Monday, May 21, 2018

Unresolved Constant In Buddhism (佛教未解的定数)

Probably it is fair to say that the Buddha has left a very important unresolved constant in his teaching: the final resting of human life.

It is obvious that the Buddha himself has not anticipated that his teaching would revolved to become a religion hence the omission of the matter after death.

This omission has actually opened to various interpretations that have given rise to various Buddhist schools:

In Theravada, disciples are thought to follow the Buddha teaching and the aim is to achieve nirvana or enlightenment. Or simply 'Rest In Peace' without referencing to the Pure Land or Hell. If one is unsuccessful, try again next life perhaps until success.

In Sutrayana of Mahayana system, the view of heaven, hell and Pure Land are brought in somehow. Disciples are thought to believe in the existence of Pure Land of Amitabah Buddha.

The case is more complex in Mantrayana of Mahayana system however. The Mantrayana can itself be subdivided into Lower School and Upper School.

In Lower Tantric School, the practice is mainly termed as 'karma yoga'. The practitioner will follow a deity called 'yidam' and it is hoped that this deity will bring the practitioner to its pure land wherever it might be.

The Upper School is also be subdivided into three systems: the Mahayoga, Anuttara Tantra and the Great Perfection.

The practice of Mahayoga and Anuttara are almost the same. Having said so, the Anuttara Tantara or the Unsurpassed Yoga is rarely practiced now a days due to its complexity. There are two parts to the practice: the generation stage and completion stage.

In the generation stage, the yidam acts as if in the Lower School, it is just imaginary.

In the completion stage, the practitioner transforms himself into the illusion body of the yidam through 4 to 6 stages of yoga exercises.

Of course, the final result is the formation of yidam body and dwell in the yidam's pure land.

It is interesting to point out that so far from the Sutrayana till the Anuttara practices, the law of karma is the main backbone: the cause is the process of visualization of yidam and the effect is the resultant of visualized yidam.

In short, the law of karma is used to 'create' an illusion that is not real. So, yidam is only our mind work. Nothing is true or too holy.

Now if we leap into the practice of Dzongchen or Great Perfection, we shall see that the final resting place for our human mind is the empty space or the realm of Dharmakaya. The same thing as those of Theravada School. Only that the name is grander.

Since Dzongchen only teaches about the nature of our mind, it does not depends on the law of karma. So, some scholars think that Dzongchen is a totally independent system from Tibetan Buddhism.

In this sense, Dzongchen is almost the same as Zen Buddhism except the Dzongchen teaching is stages while Zen has none. 

To sum up, the Theravada, Dzongchen and Zen ask us to Rest-In-Peace. While the rest of Mahayana system relies on one illusive Pure Land..

So as far as I can see, unless a Buddhist knows where his final resting place is; he has practically nowhere to go. Unfortunately speaking too, this issue remains one of those unresolved constant in Buddhism people like to turn their blind eyes on.

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