| Here I regard the Buddha's
analysis of "dependent-arising," not only as a simple observation of "cause
and effect," but as an intuition of the simultaneous explosion of existence
by which even time is driven. Dependent-arising even suggests the Singularity
and subsequent Big Bang described by modern cosmology. Also related is
the popular Buddhist idea of "cyclic existence" (Sanskrit Samsara,
transmigration)- this concept has been vigorously debated and contested
by various Asian cultures for thousands of years. The thought can actually
be quite disturbing. Think about it.
| If time is not like a river,
the way the Greeks described time, and instead is like a single, vast ocean,
then everything is available all at once. I could be my own father and
mother and my sons and daughters and everybody else from the beginning
of time until Doomsday. This oceanic model of time implies that all existence
is tied together in a spontaneous web. Remember the famous line in the
tvam asi, or "That art Thou." The poet seems to understand perception
as projection, and that we all contain the totality of existence within
us. Existence is more than the cheap timeline dramaturgy that we usually
make of it. It is more dynamic and more profound.
Once Buddhist logic took off there seemed no end to the number of names it created. The deity-name system, for example, created an enormous onion-like construct laying wrapper upon wrapper. We have, for example, Vairocana (Universal Sun Being), Vajrasattva (Diamond Being), Vajradhara (Diamond Holder), and Vajrayogini (Diamond Universal Womb), etc.
Within each myriad world of separate deities, including their vast retinues and sub-systems, resides a final root wrapper, namely the central experience. It is widely believed that only a dedicated monk-adept can reduce this convoluted paradox into the Buddha's simple teaching of realization. This may be little more than orthodox hyperbole. Surely, others intuitively grasp some of these experiences, even people who know nothing at all of Buddhism. A pregnant woman, for example, has an exceptional opportunity to realize the Universal Womb because the simple fact that she is the incarnation of the Universal Womb. I would imagine that, throughout the millennia of human existence, many potential mothers have had deep and meaningful insights into this unique condition.
A few names are presented as "emptiness-beings" residing in the ocean of "emptiness" (Skt. Shunyata: Emptiness). This famous idea, Shunyata, is not a priori; in other words, it is not deductive. We do not understand Shunyata by reasoning from self-evident propositions. Emptiness instead is immediate experience (cf. annata, "no-self," "owner-less"). Shunyata first appears in one of the earliest Mahayana scriptures, the Prajnaparamita sutra, written perhaps around the first century of the Common Era. This text marks the beginning of the Mahayana Renaissance. (Anyone interested in earlier Buddhist ideas might benefit from reading the Panca-nikaya. These earlier texts contain the simpler message of the Buddha stripped of later, more elaborate metaphysics.)