Monday, January 3, 2011

the ground-principles of Buddhism

If I am requested to formulate the ground-principles of the philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism, and, indeed, of all the schools of Buddhism, I would suggest the foillowing:

(1) All is momentary.

(2) All is empty.

(3) All is without self.

(4) All is such as it is.

These four tenets, as it were, are so closely interrelated that, stand or fall, they all inevitably share one fate together.

--- from "Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism" by D.T. Suzuki


  1. In your estimation does "empty" here mean "has no inherent existence" a la Nagarjuna?

  2. I guess (Nagarjuna is generally considered Mahayanist), or as Wayne L. might say no separate, independent existence.

    However, in my estimation, the crux of the matter is that all these so-called Principles, including Emptiness, are really just pointers to what we call Mind, Consciousness, etc.

    Since "we" cannot stand outside of "Mind", we cannot truly define "It" nor any of its "contents," including what we ordinarily take to be ourselves.

    I like how Suzuki groups these four "Principles." Taken en masse, they seem more clearly to point to "this non-objectivity."

  3. "All is 'such' as it is" - "such" is probably a reference to translations of Buddha and Zen writers who refer to "suchness".

    However, without using that term, it could be:

    "All is as it is"
    "All is exactly as it is"
    "All is simply as it is"
    "All is just as it is"

    or even

    "All is"

    or so it seems to me.

  4. Yes, judging by the context of the above quotation, I would say that "such" is a reference to "Suchness."

    My main take-away(from this book)is that "Suchness" can not be objectified/defined. So, taken in that sense, your alternatives seem okay to me.