Ancient and Traditional Buddhism and Upanishadic Advaitism
Seen in Relation to the Radical Way of Advaitayana Buddhism
The central orientation of all the traditional schools of Buddhism is toward the transcendence of conditional existence (samsara).
The central orientation of Upanishadic Advaitism (finally epitomized in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta) is toward Identification with That which inherently transcends conditional existence (samsara or maya).
The Way of the Heart (which may also be called Advaitayana Buddhism) is not strategically oriented toward either the transcendence of conditional existence or Identification with That which inherently transcends conditional existence. It is not founded in the view of conditional existence as a problem, nor, therefore, does it pursue any form of Identity (or Identification with Reality) as a solution to that problem. Rather, the Way of the Heart is the natural process of intuitive understanding of conditional existence. In that process, all conditions of existence (in the apparent form of either self or not-self), all subject-object states, or all distinctions, are simply observed to be forms of self-contraction (or contraction and differentiation or individuation of the subject-consciousness). And this understanding is naturally disposed (rather than strategically oriented) to the intuitive Realization of inherent and free Identification with That in which all distinctions, all forms of self and/or not-self, or all forms of contraction and differentiation or individuation are apparently arising.
Therefore, the Way of the Heart effectively Realizes the Buddhist ideal of the transcendence of conditional existence as well as the Advaitic ideal of Identification with the Transcendental Reality. But it does so naturally or inherently rather than strategically (as a form of problem-solution) and, therefore, it does not depend on the more conventional Buddhist and Advaitic arguments to verify either the practice or the Realization. And this Way of Advaitayana Buddhism is inherently free of the exclusiveness that tends to be associated with the classical Buddhist and Advaitic goals. (That is, it does not argue itself into the corner of either denying the existence of the Transcendental Identity or the natural association between that Identity and the conditional or phenomenal process of manifest existence.)
The original or “Hinayana” school of Buddhism begins with the problematic presumption that the phenomenal self (or existence as a phenomenal or conditional self in a phenomenal or conditional world) is inherently a form of suffering (or, indeed, is the very definition of suffering). The unique view of original Buddhism is that the ego (or the conditional phenomenal self) is only phenomenal. That is to say, what is conceived to be a self is only a temporary composite of phenomenal or conditional constituents (even as everything that is considered to be not-selfor every phenomenon related to the presumed selfis also only a temporary composite of phenomenal or conditional constituents). Therefore, both self and not-self have the same status. They are both part of a single flow or eternally changing pattern of causes and effects. The self or ego is not more or other than conditional phenomena. (It is not independently emanating from an unchanging core or soul.) And all that is not-self is not more than conditional phenomena. (None of it is emanating from an unchanging Super-Core or Super-Soul.)
The original tradition of Buddhism proposes that, since there is no unchanging self, the self is only conditional or phenomenal, and is, therefore, rightly viewed as not-self. The import of this presumption is that self and not-self are not necessary. They are not held in place by Divine Will, but they are originating conditionally and without necessity. Therefore, the presumed problem of conditional existence can be solved by observing and reversing the chain of causes that lead to the arising of the phenomenal self. And the classical or original Buddhist method is to strategically uncause the caused or born self. The ultimate success of this method is what defines the original Buddhist concept of Nirvana (which Gautama declares is not annihilation but the indescribable attainment of the “unborn,” the Condition that is previous and prior to birth, previous and prior to self and not-self, or previous and prior to all causes and effects).
The later or more philosophically developed schools of Buddhism (in the traditions called Mahayana and Vajrayana) develop the original phenomenal and ascetical logic of Gautama into a process of metaphysical consideration. Instead of proposing that the phenomenal self is inherently a form of suffering, the later schools propose that the phenomenal self is merely a false idea (and suffering is the result rather than the inherent nature of the self-idea). Therefore, instead of proposing that the phenomenal or conditional self is only phenomenal (and thus can be uncaused by ascetical efforts in the phenomenal plane), the later Buddhist schools propose that the phenomenal self (or the total phenomenal not-self, which includes the apparent self and all of its states and relations) is inherently egoless, or no-self (a mere pattern of changes without an unchanging base that emanates it or makes it necessary).
The later Buddhist tradition builds its argument on the base of a logic that is at least partially suggested in the original argument of Gautama. It was a matter of extending the conception of the Way on the basis of the original idea that phenomenal existence is not emanated from a permanent base but caused via the chain of previous conditions. The consistent idea is the presumption of manifest existence as mere and ultimately unnecessary change. But whereas Gautama developed his consideration of the Way on the basis of phenomenal observation, insight, and subsequent ascetical (or phenomenal) effort, the later schools developed their consideration of the Way on the basis of insight (or conceptual and intuitive logic) alone. Therefore, whereas the classical school was devoted to the solution of the phenomenal problem of phenomenal existence by uncausing phenomenal existence, the later schools were devoted to the solution of a metaphysical problem (the false idea of an existing self, or an existing “entity” of any kind, rather than a beginningless and endless pattern of apparent changes). And that solution was not a matter of the development of ascetical non-causation (or non-desiring of self and not-self) and conventional ascetical Nirvana. It was a matter of the development of Wisdomor the transcendence of the false ideas of self and not-self as entities. Therefore, the later tradition is not directly or necessarily associated with the attainment of acausal Nirvana (or the cessation of phenomenal states), but it is uniquely associated with the primal Intuition or Wisdom-Realization that samsara (or conditional existence) is itself Nirvana (or inherently Nirvanic)inherently free of self, necessity, or binding power. The Nirvanic Realization that characterizes the later traditions of Buddhism is thus associated with prior or Transcendental Freedom (or prior and inherent transcendence of phenomenal limitations) as well as with the free orientation toward continued personal existence as a compassionate and spiritually powerful being in the phenomenal worlds. And it is also in the later traditions that Realization began to be described or pointed to in positive terms as a substantial or Really or Self-Existing Transcendental (or non-phenomenal) Condition (called by such terms as the “Buddha-Mind”).
The tradition of Upanishadic Advaitism had an ancient pre-Buddhistic basis in the culture of Vedic and Upanishadic Emanationism, but it developed its ultimate form (as Advaita Vedanta) both on that ancient basis and on the basis of the cultural dynamics that included the non-Vedic traditions (and thus Buddhism). It appears that both the later or more metaphysical schools of Buddhism and the later or more formal and academic tradition of Upanishadic Advaitism (in the form of Advaita Vedanta) developed side by side and in play with one another. And the ultimate exposition of Advaita Vedanta (via Gaudapada and Shankara) actually appeared only after the basic development of Mahayana Buddhism and with full awareness of its arguments.
Therefore, the school of Advaita Vedanta may rightly be seen as a stage in the progression of Buddhism as well as Upanishadic Advaitism. Its arguments provide a Vedic or Upanishadic (and thus Emanationist) basis for the orientation toward ultimate transcendence that was championed earlier by the Buddhists and other non-Vedic schools (who themselves developed the ultimate implications of non-Vedic as well as Vedic and Upanishadic philosophies of Transcendental liberation). And the stages of the school of Advaita Vedanta also extended the metaphysical considerations of the Mahayana to embrace a more direct orientation to the positively conceived Transcendental Reality.
In the tradition of Advaita Vedanta we see a synthesis of Vedic (or Upanishadic) and Buddhist considerations, just as the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism may rightly be seen to be a synthesis of non-Vedic as well as Vedic or Upanishadic tendencies.
Certain aspects of the arguments of Advaita Vedanta may rightly be seen to be an advance upon (or a later and synthetic ,tage of) the metaphysical implications of the logic of Mahayana Buddhism. This is evident in the positice orientation toward Realization of the Transcendental (and thus non-egoic and non-phenomenal) Condition, Reality, Being, Consciousness, or Self, which is inherently beyond the categories of phenomenal eternality or phenomenal annihilation. In proposing the Realization of the Transcendental Identity, the Advaitic sages were developing a consideration that was inherent in the original Buddhist presumption of the “unborn” and which was implicit in the later Buddhist conception of the Buddha-Mind. And by developing a full positive conception of the Transcendental Reality they gave voice to the silence of Gautama (who was committed to avoid metaphysical language) and also released the tradition of Transcendentalism (of which Buddhism was a dominant part) from the tendency toward merely phenomenalistic, materialistic, and even nihilistic views. Indeed, the advance represented by Advaita Vedanta was most specifically a release of Transcendentalism from the apparently nihilistic associations and tendencies inherited from original Buddhism. Truly, Gautama was not a nihilist but a Transcendentalist. Even so, his language was limited to the address of phenomenal conditions, and from this the tradition of Buddhism inherited not merely silence in relation to the demand to speak about the Condition Realized in Nirvana but a tendency (particularly in the Hinayana schools) to deny the existence of the “unborn” Condition Itself. Thus, even when Buddhism began to develop a metaphysical philosophy, it tended to make Gautama’s silence into a metaphysical proposition that is often reluctant to admit the existence of the “unborn” to which Gautama himself referred. It is this tendency, inherited from the sixth stage phenomenal language of Gautama, that represents one of the basic limiting tendencies (even tending toward the status of a false view) in traditional Buddhism. What should have occurred at the time Buddhism made the turn toward metaphysical language is the free abandonment of the reluctance to speak of the Transcendental Condition in positive metaphysical terms. Indeed, a change in that direction occurred, but it was in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta that the language of that reluctance was fully conquered.
Even so, the arising of the schools of Advaita Vedanta also marks the introduction of a new scheme of limitations into the tradition of Transcendentalism. Certain limitations of the Buddhist language were overcome in the language of Advaita Vedanta, but Advaita Vedanta also introduced certain limitations of Vedic and Upanishadic language into the stream of the Transcendentalist movement. Thus, the Emanationist orientation toward subjectivism (or exclusive inversion upon the internal self as if it were an eternal individual or soul-entity) is reflected in the characteristically sixth stage method of Advaita Vedanta. In this tendency, the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta suffers from the limits of the sixth stage point of view of the Emanationist tradition, just as the Buddhist tradition has suffered from the sixth stage limits of the non-Emanationist tradition.
This having been said, let me pass on to consider the unique features of the argument of Advaita Vedanta in contrast with (or, truly, in extension of) the early and later schools of Buddhism.
Whereas the original Buddhist view was that the phenomenal self is inherently a form of suffering and the later Buddhist view was that the phenomenal self (or ego-entity) is only a false idea about phenomenal existence, the Advaitic view was that the phenomenal self (or ego-entity) is indeed, when seen in itself, a form of suffering, but it is to be understood as a false ideanot merely about phenomenal existence, but within a noumenal Condition of existence. Thus, while original Buddhism concentrated on the phenomenal self and saw it to be only phenomenal, and the later Buddhist tradition concentrated on the phenomenal self and saw it to be inherently egoless (or without a permanent or underlying phenomenal entity), the Advaitic tradition concentrated on the phenomenal self and saw it to be only noumenal (or an unnecessary process that, while it can be conventionally seen to be arising as a phenomenal effect of previous phenomenal causes, is always presently or priorly arising as a play upon Transcendental Consciousness).
The Advaitic tradition appealed directly to the Realization of the Status of phenomena in relation to their noumenal Ground of origination rather than their phenomenal chain of origination. The phenomenal self was viewed (as in the original tradition of Buddhism) to be inherently a form of sufferingas long as it is seen in itself, as an independent phenomenal process. But when viewed in its Ground of origination, the phenomenal self was seen to be un-Real, or an illusion or false idea, in its independence. The Ground Itself was presumed to be the Reality, and only that Ground could grant Reality to any phenomenon.
Therefore, the Advaitic solution to the egoic suffering of phenomenal existence was to see it as unnecessary and un-Real in its apparent independence (as mere phenomenon) and to locate it in the Real (or the Self-Existing Transcendental Being or Consciousness). According to this view, it is only when the Self or prior Consciousness is Realized to be the Transcendental Ground and Substance or Status of all origination that the un-Reality, illusion, necessity, and apparent independence of the phenomenal self and/or not-self is overcome. Therefore, the proposed solution to the problem of phenomenal existence was, in the Advaitic tradition, to Realize and radically Identify with the prior or Transcendental and Self-Existing Source-Ground of all phenomena. In that case, neither the phenomenal self nor the phenomenal not-self is seen to be Real as an independent or merely phenomenal condition. In this view, the merely phenomenal self of original Buddhism is seen to be un-Real, and the phenomenally based orientation of all traditional Buddhism is seen to be a mere conventionunnecessary to presume, unnecessary to solve, and simply to be understood. The original Buddhist view sees the phenomenal self to be unnecessary and reversible. And the Mahayanist view was that the phenomenal world is inherently selfless. In contrast, the fundamental Advaitic proposition is that the phenomenal world and the phenomenal self are not the Context of existence, but the Real Condition is noumenal and Transcendental. There is no independent self, not-self, or no-self. There is only the Transcendental Self (or Brahman, or the Nirvanic Condition of Transcendental Being).
The original Buddhist or non-Emanationist and non-Vedic view is grounded in the conventional view of phenomenal perception and conception. It is from this conventional “realism” that the great tradition of Buddhism gained and inherited its limitations as well as its virtues. And that original Buddhist view is focused on the basic proposition that the phenomenal self is unnecessary and thus inherently transcendable. Even the later Buddhist schools maintain the tendency toward analysis of the phenomenal self (and all phenomenal events) as merely or exclusively phenomenal events (or merely phenomenal ideas). Thus, the ultimate Buddhist conception is flavored by this conventional phenomenal context of consideration. All apparent entities are ultimately viewed to be not-self, non-entities, Void of self-essence.
Some Buddhist schools (such as the Vijnanavada) tended to give positive metaphysical status to that phenomenal Void (calling It Mind, Consciousness, and so forth), and such Buddhist schools bear the greatest affinity to the ancient Emanationist tradition of the Vedas and the Upanishads as well as the philosophical tradition of Upanishadic Advaitism and Advaita Vedanta. Even so, all characteristically Buddhist conceptions are, to one or another degree, founded in phenomenal realism, and, therefore, traditional and conventional Buddhist orthodoxy tends to feel uncomfortable with the affirmation of an ultimate noumenal Reality.
The Advaitic tradition, however, is based on the conception of the noumenal Emanation of the world and all selves. Therefore, it is openly comfortable with the affirmation that the phenomenal self and the phenomenal not-self are not merely Void of a permanent phenomenal essence but Full of the Transcendental Essence, Consciousness, or Self-Existing Being. This freedom of ultimate affirmation is an advanced stage of what Buddhism contains implicitly (i.e., the philosophy of the “unborn”) and the tradition of Transcendental Advaitism may thus rightly be regarded as an advanced stage of the Transcendentalist consideration that is the Great Occupation of Buddhism.
Buddhism and Advaitism represent the two basic and ancient traditional approaches to Transcendental Realization. As such, these two traditions are really streams of one tradition. That single tradition is the ultimate stage of religious and spiritual philosophy. It is a tradition that is principally associated with the orientations of the sixth and seventh stages of life. Therefore, the total tradition of Transcendental Realization stands either in contrast to or as an advancement beyond the traditions that pursue the various goals of the first five stages of life.
However, this tradition of Transcendental Realization itself bears certain historical limitations. And those limitations originate in the conceptual orientations of the sixth stage of life. My own Work is the ultimate development of the tradition of Transcendental Realization. My Teaching stands in positive but critical relation to the entire Great Tradition, including all the schools of the first six stages of life. I view the traditions of Buddhism and Advaitism to be the ultimate, most advanced. or sixth to seventh stage dimension of the Great Tradition. But my Work is also to reconsider and purify what we have inherited from the Great Tradition as a whole, and, therefore, my Work stands in critical relation even to the Buddhist and Advaitic traditions themselves.
What we must understand and overcome are the peculiarly sixth stage expressions that are the historical limitations of both Buddhism and Advaitism. An aspect of my Argument is devoted to a purifying criticism of those very expressions and tendencies. Just as Buddhism and Advaitism stand in critical relation to the traditions and stages of life that precede them, and just as each advancing stage of Buddhism and Advaitism stands in critical relation to its precedents, my own Work also develops a form of Argument based on criticism (positive and creative rather than merely sectarian and destructive) of the entire Great Tradition that is our Treasured Inheritance and all of t’he developing stages of life that are our school of transcendence. Therefore, I Teach a Way that epitomizes the Great Tradition and that stands entirely on the base that is the Free Transcendental point of view of the seventh stage of life.
In relation to the traditions of Buddhism and Advaitism, I must especially criticize the limitations on Transcendental Realization that represent the sixth stage of life. (Truly, those traditions have, over time, also assimilated traditions of orientation and practice that pertain to the first five stages of life, but I criticize those tendencies primarily in my discussions of the Great Tradition as a whole.)
The principal limitations of the sixth stage type that have become identified with traditional Buddhism are the tendency to consider existence exclusively in the terms of phenomenal realism and the tendency to view manifest existence as a problem to be solved. Thus, Buddhism has tended to develop its considerations and its practice on the basis of ordinary conventions of perceptual and conceptual attention, rather than on the basis of the prior presumption of the “unborn” Reality or Truth. And this same conventional realism is responsible for the tendency to conceive of manifest existence in terms of a problem and, therefore, to conceive of the Way as a strategic method for advancing toward Realization on the basis of the problematic or egoic presumption.
Buddhist sages have made many attempts to reconsider the Way in a manner that somehow or other avoids the effects of these limitations, and so the various schools and “yanas” have developed over time. My own Work is to make plain the nature and import of what Buddhism itself is always working to purify in itself.
The principal limitations of the sixth stage type that have become identified with traditional Advaitism are a consequence of the Emanationist logic of ancient animism.
The Advaitic tradition stands on the base of a noumenal conception of Reality (or the Transcendental Being) rather than on the base of a phenomenal conception of un-Reality (such as generally characterizes traditional or conventional Buddhism). Therefore, it is able to appeal directly and positively to Transcendental Realization rather than to the struggle with the problematic un-Reality. In this manner, the Advaitic tradition represents both an ancient precedent (in the form of Upanishadic Advaitism) for and a later historical development (in the form of Advaita Vedanta) of the Buddhist (or general non-Vedic) philosophy of Transcendental Realization. It is simply that Buddhism developed a seventh stage tradition on the basis of sixth stage phenomenal realism and Advaitism developed a seventh stage tradition on the basis of sixth stage noumenal idealism.
In terms of providing a base for positively considering or describing the “unborn” Reality Itself, Advaitism is an orientation superior to traditional or conventional Buddhism (even though Buddhism can just as well, if not more directly, point to that Reality). This is because Advaitism is able to by-pass the limitations of the language of phenomenal realism.
However, Advaitism not only inherited the Emanationist orientation toward the noumenal Divine or Transcendental Reality (which is the fundamental Realization of the seventh stage of life), but it also inherited the subjectivist tendencies of animistic spiritual culture. Thus, the Way proposed in the schools of Advaitism may be generally free of the problematic and phenomenalistic limitations and motivations of conventional realism, but it works toward the Realization of the Real via the technique of subjective inversion.
The classical and conventional approach of Advaitism is to invert attention away from phenomena and toward the noumenal core of the manifest self. This produces a sixth stage type of subjectivism that is released only once the ego is finally transcended in the transition to the seventh stage of life.
The subjectivist orientation is inherently egoic or Narcissistic. It is disposed to dissociate the self from phenomena and to propose a noumenal Reality that is separate and different in kind from phenomenal existence. Therefore, in the sixth stage method of conventional Advaitism, Brahman (or the Transcendental Being) tends to be conceived as the “atman” (the noumenous self) exclusive of objects. It is only in the Awakening of the seventh stage Realization that the consciousness that is the noumenous root of the manifest self is Realized not to be an internally based and non-phenomenal atman (or a soul) but Brahman (the Transcendental or Self-Existing Reality). And it is only when the atman is transcended in Brahman (rather than Brahman reduced to atman) that the phenomenal world is recognizable in Truth.
Therefore, if the tradition of Buddhism tends to suffer or struggle with the sixth stage limitations of phenomenal realism, the tradition of Advaitism tends to suffer or struggle with the sixth stage limitations of subjective idealism (which is rooted in the noumenous ideas of the soul that are part of the ancient traditions of animism and Emanationism).
The Buddhist vision in the sixth stage of life is concentrated in the merely phenomenal self (free of the false idea or implication that the manifest self is built upon a permanent or eternal and non-phenomenal individual being or soul). The idea of such a soul is based on the conventions of animism and Emanationism, and it is presumed on the basis of the sense of a noumenous and undying force of being underneath the mechanics of the body-mind. The original virtue of Buddhism was to see that this idea is only an uninspected implication of the phenomenal self, and it is neither necessary nor Real. However, the Buddhist logic then went on to apply the attitude of phenomenal realism to the extreme, so that the noumenal Reality that is the Ground and Context of phenomenal existence tended to cease to be logically admissible.
The characteristic limitation of traditional Advaitism is the disposition to invert upon the manifest self to locate its Transcendental Core. Until there is emergence into the seventh stage of life, this method of attention is limited by the unEnlightened exclusiveness of self-meditation, or exclusive inversion upon the self or soul (to the exclusion rather than the recognition of other selves, souls, or the entire not-self of phenomenal Nature).
In the sixth stage mode, Buddhism sees self as not-self (or only phenomenon rather than noumenon), and so it by-passes the false view of soul (or a permanent non-phenomenal self) and the implied necessity of phenomenal existence. But it also is bound to a problematic struggle with phenomenal existence and a reluctance to admit the always present Reality that always already Outshines self and world.
And Advaitism in its sixth stage mode sees the phenomenal self and the phenomenal world as not-Self (or only as nonnoumenous un-Reality). In doing so, it by-passes the conventional bondage to phenomenal perception and conception, but it is also bound to the Narcissism of exclusive inversion and the identification of the Transcendental Reality exclusively with the noumenous ground that is behind the individual body-mind.
Truly, the great sages in the traditions of both Buddhism and Advaitism ultimately Awaken to the Transcendental Condition beyond the sixth stage of life. The Buddhist Adept Awakens to the “unborn,” and the Advaitic Adept Awakens, beyond inversion, to the “natural” (Sahaj) Realization that the world of not-Self (or all selves and phenomenal conditions) is Really only Self (and thus it is inherently or always already transcended, prior to any act of inversion or attention to the interior of the individual self).
The Way of the Heart is based upon the “viewpoint” inherent in the Realization of the ultimate or seventh stage of life. Therefore, I acknowledge the ultimate or seventh stage Realization of Adepts in the traditions of Buddhism and Advaitism. But I also criticize the sixth stage limitations that tend to be made the traditional basis of Argument and practice in the Transcendentalist schools. One of the names I have given to my own Way is Advaitayana Buddhism, in acknowledgement of the ultimacy of Buddhism and Advaitism in the Great Tradition, but this Advaitayana Buddhism is in fact a new tradition or Way that is consistently based on criticism and transcendence of the propositions of the sixth stage of life as well as each of the first five stages of life.
The Way of the Heart is, therefore, a radical Way, or a Way that is based entirely and freely on the understanding and the Awakening that characterize the seventh stage of life. In contrast with the conventional language of Buddhism, and in a likeness to Advaitism, the Way of the Heart is Argued in terms of positive intuition and affirmation of the “unborn” Transcendental Reality the Radiant or Divine Being, Consciousness, or Love-Bliss that is the Identity and Condition of all beings and things, or all that is manifest as self and/or not-self. However, in contrast with the conventional language of Advaitism, and in a likeness to Buddhism, the Way of the Heart is not Argued or practiced in terms of the method of exclusive inversion upon the noumenous or independent and internal conscious ground of the manifest self. Rather, in response to my Argument, practice first develops as a total psycho-physical discipline of consideration or understanding of the phenomenal self in the midst of all of its relations and states of knowledge and experience. The Narcissism of subjective inversion as well as the conventionality and inherent contractedness of phenomenal attention in any form is thus thoroughly inspected, understood, and transcended. In this manner, the noumenous Reality, or the Real Status of Consciousness, ultimately becomes simply, naturally, and tacitly obvious, free of any taint of limitation engendered by conventional phenomenalism or subjectivism. And it is only when the Radiant (unborn or not contracted) Transcendental (not phenomenal or individual) Reality, Self, Being, Conscousness, or Happiness is simply obvious that the Way of the Heart can actually begin.
The Way of the Heart is the seventh stage Way of natural, inherent, or always prior Abiding as the Radiant Transcendental Being, free of the self-based or inherently contracted tendency toward phenomenal extroversion or noumenal introversion. In that natural State (Sahaj Samadhi), all arising conditions, whether phenomenal or noumenal, conceived as self or as not-self, are transparently obvious (or tacitly recognized) as merely apparent or unnecessary and non-binding modifications of the Transcendental Being (or Consciousness). That very Being is the Ground or Identity of self and/or not-self as well as the Substance or Condition of self and/or not-self. It is the Real Status of the Energy and apparent Creative Will that moves the phenomenal flow. All of that inheres in the Transcendental Being without qualifying the Bliss or Radiance of Consciousness even to the slightest degree.
The Way of the Heart is to Abide in this Awakened Realization of the Transcendental or unborn Being or Consciousness, recognizing all that arises in It, tacitly allowing the manifest world and self to be spontaneous expressions of the Radiant Self, until that very Divine Self or Reality Outshines all noticing of conditional existence.
The Way of the Heart stands in natural harmony with the Enlightened or seventh stage disposition of Buddhist and Advaitic sages in all schools. It stands in critical relation to the sixth stage orthodoxies of those traditions (as well as the orthodoxies of the earlier stages of life represented elsewhere in the Great Tradition), but Enlightenment Itself always stands free of any conventions of approach that preceded It.
I agree with the original Buddhist view that the manifest self is only an unnecessary and apparent phenomenal process (made up of “dharmas,” or the phenomenal constituents of the cause and effect universe). Therefore, self is not ultimately different from not-self. And this is why the “I” (or manifest self-consciousness) does not know what anything is. The “I” (or phenomenal self) is not ultimately different from the not-“I” (or the phenomenal not-self). Therefore, “I” cannot inspect the existence of anything (or itself) from a position different from or outside existence itself. “I” is not Transcendental but phenomenal. “I” is the body-mind-self, and its right or native disposition is, therefore, not contraction, differentiation, and dissociation from the not-self (or the phenomenal world) but surrender to the degree of no-self, no-contraction, or self-transcending equanimity. And it is only in that disposition of psycho-physical equanimity (or free energy and attention) that the Transcendental Reality is obvious.
The self and the not-self are thus rightly perceived only in Ignorance (or the awareness corresponding to the view “I do not know what anything is”). Such is equanimity, freedom from self-contraction, or the state of free energy and attention. And such is the basic disposition that develops in the “yoga of consideration” that is the initial form of response to my Argument.
The phenomenal self and not-self are arising in a universal flow of causes and effects that is, rightly conceived, without beginning or end or independent necessity. (This corresponds to the original Buddhist conception of dependent origination.) But this phenomenal flow is merely un-Real as an independent (or exclusively phenomenal) process. It is a convention of the perceptual mind to conceive of the phenomenal world of selves as a merely independent mode of existence. Therefore, I agree with the Advaitic contention that the phenomenal cycle of self and not-self is not independent, or merely dependent on phenomenal causes, but priorly dependent upon and always inhering in the noumenous Transcendental Conciousness or Radiant Being (the “unborn” that is obvious in the seventh stage of life and which was obvious in the ultimate Samadhi of Gautama and that of all other Great or Completed Adepts of the Buddhist and Advaitic traditions).
Therefore, I propose that we simply and directly inspect and understand this process of born or phenomenal existence. In this manner, we see that the self is indeed of the same stuff or in the same plane of causes, effects, and dependency as the not-self. “I” is the body (or the total phenomenal self or body-mind-self), and “I” does not know what anything is. “I” does not transcend the world. “I” is not other than the world. “I” is contraction from the world. Therefore, all conceptions or perceptions of “I” or not-“I” (or the not-self) are themselves forms of self-contraction.
Simply practice this understanding and the basic beginner’s disciplines of expansion beyond self-contraction until there is a basic equanimity of the body-mind-self in Ignorance (or Divine Communion). In that equanimity (rather than in any form of belief or concentration of attention in experience or knowledge) there are free energy and attention. Therefore, when there is such basic equanimity, use the freely available energy and attention to inspect and re-cognize all the forms of self-contraction. In this manner, transcend each stage of life. Do not merely invert upon the self or the “I” as if it had independent Reality or independent intimacy with Reality. Rather, simply re-cognize the self-contraction as all forms of phenomenal (or bodily, emotional, and mental or psychic) awareness. Even re-cognize the “I” (or the self-contraction) in the form of the tendency toward meditative inversion upon the self (or its noumenous root). Do this until the Transcendental Self or Consciousness is simply and intuitively obvious, prior to contraction as or upon the personal self or “I” consciousness and prior to all the apparent forms of the not-“I” or not-self (or all the phenomenal states of self-contraction). And when the Transcendental Self (or the Real Status of Consciousness) is obvious, thereafter simply and intuitively (prior to acts of mind) Abide in and as That, tacitly recognizing all arising conditions of self and/or not-self as merely apparent or transparent, unnecessary, and non-binding modifications of That.
The ego is, as Gautama proposed, only phenomenal, and thus, merely as itself, it is unnecessary. And, as the Mahayanists, such as Nagarjuna, proposed, the idea of self as an entity or soul is merely a false idea or implication superimposed on the flow of conditional existence in the midst of all the temporary moments of the body-mind. Therefore, the self as ego-idea is inherently transcended if the self as action (in the form of self-contraction) is understood, and even the self as a phenomenal event (or body-mind) disappears in the Nirvanic Bliss of Bhava Samadhi. But between the understanding that transcends the clinging to the self-idea and the transcendence of phenomenal existence in Bhava Samadhi there must develop a profound understanding and practical transcendence of the self-contraction. Between Wisdom (which is intelligent self-transcendence) and Nirvana (or the Outshining of attention or phenomenal noticing) there must be tacit or native (or Sahaj) Samadhi (or sublime and prior Realization of the Radiant Transcendental Identity and Condition of the phenomenal self and not-self). Such Realization or Samadhi is the ultimate substance of the Teaching of the Way. It transcends the conventions of the phenomenal self, the not-self, the no-self, and all the presumed logic, knowledge, practice, and experience of the first six stages of life. If this Samadhi is Realized, then the phenomenal self and/or not-self (or no-self) are not a problem, but phenomenal existence is obviously a Divinely Transfigured and Eternally Free Process that is always and ultimately Outshined in Divine Bliss. This Samadhi is the ultimate substance or import of the Way of the Heart, and it is likewise the ultimate substance or import of the Teachings of all Great Adepts in all traditions. This Samadhi is the basis of the Work of all Great Adepts, Bodhisattvas, and Jivanmuktas. It is Itself the Origin of the spontaneous Siddhi or Power to Teach, Help, and Awaken others to the Truth.
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