Monday, June 26, 2006

Rabbit Horn Logo

On the top of the right column is a hand-drawn logo I came up with for this blog. Looks cartoonish, but well... no one knows what a rabbit horn looks like anyway... :-) So it's just perfect, in a rabbit horn way!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Troubling Rabbit Horn?

If you think there is something troubling you, you are right. If after reflection, you still think there is something troubling you, though you can't pinpoint it, you are still right - because thinking you are troubled is itself trouble. Just be sure you were not searching for a rabbit horn or tortoise hair - something which does not exist - like a phantom worry that sustains a phantom pain.

Seeing as Rabbit Horn

From the Shurangama Sutra:

"Ananda, the seeing-awareness does not perceive by itself. It depends upon form and emptiness for its existence. You are now in the Jeta Grove where you see brightness in the morning and darkness in the evening. Deep in the night you will see brightness when the moon arises and darkness when no moon is visible. The brightness and darkness are discerned by the seeing.

"Is the seeing identical in substance with brightness, darkness, and emptiness, are they not the same substance? Are they the same and yet different, or are they not the same and yet not different?

"Ananda, suppose seeing were one with brightness, darkness, and emptiness. It so happens that where there is darkness there is no brightness, and where there is brightness there is no darkness, because the two cancel each other out. If it were one with darkness, it would cease to exist in brightness; if it were one with brightness, it would cease to exist in darkness. Such being the case, how could it perceive both brightness and darkness? If brightness and darkness differ from each other, how can they form a unity with seeing, which transcends production and destruction?

"Suppose that the essence of seeing were not of one substance with brightness and darkness, and that you were separate from light, darkness, and emptiness. Then what shape and appearance would the source of the seeing have, as you distinguish it?

"In the absence of darkness, brightness, and emptiness, the seeing would be the same as hair on a tortoise or horns on a hare. How could we establish the seeing-perception without the presence of the three qualities of brightness, darkness, and emptiness?

"How could we say that the seeing was one with darkness and brightness, since brightness and darkness are opposites? Yet, how can we say that it was different from the three qualities mentioned, since in their absence the seeing-perception can never be established?

"How could we say that the seeing was not one with emptiness, since no boundary is established between them when they are separated from each other? How could we say that they were not different, since the seeing always remains unchanged, regardless of whether it is perceiving brightness or perceiving darkness?

"You should examine this in even greater detail, investigate in minutely, consider and contemplate it carefully. The light comes from the sun and darkness from the absence of the moon; penetration belongs to emptiness, and solidity returns to the earth. From what does the essence of seeing arise?

"Seeing has awareness, and emptiness is inanimate: they do not mix and unite. Nor can it be that the essence of seeing arises spontaneously without an origin.

"If the faculties of seeing, hearing, and knowing are by nature all pervasive and unmoving, you should know that the stable, boundless emptiness, together with the unstable elements such as earth, water, fire, and wind, are together known as the six elements. They are, in nature, true and perfectly fused and thus are the treasury of the Thus Come One, fundamentally devoid of production and destruction.

"Ananda, your nature is so submerged that you have not realized that your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are basically the treasury of the Thus Come One. You should contemplate seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing to see whether they are subject to production and extinction; whether they are identical or different; whether they are not subject to production and extinction; and whether they are not identical and not different.

"You still don't know that in the treasury of the Thus Come One the nature of seeing is enlightened brightness; the essence of enlightenment is bright seeing. Pure at its origin, it pervades the Dharma realm.

"It accords with living beings' minds in response to their capacity to know. Consider, for example, the sense organ of seeing. Its seeing pervades the Dharma realm. The same is true of the luster of the wonderful virtue of hearing, smelling, tasting, contact, and knowing. Since they fill emptiness in the ten directions throughout the Dharma realm, how could there be any fixed location in which they are found?

"It is experienced to whatever extent is dictated by the Law of Karma. Ignorant of this fact, people in the world are so deluded as to assign their origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty words, which have no real meaning.

A Rabbit Horn Mind?

From the Shurangama Sutra:

From the Lion's seat he rubbed Ananda's crown and said to him, "The Tathagata has often said that all Dharmas that arise are only manifestations of the mind. All causes and effects, the worlds as many as fine motes of dust, come into being because of the mind.

"Ananda, when all the things in the world, including blades of grass and strands of silk thread, are examined at their fundamental source, each is seen to have substance and a nature, even empty space has a name and an appearance.

"How much the less could the clear, wonderful, pure bright mind, the essence of all thought, itself be without substance?

"If you insists that the nature which knows and observes and is aware of distinctions is the mind, then apart from all forms, smells, tastes, and touches-apart from the workings of all the defiling objects-that mind should have its own complete nature.

"And yet now, as you listen to my Dharma, it is because of sound that you are able to make distinctions. Even if you could extinguish all seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing, and maintain an inner composure, the shadows of your discrimination of Dharmas would remain.

"I do not insist that you grant that it is not the mind. But examine your mind in minute detail to see whether there is a discrimination nature apart from the objects of sense. That would truly be your mind.

"If this discrimination nature has no substance apart from objects, then it is shadows of discriminations of objects of mind.

"The objects are not permanent, and when they pass out of existence, such a mind would be like hair on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit. In that case your Dharma-body would be extinguished along with it. Then who cultivates and attains Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas?"

At that point Ananda and everyone in the great assembly was speechless and at a total loss. The Buddha said to Ananda, "There are cultivators in the world who, although they realize the nine successive stages of Samadhi, do not achieve the extinction of outflows or become Arhats, all because they are attached to birth-and-death false thinking and mistake it for what is truly real. That is why now, although you are greatly learned, you have not realized the accomplishment of sagehood."

Same as Horns on Rabbit

From the Shurangama Sutra:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "You say that the nature of the mind which perceives, makes discriminations, and is aware is not located anywhere at all. The entirety of things existing in the world consists of space, the waters, the land, the creatures that fly and walk, and all external objects. Does your non-attachment also exist?"

If it does not exist, it is the same as hairs on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit. How can you speak of non-attachment?

If non-attachment exists, it cannot be said to be non-existent. To be non-existent is to be without characteristics. To be existent is to have characteristics. Whatever has characteristics has a location; how then can be said to be unattached?

"Therefore you should know, to call the aware, knowing mind to be non-attachment to anything is impossible.

Is God a Super Rabbit Horn?

Blind Faithfulness or True Faithlessness?

A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday. “The man shouted ‘God will save me, if he exists’, lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions,” the official said. “A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery.” - Reuters (05/06/06)

Some relevant afterthoughts:

1. Was it tragic for the man or enlightening for him?
2. Was he seriously deluded or seriously testing God rationally?
3. Was that a leap of faith or a leap of faithlessness?

4. How dare he dare God! Or rather, how dare he dare a lion?
5. Did he fail to invoke God, or did he managed to provoke God?
6. Did he experience the wrath of God or the wrath of a mere lion?
7. Was he shocked being killed by a lion, or shocked that God did (not) intervene?

8. Will the faithful see him faithless, while the faithless see faith useless?

9. Was the test convincing enough for him (and you) about God's (non-)existence?
10. Does the test truly prove anything or nothing?

Are we the ultimate lord and “God” of the intentions and consequences of our own wise and foolish thoughts, words and deeds? Is our wisdom not the ultimate yardstick as to whether God exists or not? (Note that our inborn wisdom is created by God, if there is a God who created us.) Who can tell us whether there is a God? God? What is God (if there is one) telling the world through the incident? Why is God (if there is one) not speaking clearly enough for all of us to understand about God? Important existential questions indeed. Like the lioness with no comments after the incident, there is only silence... on the big question - "Is God like a super 'Rabbit Horn'?" Is there really such a thing or being? We are left to our own devices to answer these questions.

Who or What is Rabbit Horn?

If you have read the two posts below, you probably get the hint that it doesn't really matters who or what is Rabbit Horn, since a rabbit horn is illusory. But conventionally, Rabbit Horn is the arbitrary name of the otherwise anonymous blogger(s) who post(s) here. Like a rabbit horn, he and/or she does not exist as a permanent or substantial personality. Why the anonymity? So that readers will focus more on the posts here than on who posted them. Rabbit Horn is also the arbitrary name of this blog, which records many things related to Rabbit Horn.

There is No Rabbit Horn

From "No Inner Core: Anatta" (by Sayadaw U Silananda):

Buddha teaches that belief in atta [self] is a wrong view (ditthi or miccha-ditthi) which will lead to misery. Wrong views must be rejected because they are a source of wrong and evil aspirations and conduct.

In Majjhima Nikáya, Buddha describes the belief in atta as an idea which leads to selfishness and pride: "The Perfect One is free from any theory (ditthigata), for the Perfect One has seen what corporeality is, and how it arises and passes away. He has seen what feeling... perception... mental formations…consciousness are, and how they arise and pass away. Therefore I say that the Perfect One has won complete deliverance through the extinction, fading away disappearance, rejection and casting out of all imaginings and conjectures, of all inclinations to the vainglory of ‘I’ and ‘mine’."

In the famous Brahmajala Sutta, which is recommended for those who want to study an explanation of wrong views, Buddha describes and classifies all conceivable wrong views and speculations about reality. One of those wrong views is the belief that there exists an eternal self. Buddha says of this view:

"Therein, Bhikkhus, when those recluses and Brahmins who are eternalists proclaim on four grounds the self and the world to be eternal - that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving."

Coomaraswamy and Horner argue that Buddha’s denial of atta refers only to the phenomenal self, and that His denial is really an affirmation of what they call the Great Self (mah’atta) . They argue that Buddha stated that the five aggregates are not atta, but that He never categorically stated that there is no atta, or Self.

They claim that Buddha was only directing us not to see the real Self in the personal ego - a view identical to the Hindu view. They reason that Buddha’s denial of certain things being atta indicates that He affirmed a true atta of a different nature. When Buddha said, "This is not atta," these scholars insert the following argument: "But a moment’s consideration of the logic of the words will show that they assume the reality of a Self that is not any one or all of the ‘things’ that are denied of it."

But let us say, for the sake of argument, that I have five animal horns here. If I say, "None of these horns is the horn of a rabbit," does it mean that there exists somewhere else or in another form such a thing as a horn of a rabbit?

No. A horn of a rabbit is just a designation, an abstraction, without any corresponding reality. Similarly Buddha often said, "This is not atta. That is not atta. Nothing here is atta." Does that indicate that Buddha means that there exists somewhere something that can be called atta? No.

I will conclude this section by explaining a very important statement found in Patisambhidamagga and in Majjhima Nikáya: "Sabbe sankhárá anicca; sabbe sankhárá dukkha (not in M.N.); sabbe dhamma anatta." The first sentence means, "All conditioned things are impermanent." The second means, ‘All conditioned things are suffering."

The third sentence however is different. Here, Buddha does not use the word sarckhara, but He uses Dhamma instead. Dhamma here means all things without exception. So the third sentence means, ‘AII things, conditioned or unconditioned, are anattá, are void of self and soul." This means that even Nibbána, which is asankhara, unconditioned, is not atta or is void of atta. This statement unequivocally denies atta of any kind, even in ultimate Truth and Enlightenment, even in Nibbána.

Is There a Rabbit Horn?

From the Platform Sutra (by 6th Patriarch of Zen Venerable Huineng):

Buddhism must be practiced in this world; enlightenment cannot be attained by leaving this world.
Seeking enlightenment outside this world is like looking for a rabbit's horn.