identity of relative and absolute
Post #548 • May 30, 2005, 10:58 AM • 17 Comments
Oldpro, from the comments of the previous post:
Relative and absolute seem mutually exclusive to me, but we all seem to go on and on talking relative and behaving absolute. I think it is OK, perhaps unavoidable, to do this, but we have to be more aware of what we are doing.
Good idea. It turns out that Zen Buddhism has tackled this pretty thoroughly, and practicioners often recite a sutra called the Identity of Relative and Absolute. I copied the version below from the website of the Great Mountain Zen Center.
The mind of the great sage of India is intimately
Conveyed from West to East.
Among human beings are wise ones and fools,
But in the Way there is no northern or southern school.
The subtle source is clear and bright.
The tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is illusion.
To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
Each and all, the subjective and objective spheres are related
And at the same time independent.
Related, yet working differently, though each keeps its own place.
Form makes the character and appearance different.
Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort.
The dark makes all words one,
The brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their nature as a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard.
Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour.
Each is independent of the other.
Cause and effect must return to the great reality.
The words high and low are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness,
But do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
But do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is
Related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative
Like two arrows meeting in midair.
Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.
If you do not see the Way, you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it.
I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day.
Okay! I needed that.