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WORLD MRSPECTIVES


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MYSTICISM: christian and buddhist


'*V#


WORLD PERSPECTIVES Volumes already published I.

II,

III.

IV.

V. VI. VII. VIII.

IX.

X.

XL

Approaches to God Jacques Maritain Accent os Form Lancelot Law Whyte Scope of Total Architecture Walter Gropius Recovery of Faith Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan World Indivisible Konrad Adenauer Society and Know^ledge V. Gordon Childe The Transformations of Man Lewis Mumford Man and Materialism Fred Hoyle The Art of Loving Erich Fromm Dynamics of Faith Paul Tillich Matter, Mind and Man Edmund W. Sinnott


BOARD OF EDITORS of

WORLD PERSPECTIVES

Niels

Bohr

Richard Courant

Hu

Shih

Ernest Jackh

Robert M. MacIver Jacques Maritain J.

Robert Oppenheimer I.

I.

Rabi

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Alexander Sachs


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

Planned and Edited

by

•

Volume Twelve

RUTH NANDA ANSHEN

MYSTICISM: CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST BY DAISETZ TEITARO SUZUKI

Ne w York

HARPER

&:

BROTHERS PUBLISHERS


mysticism: christian and buddhist Copyright

Š

1957 by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki Printed in the United States of America

All rights in this book are reserved. part of the book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations

No

embodied

in

critical

articles

and

reviews.

For

&

^

information address Harper Brothers 49 East 33rd Street, New York 16, N. Y.

Lib rary of Congress catalog card number: 56-11086


Contents World Perspectives

ix

Preface

xix

SECTION ONE I.

Meister Eckhart and Buddhism

III.

The Basis "A Little

IV.

Living in the Light of Eternity

II.

3

of Buddhist Philosophy

Point" and Satori

36 76

93

APPENDICES V. VI.

Transmigration

115

Crucifixion and Enlightenment

129

SECTION VII.

Kono-mama

("I

Am

TWO That

I

Am")

143

APPENDICES VIII.

IX.

X.

Notes on "Namu-amida-butsu"

-

161

Rennyo's Letters

167

From

174

Saichi's Journals


World Perspectives

WORLD PERSPECTIVES man

is

dedicated to the concept of

born out of a universe perceived through a fresh vision

aim

of reahty. Its

is

to present short

books written by the most

Each volume repreeach author and sets forth

conscious and responsible minds of today. sents the thought

and

belief of

the interrelation of the changing religious, scientific, political,

economic and

social influences

upon man's

artistic,

total ex-

perience.

This Series

is

committed

re-examination of

to a

human endeavor which

all

those

was taught to believe he could safely leave aside. It interprets present and past events impinging on human life in our growing World Age and envisages what man may yet attain when summoned by an unbending inner necessity to the quest of what is most

sides of

exalted in him.

world and

Its

purpose

is

the specialist

to offer

human development

new

vistas in

terms of

while refusing to betray the

intimate correlation between universality and individuality,

dynamics and form, freedom and his subject

destiny.

from the broad perspective

Each author treats world community,

of the

not from the Judaeo-Christian, Western or Eastern viewpoint alone.

Certain fundamental questions which have received too little

litical

consideration in the face of the spiritual, moral and po-

world

crisis of

our day, and in the light of technology


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

X

which has released the creative energies in these books.

Our

of peoples, are treated

authors deal with the increasing realiza-

and nature are not separate and apart; that intuition and reason must regain their importance as the means of perceiving and fusing inner being with outer reality. World Perspectives endeavors to show that the conception tion that spirit

organism

of wholeness, unity,

is

and more concrete it would

a higher

conception than that of matter and energy. Thus

seem that science

itself

must ultimately pursue the aim

terpreting the physical world of matter

and energy

the biological conception of organism.

An

of

life,

of biology, not as

laboratory but as itself is sists

it

is

attempted in

The element

The laws

of life

revealed in the

this Series.

of life

nature, thus rendering

have

in terms of

enlarged meaning test

tube of the

experienced within the organism of

For the principle of

which connects

in the tension

matter.

is

it

of in-

dominant

is

life,

spirit

life

life

con-

with the realm of

in the very texture of

biology, a transempirical science.

their origin

beyond

their

mere physical

manifestations and compel us to consider their spiritual source.

In fact, the widening of the conceptual framework has not only served to restore order within the respective branches of

knowledge, but has also disclosed analogies in man's position regarding the analysis and synthesis of experience in apparently separated bility of

domains

meaning of life. Knowledge, it

is

a manipulation of

shown

knowledge suggesting the

liberating

in these books,

man and

the reduction of data to of

of

possi-

an ever more embracing objective description of the

mere

mankind from

no longer

consists in

nature as opposite forces, nor in statistical order,

the destructive

pointmg the way toward the goal

is

a means

power

of fear,

but

of the rehabilitation of the


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

XI

human will and the rebirth of faith and confidence in the human person. The works published also endeavor to reveal that the cry for patterns, systems and authorities insistent as the desire

grows stronger

in

is

growing

less

both East and West

recovery of a dignity, integrity and self-realization

for the

which are the inalienable change by means

rights of

of conscious

man who may

nov/ guide

purpose in the light of rational

experience.

Other

vital questions

explored relate to problems of inter-

national understanding as well as to problems dealing with

prejudice and the resultant tensions and antagonisms.

The

growing perception and responsibility of our World Age point to the

new

reality that the individual

person and the collective

person supplement and integrate each other; that the thrall of totalitarianism of both right

and

left

has been shaken in the

universal desire to recapture the authority of truth

human

totality.

Mankind can

and

of

finally place its trust not in a

proletarian authoritarianism, not in a secularized

humanism,

both of which have betrayed the spiritual property right of history,

but in a sacramental brotherhood and in the unity

of knowledge. This

new

consciousness has created a widening

human human thought comparable to the basic assumption, among the ancient Greeks, of the sovereignty of reason correhorizons beyond every parochialism, and a revolu-

of

tion in

;

sponding to the great effulgence of the moral conscience articulated by the Hebrew prophets; analogous to the fundamental assertions of Christianity; or to the beginning of a tific

era, the era of the science of

new

scien-

dynamics, the experimental

foundations of which were laid by Galileo in the Renaissance.

An

important effort of

tradictory

this Series

is

to

re-examine the con-

meanings and applications which are given today

to


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

Xll

such terms as democracy, freedom,

justice, love, peace, broth-

erhood and God. The purpose of such inquiries

way

for the foundation of a genuine

man

of nation or race or culture but in terms of

God,

man and

to himself, his fellow

beyond immediate

self-interest.

to a

deeper understanding of the basic values of

they are

bound

and

in relation to

For the meaning of the World

consists in respecting

in the East

to clear the

the universe that reach

Age

Today

is

world history not in terms

man's hopes and dreams which lead all

peoples.

West men are discovering that beyond any divisiveness, by a more

in the

together,

fundamental unity than any mere agreement

in

thought and

doctrine. They are beginning to know that all men possess the same primordial desires and tendencies; that the domination

man

man

God

or nature;

can no longer be justified by any appeal to and such consciousness is the fruit of the spir-

itual

and moral

revolution, the great seismic upheaval, through

of

over

which humanity

World ing of

is

now

Perspectives

man who

is

passing.

planned to gain insight into the mean-

not only

is

determined by history but

also determines history. History

cerned not only with the

life

is

of

who

to be understood as con-

man on

this

planet but as

including also such cosmic influences as interpenetrate oar

human

world.

This generation to the social

ganization of justice,

is

discovering that history does not conform

optimism of modern

freedom and peace are not only

ments but

spiritual

ing a cherishing of the wholeness of

intellectual achieve-

and

as well,

human

constituting a never-ending challenge to

or-

the establishment of

and moral achievements

the abyss of meaninglessness

and that the

civilization

human communities and

demandand

personality

man, emerging from renewed and

suffering, to be


WORLD PERSPECTIVES replenished in the totahty of his

such one becomes, and

it is

life.

"For as one's thinking

because of

it

now upon

is

if

centered

to the sterility

of a quantitative,

sometimes imperceptible,

ward world unity on the person and respect for

truth

^

mankind today a counterforce anonymous mass

in

upon

who would

things perceptible to the senses,

not be liberated from his bondage."

There is and danger

it

is,

thinking should

this that

be purified and transformed, for were as

Xlll

spiritual sense of

culture, a

each

basis of the sacredness of

the plurality of cultures.

growing awareness that equality and

new,

convergence

There

justice are not to

to-

human is

a

be eval-

uated in mere numerical terms but that they are proportionate

and analogical

We

in their reality.

stand at the brink of the age of the world in which

human

forward

presses

life

separation of

man and

and

is

security,

vision of

man

plicity offering

to actualize

nature, of time

new

forms.

and space,

of

in his organic unity

and

of history in

its

spirit to the

thought and

new

belief,

encourage a renaissance of hope

man's decision

The

its

multi-

a richness and diversity of quality and majesty

man's

articulating

false

freedom

acknowledged and we are faced with a new

of scope hitherto unprecedented. In relating the

wisdom

The

of

as to

what

accumulated

World Age, World Perspectives seeks

reality of the

in society

and

in

to

of pride in

his destiny will be.

plethoric growth of

knowledge has led

of consciousness as a result of the tendency,

to a

diminution

due to some mod-

ern interpretations of science, to accept as the total truth only

hmited descriptions of truth. The triumphant advance of science, culminating in new realities concerning the subatomic world and overthrowing the traditional assum.ptions of causal1

Maitri

U panishad

6.34.4.6.


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

XIV ity

and uniformity, has almost succeeded in enfeebling man's and moral worth and in his own signifi-

faith in his spiritual

cance in the cosmic scheme. The modern world imagined

on the threshold of Utopia but awakened

itself

on the very edge of an

ment

abyss.

in the standards of living

However

may

to find itself

the progressive

move-

continue to grow, however

may prove to be, no question but what our World Age is one of the most portentous and apocalyptic mankind has ever faced in auspicious the advances in natural science there

is

The

all history.

man

istential limits,

shall attain to

not,

experience of dread, into which contemporary

has been plunged through his failure to transcend his exis

the experience of the problem of whether he

being through the knowledge of himself or shall

whether he

shall annihilate nothingness or

whether noth-

ingness shall annihilate him. For he has been forced back to his origins as a result of the

basis

may

recreate his

The

atrophy of meaning, but his ana-

begin once more through his mysterious greatness to life.

suffering

the interior

and hope

drama

in

of this century

which the

spirit

is

have

their origin in

thrust as a result of

itself, and in the invisible forces which are born and mind of man. This suffering and this hope arise also from material problems, economic, political, technological. History itself is not a mere mechanical unfolding of events in the center of which man finds himself as a stranger in a foreign land. The specific modern emphasis on history as progressive, the specific prophetic emphasis on God as acting through history, and the specific Christian emphasis on the historical nature of revelation must now surrender to the new history embracing the new cosmology a profound event which is in the process of birth in the womb of that invisible

the split within

in the heart

—


WORLD PERSPECTIVES universe which tives thus

the

is

mind and heart

XV

man. World Perspec-

of

endea\ors to point to the ultimate moral power at

work

in the universe, that very

effort

must

man which

at last

power upon which

human

depend, leading hopefully to that vision of

can permit the virtues of the

concurrently, in spite of ness, a vision so

all

human

nurtured as

cupidity

human race and human

to exist willful-

to fulfill that pre\ision of

man-

kind of which Dante sang.

This the

is

the

crisis in

crisis in science.

history

could

which had

exist as

its

made articulate through new awakening after a long

consciousness

This

is

the

genesis in Descartes' denial that theology

a science, on the one hand, and on the other, in

Kant's denial that metaphysics could fossilized

forms of such

positivistic

exist as a science.

thinking

festing themselves in a quasi-sociological

mythology which,

the guise of scientific concepts, has generated a resulting in a

which

it

more primitive

Some

remain, mani-

still

in

new animism

religion than the traditional faiths

endeavors to replace. However,

it

is

now

conceded,

out of the influences of Whitehead, Bergson and some

phenom-

enologists that in addition to natural science with

tendency

its

to isolate quantitative x'alues there exists another category of

knowledge wherein philosophy,

utilizing

its

own

instruments,

is

able to grasp the essence and innermost nature of the Absolute, of reality.

The

myterious universe

is

now

revealing to philoso-

phy and to science as well an enlarged meaning of nature and of man which extends beyond mathematical and experimental analysis of sensory phenomena. This meaning rejects the mechanistic

conception of the world and that positivistic attitude

toward the world which considers philosophy

as a kind of

my-

thology adequate only for the satisfaction of emotional needs.

In other words, the fundamental problems of philosophy,


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

XVI

those problems which are central to

ing science and philosophy

are again confront-

life,

Our problem

itself.

is

to discover

a principle of difTerentiation and yet relationship lucid enough to

and

justify

to

purify

knowledge by accepting

both

their

and philosophical

scientific

mutual interdependence.

which has been "in a state of pilgrimage and and now is slowly being liberated from the grip and political demonologies in the East as well as in

Justice

itself,

crucifixion" of social

its own premises. Those modern movements which have challenged the sacred

the West, begins to question

revolutionary

institutions of society

by protecting

of social justice are also being

World

social injustice in the

examined and re-evaluated

When we

turn our gaze retrospectively to the early cosmic

man

in the third

able right began slowly to take

murabi

in the

human a

observe that the

form and,

man

has an inaliena-

at the

time of

Ham-

second millennium, justice as inherently a part

man's nature and not

became part

we

millennium,

concept of justice as something to which

verse,

in

Perspectives.

condition of

of

name

as a beneficent gift to

be bestowed,

of the consciousness of society. This concept of

rights consisted in the

demand which

demand

for justice in the uni-

exists also in the

twentieth century

through a curious analogy. In accordance with the ancient view,

man

could himself become a god, could assume the

identity of the great cosmic forces in the universe

rounded him.

He

could influence

cation, but by action.

And now

this universe,

again

which

sur-

not by suppli-

this consciousness of

man's harmonious relationship with the universe, with society

and with

his fellow

men, can be actualized, and again not

through supplication but through the deed.

Though never

so powerful materially

and

technologically.


WORLD PERSPECTIVES Western democracy, with

human

its

XVll

concern for the sacredness of the

person gone astray, has never before been so seriously

threatened, morally and spiritually. National security and individual freedom are in ominous conflict.

The

possibility of a

community and the technique of degradation exist by side. There is no doubt that evil is accumulated among

universal side

men

in their passionate desire for unity.

with

this evil

which had

split,

isolated

And and

yet,

confronted

killed the living

confronted with death, man, from the \ery depths of

reality,

his soul, cries out for "the

thought" and for the

of feeling

and

possibility to reassemble the fragments,

through

to restore unity

unmediated whole

justice. Christianity in history

could

only reply to this protest against evil by the Annunciation of the

Kingdom, by

manded

faith.

had exhausted

the promise of Eternal

But the his faith

spiritual

and

his

Life

— which

de-

and moral suffering of man He was left alone. His

hope.

suffering remained unexplained.

However, man has now reached the

last

extremity of deni-

And

among

gration.

He

spiritual

and moral ruins of the West and of the East a renaisprepared beyond the limits of nihilism, darkness and In the depths of the Western and Eastern night, civili-

sance

is

despair.

zation with

yearns to consecrate himself.

its

many

faces turning

toward

its

so,

source

may

the

re-

—

an imminent new dawn e\'en as in the last book of Revelation which speaks of a Second Coming with kindle

a

its

light in

new heaven,

a

new

And

I

earth: first

2

Revelation, 21:1.

earth and a

new

religious quality of

saw a new heaven and a new for the first hea\en and the

earth were passed away.

..

.

life.


WORLD PERSPECTIVES

XVlll

In spite of the infinite obligation of their finite

and

power, in

men and

spite of the intransigence of

in spite of spiritual

in spite of

nationahsms,

bereavement and moral amnesia, be-

neath the apparent turmoil and upheaval of the present,

and out

of the transformations of this

dynamic period with

the unfolding of a world-consciousness, the purpose of Perspectives

is

to help

World

quicken the "unshaken heart of well-

rounded truth" and interpret the

World Age now taking shape out

significant elements of the

of the core of that

kind while deepening and enhancing his

undimmed

man

to mancommunion with the

continuity of the creati\'e process which restores

universe.

Ruth Nanda Anshen

New

York, 1957


Preface

This book has no pretension to be a thorough, systematic study of the subject.

It is

more

or less a collection of studies

the author has written

from time

readings,

Meister Eckhart as representative of

especially of

to time in the course of his

Christian mysticism. For Eckhart's thoughts to those of

one

Zen and Shin. Zen and Shin

known

is

as Jiriki,

the

is

thing

common

hart, Zen,

But there

is

some-

to both, which will be felt by the reader. Eckand Shin thus can be grouped together as belonging

to the great school of mysticism.

tionship

closely

"self-power" school, while the

Tariki, the "other-power" school.

other

come most

superficially differ:

among

the three

following pages. provocati\'e

The

enough

may

The underlying chain

author's hope, however,

to induce

of rela-

not be always obvious in the is

Western scholars

that they are

to take

up the

subject for their study.

The author

wishes to acknowledge his debts to the two

first by C. de B. Evans and the second by Raymond B. Blakney, from which

English translations of Meister Eckhart, the

he has very liberally quoted.

Daisetz T. Suzuki

New

York, 1957


Section

One


I. ;

Meister Eckhart^ and Buddhism

I

IN

THE

following pages

I

attempt to

call

tention to the closeness of Meister Eckhart's

Mahayana Buddhism,

the reader's at-

way

of thinking

Zen Buddhism. The attempt is only a tentative and sketchy one, far from being systematic and exhaustive. But I hope the reader will find something in it which e\okes his curiosity enough to under-

to that of

especially of

take further studies of this fascinating topic.

When ago

—a

I

first

little

read

— which

was more than a

book containing a few

mons, they impressed

me

half century

of Meister Eckhart's ser-

profoundly, for

I

never expected that

any Christian thinker ancient or modern could or would cherish such daring thoughts as expressed in those sermons.

While

I

do not remember which sermons made up the con-

^ There are two English translations of Eckhart, one British and the other American. The British, in two volumes, is by C. de B. Evans, published by John M. Watkins, London, 1924. The American translation is by Raymond B. Blakney, published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1941. Neither of them is a complete translation of all of Eckhart's known works in German. Franz PfeifTer published in 1857 a collection of Eckhart's works, chiefly in the High German dialect of Strassburg of the fourteenth century. This edition was reprinted in 1914. Blakney's and Evans' translations are mainly based on the PfeifTer edition. In the present book, "Blakney" refers to the Blakney translation and "Evans" to the Evans, Vol. I, while "PfeifFer" means his German edition of 1914.


MYSTICISM

4

the

of

tents

little

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

book, the ideas expounded there closely

approached Buddhist thoughts, so

closely

indeed, that one

could stamp them almost definitely as coming out of Buddhist

As

speculations.

can judge, Eckhart seems

far as I

to

be an

extraordinary "Christian."

While refraining from going least

points

which make us

we

the type

into

Eckhart's Christianity

this:

is

we can

details

unique and has

him

hesitate to classify

He

many

as belonging to

generally associate with rationalized

with conservative traditionalism.

say at

modernism or

stands on his

own

experi-

ences which emerged from a rich, deep, religious personality.

He

attempts to reconcile them with the historical type of

and mythology. He tries to give an "esoteric" or inner meaning to them, and by so doing he enters fields which were not touched by most of his hismodeled

Christianity

after legends

torical predecessors.

me

First, let

give you the views Eckhart has on time

These are treated in

creation.

commemoration day

for St.

from

"In

Ecclesiasticus:

found

.

.

Taking up

just."

terprets .

first

there are

God's day.

A

sermon delivered on the

Germaine.

his days

according to his

it

his

He

more days than is

just as

one.

There

Time

time

revolution.

is

The

soul's

consists of the natural light in

It

is

is

the soul's day

more than

six

as yesterday.

day

falls

and day began with

within this time and

which things are

seen.

the complete day, comprising both day

the real

and

contained in the present Now-moment.

comes of the revolution of the heavens

however,

is

near to the present

Because

all

in-

understanding:

Why?

first

God and was

day, whether six or seven ago, or

thousand years ago,

the

quotes a sentence

he pleased

the phrase "In his days," he

own

and

Now-moment, which

for the soul

is

God's day,

and

night.

eternity's day,


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM on which the Father begets is

his

5

only begotten Son and the soul

reborn in God.^

day and God's day are different. In her natural day knows all things above time and place; nothing is far or near. And that is why I say, this day all things are of equal rank. To talk about the world as being made by God to-morrow, yesterday, would be talking nonsense. God makes the world and all

The

soul's

the soul

things in this present now.

now who

as present

and

as

in this present

is

Time gone a thousand years ago is God as this very instant. The soul

near to

now,

in her the Father bears his one-

begotten Son and in that same birth the soul

God. is

It

is

one birth;

as fast as she

is

born back into

is

reborn into

God

the Father

begetting his only Son in her.^

God

the Father

Generation

is

the past and future it is

in vain that

things,

and the Son have nothing

movements

God

of things, your heart

flits

you attempt to know eternal things;

you should be occupied

Again,

do with time.

to

not in time, but at the end and limit of time. In

loves for his

intellectually.

own

.

.

sake, acts for his

about;

in divine

.*

own

sake: that

and acts for the sake of action. It cannot be doubted that God would never have begot his Son in eternity if [his idea of] creation were other than [his act of] creation. Thus God created the world so that he might keep on creating. The past and future are both far from

means

that he loves for the sake of love

God and

From tion

is

alien to his way.^

these passages

we

see that the Biblical story of Crea-

thoroughly contradicted;

meaning

it

has not even a symbolic

in Eckhart, and, further, his

2Blakney, p. 212. 3 Evans, p. 209. 4

Blakney,

5

Ibid., p. 62.

p.

292.

God

is

not at

all like


.

MYSTICISM

b

God

the

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

conceived by most Christians.

God

mathematically enumerable. His creativity not accidental, not at

all

measurable.

It

not in time

is

is

not historical,

goes on continuously

without cessation with no beginning, with no end. event of yesterday or today or tomorrow, lessness,

nothingness,

of

it

Absolute Void.

of

time and place in

itself."

God's work

is

is

not an

of time-

God's work

is

"now which

always done in an absolute present, in a timeless is

It

comes out

sheer love, utterly

The

free

from

God

creating the world out of nothing, in an absolute present,

all

forms of chronology and teleology.

idea of

and therefore altogether beyond the control of a serial time conception will not sound strange to Buddhist ears. Perhaps they

may

find

acceptable as reflecting their doctrine of

it

Emptiness [sunyatd)

II

Below are further quotations from Eckhart giving on "being," Being

is

"work,"

"life,"

God.

.

.

.

God and

being are the same

being from another and thus himself thing that

has the fact of

Therefore,

being.

thing has there

is

is

creates

its

if

being

is

his

views

etc.:

its

is

— or God has

not God.

.

.

.

Every-

being through being and from

something different from God, a

being from something other than God. Besides,

nothing prior to being, because that which confers being

and

Eckhart

is

a creator.

is

To

create

is

to give being out of nothing.

quite frequently metaphysical

"^

and makes one

—

wonder how his audience took to his sermons an audience which is supposed to have been very unscholarly, being ignorant of Latin and all the theologies written in it. This prob6

Ibid., p. 278.


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM lem of being and God's creating the world out

7 of

nothing

must have puzzled them very much indeed. Even the scholars might have found Eckhart beyond their understanding, espe-

when we know

cially

that they were not richly equipped with

the experiences which Eckhart had.

Mere thinking

or logical

reasoning will never succeed in clearing up problems of deep religious significance. Eckhart's experiences are deeply, basi-

abundantly rooted

cally,

in

God

as

Being which

is

at

being and not-being: he sees in the "meanest" thing

God's creatures

the glories of his is-ness

all

Buddhist enlightenment

we humans can

possible values (guna)

God's characteristic

is

is

able to give another

is

at

whole in

is

Being

all.

life

the

is

ought

to

God. So far

excels anything

The

being.

life.

first

For

our

this

experience

in itself has all the

conceive.

philosopher says one creature

in being,

mere being,

lies all

that

name. Defect means lack of being. Our

be being. So far as our

as

life

which

among The

[isticheit).

nothing more than

is

{tat hat a),

of is-ness or suchness

once

life

is

life is

feeble but taking

can ever boast.

I

being, so far

it

as being,

it

it

have no doubt of

this,

that

if

had the remotest notion of what being means she would never waver from it for an instant. The most trivial thing perceived in God, a flower for example as espied in God, would be a thing more perfect than the universe. The vilest thing present the soul

God

in

as being

This passage

sermon

is

is

better than angelic knowledge.'^

may sound

too abstract to most readers.

said to have been given

of the "blessed martyrs

who were

The

on the commemoration day slain

with the swords." Eck-

hart begins with his ideas about death and suffering which

come 7

to

Evans,

an end p.

206.

like

everything else that belongs to this world.


^

MYSTICISM

8

He

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

then proceeds to

tell

us that "it behooves us to emulate

the dead in dispassion [niht betrueben) towards good

and pain gets so

and he quotes

of every kind,"

much

of

God

as the

man who

St. is

Gregory:

and found

espied in

— they

lost their

their being." Eckhart's allusion to the flower as

God reminds

which the Zen master

in

ill

thoroughly dead,"

because "death gives them [martyrs] being, life

and

"No one

Rikko

us of Nansen's interview with also brings out a flower in the

monas-

tery courtyard. It is

when

I

encounter such statements as these that

I

grow

firmly convinced that the Christian experiences are not after

from those

of the Buddhist. Terminology is all and stirs us up to a wasteful dissipation of energy. We must however weigh the matter carefully and see whether there is really anything that alienates us from one another and whether there is any basis for our spiritual edification and for the advancement of a world culture. different

all

that divides us

When God made man,

he put into the soul

everlasting masterpiece. It

was

so great a

his equal, his active,

work that

it

could not

be otherwise than the soul and the soul could not be otherwise than the work of God. God's nature, his being, and the Godhead

depend on

all

his

work

in the soul. Blessed, blessed be

he does work in the soul and that he loves love

is

and love

is

his

God

that

work! That work

God. God loves himself and

his

own

nature,

being and Godhead, and in the love he has for himself he loves creatures, not as creatures but as

all

God. The love God bears

himself contains his love for the whole world.

Eckhart's statement regarding God's self-love which "contains his love for the

whole world" corresponds

the Buddhist idea of universal enlightenment. 8

Blakney, pp. 224-5.

in a

way

to

When Buddha


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM attained the enlightenment,

recorded, he perceived that

is

it

9

beings non-sentient as well as sentient were already in the

all

enlightenment

The

itself.

idea of enlightenment

may make

Buddhists appear in some respects more impersonal and meta-

Buddhism thus may be considered and rational than Christianity which is heavily sorts of mythological paraphernalia. The move-

physical than Christians,

more

scientific

laden with

ment

is

all

now

among

therefore going on

Christians to

denude

the religion of this unnecessary historical appendix. While is

difficult to predict

religion

how

far

it

some elements which may be

called irrational.

human

are generally connected with the

Buddhist doctrine of enlightenment system of metaphysics as

is

They The

craving for love.

not after

all

such a cold

appears to some people. Love

it

enters also into the enlightenment experience as one of constituents, for otherwise

to look It

and

to

sit

its

could not embrace the totality of

it

The enlightenment

existence.

the world,

it

will succeed, there are in every

does not

mean

to

run away from

cross-legged at the peak of the mountain,

down calmly upon a bomb-struck mass we imagine.

of humanity.

has more tears than

Thou shalt know him [God] without image, without semblance and without means. "But for me to know God thus, with nothing between, I must be all but he, he all but me." I say, God must be very I, I very God, so consummately one that this he and this I are one "is," in this is-ness working one work eternally; but so long as this he and this I, to wit, God and the soul, are not

—

—

one single here, one single now, the one with that he.^

What is

is

life?

God's being

is

my

God's must be mine and what 9

Evans,

p.

247.

I

life,

is

cannot work with nor be

but

if it is so,

then what

mine God's. God's

is-ness

is


mysticism: christian and buddhist

10

my

is-ness, and neither more nor less. The just live eternally with God, on a par with God, neither deeper nor higher. All their work is done by God and God's by them.^"

Going over

these quotations,

orthodox Christians of

and that he defended

his

we

feel that

himself. Perhaps

human way

introvert, outer

and

and

of thinking

two opposing tenden-

and feeling; extrovert and and subjective, exoteric

inner, objective

esoteric, traditional

these

was natural that

due to our psycho-

it is

logical peculiarities that there are always cies in the

it

day accused Eckhart as a "heretic"

and

mystical.

The

two tendencies or temperaments

is

strong for any form of reconciliation. This

opposition between

and what makes Eck-

often too deep is

hart complain about his opponents not being able to grasp his

He would

point.

remonstrate: '"Could you see with

you would understand itself

has said

hart:

"What

it." is it

my

words, but,

it is

^^

Augustine

to

me though any comprehend

is

my

heart

true, for the truth

however tougher than Ecknot this!"

^"

III

One seemed

of Eckhart's heresies to

put

was

his pantheistic

man and God on an me and I am

Father begets his Son in

tendency.

equal footing: there in the

He

"The

same Son

and not another." ^' While it is dangerous to criticize Eckhart summarily as a pantheist by picking one or two passages at random from his sermons, there is no doubt that his sermons lOBlakney, p. 180. 11 Evans, p. 38. 12 Quoted by Eckhart, Blakney, p. 305. 13 C/. Blakney, "The soul that lives in the present Nowp. 214: moment is the soul in which the Father begets his only begotten Son and in that birth the soul is born again into God. It is one birth, as fast as she is reborn into God the Father is begetting his only Son in her." (The last sentence is from Evans, p. 209.)


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM

many

contain

I I

thoughts approaching pantheism. But unless the

are a set of ignorant misinterpreters with perhaps an

critics

evil intention to

condemn him

way

in every

as a heretic, a

fair-minded judge will notice that Eckhart everywhere in his

sermons

is

quite careful to emphasize the distinction between

the creature and the creator as in the following:

"Between the only begotten Son and the soul there is no disis true. For how could anything white be distinct from or divided from whiteness? Again, matter and form are one in being; living and working. Yet matter is not, on this account, tinction." This

form, or conversely. So in the proposition.

God, according

to

even as we are one. the just

man

A

John 17:21. That they Still

the creature

is

holy soul

all

may

is

one with

be one in

us,

not the creator, nor

is

God.^*

God and Godhead are as different as earth is from heaven. Moreover I declare: the outward and the inward man are as diflferent, too, as earth and heaven. God is higher, many thousand miles. Yet God comes and goes. But to resume my argument: God enjoys himself in all things. The sun sheds his light upon all creatures, and anything he sheds his beams upon absorbs them, yet he loses nothing of his brightness. ^^

From

we can

see most decidedly that Eckhart was far from being a pantheist. In this respect Mahayana Buddhism is

also

this

frequently

and erroneously stamped

ignoring altogether a world of particulars. to

as

Some

pantheistic, critics

seem

be ready and simple-minded enough to imagine that

all

doctrines that are not transcendentally or exclusively monotheistic

are pantheistic

to the

advancement

" Ibid., "The 15

and that they are of spiritual culture.

Defense," Evans, pp. 142-3.

p. 303.

for this reason perilous


:

mysticism: christian and BUDDHIST

12 It

is

on finding something

true that Eckhart insists

Godhke nature

in each

one of

of

a

otherwise the birth of God's

us,

only Son in the soul would be impossible and his creatures would forever be something utterly alienated from him. As

long as

God

creatures.

is

But

love, as creator,

this

he can never be outside the

cannot be understood as meaning the one-

ness of one with the other in every possible sense. Eckhart distinguishes

what one

between the inner

sees

we can

not the same as the other. In a

say that

world and that the

tical

for

is

man and

the outer

we are not living in an idenGod one conceives for oneself is at all to be subsumed under the same category as the God another. Eckhart's God is neither transcendental nor

sense therefore

not

and hears

man and

pantheistic.

God

goes and comes, he works, he

is

active,

he becomes

all

Godhead remains immovable, imperturbable, inaccessible. The difference between God and Godhead is that between heaxen and earth and yet Godhead cannot be him-

the time, but

self

without going out of himself, that

is,

he

is

he because he

comprehended only by the inner man, and not by the outer man, because the latter sees the world through the senses and intellect and consequently fails to experience the profound depths of Godhead. Whatever influence Eckhart might have received from the Jewish (Maimonides), Arabic (Avicenna), and Neoplatonic sources, there is no doubt that he had his original views based on his own experiences, theological and otherwise, and that is

not he. This "contradiction"

is

they were singularly Mahayanistic. right

when he

Coomaraswamy

quite

says

Eckhart presents an astonishingly close parallel

modes

is

of thought;

some whole passages and many

to

Indian

single sen-


3

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM tences read like a direct translation

course

of

suggested

that

from

Sanskrit.

1

...

It

is

not

Indian elements whatever are

any

though there are some Oriental factors in the European tradition, derived from neoPlatonic and Arabic sources. But what is proved by analogies is actually present in Eckhart's writing,

not the influence of one system of thought upon another, but the

coherence of the metaphysical tradition in the world and at times.

all

^^

IV

now necessary to examine Eckhart's close kinship with Mahayana Buddhism and especially with Zen Buddhism in It is

regard to the doctrine of Emptiness.

The Buddhist

doctrine of Emptiness

is

unhappily greatly

The word "emptiness" or "void" people away, whereas when they use it

misunderstood in the West.

seems to frighten

among

themselves, they do not seem to object to

some Indian thought

is

never been accused of

described as

this,

nihilistic,

though he

is

it.

While

Eckhart has

not sparing in the

use of words with negative implications, such as "desert," "stillness," "silence,"

are used

"nothingness." Perhaps

among Western

when

these terms

thinkers, they are understood in con-

nection with their historical background. But as soon as these thinkers are

made

to

plunge into a strange, unfamiliar system

or atmosphere, they lose their balance negativistic or anarchistic or

According

and condemn

it

as

upholding escapist egoism.

to Eckhart,

have read many writings both of heathen philosophers and sages, of the Old and the New Testaments, and I have earnestly I

and with 16

all

diligence sought the best

The Transformation

of

Nature

and the highest virtue

in Art, p. 201.


mysticism: christian and buddhist

14

whereby man may come most closely to God and wherein he may once more become like the original image as he was in God when there was yet no distinction between God and himself before God produced creatures. And having dived into the basis of things to the best of my ability I find that it is no other than absolute detachment (abegescheidenheit) from everything that is created. It was in this sense when our Lord said to Martha: "One thing is needed," which is to say: He who would be untouched and pure needs just one thing, detachment. ^^

What

then

is

the content of absolute detachment?

be designated "as

this or that," as

nothing

)

work

(

bloss niht

in us as

,

it is

Perfect detachment

it is

says.

It It

the highest point at which

cannot is

pure

God can

he pleases.

minded

without regard, without either lowliness

is

or loftiness to creatures;

above;

Eckhart

it

to be

has no

mind

master of

to

itself,

be below nor yet to be

loving none

and hating

none, having neither likeness nor unlikeness, neither this nor that, to

any creature; the only thing

it

who

is

this or that

nothing. It leaves

is

all

posite things"

to

things unmolested. ^^ is

[skandha) and

insists

is

somebody; but detachment wants altogether

While Buddhist emphasis hart here

is to be one and want something. He

desires to be

the same. For to be either this or that

on the emptiness of is

all

"com-

therefore metaphysical, Eck-

on the psychological significance of "pure

nothingness" so that

God can

take hold of the soul without

any resistance on the part of the individual. But from the practical point of view the ^"^

Blakney,

interest"

to

emptying of the soul making

it

"About Disinterest," p. 82. The translator prefers "dis"detachment" for abegescheidenheit. I really do not know

is better. The German word seems to correspond to the Sanskrit anabhinivesa or asanga {mushujaku in Japanese and wu chih chu in Chinese), meaning "not attached," "not clinging to." 18 Evans, with a little change, pp. 341-2.

which


5

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM selfless

1

can never be thoroughly realized unless we have an

ontological understanding of the nature of things, that

is,

the

nothingness of creaturely objects. For the created have no reality;

creatures are pure nothing, for "all things were

all

made by him [God] and without him was not anything made" (John, 1:3). Further, "If without God a creature has any being however small, then God is not the cause of all things. Besides,

a creature will not be created, for creation

receiving of being from nothing."

How

^''

What

come from nothing

could any being

is

the

mean?

could this

or non-being? Psy-

chology herein inevitably turns to metaphysics.

We

here en-

counter the problem of Godhead.

This problem was evidently not touched upon frequently

by Eckhart, for he warns listen:

I

am

Then he earth,

"When God

proceeds:

and

creatures, he did

he made no

He

effort."

I

have never said before."

created the hea\'ens, the

no work; he had nothing forget to state:

"For yet again

God and Godhead Though he often fails

never said before:

I

ferent as earth

is

to do;

then proceeds to say something about

Godhead, but he does not say a thing

"Now

his readers repeatedly, saying:

going to say something

from heaven."

I

are dif-

make "God" make a disto

a clear distinction between the two and would use

where

really

tinction

is

"Godhead"

long as there

something.

is

it

is

the

the ground of being

19

I

his

God

attempt to is still

a something as

any trace of movement or work or of doing to the Godhead, we for the first unmoved, a nothing where there is no

path [apada) to reach.

While

meant,

When we come

time find that

it is

is

noteworthy. With him

It is

absolute nothingness; therefore

from where

all

beings come.

subsisted in the ground, in the bottom, in the river

Blakney, pp. 298-9.


,

1

mysticism: christian and buddhist

6

and fount of Godhead, no one asked me where I was going or what I was doing: there was no one to ask me. When I was flowing

when

all

creatures spake God. If

am

I

asked, Brother Eckhart,

Then

must have been in. Even so do all creatures speak God. And why do they not speak the Godhead? Everything in the Godhead is one, and of that there is nothing to be said. God works, the Godhead does no

went ye out of your house?

work, there

nothing to do; in

is

visaged any work.

and

inactive.

it

is

God and Godhead

On my

no

I

activity.

It

never en-

are as different as active I am formless, my my emanation. I alone my mind and make them

return to God, where

breaking through will be far nobler than take

creatures out of their sense into

all

one in me.

When

I

go back into the ground, into the depths,

Godhead, no one will ask mc whence one missed me: God passes away.^°

into the well-spring of the I

came

or whither

What would (or absolute) still

I

went.

No

Christians think of "the divine core of pure

or of "the simple core which

stillness,"

desert onto

which no

distinctions ever creep"?

in perfect accord with the

is

the

Eckhart

is

Buddhist doctrine of sunyatd, when

he advances the notion of Godhead as "pure nothingness" [ein bloss niht)

The

Godhead transcends psychology. Eckhart tells made frequent references in his sermons to "a

notion of

us that he has

light in the soul that satisfied

is

by the simple

uncreated" and that "this light still,

is

not

motionless essence of the divine

It is more interested in knowing where this essence came from." "^ This "where" is where "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" have not yet made their distinctions. To come in touch with this source

being that neither gives nor takes.

and 20 21

to

know what

Evans, p. 143. Blakney, p. 247.

it

is,

that

is

to say, "to see

my own

face


7

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM even before

I

was born"

ness of the Absolute

"To is

I

1

must plunge into "the vast empti-

Tao."

see one's face

which one has even prior

ascribed to Hui-neng

(

to his birth"

Yeno, died 713), the sixth patriarch of

Zen Buddhism in China. This corresponds to Eckhart's statement which he quotes as by "an authority": "Blessed are the

who

pure in heart

leave everything to

before ever they existed." in the cellar

may

-^

"^

God now

put in a question here:

about a man's purity of heart prior to

talk

could

we

also talk

about seeing our

born?" Eckhart quotes

St.

own

^*

"How

Evidently

could

his existence?

face before

Augustine: "There

door for the soul into the divine nature are reduced to nothing."

as they did

Those who have not tasted wine

is

we

How

we were

a heavenly

—where somethings

we have

to wait for the

heavenly door to open by our repeated or ceaseless knocking at

it

when

dark with ence and

I

am

light." it is

"ignorant with knowing, loveless with loving, ^^

only

Everything comes out of

when

enter into the realm of

this basic experi-

comprehended that we really emptiness where the Godhead keeps this

is

our discriminatory mind altogether "emptied out to nothingness."

''

V Tao? Before we go on to the Zen conception of the "Absolute Tao" or Godhead who sets itself up on "pure nothingness," it may be appropriate to comment on the Taoist conception

What

is

the Absolute

22 Ibid., p. 89. 23 Ibid., p. 216. 24 Ibid., p. 89.

25

"Von erkennen

kennelos und von minne minnelos

vinster." Pfeiffer, p. 491. 26 Blakney, p. 88.

und von

liehte


8

mysticism: christian and buddhist

1

expounded by Lao-tzu. He was one of the early China on philosophical subjects and the theme of the Tao Te Ching ascribed to him is Tao. Tao literally means "way" or "road" or "passage," and in more than one sense corresponds to the Sanskrit Dharma. It of

it

as

thinkers of

is

one of the key terms in the history of Chinese thought.

While Taoism derives

its

name from

With the

this term,

Confucius also

however

it

moralistic than metaphysical connotation. It

is

uses

use

it

it

extensively.

latter

has a more Taoists

who

in the sense of "truth," "ultimate reality," "logos," etc.

Lao-tzu defines

it

in his

Tao Te Ching

as follows:

The Way

is like an empty vessel That yet may be drawn from Without ever needing to be filled.

It

is

bottomless all

It I

is

like

There

is

.

.

.

a deep pool that never dries

do not know whose child

It looks as if

in

the very progenitor of

:

things in the world.

it

were prior

it

could be.

to God.-^

another and more detailed characterization of

Tao

Chapter XIV:

When It

is

When It

is

is

at

it

you cannot

see

it;

you

listen to

it

you cannot hear

it;

called soundless.

When It

you look

called formless.

you

try to seize

it

you cannot hold

it;

called subtle.

27 Translated by Arthur Waley. (From his The Way and Its Power, published 1934 by George Allen and Unwin Ltd. The succeeding quotations from Tao Te Ching are all my rendering.) Chapter IV. God here is distinguished from Godhead as by Eckhart. The last two lines are my

own

version.


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM

No

one can measure these three

IQ

to their

ultimate ends,

Therefore they are fused to one. It

is

up, but

It

is

down, but

it is

not brightened;

not obscured.

it is

It stretches endlessly,

And no name

is

to be given.

nothingness.

It returns to It

is

called formless form, shapeless shape.

It

is

called the intangible.

You You

face

it

follow

but you cannot see it

Holding on

You

to the

Ancient

front.

its

but you cannot see

Way

its

back.

{Tao)

control beings of today.

Thus you know the beginning of things, Which is the essence of the Way {Tao-chi).

When

these quotations are

see points sical

common

Lao-tzu

is

talk

about

and concrete,

in his

full of

we

expressing in his clas-

German

"God "God "God

vernacular. Lao-tzu

is

poetical

imageries, whereas Eckhart the theologian

more conceptual. He would

say:

has no before nor after." is

neither this nor that."

is

perfect simplicity."

"Prior to creatures, in the eternal now, the Father in his eternal stillness."

For comparison

I

will give

Tao Te Ching, Chapter There 28

Eckhart's,

Chinese way what the medieval Dominican preacher

would

is

to both.

compared with

is

Evans, p. 148.

I

ha\'e played before

'^

another definition for

XXV:

something in a

state of fusion,

Tao from


mysticism: christian and BUDDHIST

20

It

is

born prior

How It

stands by

heaven and earth.

to

How

still!

lonely!

itself

unchanging,

moves about everywhere unfailingly. Let us have it as mother [of all things] under the heavens. I do not know its name, But if needed call it Great. It

The Great Walks on

And

walks on.

to the farthest end.

then returns.

Therefore the

Heaven

is

Earth

great.

The

is

ruler

Tao

is

great,

great.

is

great.

Within the realm there are four greats And the ruler is one of them.

Man He He

earth when conforming heaven when conforming

is

is

to earth,

to heaven.

is Tao when conforming to Tao. Let him thus conform himself to the suchness

{tzu jan) of things.

R. B. Blakney remarks in his preface to the Tao Te Ching translation that Lao-tzu's

and

book fascinated him

many years own transla-

for

that he finally could not help producing his

tion in spite of the fact that there are already a large of such translations available.

who

He

number

suspects that every foreigner

knows the Chinese language and can read Lao-tzu would feel the same as this new translator did. This remark or confession on the part of the translator is at all

in the original

highly significant. In

Lao-tzu

is

my

view the fascination he

feels

about

not just due to the Old Philosopher's contribution

to "the literature of mysticism," but partly to the language in


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM which one

expressed. It

it is

may

21

be better to say that the charm

about Chinese literature comes quite frequently from

feels

visually going over those

unwieldy ideogrammatic characters

with which thoughts or feelings are

made communicative. The

Chinese books are best perused in large type printed from the

wooden

blocks.

Besides this visual appeal of the ideograms there

ment

in the Chinese

especially in

is

an

ele-

language which, while rare in others,

Indo-European languages, expresses more directly what our ordinary conceptualized words fail to

and communicate. For instance, read the Tao Te Ching, Chapter concretely

XX,

in the original

tions

you have

lack that rich,

and compare it with any of the translahand and see that the translations invariably graphic, emotional flavor which we after more at

than two thousand

deep

satisfaction.

five

hundred years can appreciate with is a great Chinese scholar and

Arthur Waley

one of the best interpreters of Chinese tion of Lao-tzu

is

life.

a fine piece of work in

His English transla-

many

senses,

but he

cannot go beyond the limitations of the language to which he is

born,

VI

The

following story

circulated

may

among Zen

disrespectful of facts. It

way

ing the

in

not have historicity but

followers is

who

worth our consideration as

The book

^^

29 It

of is

illustrat-

"still

of

desert"

and that" and prior to "before and after." and comments are taken from a Chinese Zen textthe Sung dynasty of the eleventh century. The text

beyond story

widely

which the Zen teachers handle the problem

"Emptiness" or "absolute nothingness" or the lying

it is

are occasionally quite

"this

entitled

Hekigan-shu or Hekigan-roku meaning "Blue Rock Rock Records."

Collection" or "Blue


MYSTICISM

22

:

much

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

Japan and some of the stories are used as ko-an (problems given to Zen students for solution). Bodhidharma, who is the first Zen patriarch in China, came from India in the sixth century. The Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty invited him to his court. The Emperor Wu, a

is

Studied very

in

good pious Buddhist studying the various Mahayana Sutras and practicing the Buddhist virtues of charity and humility, asked the teacher from India: the highest

and

"The Sutras what is

holiest truth, but

refer so it,

my

much

to

Reverend

Master?"

Bodhidharma answered, "A ness in

The Emperor: "Who there

vast emptiness

and no

holi-

it."

are you then

who

me

stand before

if

nothing holy, nothing high in the vast emptiness of

is

ultimate truth?"

Bodhidharma: "I do not know, your Majesty." The Emperor failed to understand the meaning answer and Bodhidharma left him to find a retreat

of this in the

North.

When was

Bodhidharma's express purpose

of

coming

to

China

to elucidate the teaching of "vast emptiness" [sunyatd),

why

did he answer "I do not

know"

to the

important and to-the-very-point question? ever,

that

It is

Emperor's evident,

all-

how-

Bodhidharma's answer could not have been one

an agnostic who believes in the unknowability of ultimate truth. Bodhidharma's unknowability must be altogether of a different sort. It is really what Eckhart would like to see "transformed knowledge, not ignorance which us all have of

—

comes from lack to this

of

knowing;

it

is

by knowing that we get

unknowing. Then we know by divine knowing, then

our ignorance

is

ennobled and adorned with supernatural


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM

23

was this kind of unknowing which scendental, divine, and supernatural that he wished ^°

knowledge."

It

is

tran-

his

im-

perial friend to realize.

ordinary relative point of view Bodhidharma

From our

may

seem too abrupt and unacceptable. But the fact is that the knowledge or "I do not know" which is gained only by "sinking into oblivion and ignorance" "

is

or discrete or discontinuous in the ability, for

silent

we can

get

it

something quite abrupt

human

system of know-

only by leaping or plunging into the

valley of Absolute Emptiness.

There

is

no continuity

and the knowledge we highly value in the realm of relativity where our senses and intellect move. The Zen teachers are all unknowing knowers or knowing

between

this

unknowers. Therefore their "I do not know" does not really mean our "I do not know." We must not take their answers in the

generally do at the level of relative knowledge.

way we

comments which are quoted below do not we ordinarily do. They have this unique way.

Therefore, their follow the line

Yengo

(1063-1135)

gives

his

evaluation

of

the

mondo

("question and answer") which took place between Bodhid-

harma and

the

lowing words

Emperor

Wu

of the

Liang dynasty

in the fol-

^^ :

Bodhidharma came to this country, via the southern route, was something in Chinese mentality which responds readily to the teaching of Mahayana Buddhism. He was full of expectations, he wanted to lead our countrymen to the doctrine of "Mind-alone" which cannot be transmitted by letters

seeing that there

3°

Evans, p. 13. "Hie miioz komen in ein vergezzen und in ein nihtivizzen." Pfeiffer, p. 14. Evans, p. 13. 32 Yengo is given here in a modernized fashion, for the original Chinese 31

would require a detailed interpretation.


MYSTICISM

24

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

of mouth. The Mind could only be immewhereby we attain to the perception of the Buddha-nature, that is, to the realization of Buddhahood. When the Nature is attained, we shall be absolutely free from all bondage and will not be led astray because of linguistic complications. For here Reality itself is revealed in its nakedness with no kinds of veil on it. In this frame of mind Bodhidharma approached the Emperor. He also thus instructed his disciples. We see that Bodhidharma's [emptied mind] had no premeditated measures, no

means

or by

of

word

diately taken hold of

calculating plans.

He

manner possible, would obstruct his seeing directly nakedness. Here was neither good

just acted in the freest

cutting everything asunder that into the

Nature

nor

neither right nor wrong, neither gain nor

evil,

The Emperor

in

its

entire

loss.

.

.

.

Wu

was a good student of Buddhist philosophy have the first principle elucidated by the great

and wished to teacher from India. The first principle consists in the identity of being and non-being beyond which the philosophers fail to go. The Emperor wondered if this blockage could somehow be broken down by Bodhidharma. Hence his question. Bodhidharma knew that whatever answers he might give would be frustrating. "What is Reality? What is Godhead?" "Vast emptiness and no distinctions whatever [neither Father nor Son nor Holy Ghost]." No philosopher however well trained in his profession could ever be expected to himself

who knew

jump out

of this trap, except

perfectly well

how

to cut

all

Bodhidharma

limitations

down

by one blow of a sword.

Most people nowadays fail to get into the ultimate significaBodhidharma's pronouncement and would simply cry out,

tion of

"vast emptiness" as

purpose! As

my

if

they really experienced

old master remarks,

stands Bodhidharma, he for the

first

"When

a

it.

But

man

all

time finds himself at

quietly sitting by the fireside." Unfortunately, the

to

no

truly under-

home

Emperor

Wu


:

:

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM happened

to

be one of those

tions of Hnguistics.

who

could not

rise

25

above the Umita-

His views failed to penetrate the screen of

meum and tuum (you and me). Hence his second "Who are you who face me?" Bodhidharma's blunt

question: retort,

"I

do not know," only helped make the august inquirer blankly stare.

Later,

how

when he

learned

more about Bodhidharma and

realized

stupid he was to have missed the rare opportunity of going

deeper into the mystery of Reality, he was greatly upset. Hearing

Bodhidharma's death

of

stele for

him and

after

inscribed

on

some years he erected a memorial "Alas! I saw him, I met him, I

it:

interviewed him, and failed to recognize him. past now. Alas, history

irrevocable!"

is

He

How

sad! It

concluded

is

all

his eulogy

thus

"As long

as the

mind

tarries

on the plane of

relativity. It

forever remains in the dark.

But the moment It

it

loses itself in the

Emptiness,

ascends the throne of Enlightenment."

Emperor Wu, Yengo the remark: "Tell me by the way where

After finishing the story of the

commentator puts this Bodhidharma could be located." This is expressly addressed to the readers and the commentator expects us to give him an answer. Shall we take up his challenge? There is another commentator on this episode, who lived some years prior to the one already referred to. This one, called Seccho (980-1052), was a great literary talent and his

comments

are put in a versified

form

full of

poetic fantasies.

Alluding to the Emperor Wu's attempt to send a special envoy for

Bodhidharma, who

after the interview crossed the

Chiang and found a commentator goes on tzu

retreat

somewhere

Yang-

in the North, the


MYSTICISM

26

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

Emperor Wu] may order all your him [Bodhidharma], But he will never show himself up again! We are left alone for ages to come

"You

[the

subjects

to fetch

Vainly thinking of the irrevocable

But

past.

stop! let us not think of the past!

The

cool refreshing breeze sweeps

all

o\cr the

earth,

Never knowing when

to

suspend

its

work."

now

Seccho (the master commentator)

turns around and

surveying the entire congregation (as he was reciting his versi-

comments),

"O

^^

to

After this interruption, Seccho continues, "Yes, yes, he

is

fied

asks:

among

be discovered

Brethren,

us at this very

is

not our Patriarch

moment?" !"

Let him come up and wash the feet for me would have been quite an exciting event if Eckhart appeared to be present at this session which took place in the here

!

It

Flowery Kingdom in the

But who can in the

tell

if

first

Eckhart

is

half of the eleventh century!

not watching

most modern and most mechanized

me

city of

writing this

New

York?

VII

A

few more remarks about "Emptiness."

Relativity Relati\'ity

for this

A

is

is

is

possible

the

similar

way

^^

and not Reality itself. somewhere between two or more things,

an aspect that

of Reality

makes one

argument applies

get related to another.

to

movement. Movement

is

possible in time; without the concept of time there cannot be

a

movement 33 3*

of

any

sort.

Bodhidharma. So in Japanese, hsiang

For a movement means an object

in Chinese, laksana in Sanskrit.


.

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM going out of itself.

itself

and becoming something

Without the background

which

is

not

becoming

is

un-

else

of time this

27

thinkable.

Therefore, Buddhist philosophy states that cepts, tion,

all

these con-

movement and relativity, must have their field of operaand this field is designated by Buddhist philosophers as

Emptiness [sunyatd)

When Buddha

talks

about

all

things being transient, im-

permanent, and constantly changing, and therefore teaches that there

is

nothing in

this

world which

absolutely depend-

is

able and worth clinging to as the ultimate seat of security, he means that \ve must look somewhere else for things permanent (;o), bliss-imparting {raku) autonomous {ga), and absolutely free from defilements {jo). According to the Nirvana ,

Sutra (of the

Mahayana

school), these four (jd-raku-ga-jd)

are the qualities of Nirvana, and Nirvana

have knowledge, when the mind

is

freed

is

attained

from

thirst

cravings {dsava), and conditionality [sankhdra)

vana

is

.

often thought to be a negativistic idea the

when we [tanhd),

While Nir-

Mahayana

followers have quite a different interpretation. For they in-

clude autonomy {ga, dtman) as one of

and autonomy

is

free will,

its

qualities

{guna),

something dynamic. Nir\'ana

name for the Emptiness. The term "emptiness"' is apt to be misunderstood for reasons. The hare or rabbit has no horns, the turtle

is

an-

other

hair growing on

its

back. This

Buddhist sunyatd does not

A it.

fire

This

is

mean

has been burning until is

one form

\-arious

has no

of emptiness.

The

absence.

now and

there

is

no more of

another kind of emptiness. Buddhist sunyatd does

mean extinction. The wall screens

not

the room:

on

this side there

is

a table,


MYSTICISM

28

and on the other

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

side there

Buddhist sunyatd does not

nothing, space

is

mean

is

unoccupied.

— these

are not the

vacancy.

Absence, extinction, and unoccupancy

Buddhist conception of emptiness. Buddhists' Emptiness

on the plane of ing

all

relativity. It is

is

not

Absolute Emptiness transcend-

forms of mutual relationship, of subject and object,

and death, God and the world, something and nothing, and no, affirmation and negation. In Buddhist Emptiness there is no time, no space, no becoming, no-thing-ness; it is what makes all these things possible; it is a zero full of infinite birth yes

possibilities,

it is

a void of inexhaustible contents.

Pure experience it

is

an

when

possible only

mind

is

devoid of

say "except

may

is

the

mind

itself"

the

mind

all its

itself as

is

itself,

is

sunyatd

itself,

that

is,

when

itself.

is

this St.

"itself"?

We may

Augustine did:

do not know; but when you do not,

I

is

the

But to

apt to be misunderstood again. For

be questioned, what

The

reflected in

possible contents except

answer in the same way as ask, I

seeing

act of self-identification, a state of suchness. This

it

have to

"When you

know."

following dialogue which took place between two

Zen

masters of the T'ang dynasty will help show us what methodology was adopted by Zen for communicating the idea of "itself."

One

master called Isan (771-853) was working with his

disciples in the garden, picking tea leaves.

He

the disciples in the garden called Kyozan,

master:

"We

primeval form." Kyozan shook the tea bushes. just got the

who

have been picking the tea leaves

your voice only and do not see your form. action, but not the body."

"What would be your answer?"

said to

all

also

day;

one of

was a I

hear

Show me your Isan said, "You

Kyozan then

said,

Isan remained quiet for a


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM Thereupon Kyozan

while.

not the action."

twenty blows of

As

is

concerned

two masters know what each

as these

the business of philosophers of our

background

nize or to probe the

Zen masters stand and

The

capacity.

"I save you from

was,

Isan's conclusion

got the body, but

my stick."

Zen philosophy

far as

"You have

said,

29

this

may

be

all right,

seeking to reveal. But

is

modern epoch

try to elucidate

it

to recog-

is

on which these

of experience

to the best of their

masters are not simply engaged in mystifying

the bystanders.

To

say "empty"

remain out of

much

silent. it

is

How

is

already denying

to

communicate the

the crux.

It is for this

hart

is

doing

it

this all the

But you cannot

silence without going

reason that Zen avoids as

as possible resorting to linguistics

go underneath words, as

itself.

and

strives to

were to dig out what time in his sermons.

is

make

there.

He

us

Eck-

picks out

some innocent words from the Bible and lets them disclose an "inner act" which he experiences in his unconscious consciousness.

His thought

is

not at

all

in the words.

He

turns

them into instruments for his own purposes. In a similar way the Zen master makes use of anything about himself including his

own

shout, beat, or kick.

behind is

all

The main

folded over his chest.

is

to discover

what

is

When

he

may is

stand

still

wdth his hands

asked a further question, he

shake the tea plant or walk away without a word, or

give you a

blow

of a stick.

Sometimes the master

mind

thing

then

these actions. In order to demonstrate that Reality

"Emptiness," the Zen master

may

He may

person, trees, stones, sticks, etc.

is

of "emptiness" to the

more

poetic

moon, calhng

and compares the it

the

mind-moon


:

MYSTICISM

30

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

moon of suchness. An moon

or the

ancient master of

Zen philosophy

sings of this

The mind-moon is soUtary and perfect: The light swallows the ten-thousand things. It

not that the light illuminates objects,

is

Nor

are objects in existence.

Both

light

And what

and objects are gone, is it

that remains?

The master leaves the question unanswered. When it is answered the moon will no longer be there. Reality is differentiated and Emptiness vanishes into an emptiness.

We

ought not

moon, primeval mind-moon, and go back to this, for it is where we

to lose sight of the original

the master wants us to

have started

first.

Emptiness

infinite rays of light

is

not a vacancy,

and swallows

holds in

it

it

all the multiplicities there

are in this world.

Buddhist philosophy

is

the philosophy of "Emptiness,"

the philosophy of self-identity. Self-identity

guished from mere identity. In an identity for identification;

subject, itself.

this

one

is

the

reflected in

we have two

objects

is

just

to

one object or

by going out of

movement. And we

mind going out

itself.

distin-

identifies itself

Self-identity thus involves a

self-identity itself

in self-identity there

one only, and

Self-identity

of is

it is

be

is

itself

see that

in order to see

the logic of pure experi-

ence or of "Emptiness." In self-identity there are no contradictions whatever. Buddhists call this suchness. I

once talked with a group of lovers of the arts on the

Buddhist teaching of "Emptiness" and Suchness, trying to

show how part of

To

my

the teaching

is

related to the arts.

The

following

is

talk.

speak the truth,

I

am

not qualified to say anything at


1

MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM about the

all

arts,

because

have no

I

appreciate good works of

opportunities to

can say

art. All that I

no

instincts,

artistic

many

education, and have not had

artistic

3

more

is

or less

conceptual.

Take

the case of painting.

I

often hear Chinese or Japanese

art critics declare that Oriental art consists in depicting spirit

and not form. For they say the form creates

the

itself;

that

when

the spirit

main thing

is

an object which the painter chooses

of

is

understood

to get into the spirit

The

for his subject.

West, on the other hand, emphasizes form, endeavors to reach the spirit by

means

the

spirit,

He

his

work

can convey.

lines

of form.

And

spirit is all in all.

A

it

The

East

is

is

:

the

the artist grasps

more than colors and and not a copyist.

reveals something real artist

just the opposite

when

thinks that

a creator

has visited God's workshop and has learned the secrets of

creation

— creating something out

of nothing.

With such a painter every stroke of his brush is the work and it cannot be retraced because it never permits

of creation,

a repetition. it

God cannot

cancel his

fiat

;

it is

final, irrevocable,

an ultimatum. The painter cannot reproduce

is

work.

When

even a single stroke of

his

brush

is

his

absolute,

own how

can the whole structure or composition be reproduced, since this

is

the synthesis of

every one of which has

all his strokes,

been directed toward the whole? In the same is

way

an expression of

every minute of its

inner

self is

human

life

as long as

it

original, divine, creative,

and cannot be retrieved. Each individual life thus is a great work of art. Whether or not one makes it a fine inimitable masterpiece depends upon one's consciousness of the working of sunyatd within oneself.

How

does the painter get into the

spirit of

the plant, for


MYSTICISM

32 instance,

if

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

he wants

now

human

secret

is

to

become the plant

itself.

But now can

being turn himself into a plant? Inasmuch as he

an animal, there must be in him

aspires to paint a plant or

something which corresponds to so,

famous

preserved as a national treasure at Daitokuji temple in

Kyoto? The a

Mokkei (Mu-chi) picture, which is

to paint a hibiscus as

of the thirteenth century did in his

it

in

one way or another.

If

he ought to be able to become the object he desires to paint.

The discipline consists in studying the plant inwardly with his mind thoroughly purified of its subjective, self-centered contents. This means to keep the mind in unison with the "Emptiness" or Suchness, whereby one who stands against the object ceases to be the one outside that object but transforms

himself into the object

itself.

This identification enables the

same life animatmeant when it is and that when the

painter to feel the pulsation of one and the

ing both

him and

the object. This

said that the subject

painter begins his is

working and

is lost

work

it is

it

is

what

in the object,

is

is

not he but the object

itself

then that his brush, as well as his

that

arm and

become obedient servants to the spirit of the object. The object makes its own picture. The spirit sees itself as rehis fingers,

flected in

itself.

This

It is said that

is

also a case of self-identity.

Henri Matisse looked

at

an object which he

intended to paint for weeks, even for months, until

began it

to

move him,

to urge him,

its spirit

even to threaten him, to give

an expression.

A

writer on

modern

idea of a straight line cian, for the

is

art,

I

am

different

told, says that the artist's

from that of the mathemati-

former conceives a straight

line as fusing

with a

do not know whether this quotation is quite correct, but the remark is most illuminating. For a straight line that

curve.

I


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM

a dead line and the curve that can-

remains always straight

is

not be anything

another dead

else is

and

living lines,

besides there ought to be

is

suffused with blood,

am

they are at

curved and a curve

what

is

known

sion" in every line. Every living line

I

If

line.

ought to be the case with every

this

production, a straight line

is

33

it is

is

is

all

artistic

straight;

as "dimensional ten-

not just on one plane,

it

tridimensional.

also told that color with the artist

is

not just red or

more than perceptual, it is charged with emotion. This means that color is a living thing with the artist. When blue,

it

is

he sees red

it

works out

its

own

world; the

artist

bestows a

The red does not stop just at being one of decomposed through the prism. As a living out all other colors and combines them in ac-

heart on the color. the seven colors as

thing

it

calls

cordance with

its

inner promptings.

Red with

a mere physical or psychological event,

it

is

the artist

is

not

endowed with a

spirit.

These views are remarkably Oriental. There striking statement

him,

when he

any kind, he

is

made by

The

artist.

is

another

According

to

thoroughly absorbed in a visual perception of

feels

within himself certain possibilities out of the

visual representation sion.

a Western

which urge him

artist's life is

to give

that of the creator.

the world just for the sake of

them an

God

expres-

did not

make

making something. He had a

wanted to see himself reflected in his That is what is meant when the Bible speaks about God's making man after his own likeness. It is not man alone that is God's image, the whole world is his image, even the meanest flea as Eckhart would say shares God's is-ness in its is-ness. And because of this is-ness the whole world moves on. So with the artist. It is due to his is-ness being imbued into certain inner urge, he creation.


MYSTICISM

34 his

works that they are ahve with

may and

not be conscious of also

is

this

not just being

but

so,

his spirit.

The

artist

himself

proceeding, but Zen knows

The it

who

is-ness of a thing

infinite possibilities

Chinese, toku in Japanese, and guna

where

is

spirit.

contains in

it

call te in

This

in Sanskrit.

proper

in the

it

which Buddhists

is

all

prepared to impart the knowledge to those

would approach is

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

lies

"the mystery of being," which

"the inexhaustibility of the Emptiness."

The

who

transforms one's view of

one truly see into the

It

is-ness of things.

The

of

is

given here

life

and makes

lixed in the ninth century,

how Zen

to illustrate

own

Rakan Osho (Lohan Hoshang),

following story of

Sh5shu, China,

verse relates his

experience.

was

in the seventh year of Hsien-t'ung [867 a.d.]

that

I

Tao

[that

for the

Wherever I went A lump of doubt For three

first

time took up the study of the

Zen].

Is,

I

met words and did not understand them.

inside the

years, residing in

mind was like a willow-basket. the woods by the stream, I was

altogether unhappy.

When

unexpectedly

I

happened

to

meet the Dharmaraja

[Zen master] sitting on the rug, I

advanced towards him earnestly asking him

my

to dissolve

doubt.

The master

rose

from the rug on which he

sat

deeply absorbed

in meditation;

He

then baring

my This

all

his

arm gave me

a blow with his

fist

on

chest.

of a

to pieces.

sudden exploded

my lump

of doubt completely


MEISTER ECKHART AND BUDDHISM

my head

Raising

was

first

time perceived that the sun

have been the happiest

I

no

fears,

in

day out,

Only

the

circular.

Since then

Day

I for

35

man

in the world, with

no worries; I

my

I notice

pass

my

time in a most lively way.

inside filled with a sense of fullness

and

satisfaction; I

do not go out any longer, hither and

thither,

with

my

begging bowl for food.^^

What

is

of the

Rakan Osho's

most significant

experience

is

interest in his verse-story of

that "he for the

ceived that the sun was round." Everybody the sun and the

Osho

also

must have seen

then does he specifically refer to really for the eat, sleep,

first

time?

We

walk, talk. But are

all

we

it

it

first

all his life.

as circular as

think

we

if

are living,

really? If

we

time per-

knows and

were,

sees

Why

he saw

it

we really we would

never be talking about "dread," "insecurity," "fear," "frustration," "courage to be," "looking into the vacant," "facing

death." 35

The Transmission

of the

Lamp

(Dentoroku)

,

fas.

XI.


II.

The

Basis of Buddhist Philosophy

I

BUDDHIST

philosophy

is

based on the experience Buddha

had about twenty-five centuries ago. To understand, therefore, what Buddhist philosophy is, it is necessary to know what that experience was which Buddha had after six years' hard thinking and ascetic austerities and exercises in meditation.

We

generally think that philosophy

tellect,

a

mind most

richly

dialectical subtleties.

those

who

jQot-be thing.

is

a matter of pure in-

and, therefore, that the best philosophy comes out of

endowed with But

this is

intellectual

not the case.

acumen and

It is

true that

are poorly equipped with intellectual powers can-

good philosophers.

Intellect,

There must be a deep power

however,

be a strong, inflexible will-power, there into the nature of

man, and

is

not the whole

of imagination, there

must

must be a keen insight must be an actual

finally there

seeing of the truth as synthesized in the whole being of the

man I

to

himself.

wish to emphasize

"know"

unless ficial

it

is

this idea of "seeing." It

is

not enough

term is ordinarily understood. Knowledge accompanied by a personal experience is super-

as the

and no kind

of philosophy

36

can be

built

upon such a


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

shaky foundation. There

are,

however,

I

suppose

37

many

sys-

tems of thought not backed by real experiences, but such are

may be

never inspiring. They

fine to look at

but their power

move the readers is nil. Whatever knowledge the philosopher may have, it must come out of his experience, and this expeence is seeing. Buddha has always emphasized this. He couples to

knowing [nana, jhdna) with seeing [passa, pasya), for without seeing, knowing has no depths, cannot understand the realities of life. Therefore, the first item of the Eightfold Noble Path is sarmnddassana, right seeing, and sammdsankappa, knowing, comes next. Seeing

right

experiencing,

is

seeing

things in their state of suchness [tathatd) or is-ness. Buddha's

whole philosophy comes from

The phy

is

this "seeing," this experiencing.

experience which forms the basis of Buddhist philosocalled "enlightenment-experience," for

ence of enlightenment which

Buddha had

hard thinking and profound taught afterward

is

reflection,

this experi-

it is

after six years of

and everything he

the unfolding of this inner perception he

then had.

What

then was

this

enlightenment-experience?

II

Roughly speaking, we can say that there are two ways approaching

this question

ence

Buddha had ?\ One

The

objective approSch

statements ascribed to

:

is

What

is

objective

is

and the other

to find out the

Buddha

first

subjective. \^

rationalized

after the experience

derstood as forming the basis of his teaching. That did he

first

teach?

What was

preach throughout his characteristically

life?

constitutes

the

of

the enlightenment-experi-

main

thesis

and unis, what

he continued to

This will be to discover what the

Buddhist teaching as

dis-


MYSTICISM

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

tinguished from that of the rest of the Indian thinkers.

second approach, called subjective,

to

is

The

examine Buddha's

utterances reflecting his immediate feelings after the experi-

w

The

ence of enlightenment.

whereas the second with the

first.

What

is

approach

is

metaphysical

-

universally recognized as Buddhist thought regard-

is

less of its varieties of

andtman, that

or

first

psychological or existential. Let us start

begins with the idea

interpretation is_thÂŁ-_doctrine of anattd

the doctrin^^of non-egoi^ Its

is,

( 1 )

:

that

all

tmngs^Te

argument

transient as they

khandha) and go on disintegrating all the time, that there is nothing permanent; and (2) that there is therefore nothing worth clinging to in ths world are composites [skandha or

where every one

and

of us

How

sufTering.

made

is

to

undergo

how do we

We

must some-

conquer them? For we cannot go on

how

find the

fear

and

Buddha

He

way

finally

like this.

out of this torture.

insecurity

leave his

seeking for a

world.

way

.

and

individually

It

was

All composite

of]

this

is

discovered

it

by hitting upon the idea of

things

{sankhdra)

^

are impermanent.

realizes [this,],

he heeds not

When

[this

a

world

the path to purity.

All composite things are sorrowful. realizes [this],

made

for six long years

out not only for himself but for the whole

by wisdom (panna)

sorrow;

this feeling of

collectively that

home and wander about

non-ego {anattd). The formula runs thus:

man

kinds of sorrow

all

do we escape from them? Or,

he heeds not

[this

world

When of]

a

man

sorrow;

this

by wisdom is

the path

to purity.

The Dhammapada,

translated by S. Radhakrishnan (Oxford Univer1951), verses 277-9, pp. 146-7. I do not, however, always follow him in my quotations in this book. 1

sity

Press,


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

(dhammd)

All things realizes [this],

When

are egoless.

he heeds not

[this

world

of]

a

man

39

by wisdom

sorrow; this

is

the path

to purity.

The one

thing

I

wish to

call to

the readers' attention

term "wisdom," pahnd, or prajiid in Sanskrit. This

is

is

important term throughout Buddhist philosophy. There English equivalent for

heavy, besides

"Transcendental wisdom"'

do.

We know

tive

is

is

very

much notice

is

it

is

means

the seeing by

of

a prajnd-tyt

a special kind of intuition enabling us to penetrate

right into the bedrock of Reality

itself. I

have elsewhere

a somewhat detailed account of prajnd and teachings, especially in

The

too

not just an ordinary seeing by means of rela-

knowledge;

which

is

no

fail also to

that seeing

emphasized in Buddhism, but we must not that seeing

is

does not exactly hit the mark. But tempo-

it

"wisdom"

rarily let

it,

the

a very

its

role in

"

given

Buddhist

Zen Buddhism.

doctrine of non-ego not only repudiates the idea of arr

ego-substance but points out the illusiveness of the ego-idea

As long

itself.

we cannot

as

we

are in this world of particular existences

avoid cherishing the idea of an individual ego. But

by no means warrants the substantiality of the ego.

this

Modern psychology

has in fact done

away with an ego-entity. we carry on our

simply a workable hypothesis by which

It is

practical business.

The problem of the ego must be carried on To really understand what Buddha that there is no dtman, we must leave psy-

to the field of metaphysics.

meant by saying

chology behind. Because there

and

to

large. ^

is

no dtman

if

it

we wish

is

not enough just to state that

really to reach the

end

of sorrow

be thus at peace with ourselves and with the world at

We

must have something

Studies in

positive in order to see our-

Z^n (London: Rider and Company, 1955),

pp. 85-128.


MYSTICISM

40

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

harbor and securely anchored. Mere psy-

selves safely in the

this. We must go out to a broader field where /^rajna-intuition comes into play. As long as we wander in the domain of the senses and in-

chology cannot give us of Reality

the idea of an individual ego besets us, and makes us

tellect,

eternally pursue the

shadow

of the ego.

thing always eluding our grasp;

caught

it is

it,

somewhere

is

some-

is

we have

think

found to be no more than a slough

snake while the real ego snake

But the ego

when we

left

by the

The human

else.

ego-

covered with an infinity of sloughs, the catcher will

is

before long find himself

all

exhausted.

The ego must be caught

not from outside but from within. This

is

work

the

of prajnd.

The wonder prajnd performs is to catch the actor in the midst of his action, he is not made to stop acting in order to be seen as actor. The actor is the acting, and the acting is the actor,

and out

of this unification or identification prajnd

awakened. The ego does not go out of himself in order himself.

He

in himself.

stays within himself

But as soon

and the ego mized, and all is lost. as actor

and

sees himself as reflected

as a split takes place

He

talks

dichoto-

terms of Christian

to Buddhist ears but

read with a certain insight

we

loves himself"

intuition that sees into the ego

giving us his love

in

is

about Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and

They sound unfamiliar which he [God]

between the ego

as seer or spectator, prajnd

Eckhart expresses the same experience theology.

God

when

love.

they are

will find that "the love is

3

God

with his

Evans, pp. 147

ff.

own

with

the same as the prajnd-

itself.

Eckhart

tells

"In

us:

has given us his Holy Ghost so that

can love him with the love wherewith he loves himself. love

is

to see

love; awareness of

it

deifies us."

^

we

We The


1

THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

PHILOSOPHY

4

Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father

—

this

Zen terminology, one mirror reflecting another with no shadow between them. Eckhart calls this "the play going on in the Father-nature. mutual

love, that

love loving

is,

itself

Play and audience are the same."

He

is,

continues:

This play was played eternally before

Book

written in the

of

Wisdom, "Prior

in

all

natures.

As

is

it

to creatures, in the eternal

have played before the Father in an eternal stillness." has eternally been playing before the Father as the Father has before his Son. The playing of the twain is the Holy Ghost in whom they both disport themselves and he disports now,

I

The Son

himself in both. Sport

proceeding in Dionysius

St.

itself.

and players are the same. Their nature

"God

is

a fountain flowing into

Prajna-intuition comes out of self

itself,"

as

says. itself

and returns

to

itself.

The

or ego that has been constantly eluding our rationalized

caught when

scrutiny

is

which

no other than the

is

at last

it

comes under prajnd-iniuiiion

self.

Buddhists generally talk about the egolessness (anattd or

andtmya)

of all things, but they forget that the egolessness of

things cannot really be understood until they are seen with

The

the eye of pra;na-intuition.

an ego-substance of prajnd-tyt

shining

is

psychological annihilation of

not enough, for this

under a co\'erage. Eckhart

itself in silent stillness."

our intellectually analytic eye Reality by dichotomizing

it,

is

is

proceeds:

in

leaves the light

"God

hotly pursuing the

there will be

of the Father

understanding of himself.

The

a light

no

itself

shadow

is

of

silent stillness of

reflected in

accord with the Buddhist experience

"The Word

is

(Evans, p. 146.) As long as

absolute identity where prajnd sees

Eckhart

still

says,

itself.

when he

none other than

his

understanding of the Father


— MYSTICISM

42

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

understands that he understands, and that his understanding

understands

That

is,

The

is

the

same

as that

he

is

who

understanding.

is

the hght from the hght." {Ibid., p. 146.)

psychological analysis that cannot go further or deeper

than the egolessness of the psychological ego the egolessness of

all

fails to see into

things (dharma), which appears to the

eye of praJTid-intmiion not as something sheerly of privative

value but as something only

when

filled

with infinite

the prajnd-eye surveys the nature of

[sarvadharma or sabbe dhamma) plays

possibilities.

positive

constructive

,

all

finally

things

that their egolessness dis-

energies

by

first

dispelling

clouds of Maya, by demolishing every structure of

and thus

It is

the

illusion,

by creating a world of altogether new values

based on prajnd (wisdom) and karund (love).

The

enlighten-

ment-experience therefore means going beyond the world of psychology, the opening of the prajnd-eye, and seeing into the

realm of Ultimate Reality, and landing on the other shore of the stream of samsdra, where all things are viewed in their state of suchness, in the

finds

his

mind

way from

freed

of purity. This

everything

is

when

{sabbattha

a

man

vimut-

tamdnasa),* not confounded by the notions of birth-anddeath, of constant change, of before, behind, and middle. He is

the "conqueror" to

whom The Dhammapada

(179) gives

this qualification:

conquest nobody can conquer again, Into whose conquest nobody in this world can enter By what track can you trace him,

He whose

The awakened,

of infinite range, the trackless?

Such an awakened one *

The Dhammapada,

is

an absolute conqueror and nobody

verse 348, p. 167.


THE can follow will

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

his tracks as

lives

he leaves some,

has no limiting boundaries,

whose circumference

circle

is

infinite,

center to which a path can lead. This as a

If

this

be turned into the means whereby he can be defeated.

The realm where he a

he leaves none.

43

man

of

andbhogacaryd ("an

man").° This corresponds defined as "one clings"

who

Zen

the one

is

it is

like

therefore with no describes

effortless, purposeless, useless

to Eckhart's

clings to nothing

man

of

and

to

freedom who

whom

is

nothing

(Evans, p. 146). While these statements are apt to

we must remember what is known as the karund and pranidhdna, to which the reader is

suggest the doctrine of doing-nothing-ness that Buddhists are great adherents of

teaching of

referred below.

Ill

When

"the

egolessness

of

all

things seen

which makes us transcend sorrows and "the path of purity,"

is

it

and leads

understood in the sense herein

we find the way to known as "hymn of victory." The hymn is traditionally dated,

with prajnd,^

sufferings

to

eluci-

the understanding of the lines

ascribed to

Buddha who

at the time of his enlightenment. It expresses

subjective aspect of his experience

which

uttered

more

facilitates

of the

our ex-

amination of the content of the enlightenment. While the egolessness of things

is

Buddha's metaphysical interpretation

upon it, the hymn of victory echoes his immediate reaction, and we are able to have a glimpse into the inner aspect of Buddha's mind more directly than through the conceptualization which came later. We can of the experience as he reflected

^Studies 6

"Sahbe

in the

Lankdvatdra Sutra, pp. 223 iT. anattd' ti yadd pahndya passati."

dhamma


;

:

MYSTICISM

44

now proceed to what hymn runs as follows Looking I

for the

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

have called the second approach. The

I

maker

of this tabernacle

ran to no avail

many

Through a round

of

And wearisome

birth again

births

and again. But now, maker of the tabernacle, thou hast been seen;

Thou

is

shalt not rear this tabernacle again.

All thy rafters are broken,

Thy ridge-pole is shattered; The mind approaching the Eternal, Has This

attained to the extinction of

is

all desires.^

Irving Babbitt's translation, the lines of which were

rearranged according to the original to

remark that there

from

my

one point in

is

point of view. This

is

Pali. Incidentally, I it

which

is

the phrase, "the

proaching the Eternal." The original

wish

unsatisfactory

mind ap-

"visankhdragatam

is

means "the mind released from its binding con"Approaching the Eternal" is the translator's own

cittam." This ditions."

idea read into the line. Translations, translates

which points

Henry Warren, author of Buddhism in it "this mind has demolition reached,"

to nihilism or negativism, while Babbitt's trans-

lation has something of positive-assertion.

The

difference so

conspicuous in these two translations shows that each inter-

meaning according to his own philosophy. In this my understanding, which is given below, also reflects

prets the

respect

my own

thought as regards the significance of Buddhist teach-

ing generally.

The most had

essential thing here

of being released

''The

Dhammapada,

Press, 1936.)

is

the experience that

from the bondage pp.

153-4.

in

(Published

Buddha

which he had been by Oxford University


.

THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

The utmost

kept so long.

consciousness that

the time of enlightenment to

what he

calls

filled his

45 mind

was that he was no longer the

at

slave

"the maker of the tabernacle/' or "the builder

of this house," that

He now

gahakdraka.

is,

feels himself to

be a free agent, master of himself, not subject to anything external; he

ever source

no longer submits himself to dictation from whatmay come. The gahakdraka is discovered, the

it

one who was thought

to be behind all his mental and physical and who, as long as he, that is, Buddha, was ignomade him a slave to this autocrat, and employed Buddha to fact anybody who is ignorant of the gahakdraka

activities,

rant,

—

in

—

achieve

the

this tyrant,

egocentric

latter's

Buddha was an and

impulses,

cravings.

desires,

abject creature utterly under the control of it

was

made Buddha most

this sense of absolute helplessness that

and given o\'er to all kinds of fears, dejection, and moroseness. But Buddha now discovers who this gahakdraka is; not only does he know him, but he has actually seen him face to face, taken hold of him work.

at

The

miserable, unhappy,

monster, the house-builder, the constructor of

being known, being seen, being caught, weave his entrapping network around Buddha. This means what the phrase "visankhdragatarn cittanr' means, the mind freed from the bondage of its conditioning aggrethe

prison-house,

ceases at last to

"^"

gates {sankhdr a) ,

We

\^

must however remember that the gahakdraka

Head, he

is. still

alive,

for he will

physical existence continues.

master; on the contrary, wish, he

is

ready

the tyranny of

its

now

to

I

is

not

be living as long as

this

Only he has ceased

am his master, I my command.

obey

As long

as

we

to

be

can use him

my as

I

"Being free from

binding conditions'' does not

conditions no longer exist.

r '^'^

mean

that the

are relative existences

^


MYSTICISM

46

we

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

we

are to that extent conditioned, but the knowledge that

and thus we are from this, and free-

are so conditioned transcends the conditions

above them. The sense of freedom

dom

never

means

arises

wantonness,

lawlessness,

Those who understand freedom in accordingly are making themselves

They

passions.

libertinism.

or

and

this latter sense

act

egotistic

slaves to their

are no longer masters of themselves but most

despicable slaves of the gahakdraka.

/"""^The seeing of the gahakdraka therefore does not

#

"seeing of the last of all desire," all desires." It

//

only

means

are in possession of, as

own

who

one

trol of

that

human

all

nor

is

it

the

and passions we

the desires

beings, are

mean

"the extinction of

now under

the con-

has caught the gahakdraka working out his

limited understanding of freedom.

experience does not annihilate anything;

The enlightenmentit

sees into the

work-

ing of the gahakdraka from a higher point of understanding,

which

to say,

is

by means of prajnd, and arranges

properly belongs.

it

By enlightenment Buddha

Buddha's insight has reached the deepest depths

;^ '

/ knowing. ^1 I l\

has

its

of Reality.

have said before, the seeing plays the most important

I

/role in Buddhist epistemology, for seeing

,

where

proper order, as they should be, which means that

in their

As

it

sees all things

Knowing

is

at the basis of

is

impossible without seeing;

origin in seeing.

Knowing and

all

knowledge

seeing are thus found

generally united in Buddha's teaching. Buddhist philosophy therefore ultimately points to seeing reality as

^ experiencing

enlightenment.

for this

skrit) 8 it

is

The Dharma

it

is

is.

Seeing

is

predicated as

something "you come and see." It reason that sammddassana {sammdditthi in San-

ehipassika, the is

Dharma

^

is

placed at the beginning of the Eightfold Noble Path.

Dhamma

in Pali. It has a multiple

uniformly. Here

it

meaning and Norm.

stands for Truth, Reality,

is

difficult to

render


THE What

is

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

47

the gahakdraka?

The gahakdraka detected is our relative, empirical ego, and the mind freed from its binding conditions [sankhdra) is the absolute ego,

Atman,

as

it

is

elucidated in the Nirvdna Sutra.

The denial of Atman as maintained by earlier Buddhists refers to Atman as the relative ego and not to the absolute ego, the ego after enlightenment-experience.

Enlightenment

consists in seeing into the

and not

the relative ego

meaning

of life as

as the absolute ego, the ego after

enlightenment-experience.

Enlightenment

consists in seeing into the

meaning

of life as

the interplay of the relative ego with the absolute ego. In other

words, enlightenment

Or we may

is

seeing the absolute ego as reflected in

and acting through

the relative ego

it.

express the idea in this way: the absolute ego

creates the relative ego in order to see itself reflected in is,

in the relative ego.

absolute, has self,

absolute ego, as long as

no means whereby

work out

to

to execute

The

its

his tabernacle

all its possibilities.

agent to actualize whatever

own

his lies

it,

that

remains

to assert itself, to manifest It

it-

requires a gahakdraka

biddings. While the gahakdraka

according to

it

is

design, he

is

not to build

an

quiescently in the

eflficient

Atman

in

the sense of the Nirvdna Sutra.

IV

The

question

now

is:

Why

want

to

work out

Atman? Why

its

does

it

Atman want Atman? Why does it

does the absolute

to see itself reflected in the empirical infinite possibilities

through the empirical

not remain content with

itself

instead of

going out to a world of multitudes, thereby risking

itself to


MYSTICISM

48

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

come under the domination as

self,

This

mind

The

The

living

it,

which are beyond

by seeing into

the significance of

that there

is

fails to

in the nature of the in-

is

life,

its

itself.

by proposing

The mystery

something

is

all sorts

solved by

working, by actually experiencing

or by tasting the value of

Tasting, seeing, experiencing, living

common

—

all

living.''

these demonstrate

to enlightenment-experience

and our sense-experience; the one

y

it-

function of the intellect consists in leading the

to a higher field of consciousness

of questions

but

intellect /aises the question,

a satisfactory solution. This

it

tellect.

making

is

a great mystery which cannot be solved on the plane

is

of intellection.

give

sankhdra? This

of

were, a wilHng slave of the gahakdraka.

it

takes place in our innermost

being, the other on the periphery of our consciousness. Per-

\\y; /

spnal experience

thus seen to be the foundation of Buddhist

is

philosophy. In this sense BuddHTsfrrT?^dical~~enTpiricisiti "Or experientialism, whatever dialectic later developed to probe

the

meaning

of enlightenment-experience.

Buddhist philosophy has long been wrongly regarded as nihilistic

who

and not offering anything

really try to

understand

it

constructive.

and are not

But those

superficially led to

misconstrue such terms as demolition, annihilation, extinction,

breaking up, cessation, or quiescence, or without off lust

and hatred,

will readily see that

thirst,

cutting

Buddha never taught

a religion of "eternal death."

"Eternal death," which

is

sometimes regarded

come of the Buddhist idea of egolessness, making no

when

it

is

sense whatever.

is

as the out-

a strange notion

"Death" can mean something only

contrasted to birth, for

9 "O taste and see that the Lord trusteth in him." (Psalms, 34:8.)

is

it is

a relative term. Eternal

good; blessed

is

the

man

that


THE death is

is

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

squaring a

Where

a birth.

death there

circle.

there

birth;

is

is

49

Death never takes place unless there birth there is death; where there is and death go

birth

together.

We

never have just one of them, leaving out the other. there

eternal death birth. if

must be continuous

eternal death there

is

birth.

can

Where Where

maintained there must be a never-ceasing

is

Those who

talk

about

total annihilation or extinction as

who have

never faced

a never-ending concatenation of births

and deaths. meaning

such things were possible are those

facts of experience.

Life

is

What Buddhist of life as

philosophy teaches

flows on.

it

When

is

to see into the

Buddhists declare that

all

things

and that there is nothsamsdra (birth-and-death) which can give

are impermanent, subject to conditions,

ing in this world of

us the hope for absolute security, they

we to

we

are sure to lead a

negativistic attitude

which

is

the

way

that as long as

To

transcend this

life

we must make

use of prajiid

We

must

of frustration.

life

toward

of purity.

of prajnd, not to

deny them

them from an aspect see

mean

take this world of transiency as something worth clinging

see things with the eye

as rubbish but to

closed to ordinary observers.

understand

The

latter

nothing but the impermanence or transiency or change-

ability of things

and are unable

to see eternity itself that goes

along with time-serialism which can never be demolished. demolition

is

on our

side

and not on the

Buddha's

The

ridgepole

enlightenment-experience clearly points to

smashed and the

and not

which

imagine that when serialism sight as

if it

down

rafters torn

to eternity

suffers is

were something

altogether an erroneous

way

all

The

side of time. this.

belong to time-serialism

no kind of demolition.

To

transcended eternity goes out of

relatively coexistent with time

to interpret

is

Buddha's utterance.


:

MYSTICISM

50

It really requires

mind," which eye wherein

my

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

the prajnd-eye to see into the "sankhdra-ireed

is

I see

in fact

God

is

no other than Eckhart's eye: "The the

same eye wherein God

sees

me:

eye and God's eye are one eye, one vision, one knowing,

one love." Time words, zero

is

is

eternity

infinity

and

and

eternity

infinity

is

zero.

time. In other

is

The way

of purity

— and

opens when the eye sees inwardly as well asoutwkp41ythis"sirfTultaneously. lh.d~pTajnd seeing

one cittaksdna which

is

"hymn of meaning. Those who read

with /?rfl;wa-intuition, the full

its

beyond negativism or

The

is

Renewal

eternity.

teristic of eternity that in

eternity

would not be

is

seen

it

otherwise cannot go

nihilism.

befalls all creatures all

this truth

victory" will never yield

following from Eckhart will shed

no renewal, only

one'act, oneglimpse,

no cittaksdna. Unless

it

much

under God; but

What

is

light

God

for

eternity?

It

is

there

is

charac-

youth and being are the same, for

eternal could

it

newly become and were

not always. ^°

"Renewal" means "becoming" which is "transiency." What is eternal never knows "renewal," never grows old, remains and transcends "demolition" or "annihilais to know what this "eternity" is, and this knowing consists in "knowing eternity- wise his [God's] is-ness free from becoming, and his nameless nothingness" " Eckhart is quite definite in giving us what kind of God he has in mind in this matter of knowing and not knowforever "youthful,"

tion" of

all

kinds.

Enlightenment

ing:

Know'st thou of him anything? 10 11

Evans,

246. Pfeiffer, p. 319.

istikeit

He

is

no such

thing,

and

in

p.

"Du mit ime verstandest ewicliche under sine ungenanten nihtheit."

sine

ungewordene


1

THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

5

know of him anything at all thou art in ignorance, and ignorance leads to the condition of the brute; for in creatures what is ignorant is brutish. If thou wouldst not be brutish that thou dost

know nothing of do?" Thou shalt lose

the unuttered God.

then,

—

— "What

then shall

thy thine shall be his mine, so utterly one mine that thou in

know

shalt

I

thy thy-ness and dissolve in his his-ncss;

him

eternalwise his is-ness, free from becoming: his name-

nothingness.^^

less

Eckhart's

God

of nameless nothingness

no other than the egolessness mind, and the cessation of

all

of

all

is

in

Buddhist terms

things, the sankhdra-ivtt

cravings.

V In

this

connection

I

think

it is

about the negative statements

opportune to say a few words

liberally

used in Buddhist and

other texts dealing with problems of ultimate reality. also

touch a

little

used to express a certain experience popularly

Considering

all in all,

there are

it,

or two forms of truth

known

two sources

or two kinds of experience, or "two births of

has

is

recognized

[satyd)

we can

way

as mystic.

as

Eckhart

according to the up.

Unless

this

never solve the problem of logical con-

which when expressed

religious experiences.

dinary

may

of knowledge,

man"

holders of the "Emptiness" doctrine {sunyavdda)

tradiction

I

on the frequency of paradoxical propositions

The

of thinking

in

words characterizes

all

contradiction so puzzling to the or-

comes from the

fact that

we have

to

use language to communicate our inner experience which in its

very nature transcends linguistics. But as

no means lowers of ^2

Evans,

we have

so far

communication except the one resorted to by folZen Buddhism, the conflicts go on between rationalof

p.

246.


mysticism: christian and buddhist

52 and

ists

of the

and

came

it

and experiences.

we

come

ha\'e almost

formulate for

worse

is

its

own

to accept everything

experiences,

will

condemn them

and therefore

mdrtha

Buddha

is

not

all.

its

to

What

as "illogical" or "unthinkable"

as false,

and

finally that as

new

as of

no human value.

put aside anything Siinyata :

This

came

it

now come even to suppress the and that when they actually take

place,

(satyd)

such

language com-

that language has

new

The

is

be molded according to

to

effective operation.

truth of it

human

to assert itself over all

our acts are to be regulated by the rules

dictates,

for the use

overwhelming authority

Its

mands. Our thoughts have now

is

first

kind of knowledge which was highly utilitarian,

for this reason

affairs

that

Language developed

so-called mystics. first

school

such

two

distinguishes

forms

samvritti of the relative world

(1)

will try to

of

speaks of his enlightenment in the

("Lotus Gospel"), he describes

truth

and (2) para-

realm of prajhd-'mtuition.

of the transcendental

dar'ika Siitra

it

When

Saddharmapunhis

experience as

something which cannot be comprehended by any of his followers because their understanding can never rise up to the level of Buddha's. It is another Buddha who understands a

Buddha, Buddhas have

own world

their

of ordinary caliber of mentality

belongs to this world of relativity, and express himself by this

from entering

we

are told of

his inner

many

activities are carried

for instance, ing,

means life.

etc.

which no beings

when Buddha

his hearers are naturally

While

in the

tries to

barred

Lankdvatdra Sutra

other Buddha-countries where Buddha-

on by means other than mere language,

by moving hands or

by sneezing,

into

can have a glimpse. Language

legs,

by smiling, by cough-

Evidently Buddhas can understand one

another by whatever means they

may employ

in

conveying


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

their inner acts, because they all

their experience.

know what

53

they are through

But where there are no such corresponding

no amount of technique one may resort to will be awaken them in others. In Aivaghosa's Awakening of Faith reference is made to two aspects of Tathatd ("Suchness") one of which is altoexperiences,

possible to

gether beyond speaking or writing, because the categories of communicability.

whatever. But Asvaghosa continues:

language there

is

no way

to

absolute; therefore language

make is

it

does not

fall

into

Language here has no use if

we

did not appeal to

others acquainted with the

resorted to in order to serve as

a wedge in getting out the one already in use;

poisonous medicine to counteract another.

It is

it

is

like

a

a most dan-

weapon and its user has to be cautioned in every way hurt himself. The Lankdvatdra is decisive in this respect:

gerous not to .

.

.

word-discrimination cannot express the highest

reality,

marks and only appear before us as something revealed out of Mind itself. Therefore, Mahamati, you must try to keep yourself away from the various forms of word-discrimination.^^

for external objects with their multitudinous individual

are non-existent,

Word-discrimination belongs to the samvritti, to things of the relative world,

and

is

not meant for communicating any-

thing that goes beyond this world of numbers and multiplicities.

For here language ceases to be supreme and must realize

that

it

has

its

limitations.

Two

of the three kinds of

knowledge

distinguished by Eckhart are of the samvritti, whereas the third corresponds to the paramdrtha.

These three things stand

To

quote Eckhart:

for three kinds of knowledge.

'^^Lankdvatdra Siitra, translated by D. T. Suzuki

Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1932),

p. 77.

The

(London: George


mysticjsmt christian and

54

'

first is

sensible.

second

is

The

rational

eye sees from afar

and

is

what

is

soul^

outside

The

a great deal higher.

sponds to an exalted power of the noble

B1 it.

^le

third corre

a power so high a^

God face to face in his own self. Tiii*i--j5o\ver common with naughjt;j_it_JaiŠws-'TTo)'esterday or

able to see

it is

^has-Jiauglit in

day before, no moFrow or day" after (for in eternity there yesterday or

morrow)

:

therein

the present

it is

is no now; the happen-

ings of the thousand years ago, a thousand years to come, are

there in the present

and the antipodes the same

as here."

The tellect

try to

has

first two kinds apply to the world of senses and the inwhere language has its utmost usefulness. But when we use it in the realm where "the exalted power of the souF'

its

sway

fails to convey the activities going on whose "power" has never been "heightened"

miserably

it

there to those

enhanced

or

make

forced to

by Eckhart. But as we are

to the level indicated

use of language inasmuch as

of the sense-intellect,

we

we

are creatures

contradict ourselves, as

we

see in

Eckhart's statements just quoted. In this respect Eckhart and other thinkers of Eckhart's pattern go on disregarding rules

all

of logic or linguistics.

are to

abandon

The

point

their limited

is

way

that linguists or logicians

of studying facts of experi-

ence so that they can analyze the facts themselves and

language amenable take

up language

to the

first

make

what they discover there. As long as they and try to adjust all human experiences

requirements of language instead of the opposite, they

have

will

to

their

problems unsolved.

Eckhart further writes:

The the

dom 14

just

man

more he itself.

Evans,

is

scr\es neither

just the

Nothing created p. 228.

God

more he is

is

is free; and and the more he is freeWhile there is aught abo\e

nor creature: he free

free.


:

THE me, excepting

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

God

himself,

it

even love and knowledge, so

God, confines Let us

ment.

me

first

with

wonderful, but he

God

would say about

may run something

still

ask, has

God

is

this state-

"When

Eck-

irresistible

and

like this:

man' he

free

'a

recognizes

Why, we may

ing God.'

^^

linguistics

hart expresses himself as

55

must constrain me, hovvexer [great] far as it is creature and not actually

its limits.

what

see

reasoning

Its

;

he confesses 'except-

as

he to make the exception of

instead of asserting his absolute freedom above

all

things

small and great? If he has to consider God, he cannot be so

he claims to be?" These objections hold good indeed

free as

so far as our logical analysis does not extend

and

values.

its

beyond language

But one who has an Eckhartian experience

will

very well understand what he really means. x'\nd what he

means is this: a man is free only when he is in God, with God, for God, and this is not the condition of freedom, for when he

is

in

that he

God he

and absolutely I

in

freedom

is

free.

was thinking

common

I

am

he

is

free

when he

lately:

with myself;

man

that / I

see

am

a

man

realizes

in

belongs to other

and hear and

am

God

eat

and drink

men like

belongs to no one but myself,

nor angel, no, nor yet to

one with

is

Says Eckhart

any other animal; but that / not to

itself;

actually himself by forswearing that he

is

God

excepting in so far as

him.'"^

In the latter part of the same sermon, Eckhart adds: "Ego, the

word

'I,' is

ness." This "I" titled

"The

15 Ibid., p. 16 Ibid.,

proper to none but to is

God

himself in his same-

evidently referred to in another sermon en-

Castle of the Soul" as "a spark," "a spiritual light." 204.

p. 204,


MYSTICISM

56 From alone soul;

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

I tell of the one power in the soul which Sometimes I have called it the tabernacle of the sometimes a spiritual light, anon I say it is a spark. But now

time to time free.

is

I say:

it

earth.

.

free as

God

.

it is somewhat: somewhat and that than the heavens are above the names free, of all forms void: exempt and

neither this nor that. Yet

is

more exalted over It

.

is

is

of

this all

in himself.^^

Our language

numbers and individuals of yesterdays and todays and tomorrows, and is most usefully applicable to this world [loka) But our experiences have it that our world extends beyond that (loka), that there is

the product of a world of

.

is

another called by Buddhists a "transcendental world" {loka-

uttara)

and that when language

of this world, lokottara,

kinds

crookedness:

of

it

is

forced to be used for things

becomes warped and assumes

all

oxymora, paradoxes, contradictions,

contortions, absurdities, oddities, ambiguities,

and

irrationali-

Language itself is not to be blamed for it. It is we ourwho, ignorant of its proper functions, try to apply it to for which it was never intended. More than this, we

ties.

selves

that

make

fools of ourselves

by denying the

reality of a transcen-

dental world {lokottara).

Let us see

how

impossible

it

is

world or an "inner power" onto the

to bring a transcendental level of linguistic

manage-

ability.

There

is

something, transcending the soul's created nature, not

akin to

no angel has gotten it for his and overt things ha\e no concern Deity, intrinsically one, ha\'ing naught in

ivesen"

in

accessible to creature, non-existent; is

a clear

with

this.

^^

It

nature, is

and

clear

17 Ibid., p. 37.

18

"Ein

Inter

analytically clear

and

physically indefinite,"

German.

distinct,"

Luter means "intellectually or opposed to what may be called "meta'


THE common It

with naught.

one; rather

is

known.

If

Many

a priest finds

unnamed than named,

But while thou dost mind

God than my mouth

is

What it

unknown than

thyself at all

"a baffling thing"

my

God

than an

eye of taste: so

little

is.^^

"something" or "somewhat"

this

no doubt a Hght and if you can get a glimpse into even "less than an instant" you will be master of yourself. But

it is

Plato describes the light in the following words:

which

is

^°

It is

"a

Linguistically considered,

be "neither

in the

world nor

can be more absurd than

this.

how

it

has neither in nor

could a thing be said

in out-of-the- world"?

Nothing

But, as Eckhart says (Evans, p.

when we transcend time (zit), body [Uplicheit) multiplicity (manicvaltikeit) ,^^ we reach God, and these 227),

things are the very principle of linguistics.

when

things

of

the lokottara

through language, the ings.

This

is

the reason

use of language

latter

try

to

find

their

shows every trace of

why Zen Buddhism

its

strives to

Zen does not object

for the sake of opposition,

which our words

it

and

,

three

No wonder

to

shortcomavoid the short-

language

simply realizes that there

fail to

that

expression

and quite frequently denounces our

sightedness in this respect.

field in

light

not in this world; not in the world and not out of

the world; not in time nor in eternity; out." to

less

would belong to thee. thou knowest no more of

in itself

does of colour or

thou knowest, thou discernest, what

57

a baffling thing.

it

rather

thou couldst naught thyself an instant,

instant, I should say, all that this

is!

PHILOSOPHY

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

just is

a

communicate events taking

One of the statements Zen is always ready "No depending on words." Yengo, commentator

place there.

to

make

of

19 20

is:

Evans, pp. 204-5. Quoted by Eckhart, Evans, 296.

21 Pfeiffer, p.

p.

205.


MYSTICISM

58

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

("Blue Rock Collection"), a work Sung dynasty, thus remarks:

the Hekigan-shu

of the

Bodhidharma observing that the Chinese minds are matured enough to accept teachings of Mahayana Buddhism came over here [China] via the southern route and started to prepare the people for "the transmission of mind-seal."

He

said, "I

am

going to build up a system of thought which depends on

not

letters

I \vant straightforwardly to direct you to the Mind and thereby to see into the Buddha-nature and attain Buddhahood. When Zen is understood in this way, we shall be

or words. itself

able to attain freedom. Let us not therefore follow the letters of

To

any kind,

the question of

let

Wu

us take hold of Reality in

the

Emperor

of the Liang,

its

of

Bodhidharma

simply answered, "I do not know, your Majesty!"

who became

way

nakedness.

When

Eka,

Zen in China, confessed that he could not locate the Mind, Bodhidharma exclaimed, "There, I ha\'e your Mind pacified!" In all these situations which confronted him, Bodhidharma just faced them without hesitation, with no prepared ansv/ers concocted beforehand, he had nothing the second patriarch of

premeditated or deliberately schematized in

his

concept-filled

mind. With one swing of the sword he cut asunder every obstacle that lay in our way, thereby releasing us linguistic

discrimination.

We

with right and wrong, gain and

The

mondo

following

in dealing, for instance,

A monk

and everything

22

A

will

demonstrate

how

free

Zen

is

with the ultimate problem of being:

end of the universe a great is

of

fetters

to be troubled

loss.-^

destroyed.

May

I

fire

am

takes place

ask you whether or not,

also shares the fate?"

more or less modernized interpretation loosely knit Chinese. 23 Literally, "question and answer."

and

from the

now no more

asked Daizui Hoshin of the T'ang dynasty: "I

told that at the

'this'

"^

are

given to Yengo's terse


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

Daizui replied, "Yes,

The monk went 'this'

it

59

does."

on, "If this

is

the case,

it

must be said that

follows others,"

Daizui: "Yes,

it

does."

The same question was later asked of another master whose name was Shij. Shu the master answered, "No, it does not."

When it

he was asked

identifies itself

From

"Why

not?" the master replied, "Because

with the whole universe."

the logical linguistic point of view the two

defy each other and there

ters

tion.

One

is

no way

Zen mas-

to effect a reconcilia-

says "yes" while the other says "no."

As long

as the

"no" means an unqualified negation and the "'yes" an unqualified aflfirmation, there if this

is

is

no bridge between the two.

the case, as apparently

it

is,

And

how can Zen permit the

and continue the claim for its consistent teachone may ask. But Zen would serenely go its own way

contradiction ing,

without at cern

The

is

all

heeding such a criticism. Because Zen's

about

its

experience and not

modes

and ambiguities. According

tion of "is-ness" [isticheit] it

is

settled only

and not by merely arguing about

con-

of expression.

latter allow a great deal of variation, including

contradictions,

ing

its

first

paradoxes,

to Zen, the ques-

by innerly experiencit

or by linguistically

appealing to dialectical subtleties. Those who have a genuine Zen experience will all at once recognize in spite of superficial discrepancies what is true and what is not.

VI

Before at the

I

come

to another utterance to be ascribed to

time of his enlightenment-experience

from considering the problem related

to

linguistics

of time.

I

This

Buddha

cannot refrain also

closely

and the Eckhartian treatment

of the

is


:

MYSTICISM

60

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

creation-m)th. As Augustine confesses,

God "mocks

at

man" when

we can

also say that

the question of time confronts us.

one of the subjects of discourse we must "famiharly and

It is

knowingly" take up. "And we understand when we speak of it,

we understand What

then

explain if

to

it

is

when we hear

also

time?

If

one who

it

spoken of by another."

no one asks me,

asketh,

I

know

I

know;

wish to

I

if

not: yet I say boldly that

nothing passes away, time past were not; and

coming, a time to come were not; and

if

if

nothing were

nothing were, time

present were not. Those two times then, past and to come, are they, seeing the past

But the present, should time past, verily ent

(if

it

is

it

is,

it

is

really

handled

is

that is,

always be present,

how can we it

in

it is

namely, that

is,

how yet? into

it

whose

we cannot

tending not to be?

at the level of linguistics.

way

one and two. The one ^^

say that either this

shall not be; so,

but because

to

The two

Following

is

is

As

-*

far as linguistics

approach the question

human

Eckhart suggests, to consider

tion."

come is not and never pass to

an eternally puzzling problem, especially when

concerned, the best

variation.

and that

not,

only cometh into existence, because

not time)

truly say that time

Time

it

is

should not be time, but eternity. If time pres-

passeth into time past,

cause of being

now

eternity,

time, changing

this line of

is

be as

will

beings born "between

ever alone

and without

and given

to multiplica-

thought, Eckhart goes on to say

another sermon on "poverty" .

.

.

therefore, I

being and of

my

am my own

temporal being.

virtue of

my

nature of

this eternal birth that I

first

To

cause, both of this

end

I

my

birth being eternal, I shall never die. It

24 St. Augustine, 25 Evans, p. 134.

Confessions,

eternal

was born, and by is

of the

have been eternally, that

Book XI,

14.

I

am


1

THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

now, and shall be forever. to die

time

and come

am

I

it

as a

6

temporal creature

came with time and

is

so with

my eternal birth, howe\er, everything my own first cause as well as the first cause

away. In

will pass

it

was begotten.

What

to nothingness, for

PHILOSOPHY

was

I

of e\erything else. If I had willed it, neither I nor the world would have come to be! If I had not been, there would ha\e been no god. There is, however, no need to understand this.-ÂŽ

Whatever Eckhart might have meant by the statement, is, however, no need to understand this," it is impossible from the purely linguistic point of view "to understand" the interpenetration or interfusion of time and eternity as described here. Primarily the two concepts, time and eternity, are "There

and however much

irreconcilable,

may

one

dialectical skill

employ, they can never be brought peacefully together. Eckhart and

other thinkers and non-thinkers

all

this side of the stream,

This

it.

no

is

we cannot be

to shake off the shackles of

is

we

are on

perhaps what Eckhart means when he says there

What

is

then does he

away from linguistics, "lime and matter and multiplicity"

wish us to do? W^hat he wishes

it

try all their

expected to understand

necessity for achie\'ing the impossible.

and

may

convince us of "the truth," but as long as

arts to

is

to turn

plunge right into the abyss of nameless nothingness. For

to

moment

at the very

of the plunge that the experience of

enlightenment takes place and the understanding comes upon us.

"I

Then In

am I

this

that

I

receive

impulse

content with

was and that

I shall

an impulse which I

God

remain now and forever.

carries

as being

God,

p.

231.

above

all

I

angels.

am

not

as being all his godly works,

for in this breaking-through I find that 26Blakney,

me

conceive such passing riches that

God and

I

are both


:

MYSTICISM

62

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

Then I am what I was, I neither wax nor wane, for am the motionless cause that is moving all things." ^' When this — regarding my self — is understood, we shall also

the same. I

"God

be led to understand what Augustine says about God:

doing today

is

all

that shall be

done

thousands of years of the future

in the

thousands upon

the world

if

is

to last so

and that God is still doing today all he ever did in the many thousands of years of past." '^ Now, both Eckhart and Augustine ask, "What can I do

long

about

it

if

anyone does not understand that?" or "If these

words are misconstrued, what can one who puts their right construction on them do about it?" ^° To this, Eckhart answers consolingly: "If anyone does not understand this discourse,

him not worry about

that, for

himself he cannot understand

discovered truth of

God."

^^

The

if

he does not find

what

have said

for

it

is

a

which comes immediately from the heart

only thing that

is

left for

so live as to experience

it

eternally,

of treating the

us to

do

will

God: "That we

follow Eckhart's advice and pray to

The Zen way

I

let

this truth in

may God

problem

help us!

all

be to

may

Amen."

of time will be partly

glimpsed from the following story which contrasts significantly with the linguistic analysis

Tokusan (790-865), on his way to Taisan, felt hungry and and stopped at a roadside teahouse and asked for refreshments. The old woman who kept the house, finding that Tokusan was a great student of the Diamond Sutra, said: "I have tired

27

28 29

Evans, p. 221. Blakney, p. 72. Ibid., pp. 72, 73.

^°"Ein unbedahtiu warheit"

(PfeifFer,

premeditated but spontaneously coming 31 Blakney, p. 232.

to

p. 284), that mind.

is,

a truth not


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

a question to ask you;

if

you can answer

refreshments for nothing, but

where

else for

posed

mind

PHILOSOPHY

if

you

fail

63

I will serve

it

you have

them." As Tokusan agreed, the

to

you

go some-

woman

pro-

"In the Diarnond Sutra we read that 'The past

this:

mind is unattainable; the what mind do you wish to punctuate?" (Refreshments are known in Chinese as t'ien-hsin or tcji-jin in Japanese, meaning "punctuating the mind," hence the question.) Tokusan was altogether nonplused and did not know how to answer. He had to go withis

unattainable; the present

mind

future

is

out anything to

unattainable';

and

so,

eat.^"

Taking refreshments takes place

no taking

is

of anything.

the traveling

monk what

The

When

there

is

can one accomplish anything? As far as thought that is

is,

where language

possible in this

on

life,

and

yet the strangest fact

when

she saw

how

she at

is

now

asks

no time how is

concerned,

supreme, no movement of any sort

living in the fullest sense of the term.

metaphysician, nor

in

is

of time there

no time, past or

to the Sutra,

"obtainable."

is

Out

time he will use for recuperating

from fatigue when, according future or present,

in time.

old teahouse keeper

all

The

is

that

old lady

we keep is

not a

interested in metaphysics.

But

young man was involved wanted to And sure enough he never

inextricably the

verbalism and in

its

intricate complexities she

rescue him, hence the question.

thought of

this possibility.

tradiction,

he knew not

which was

of his

own

Finding himself in the midst of con-

how

to clear himself out of the trap

construction.

He had

to

go without his

refreshments.

Zen is very much interested in the problem of the absolute now-moment, but its interest is more along the practical line 32

Studies in Z^^^ P- 126.


MYSTICISM

64 and not

in

on "the

fifteenth

its

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

dialectics.

Therefore, as in

have us "say a word"' {ikku or is

In Eckhart's term, the trick

"God's day" (Blakney, time in

all

is

just as

it is

is

now-moment

everyday

[in

yesterday

eime

thousand \V^e, of

and one

one thousand times more than a year, either

to the past or to the future,

in our

six

near to the present as yesterday." is

kind.

day" into

characterized as

"a day, whether

another kind of day where yesterday

thousand years

is

to

saying

some

to insert "the soul's

present

the

The

acting of

212). God's day

To God,

gegenwilrtigeii nu].'^^

years ago,

p.

is

Chinese).

i-chii in

not necessarily uttering any sound,

containing

Ummon's "sermon"

day of the month,'' the Zen masters want

living.

But

cannot have God's day operative if

we do

not

somehow succeed in we cannot have

making "was"

or "will be" turn into "is,"

peace of mind,

we cannot

among somehow ha\e

"the refreshment" served.

escape from dread, which

is

a topic

minded modern men. They must To ha\'e and yet not to ha\'e must really be the cause for worry and anxiety. ^^ to show how it difTers from I will quote a Zen sermon those sermons given by Eckhart, though it treats the same subject of time and eternity and the basic ideas do not differ so widely as they superficially appear. The Zen sermon was given current

existentially

by Daito the national teacher (1282-1337) of the fourteenth

who was

century

the

first

abbot of the Daitoku monastery,

A

Zen sermon generally begins with a mondo between the master and one of the disciples when the sermon proper is Kyoto.

very short consisting of about a dozen lines rhetorically composed.

The

occasion was a

33 Pfeiffer, p. 265. 3^ the Sayings of

From

New

Year's Eve.

Daito Kokushi.

When

Daito the


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

master appeared in the

Dharma

Hall, a disciple

65

came forward

and proposed the following question:

"The new does not know that the old is already gone while know that the new is already come. The new

the old does not

and the old have not made acquaintance with each other. Thus they stand in opposition all over the world. Is this the state of affairs we greet on all side?"

The master said, "All over the universe." ^^ The monk continued, "When the world has not yet come into existence,^^ how do we find a passage to it?" The master: "We fold the hands before the monastery gate."

The monk: "Anything further?" The master: "We burn incense at the Buddha Hall." The monk: "I understand that, anciently, Hokuzen roasted the big white bullock

^^

that used to

roam

at the

monastery

courtyard and gave a feast to his monks to celebrate this

memorable

occasion,

going to get

this New

The

master:

I

wonder what kind

of feast

we

are

Year's Eve?"

"When you chew

it

fine,

it

tastes sweeter

than

honey."

The monk: "In

this case

we

of the

Brotherhood

will ap-

preciate your generosity."

As the monk bowing began to step back the master "What a fine golden-haired hon!" ^^ The master now gives his regular sermon: "The old passes

away

this evening.

said,

year

Let things go that are to go and

35 The original literally has, "The thirty-three heavens and the twentyeight constellations." 36 Literally, "When the firework has not yet been cracked." 2'^ "The white bullock" is the syhibol for the Highest Reality. 3^ This is a more or less ironical remark on the part of the master.


MYSTICISM

66

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

The new year is ushered in at this dawn. Let things come and be renewed. The new and the old

grow

old.

come

that are to

are intermingled in every possible way,

himself

as

Causes and

he pleases.

and each

effects

of us enjoys

go on in time-

sequence, and everywhere activities in every form manifest

themselves freely and autonomously.

peak

of

Mount Ryuho

Thus we observe

the

magnificently towering to the sky, while

the monastery gate opens to a field limitlessly expanding. This is

not altogether due to the peaceful time alone

under the wisely governing

reign. It

is

that the spirit of universal friendliness pervade

At

moment what

this

The master

lines shall I

filling

up

to the

enjoy

all

around

us.

quote for your edification?"

struck the seat with his hossu

December snows

we now

in the order of things

horizon

and

make

all

said,

"The

things look

white, while the spring winds blowing against the doors are still

severely cold."

According

to the lunar calendar, the thirtieth

month (December)

day of the

and as soon as twelve o'clock is struck spring is ushered in. Hence Daito's reference to December snows and spring winds. They are both there: the winter snows do not melt away when spring starts. The spring breeze passes ON^er the same old winter snows. The old and the new are mingled. The past and the present are twelfth

fused.

The imaginary

We

is

the end of winter

line of season exists only in

human

lan-

some practical purposes distinguish seasons. When this is once done one season must definitely start in such and such time of the year. While the snow lies white, it does not make haste to greet spring and the wind does not wait for winter to make way for it. The old continues on to the new

guage.

for

and the new

is

ready to join the old. Zen's absolute present

probably not so inaccessible as Eckhart's.

is


THE

BASIS OF BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

67

vn

now

It is

come back once more into

time, after these lengthy excursions, to

to the original topic

and

see

we cannot

if

get

the subjective approach to Buddha's experience of enlighten-

ment.

The

of feeling

experience cannot merely be designated as a kind

and thus done away with

as

if

this

designation ex-

under-

hausted

all

stand

the enlightenment cannot be said to be devoid of any

it,

the contents of enlightenment. For, as

noetic elements

and

which

I

yield to a certain extent to a linguistic

intellectual treatment.

The

feeling of enlightenment has

something profoundly fundamental and gives one a sense of absolute certainty

kind of feeling

and

we

finality

which

generally have.

A

is

lacking in the ordinary

feeling

may

occasionally

and self-assurance, but this a while pass away and may leave no permanent

gi\e one the sense of exaltation will

after

effect

on the being

of

one

who

has the experience.

The

en-

lightenment feeling on the other hand affects the whole personality, influencing his attitude

toward

life

and the world not

only morally and spiritually but in his metaphysical interpretation of exislence as a whole. just a

sciousness, but

a

human

understood.

is

his utterance

recorded in

and the Alajjhima Nikdya and elsewhere to be In the gdthd already quoted above from The

Dhammapada is

something awakened in the deepest recesses of

being. In this sense only

the Vinaya

below

Buddha's experience was not

matter of feeling which moves on the periphery of con-

(vv.

153, 154), something similar to the one

noticeable, but the positive

and dynamic aspect comes

forward more strongly and conspicuously in the following: I

have conquered and

I

know

^^

all,

^^ The Vinaya, I, p. 8. The Majjhima Nikdya (translated by Lord Chalmers, published by Oxford University Press), 26, p. 12.


MYSTICISM

68

am

I

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

enlightened quite by myself and have

none

as teacher.

There is no one that is the same as I in the whole world where there are many deities. I am the one who is really worth, I am the most supreme teacher. I am the only one who is fully enlightened.

am tranquillized. am now in Nirvana. ^°

I I

This victory song

is

e.xpressive of the

verse

depicting

discovery

the

and the demolition

builder)

of

supreme moment

Buddha

the enlightenment-experience which

the

of his

had. In the

gahakdraka

of

first

(house-

handiwork, we see the

negative aspect of Buddha's experience, while in the second

one dealing with the exalted feeling of victory, the realization of the highest

one's

own

knowledge {prajnd) and the consciousness

value as he

is,

we

see

its

positive aspect

of

coming out

in full view.

The consciousness of conquest such as was awakened in mind of Buddha at the time of enlightenment cannot be garded as the product of a self-conceit which

is

the re-

often cherished

by minds tarnished with schizophrenia and the wielders of political

or military powers.

With him however whose ego-

centered desires have been shattered to pieces the conscious-

from the deepest sources of being. So the conquest is not the outcome of a struggle of powers

ness of victory rises feeling of

10 It will be interesting to note that we have another gdthd in The Dha7?imapada, v. 353, which also echoes the same sentiment as the one here quoted from another source. It is possible that they are from one and the same original source. The Dhammapada one runs thus: I

ha\'e concjucred

from free.

all,

I

know

all,

in all conditions of life

I

am

free

have left all, and through the destruction of thirst I am Having by myself attained specific knowledge, to whom can I taint.

point as

my

I

teacher?


THE

PHILOSOPHY

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

belonging to the low level of existence. experience

consciousness which

same

The enlightenment-

the manifestation of a higher power, a higher

is

insight, a higher unification. It

the

is

One

order.

beyond the sphere

is

force

may

temporarily proclaim

be superseded by another. This

tive consciousness.

of relative

the battleground for forces belonging to

tory over another, but this kind of victory to

69

Enlightenment

have only when a higher realm

is

in the

is

sure before long

nature of our rela-

the experience a

is

vic-

its

of unification

is

man

can

revealed, that

when the most fundamental basis of identification is reached. The enlightenment-experience, therefore, is the one which we can have only when we have climbed up to the highest peak from which we can survey the whole field of Reality. Or we can say that it is the experience which is attained only when we have touched the very bedrock which sustains the

is,

entire system of multiple worlds.

is

fulfilled, satisfied;

in short,

it

which

ness

Here

is

everything here appears to

is

it is;

the philosophy of Such-

from the absolute present which

and

The

which there is yet no and yet which is not a

in

object,

experience

sono-mama;

is

in Chinese

(Japanese: jinen honi) it,

such as

absolute fullness.

an experience ness.

it

philosophy of Emptiness, or philosophy of Self-identity.

It starts

ject

the consciousness of

a state of absolute Suchness, of absolute Empti-

is

Buddhist philosophy, therefore, ness, or

is

quantity to which nothing more could be added. All

intensi\'e

each denoting

its

is

pure experience,

differentiation of substate of sheer nothing-

variously designated: in Japanese it is

;

it is

chih mo, sometimes tzu-jan fa-erh

there are

specific

many

technical

names

features or characters as

for

it

is

viewed in various relationships. In

fact, this

Suchness, or "is-ness" {isticheit) in Eckhart's


MYSTICISM

70

terminology,

defies

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

characterization

all

words can express what

ment given have

us

human

No

denotation.

or

but as words are the only instru-

it is,

beings to communicate our thought,

to use words, with this caution:

Nothing

is

we

available for

our purpose; to say "not available"' [anupalabda in Sanskrit

and pu

k'o te in Chinese)

acceptable.

To

say

it

is,

transcends everything,

reach

it,

it

is

not to the point either. Nothing

is

already negating

has no moorings.

no understanding can grasp

it.

itself.

No

is

Suchness

concepts can

Therefore,

it is

called

pure experience. In pure experience there "is,"

is

no

division

between "ought" and

between form and matter or content, and therefore there

in it yet. There is the Christ who says "I am Abraham was," or God who has not yet uttered his fiat. This is Buddha who, according to The Dhammapada (179), is

no judgment

before

the anantagocara ("one whose limits are infinite"), the apada ("the pathless"), whose conquest can never be conquered again and into whose conquest nobody in this world can enter, and who is where there is no track leading to it. If it were a Zen master, he would demand that you show your face, however ugly it might be, which you have even before is

your birth into

is

this

world of

multiplicities.

The Buddhist philosophy

of Suchness thus starts with

most primarily given

our consciousness

to

— which

I

what have

called pure experience. But, in point of fact, to say "pure ex-

perience"

is

to

commit

somewhere, and thus reflects this

it

oneself to something already posited

ceases to be pure.

thought when

it

The Dhammapada

designates the starting point of

Buddhist philosophy as trackless {apada), unboundable {anantagocara), abodeless

{aniketa),

empty {sunna), formless

(animitta), delivered {vimokkha). In psychological terms,

it


1

THE is

{sabbaganthappah'ma)

craving (vitatanha)

.

when

and

superficially

,

{asantdsin)

fearless

all

without

,

These psychological terms are apt to be

much misunderstood

very

7

[vippamutta), released on

sorrowless

described thus:

sides

PHILOSOPHY

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

because they point to negativism

But

linguistically interpreted.

I will

not

dwell upon this here.

One

thing that must be noted in this connection

experience

can

call

is

pure

not pure passivity. In fact there passivity.

who

there must be one periencer,

is

an

knower, for he

as passivity

is

and

creative.

Not only

he an actor, but he

a

is

that

should

I

is

Buddha

not at

all

active,

"In

states:

like to

calls

thy activities and

this birth in thee."

this

emphasize in

this

still

'*^

gdthd of

and also and that his

himself "all-conqueror"

"all-knower," showing that his victory

knowledge

much

very

when he

activity. Kill

thou wouldst realize

Another thing is

this idea

It is

not a defect but thy chief perfection,

is

and suffering thy highest

conquest

an experience,

is

Eckhart voices

if

also

is

unknowing

thy faculties

we

experiences passivity. This one, this ex-

not an abstraction or a state of passivity.

sense thy

that pure

conscious of experiencing. Pure experience

actor.

is

is

nothing

This does not make sense and does not

As long

lead us anywhere.

is

fragmentary.

is

He

absolute is

omniscient as well

as omnipotent. His experience has something noetic and at the same time something conative or affective, reflecting the nature of Reality itself which consists in prajnd and karund. As regards prajnd, which is sometimes translated as "transcen-

dental wisdom," I shall

I

have written about

speak here about karund.

it

elsewhere. Therefore

Karund corresponds

to love.

*! Evans, p. 14. "This birth" in this sermon means "the newborn Being" or "the child of man turned into the child of God." It also means "hearing of the Word" which is revealed to "one who knows aright in unknowing."


MYSTICISM

72

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

the sands on the Ganges: they are trampled by

It is like

kinds of beings: by elephants, by lions, by asses, by beings, but they soiled

by

all

all

human

do not make any complaints. They are again

kinds of

filth

scattered by

all

kinds of animals, but

and never utter a word of ill-will. Eckhart would declare the sands on the Ganges to be "just" {gerecht), because "the just have no will at all: whatever God wishes it is all one to them, however great the discomfort may they just suffer them

be."

all

"

The

just are so firmly

devoted to justice and so wholly

selfless

that whatever they do, they regard neither the pains of hell nor

the joys of heaven. to

.

.

.

To

the just person, nothing

bear or so painful as anything opposed to

say,

as not feeling impartially the

is

so

justice, that

hard is

to

same about everything that

happens.'*^

"Justice" savors a great deal of legalism contrary to the idea of love.

But when,

from the

as

Eckhart interprets

affective point of

view

as

it,

justice

is

"sameness," "universality," or "all-embracing,"

approach the Buddhist idea

considered

meaning "impartiality,"

of karund. I

it

may add

begins to

that

Maha-

yana Buddhism further developed the idea of karund into that of

pranidhdna or purvapranidhdna and made each one of the

Bodhisattvas an incarnation of a certain

number

of pranid-

for example, Amitabha has forty-eight pranidhdna, Samantabhadra has ten, and Ksitigarbha also has ten. Pranidhdna is generally translated as "vow" or "fervent wish" or

hdna,

"prayer," or simply "the will," but these English terms do not full meaning of the Sanskrit as it is used in the Mahayana. Roughly speaking, we may interpret pranidhdna

convey the

42BIakney, 43 Ibid.

p. 179.


THE

PHILOSOPHY

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

as love specified or itemized or particularized

73

and made ap-

which we may find our-

plicable to each practical situation in

an individual life. Amitabha has 'his wants where he us to be born; Mafijusri is the Pure Land Bodhisattva of prajhd and whoever comes to him will be re-

selves in the course of

warded with an amount

of transcendental

This being the case,

wisdom.

will see that "the destruction of

[tanhdnam khayam) so much emphasized earlier Buddhism is not to be understood

desires or cravings

in the teaching of negativistically.

we

The Buddhist

training consists in transform-

ing tripid (tanhd) into karund, ego-centered love into some-

thing universal, eros into agape.

When

Joshu (778-897) was asked, "Could Buddha cherish

any

desires

The

questioner demanded,

replied,

{klesa)?" he answered, "Yes, he decidedly has."

"His desire

is

"How

to save the

could that be?"

The master

whole universe."

One day J5shu had another visitor who asked, much of the stone bridge reputed to be on one of your monastery grounds. But as

an old

log.

I see

it,

is

it

"I hear so the

sites

in

no more than

How is that?"

The master

said,

"You

see the log

and don't

see the stone

bridge."

"What is the stone bridge, then?" the visitor demanded. The master's answer was, "It permits horses to pass and also asses to pass."

Someone's pranidhdna whereas the other's pass over get that

being.

it

it

The

safely.

is

is

too

rickety

for

safe

crossing

strong and broad, allowing anything to

Let tanhd be destroyed but

we must not

has another root which reaches the

\'ery

for-

ground

of

enlightenment-experience must realize that, though

ordinarily Buddhists are

more

or

less

neglectful in bringing out


MYSTICISM

74

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

the karund aspect of the experience. This

much

too anxious and therefore too the obstacles lying that

when

this

the devastating

knows

to

do

flesh.

When is

man

remove

to

When

own power is

a

this

it

is

how

well

is

to

all

know

come therefrom

to take care of

resume

will

its

it.

is

When

biological functions

shot by a poisonous arrow the

is

being

to their

extinguished the forest will not wait for

fire is

any external help but itself.

full

due

hurry to destroy

to enlightenment, for they

accomplished what

is

left to itself as it

on the way

is

in a

before

it is

embeddedtop deeply

done the body

to destroy their root of ignorance

passions, the

by

thing

into the

will heal the^Avcound

human

So with

of vitality.

first

first

by

its

work

and egoism. When\this

is

thoroughly accomplished, the Buddha-nature which consists in prajhd

and karund

ciple pf Suchness

Let

me

is

finish this

will start

not

static,

its

it is

native operation. Th^'Tpnnfull of

dynamic

forces.

study on Buddha's enlightenment-experi-

ence by quoting another from Daito Kokushi's Sayings. In

Japan and China Buddha is recorded to have attained his enlightenment on the morning of December the eighth. After a period of deeply absorbed meditation he happened to look skyward and there he noticed the morning This at once caused something

through

his consciousness,

for the truth.

He

felt

as

like

a flash of lightning to pass

which put a

if all

star shining brightly.

final stop to his quest

the burden

which he had been

carrying dropped ofT his shoulders and a long sigh of

came out ful of

of his being.

remembering

takes place on

When

The Zen Buddhists

this

December

are specially

relief

mind-

event and a commemoration always the eighth.

Daito the national teacher appeared in the

Dharma


:

THE Hall, a

BASIS OF BUDDHIST

monk came

PHILOSOPHY

75

out of the rank and started a series of

questions

"The record has it that the Bodhisattva attained enlightenment today and that since then he is known as Tathagata. But what took place in his mind when he saw the morning star?

What did he understand?" The teacher replied: "Thoroughly clean! Utterly blank!" The monk: "Even when there is one speck of dust in your eye, does

it

not

make you

see all kinds of

imaginary flowers in

the air?"

Teacher: "Don't be too talkative!"

Monk: "Would you approve my going on Teacher: "You ask

my

staff

which knows

Monk: "Things are going on today past; why refuse to approve my case?" Teacher:

Monk:

"It's

only because there

"If not for this

remark

I

along this line?" better than I."

just as they did in the

still is

a dualism."

should surely have missed

your point."

Teacher: "You beat

me

Monk: "When one

is

with your argument."

genuinely sincere one has nothing to

be ashamed of."

Teacher: "There are

many

like

you."

^*

Daito the national teacher then gave a short sermon:

The moon is clear and serene, The stars are shining bright.

No Sakyamuni And whose

He now filth 4*

over

is

here,

enlightenment are we talking about?

held his staff up straight and declared: "It

is

piling

filth."

These questions and answers may sound somewhat enigmatic to most on a more

of our readers. A full explanation will be given elsewhere opportune occasion.


:

III.

"A

Little Point"

and

Satori

I

MEISTER ECKHART

is

quoted in Inge's Mysticism

Re-

in

ligion (p. 39)

The union of the soul

the soul that

is

To

answer

this I will

self in

with yet

.

.

lost in

as

.

it

appears to me, that the soul finds her-

the point where every rational being understands

itself.

it

God is far more inward than that Now, I might ask, how stands it with God? Does the soul find herself or not?

of the soul with

and body.

Although

it

itself

An

and

itself

has

interesting controversy arises regarding "a

Dean Inge found

the passage. It

the entire context where fully,

but

insists

possibility of

it

I

a

little

and

would be

occurs,

if

we

little

knowledge

point"

do not know where desirable to

know

w^ould discuss the

we can somehow proceed according

tent of our general

person

left

finds itself,

to be a creature.

referred to in this passage from Eckhart.

point

God

can ne\er reach the ground. Therefore

point wherein the soul turns back upon

knows

itself

sinks in the eternity of the divine essence,

to the ex-

of Eckhartian philosophy.

that Eckhart here

tells

us about the

human

One im-

reaching the ground of Reality or "the inmost 76


and satori

"a little point

core [grund] of the divine nature." According there

tation,

77

to this interpre-

an impassable gap between "every rational

is

being" and "the eternity of the divine essence"; us, therefore, with "a httle point" whereby

we

God

provides

rational beings

upon ourselves and reahze that we are after all finite creatures and barred forever from sinking into "the core of God" or "the essence of God." are

made

The

to turn

other person's

way

of thinking runs along the following

hne: Judging from the whole trend of Eckhart's ideas as expressed in his sermons, he does not necessarily mean here that

and ourselves

the gap between the divine ground

is

absolutely

impassable; on the contrary, he implies that he himself crossed the gap

and came back

will insist that

how

if

to this side of rationality.

This person

Eckhart did not cross the impassable himself "God has left a Utde point" as if he

could he say that

were God himself? Or,

logically speaking,

when Eckhart

says

impassable, he must

that there is a gap and that the gap is have already been there and seen the gap and actually

veyed

it

and found

In our relative

it

way

of thinking, the finite

entiated from the infinite, they cannot be

no way

of unifying them.

we

closer,

find that

sur-

impassable. is

sharply differ-

made

one, there

is

But when we analyze the concept

one implies or participates

in the other

and

that because of this implication or participation the one be-

comes separable from the other is

in

possible because of integration,

sense that the finite

But here to slip

:

is

that the finite as infinite;

and

say that the finite it

vice versa. It

is

in this

and the infinite is finite. point over which we must take care not

infinite

a subtle

When we

with the

is

our thought. Disintegration

is

infinite,

stands relatively as finite

it

is

does not infinite

mean

and

so

they pass into each other and become one


MYSTICISM

yS

when

:

christian and BUDDHIST

ideas of relativity are

all

wiped away. But we must be

away on

quite cautious not to undertake this wiping

away and

this

may go on

lectuals stumble

When we

in

the rela-

have to be another wiping

tive plane, for in this case there will

This

eternally.

and become victims

where many

is

of their

own

intel-

cleverness.

they talk about an impassable gap and a point where-

made

are

to turn back, they forget that

by

this

very talk

they are already crossing the impassable and find themselves

on the other

side.

It is

to their discriminating habit of

due

always

thought that the impassable

is

while they are actually there.

We

looking at Reality by dividing in all actuality the thing finally

come

to the

human

it

left

on the other

into two; even

when we -have

we spend time in discussing and then we have it not. It is all due

to the conclusion that

habit of splitting one solid Reality into two,

is that my "have" is no "have" and my no "have not." While we are actually passing, we

the gap

is

When that

we

insist

that

impassable.

Eckhart says that

my

according to

is,

and

"have not"

the result is

side

are possessed of the habit of

are

all

"God

left

understanding, to

finite beings, that

fore that as such

has

we "can

is,

a

little

remind us

"creatures,"

point," this of the fact

and

there-

never reach the ground." But inas-

much as we are "sinking in the eternity of the divine essence" we are already on the ground. This is where we are God himself. It is only when we see the "little point" left by God that we return to ourselves and know that we are creatures. This and all forms of bifurcation take place and we are no more God, we are no more, as Eckhart says, "One to one, one from One, one in One and the One in one, eternally." This is "where time comes in and all the properties of ^ existing beside the timeless." things which belong to time seeing

is

splitting

—

1

Blakney,

p. 81.


AND SATORI

A LITTLE POINT

We

all

make time and

timelessness

why

beside timelessness. But

sit

79 not time in

timelessness in time?

II

"A

point"

little

God

by

left

corresponds to what Zen Bud-

would call satori. When we strike this point we have a satori. To have a satori means to be standing at Eckhart's "point" where we can look in two directions: God-way and dhists

creature-way. Expressed in another form, the finite

and the infinite is finite. This "little point" cance and I am sure Eckhart had a satori. Eckhart's

by which

My

me.

eye

is

point"

God

is

the

is

the eye, that

same

"The

eye sees

to say,

—

to distinguish colors,

it

must

first

be free from any

color impressions. If I see blue or white, the seeing of is

identical with

seen

is

what

is

seen." If the seeing

is

divine essence,

What makes

"is

and the

beside the timeless," the ground

and the sinking is reaching. us however think that Eckhart

the doctrine of impassableness us of our being creatures

"little

is

of our being

is

made

remind

one with

to turn us

finite creatureliness, but the fact

Ibid., p. 206.

the

God

(or grund) of the divine nature.

point" here referred to

can readily be made

is

really advocates

that here he seems to

more than

coming from the core

back to our

2

the seen

eyes

the "reaching the ground," for there cannot be any

"ground" which

The

is

my

the seeing, the "sinking in the eternity of the divine

essence"

or our

infinite

by which God

is

as the eye

is

full of signifi-

and God's eye are one and the same one in seeknowing, and one in loving." ^ Eckhart says: "If

eye

one in

ing,

my

"little

see

I

is

to turn the other

way

is

around

that the point

leading us straight


^

MYSTICISM

8o

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

Godhead. Eckhart calls the one who can achieve wonder the aristocrat {Edel), and defines him: to the

So life,

say that the aristocrat

I

and

his

happiness from

one

is

God

who

this

derixes his being,

alone, with

God and

in

liis

God

and not at all from his knowledge, perfection, or love of God, or any such thing. Thus our Lord says very well that life eternal is to know God as the only true God and not that it is knowledge that God may be known.

According edge is

:

to

kind

Eckhart distinguishes two kinds of knowl-

to this,

know God as the only true God and the other know God through knowledge about him. The second one

is

is

to

"twilight

knowledge in which creation

clearly distinguished ideas"; while the

first

is

kind

perceived by is

"daybreak

knowledge" where "creatures are known in God," and "in

which creatures are perceived without ing rejected, himself

is."

knowledge

when

the

which

all

are done

*

distinctions, all ideas be-

comparisons done away

all

Cannot

this

One

in that

that

God

kind of knowledge be called also the

what a man gets point" makes him turn around God-way in

of impassableness? "little

Is

this not

creatures, all distinctions, all comparisons, all ideas

away

God

with, leaving

to

be in himself and with

himself?

Eckhart

states in

"The

Aristocrat,"

from which the above

quotations are culled: Neither the One, nor being, nor God, nor

nor satisfaction fore that

One

is

to

so that

you

nor blessedness,

are. Be thereGod. And of course, if you remain so, even where distinctions

may

are wholly that One, you shall 3 Ibid., p. 80. 4 Ibid., p. 79.

rest,

be found where distinctions find


"a little point" and satori no longer stand

in

One

be parts of that

are. DiiTercnt things will all

8i you and

to

will

your way.^

Where distinctions are you cannot find "the One" or "Being," when you are "that One," "wholly that One," all distinc-

but

may be

tions or all different things

left as

they are and will

all

One and offer you no hindrances, to use To tell the truth, however, distinctions remain as distinctions if they were not made "parts

be parts of that

Kegon

phraseology.

can never

One," though

of that

am

as far as I

concerned

I

do not

like

the term "parts" in connection with the One. "All different things" are not parts but they are the parts as

if

"Parts"

is

they,

when put

together,

One

itself,

they are not

would produce the whole.

a treacherous term.

"The One remains

Eckhart continues:

thousands of thousands of stones as

thousand times a thousand This idea of number impassableness.

The

passable, or finite duality, of

is

is

much

the

just as simple a

really at the

same One

in

as in four stones: a

bottom

number

as four."

of the doctrine of

idea of distinguishing passable from im-

from

infinite,

is

derived from the notion of

one divided into two, and these two as standing

absolutely against each other, or as contradicting each other, or as irreconcilably excluding each other possible to go over to the other.

—which makes

The One

the category of number, yet the intellectually strained to pull

tries

means use

it

selves

of

it

down

its

own

level.

Language

is

for the deepest experience

and do not know how

Ibid., p. 78.

man

mind try to

can have we trap our-

to extricate ourselves.

way as we can

im-

a useful

communication and expression, but when we

troubled in the same 5

to

it

does not belong in

Eckhart

is

see in the following extracts.


:

MYSTICISM

82

when

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

man

God, he knows it and knows knows it is God he is looking at and knows that he knows him. Now some people wish it to appear that the flower, the kernel of blessing is this awaresay that

I

that he

a

ness of the spirit, that

and it

am

it

unconscious of

mean?

looks at

That

the knower.

is

knowing God. For if I have rapture what good would it do and what would

is

it,

cannot agree with

I

According

to

God and

merely knowing the part of the

this position.''

Eckhart

this,

to say, he

is

spirit, for

is

apparently not satisfied with

being conscious of

blessing consists in absolutely being absorbed in

knowing

it

knowing on

this

he goes on to declare that spiritual

God and

For granting that the soul could not be happy without being conscious of

is,

its

own

processes],

still

its

God

that the soul look at its

being and

life

its

this:

is

without anything between; here

and draws

[that

it

happiness does

not consist in that; for the foundation of spiritual blessing ceives

not

at all

it

re-

essence from the core

[grund] of God, unconscious of the knowledge-process, or love or

anything

else.

Then

knowing

at all

where

it

is

it is,

quite

still

in the essence of

God, not

knowing nothing but God.

Evidently here Eckhart thinks that knowing is something between the knower and God, that being conscious of God's presence

is

not being "quite

therefore that there blessing

may

knowing

of

is

still

is

God," and

no foundation here on which

be established. In

God

in the essence of

to be

this

Eckhart

is

spiritual

quite right

understood in the way

we

if

the

generally

understand knowledge, as issuing from the relationship of subject

and

object.

As he

looking at God, loving

says,

"When

the soul

is

him and knowing him,

aware that

it is

that already

is

a retrogression, a quick retreat back to the upper level of the 6

Ibid., p. 79.


:

and satori

"a little point" natural order of things." to

know about God

if

of knowledge-process.

^

To

this

83

be conscious of knowing

God

is

knowing follows the ordinary way of knowledge does he

But what kind

wish us to understand by the knowledge referred to in the following passage

man must

himself be One, seeking unity both in himself One, which means that he must see God and God only. And then he must "return," which is to say, he must have knowledge of God and be conscious of his knowledge.

For a

and

in the

What edge

mean

kind of knowledge does he is

there the division of subject

knov/ledge of an absolute unity of this

"being conscious of

his

here? In this knowl-

and object? If this is the God and man, what does

knowledge" imply?

When

Eckhart

we "must have knowledge of God" and that we must "return," does this mean that we after all give up

then

tells

us that

"the foundation of spiritual blessing" and retreat to the natural order of things? itual blessing"

What

difference could there be between "spir-

and knowledge

of absolute oneness? Is the rap-

ture of spiritual bliss preferable to "stepping

beyond creatures"

^ or "jumping past creatures" and knowing God? Eckhart quotes John, 19: 12, "x\ certain nobleman went out into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to

return."

"The nobleman" means, according

to

Eckhart, "a

up all he is and has"; "to go out" means that he "has nothing more to do with

person

who

vanity

...

submits completely to God, giving

to the extent that

he

is

now pure

being, goodness

and truth"; and then he has "daybreak knowledge

in

which

creatures are perceived without distinctions." But, according to Eckhart, this

knowledge

Ibid., pp. 79-80. ^Ibid., p. 166. 7

is

not enough, the nobleman

is

to


MYSTICISM

84

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

be completely free from hart continues,

"There

all

And

forms of knowledge.

conscious of his vision and knowledge of God, but will of it

God

it is

man

be

not the

that I be blessed on that basis. If anyone will have

otherwise, let

Eckhart

then Eck-

be no blessing except a

will

is

him do

so; I

can only pity him."

here deeply involved in contradictions.

praises knowledge, then repudiates

again as the thing desired.

It is

it,

and

He

finally takes

it

ap-

up

not apparently enough for the

nobleman "to go out" and he is advised "to return." In his and receiving a kingdom, mere knowledge of the oneness of God and himself is no more than knowing about God. Such knowledge, it goes without saying, is far

process of going out

from being

The

soul

"receive

satisfactory to

must "look its

being and

[grund] of God." But is

at

anyone who

God

life

and draw

when

in all sincerity seeks

God.

without anything between" and

this is

its

essence from the core

accomplished the nobleman

"to return," for he "must have knowledge of

God and

be

conscious of his knowledge." Eckhart seems to be using knowl-

edge in two different senses, one in a relative sense and the

Hence this apparent confusion. The real fact, however, is that as far as we are human beings we cannot express in words our understanding of Reality in its suchness. When we try to do so we are inevitably involved in other in the absolute.

a contradiction. Eckhart says, "God's sight and different this

—

utterly dissimilar."

°

Inasmuch

as

mine are

far

he could make

statement in regard to God's sight as being utterly

dis-

human sight, he must be said to have had certain knowledge of God which enabled him to bring these tidings to the human world from the other shore, from "the similar to our

^Ibid., p. 81.


"a little point" and satori inmost core of the divine nature in

must have that

see color, I

but

should never see color

I

its

solitude."

me which

in if

I

85

"

am

"If I

to

sensitive to color,

is

did not have the essence of

God was not already with us, in us, we could never know how dissimilar or how similar which is after all the same thing— God was to us. In this connection Eckhart quotes St. Paul and St. John: "We shall know God as we are known by him" and again, "We shall know God as he is." An image may be "dissimilar" to the object whose color already."

^^

Unless

—

image

and

it is,

but there

of the original

it

original.

The

it

represents the original

image must be said

What makes

the original. in

no doubt that

is

to that extent the

and

be "similar" to

to

the image an image

as such the

image

original sees itself in the

is

image

is

the presence

just as real as the

as well as in

Being in "dissimilarity" must be said to be only in

To realize this is the meaning of "returning." To quote Eckhart again, "The soul must

step

itself.

similarity.

beyond or

jump past creatures if it is to know God." ^- But to know God is to know oneself as creature. To know God is "to go out" as the Biblical

nobleman does according

to Eckhart,

and

his "re-

turning" means knowing oneself as creature by knowing God.

When

the soul

God and The "going

with is.

lar

knows God it becomes conscious of its oneness same time it realizes how "dissimilar" it

at the

out" is "returning" and conversely. This circuand contradictory movement characterizes our spiritual

experience.

A

Zen master once produced a

congregation and said: "If you have a

you; 10

if

you do not

Ibid.

T--^Ibid., p. ^2 Ibid., p.

168. 166.

I will

take

it

staff before the

stafT I will give

one to

away from you." The giving


MYSTICISM

86 is

the taking away,

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

and the taking away

the giving. Another

is

master later gave his view, saying, ''You

throw your

all

staff

down!" As long as the staff crosses our way, the question of and dissimilarity, of passableness and impassable-

similarity

ness will never be conclusively settled.

Ill

Eckhart's idea of the to all

make

"little

point" which

us turn back to ourselves

creatures

is

and

God

realize that

left in

we

order

are after

highly suggestive and full of significance. Most

readers are apt to regard such a statement as this as not really

own

touching their

spiritual experience

but as something gen-

and impersonal which may be turned to a subject philosophical discourse. Of course there is no harm in this eral

long as the statement

is

of as

understood as reflecting one's personal

experience in the matter. Eckhart's

"little

point," according to

my

view,

is

not just a

moves or rather revolves and this movement is taking place all the time. That is to say, the point is a living one and not a dead one. Therefore as soon as we come to this point God may make us turn back toward creatureliness but at the same time he does not forget to remind us of the other side of the point. If the point is stationary and points just one way, we cannot even turn back to ourselves and find ourselves to be creatures. The reason we can turn back is because we can move on and see into the ground point which stays stationary.

It

(grund) of the divine nature. In creatureliness itself,

for

we

are

we cannot

all

fact,

while going back to our

the time carrying with us the ground

leave

it

behind as

if

it

were something

which could be separated from us and left anywhere by the roadside and perhaps picked up by somebody else. Creatureli-


"a little point" and satori ness

and Godliness must go hand

be

always there.

also

is

the problem of impassableness no longer remains

Then

point.

is

leave one behind

killing the other as well as oneself.

a kind will

hand; wherever one

in

To The ''litde point" is of axis around which we and God move. This truth experienced when a man once actually reaches the

found the other

means

87

with him, he will never ask himself whether he can pass on or not.

He

what he was. To know the

is

one must see to

make

it,

for

God

significance of the point

did not leave

it

where

them advance the

so as to help

own minds. Some may say that if the us realize that we are after

is

in order

its

presence

it

philosophers or theologians argue about

theories already constructed

in their

"litdc point"' exists only to all

what

creatures,

looking into the eternity of the divine essence? that

we

This

is

are creatures even before

we come

We

makes the

must remember that

We

all

we

this seeing the "little

"little

We

point."

We

are

creatures in God, with God, not creaturely creatures. are those forever, left

who

When we

the other side of

point,"

find

it.

fact

now

There

point" divides us from

The

are

God

it

we ha\e

is

just the contrary.

eternally

turned back to ourselves after being accosted by the

are carrying all

"little

and that when we are away from

God on

"little

think that the

point"

same creatures any

are not the

longer after our encounter with the

know

for the sake of

greatest possible difference in the world.

indeed different creatures,

make

the use of

to the "little point."

however no more than mere arguing

arguing.

is

it

we have captured all

ourselves

with

everything around there and

us. If things

deeply

buried

Godhead, which means an end

were otherwise we should in

the

emptiness

of our creatureliness.

of

the

For the


MYSTICISM

88

fullness of the

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

Godhead can only be

expressed in the creature-

liness of all beings.

do not think

I

it

is

justifiable to use this "little point" for

the support of the doctrine of impassableness. In other places

Eckhart gives us statements quite contradictory to the idea of the the

"little

point." For instance, in one of his sermons, "Into

Godhead," " we have the following:

As long

as the least of creatures absorb

God, however

see nothing of

Book him my

your attention, you will

may

that creature

little

be.

Thus,

around looking for soul lo\'es and found him not." She found angels and many other things but not him her soul lo\ed, but she goes on to say: "After that, I went a little further and found him my soul of Lo\e, the soul says: "I have run

in

loves."

It

was

as

creatures that

I

if

she said:

found

my

beyond or jump past creatures This sermon

me no small see

may

God.

selves

if it is

to

is,

if

"A

must

step

and ye see Eckhart, "However little,

anything adheres to the soul, you cannot

God. And: "Every creature

If there

soul

know God.

given under the heading,

be,

stepped beyond

I

The

lover."

more," which means, according to it

me," that

like

is

was when

"It

soul's

seeks to

become

were no search for God, the heavens them-

would not be revolving.

If

God were

not in everything,

nature would not function nor would desire be in anything."

And

this desire

If all shells

is

to see

the shells were

God

in his

naked

essence.

removed from the

soul

and

all

God's

could be taken off too, he could gi\e himself directly to the

soul without reserve.

they ever so slight

But

— the

as long as the soul's shells are intact

soul cannot see

to the extent of a hairbreadth, ^^ Ibid.,

pp. 165 et seq.

God.

came between

If

— be

anything, even

the body

and the


"a little point" and satori soul, there

could be no true union of the two.

how much more

with physical things,

true

89

If that

it

is

is

the case

with spiritual!

Thus Boethius says: "If you want to know the straight truth, put away joy and fear, confidence, hope and disappointment." Joy, fear, confidence, hope, and disappointment are all intervening media, all shells. As long as you stick to them and they to you, you shall not see God.

These are

we can

He

and illuminating statements whereby

significant

all

look into the core of Eckhart's philosophical thinking.

never wants us to leave the

Godhead behind, he

us to leave our shells and also asks of if

just

are to be

any

sort

naked

if

there

between the two.

God and

for the two,

both stand in the

where there

is

of

we and

is

to be a unification or identity

To

be naked means to be empty,

creatures, can join

field

wants

to take off his shells

he has any except those we have put on him. Both

God of

God

hands only when

Absolute Emptiness

{mnyatd),

neither light nor shadow.

Let us consider other passages from Eckhart for our further edification on the subject.

sermon with the Man's

"Distinctions

title,

sake and gave

these,

up

all

St.

Paul

^^

Are Lost

in

took leave of

that he might get

— together with every idea

he parted with

God

for

14 Ibid., pp. 203 et seq. 15 Eckhart quotes St. Paul

own

following are from the

and highest parting occurs when,

last

he takes leave of God. he might give

The

God":

for God's sake,

God

from God, of

^*

for

God's

as well as all

God. In parting with

God's sake and yet

God remained

wish to be cut off God's sake." This I understand corresponds to the King James version, Romans, 9:3, "But I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." I do not know how this discrepancy takes place between the two quotations as I have no Greek texts with me. Eckhart bases his argument on his Latin text, I believe. eternally from

God

for

my

as saying: "I could friends' sake and for


:

MYSTICISM

go to

him

more

be

to

an

as

in his

is

— nor

is-ness

God

gave to

were a

God

as

anyone

own

nature

— not

as he

is

conceived by

yet as something yet to be achieved (isticheit)

,

as

God

really

is.

Then

—but

he neither

nor received anything from him, for he and

unit, that

Statements

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

is,

God

pure unity.

must have struck Christians

like this

of his days as

most extraordinary, even as blasphemous, and probably they

may

affect present-day Christians in the

still

from the Buddhist point

way

of

same way. But

view they would not sound

strange or singular or astounding.

They

in

any

are rather a

routine expression of Buddhist thought. Eckhart however does

not stop here, he goes on

God

gives to all things alike

they are alike.

A

...

flea, to

above the highest angel in are equal

God into let

and are God

his

and

proceed from

as they

the extent that

own

himself.

right.

... In

it is

Thus

in

in

God

His pleasure

is

smooth, to gallop as a horse

things

and being

as great, to take a simile, as that of a horse,

run over a green heath where the ground

loose to

all

this likeness or identity

takes such delight that he pours his whole nature it.

God

God, ranks

as fast as

will,

is

level

and

he can over the

and expresses his nature. It is so with God. It is his pleasure and rapture to discover identity, because he can always put his whole nature into

greensward

it

— for he

Is

this

is

for

this

is

a

this identity itself.

not a remarkable utterance of spiritual intuition on

the part of the author? Here,

ing

left

pleasure

horse's

behind the

"little

we

see that

point,"

is

right out

sward with "his whole nature and being" keeps nothing in reserve.

He

God, instead

of be-

on the green-

in full display.

He

gallops like a horse, he sings like

a bird, he blooms like the flower, he even dances like a young girl.

Living

among

the conventionally

minded tradition-bound


:

and satori

"a little point"

medieval Christians, Eckhart must have

91

somewhat con-

felt

strained in his expression and did not go so far as the Zen

would.

master

might have had

Eckhart

Otherwise,

wooden horse neigh and the facility as the Zen master.

stone

man

"the

dance," with the same

In one sense, this "little point" may be considered as corresponding to the Buddhist idea of ichi-nen {ekacittaksdna or

and

ekaksdtia in Sanskrit point,"

I

if

understand

ness it is

in

its

correctly,

marks the turning point

Godhead. As long

in the suchness of the

mains

it

i-nien in Chinese). Eckhart's "little

suchness, that

is,

in

its

naked

as the

Godhead

essence,

no sound comes from it, no odor "above grace, above intelligence, above all itself,

it is

issues

re-

Empti-

from

desire,"

^^

it,

it is

altogether unapproachable, unattainable, as Buddhist philoso-

phers would say. But because of this it

comes

back to

and

The time when is

left

by

it,

with creatures by making

"the soul turn

and know

be a creature."

in contact itself

point"

"little

find

itself

itself to

the soul becomes conscious of

its

creatureliness

when God becomes aware of his contact with Or we can say that this is creation. In Sermon 28

the time also

creatures.

we have

Womb

had no God and I was pure being, a knower of myself by divine truth. The I wanted myself and nothing else. And what I wanted I was, and what I was I wanted, and thus I existed untrammelled by God or anything else. But when I parted from my free will and received my Back

in the

merely was, myself.

I

^''

from which

I

came.

I

did not will or desire anything, for

^^bid.,

p. 231. original German has substituted this term. I tion or not. 1^

The

"in miner ersten ursache." The translator do not know whether this is a happy transla-

is


MYSTICISM

92

created being then

God was tures

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

had a God. For before there were

I

not God, but rather he was what he was.

came

to

be and took on creaturely being, then

God

as

he

longer

is

in himself, but

God

as

he

is

creatures,

When

crea-

God was no

with creatures. ^^

The Godhead must become God in order to make itself related to creatures. The Biblical God as the creator of the world is no longer God as he was. He created himself as he is, by creating the world. But even this God is not to be conceived in terms of time. The chronological God is the creation of a relative mind and as such we can say that he is far removed

He

from the Godhead.

is

just

one of the creatures

flea

could have the intelligence by

like our-

selves.

Eckhart says: "If a

which

to search the eternal abyss of divine being, out of

it

came, we should say that God together with

all

that

which

God

could not give fulfillment or satisfaction to the flea!" chronological

God

has to have the intelligence of the

he Wants to delve into the very being of the

flea.

The

^^

is

A

flea if

rising

of this intelligence in the soul, to use Eckhartian terminology, is

the positing of the 18

Blakney,

19 Ibid., p.

p. 228. 229.

"little

point."


IV.

Living in the Light of Eternity

ETERNITY of time, in

is,

as a philosopher defines

which every event

another, past at another."

This finity"?

is

is

it,

"an

infinite extent

future at one time, present at

^

an interesting definition no doubt, but what

"No

is

"in-

What is time that has no Time cannot be defined without eter-

beginning and no end?"

beginning and no end?

nity nor eternity without time? Is eternity time going

on

for-

ever in two directions, past-ward and future-ward? Is time eternity

chopped

to pieces or

numbers?

Let us see whether a symboHc representation of eternity

is

more amenable to our understanding or imagination. What would a poet, for instance, say about it? I

saw Eternity the other

night,

Like a great ring of pure and endless All calm, as

it

was

light,

bright,

And round beneath

it,

Time,

in hours, days, years

Driven by the spheres, 1

The Dictionary

of Philosophy, edited p. 97.

York: Philosophical Library),

93

by Dagobert D. Runes (New


:

MYSTICISM

94

:

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

Like a vast shadow moved, in which the world

And

all

her train were hurled.^

Henry Vaughan's

lines, as

Bertrand Russell points out,^ are

evidently suggested by Plato's

Now bestow

Timaeus

which Plato

states:

the nature of the ideal being was everlasting, but to this attribute in its fulness

Wherefore he [God] resolved

sible.

in

upon a creature was imposto have a moving image of

and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image eternal but moving according to number, while eternity itself rests in unity; and this image we call time. For there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them

eternity,

also.*

Further, Plato goes on to say that the heaven so closely knit together that

might

also

if

and time are

one should dissolve the other

be dissolved

Time, then, and the heaven came into being at the same instant in order that, having been created together, if ever there was to be a dissolution of them, they might be dissolved together.

was framed after the pattern of the eternal nature, that it might remember this as far as was possible; for the pattern exists from eternity, and the created heaven has been, and is, and will It

be, in all time.

The heaven five

is

eternity;

and "the sun and moon and the

stars" are "the forms of time, which imitate eternity and

Henry Vaughan, "The World." ^History of Western Philosophy, p. 144. * Dialogues of Plato, translated by B. Jowett (London: Oxford University Press), Vol. Ill, p. 456. Published in the United States by Random House. 2


LIVING IN

THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY

95

and the moving

revolve according to a law of number,"

images of the eternal essence which alone "is" and not sub-

itself,

What we

becoming.

ject to

the original eternal being

mind.

If

we must

we

this life of

is

only in God's

is

we cannot go on

living even

When

the Eternal negated

in "the forms of time," all

to manifest

itself

assuredly did not leave the

it

by themselves;

must have entered into

it

them though negated. When the Eternal negated the moving, changing, sensible forms of time,

When we

pick

itself

hid

"is."^hat

is

belonging to

finite

in

them up, we must see "the shoots "Was" and "will be" must be

of

must be carrying

infinity.

must be able

seeing the world as

into

itself

it

everlastingness" in them.

fore,

ask.

bound in time and measurable in days months and years. What is necessary, then,

forms helpless

them.

may

not the possibility of achieving this end,

ours though

and nights, in must be possible. itself

not the heaven

get into God's mind. "Is this possible?" one

necessity; for otherwise

its

which

itself,

is

wish, therefore, "to live in the light of eternity"

But the question but

see with our sense

We who

to see

God

in

it,

with

it,

in

everything

becoming in time, therethat which eternally "is." This is

sees

are

it,

as

Spinoza

says, ''sub specie

aeternitatis."

Eternity finitude

is

may

be regarded as a negation as far as

concerned, but inasmuch as

changing, becoming, that

is,

negating

this finitude itself,

what

human

is

is

always really

and not the eternal. The eternal must be an absolute affirmation which our limited human unnegative

is

the world

itself

derstanding defines in negative terms. in this affirmation,

which

is

We

must

see the

world

God's way of seeing the world,

seeing everything as part of the whole. "Living in the light of eternity" cannot be anything else.


MYSTICISM

96

CHRISTIAN AND BUDDHIST

:

B. Jowett; translator of Plato, writes in his introduction to

Timaeus:

Not only Buddhism, but Greek as well as Christian philosophy, show that it is quite possible that the human mind should retain Eternity or the eternal an enthusiasm for mere negations. .

is

.

.

not merely the unlimited in time but the truest of

the most real of

all realities,

which we nevertheless only

The enthusiasm Jowett tions"

all

all

Being,

knowledge,

through a glass darkly.^

here refers to

is

not "for mere nega-

or for things which are "seen only through a glass

darkly";

must

see

the most certain of

human

cannot come out of the

it

issue

from

eternity

itself,

which

is

side of finitude;

it

in the finitude, indeed,

and which makes the finitude what it is. What appears to be mere negation from the logical point of view is really the is-ness of things. As long as we cannot transcend the mere logicality of our thinking, there will be no enthusiasm of any kind whatever in any of us. What stirs us up to the very core of our being must come from the great fact of affirmation and a

not from negation. II

Buddhism scholars.

view, as

is

There

we

generally considered negativistic by Western is

something in

which tends

to justify this

observe in Nagarjuna's doctrine of "Eight No's":

no

There

is

Nor

there death;

is

birth,

There

is

Nor

there any ending;

is

Nothing

Nor 5

it

Ibid., p. 398.

is

no beginning.

is

identical with

itself.

there any diversification;


THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY

LIVING IN

Nothing comes into

97

existence,

Nor does anything go out

of existence."

What he aims at by negating everything that can be predicated of the Dharma (Ultimate Reahty) is to bring out thereby what he terms the Middle Way. The Middle Way is not sheer nothingness,

it

every possible negation.

a something that remains after

is

Its

other

name

is

the Unattainable,

and the Prajhd-pdramitd-sutra teaches the doctrine of the Unattainable. I will try to illustrate what it means in order to clarify the I shall

deeper implications of

this

contradictory statement.

repeat the story found in Chapter

There was once

in the

II.

T'ang dynasty

China, a great scholar thoroughly versed in

name was Tokusan (790-865, Te-shan not at

all

satisfied

in

the history of

this doctrine.

in Chinese).

His

He was

with the Zen form of Buddhist teaching

which was rapidly gaining power, China. Wishing to refute

it

especially in the south of

he came out of Szu-ch'uan in the

southwestern part of China.

His objective was to trict of

Li-yang.

When

visit

a great Zen monastery in the

he approached

ing himself with a cup of tea.

He

it

dis-

he thought of refresh-

entered a teahouse by the

roadside and ordered some refreshments. Seeing a bundle on his back, the old lady

asked what

it

who happened

to be the teahouse keeper

was.

Tokusan said, "This is Shoryo's [Ch'ing-lung's] great commentary on the Diamond Sutra [a portion of the great Prajhdpdramitd-sutra'] ."

'T have a question

and

if

you answer

it

I

shall

be glad to

serve you the refreshments free of charge. Otherwise, you will

have to go elsewhere." ^