Now, this seminar this weekend concerns a subject which is so alien from anything that we understand in the West that it may stretch your skulls a little. I don’t know. But as Westerners face certain forms of Mahayana Buddhism from the outside, they see what reminds them of total irrationality and superstition. And this in particular applies to a form of Buddhism which has several names, and they’re all—well, it’s really one form of Buddhism, but it’s named differently—and they’re all sub-schools of Mahayana. It’s variously known as Vajrayana, Tantrayana, or Mantrayana.
You remember the word yana means a “course,” basically; sometimes a “vehicle.” And Buddhism is fundamentally likened to a vehicle or something like a raft, which you use for crossing a river. Or let’s say you want to get in at a door, and you have to knock, and you need a brick to knock on the door with. So you pick up the brick and bang on the door. That’s a yana. It’s an instrument, an expedient, a means, a technique, a method. And the Buddha’s doctrine is called in Sanskrit the dharma. And dharma has a whole multiplicity of meanings, but one of them is “method”—although it’s usually translated “law” in English; this is not a good translation.
So the whole idea of a yana is related to the idea of upāya, which I have previously explained to you, meaning “skillful means,” what we would call a pedagogical device or sort of trick. Because upāya in politics means “cunning,” but in religion or philosophy it means the skill of a teacher in getting something across to a student. And so the whole essence of upāya is really surprise, because everybody wants a surprise, but you can’t surprise yourself because you know in advance what you’re going to do. When you have hiccups, then indeed you surprise yourself because you didn’t intend to.
And upāya and surprise is deeply connected with the whole inner meaning of Buddhism. Life has to surprise itself, because if it doesn’t, you don’t know you’re there! Because you only know existence to the degree that there is a balance between knowing and not knowing, see? So there must be this surprise. There must always be something in you, in other words, that is sort of spiritual hiccups that happens unbeknownst. So an upāya is a method of the teacher producing the surprise of enlightenment in the student, and he uses a yana—that is to say, a vehicle or a course, just like we say we give a course in philosophy or semantics or chemistry or something—and so the course, then, is the Mahayana, the “great course,” which includes ever so many different upāyas, or different ways; the Hinayana, the “little course,” which has only a few ways.
Now, in the Hinayana they are very tough-minded, and they stick to the notion that all enlightenment depends on your own effort. The Buddha is supposed to have said just before he died, “Be you lamps unto yourselves. Be you a refuge unto yourselves. Take to yourselves no other refuge.” And in Japanese classification of Buddhist schools they have two that are respectively called jiriki and tariki, and they classify all schools of Buddhism under these headings. Ji means “self,” riki means “power.” So there are ways of salvation—or more accurately liberation—by your own power; jiriki. And then tariki are the ways by the power of another; that is to say, liberation through what Christians would call grace rather than works. And it’s fascinating how the problem of faith and works, or grace and works, turns up in Buddhism just as it does in Christianity. And it’s really the same problem.
You see, in the history of Christianity there was a huge argument around 400 AD between a Welshman, or a Celt, by the name of Pelagius and Augustine of Hippo. And Pelagius was a kind of optimistic Britisher who believed in muddling through playing the game and putting your nose to the grindstone, and so on, and he believed that one’s own will and effort could obey the commandments of God. Because he argued that God would not have given us any commandments unless we could’ve obeyed them. But St. Augustine said that he missed the point entirely, that if he had read St. Paul properly—especially the Epistle to the Romans—he would’ve found out that God did not give us commandments in order that we shall obey them, but in order to prove that we couldn’t—that is to say, as St. Paul put it: to convict us of sin. That the law, in other words, was a gimmick, an upāya, and nobody was ever expected to obey the law, the Ten Commandments summarizing the law. Especially “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind.” Nobody can do that at all! And so even the greatest saints are always beating their breasts and confessing that they’re abysmal sinners. Because they’ve realized that they can’t live up to the commandments. So therefore St. Paul taught that the law, he said, is a pedagogue to lead us to Christ. And, you see, a pedagogue has the same meaning as upāya. So what the law does is make you feel absolutely awful because you can’t obey it or do anything about it.
Now, the Buddhists have come to an exactly similar conclusion in the course of time, because the Buddha was apparently (in his original teaching) tough-minded and said, “Listen, boys, you better discipline yourselves,” see? “And you get to work, and you cut out women and drink and possessions, and meditate and control your minds!” Whew! Well, everybody tried this, and of course they couldn’t do it. A few people did, only they dried up. They found that was a kind of a pyrrhic victory; that what you gain by stopping your humanity and stopping your emotions isn’t worth getting. It’s like cutting off your head to cure the headache. So they realized that wasn’t the way. But that was why Buddha suggested it: so that they’d find out.
So then came in the new schools of Buddhism which said that you must be liberated by tariki. And ta, as I said, means “other power.” That is to say: the power of something in you that is not your ego, just in the same way as your heart doesn’t beat at the will of your ego. So in psychoanalysis, for example, we would say that the unconscious has to be worked on and that it will be watered and nourished and so on, and eventually the unconscious will produce your integration. This is Jungian language, not Freudian. And you depend on that. It’s not you. Because, of course, integration means that you get the two aspects of yourself together and acknowledge them both as you—the conscious and the unconscious, the power of the ego and the power of the natural organism, of the psyche.
And so in every art one realizes there comes a point where your will is exhausted, you’ve tried everything to make something work, and it won’t work. And then, to achieve the perfection of the art, something has to happen of itself—which we variously call grace, inspiration, or tariki. And the problem that everybody’s always wanted to know is: how to make that happen?
Now, you see, if we knew how to make it happen it wouldn’t be it, because it would be something we were doing and it would be, therefore, the old story of just simply an ego effort. And so we don’t know how to make it happen. But if you just settle for that and say, “Well, sorry, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” everybody’s just going to go home and forget the whole thing and commit suicide. The thing is therefore: the state we call faith is the key. And faith means that we know it will happen, only we’ve got to wait. Only: don’t wait too hard! Because that will be ego effort again and will stop it happening. So the thing is to learn to wait soft. That is to say: in a state of openness. Well now, how do you do that?
There are all sorts of upāyas you see—means—that help one to do this, and one of them is this thing that I’ve been referring to as the Vajrayana (that means the “diamond vehicle”), the Tantrayana (that means the “web vehicle”), and the Mantrayana (which means the “sound vehicle;” sound in the sense of incantation).
I may as well begin with Mantrayana aspect of it, because this is the most perplexing to us from our point of view and doesn’t make any sense. You know there is an age-old belief in spells, and that certain formulae said in the right way will produce results. All of this descends philosophically (so far as Asia is concerned) from the Hindu Upanishadic idea that the world is the creation of sound. The Hindus say that in the beginning was vāc, which is exactly the same thing as saying in the beginning was the word, as in the Gospel of St. John. But it doesn’t mean the orders, like, “Give him the word.” The vāc means “vibration.”
And so the name that is fundamentally vāc is the Sanskrit word ōṃ. Because when you say ōṃ you begin at the back of your throat with the “O” and you finish at your lips. And so you take in the whole range of sound. And so this word, ōṃ, is called the pranava, and it is the holiest of all names. And so you can chant ōṃ, you know, and really sir up things.
And so all Hindus and Buddhists alike use this word ōṃ, and will use it to set going a meditative state. This is very easy to do, because it’s awfully easy to concentrate on sound. It’s much more difficult to keep your eyes still. You flicker because your eyes tend constantly to—it’s natural for the eyes to rove over things, and you have difficulty in stopping your eyes from scanning. But sound is very easy to concentrate on. And the whole point of a mantra is: it’s a method of digging sound. Now, I hope you know what I mean by that, because I purposely used a very slangy, popular word: to dig. That means: get right down into, so that you realize that the flow, the vibration, of sound is a way in which you experience basic existence; being here. And you can learn everything from it, because sound is not a constant. It comes and it goes, it’s on and off. You only hear it because it is vibrating.
And so herein is the lesson that life is on and off, black and white, life and death, inside and outside, knowing and not knowing. They’re all in the vibration. But it’s easy to explain that in words. But to understand it in your bones, to feel it, you have to learn how to listen to a sound. So then they invented this way of making chanting sounds.
Now, there are various ways in which this is understood by people in Asia. Incidentally, I should say that this, as a form of Buddhism—what I’m calling Vajrayana, the “whole movement”—sprung up in about the ninth century AD, and its geographical distribution is from north India into Tibet, China, and Japan, and Mongolia. And it is highly characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism. So then, let’s say there are various ways of understanding it. The word, the formulas, used for mantra are understood by the ignorant as being shortcuts. Instead of saying the whole sutra, the whole sutra is summed up in the formula aum mani padme hum. And you can say that. That’ll do. You’re a poor, weak slob, and out of infinite compassion the bodhisattvas have arranged to get you to nirvāṇa. Instead of going through all the heroic efforts of those saints and sages and meditation practices, you can just say aum mani padme hum. And in fact you don’t even need to say it, you can have it printed on paper and enclosed in a silver box on the end of a stick, and all you have to do is rotate the thing. So the popular idea of this is the shortcut.
The next idea of it is the one I’ve been sort of talking about, which is that you concentrate on these formulae, on these sounds. And there’s a third interpretation, which is, you might call, the esoteric interpretation, which was originally—as far as I know, the first person to really bring this up was Vasubandhu, whom I told you about last week, who lived… oh, shortly before 400. And he said the whole point of mantra is that they don’t mean anything at all, and that the word ōṃ is completely meaningless, and that all these various different kinds of incantations are totally senseless. And the idea of repeating them is to liberate yourself from the notion that the universe means anything. All those forms of Buddhism which are associated with the Vajrayana are what is called tantric. And tantric—the word basically means “web structure:” warp and woof.
Well now, tantra, in Hindu context, is a discipline that is sometimes called the fifth veda. There are four vedas, which are basic holy scriptures of Hinduism. The fifth veda is, as it were, the esoteric one. Now, according to the four vedas, in order to be liberated you have to give up physical life—that is to say, you must not eat meat, you must not have sexual intercourse, you must not take alcohol or any kind of consciousness-changing substance. There are various other things; I forget them all. But in tantra the whole idea is liberation through the forbidden things—that is to say, liberation in the world, belonging to the world, participating in the world. And sometimes it is therefore called the left hand path.
There’s a Hindu story, you know, that Brahma was asked the question: “Who will gain to union with you first? He who loves you or he who hates you?” And Brahma replied, “He who hates me, because he would think of me more often.”
So you can, in other words, attain to liberation by one of two ways. One is by complete altruism, and the other is by total selfishness. And the moral of the whole thing is that if you are completely and consistently selfish you will discover that yourself is the other, that you don’t really experience yourself at all except in terms of others. When you say, “I love myself,” what do you mean? You mean you love being alive, and then you push it—you see, this is the point: push it—to an extreme. So the left-hand path is a very dangerous way of going about things because nobody approves of it.
I was discussing this morning of my father: some time in the distant past we had witnessed a comedy wherein the stage was set of a man asleep in bed in a highly Victorian bedroom with all kinds of fancy furniture and terrible stuff, you know? And the alarm clock goes off, and he wakes up in a total rage. He immediately picks up his shoe and smashes the alarm clock. He then gets out of bed in fury, he rips the sheets to pieces, overturns the bed, finds a hammer somewhere, and starts breaking up all the crockery and the windows until the place is a total demolition. Finally there is left in one corner one of those enormous standard lamps, you know, with uugh all this sort of [???] on it. And he takes several runs at this, and finally he picks it up and he flings it in the air. And as it comes down it bounces—it was made of rubber. And this is the flip, you see? That dooopp. And that’s the surprise I was talking about in the beginning. Satori: sudden awakening. It bounced! You know, you thought you were going to crash and you bounced. And, you see, this is the whole thing about Buddhism. We all think we’re going to crash. And it must seem that way, because otherwise it won’t be a surprise to bounce.
So if, in other words, you press your selfishness and you go into this whole question of: what do I really want? Supposing I could have it. Supposing I have all the money, anything I can think of. What is it I’m after? And you explore all the sensations you can imagine—all the delights of pleasure, all the ecstasies, all the drunks, all the orgasms, all the anything you can think of—go right through to the end of it: what is it you’re looking for? You say, “Oh, I want to be flipped!” You know, I want to be let out of myself! Well, when you’re let out of yourself, that’s altruism. He that would save his life shall lose it. He that loses his life—or loosens his life—shall find it. You go one way or the other and it all becomes the same thing.
Alright. So, in the same way, take the path of meditative discipline on concentration, where somebody’s sitting there with a stick and says, “You attend! See? I’m a master. You follow that way.” See, what you want to get out of that is try and get rid of yourself. That’s one way of doing it. And there’s certain kinds of people who ought to take it that way. They want to. They don’t know they’re here unless they hurt. And that’s the right way for them. We shouldn’t condemn it. It’s just like there are certain kinds of plants that grow this way, there are certain kinds of plants that go this way, and so there are many types.
On the other hand, there’s the mantra game where people say, “Oh, this is so simple to do. You really don’t have to chant it at all. It’s just the shortest formula. It’s just this kind of cut.” And then they get going into this thing, and they get fascinated singing aum mani padme hum. So something like that. Or like those Pure Land Buddhists in Japan: namu amida butsu, namu amida butsu, namu amida butsu, namu amida butsu, namu amida butsu. And it eventually becomes namuamda, namumdum, nammumm, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunnamun, nunn-damun, nunn-damun, you know? You really get with it. And when you get with it you suddenly realize it’s doing you.
Now, what’s the difference between you and it? Self and other? Self power, other power? Jiriki and tariki? It’s all one. Only, you play it isn’t. Because you have to do that. I say have to—that’s not quite the right word. You do that in order to create the sensation of existence, which is called “now you see it, now you don’t.”
I want to draw your attention to the fact that very vivid Tibetan painting has a curious way of creating a state of mind, if you really start looking at it, that I can only call psychedelic. I don’t know anything else quite like it as you get into the detail of it. It’s like this: let’s suppose that you look at some object, and instead of the thing becoming fuzzy and fading out, it always gets more detailed, more clear, more alive. And you suddenly find out that what you thought was just a bunch of blur was sixteen thousand maggots with bright eyes on them, and that every eye was a deep jewel. And you go down into these deep jewel-like eyes, and you find inside them that there are cross-legged Buddhas with aureoles around them, and necklaces of human heads. And then you start looking at those. And by Jove, in every eye on one of those human heads, you look inside it and there’s another Buddha sitting there. See? And you go on like that for ever and ever and ever in myriad detail, see?
Well now, that is a state of consciousness which these artists are trying to represent. It is the idea of the dharmadhatu, which I explained in last seminar—that is to say, the net of jewels where every jewel reflects all the other jewels, and therefore naturally contains the reflection of all the other jewels in each other jewel that it reflects, you see? The infinite interrelatedness, or they call it mutual penetration, of everything in the universe. And so this is an artform designed to get you into the mood to understand that by looking at it. It is absolute, total fascination.
But what I was trying to describe to you about the nature of these artforms, where you look at the details, and then you suddenly discover that behind the details there are millions more details, and you never fuzz out. You find, in other words, that the possibility to see down into something goes on for ever and ever. Now then, that is the visual equivalent of hearing when you work with mantras, with these formal chants. To get to hear sound in such a way that, just as you could say that a visual field is rich in detail, like these paintings are, like a piece of Hindu beautiful silk weaving, which is rich with gold and flowers, and you see detail in that—now, you can hear sound in the same way. And that’s what Hindu music is playing with.
And so when you get down into that, you see, you are what I would call truly listening in to the universe. Because eventually, if you listen to sound that way, or you look at form that way, you discover its secrets. This is just another way of investigation of life comparable to our scientific investigation with microscopes and chemical analysis and this, that, and the other, but it’s a different road. Scientific investigation does what we call looking out into matter, into the physical world. This is going in the opposite direction, but it’s all the same thing. It’s the same continuum. But it’s going into the nature of your feeling of it; that is to say, into the center of awareness, into the self.
And what all these drawings are from various points of view is: they’re drawings of your own interior world looked at in this way under the influence of the traditions of, indeed, a particular culture which is not our culture, and which therefore strikes us as a little strange. But whenever you look at a work of art and you feel, “Gee, isn’t that weird! That’s not the way people look!” You know, for people’s first impression of Chinese art, say—they perhaps don’t meet Tibetans so easily—is that it’s… well, everything’s got curls on it! It wiggles. It’s very strange.
And the reason for that is that they are showing you a vision of the universe which you haven’t looked at, and so it looks odd to you. And what you mean by “odd” is: well, it curls where it shouldn’t. Or I don’t see things that way; I don’t see them with that extra flip on them. No, indeed you don’t, because the way you see things is what you call ordinary and what you’re used to. And, as you know, when we see things we ignore. We screen out certain aspects of things which we don’t notice. And therefore, by studying other people’s artforms we are taught to see things that we wouldn’t ordinarily notice. So that when you become used to Chinese or Tibetan painting, you say, “Why, of course! That’s the way the world is also!”
So the feeling of the strange, of the—we use the word “exotic,” and that means a thing looks exotic wen you look at it from somebody else’s point of view. And eventually you get used to it. And so, if you move into a state of consciousness (such as I’ve been trying to describe) that is not the usual kind of state of consciousness, you say, “It’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” And if you aren’t prepared for that you might be afraid of it and say, “Am I going mad? Am I going out of my mind?” Yes, you are. You are going out of your set, ordinary set of mind, but you’re going into just another aspect of mind. And at first it always feels weird.
That’s why people have difficulty in meditation, and they really start moving. They say, “Well, I’m going to go out of my mind if I think about that!” You know, all those famous stories about people who invented computers and went mad, or who thought about the nature of thought and absolutely were never heard from again. There’s a certain fear, in other words, of the loss of one’s own ego; of the sort of regular world where conventions go on, where the familiar gestures are made so that you feel at home, and you get into other dimensions of awareness where the gestures are different, the nerves are doing something else, or indeed you don’t know whether they’re even nerves anymore. They may be Ādi-Buddhas and all these charming girls who you see in these things, and you don’t know who they are. Some kind of weird Tibetan fantasy. You say, “Uh-oh!” So you get cultural shock. Stay away from that! But it isn’t cultural shock with respect to some other people, it’s cultural shock with respect to your own inner life. In other words: that we all have within us levels of vibration which we’re not used to, not familiar with, and therefore are scared of.
So this particular kind of Buddhism—Vajrayana—is a rather adventurous, not to say dangerous, exploration of man’s inner consciousness, depicting it in an elaborate symbolism which, although to a Westerner used to Christian symbolism, looks as if it were a drawing of some heaven somewhere, of potentate seated on thrones and receiving homage, and all that political bit, all these are quite definitely—I’m not making this up—all these are quite definitely to be understood as exteriorizations of your own being. In other words, let us suppose that we looked on a microscope slide at the cross-section of a spinal column, or of an area of the brain: this would show us certain designs, certain patterns, and they would be rather central to you. Now, these are equivalent to those. But they are moving in a different direction.
And you have to understand, now, the difference between what is called the material body and the subtle body. The rūpa—actually, that means the “formal body,” as I explained in the second seminar. The word rupa, in Sanskrit, which is applied to the material world means “the world of form,” the world seen in a certain form, a form to which we’re accustomed. So you have a formal body which is you as you appear to any other objective observer. Then you have a subtle body which is the way you are as you feel to yourself. In other words, supposing you’ve been on a dunk and you wake up with a headache and it feels that your head is so bit—well, that’s the shape of your subtle body.
Spiegelberg used to show a wonderful cartoon of Corky in the comics looking at a plane going over that was doing some stunts, and it made his neck grow longer and longer until it all got tied in knots while watching the plane. That was the shape of Corky’s subtle body, which is called his liṅga śarīra in Sanskrit, as opposed to sthula śarīra, which is your gross body; that means more dense.
Now, so when you get the drawing of the microscope slide of, say, a cross-section of the spine or something that is quite fundamental to the structure of nervous system, you’ve got a design of the gross body. But when you start looking into the other direction of things, which is how you feel, and you really go into feeling to what sound is, to what touch is, to what emotion is, and you trace the senses back along their channels until you get to the mānas-vijñāna, which is the central sense behind each separate sense, and you find that it isn’t just kind of a goo, it’s an incredibly detailed experience. And then you draw pictures like this to represent what you found.
We would draw them in a different way if we genuinely made this inquiry ourselves, because we have different traditions. And we would find ourselves goodness only nows what we’d be drawing. But we would be making things like the stained glass windows in Chartres cathedral, you see? And crucifixes. Because when you investigate sensation, you go down into it and yu feel it getting more and more intense, more and more intense, more, more, more! And you get eeeeeek! You see? Right down is: how much can you stand? Well, there’s Jesus on the cross, see? Cover it with jewels. Make it gorgeous.
So all these things, you see, are investigations of the basic sensation of being alive, and people are curious about that. You know, where are we? What’s it all about? Well, the only way is to look and see. So if you want to find out what you mean by “meaning,” by “asking a question,” by “being conscious,” by “being here”—why, you have to meditate! And meditation is not meditating on something (like thinking it out in an intellectual way), it is looking more closely at what you’re asking the question about. So you could do that externally with a microscope, with chemical analysis, and so on. That way is valid. But it has to be balanced by the internal way: going down into your own sensations and your unconsciousness.
And the point that I am going to make again in another way that I made this morning is that this isn’t something you’re supposed to do. That is to say: it isn’t a chore, it isn’t your solemn duty—unless you want to come on that’s the sort of person you ought to be. This is a delight: to get into that out of total fascination and joy and love of whatever it is that you are, and everybody else is. So that this is a different spirit of religion than that to which we are normally accustomed. Instead of saying—which I suppose is an attitude characteristic of what you might call a patrist from a matrist culture—“Go and read your Bible! Brrr! Get down on your knees and repent!” You see? Oh! Krrr! Now, we feel pretty spooked by that attitude. This one says instead, “Psst! I have got something to show you! Look in here! You want to know what all this is about? You watch. Take a look.” And you look in there and say, “Oh no! It can’t really be like that!” You look at the other guy—who’s the guru, you see—and he says, “It’s alright. Don’t be afraid.” “Oh! That’s not possible!” He says, “Oh yeah,” you know? And this is the attitude. And I don’t know how to suggest it except by this sort of drama of the two different approaches.
So this, then, is as near as I can get to describing the inner meaning of tantra, of an attitude which is common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. When they say tantra it means not only the web, the warp and the woof, where you can’t have yes without no, you can’t have this direction without having that direction, because this direction, to have it there, needs this other one to hang on to. But he says, “Now look here, I’ve got to have something to hang on to, too.” So we hang on to each other, and so there we are. See? That’s the nature of a web.
And so tantra means: the comprehension of the unity of opposites, of the good and the bad, of life and death, of love and hate, of all extremes in the whole spectrum of our emotions, our sensations, everything. In a sense, this is not something for children, because you have to be reliable to get into this, because otherwise you go berserk. You wouldn’t pay any respect to any rules or anything if you didn’t have a mature attitude before getting mixed up in this. Because you suddenly see: anything and everything goes. There is no way of being wrong. Because you are It—whatever there is, forever and ever and ever. And that’s so! You can die! Fantastic! Forget everything altogether. Blow right out. Come back. Because the light is the other side of the darkness. Be all new again. But it’s all you just as it was before, because you do the same patterns, same kind of stars, same kind of physical properties, the same dance. Blot it out, it starts again. Just like the physical forces in things, you see, repeat. They are fundamental laws and patterns. It’s exactly the same with the inner world I’m talking about. Investigating the outer world, investigating the inner world—it’s all one. And that’s you. So Buddhist enlightenment is simply to know that secret. And that’s what it means—really, finally—to grow up.
You see, again, just as I said that we find, in our own preachers and religious people, an attitude of against life-ness, and we get a funny feeling about that, that they’re full of reprimands and they’re full of—there’s a trap, you see, and they have the young people’s fellowship, as I explained, to suck you into this trap. Exactly the same thing exists here. In particular, I think one of the basic tantric texts is called Saraha, the treasury of songs, by Professor Günther of the University of Saskatchewan. Saraha was a tantric teacher living probably in the area of Bengal about 1000 AD. He is making a critique of both the Hindu and Buddhist orthodoxy. So he says:
That brahmins who do not know the truth recite the four vedas in vain. With earth and water and kusha grass they make preparations. And seated at home they kindle fire. And from the senseless offering that they make they burn their eyes with the pungent smoke. In lordly garb with one staff or three they think themselves wise with their brahmanical law. Vainly is the world enslaved by their vanity. They do not know that the dharma is the same as the non-dharma. WIth ashes these masters smear their bodies. And on their heads they wear matted hair. Seated within the house, they kindle lamps. Seated in the corner, they tinkle bells. They adopt a posture and fix their eyes. Whispering in ears and deceiving folk. Teaching widows and bald-headed nuns, and suchlike. Initiating them as they take their fee. The Jain monks mock the way with their appearance, with their long nails and their filthy clothes. Or else, naked and with disheveled hair, enslaving themselves with their doctrine of liberation. If by nakedness one is released, then dogs and jackals must be so. If from absence of hair there comes perfection, then the hips of maidens must be so. If from having a tail there comes release, then for the peacock and yak it must be so. If wisdom consists in eating just what one finds, then for elephant and horse it must be so. For these Jain monks there is no release, SARAHA says. Deprived of the truth of happiness they do but afflict their own bodies. Then there are the novices and bikkhus
—that means a Buddhist monk—
with the teaching of the old school. That’s not the same as old-school Thai. It means the old school of Theravada Buddhism. With teaching the old school, he renounced the world to be monks. Some are seen sitting and reading the scriptures, some wither away in their concentration on thought. Others have recourse to the Mahayana. This is the doctrine which expounds the original text, they say. Others just meditate on mandala circles. Others strive to define the fourth stage of bliss. The search investigating, they fall from the way. Some would envisage it as space, others endow it with the nature of voidness. And thus they are generally in disagreement. Whoever deprived of the innate
—that’s crrk! what you really are—
seeks nirvana can in no wise acquire the absolute truth. Whoever is intent on anything else, how may he gain release? Will one gain release abiding in meditation? What’s the use of lamps? What’s the use of offerings? What’s to be done by reliance on mantras? What’s the use of austerities? What’s the use of going on pilgrimages? Is release achieved by bathing in water? Abandon such false attachments and renounce such illusions!