April 26, 2010

This week’s reading inspired me to look into other traditions for teachings on the same theme. So, along with Taoism’s Tao Te Ching, we have a quote from Lex Hixon’s commentary on the Buddhist Prajnaparamita Sutra, a song from the Hindu tantrika Ramprasad, and to bring it into the present moment, a poem from Mary Oliver. Enjoy the feast!
14.
Look and it can’t be seen.
Listen, and it can’t be heard.
Reach, and it can’t be grasped.
Above, it isn’t bright.
Below, it isn’t dark.
Seamless, unnamable,
it returns to the realm of nothing.
Form that includes all forms,
image without an image,
subtle, beyond all conception.
Approach it and there is no beginning;
follow it and there is no end.
You can’t know it, but you can be it,
at ease in your own life.
Just realize where you come from:
this is the essence of wisdom.
Lex Hixon on Prajnaparamita Sutra
The Nature of What Is
The pervasive theme … of Prajnaparamita is signaled by the phrase: the depth of unthinkability. The nature of What Is … can never be described, thought about or indicated in any way.
The following terms are, therefore, used … to refer to the Perfection of Wisdom, Mother Prajnaparamita herself: unfindable, unthinkable, indescribable, indecipherable,  indefinable, ungraspable, unformulatable, inconceivable, incomparable, unlocatable, unisolatable, unapproachable, unchangeable, unreachable, uncalibratable, unframable, uncorrelatable, uncharacterizable, insubstantial, nonperspectival, non self-existing, foundationless, baseless, traceless, nameless, pathless, goalless, abodeless, stainless, measureless, connectionless, relationless.
And here is Ramprasad’s experience of this so-called essence of wisdom —
Mother dwells at the center of my being,
forever delightfully at play.
Whatever conditions of consciousness may arise,
I hear through them the music of her life-giving names,
Om Tara, Om Kali.

Closing my eyes, I perceive the radiant Black Mother
as indivisible, naked awareness,
dancing fiercely or gently on my heart lotus.
She wears a garland of snow-white skulls,
bright emblem of freedom from birth and death.
Gazing upon her resplendent nakedness,
all concepts and conventions vanish.

Those who judge by mundane standards call me mad.
Timid and limited persons can think what they wish.
My only longing is to express
the total madness of her love.

This poet child of the Wisdom Goddess
cries out with abandon:
“The Queen of the Universe
resides within the flower of my secret heart.
Mother! Mother! Mother!
I seek refuge at your beautiful feet,
and delicate and fragrant as the dark blue lotus.
As my body dissolves into earth
and my mind into space,
may I dissolve into you.”
Finally, to weave it all together, Mary Oliver:

Where Does the Temple Begin,
Where Does it End?

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree –
they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And cordially,

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

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