Mahayana-Sutras: Destructive Dialectic

Mahayana-Sutras: Destructive Dialectic

Mahayana-Sutras: Destructive Dialectic>>The Saddharma-pundarika-Sutra says: Not knowing that in the reign of intellect, Relativity holds the sway, not knowing that everything phenomenal is dependent, not knowing that ‘this being, that arises’ is the empirical law called Dependent Origination, people, like blind-born men, go on revolving in the wheel of Birth-and-Death that is Samsara.  

He who knows that all empirical dharmas are Shunya or devoid of self-reality, knows the supreme wisdom of the Buddha. He who knows that all worldly objects are like illusion and dreams, essenceless like a plantain trunk, only echoes of Reality, that there is neither bondage nor release, that all dharmas are absolutely equal, that in fact difference does not exist, knows the truth and attains to the immortal blissful Nirvana.

                     It is declared again and again in the Astasasharika Prajnaparamita that no object of thought can resist ultimate scrutiny, that every phenomenal object, when taken to be ultimately real, will be found self-contradictory or Shunya ; the mere fact that it is an object of finite intellect proves that it has only conditional relative existence. The five skandhas are an illusion. There is no ‘person’ that can be liberated nor is there any doctrine by which he may be liberated; there is no ‘person’ that can be bound nor is there anything by which he may be bound. The ‘thinghood’ of a thing is an illusion. Nothing has an origination. There is no element, no person, no dharma. Mahayana is a self-contradiction. Nirvana is an illusion. Even if there is anything greater than Nirvana, that too will be only an illusion. A Bodhisattva is a mere dream. Even the Buddha is only a name. Even the Perfect Wisdom itself is a mere name. Dreams, echoes, reflections, images, mirage, illusion, magic, void— such are all objects of intellect.

The Shatasahasrika Prajnaparamita also condemns all dharmas as illusory. They have neither origination nor decay, they neither increase nor decrease, they are neither suffering nor its cessation, they are neither affirmation nor negation, neither eternal nor momentary, neither Shunya nor Ashunya. {Mahayana-Sutras:}They are mere names and forms. They are Maya. And Maya is declared to be an inconsistent category which cannot resist dialectical scrutiny and which is ultimately found to be neither existent nor non-existent. All phenomena are mere names; they are only a convention, a usage, a practical compromise. The Lankavatara also condemns them to be like an illusion, a dream, a mirage, a hare’s horn, a barren woman’s son, a magic city, the double moon, a moving fire-brand presenting an appearance of a circle, a hair seen floating in the atmosphere by defective vision, an empty space, a sky-flower, a mere echo, a reflection, a painting, a puppet-like mechanism, which can be called neither existent nor non-existent. The Lalitavistara,  the Samadhi raja and the Suvarnaprabhasa  also join in such descriptions.

Mahayana-Sutras: Destructive Dialectic>>

                    The Lankavatara tells us that intellect gives us discrimination (vikalpa) and dualism (dvaita), not Reality. The entire phenomenal practices of the world depend on the four categories of the intellect. Entangled in these categories, people do not try to realize Reality through mystic vision. Consciousness (jnana) has got two aspects: the first is called intellect (tarka) which proceeds with the subject-object duality; the second is spiritual experience (Prajna) which enables us to realize the Formless and Unqualified Absolute. Those who are entangled in the meshes of  intellect are worse than dogs and they can never know the Real.  Just as elephants are stuck in deep mud, so are these fools entangled in language, in letters, words and names.  ‘Everything has a cause’  and ‘nothing has a cause’ ; ‘everything is eternal’ and ‘everything is momentary’ ; everything is unity’ and ‘everything is plurality’; ‘everything is expressible’ and ‘everything is inexpressible’; ‘soul exists’ and ‘soul does not exist’: ‘matter exists’ and ‘matter does not exist’ ; ‘the other world exists’ and ‘the other world does not exist’ ; ‘there is liberation’ and ‘there is no liberation’— all this is gross and crude philosophy (Lokayata). In real philosophy we have to transcend the categories of intellect.

                       Thus it becomes clear that the change from Hinayana to Mahayana was a revolution from a radical pluralism (dharmavada) to a radical Absolutism (advaya vada), from dogmatism (drstivada) to criticism (Shunyavada), from the plurality of the momentary elements (dharma-vada) to the essential unity underlying them (dharmatavada), from the unreality of an eternal substance (pudgala-nairatmya) to the unreality  of all elements (dharmanairatmya).

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