, that the Greeks called argon, agony. A contest. There’s nowhere else to be, so they say Nirvana is no other than Samsara. This shore is really the same as the other shore. It’s not a, so if you look far in this Langvatara [sic] Sutra says, if you look to try and get Nirvana in order to escape suffering and being reborn, that’s not nirvana at all.