The Urban Dharma Newsletter... March 23, 2004


In This Issue: Ultimate Reality in Buddhism

0. Humor/Quotes...
1. The Ultimate Reality in Buddhism
2. Dhamma and Reality
...Bhikkhu Nagasena
3. Buddhism and The True Value of Reality
...by Thich Tam Thien
4. Temple/Center/Website:
5. Book/CD/Movie: Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning ...by Viktor E. Frankl


0. Humor/Quotes...

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Everything is a dangerous drug except reality, which is unendurable. - Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974), "The Unquiet Grave", 1945

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it. - Garrison Keillor (1942 - )

The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes. - Henry Kissinger (1923 - )

Realism...has no more to do with reality than anything else. - Hob Broun

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it - Jane Wagner (and Lily Tomlin)

I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it. - Jimmy Stewart (1908 - 1997), in "Harvey", 1950

1. The Ultimate Reality in Buddhism


Buddhism is another important Eastern religion that extended beyond the boundaries of India, shortly after it was proclaimed by its founder, Siddharta Gotama - the Buddha (6th century BC). Two main forms of Buddhism are known today: the conservative branch, represented by the Theravada school, spread mainly in Sri Lanka and southeast Asia, and the liberal branch - Mahayana, spread in China, Tibet, Korea and Japan.

The Theravada school, which claims to have guarded the unaltered message of its founder, teaches that there is neither a personal god, nor a spiritual or material substance that exists by itself as Ultimate Reality. The world as we know it does not have its origin in a primordial being such as Brahman. It exists only as a mental construction shaped by the senses. What we see is only a product of transitory factors of existence, which depend functionally upon each other. The Buddha said:

The world exists because of causal actions, all things are produced by causal actions and all beings are governed and bound by causal actions. They are fixed like the rolling wheel of a cart, fixed by the pin of its axle shaft. (Sutta-Nipata 654)

That gods exist is not rejected, but they are only temporary beings that attained heaven using the same virtues as any human disciple. Gods are not worshipped, do not represent the basis for morality, and are not the givers of happiness. The Ultimate Reality is nothing but a transcendent truth, which governs the universe and human life. The Buddha expressed it in the following words:

There is grief but none suffering,
There is no doer though there is action.
There is quietude but none tranquil.
There is the path but none walks upon the path.

(Majjhima Nikaya 1; Visuddhi Magga 16)

We will analyze these concepts in the document aimed at analyzing man's destiny in Theravada Buddhism. The Buddha was concerned only with finding a way out of suffering. Therefore he refused to speak about things considered to be irrelevant or even hindrances in reaching nirvana, and this included a definition of Ultimate Reality.

The other branch of Buddhism was grounded later, probably in the 1st century AD, and organized by Nagarjuna in the 2nd century AD. Although the texts of Mahayana Buddhism claim to be a recollection of early speeches of the Buddha, they sometimes contradict conservative doctrines of the Theravada school. It is said that the latter texts were revealed many years after the master's death, because at that time there were too few people able to understand them. Mahayana takes a different stand on the person of Siddharta Gotama. According to the traditional view he was a physical being, the founder of the "four noble truths" and the first man that reached nirvana. In Mahayana Buddhism he is considered to be only one of the many humans who attained the state of a boddhisattva, the celestial being that helps other humans to find liberation.

Reality, according to Mahayana Buddhism, has three levels of perception, known also as the three bodies (trikaya) of Buddha: nirmanakaya, the physical body of the founder, that is subject to change; sambhogakaya, the body of the boddhisattvas; and dharmakaya, the ultimate nature of all things. The dharmakaya state is also called suchness or emptiness (devoid of attributes). Although any resemblance to the Hindu Vedanta is denied, there are at least two important aspects that suggest the contrary. First, the pure state dharmakaya, the absolute body of the Buddha and, at the same time, the fundamental nature of the universe is described in the same way as Brahman:

How should enlightened beings see the body of Buddha? (dharmakaya) They should see the body of Buddha in infinite places. Why? They should not see Buddha in just one thing, one phenomenon, one body, one land, one being - they should see Buddha everywhere. Just as space is omnipresent, in all places, material or immaterial, yet without either arriving or not arriving there, because space is incorporeal, in the same way Buddha is omnipresent, in all places, in all beings, in all things, in all lands, yet neither arriving nor not arriving there, because Buddha's body is incorporeal, manifesting a body for the sake of sentient beings. (Garland Sutra 37)

This statute of the Buddha allows him to become manifested whenever people become ignorant, have no more interest in getting spiritual wisdom, and are too concerned with carnal lusts. The same message appears in the discourse of Krishna of theistic Hinduism (Bhagavad Gita IV,7-8). The resemblance is even greater by the fact that the boddhisattva beings (as the Hindu avatars) are mediators between humans and Ultimate Reality. This is the second resemblance, the substitution of the Hindu gods with the Buddhist boddhisattvas, which might be interpreted as a penetration of the Hindu bhakti tradition in Buddhism.

In conclusion, Mahayana Buddhism is a pantheistic religion, with an impersonal Ultimate Reality (the dharmakaya) and personal beings (the boddhisattvas) acting as intermediaries between humans and it.

2. Dhamma and Reality ...Bhikkhu Nagasena - Birmingham Buddhist Vihara, UK


No God, no Brahma can be found. No
matter of this wheel of life, Just bare
phenomena roll Dependent
on conditions all. (Visuddhimagga)

The scripture of Dependent Origination demonstrates the Buddha's view of the nature of reality by showing how human beings wander in Samsara as a result of ignorance (avijja); it further defines the path leading to the end of rebirth as the development of wisdom (vijja). The ultimate reality as defined in Buddhism rests on the definition of these words avijja and vijja. Reality as perceived through ignorance is conditional and is that pointed to in the first and second Noble Truths.

In the Dependent Origination formula, it is suggested that due to lack of wisdom, through not seeing reality clearly, a person is bound to produce kamma. Conditional reality, therefore, leads to wandering round the wheel of becoming. The nature of wisdom, on the other hand, is pure and unconditional. This teaching is the subject of the last two Noble Truths and it is this teaching alone that leads to the end of rebirth. The Buddhist training aims at abandoning the production of kamma and should be developed by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is just through this that we attain the ultimate wisdom that ends rebirth.

There are thus two ways to experience reality in this world: the arising of rebirth dependent on ignorance and the cessation of rebirth dependent upon wisdom. This is all there has ever been. From this point of view, the Middle Path means understanding the reality of the present that no abiding self ever existed in the past nor will persist in the future. When recollecting all of His past births the Buddha found only this reality. The rebirths were there without permanent abiding soul, as many people believe. There was no self, no soul to be found, which is unchangeable, he said. The existence of these two realities is not dependent upon the manifestation of a Buddha to point them out.

Buddhism came into existence as the result of the discovery of these two realities. Accordingly, practice within it should be concerned with practice rather than with ceremony. Since the realisation of ultimate reality is the central element of Buddhism, the practice of the Dhamma therefore means the practice of religion.

Human beings in a state of ignorance are subject to suffering and the Buddha makes use of wisdom to show how one can be rid of this suffering. Ultimately, experience of suffering and the cause of its arising are products of the mind. Since this is so, the Buddha insists that to investigate such metaphysical questions as the creation of the universe and our place in it only enslaves the mind and overpowers it with concepts of god, divine grace and dependence. Such mind games do not provide empirical evidence and, in fact, create the bondage that is called Samsara. He further confirms that it is not possible to get rid of suffering by such investigation.

In our ignorance, it appears to us that a permanent being or soul, or even inner spark of divinity, sets in motion a process which surfaces in the form of physical, mental or verbal action. These are the product of a mistaken belief in an unchanging self. Thus, any form of craving, either for sensual pleasure or for an eternity of individual existence (or indeed, anything else), is called conditional reality and subjects the mind to the production of kamma.

Conventional religious practices, for example, can be seen as the result of attachment to the concept of a creator, an eternal soul and so on. Such clinging produces kamma and results in rebirth. In Buddhism, the concept of liberation is opposed to such clinging to concepts. That is why the Buddha avoids metaphysical speculation, judging it to be extremely harmful. Down the centuries many battles have raged, much blood has been shed by religious factions striving to prove the true message of their religion.

The Buddha says that attempting to fathom the metaphysical world does not put an end to the human predicament but creates Samsara. Similarly, by craving pleasurable sensations there arise conflict and suffering which, in their turn, produce kamma. For the mind to become stable and at peace one has to experience for oneself the conditional nature of reality. Ultimately, a human being is solely a psycho-physical construct of five components: form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness (the khandas). This is the reality that the Buddha discovered. Because of this five factors human being become identical in terms of perceptions, emotions or feelings, no matter of their race. These are common.

The existence of a human being is a mere phenomenon of the rebirth process. Such renewed being should not, however, be considered dependent on an everlasting soul. There is no eternal soul nor is there annihilation. Ultimate reality is completely apart from concepts of annihilation and of eternal being. There is no place for them. Samsara, conditional existence, is due to the clinging of the five aggregates. It is necessary to learn the theory and practice as discovered by the Buddha in order to achieve liberation. When beginners learn the theory they see it as philosophy rather than reality and misunderstand the teaching. One must practice insight meditation to see things as they really are. What ultimately exists is only peace, which is experienced right now.

The second part: Buddha said that neither parents nor relatives, friends nor material acquisitions could give us inner peace. None of these can surpass and excel the inner peace that arises from one's cultivation of mind; a developed mind and a mind associated with purity that comes from meditation. On contrary, looking for peace outside of ourselves rather than from within prevents us investigating the peace available within the framework of our mind and body.

The Buddha pointed out His central aim of teaching in the Majjhimanikaya where he states “My teaching is only to know two things: Dukkha and cessation of Dukkha”. Many people misunderstand Buddhism since they do not accept Dukkha as a true reality. They see Buddhism as teaching a negative view of life rather than seeing the teaching on dukkha as a positive contribution to their understanding. They cannot accept dukkha as a reality because they never look into its underlying meaning. To see the reality of dukkha, as it is one has to see it for oneself, and the way to this realisation is through the practice of meditation, through listening to the teaching on the dhamma and by the exercise of wisdom. Meditation enables us to see the reality of mind and how it operates within us. The timeless reality pertaining to natural law, the pure method of dealing with the investigation into the peace offered by the Buddha is to see the true dhamma as it really is within human consciousness, and n o only to see the consciousness associated with dukkha but to see the consciousness associated with ultimate peace and purity. One becomes peaceful knowing both purity and impurity, sukkha and dukkha, and how they operate within us.

One after another, we seek after pleasures, in the process causing ourselves much worry, anxiety, fear, hatred and disappointment. But we never see the arising of worry, anxiety, etc. because the mind becomes overpowered by the object we crave, fettered by taints and clinging to what is desired. Our mind remains restless until our desired object is acquired, only to repeat the same action over and over, as new objects of desire rise up and confront us. So our mind remains restless, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, even up to death, never seeing reality nor finding peace. Unless one sees into this process and recognises it for what it is, the mental turmoil will continue to have the power to overwhelm us. The meaning of dukkha should not merely be considered when we are suffering from disease or are in pain, for the ultimate meaning of dukkha transcends both disease and pain. We are dogged by dukkha, by unsatisfactoriness. There is always something to cling to: feelings, objects, fame, power, material objects etc., and all are unsatisfactory for they never quench the thirst for very long. Having achieved one desire another takes its place you will hear someone say “I need only this in my life to become happy” (a recognition of this sense of unsatisfactoriness that drives us on). After acquisition, the possession of that which was desire, there is only a temporary easing before the mind diverts into another object causing new desire and craving to arise, the same as before. This unsatisfactoriness never comes to an end. Dukkha remains constantly active driving us on and on, making us the seeker of ever-new desires, objects and objectives. As well as the craving for acquisitions, there is also the fear of loss associated with ownership and in relationships. Those we love dearly may die or leave us. Maybe they stop loving us back. Here dukkha comes in the form of disappointment, frustration, despair, and loss, even fear of loss. We are never safe from it. Living with undesirable consequences, full of resistance and reaction, little relaxation and without a balanced mind, how can even a so-called religious person fine peace? Only through knowing the reality of dukkha can one achieve the peace that is absent from mental turmoil, worry, fear, unsatisfactoriness and so on. Insight meditation is important both to see and to overcome this unsatisfactory life. The well-developed meditator lives with knowledge, reality and peace within.

3. Buddhism and the True Value of Reality...by Thich Tam Thien


This is the discussion paper delivered at the conference on "Religion and The Modern Way of Life", organized by the Catholic Solidarity Committee at Hochiminh City in December 1996.

First of all, we would like to thank the Catholic Solidarity Committee of Hochiminh City for inviting us to participate in the seminar on "The Religions Way of Life in Modern Times". Today, as a Buddhist participant in this non Buddhist conference, I would like to focus my discussion on one of the most important, unique but also the most complex concepts in Buddhism. That is the true value of living reality.


A- Man's search for the meaning of Religion :

In following and practicing any religion, first of all, one has to know what that religion is all about and how it would guide him to his ultimate liberation. Otherwise, the religious experience that he tries to realize will be a sheer illusion and of course, there will be no real spiritual growth whatsoever.

In the noble but arduous attempt to understand what religion is all about, many philosophers of religions, both ancient and modern, have tried very hard to define religions, including Buddhism. But so far, their efforts have not been very productive, especially in the case of Buddhism. Most of the definitions of religion which have been often built on conceptual reasonings have been unable to grasp the vastness, depth, and vitality of Buddhism. Before we come to a tentative definition of Buddhism, I would like to reexamine some definitions of religions by some of the most respected thinkers and / or from some of the most reliable sources of knowledge in recent history.

+ Oxford Dictionary : "Religion - belief in the existence of god or gods who has / have created the universe and given man a spiritual nature which continues to exist after the death of the body... particular, system of faith and worship based on such a belief..., controlling influence on one life ; something one is devoted or committed to". (1)

+ Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist and historian (1795 - 1881) : "Religion is the thing a man does practically to heart and knows for certain, concerning his vital relations to this mysterious universe and his duty and destiny therein" (2)

+ J. S. Mill, the English philosopher and economist (1806 - 1873) : "The essence of religion is the strong and earnest direction of the conditions and desires towards an ideal object recognized as of the highest excellence, and as rightly paramount over all selfish objects of desire". (3)

+ Aldous Huxley, the English novelist (1894 - 1963) : "Religion is, among many other things, a system of education, by means of which human beings may train themselves, first to make desirable changes in their own personalities and, at one remove, in society, and, in the second place, to heighten consciousness and so establish more adequate relations between themselves". (4)

+ Fiedrich Engels, the German socialist (1820 - 1895) : "Religion is nothing but the fantastic reflection in men's minds of those external forces which control their early life". (5)

+ Sir. Edwin Ray Lankester (1847 - 1929) : "Religion means the knowledge of our destiny and of the means of fulfilling it. We can say no more and no less of science". (6)

+ Alfred North whitehead, the English mathematician and philosopher (1861-1947) : "Religion is what the individual does with his own solitude. If you are never solitary, you are never religious" (7)

There are two trends of thoughts in the above statements. First is the trend in which religion is defined as the moral and ethical system that man can recognize and understand with his reasoning mind. Second is the trend in which religion is presented as a miraculous mode of existence which requires man's direct perceptions and reflections. Besides these two trends of thoughts, there is the third one which is based purely on reason. American political philosopher Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809) represented this school with his saying at the last moment of his life : "The world is my country, mankind are my brotherhood and to do good is my religion". (8) Last is the case of modern Indian philosophy. Many Indian philosophers proclaimed that religion is not a series of profound theological doctrines but an inner experience derived from man's direct recognition of the divine existing in him.

Regardless of that these definitions of religions are different and contradictory, they share one common ground. That is the emphasis and embrace of loving-kindness as the highest religious value as Thomas Paine eloquently and succinctly declared : "To do good is my religion". (9)

B. The Buddhist definition of Religion.

D.T. Suzuki, the well known Japanese Zen master and Buddhist scholar once said : "Buddhism is a religion that refuses to be objectively defined, for this will be setting a limit to the growth of its spirit". (10a) However, if Buddhism has to be defined, in any case, we should then first examine what Buddhism has to say about man and his world, both at the conceptual level and the deep psychological one. At the conceptual level according to Buddhism, language and logical thinking can only be used to observe and analyse the surface of the human world and the universe. They can deal only with the manifestation of the physiognomy. On the contrary, at the deep psychological level ; the spiritual experience is an implicit hermeneutical struture. It transcends the monistic, dualistic and pluralistic world. It goes beyond all linguistic formations because it is invisible and formless. It belongs to the realm of metaphysics. This does not suggest that Buddhism tries to lead man into the world of fantasies filled with "incense mist". Buddhism only aims to cut through the logical thingking of man's ego and shows him a way to get in touch with the divine nature or the Buddha nature in himself.

D. T. Suzuki then put forward his definition of Buddhism which, he argued, must be that of the life-force which carries forward a spiritual movement called Buddhism.(10b) Suzuki 's definition of Buddhism means that from the Buddhist point of view religion can never be discussed without any refenence to the spiritual realm and / or the inner experience of the individual involved. It should be made clear that here, according to Buddhism, returning to the primordial essence of man or the true nature does not mean an advocacy of egocentrism. On the contrary, it means, in order to take the first step to return to the primordial essence of man, first and foremost, man must completely cast off all the attributes of his ego, namely his infatuated feelings, solid attachment, sensuous desire, mental formations such as "I", "mine" and "myself". Neither does the return to the inner spiritual experience means non-egocentrism. According to Buddhism, precisely at the moment that one get in touch with his devine nature, he establishes in himself an ultimate reality which by nature is essential, original, and eternal - This is called Tathata (Suchness) or Buddha nature which is an everlasting, living stream of present consciousness.

As a consequence, Buddhism is not the faith that one has to accept blindly. Neither is it a series of sacred principles that are created, transmitted to man's soul and guided by some mysterious power from outside. It is the teachings that show us the path to reach enlightenment through our inner individual experience. In Dhammapada, Lord Buddha said : "Like earth, a balanced and well disciplined person results not. He is comparable to an Indakhila. Like a pool unsullied by mud, is he, to such a balanced one life's wandering do not arise". (11)


Albert Einstein, the famous German physicist, in his Testament wrote that : "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a person God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense, arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description". (12) How will Buddhism be understood through this inclusive and thoughtful statement of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century ?

A. Buddhism - The Religion Which Transcends A Person God, Dogmas, and Theology and The Doctrine of Dependent Origination and The Doctrine of Cause and Effects.

In essence, Buddhism is a system of teachings which shows us the way to return to our primordial nature or our true nature. Once standing on the ground of our true nature, we will recognize the true nature of other human existences as well as other existing beings around us like bird, stone, branch of tamarind tree. This is the interdependent relations or the Dependent Origination of the reality. Simultaneously, with the realization of his true nature and those of other existing beings, man also realizes that, it is his volitional actions that create and shape his own destiny-as Lord Buddha said : "Owner of their karma are the beings, heirs of their karma, the karma is their womb from which they are born, their karma is their friend, their refuge". (13) In Dhammapada, Lord Buddha also taught us : "By oneself alone is evil done, by oneself alone is evil avoided, by oneself alone is one purified. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one can purity another". (Attanaø 'va katam paøpam, attanaø sankilissati, attanaø akatam paøpam, attanaø 'va visujjhati ; suddhi asuddhi asuddhi paccattam naønno annam visodhage) (14) This sugests that The Buddha did not recognize any super natural power which exerted over control human life. In Buddhism, man is the only sentient being who has volitional actions. He has to harvest and accept the consequences of these actions and, doing so, he lives his own fate...

The doctrine of causes and effects in Buddhism asserts that both good karma and bad karma are the end results of man 's psychological and physical actions ; and that through the relation of cause and effect, man establishes his own karma with his good and evil actions. It also affirms that man has the potential capacities to liberate himself from the life which he has created and lived with his own psychological attitude and actions accumulated in successive previous lives ; that is the orientated biological causation.

As a consequence, the doctrine of causes and effects awakens in man the inner power which makes him to be himself and transforms him into his own creator with responsibilities and obligations. In other words, the doctrine of causes and effects liberates man from the ruling power of person God, dogmas and theology. Once liberated, man would understand that he has to be responsible for all the consequences of his own psychological states and volitional actions and should not look for any salvation outside himself. St. Paul 's famous statement that : If Christ be not raised in you, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins" (15) - seems to acknowledge man 's self liberating power (once he is aware of the causes and effects of his own actions).

B. Buddhism - The Religion Which Comprises Both The Natural and Spiritual ; and The Doctrine of Sunyaøta.

If Buddhism cuts through the natural world with prism of Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppaø - anatta), it illuminates the metaphysical world by spot lighting at the latter 's emptiness (Sunyaøta). The metaphysical world is empty because it does not reside in forms and sounds and goes beyond all appearances (Buddhist terms called Naõma - Ruõpa : mentality and corporeality). It is in the realm of non-dualism (Asunyataø-Abhaøvaø).

As discussed above, in Buddhism, the process of becoming (Bhava) and existence of human beings and nature is viewed as the operation of a myriad interconnecting causations and conditions (yakti). In this intricate operation, there is no single object that can live independently, without being interconnected with its surrounding, and / or in disharmony with its constituents.

On this irrefutable interconnecting conditions of the human and natural world, Buddha said :

"No God, no Brahma can be found
No matter of this wheel of life
Just bare phenomena roll
Dependent on Conditions all" (16)

In other words, there is no prime force which sets in motion the operation of the human and natural world. This is the foundation of doctrine of Paticcasamuppaø - anatta, which consists of the teachings of non-ego (pudgalanairaõtmya) and non-substantiality of things (dharmanairatmya). It is also called the doctrine of Sunyata or Emptiness.

As a philosophical concept, Sunyata (Emptiness or E'tat de vacuiteù) is the nature of the original reality, or the absolute reality.

Man recognizes and is conscious of Sunyata when he becomes one with the absolute reality. However, it is important to note that Sunyata is not the opposite of substantiality like the Have not versus the Have or the Negative (asat) versus the Affirmative (sat). Neither does it mean a complete absence of content. In trying to understand the Buddhist concept of Sunyata, many people tend to turn to logical reasoning and different sets of opposite categories and subcategorizes such as "to be" or "not to be" to define it with the irsecular philosophical mind - set. However, in doing so, they are entangled in an endless web of dualistic concepts such as to be (bhava) not to be (abhava), birth or death, permanence or impermanence, coming or going without directly experiencing or living with the original and ultimate Reality which exists right in this very life. Lord Buddha taught us that, all phenomenon (dharma) do not have a true self (svabhava) ; neither birth or death that is pure and Tathata by nature or it is Sarvadharmaøsuønyataø (all is Emptiness). Consequently, Sunyata and Tathata are the same. They are omnipresent and everlasting.

Following is the examination of the concept of Sunyata according to the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of knowledge-only (Prajnaøtimatra).

First, Sunyata is the true nature of dharma or the existing substantiality. When man recognizes the entirely of Sunyata, he becomes enlightened. Saying that does not mean to negate the existing substantiality or the world of phenomena, but to affirm that man or the subject which recognizes and the world or the object which is recognized are created, and exist in a great number of causes and effects systems. They are not independent and self contained entities. They are non-entities. According to The Buddhist philosophy of Knowledge-Only, in Buddhism all existing beings has three natures :

- Temporary nature (Parikalpita - svabhava)

- Dependent nature (Paratantra - svabhava)

- Absolute nature (Parinispanna - svabhava)

1. Temporary Nature :

Ordinarily, man has a habitual tendency to control and to posses the objective world. This is resulted in the idea that the world are made up of living independent objects. But in reality, these object do not have any intrinsic attribute. Their nature is emptiness and no-self. So the so called independent nature that men imposed on the world is called the temporary nature. The temporary nature is formed in the process of interaction between man 's senses which are determined by his physical and psychological make up and the objective world. In Buddhist terms man 's physical and psychological make up is called Skandhas (five aggregates of body), AØyatana (six spheres of sense organs), and Dhatus (body remains).

2. The Dependent Nature :

Although the temporary nature is unreal, it does not suggest that thing are not actually existing. The key issure here is to explain and illustrate the process of becoming of things.

And yet this process of becoming is made up of the consequences of paticcasamuppaøda or interconnecting causations. Therefore the nature of the process of becoming of things is impermanent, ever changing, and self annihilating (anitya - uccheda). This view of the objective world refuses all man 's attempts to reduce the world into an individual, unique and self contained entity. It also rejects the theories of "Chances" and "Coincidences" which advocates the simplistic and mechanical operation of the material world. As a result, if one rejects the dependent nature of the world, he will automatically and inevitably become the victim of nihilism. And he also rejects the reality which is actually becoming through the operation of the myriad of interconnecting condition.

3. The Absolute Nature :

Existing beings are Tathata (Suchness) because by nature, they do not have temporary natures in themselves. Neither do they have the dependent nature in themselves because the dependent nature consists of series of causes and effects and by nature is non substantiality. That is to say they are empty. As a result, at the level of language and logical thinking what we call the inherent nature of things never really exist. It is non-self or Anatta.

In summation, of the three natures of things. The temporary nature to shows that by nature the world is empty, the dependent nature illustrates that man and his world are dependently originated and the absolute nature asserts that the Tathata essence or Nirvana exists right in physical and psychological world, not in any other worlds regardless of how fantastically this other world is imagined. As a result to experience the Emptiness of the world one has no other way except to live or to merge with the three natures of the existing world. This is the actual process of living with reality and attaining the Enlightenment in the Buddhist prajnaõptimaøtra philosophy


To practice Buddhism is to lead a way of life with the motto : "Not to do evil, to do good, to purity one's mind". The Buddha's enlightenment is the end of the spiritual journey, full of hardships and deprivations. It was the supreme will power and the extraordinary energy which has transformed Prince Siddhartha from a man with a deep religious consciousness and a wholesome life into a Buddha. Buddha is the sentient being who had reached enlightenment and obtained great wisdom.

Therefore, it is necessary to affirm that it is the inner experience of each individual that would lead him to the supreme enlightenment and that enlightenment is the moment that the supreme wisdom or The Boddhicitta in one individual blossoms and radiates to all sentient and natural beings. Lord Buddha said that : All sentient beings can become Buddha. On the path to enlightenment, one has to light the torch and hold it to show the way for himself ; in the ocean of samsara (Cycles of life), each individual has to be an isolated island ; I, Tathagata is merely a teacher in principle. (17).

According to Buddhism, the religious consciousness and the inner individual experience are the two extremely important factors in man 's path to his enlightenment. They are the keys which control man's thinking and action in his relations with the outside world. As a result, consciousness or mind is always the bases of Buddhist training. Buddha said : "Mind is the forerunner of all (evil condition) - Mind is chief ; and they are mind - made. If, with an impure mind, one speaks or acts, then pain follows one even as the wheel, the hoof of the Ox". "... If, with a pure mind, one speaks or acts, then happiness follows one even as the shadow that never leaves" (Manopubhanga ; manasaø le padutthena, bhaøsati vaø karoti vaø, tato nam dukkhamanveti, cakkam 'va vahato padam... manaøsa le pasannena, bhaøsati vaø karoti vaø, tato nam sukhamanveti, chaøyaø 'va anapaøyinì". (18) (Yamakavagga)

To lead a Buddhist way of life, whether it is to cultivate faith in Buddha or to take refuge the three jewels, man has to have the correct consciousness or the pure mind. The Buddhist term for this is Ehipasiko, which means "Come and recognize". Buddhism does not teach man to believe in, obey and worship anything that he does not know or cannot recognize ; the term Ehipasiko also implies the inner experience of enlightenment that is only known by the individual himself. In a Buddhist life, not the idol of worship but man is the most important matter. As a result, a real Buddhist has to develop for himself a life of religious sense and an inner spiritual experience. The combination of these two elements will ultimately give rise to the absolute truth or the spiritual value. With them, one will develop the omniscient mind which rises above all delusions and defilements. Only then, a life - force will surge from within and brilliantly radiate into the world. This inner life-force will fearlessly and gladly receive any infringements and not be hindered by any obstacles. On the path to reach the highest perfection in the spiritual life, each step forward is a belittlement of the ego. Only when one reaches a totally egoless state, Nirvana will rise in his life and right in this world.

To conclude this paper I would like to read Venerable Thich Thien Sieu 's statement about Nirvana : "Nirvana is something which outrightly rejects the ego. Nirvana is indefinite and spaceless. It is very difficult to enter Nirvana because it is formless (Aristaka). To enter Nirvana, we must also be as formless as Nirvana. The entrance to Nirvana is very narrow. It is as thin as hair feather, so thin that we cannot go through it, if we still carry our possessions with us, be it our body, our concept of the "I" and the "ego". The bigger our ego becomes, the further we will be away from Nirvana. So it is ruled that ego will lead to Samsara ; non-ego to Nirvana" (19)

Thank you.

Notes :

(1) OXFORD Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Jonathan Crowther, Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, p. 762.

(2) Why Religion ?, K. Sri. Dhammananda, The Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, 1966, p. 06.

(3) Ibid, p. 06.

(4) Ibid, p. 06.

(5) Ibid, p. 07.

(6) Ibid, p. 07.

(7) Ibid, p. 07.

(8) Ibid, p. 08.

(9) One should be cautions about the do-goodlism that Thomas paine advocated here. Not all the people who do good are religious. Further more, doing good does not mean the same thing to different nations, peoples and races. Taking the issue of family planing by modern medical devices for instance. It may mean loving kindness to some but unkindness to others.

(10a and b) Essay in Zen Buddhism, D. T. Suzuki, Vol I, p. 53.

(11) reference omitted

(12) Extracted from, Ñaïi Cöông Trieát Hoïc Phöông Ñoâng, Haø Thuùc Minh - Minh Chi, Tröôøng Ñaïi Hoïc Toång Hôïp, TP. Hoà Chí Minh, HCMC, 1994, p. 10.

(13) Majjhima Nikaya. 135, from Buddhist Dictionary Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Nyanatikola, Frewin & Co. Ltd. Colombo, Ceylon, 1972, p. 77.

(14) Dhammapada, Thích Minh Chau, Buddhist Institute of Hochiminh City, 1990, p. 97.

(15) Essay in Zen Buddhism, D. T. Suzuki, Vol I, p. 57.

(16) The Path of Purification, Bhadantacariya Buddha-Gkosa, translated from the Pali, Comlombo, Ceylon, 1956.

(17) In Nikaya and Mahayana Sutras.

(18) Dhammapada, Naørada, Vajiraøraøma, Colombo, 1962.

(19) Nirvana is Non-self, Thich Thien Sieu, Buddhist Institute of Vietnam, Hochiminh City, 1990, Statement quoted on the back cover. (Ven, Thich Thien Sieu is the Head of the Buddhist Central Educational Committee in Vietnam).

4. NoZen


Welcome to NoZen

Please, make yourself comfortable and relax. Maybe some tea, maybe some music, maybe just some silence or the sound of a small waterfall.

Find a style that pleases you and relaxes you and set yourself free to wander.

Maybe you'll find a koan that makes you laugh, or think, or maybe, just maybe, you'll find the one that sets your mind free.

But in the meantime, enjoy yourself.

NoZen is the brainchild of Ken Boucher. It's a simple site with a simple purpose. However, I don't see my work on it ending anytime soon.

This isn't a for profit site. It's not here to drum up business or to get rich off of banner ads. It's not here so that I can scream to the world, "Look what I can do". I have other sites for that.

There's a place I used to go once, as a small child, where I could sit and think. Sometimes, I would just stare at a leaf or a bird and get lost in the moment.

The internet doesn't really have a place like that, or if it does, I haven't found it yet.

And maybe we can't build such a place. Maybe the zen gardens we build with our rakes may never achieve true beauty any more than the web pages we build with HTML.

But for now, adding another koan or making a different style sheet doesn't seem like such a bad way to spend a few minutes.

5. Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning ...by Viktor E. Frankl


Amazon.com - Viktor Frankl, author of the smash bestseller Man's Search for Meaning, offers a more straightforward alternative to traditional Freudian psychoanalysis: one's problems may be rooted in a failure to find a meaning in life beyond one's interior world. The basis for his interpretation, however, is not so straightforward. It lies in Frankl's existential analysis, plumbing for the reasons that people have repressed their consciences, their love, their creativity. By legitimizing a spiritual aspect of the human mind, Frankl has separated us definitively from the animal kingdom, but it is still up to each of us to rise to our human potential. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Amazon.com - Reviewer: A reader from Lubbock, TX USA ...Holocaust survivor Frankl earned the right to teach us how to transcend ourselves and find "ultimate meaning". He was a contemporary of Freud who was able to take Freud to task for naturalism and reductionism which "undermines and erodes the enthusiasm of youth". Frankl has a lot to tell us about how to avoid the neurotic train wreck many of us are headed for. He points out that an existential vacuum (meaninglessness and emptyness) is growing in our culture as man "Now, knowing neither what he must do nor what he should do, he sometimes does not even know what he basically wishes to do. Instead, he wishes to do what other people do-which is conformism-or he does what other people wish him to do-which is totalitarianism." Frankl tells us "Man is responsible for fulfilling the meaning of his life." He contends "man is not he who poses the question, What is the meaning of life? But he who is asked this question, for life itself poses it to him. And man has to answer to life by answering for life; he has to respond by being responsible;" and "Being human means being confronted continually with situations, each of which is at once a chance and a challenge, giving us a "chance" to fulfill ourselves by meeting the "challenge" to fulfill it's meaning.

Get it; read it; study it!


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