THE ABSOLUTE IS BEYOND ALL DUALITIES; not accepting them as existent, not rejecting them as non-existent. Nirvana is beyond the duality of motion and stillness and the way that's experienced is that you feel that you (Buddha Mind) are absolutely still in the midst of a world of absolute motion, but the two don't feel different or separate. (i.e. Not different, not the same) That's the nondual, Mahayana Nirvana, in which the relative dualities of nirvana-and-samsara, life-and-death, subject-and-object, matter-and-consciousness, form-and-spirit are seen to be nondual or "one," an inseparable unity. (i.e. Not separate or different, but still not the same. Not dualism, not monism ... -- and not realism, not nihilism. Beyond those four views, beyond all dualities, beyond all views, beyond all conceptualization, beyond causality space time, beyond all karma. Beyond, or transcendence, does not mean rejecting those, nor accepting those; the Middle Way.)

In the dualistic, Theravadin, relative nirvana, the two--Buddha Mind and the world of form--are felt to be different and separate, which is why the Mahayana criticizes the Theravadin view as limited and incomplete. (i.e. Dualism. Indeed, the whole Abhidharma is full of oppositions, dualities; including the dualities samsara-Nirvana, wholesome-unwholesome, cause-effect, ...)

The whole world of form (samsara) is totally full of various degrees of motion and movement, so that even its "stillness" isn't absolutely still. It's only relatively still -- relative to other movements, like the "stillness" you feel now sitting on a chair, even though you're zipping through space on a planetary body at thousands of miles per hour.

The world of formlessness (nirvana), on the contrary, is absolutely still and tranquil, with no relative movement or relative stillness at all.

So you have the relative world of relative stillness-and-motion (samsara), on the one hand, and the absolute world of absolute Stillness (nirvana), on the other.

In the realization of nondual, Mahayana Enlightenment these two worlds (relative samsara and relative nirvana, or relative form and relative emptiness) merge into a perfect Unity of Absolute Emptiness or Absolute Nirvana, (i.e. that looks too much like monism; making emptiness an absolute. The word "emptiness" is used here to represent the absolute, the "Dharmadhatu". Emptiness is the common mark of all dharmas; but where there is no dharma there is no emptiness.) and then there is neither motion (i.e. That seems to cover the first two points of the tetralemma in : It is not motion, not stilness, not both, not neither.), or you can say that there is of them together (i.e. No. It is not both.) (as I explained in the first paragraph)(i.e. not separate, but not the same) or you can say neither of those (i.e. No. It is not neither. I think the author made some errors here. He forgot to repeat the negation part of the two last points. It should read: "or you can say that IT IS NOT that there is both of them together or you can say IT IS NOT neither of those". But the rest of the text gives me the impression that it was just typos.) and give the logically precise answer: silence. (i.e. That would be perfect because it is : Beyond those four views, beyond all dualities, beyond all views, beyond all conceptualization, beyond causality space time, beyond all karma.)


...Then the crown prince Manjusri said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti,
"We have all given our own teachings, noble sir. Now, may you elucidate
the teaching of the entrance into the principle of nonduality!"
Thereupon, the Licchavi Vimalakirti kept his silence, saying nothing at all.
The crown prince Manjusri applauded the Licchavi Vimalakirti: "Excellent!
Excellent, noble sir! This is indeed the entrance into the nonduality of the
bodhisattvas. Here there is no use for syllables, sounds, and ideas.


The Madhyamika Shastra (XV.3) put it best:

"It cannot be called void or not void, or both or neither; (i.e The Dharmadhatu is not reality (realism), not emptiness (nihilism), not both (dualism), not neither (monism). Because everything is empty, even emptiness.) But in order to point it out, It is called ‘the Void.’ (i.e But the absolute truth is still called "emptiness", even if emptiness is just really another conventional truth, an effect, and thus not the absolute.)

This is exactly how your present experience is: you are the vast empty sky and this whole universe is a tiny cloud within you. Through the blinding power of innate ignorance, however, you have forgotten your true nature as the motionless sky and mistakenly identified yourself as the ever-changing cloud (or a small part of the cloud).

A Theravadin-level enlightenment will reverse this mistake by showing you that you are really the empty sky, and a Mahayanin, nondual Enlightenment will show you that the sky and the cloud are not separate or different. The cloud arises out of, and within, the sky, and is ultimately made of "sky essence," so to speak (i.e. The duality "empty sky" vs "clouds": Tehravadins choose to be the permanent sky; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the sky and the clouds are not different, not the same (i.e. The duality "permanence/Nirvana" vs "impermanence/samsara": Theravadins choose to be the permanence/ Nirvana; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the permanence/ Nirvana and the impermanence/samsara are not different, not the same.)

(It's the same as the old "mirror" analogy: your mind is perfectly clear mirror, and the world is reflected in it.

(i.e. The duality "mirror" vs "reflections": Theravadins choose to be the permanent mirror; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the mirror and the reflections are not different, not the same.)

Now, to use the movie analogy:

Imagine that Awareness is a movie screen and this world of form< is a projected display of light that appears on the screen.

So when you become identified with the screen (Awareness) (i.e. A Theravadin-level enlightenment), you don't experience every single frame that ever appeared on the screen -- they've all long since disappeared back into the nothingness from which they sprang. No, what you experience is the realization that this very screen is the same screen that has been reflecting frames of movie light since the beginning of the movie itself (and that the screen, naturally, also exists before and after the movie). You become identified with Awareness -- which is completely beyond time -- and you realize that it is eternal, that it is ever-present, that it has no beginning and no end, that it is the same "Now" in which all experiences have previously come and gone, presently come and go, and will in the future come and go, eternally so.

And then, if you break through to complete, nondual Enlightenment (i.e. A Mahayanin, nondual Enlightenment), you discover that the frames of movie light ARE the screen -- that the two aren't separate, or even essentially different in any way (i.e. Not separate or different, not the same.) -- and then you see that there is only Now, only the screen-and-present-frame Unity, and so whatever frame happens to be present is the only frame there is. "Past" and "future" are revealed to be mental fantasies -- present mental fantasies -- and the only reality is always the present reality, with no real "frames" existing anyway before or after it. (i.e. I think it is going too far to say that there is no frames, or no world, at all. That would be nihilism. They exist in mere names. Their dependent origination is the proof that they are not non-existent. They are not from the mind only. The frames are not existent, not non-existent, not both, not neither. And it is the same for the world, and all conventional truths.) So there's no frame somewhere of a ten-year-old version of you falling out of a tree; that's only a memory now, and that's all it is. It exists nowhere but in your mind. (For this analogy we've done away with the projection booth, the projector, the reel of film, the viewer of the movie, etc.) That's what Zen Master Seung Sahn meant by his "you see the whole world stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. . . ." When there is really ONLY the present moment, the present frame, then that's all you can see. And the present frame is always completely motionless, even though the frames give an illusion of sequential continuity (and your conceptual mind superimposes an illusion of movement and change). Enlightened people don't live "'frozen' contentedly in time," as you suggested, but rather fluid and alive beyond the illusion of time altogether!

(i.e. Transcending time, that is seing that past present and future are not separate not different but still not the same, is not the same thing as "rejecting past and future". Something is wrong here. Going beyond time is not rejecting time. The emptiness of time does not mean that it is non-existent at all. I wonder if "choosing the present" is not just another form of discrimination.

The author is saying that "NOW" is the absolute. Maybe this "mahayanin NOW" is different than the "Hinayana NOW". Maybe it is the same as saying that emptiness is not the absolute, but still using the name "emptiness" to label the absolute. But it is definitively discrimination.)

(i.e. The duality "movie screen" vs "projections": Theravadins choose to be the movie screen; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the mirror and the reflections are not different, not the same.)

(i.e. The duality "Awareness" vs "the world": Theravadins choose to be the permanent Awareness; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the Awareness and the world are not different, not the same.)

(i.e. The duality "Present" vs "past and future": Theravadins choose to be the permanent present; But Mahayanins choose none, not accepting, not rejecting; they transcend the duality because the Present and the past and future are not different, not the same.)

There's nothing extraordinary about this. In fact, whether you feel you're Enlightened or not, you're experiencing it right now (when else could you experience it? when else could you experience anything?). Right now, as you sit here reading these words, the whole world is completely motionless, completely new, and completely silent. Nothing is changing. Nothing is moving. Nothing is happening at all. In fact, nothing has EVER happened! Not now, and therefore not ever. The world is totally silent, and everything is at peace.

(i.e. Why choose "now" ?? I understand the Theravadins would choose "now", but why would the Mahayanins do this discrimination, or tolerate this dualism. To choose "now" on the basis that this is where you are experiencing thing, that it is where you learn, is just a skilful means, but not the absolute. But for the same reason you need to remember past, as a skilful means, and plan the future, as a skilful means. But to say that "now" is the absolute, or to say the "emptiness" is the absolute ... I don't get it.)

DEMONSTRATION OF EMPTINESS: based on constant change.


And yet -- how can this be? It seems absurd, doesn't it? You can move your hands and arms around, perhaps you can crank up some loud rock music to drown out the supposed "silence," and it all seems perfectly obvious that things are happening, things are changing. But look a little closer. Hold your hand in front of you. Now clench your hand into a fist. Now release the fist and move your fingers around. It certainly appeared as though the hand were moving, didn't it? But we're not interested in appearances, here; we want the reality. And the reality of your hand-moving experiment is that it was a completely different hand every instant, even when "you" weren't moving it!

On the surface, maybe this seems obvious: electrons in the hand were spinning at the speed of light; blood was flowing through the veins and capillaries; neurotransmitters were zipping instructions across the synapses, thereby engaging muscles to move. Lots of things about your supposedly static "hand" were changing. Of course, people can brush this off and say, "Yeah, okay, but it's still the same hand, even if it changes constantly." But take it even further: Were electrons really spinning, causing that subtle change in your "hand" every fraction of a nanosecond? Weren't the electrons themselves also changing, with quarks spinning and such, so that, going all the way down, to the level of universal gravitational influences or quantum nonlocality, everything even remotely related to your hand was changing? This leads to a rather shaky image of your outwardly static "hand," but perhaps we can solidify it somewhat if we analyze exactly what we mean by "change."

Basically, change means a transformation of some kind, of a single phenomenon transforming into a different arrangement of that same phenomenon. But are there any single phenomena? Didn't we just show, with the example of the quantum hand, that everything is interconnected, somehow affecting everything else in some manner, no matter how subtly? And, even if there are distinct and separate phenomena, do any of them actually change?

Take that same hand, for example. If we didn't have the mental concept "hand," how would we describe it? If we could see that the phenomenon is actually completely new and distinct every instant, with no static mental symbol (to say nothing of memories) to hold the distinct appearances together, would we perceive these new and distinct appearances as a changing phenomenon? With no concepts and no memories superimposed on the world, does anything really change? Are there even any separate "things" that could change? Isn't it all really just one seamless display -- like, say, a movie frame -- of a completely new and distinct universe, arising and disappearing in an infinitely rapid succession? (With a shutter speed of "one divided by infinite time," as Zen Master Seung Sahn says.)

(i.e. In the sense that nothing is really existing and changing, that everything change, that nothing stays the same even of an infinitesimal moment, so we could say that nothing has a past or a future. So there is no real past and future of a thing. But there is no real present either.

But focussing on the present is a good skilful means because, for us conceptualizing beasts, we give too much power to concepts. We always compare the present to some stored image, that is karma. And focussing on the present is like giving less power to the accumulated karma.

So maybe a Buddha uses time (past, present, and future) as any other skilful means to help all other sentient beings, but he knows at the same time that the memories of the past are just fabrications dependent on karma, that all the plans for the future are the same, and that the actual perceptions are also dependent on karma. Knowing all this he does not take anything as an absolute, and is free from building more karma, and suffering the consequence of this.

"A man cannot step in the same river twice," said the Greek mystic Heraclitus, and the secret of life, the universe, and everything is contained in that simple statement.