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Thread: Nothing Exists

  1. #1
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
    Under the Bodhi Tree

    Nothing Exists

    Hi forum friends,

    This Zen story seems curious:

    Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

    Desiring to show his attainment, he said:

    "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

    Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

    "If nothing exists", inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

    Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,
    Paul Reps
    Any thoughts about it?

    Last edited by Esho; 09 Jun 12 at 03:09.

  2. #2
    Forums Member Gus4U's Avatar
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    May 2012
    Buddha never said this world is an illusion, but rather he said it is LIKE an illusion: in that we misunderstand it, its causes, its nature and its impermanence. He did not say that the world is a dream, but rather that it is LIKE a dream: in that we can awaken from it and know it for what it is.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Abhaya's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Whenever I hear this story, I'm reminded of the Buddha's advice about avoiding the extremes and sticking to the middle path between nihilism and eternalism, between absolute nothingness and absolute everythingness.

    Things exist conventionally, not inherently. It is not as if our actions are without a cause and without an effect. Nor is it that our actions are predetermined and our fate unalterable. To believe that nothing exists is to mistake emptiness for annihilationism. Equally misguised, a person may reify emptiness into an Ultimate Reality.

    Dokuon's beating of Yamaoka serves to snap the student out of extreme views. There is such a thing as a person, there is such a thing as anger, and there is such a thing as a bamboo pipe. One should neither deny their conventional existence nor attribute any metaphysical properties to them. This is what I gleam from this anecdote.

  4. #4
    What is important about the lesson given is distinguishing between something being empty and something being non-existent. Empty means not inherently existent or not existent as a stand-alone or permanent entity but rather as something, which is interdependent and impermanent.

    The anger talked about does not exist inherently but comes about due to causes and conditions, which are interdependent and impermanent by nature, as is the resulting anger. Technically speaking the anger cannot belong to anyone because nobody exists inherently but only as a momentary inter-dependently arising consciousness so the anger is also momentary and interdependent by nature the same as all causes and conditions for anything arising or ceasing.

  5. #5
    A sutta from the Pali Canon :

    SN 12.15 Kaccaayanagotto Sutta: Kaccaayana

    At Saavatthii the Ven. Kaccaayana asked the Blessed One :- "'Right view,right view,' it is said, Lord. In what way, Lord, is there right view?''

    (Buddha said)"The world in general, Kaccaayana, inclines to two views, to existence or to non-existence. But for him who, with the highest wisdom, sees the uprising of the world as it really is, 'non-existence of the world' does not apply, and for him who, with highest wisdom, sees the passing away of the world as it really is, 'existence of the world' does not apply.

    "The world in general, Kaccaayana, grasps after systems and is imprisoned by dogmas. But he does not go along with that system-grasping, that mental obstinacy and dogmatic bias, does not grasp at it, does not affirm: 'This is my self.' He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha, that what passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. This, Kaccaayana, is what constitutes right view.

    "'Everything exists,' this is one extreme [view]; 'nothing exists,' this is the other extreme.

    Avoiding both extremes the Tathaagata teaches a doctrine of the middle: Conditioned by ignorance are the formations.... So there comes about the arising of this entire mass of suffering. But from the complete fading away and cessation of ignorance there comes the cessation of the formations, from the cessation of the formations comes the cessation of consciousness... So there comes about the complete cessation of this entire mass of suffering."

  6. #6
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    May 2012
    New York State, USA
    Well. All of the above as far as what they said. When I first started my learning of Buddhism, that is pretty much what I thought, assumed. Thankfully I now see much differently. That's a depressing belief.

    Oh, and as to the Master, Dokuon, "Do it again!"

  7. #7
    Forums Member BuddhaInTraining's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    North Carolina
    I would state my reply but it is identical to yours and you say it much more eloquently than I can.

  8. #8
    Forums Member Gus4U's Avatar
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    May 2012
    well posted, Aloka-D

  9. #9
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Kosambi at Ghosita's monastery. Now at that time the inner quarters of King Udena's royal park had burned down and 500 women, headed by Samavati, had died.

    Then in the early morning, a large number of monks, having put on their robes and carrying their bowls & outer robes, went into Kosambi for alms. Having gone for alms in Kosambi, after the meal, returning from their alms round, they went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to the Blessed One: "Lord, the inner quarters of King Udena's royal park have burned down and 500 women, headed by Samavati, have died. What is the destination of those female lay followers? What is their future course?"

    "Monks, among those female lay followers are stream-winners, once-returners & non-returners. In no case was the death of any of those female lay followers without [noble] fruit."

    Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

    Bound round with delusion, the world
    only appears to be competent.
    Bound with acquisitions, foolish,
    surrounded by darkness,
    it seems eternal,
    but for one who sees,
    there is nothing.

    Udena Sutta

  10. #10
    Previous Member
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    Jun 2012

    Greatest illusion that Guatam Buddha broke is that "NOTHING EXISTS".

    Yes, It is a Truth that Emptiness (Nothing) is the source of creation. And everything ends in Emptiness after a period of time.What ever is in between is "Existence". But for Guatam this was the greatest stumbling block for humans.

    Guatam buddha created the science of EXISTENCE.
    And wonder of wonders he created such a science that Existence could survive even the Emptiness and time.

    To understand this science one has to go to Lotus sutra. In this sutra Guatam explains the methods that Buddhas have utilised and he has given a solid proof of this success.

    The greatest achievement before Guatam period was considered Arhantship. An Arhant after meditation on "Nothing Exists" with awareness reaches a stage which was considered the ultimate success. No rebirth for him and the words used for him was that "he has reached the other shore"

    As per Lotus Sutra Guatam Buddha held a gathering at Eagle Peak after 20 year of his preaching. And he revealed this science of Existence to a few arhants, But he asked majority of others arhants to leave the place as those arhants refused to leave their achievement and peace of arhantship. After they left, he told the remaining arhants that chaff (rejections) have left and here I bestow on you a "Prophesy" of Buddhahood in future. You all will pass thro in between stage of Bhoddhisattvahood. Whatever Sutras I preached earlier were for the preparation for this moment of revealing. I had to initially bring you all to stage of arhanship so that you qualify for this "Bestowing of Prophesy".

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