Buddha nirvana

Mortality of Buddha To Nirvana

Posted in Buddhist by buddhanirvana on August 25, 2009

f modern Buddhism teaches us anything, it is how to cope with samsara with little or no thought given towards the consideration of its complete transcendence—or the transcendent.  I realize that this is a novel and odd thing to say given the importance of terms like nirvana, the undying (amrita), dharmadhatu, Buddha-nature, One Mind, Mind-only (cittamatra), etc., in Buddhism.  Nevertheless, from what I can see, in the world of popular Buddhism, specialized terms that represent transcendence like nirvana are either glossed over, detranscendentalized, or not addressed at all.  The reason for this is not exactly clear.

On this same score, the project of modern Buddhism, as I view it, is to rescue us, first, from the great evil of religion (i.e., respect for the transcendent) then deal with the pain of samsara through psychology, specifically, by means of meditation which provides a noticable calming effect within forty minutes. 

In light of the above, such a project can be easily packaged and marketed to the denizens of pop culture whose drives are not, for the most part, in the direction of the transcendent and perhaps never will be.  Quite the opposite, the main drive of pop culture is centered on taking as much delight as can be achieved in the great toy store of modernity until either the money runs out or until the physical body craps out.

That we should live our lives without giving a single thought to what lies beyond this body of flesh with its short life span—and not care—is certainly one of the more remarkable and tragic achievements of modern culture.  But given that most people are victims of the global dream-making industry that pumps out desires and fantasies faster than a hot dog machine, not to mention the products that go along with such fantasies, it is not surprising that the transcendent is neglected if not entirely ignored. 

But this tells us something else, too:  there has occurred a subtle inversion in regard to the human spirit where complete immersion in the temporal world is believed to be the highest good while, on the other hand, seeking the transcendent is considered to be escapist and delusional.  In other words, the life of a sage (P., isi; S., rishi), as one who is dedicated to seeking the transcendent, is no longer acceptable.  It is no more publicly acceptable than is the belief in alien spacecraft or that aliens from other planets have made significant contact with us.  One, therefore, risks being ostracized or severely marginalized for thinking out of the box of modernity—this box, at times, being more like a steel cage.

Finally, the reasons for anathematizing the transcendent (let’s be frank—that’s what is going on), except in the form of God, are hard to frame and analyze, except that we can see that fear of the unknown plays a prominent role in all of this.  In considering this, such fear, however, is not shared by everyone; not even by the bulk of the public.  This fear is felt only by a handful of powerful people (maybe 5 percent of the population) who stand to lose their authority and the foundation upon which it has been built being maintained by an elaborate system of lies and coercive practices.

Regrettably, if Buddhism wishes to be on the stage of modernity, to be blunt, it has to kiss the asses of those who are spiritually dead or suffer the consequences.  This means that it cannot unfurl its transcendental banner for all to see.  Far from it.  Buddhism must be silent and look the part of the good servant who will also reassure the impotent lords of creation who run our society that in the end we all go to the same Void being thoroughly annihilated. 

No, I can’t imagine either the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh doing much more than smiling and bowing when asked, “What did the Buddha mean when he said, ‘In this world grown blind, I beat the drum of immortality’?”


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