Friday, June 01, 2012

Buddha-Dharma: A Dream in a Dream

On the True Nature of the Self...

The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly.

Wallace Stevens

The appearance of buddhas and ancestors in the world, being prior to the emergence of any incipient sign, has nothing to do with old, narrow opinions. This accounts for the virtues of buddha-ancestors, as of going beyond the Buddha. Unconcerned with time, the life-span [of buddha-ancestors] is neither prolonged nor momentary, as it is far from the comprehension of ordinary minds.

The ever turning wheel of the Dharma is also a principle prior to the emergence of any incipient sign; as such, it is an eternal paragon with immeasurably great merit. [Buddha-ancestors] expound this as a dream in a dream. Because they see verification within verification, it is known as expounding a dream in a dream.

The place where a dream is expounded in a dream is indeed the land and assembly of buddha-ancestors. The buddha-land and buddha-assembly, the ancestral way and ancestral seat, are all verification founded upon verification, hence all are the expounding of a dream in a dream. Upon encountering their utterances and discourses, do not think that these are not of the buddha-assembly; they are the Buddha’s turning the wheel of the Dharma. Because this wheel of the Dharma turns in all directions, the great oceans and Mt. Sumeru, the lands and buddhas are all realized. Such is expounding a dream in a dream, which is prior to all dreams.

The entire world, crystal-clear everywhere, is a dream; and a dream is all grasses [things] clear and bright. To doubt the dream state is itself to dream; all perplexity is a dream as well. At this very moment, [all are] grasses of the “dream state,” grasses “in” [a dream], grasses“expounding” [a dream], and so on. Even as we study this, the very roots and stalks, leaves and branches, flowers and fruits, lights and hues [of our perception] are all a great dream. Never mistake this, however, for a dreamy state.

Dogen, Shobogenzo, Muchu-setsumu (Expounding a dream in a dream), Trans. Hee-Jin Kim, Flowers of Emptiness, p.279-280

It’s a wonderful, wonderful opera. Only it hurts.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers)

Dogen here relates nyo (“like”), to ze (“this”), evoking the familiar Zen association nyoze (“like this,” “thusness”). He goes on to draw the implication that “like this” signifies not mere resemblance but the nondual identity of symbol and symbolized. He thus rejects any dualistic notion of metaphor or simile (hiyi), whereby an image points to, represents, or approximates something other than itself. Rather, for Dogen, the symbol itself is the very presence of total dynamism, i.e., it presents.

Hee-Jin Kim, Flowers of Emptiness, note 8, p.251

If the new empirical results are taken seriously, then people throughout our culture have to rethink some of their most cherished beliefs about what science and philosophy are and consider their values from a new perspective...

If conceptual metaphors are real, then all literalist and objective views of meaning and knowledge are false. We can no longer pretend to build an account of concepts and knowledge on objective, literal foundations. This constitutes a profound challenge to many of the traditional ways of thinking about what it means to be human, about how the mind works, and about our nature as social and cultural creatures.

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.273

Allegory and metaphor both start off saying one thing as if it were another. But where allegorical method divides this double talk into two constituents – latent and manifest – and requires translation of manifest into latent, the metaphorical method keeps the two voices together, here the dream as it tells itself, ambiguously evocative and concretely precise at each and every instant. Metaphors are not subject to interpretive translation without breaking up their peculiar unity... Since symbols and metaphors cannot be translated, another method for understanding dreams is needed, a method in which masks, disguises, and doubleness inherently belong, a method that is itself metaphorical.

if the dream is psychic nature per se, unconditioned, spontaneous, primary, and this psychic nature can show a dramatic structure, then the nature of the mind is poetic. To go to the root human ontology, its truth, essence, and nature, one must move in the fictional mode and use poetic tools.

James Hillman, Healing Fiction, pp35-36 [italics Hillman’s]


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