Saturday, November 29, 2008

Buddha Blast: Conquering the Cosmic Winds

The following text originates in Maharatnakuta-sutra, an excerpt from the legend of Magician Bhadra's attainment of buddhahood. It holds interest in a number of ways, perhaps the most intriguing the highly superlative description of the Buddha's powers. The description is particularly fascinating in the light of the fact that neither the Buddha nor his followers ever declared him to be anything equivalent to a creator-god or other cosmic godheads or avatars, but rather depicted him as a man who worked his way up the cosmic ladder over eons and eons of time.

Extracted from Garma C.C. Chang's translation under the title "A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras", Motilal Banarsidass, 1991 (online). Subheadings mine. In contrast to the Pali scriptures, the Mahayana canon is decidedly more juicy and abundant in its descriptions of the Buddha, even if it causes the scene of the narratives to switch from a more history-flavored one into a world of magic and mysteries.

aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān
ātmāsya jantor nihito guhāyām /
tama-kratuḥ paśyati vīta-śoko
dhātu-prasādān mahimānam ātman //

"Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest,
the self is hidden in the creature's heart.
Crosser of darkness, conqueror of pleasure and pain,
In elemental tranquility, he perceives the majesty of the self."
The anatman-doctrine (teaching of no permanent self) of the Buddhists notwithstanding, the narration that follows is almost a perfect commentary as if it were on this classic aphorism of Katha-upanishad (2.20), an early philosophical work seminal to the teachings of later Hindu philosophers. The exposition of ten cosmic wind wheels reflects the elemental principles of derivative causation found in both Buddhist and Taoist schools of metaphysical and analytical thought.


Powers of the Tathagata

When the magician saw that the World-Honored One had accepted his invitation, he thought, "Gautama does not know my intention; he is definitely not an All-Knowing One." Then he bowed and took his leave.

The Venerable Maudgalyayana was in the asembly at that time and saw what had happened. He approached the Buddha and said to him, "Bhadra intends to deceive the Tathagata and the monks. May the World-Honored One decline his invitation!"

The Buddha told Maudgalyayana, "Do not think in this way. Only those who have desire, hatred, and ignorance can be deceived, but I eradicated those defilements long ago, for I realized that not a single dharma ever arises. I have been firmly abiding in right action for many kalpas. How can anyone deceive me?

"Now, you should know that the magician does not perform real magic, but the Tathagata does. Why? Because the Tathagata realizes here and now that all dharmas are illusory. Even if all the sentient beings were as skilled in magic as Bhadra, all their magical powers combined could not compare with those of the Tathagata, even if their powers were multiplied by a hundred, a thousand, or any amount, numerical or figurative."

Producing Billion-world Universes

The Buddha asked Maudgalyayana, "What do you think? Can the magician magically produce a billion-world universe and magnificently adorn all of it?"

Maudgalyayana answered, "No."

The Buddha said, "Maudgalyayana, you should know that I can magically produce magnificently adorned worlds, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, inside a hair's tip, and even this does not exhaust the Tathagata's miraculous powers.

The Great Cosmic Wind Wheels

"Maudgalyayana, you should know that there is a great wind-wheel called Breaker that can break a billion-world universe to pieces.
   "There is another wind wheel called Great Hurricane that can ruin worlds and then rebuild them.
   "There is another wind wheel called Propeller that can revolve worlds.
   "There is another wind wheel called Secure Abiding that can blow as high as the Akanistha Heaven.
   "There is another wind wheel called Scatterer that can whirl away and scatter Mount Sumeru, the Black Mountain, and other mountains.
   "There is another wind wheel called Fierce Flame that can blow fierce flames up to the Brahma Heaven during the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
   "There is another wind wheel called Quencher that can quench the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
   "There is another wind wheel called Cool that can cause a cloud to cover a billion-world universe.
   "There is another wind wheel called Universal Downpour that can pour down heavy rains on the worlds during the raging conflagration at the end of a kalpa.
   "There is another wind wheel called Drying Up that can dry up the spreading flood at the end of a kalpa. There are so many wind wheels that I could not finish enumerating them even if I spoke until the end of this kalpa. All this, Maudgalyayana, you should know.

Conquering the Great Wind Wheels

"What do you think? Can the magician dwell securely in any of these wind wheels for a moment?"

Maudgalyayana answered, "No."

The Buddha told Maudgalyayana: "The Tathagata can walk, stand, sit, and lie undisturbed in the wind wheels.  The Tathagata can also put those wind wheels into a mustard seed and display their motions without the mustard seed either expanding or contracting, and without the wind wheels in the seed obstructing each other. Maudgalyayana, you should know that the feats of magic accomplished by the Tathagata have no limit."

When the Venerable Maudgalyayana and the assembly heard the Tathagata's words, they were all overwhelmed by wonder and awe. They all bowed down before the Buddha and exclaimed in unison, "Because we have now met the great Teacher who has these awe-inspiring miraculous powers, we are greatly blessed. One who has the opportunity to hear of the wonderful miraculous powers of the Tathagata, the World-Honored One, and generates profound faith and understanding will certainly gain great blessings adn bring forth a vow to attain supreme enlightenment."


Nir said...

Now that you are back in Europe, you should get some good, pure LSD and do about three doses a day for about 6 weeks. I did that many years ago and it really helped me focus. Being stoned on cannabis is for losers. Get some high grade LSD, go into seclusion and prepare to do some heavy pranayama and get ready to enter the realm of light.

Lately, I have been doing about 3 hours of pranayama every morning along with some other tricks and I can honestly tell you that it is incredible.

LSD is the way man.

Don't be a lightweight.
Smoking weed is ignorant.
Get yourself about a hundred hits of blotter LSD and go into seclusion for about a month.

Start out with one full dose per day and then work your way up to 3 full doses and see the most beautiful astral realm that you obviously have been missing.

Peace and love brother....

Ananda said...

The entry is a bit disconnected as it is. There will be a follow-up entry to fluff out some of the more fascinating facets of the story in a bit, sheding more light on why it was of interest.

Nir, again I don't need to conform to any of the proposed standards you set, whether it's yoga, acid or anyothersuch you may advocate. They are only worthier than the present if I choose to believe in the elevated value in them. There is little merit in pursuing the projected goals of others.

Nir said...

Now you've hurt my feelings Ananda. I think I should just take my toys and go home now. Jeez, you always talk so mean to me.

Ananda said...

You know, Nir, I have nothing against you, but I really do have my own life to live without adopting any further external expectations or standards of what ought to be. It's quite allright just the way it is.

The Great Cornholio said...

Ananda, when will you start writing about the GV ideas you promised some days ago?

Until then, watch my fav cartoon:

Nir said...

You are still too much of a mystery for me to put a lot of interest in Ananda. How about some video/audio files of you personally expressing and explaining things as such that you like to write about. Get out of the stone age of technology and let's see some video of the intriguing enigma Ananda Baba, master of the Nepal breakfast salad.
Now, your fans are demanding it, so you have to answer the call.

Dave said...

It's a good observation - as Buddhism moved into Tibet/China/Japan it needed to assimilate the local cultures, which certainly lead to a more 'colorful' version of the religion. Also an immense proliferation of schools Kenneth Ch'en's "Buddhism in China" is a great read in this regard.

I've personally always preferred Mahayana Buddhism, but probably because I like fantasy stories...

Mr. Ananda ∴ μ α ω λ said...

Taming the Ten Cosmic Wheels

[∞0] Zero-One = Breaker = breaking worlds to pieces
[±] Balance = Great Hurricane = destruction & regenesis

[+++] Heaven = Propeller = revolves worlds
[++-] Lake = Universal Downpour = rains on worlds at end of cycle
[+-+] Fire = Fierce Flame = blows blames up to Brahma-heaven at end of cycle
[+--] Thunder = Scatterer = whirls away and scatters mountains

[-++] Wind = Cool = clouds billion-world universes
[-+-] Stream = Quencher = quenches flames at the end of a cycle
[--+] Mountain = Secure Abiding = blows infinitely high
[---] Earth = Drying Up = dries up flood at end of cycle

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