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LESSON 3211 Sat 14 Dec 2019 Free Online NIBBANA TRAINING from KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA -PATH TO ATTAIN PEACE and ETERNAL BLISS AS FINAL GOAL Let us Do good. Purify mind - ‘The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts – sabba danam dhamma danam jinati’ at 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL 3rd Stage, Bangalore- Magadhi Karnataka State -PRABUDDHA BHARAT through runs Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice University in
 111 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES Good News Good News GIF - GoodNews FairlyOddParents GIFs VOICE of ALL ABORIGINAL AWAKENED SOCIETIES (VoAAAS) for Sarvajan Hithaya Sarvajan Sukhaya i.e for the welfare, happiness and Peace for all societies and to attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal Capturing the Master Key Babasaheb Dr B.R Ambedkar has said that “political power is the master key using which you can open all the doors of your progress and self respect”. If Foreigners from Bene Israel chitpavan brahmins of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam Sevaks (RSS) can call this as manusmriti manuvad hindutva land why can not we declare this land as PRABUDDHA BHARAT for the benefit of All Aboriginal Societies ? As we were Buddhists, are Buddhists and continue to be Buddhists. Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism
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Part Two Oneness: The Highest Common Denominator Conceiving of the One Say: He, God, is One
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Part Two Oneness: The Highest Common Denominator

Conceiving of the One

Say: He, God, is One

God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all,1He begets not, nor is begotten,And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’ān 112:1–4)There is, monks, an unborn, not become, not made, uncom-pounded; and were it not, monks, for this unborn, not be-come, not made, uncompounded, no escape could be shown here for what is born, has become, is made, is compounded. But because there is, monks, an unborn, not become, not made, uncompounded, therefore an escape can be shown for what is born, has become, is made, is compounded.’ (Udāna, 80–81)2The juxtaposition of these two scriptural citations shows us the possibil-ity of arguing that the ultimate Reality to which Islam and Buddhism testify is one and the same. One can ask the question: is That which is described as absolutely One in the Qur’ān metaphysically identical to that which is described as ‘uncompounded’ by the Buddha? Let us take a look at how this oneness is described in Islam, be-fore comparing it to the ‘uncompounded’ in Buddhism. The first tes-timony of Islam, ‘No divinity but the one and only Divinity’ can be understood to mean not just that there is only one God as opposed to many, but that there is only one absolute, permanent reality—all other realities being relative and ephemeral, totally dependent upon

Capturing the Master Key

Dr B.R Ambedkar has said that “political power is the master key using
which you can open all the doors of your progress and self respect”.

If Foreigners from Bene Israel chitpavan brahmins of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam
Sevaks (RSS) can call this as manusmriti manuvad hindutva land why can
not we declare this land as PRABUDDHA BHARAT for the benefit of All
Aboriginal Societies ?

As we were Buddhists, are Buddhists and continue to be Buddhists.

1. This rather wordy translation of the single Arabic word (which is one of the Names of God) al-Samad is given by Martin Lings (The Holy Qur’ān—Translations of Selected Verses, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute & The Islamic Texts Society, 2007), p. 200. Lings’ translation does full justice to the two fundamental connotations of the name: al-Samad is absolutely self-sufficient, on the one hand, and, for this very reason, is eternally besought by all other beings, on the other. See al-Rāghib al-Isfahānī’s classical dictionary of Qur’ānic terms, Mu‘jam mufradāt alfāz al-Qur’ān(Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, n.d.), p. 294.2. Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, eds. E. Conze, I.B. Horner, D. Snelgrove, A. Waley (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1954), p. 95.

this One reality for its existence: Everything thereon is passing away (fān); and there subsists (yabqā) only the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Glory (55:26–27). Thus, this first testimony comes to mean, in metaphysical terms: ‘No reality but the one and only Real-ity’. The false ‘gods’ of paganism are not just idols made of wood and stone, but also, and more fundamentally, so many erroneous views of reality, so many mistakes on the level of thought. This epistemologi-cal mode of affirmation of tawhīd, or the oneness of God, together with its corollary, the censure of shirk, or idolatry, might be seen to resonate deeply with the following simple statement by the Buddha, which figures in the very first chapter of the Dhammapada:Those who think the unreal is, and think the Real is not, they shall never reach the Truth, lost in the path of wrong thought.But those who know the Real is, and know the unreal is not, they shall indeed reach the Truth, safe on the path of right thought.3This statement echoes the first testimony of Islam, understood meta-physically or epistemologically, rather than simply theologically. It also echoes the verse of the Qur’ān: There is no compulsion in religion. Indeed the right way has been made distinct from error. So whoever rejects [lit. ‘disbelieves’: yakfur] the false gods and believes in God, he has truly held tight to the firmest of handles, which can never break (2:256).The UnbornIt is possible to discern in the Buddha’s saying from the Udāna two affirmations of the oneness of ultimate reality, one temporal and the other substantial. At this point we will endeavour to address the temporal aspect, later the substantial aspect, relating to the distinc-tion between compounded and non-compounded, will be addressed. In terms of time, then, the ‘unborn’ and the ‘not become’ can be understood to refer to a reality or essence which, being above and beyond the temporal condition, is perforce the origin of that condi-tion; it is from this ‘not become’ that all becoming originates. This
3.The Dhammapada—The Path of Perfection, tr. Juan Mascaró (Harmonds-worth, UK: Penguin, 1983), I, pp. 11–12.
unnamed degree of reality thus has an explicit resonance with the way in which Allāh is described in 112:3, as being unbegotten; and one might discern an implicit relationship with certain dimensions of the divine reality, in particular, ‘the First’, al-Awwal, and ‘the Originator’, al-Mubdi’. Much more is theologically implied in these qualities of Allāhthan in the simple reference of the Buddha to what is ‘unborn’, needless to say, given that in Islamic theology each of the Names designates an attribute of Allāh. The sole ontological substance of all the Names is Allāh, that which is ‘Named’ by the Names; each Name thus implies not only the particular quality it designates, but also Allāh as such, and thereby all of the other ‘ninety-nine’ Names of Allāh, such as ‘the Creator’, ‘the Judge’, ‘the Master’, ‘the Con-querer’ etc. Many of these attributes will be alien to the Buddhist conception of what is meant by the ‘unborn’. While some Buddhists may feel obliged to deny belief in a divinity possessed of such qual-ities, others, following the example of the Buddha, will prefer to maintain silence rather than affirming or denying these qualities. Here we see a major, and perhaps unbridgeable, divide between the doctrines of the two faiths on the plane of theology. However, on the plane of metaphysics and even on that of mystical psychology, one might ask whether the Buddha’s silences can be interpreted positively, in the light of his clear affirmation of the Absolute as that which is ‘unborn, not become, not made, uncompounded’; if so, then his ‘non-theism’ will not be seen as negating the Essence of the Absolute which transcends all attributes, but rather, as methodically ignoring every attribute that can be predicated of this Absolute—ignoring that is, the Personal divinity, for the sake of an exclusive focus on the supra-Personal Essence. If, by contrast, one interprets his silences negatively, that is, as if they implied a negation of the things about which he remained silent, then one will be making his ‘non-theism’ into an ‘atheism’, a denial both of the Personal divinity and of the supra-Personal Essence—the Essence implied by the Per-sonal divinity, and without which the Personal divinity is nothing. Nobody can deny that the Buddha’s doctrine is non-theistic: there is no Personal divinity playing the role of Creator, Revealer, Judge in Buddhism. But to assert that the Buddha’s doctrine is ‘athe-istic’ would be to attribute to him an explicit denial and negation of the Absolute—which one does not find anywhere in his teachings. The citation we have given above from the Udāna, 80–81, together with several other verses from the Pali canon which one could cite, makes it clear that the Buddha did indeed conceive of the Absolute, and that this Absolute is affirmed as the ultimate Reality, to which one must ‘escape’. There is a conception—and therefore an affirma-tion—of this Reality, however ‘minimalist’ such a conception is as compared to the more detailed theological conception found in Is-lam. The fact that there is a conception and affirmation of the Abso-lute makes it difficult to qualify the Buddhist doctrine as atheistic.Mention was made of mystical psychology above. This is con-nected with the use of the word ‘escape’ in Udāna 80–81. It will be recalled that Nirvāna as described by the Buddha was framed entirely in terms of an escape from bondage into supreme security:• unborn supreme security from bondage• unageing supreme security from bondage• unailing supreme security from bondage• deathless supreme security from bondage• sorrowless supreme security from bondage• undefiled supreme security from bondage4The whole purpose of presenting the reality of the uncompounded—of the unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless and the undefiled—is to escape from what is compounded, subject to old age, death, sorrow and defilement. In other words, the Buddha was not pri-marily concerned with describing, in theological mode, the various attributes of the Absolute, but rather with stressing the imperative need of escaping to the Absolute; escaping, that is, from the painful illusions of the relative—the compounded—to the blissful reality of the Absolute, which is Nirvāna. Here we feel a resonance with such verses in the Qur’ān as the following: …when the earth, vast as it is, became narrow for them, and their own souls became narrow for them, such that they knew that there is no refuge from God except in Him (9:118); … so escape unto God (51:50).From the point of view of these verses, what matters is the ur-gency of fleeing from the world of sin and suffering to the only refuge, that of the Absolute. In a situation of dire urgency, we do not ask for subtle definitions of what it is that will save us. It is this ur-gency which Buddhist teachings directly address, it is this urgency which determines the modalities and the language of the Buddha’s message. It is this urgency which provides one answer to the ques-
4. The Middle Length Discourses, op. cit., 26:18, pp. 259–260
tion which plagues Muslim-Buddhist dialogue: why, Muslims ask, do the Buddhists deny the existence of a Creator? We would argue, first, that such a denial goes much further than the Buddha himself went; and secondly, that if one takes into account the context of the Buddha’s teachings, the reason why he chose not to speak of such a Creator-God becomes more intelligible. First, the fact that the Buddha refused, on the whole, to speak of the process by which the ‘compounded’ elements come together in the world that we see around us does not imply the necessity of denying the objective existence of a dimension of the Absolute which can be called ‘the Creator’. The Buddha’s silence was part of his ‘mystical rhetoric’, one might say: the dialectical stress of his teachings was on escap-ing from the suffering attendant upon the compounded world, rather than on understanding the cosmological process by which one be-comes enslaved by that compounded world. Let us look at this mys-tical rhetoric a little more closely.Buddhist DialecticsThis rhetorical or dialectical mode of teaching needs to be un-derstood by reference to the specific nature of the environment in which the Buddha’s message was promulgated. As we saw earlier, the Qur’ān tells us: And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his people, so that he might make it clear to them (14:4). The ‘language’ of the Buddha’s people must be understood in the wider sense of the religious and cultural context of India in his time. This context was defined by a largely pharisaical and formalistic Brahmanical culture, wherein one of the chief obstacles to effective salvation was a preoccupation with the putatively ‘eternal’ nature of the soul. The transcendence of the Absolute Self (Paramātman) was lost sight of amid the formulaic, one-sided assertions of the immanence of the Absolute Self in the relative self (jīvātman), the result being a diminution of a sense of the utter other-ness of the Absolute Self vis-à-vis the relativity of the human self. Immanence had trumped transcendence; the immortality of the soul was confused with the eternity of the Absolute. If salvation had become reduced by the ‘eternalists’ to a blithe self-projection into eternity, it was rejected altogether by the ‘annihilationists’ as a piece of wishful thinking by those who could not accept the grim reality of nothingness: nothing of the soul exists after death, according to these annihilationists, it dies with the body.5As the following citation from a Chinese text from the Middle Way school6 tells us, it is not a question of asserting one position to the exclusion of the other, but rather seeking to discover a ‘middle way’ between the two: Only seeing that all are empty without seeing the non-empty side — this cannot be called Middle Way. Only seeing that all have no self without also seeing the self — this cannot be called Middle Way.7Nāgārjūna explains the fundamental distinction between the two different planes of reality and the truths proportioned thereto, a dis-tinction which helps us to decipher the Buddha’s paradoxical, ap-parently contradictory, statements about the soul, and indeed about Reality: ‘The teaching of the doctrine by the Buddhas is based upon two truths: truth relating to worldly convention and truth in terms of ultimate fruit.’8 It is on the level of conventional truth (samvrti-satyam) that one can assert the relative reality of the individual soul, and it is likewise on this level of reality that one can situate the proc-esses of dependent origination, clinging, delusion and suffering. However, completely transcending this level of explanation, and the world (loka) proportioned to it, is the truth or reality pertaining to ‘ultimate fruit’ (paramārtha). On the level of ultimate Reality—which is seen only upon enlightenment, and, prior to enlightenment, glimpsed through intuitions—the individual soul is itself perceived as an illusion, and all that pertains to the world within which the soul apparently exists is illusory. That which is permanent is alone real. However, this does not prevent suffering from being what it is for
5. For a detailed presentation of the Buddha’s religious environment and the views of the ‘eternalists’ (sassata-ditthiyo) and annihilationists’ (uccheda-ditthiyo), see K.N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1963), pp. 21–168; and for a concise summary of the speculative views not held by the Buddha, see the dialogue between the Buddha and the wanderer Vacchagotta in Sutta 72 (Aggivacchagotta) of The Middle Length Discourses, op. cit., pp. 590–594.6. Mādhyamika, the school founded by Nāgārjūna, referred to in the introduction.7. Taisho shinshū daizokyo 12, 374: 523b, cited by Youru Wang in Linguistic Strategies in Daoist Zhuangzi and Chan Buddhism (London & New York: Rout-ledgeCurzon, 2003), p. 61.8. From his Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, 24:8, cited by David Kalupahana, Nāgārjūna—The Philosophy of the Middle Way, op. cit., p. 331
the soul plunged in illusion, the soul which is still held in bondage to the relative world of name and form (nama-rupa). The suffering is real enough, but the domain within which suffering exists is itself ultimately unreal: the impermanence of the world (anicca)and the unreality of the soul (anattā) are thus mutually empowering teachings which lead to the cessation of suffering through grasping not just the nature of the Void, but also, the bliss of Nirvana inherent in that Void.Continuing with the concept of the Middle Way, and showing how this later school of thought is rooted in the earliest scriptures, the following discourse of the Buddha to Kaccāyana (Kaccāyanagotta-Sutta) should be noted: ‘Everything exists’—this, Kaccāyana, is one extreme. ‘Ev-erything does not exist’—this, Kaccāyana, is the second ex-treme. Kaccāyana, without approaching either extreme, the Tathāgata9 teaches you a doctrine by the middle.The teaching continues with a demonstration that ignorance is at the root of all suffering: from ignorance arises a chain of causal-ity, each factor generating its inevitable consequence: dispositions, consciousness, psycho-physical personality, senses, contact, feel-ing, craving, grasping, becoming, birth, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair. ‘Thus arises this entire mass of suffering. However, from the utter fading away and ceasing of ignorance, there is a ceasing of dispositions’, and the whole chain of interdependent causality is brought to an end: ‘And thus there is the ceasing of the entire mass of suffering.’10Ignorance is here identified with its ultimate consequence, suf-fering; salvation from suffering is thus achieved through knowledge. If the issue of salvation had become smothered by wrongly posed alternatives in the Buddha’s time, the question of the creation and origination of the cosmos had likewise become more a source of speculative distraction than constructive elucidation. This point is well made in the following verses, which shed considerable light on the whole dialectical purpose and intent of the Buddhist teaching as a ‘skilful means’ (upāya-kauśala) by which people are oriented to the imperative of salvation:
9. This term means both ‘one thus gone,’ and at the same time ‘one thus come’. See the introduction for discussion. 10. Kaccāyanagotta-Sutta in Samutta-nikāya, 2.17; cited by David J. Kalupa-hana, Nāgārjūna—The Philosophy of the Middle Way, op. cit., pp. 10–11.

Suppose, Mālunkyaputta, a man were pierced with an ar-row well steeped in poison, and his close friends and rela-tives were to summon a physician, a surgeon. Then suppose the man says, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know, of the man by whom I was pierced, both his name and clan, and whether he be tall or short or of middle stat-ure: till I know him whether he be a black man or dark or sallow-skinned: whether he be from such and such a vil-lage or suburb or town. I will not have the arrow pulled out until I know of the bow by which I was pierced, whether it was a long-bow or a cross-bow …’ This questioning contin-ues, in regard to all sorts of details about the arrow. ‘Well, Mālunkyaputta, that man would die, but still the matter would not be found out by him.11This one-pointed focus on the need to overcome ignorance, delusion and suffering meant that the Buddha refused to answer questions which would only further entrench the ignorance he was so keen to dispel. What he was silent about, however, he did not deny. Like all the ‘gods’ or divine attributes in the Hindu culture of the Buddha’s time, Brahmā the Creator (masculine gender, as dis-tinct from Brahma, neuter, referring to the Absolute) had become reified as a concept. The solidarity between an individual soul, deemed eternal, and the gods, also relativities endowed with eter-nity, needed to be sundered. Hence the doctrine of ‘no soul’ went hand in hand with that of ‘impermanence’ on all levels, human and divine. The ‘denial of the soul’ was in fact a denial that the soul was eternal, and this most imperative of all messages was rendered all the more effective if it were combined with the idea that even the ‘gods’, or divine attributes, were not eternal. Included in the category of the ‘gods’ was that of the Creator, Brahmā, who, while not being denied outright, is perceived as one among other rela-tivities. Attention to creation translated into distraction from the eternal; for this reason, Buddhism remains largely silent about the source of creation, and keeps our attention riveted to the require-ments of salvation from the suffering attendant upon attachment to the ‘created’ world.This point emerges with particular clarity in the immensely influential text in the Mahayana tradition, The Flower Ornament
11. Majjhima Nikāya I, 63; cited in Some Sayings, op. cit., p. 305.
Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra, called Huayan in Chinese), briefly re-ferred to earlier.12 Let us consider first the following verses:All things have no provenance and no one can create them:There is nowhere whence they are bornThey cannot be discriminated.All things have no provenance,Therefore they have no birth;Because there is no birth,Neither can extinction be found.All things are birthlessAnd have no extinction either;Those who understand in this wayWill see the Buddha.13The fact that these statements on the beginningless nature of things—and thus the absence of a Creator thereof—are intended more as mystical pedagogy than rational theology, or a denial of the existence of the Creator, is indicated, among other things, by the following verses, which focus attention on the fact that wisdom or enlightenment is the eternally present reality, which has never not been; the absence of wisdom is what is illusory, and the very idea that it could have once been non-existent, and is then ‘born’ entrenches the mind in the illusions of temporal succession, keeping it remote from the reality of eternity: There’s nothing the Buddha knows not,Therefore he’s inconceivable.Never from lack of wisdomHas wisdom ever been born.14A wisdom that could emerge into existence after having been non-existent cannot be authentic wisdom, which is one with the nature of the Absolute. This wisdom itself renders the Buddha ‘inconceiv-able’—or renders ‘it’, the state of ‘the awakened one’ inconceiv-
12. This text is also known as ‘the major Scripture of Inconceivable Liberation’, as the translator, Thomas Cleary, notes, adding ‘it is perhaps the richest and most grandi-ose of all Buddhist scriptures, held in high esteem by all schools of Buddhism that are concerned with universal liberation.’ The Flower Ornament Scripture, op. cit., p. 1.13. Ibid., p. 445. As will be made clearer below, ‘the Buddha’ is identified with the enlightened state and not just the human being; and it is also identified with the ultimate Reality, as the objective content of the enlightened state.14. Ibid., p. 447.
able: were it conceivable, it would be an object known, as opposed to the knowing subject. This echoes the Qur’ānic teaching: Vision comprehends Him not, but He comprehends all vision. He is the Subtle, the Aware (6:103). Such inconceivable knowledge cannot be attained by means of any conception; it can only be realized through enlightenment, and the only purpose of all conceptions, all words, is to negate the pretensions of conceptual thought, and pave the way for an intuition of That which goes beyond all formal thought, be-ing their ontological infrastructure—the infinite being from which all thought and existence is derived. Such ‘wisdom’ has never been ‘born’ from anything which could be described as an absence of wisdom: ‘never from lack of wisdom has wisdom ever been born’. To drive home the liberating power of this truth, any speculative for-ay into the domain of what has ‘been born’, and which, by that token might possibly become born—and thus also must perish—is noth-ing but a distraction from the one thing needful: enlightenment. There is, then, no absolute denial of a Creator. But the idea of a Creator—within the overall context of the Buddhist upāya, domi-nated as it is by the imperative of escape from the conditioned to the unconditioned—is liable to detract from the intensity of concen-tration required for taking the leap from the present moment into eternity. For this leap requires one to utterly ignore the temporal notions of past and future, which do not exist, it is only ever the present moment which is real. This idea is expressed in one verse by the simple negation that the Buddhas were ever really born or died: ‘The Buddhas do not come forth into the world, and they have no extinction’. Commenting on this, Thomas Cleary writes, ‘all Bud-dhas attain great enlightenment by the timeless essence. Instantly seeing the Way, views of past and present end, “new” and “old” do not exist at all—one attains the same enlightenment as countless Buddhas of the past, and also becomes Buddha at the same time as the Buddhas of countless ages of the future, by personally witness-ing the timelessness of the past, present, and future. Because there is no time, there is no coming or going.’15 This serves also as a com-ment on the following verses of the Avatamsaka Sutra:Just as the futureHas not the marks of the past, So also do all thingsNot have any marks at all.
15. Ibid., p. 51.
Just as the signs of birth and deathAre all unrealSo also are all thingsVoid of intrinsic nature.Nirvana cannot be grasped,But when it is spoken of there are two kinds,So it is of all things:When discriminated, they are different.Just as based on something countedThere exists a way of counting.Their nature is nonexistent:Thus are phenomena perfectly known.It’s like the method of counting,Adding one, up to infinity;The numbers have no substantial nature:They are distinguished due to intellect.16To speak of the past—and a fortiori, any ‘creator’ or originator of what was ‘in the beginning’—is to engage in something akin to ‘the method of counting’. One can add one continuously to each number in the series, and never come to an end; one will never, through counting, realize that ‘numbers have no substantial nature’. Here, ‘numbers’ stand for all phenomena, which stand apart from the uni-tive Reality: to engage in thought with the origin of phenomena is to engage with those phenomena, from this point of view: what the Buddhist logic of enlightenment calls for, on the contrary, is the radical transcendence of phenomena, which in turn requires one to ignore completely the process by which phenomena came into be-ing, whence the apparent denial of the Creator.* * *The ‘non-theism’ of Buddhism not only upholds what Muslims refer to as the Oneness of God; it can also deepen the Muslim’s apprecia-tion of the utter transcendence of God, helping to show that the divine Essence radically negates all relativity, and that all of our concep-tions of that Essence are perforce mediated through veils of our own subjective construction. God can indeed be described according to the images, qualities and allusions given in the Revelation, but be-tween all of these descriptions and the true reality of God there is still no common measure. They measure God not according to His true
16. Ibid., p. 448.
measure (6:91). No human conception of God—even if fashioned by ideas received through Revelation—can be identified with the tran-scendent reality of the divine Essence; it cannot overcome the incom-mensurability separating the relative from the Absolute.The Muslim conception of the Essence of God, transcending all Names and Qualities, will be recognizable to Buddhists as an allu-sion to that ineffable reality which ‘no words or speech can reach’.17This is a refrain in the Qur’ān: ‘Glorified be God above what they describe’ (subhāna’Llāhi ‘ammā yasifūn) is a constant refrain in the Qur’ān; it refers in the first instance to the false descriptions of God, or false ascriptions of divinity to idols; but it also alludes to this fundamental theological principle of Islam: the Essence of God is utterly indefinable, above and beyond the divine Qualities manifest-ing It, indeed, infinitely surpassing any conceivable ‘thing’: There is nothing like Him (42:11). Whereas the Qur’ān is full of descriptions of God’s actions and attributes—thus expressing a cataphatic or even an anthropomorphic conception of God, so far removed from the Buddhist conception of an impersonal ultimate reality—one can nonetheless find both in the Qur’ān and the sayings of the Prophet, certain crucial openings to an apprehension of the Essence of God which utterly transcends all categories of human language, cognition, and conception, includ-ing all those which are fashioned by the very descriptions of God’s acts and attributes given in His own revelation. Buddhist apophatic philosophy can thus be read as an elaboration upon the nafy, the negation, of the first testimony of Islam: lā ilāha, ‘no divinity’. The ithbāt, or affirmation, illa’Llāh, ‘except the Divinity’, can be read in this context as the intuition of an ineffable Reality which arises in the very measure that all false conceptions of reality have been eliminated. It is that Reality which is not susceptible to negation, and that to which the Muslim mystics testify as being the content of their ultimate realization: al-fanā’, extinction of the self (false reality/divinity), gives way to al-baqā’, subsistence of the Self (true Reality/Divinity). Mystic experience thus mirrors the two elements, the nafy and the ithbāt, of the first testimony of Islam. Shūnya and ShahādaIt is possible to argue that the implication of the doctrine of the ‘Void’ (Shūnya) or ‘Extinction’ (Nirvāna) is akin to the highest meaning of
17. Ibid., p. 291.
the nafy of the Shahāda. If the ‘non-theism’ of Buddhism can be understood as a commentary on the nafy of the first testimony of Islam, ‘no divinity’, then the ithbāt of the first testimony can be understood within Buddhism as pertaining to the ultimate, supra-personal Essence of God. That Absolute, alone, is ultimately real, the Buddhist would assert, and one can only refer to it in terms that negate any hint of relativity, thus, in apophatic terms: It is the ‘un-born’, the ‘uncompound’, the ‘Void’—for It is de-void of all relativ-ity, all otherness, all conditionality. Here we are confronted by the ‘substantial’ aspect of the text cited above, Udāna, 80–81. Being devoid of everything but itself, this Absolute, alone, is ‘simple’18(non-compound), ‘purely itself’, thus at one with the absolute purity of ikhlās, a key Islamic term which means ‘purification’ as well as ‘sincerity’, and is one of the titles of Sūra 112 cited above. Sincerity flows forth in the measure that one’s conception of God is ‘purified’ of any stain of multiplicity; God’s pure oneness must be mirrored in the purity of our conception of that oneness, and this gives rise to sincerity. God’s oneness, alone, is totally and purely Itself, with no hint of otherness sullying Its nature and rendering it compound; that which is absolutely non-compound, purely ‘itself’ and nothing but itself, cannot but be absolutely one. This is what is strictly implied by the term ‘uncompounded’ (asamskrta) in verses 80–81 of the Udāna, cited above. When it is stated that all other things are compounded, this means that every single thing in existence is a mixture of different elements, it has no innate, abiding essence of its own. In Islamic terms, all things other than God are likewise seen to be composed of different elements; nothing but God is utterly one, purely itself. Pure oneness transcends all multiplicity.However, that oneness is manifested, symbolically, on the level of form. This is what is called Shunyamurti in Buddhism, literally: the manifestation of the Void. The Void as such cannot be manifested without ceasing to be the Void, but it can be symbolically expressed. One might also see the very name of God in Islam, Allāh, as just such a manifestation of the Void, being a symbolic designation of That which is beyond all possible conception and form. As we shall see below, the transcendent reality of God is strictly inaccessible
18. ‘Simple’ translates the Arabic basīt, as opposed to murakkab ‘compounded’. Let us recall that the English word ‘simple’ is derived from the root ‘sim’, related to ‘same’, thus to identity, unity.
in its Essence. One of the ways in which It is glorified is precisely by declaring its transcendent incomparability (tanzīh). However, the same reality is also glorified in its manifestation on the level of form, in the name Allāh—and all other Names of God—which reflect that reality within language and thought. Thus, one glorifies God—qua Essence—as in the refrain ‘Glorified be God above what they describe’; but one also glorifies God’s ‘Name’: ‘Glorify the Name of thy Lord, Most High’. The Name of that which is beyond all words and thought thus becomes something akin to a ‘manifestation of the Void’. The deliverance offered by this saving manifestation, by means of invocation, will be addressed below, in the section en-titled ‘Remembrance of God’.Light of TranscendenceThe Buddhist perspective can be seen to reinforce the Muslim mes-sage of divine transcendence. It reminds Muslims of the need to be aware of the existence of the conceptual veils through which we perforce view the divine Sun, whose light is so bright that it blinds the conceptual ‘eye’ of one who presumes to look upon it. This is expressed most precisely in the following saying of the Prophet: ‘God has seventy thousand veils of light and darkness; were He to remove them, the glories of His Countenance would consume all those who looked upon Him.’19 The Qur’ān, similarly, alludes to the unapproachability of the divine Essence: God warns you to beware of His Self (3:28, repeated at 3:30). One can cogitate or meditate (engage in fikr/tafakkur) only upon the qualities of God, and not upon His Essence. As al-Rāghib al-Isfahānī, a major lexicographer of the Qur’ān, writes in his explanation of the Qur’ānic concept of fikr: ‘Meditation is only possible in regard to that which can assume a conceptual form (sūra) in one’s heart. Thus we have the following saying [of the Prophet]: Meditate upon the bounties of God but not
19. Sahīh Muslim, Book of Īmān, 293. There is a deeper mystical meaning to the destruction wrought by the vision of God. This relates to the very heart of sanc-tity or walāya in Islam, understood metaphysically. The saint is the one who has indeed been blessed with the vision of God, and has been rendered ‘extinct’ in the very same sense as in the Buddhist nirvana, which means, precisely, ‘extinction’. Though being commented upon chiefly by the Sufis, this aspect of the supreme realisation is also alluded to in several Qur’ānic verses and prophetic sayings. Suf-fice it here to refer to one Qur’ānic verse which hints at this mystery: ‘If you claim to be saints of God (awliyā’ Allāh), favoured above others, then long for death, if you are sincere.’ (62:6)
on God [Himself, His Essence] for God is above and beyond all pos-sibility of being described in terms of any form (sūra).’20The basic idea expressed in this saying of the Prophet has been transmitted in various forms:21 one can meditate on ‘all things’, on the ‘qualities’ of God, but not on His Essence, to which no powers of conception have any access. This means that in Islamic terms, the ultimate Reality is utterly inconceivable; that which is conceiv-able cannot be the ultimate Reality. The capacity to conceive of this distinction between the conceivable and the inconceivable lies, paradoxically, at the very heart of the Shahāda, understood meta-physically rather than just theologically: we must be aware that the initial conception we have of the one and only Reality is but a start-ing point, not a conclusion; this conception is an initiation into a spiritual mystery, not the consummation of a chain of mental con-structs; it initiates one into a transformative movement towards the Ineffable, of which the mind can glimpse but a shadow. The Islamic view of the utter transcendence of God’s Essence, the belief that It surpasses all possible modes of formal conception, thus shows that there are no grounds for erecting simplistic reified conceptions of God in Islam; it also helps the Buddhist to see that, at the very sum-mit of Islamic metaphysics, and even, at a stretch, Islamic theology, there is an application of the first Shahāda which resonates deeply with the Buddhist insistence on the Void, Shūnya, being beyond namarūpa (name/form), and by that very token, beyond all conceiv-ability. Both traditions would appear to be able to agree on the fol-lowing paraphrase of the Shahāda: ‘no conceivable form: only the inconceivable Essence’.Al-Samad and DharmaThe Islamic distinction between the oneness of God’s Essence and the multiplicity of creation evokes the Buddhist distinction be-tween the oneness of the uncompounded and the multiplicity of the compounded. This conceptual similarity is further reinforced by the meaning of the term Samad: in addition to being positively de-scribed as that which is eternally self-sufficient, and that which is sought by all else, it is also apophatically referred to as ‘that which
20. Mu‘jam mufradāt, op. cit., p. 398.21. Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī cites 5 variations on this saying in his compilation of prophetic sayings, al-Jāmi’ al-Saghīr (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifa, 1972), vol. 3, pp. 262–263.
is notempty or hollow’ (ajwaf).22This immediately brings to mind the fundamental Buddhist belief that the Dharma, as such, is alone ‘full’, all other dharmas are ‘empty’, empty that is, of ‘self-being’ (svabhāva). Indeed, one of the most fundamental propositions common to all schools of Mahayana Buddhism is the ‘emptiness’ of all specific ‘dharmas’: ‘selfless are all dharmas, they have not the character of living beings, they are without a soul, without a personality.’23In other words, as applied to any existent entity, the word dharma’ implies an emptiness deprived of suchness, whereas the Dharma as such is absolute Suchness. Relative dharmas cannot sus-tain themselves; they depend entirely for their existence on a range of other dharmas, nothing in existence being free from dependence upon an indefinite series of factors, all of which are interdependent, and at the same time totally dependent upon the Dharma as such, which alone is ‘full’ of Itself. The Dharma has no ‘hollowness’ or emptiness within it,24 but rather, just as in the case of al-Samad, it is that to which all ‘empty’ things resort in order to be filled with being, a being which, however, never ceases to be that of the Abso-lute; it does not become a property or defining quality of the relative things, which are all fatally marked by impermanence and unreality, even while they are endowed with existence. In Buddhist texts the Dharma is stressed as the ultimate Es-sence of all things or their ultimate Suchness (tathatā); but to avoid any possible reification of this Essence, either in thought or in lan-guage, the Suchness is in turn identified with the Void (Shūnya). What separates the Suchness per se from such and such a conception one might have of It is as vast as that which separates the experience of enlightenment from the mere notion of enlightenment. Radical incommensurability is always maintained as between the Dharma/Void/Suchness and any conceptions one may have thereof.The Void, therefore, is ‘empty’ only from the point of view of the false plenitude of the world, and of the reifying tendencies of hu-man thought and language. In itself, it is infinite plenitude; in reality,
22. Mu‘jam mufradāt, op. cit., p. 94.23. Diamond Sutra, cited in E.Conze, Buddhist Wisdom Books (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1958), p. 59. 24. The Sanskrit root of this word is dhri, ‘to hold’. It thus refers to anything which is ‘held to be real’, from teachings and precepts to ultimate reality. See Red Pine, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma (New York: North Point Press, 1987), p. 116, n.6.
it is the world, together with all its reified ramifications in thought, that is empty. The apophatic definition of the Void can thus be seen not as being more indicative of the reality of the Dharma than are the cataphatic descriptions thereof: the dialectical stress is on the transcendence of the Dharma vis-à-vis both positive and negative designations of its reality. The discourse on the Void appears to be aimed at generating receptivity to a mystical state rather than gen-erating logical conclusions from a series of premises. One is invited to grasp, in a moment of supra-rational intuition, the impossibil-ity of attaining an adequate representation of the Dharma in terms of any negative/positive polarity, whether conceptual or linguistic. This very intuition enhances, in turn, receptivity to the sole means of ‘understanding’ the Dharma. The only way in which the Dharmacan be understood is if it be realized, in the sense of ‘made real’, spiritually and mystically. Such a realization strictly presupposes transcending the empirical self and all the relative faculties of per-ception and cognition appended to that self. As will be seen below, such an approach to realization resonates deeply with the mystical tradition in Islam.In some Buddhist texts it seems that the very emptiness of things constitutes their ‘suchness’,25 and it is this emptiness/such-ness which relates the thing to the ‘suchness’ of the Dharma, as it were by inverse analogy. It would appear that the Dharma is indeed the true suchness of all things, but these ‘things’ have no access to this suchness except through the negation of their own specificity, compounded as they are of various aggregates arising in mutually dependent chains of causality (pratītyasamutpāda)—all of which are empty. So, in spiritual terms, the negation of this emptiness implies being empty of emptiness, and this double negation is the sole means of realizing, in supra-conceptual mode, the Suchness of Tathatā. The Dharma is therefore absolute plenitude in its own such-ness; but from the point of view of the apparent ‘suchness’ of the world, it appears to be ‘empty’: it is empty of all the illusory such-ness of things, so, being empty of emptiness, it is infinite plenitude. Thus, when applied to Absolute reality, the same term, ‘dharma’, implies an emptiness which is not only absolute plenitude, it also as it were ‘fills’ the emptiness of all other dharmas, which are thereby
25. ‘What is empty is Buddha-nature (Buddhadhātu)’, according to the Mahāparinirvāna Sūtra. Cited in ibid., p. 60.
re-endowed with reality. It is for this reason that we find as one of the most definitive Mahayana formulae: ‘Samsara is Nirvana; Nirvana is Samsara’. Relativity is first stripped of its separative ex-istence, and then re-endowed with reality, the sole reality of Nir-vana—which can be understood as the beatific state proper to the supreme noncompounded Reality. In Islamic terms, one might say: first comes the nafy, no divinity/reality; then the ithbāt: except the one Divinity/Reality. If we translate the word ‘dharma’ as ‘essence’, and apply it to the formula of the first shahāda, we have the follow-ing: ‘no dharma/essence but the Dharma/Essence’. The conceptual convergence at this level of tawhīd—literally ‘affirming, declaring or realizing oneness’—is evident. We could also say, applying this formula to the Buddha him-self: ‘no buddha but the Buddhadhātu’, this latter term referring to the ‘Buddha-nature’ which is immanent in all things. This imma-nent Buddha-hood transcends the person of the Buddha, and this is demonstrated by the fact that Buddhadhātu is coterminous with Dharmadhātu, Dharma-nature, and also with Tathāgatagarbha, lit-erally: the ‘womb’ of the Tathāgata, the ‘one thus gone’26: ‘There is neither arising nor perishing within the Tathāgatabarbha. It is free from conceptual knowledge and views. Like the nature of Dhar-madhatu, which is ultimate, wholly complete, and pervades all ten directions ….’27God’s FaceIn the Qur’ān, God’s ‘Face’ (wajh) is identified with the eternal and ubiquitous nature of the divine Reality. In the verses cited above, 55:26–27, we were told that everything in existence is passing away except the ‘Face’ of God. In another verse we are told: Everywhere you turn, there is the Face of God (2:115). In the following verse, the mystery of this ‘Face’ deepens, and brings home the extent of its correspondence with the Buddhist conception of the Dharma: Every thing is perishing (hālik) except His Face. (28:88) The Face in question is clearly that of God, but the pronoun ‘His’ can also be
26. One notes here the similarity with the Islamic name of God, al-Rahmān, which is derived from the word Rahim, meaning womb. See the discussion of rah-ma as all-embracing compassionate love below.27. From the Sūtra of Complete Enlightenment (tr. Ven. Guo-gu Bhikshu) in Master Sheng-yen, Complete Enlightenment, part 9, volume 7 (New York: Dharma Drum, 1997), pp. 17–18.
read as pertaining to each ‘thing’, so that the meaning becomes: ev-ery thing is perishing except its Face—the Face of that thing. One of the greatest spiritual authorities of Islam, Imam al-Ghazālī (d.1111), comments on this verse as follows: ‘[It is] not that each thing is perishing at one time or at other times, but that it is perishing from eternity without beginning to eternity without end. It can only be so conceived since, when the essence of anything other than Him is considered in respect of its own essence, it is sheer nonexistence. But when it is viewed in respect of the “face” to which existence flows forth from the First, the Real, then it is seen as existing not in itself but through the face turned to its giver of existence. Hence the only existent is the Face of God. Each thing has two faces: a face toward itself, and a face toward its Lord. Viewed in terms of the face of itself, it is nonexistent; but viewed in terms of the Face of God, it exists. Hence nothing exists but God and His Face.’28With the help of this commentary, we can understand more clearly what is meant by the following verse: He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward (57:3). The absolute unity of God is thus both utterly transcendent and inescapably immanent. Not only is the divine Reality within all things as the ‘Inward’ (al-Bātin), it is also the true reality, the ‘face’ or ‘essence’ of all em-pirical phenomena, as the ‘Outward’, (al-Zāhir). It is for this reason that we can look nowhere in existence without being confronted by ‘the Face of God’. This rigorous view of the oneness of divine real-ity rejoins the subtlety of the Mahayana Buddhist view of the ulti-mate unity of Samsara and Nirvana. In the words of Milarepa, the greatest poet-saint of Tibet:29 ‘Try to understand that Nirvana and Samsara are not two … The core of the View lies in non-duality’.30Samsara, or relativity, is but the outward, visible ‘face’ of Nirvana: the outward and the inward, alike, are expressions of the One which transcends the very distinction between these two dimensions. It is only from what Nāgārjūna calls the view of ‘conventional reality’ (samvrti-satyam) that one can distinguish between different ‘di-
28. Al-Ghazālī—The Niche of Lights, tr. David Buchman (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1998), pp. 16–17. Translation slightly modified: the word yalī is better translated as ‘turned to’ rather than Buchman’s ‘adjacent to’, in the phrase: ‘through the face turned to its giver of existence.’ 29. See the classic biography by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibet’s Great Yogī Milarepa(London: Humphrey Milford, 1928).30. The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, tr. Garma C.C. Chang (Boston & Shaftsbury: Shambhala, 1989), vol. 2, pp. 404, 405.
mensions’ whether of space or of time. From the point of view of ‘ultimate fruit’ (paramārtha), however, the Absolute is infinite and eternal, comprising all possible dimensions of space and time, and by that very token not susceptible of location within either space or time. The Qur’ānic notion of the inescapability of the ‘face’ of God, its immanence in all that exists, is mirrored in the Buddhist idea of a Buddha being present in all things. To cite Milarepa again:The Matrix of Buddhahood permeates all sentient beings.All beings are therefore Buddhas in themselves.Yet they are veiled by temporal defilements;Once the defilements are cleansed,Then will they be Buddhas.31Milarepa also refers to the ‘face’ which becomes visible when the substance of one’s own consciousness—one’s own ‘face’ of reality—is grasped as identical to the substance of all other beings. In Qur’ānic terms, the Face of God becomes visible through all things, whose true being, or ‘face’, is not their own, but that of God:By realizing that all forms are self-awareness,I have beheld my consort’s face—the true Mind within.So none of the sentient beings in the Three Great WorldsEludes the embrace of this great Thatness.32The ‘emptiness’ of all dharmas might now be seen as the nega-tive prelude to the affirmation of the suchness of the one and only Dharma; all particular ‘faces’ are subsumed within the one and only Face of God. Of particular importance in this connection is the com-ment of al-Ghazālī: ‘when the essence of anything other than Him is considered in respect of its own essence, it is sheer nonexistence’. One need only replace the word ‘essence’ with ‘dharma’, and non-existence with ‘emptiness’ and we are confronted with what sounds like a perfectly Buddhist formulation. The doctrine of the emptiness or unreality of all dharmas, in turn, leads directly to the Islamic principle of tawhīd, as the following verses from the Satasāhasrikashow: From the first thought of enlightenment onwards, a Bo-dhisattva should train himself in the conviction that all
31. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 391.32. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 370
dharmas are baseless. While he practices the six perfections he should not take anything as a basis33 … Where there is duality, there is a basis. Where there is non-duality there is lack of basis.Subhuti: How do duality and non-duality come about?The Lord: Where there is eye and forms, ear and sounds, [etc., to:] where there is mind and dharmas, where there is enlightenment and the enlightened, that is duality. Where there is no eye and forms, no ear and sounds, [etc., to:] no mind and dharmas, no enlightenment and the enlightened, that is non-duality.34It may seem strange at first sight that even ‘the enlightened’ are included in the sphere of duality. The reason is that, from this point of view of pure enlightenment, nothing but that quality of pure con-sciousness exists; if one speaks of the consciousness that belongs or pertains to an individual, then there is, unavoidably, a duality: the one who is conscious, and the content of his consciousness. This is precisely what is taught in the mystical Islamic doctrine of fanā’.Fanā’ and Non-dualityThe discerning of a subtle dualism in the consciousness of one who is enlightened, or on the path to enlightenment, finds expression in the text of al-Ghazālī cited earlier. In the following passage, he describes and evaluates the state of those sages who have attained ‘extinction’ (fanā’):They become intoxicated with such an intoxication that the ruling authority of their rational faculty is overthrown. Hence one of them says, “I am the Real!” (anāl-Haqq), an-other, “Glory be to me, how great is my station!”35 … When this state gets the upper hand, it is called “extinction” in relation to the one who possesses it. Or rather, it is called “extinction from extinction”, since the possessor of the state
33. Basis translates upādhi: ‘Having in his person attained the deathless element which has no “basis”, by making real the casting out of “basis”, the Perfect Buddha, of no outflows, teaches the griefless, stainless state.’ Itivuttaka, 62 (p. 82 of Bud-dhist Texts Through the Ages).34. Satasāhasrika, LIII, f.279–283. Cited in Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, op. cit., pp. 174–175.35. These are famous theopathic utterances (shathiyāt), by Mansūr al-Hallūj and Bāyazīd al-Bastāmī, respectively.
is extinct from himself and from his own extinction. For he is conscious neither of himself in that state, nor of his own unconsciousness of himself. If he were conscious of his own unconsciousness, then he would [still] be conscious of himself. In relation to the one immersed in it, this state is called “unification” (ittihād) according to the language of metaphor, or is called “declaring God’s unity” (tawhīd) according to the language of reality.36The paradoxes uttered by the Buddha—as well as the identification of the Buddha with the Dharma, or with Suchness, or Nirvāna, etc.—might be seen as expressions of a tawhīd at once radical and mystical, which is strictly predicated on extinction, nirvāna, precisely: ni = ‘out’; vāna = ‘blowing’, the idea being akin to a flame being blown out by the wind. If Buddhist teachings are read in the light of the chasm which separates language—and with it, all formal concepts—from the reality consummated through enlightenment, many puzzling paradoxes will be grasped as inevitable shadows cast on the plane of thought by that which deconstructs all thought, and negates the limitations of specific consciousness: the negation of these limitations of specificity implies the affirmation of liberating infinity. Whatever can be distinctively perceived by the mind is other than the ultimate truth, and is thus to be relinquished. Thought has to give way to being; in other words, ‘mental fabrication’, to quote the Avatamsaka Sutra, is to give way to a state of enlightened being:Having no doubt as to truth,Forever ending mental fabrication,Not producing a discriminating mind:This is awareness of enlightenment.37The fact that this absence of ‘discrimination’ is far from a kind of vacuity or thoughtlessness in the conventional sense is brought home by the Sutra of Hui-neng.38 Referring to the perfect wisdom
36. The Niche of Lights, op. cit., pp. 17–18. 37. The Flower Ornament Scripture—A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, op. cit., p. 292.38. This sutra has the distinction of being ‘the only sutra spoken by a native of China’, according to Wong Mou-lam, translator of this sutra. The name ‘sutra’ is normally applied only to the sermons of the Buddha, and this shows the high es-teem in which this discourse is held in Ch’an (Zen in Japan) Buddhis

ofprajnā, or the ultimate state of enlightenment, the word ‘thought-lessness’ is in fact used: To obtain liberation is to attain samādhi of prajnā, which is thoughtlessness. What is thoughtlessness? Thoughtlessness is to see and to know all dharmas with a mind free from attachment. When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere … But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view.39* * *As mentioned in the introduction, it would not be appropriate to compare Buddhist doctrine with Islamic dogma, as if they were situated on the same plane. It is ma‘rifa, spiritual wisdom, within Islam, and not so much ‘aqīda, its formal creed, which can be fruit-fully compared to Buddhist doctrine. But inasmuch as ma‘rifa, as expounded by such authorities as al-Ghazālī, is in complete harmo-ny with the Qur’ān and the Prophetic Sunna, the spiritual concor-dances which one can find between Islamic spirituality and Bud-dhism helps to uncover the transcendent common ground between Islam as such—and not simply its metaphysical dimensions—and Buddhism as such.Baqā’ of the ‘Enlightened Ones’Returning to the idea of the nonexistence of the ‘enlightened ones’, in the following citation from the immensely influential ‘Diamond Sūtra’ of the Mahayana tradition, we see that the enlightened ones do exist, but that their true reality is sustained not by themselves, but by the pure Absolute, referred to in our opening citation from the Udāna as the ‘noncompound’: asamskrta.This dharma which the Tathāgata has fully known or dem-onstrated—it cannot be grasped, it cannot be talked about, it is neither a dharma nor a no-dharma. And why? Because an Absolute exalts the holy persons (asamskrtaprabhāvitā hy āryā-pudgalā).40Here, again, one can make use of the Sufi concept of baqā’, or sub-sistence: those who exist subsequent to the experience of extinction
39. The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui-Neng, op. cit., p. 85.40. Diamond Sutra, cited in E. Conze, Buddhist Texts, op. cit,. p. 36
are sustained only by the reality of God, not by their own existence. This whole doctrine derives its Qur’ānic orthodoxy from, among others, the verse cited earlier: Everything thereon is passing away (fān); and there subsists (yabqā) only the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Glory (55:26–27). The mystic who has undergone extinction has, by that very fact, also concretely realized the nonex-istence of all things other than God, all things that are in a state of ‘passing away’ even while apparently subsisting. Having died to his own illusory existence, it is God’s ‘Face’, alone, that subsists; and it is through that subsistence that the individual himself subsists—his ‘face’ or essence being in reality not ‘his’ but God’s: nothing exists, as we saw earlier, apart from God and the Face/Essence of God, which shines through all things. In this light, it is possible to see why it is that, on the one hand, the Buddha states that he has ‘known’ the Dharma, and on the other, that it cannot be grasped, talked about, and that in fact it is ‘neither a dharma nor a no-dharma’: insofar as all such characterizations of the Absolute derive from the individual stand-point, and insofar as the individual’s existence is strictly illusory on its own account, all such characterizations of the Absolute cannot but assume the nature of an illusion, or at best a ‘provisional means’ (upāya) of expressing the inexpressible. In the Diamond Sutra we read the paradox that the truth declared by the Buddha is neither real nor unreal:Subhuti, the Tathāgata is he who declares that which is true, he who declares that which is fundamental, he who declares that which is ultimate … Subhuti, that truth to which the Tathāgata has attained is neither real nor unreal.41The ‘truth’ which can be defined in terms of a polarity constituted by reality versus unreality cannot be the ultimate truth. That alone is truth which transcends the domain in which such dualistic notions can be posited. It is not a truth which can be qualified as real, for its very truth must be absolutely one with reality: its own ‘suchness’ must be its entire truth and reality, and cannot be known as ‘real’ or ‘true’ in any final sense except by itself. The following dialogue between the same disciple, Subhuti, and the Buddha brings home the paradox of this Absolute that can only be known by itself, by its own ‘Suchness’ (tathatā):
41. The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-Neng, op. cit., p. 32
Subhuti: ‘If, O Lord, outside Suchness no separate dharma can be apprehended, then what is that dharma that will stand firmly in suchness, or that will know this full en-lightenment, or that will demonstrate this dharma?’Buddha: ‘Outside Suchness no separate dharma can be apprehended, that could stand firmly in Suchness. The very Suchness, to begin with, cannot be apprehended, how much less that which can stand firmly in it. Suchness does not know full enlightenment, and on the dharmic plane no one can be found who has either known full enlightenment, will know it, or does know it. Suchness does not demonstrate dharma, and on the dharmic plane, no one can be found who could demonstrate it.’42Nobody, not even the Buddha, can ‘demonstrate’ the Absolute, be-cause such a demonstration requires concepts and language, and the Absolute/Suchness transcends all such concepts. For this reason, the Buddha stresses the need to be stripped of all ‘thought-coverings’ (acitta-āvaranah): thought, by its very nature, ‘covers’ and thus ob-scures the source or substance or root of its own consciousness. It is only when thought assumes the nature of a transparent veil over its own substratum of consciousness that authentic wisdom is at-tained. If thought is ‘seen through’, then the thinker, the agent of thought, is in a sense extinguished before the source and goal of thought. To say ‘thinker’ is to deny the sole reality of the absolute nature of consciousness—whence the paradox that the Dharma is both ‘known’ by the Buddha and unknown by him; it is both attained and not attained:Therefore, O Sariputra, it is because of his nonattainment-ness [sic] that a Bodhisattva, through having relied on the perfection of wisdom, dwells without thought-coverings … and in the end he attains to Nirvana.43Let us again turn to al-Ghazālī, who provides a corresponding for-mulation, referring not to ‘thought-coverings’ but to ‘individual fac-ulties’. The highest spiritual sciences (al-ma‘ārif, pl. of ma‘rifa) are only revealed to the individual through spiritual states of ‘unveiling’ (mukāshafa), and these, in turn, are predicated upon the extinction
42. Prajnāpāramitā Sutra, A/27:453, cited in ibid., p. 37.43. Heart Sutra, verses 37–43, cited in ibid., p. 93.
of the individual’s consciousness. Fanā’ is the essential pre-requisite of this unveiling because:The contingencies of the ego, together with its passions, exert an attraction towards the sensible world, which is a world of error and illusion. The Real unveils itself completely at death, with the cessation of the power of the senses and the imagina-tion which turn the heart towards this lower world … Fanā’ re-fers to a state wherein the senses are pacified, not preoccupied; and the imagination is in repose, not generating confusion.44This may be seen as a mystical commentary on the following verses of the Qur’ān:Whoso migrates for the sake of God will find much refuge and abundance in the earth, and whoso forsakes his home, being a fugitive to God and His Messenger, and death over-takes him, his reward is then incumbent upon God. God is ever Forgiving, Merciful (4:100).The death of the body is prefigured in that death of the lower soul in the state of fanā’. Let us return to Nāgārjūna’s fundamental distinction between the ‘two truths’, as this will help place in context the concordance between the two traditions as regards the conception of the pure Absolute: ‘The teaching of the doctrine by the Buddhas is based upon two truths: truth relating to worldly convention and truth in terms of ultimate fruit.’45It is on the level of conventional truth (samvrti-satyam), that one can situate the explanations pertaining to the whole process of dependent origination, impermanence, and suffering. The truth or reality pertain-ing to ‘ultimate fruit’ (paramārtha), however, transcends this entire domain. The word ‘fruit’ (artha, Pali: attha), which can also be trans-lated as consequence or result, draws our attention to the existential unfolding of reality consequent upon enlightenment: the discovery of ‘the truth’ or ‘reality’ (satyam)46 is not to be found on the level of
44. See his treatise Kitāb al-Arba‘īn fī usūl al-dīn (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Abadi-yya, 1979), pp. 44–45; and for discussion on this and other similar passages from al-Ghazālī’s works, see Farid Jabre, La Notion de la Ma‘rifa chez Ghazālī (Paris: Traditions les Lettres Orientales, 1958), p. 125.45. From his Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, 24:8, cited by David Kalupahana, Nāgārjūna—The Philosophy of the Middle Way, op. cit., p. 331.46. As in the Arabic word haqq, the Sanskrit satyam can be translated both in terms of reality and truth.
formal thought and by the empirically defined individual; rather, it is the indescribable ‘fruit’ of the experience of enlightenment. The positive content of this enlightenment—absolute Reality—is thus not denied when the formal designations of that Reality are undermined, contradicted or ignored. What is contradicted by the Buddha is the idea that the ultimate Reality can be adequately designated, contained, and still less realized, on the level of formal thought by the individual, both being bound up by relativity of nama-rupa (name and form). This explains why in some texts even the idea of ultimate reality being uncompounded is contradicted: The Buddhas’ reality is subtle and hard to fathom; No words or speech can reach it. It is not compounded or uncompounded; Its essential nature is void and formless.47Referring to the ultimate reality as uncompounded is an error, not be-cause the ultimate reality is in fact compounded, but because the very fact of verbally designating it as uncompounded is already tantamount to an act of compounding. There is the uncompounded reality, on the one hand, and the description of it as uncompounded: putting the two together means that one has left the presence of the uncompounded and embraced the compounded. The final verse in the passage quoted, ‘Its essential nature is void and formless’, could just as well be contradicted, for the very same reason as one contradicts the idea of reality being uncompounded. Holding on to the idea of reality being void or form-less itself undermines the voidness of that reality, and acts as a mental barrier preventing one from being submerged in it. Again, according to The Flower Ornament Scripture:Things expressed by wordsThose of lesser wisdom wrongly discriminateAnd therefore create barriersAnd don’t comprehend their own minds.If one can see the Buddha,One’s mind will have no grasping;Such a person can then perceiveTruth as the Buddha knows it.48.
47. The Flower Ornament Scripture, op. cit., p. 290.48. Ibid., p. 376
In terms of Islamic spirituality, the very thought of tawhīd on the mental plane can itself become an obstacle in the path of spiritual realization of tawhīd, a realization which is predicated not just on the elimination of all mental constructs, but also on the extinction of in-dividual consciousness. Any concept—even true ones—will entrench that consciousness, and thus is ‘wrong’ from the higher point of view of the reality which transcends all concepts. Buddhist conceptions of the Absolute are thus fashioned according to this paradoxical require-ment: to conceive of the Absolute in a way which reveals the ultimate inadequacy of all concepts, and which focuses all spiritual aspiration on making a leap from the plane of finite thought to the plane of infi-nite reality. Another way of putting this is to say: ‘Those who seek the truth shouldn’t seek anything’.49 Seeking a ‘thing’ will ensure that the truth of all things will not be found. Even having a view of a ‘thing’, will prevent one from ‘seeing’ all things:No view is seeingWhich can see all things;If one has any views about things,This is not seeing anything.50This attitude may be summed up succinctly in the words which come a few verses later: ‘divorcing the concept of things’.51 It is not the ultimate nature of things that is negated, rather, what is negated is their susceptibility to adequate conceptualization: that ultimate nature can be delivered or glimpsed only in a flash of pure, supra-conceptual, awareness. So the best teaching, the best ‘concept’, is that which predisposes one to this mode of intuitive cognition, which arises more out of a state of inner being than of formal thought. The ultimate Reality, far from being negated in this perspective, is affirmed in the deepest way in which it can be affirmed: by negating all that can in any way claim to be the Real on the level of thought and language, ‘name and form’ (nama-rupa): in Islamic terms: lā ilāha illa’Llāh. To apply the distinction of Nāgārjūna between ‘conventional truth’ (samvrti-satyam) and ‘ultimate fruit’ (paramārtha), one might say that ‘divorcing the concept of things’ is a process which must lead from the domain of relative truth, where the concept of things is a veil, to the domain
49. This is from the Vimalakirti Scripture, as cited by Cleary in ibid., p. 35.50. Ibid., p. 376.51. Ibid., p. 377
of ultimate truth, wherein resides the transcendent reality of That which is only ever partially conceptualised in the lower domain. The ‘divorce’ in question, then, is not to be applied to ultimate Reality, but to all things which would attempt to imprison its infinitude within the finite framework of thought.The Diamond Sutra contains the pith of this teaching, express-ing the imperative of the divorce in question in simple but powerful imagery. These images are aimed at inducing a state of mind and being which is referred to simply in terms of two imperatives: ‘de-tachment from appearances—abiding in real truth.’ To be detached from what appears is practically tantamount to realization of what never disappears, that which eternally transcends the realm of ap-pearances, ‘the real truth’.Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:A star at dawn, a bubble in the stream;A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,A flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.52This might be compared to such verses of the Qur’ān as the following:Know that the life of the world is only play, and idle talk, and pomp, and boasting between you, and rivalry in wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whose growth is pleasing to the farmer, but afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow, then it becomes straw…(57:20).However many long years are passed in the ‘life of this world’, they will appear as less than a single day when the end of this life is reached: They ask you of the Hour: when will it come to pass? Why—what can you say about it? Unto your Lord belongs [know-ledge of] the term thereof. You are but a warner unto him who fears it. On the day when they behold it, it will be as if they had but tarried for an evening or the morn thereof(79:43–46).The Prophetic saying ‘All men are asleep; when they die, they wake up’, can be read as a profound commentary on these verses.53
52. The Diamond Sutra, op. cit., p. 53.53. Though not found in the canonical sources, this saying is often quoted by the spiritual authorities of Islam. Al-Ghazālī, for example, cites it several times in his

We hope that these observations have helped to demonstrate that at the metaphysical level the two traditions are indeed oriented to the One and only Reality, however much the strictly ‘theologi-cal’ conception of this Reality in Islam differs from the mystical conceptions within Buddhism. We now need to address the ques-tion of whether this ultimate Reality is also the object of worship in Buddhism, failing which the Muslim scholar may conclude that, even if the Buddhists appear to have a metaphysical or phil-osophical appreciation of the oneness of ultimate Reality, they nevertheless do not worship this Absolute, and thus cannot be included in the sphere of ‘true believers’.Worship of the OneIn Islam shirk is not only the doctrinal error of ‘associating part-ners’ with God, or ascribing divinity to idols; it is also the wilful ‘sin’ of worshipping something other than God: And whoever has hope in the meeting of his Lord, let him act virtuously, and make none sharer of the worship due to his Lord (18:110).When, therefore, the Muslim reads the Buddhist testimo-ny of the ‘Triple Refuge’, he is likely to regard it as an act of shirk: ‘I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha’. The Buddha is but a man; the Dharma, but the teach-ing, the law, or the norm; and the Sangha, but a community of monks: where is mention of the ultimate Reality in which one must take refuge, to which devotion and worship is due? To answer this question, we would do well to return to the citation above, where Dharma was translated as Reality. The word comprises several meanings, including: teaching, norm, law, truth, reality. The difficulty of defining it precisely is re-vealed by the Buddha himself: This Reality [Dhamma, Pali for Dharma] that I have reached is profound, hard to see, hard to understand, excellent, pre-eminent, beyond the sphere of thinking, subtle, and to be penetrated by the wise alone.54
Ihyā’. Mohammed Rustom in his article notes the following instances in the Beirut, 1997 edition of the Ihyā’: 1:15; 3:381; 4:246, 260. See M. Rustom, ‘Psychology, eschatology, and imagination in Mulla Sadra Shirazi’s commentary on the hadithof awakening’, in Islam and Science, vol. 5, no.1, 1997, p. 10.54. Cited from the Majjhima Nikāya, in Some Sayings of the Buddha According to the Pali Canon, tr. F.L. Woodward (London: Oxford University Press, 1925), p. 4.
The most immediate meaning of the word Dharma relates more to the teaching, the doctrine, and the law or norm stemming there-from; but it can also refer to the ultimate content of the doctrine, that in which both the doctrine and the law culminate, and of which the Buddha himself is but the conveyor. This higher metaphysical meaning of Dharma emerges if we look at the Mahayana scriptures, and particularly at the conception of the three ‘bodies’ of the Bud-dha. This will help us to see the extent to which Dharma in its higher meaning of truth/reality, can be grasped as the same ultimate Truth/Reality to which Muslims refer as al-Haqīqa or al-Haqq.It can also help us to see that the Buddha in whom one takes ‘refuge’ is by no means to be identified exhaustively with the sage Shakyamuni, who was but the messenger, bearer of the message of the Dharma before which he himself is effaced. This subordination of the Buddha to the Dharma is explicitly taught in the following Mahayana Sūtra:Those who by my form did see me, and those who followed me by my voice, wrong are the efforts they engaged in; me those people will not see. From the Dharma one should see the Buddha, for the dharma-bodies are the guides.55Two points should be stressed here: the deluded state of those who at-tach excessive significance to the human form of the Buddha; and the emphasis on seeing the Buddha in the light of the Dharma, rather than vice versa. The ontological precedence of the Dharma is thus affirmed here. Then, in relation to the description of the ‘dharma-bodies’ as ‘guides’, these bodies of the Dharma manifest at different levels in the form of so many types of Buddha: the human level (nirmāna-kāya, or ‘transformation-body’); the celestial level (sambhoga-kāyaor ‘felicity-body’); and the divine or Absolute level (dharma-kāya, translated as ‘Being-body’). One can speak relatively easily of the first two ‘bodies’ of the Buddha in terms of earthly manifestation and celestial archetype. In Islam, the distinction would correspond to the Prophet as the particular man Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah, on the one hand, and the pre-human archetypal reality of the Prophetic substance, alluded to in these famous words of the Prophet: ‘I was a Prophet when Adam was [still] between water and clay’.56
55. Vajracchedikā, 26a, b. Cited in Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, op. cit., p. 144.56. The most strongly authenticated version of this saying is as follows: The Proph-et was asked when he became a Prophet. He replied: ‘When Adam was between spirit
Buddha in the Light of DharmaHowever, it is rather more difficult to make sense of the dharma-kāya: how can the ultimate reality be ‘embodied’ in the form of a Buddha? We could argue, applying strict Buddhist logic: it is not, and cannot be. For such an embodiment would perforce violate the utterly non-compound reality of the Void. The same paradox is observed in one of the names of the Buddha, Shūnyamurtī: manifestation of the Void. The Buddha manifests an image or reflection or intimation of that which cannot ever be subject to manifestation except on pain of ceasing to be the Void, for the void is devoid of manifestation, by definition. This dharma-kāyacan thus be understood as a degree of reality which can be con-ceived only as the Absolute, but not in any sense as a manifesta-tion thereof: we propose that the word ‘kāya’, body or vehicle is thus to be taken metaphorically and not literally. Dharma in this ultimate sense cannot be equated with any specific manifesta-tion, however exalted; rather, it is the Principle of manifestation, and must therefore remain supra-manifest. What is manifested cannot be the Absolute as such, but rather, that aspect of the Ab-solute which is susceptible of manifestation. If the manifestation of the celestial Buddha (sambhoga-kāya), and a fortiori, the hu-man Buddha (nirmana-kāya) be mistaken for the Absolute then, instead of revealing the path to the Absolute, these relative forms become veils obscuring It. We would argue also that the very fact that the death of the Buddha is referred to as his parinirvana, the ultimate or greatest Nirvana, demonstrates in its own way that the Absolute can only be realized in the ultimate sense subse-quent to the termination of the manifestation of the human form of the Buddha. According to Hui-neng (d. 713):57 ‘For whatever can be named leads to dualism, and Buddhism is not dualistic. To take hold of this non-duality of truth is the aim of Zen’.58 In similar vein, the teacher of Hui-neng, Hung-jen, writes: ‘One will not get rid of birth and death if one constantly thinks of other Bud-
and body’. See Tirmidhī, Manāqib, 1; and Ibn Hanbal, 1, 281, et passim.57. The 6th patriarch of the Ch’an/Zen school, who was, according to Suzuki, ‘the real Chinese founder of Zen’. D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 10858. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 212.
dhas. However, if one retains one’s mindfulness,59 one is sure to reach the Further Shore.’ He then quotes the Buddha’s words from the Vajraccedika-prajnāpāramitā Sūtra: ‘If any one wishes to see me in form, or to seek me in sound, this person is treading an evil path and he cannot see the Tathāgata.’60 The reality of the Tathāgata, ‘the one thus gone’, is the Buddha-nature, to which each being has access, but only insofar as one is liberated from all attachment to form, even, ironically, the form of the Buddha himself. One understands from this why the Zen masters trans-mitted the saying: ‘If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!’ In the words of the Flower Ornament Scripture:Since sentient beings are thus,So also are the Buddhas:Buddhas and Buddha-teachingsIntrinsically have no existence.61And again:Even if one always looked at the BuddhaFor a hundred thousand eons,Not according to the absolute truthBut looking at the savior of the world,Such a person is grasping appearancesAnd increasing the web of ignorance and delusion,Bound in the prison of birth and death,Blind, unable to see the Buddha.
59. Mindfulness is a perfect translation of the Arabic taqwā. The latter term, though, strongly implies that the object of mindfulness is God. Given, however, that in Buddhism one’s mindfulness is a form of permanent recollectedness of the Dharma in the very midst of all outward activities, the two terms can be seen to be indicating the same state of mind: an awareness of the Absolute which is not inter-rupted by one’s engagement with the relative. The Qur’ān refers to rijāl, true men, who are not distracted from the remembrance of God either by trade nor commerce(24:36). See below for discussion of the remembrance of God. 60. From the translation of Hung-Jen’s discourse on meditation by W. Pachow, in his Chinese Buddhism—Aspects of Interaction and Reinterpretation (Lanham: University Press of America, 1980), p. 40.61. The Flower Ornament Scripture, op. cit., p. 450.
Ordinary people seeing thingsJust pursue the formsAnd don’t realize things are formless:Because of this they don’t see Buddha.62Thus, it cannot be said that the Buddha is ‘worshipped’ either in the two forms of his human or celestial ‘bodies’ or in the form of ‘his’ divine body, the dharma-kāya. If the latter truly pertains to the Dharma as such, then it cannot be appropriated by any being; and if it is so appropriated, then it cannot be the Dharma. As we shall argue below, in connection with the ‘remembrance of God’, the object of devotion may well be the image of the Buddha, or a Bodhisattva, in the first instance, but in good Buddhist logic, this object is rendered transparent, given its ‘emptiness of self’, thus allowing free passage to the only reality which is fully itself, possessed of absolute ‘such-ness’, the Dharma. The following synonyms for the Dharma, given by D.T. Su-zuki in his comparison of terms used to designate God or ultimate Reality in different religious traditions, might be of use in our re-flections: Prajna (‘pure consciousness’), Tathatā (‘suchness’), Bo-dhi (‘enlightenment’), Buddha (‘enlightened one’).63 Similarly, in relation to Dharma-kāya, Ananda Coomaraswamy gives these syn-onyms: Ādi-Buddha (‘primordial’ or ‘Absolute’ Buddha), also iden-tified with Vairocana; Svabhāvakāya (‘own-nature body’); Tattva (‘essentiality’); Shūnya (‘the Void’); Nirvāna (‘extinctive bliss’); Samādhikāya (‘rapture-body’); Bodhi (‘wisdom’); Prajnā (‘pure consciousness’).64The Dharma in question at this transcendent level, then, is not simply bound up with subjective mystical experience; it is also one with the ultimate objective nature of consciousness and being—it refers both to an objective transcendent principle as well as to a sub-jective state accessible by dint of the immanence of that principle within all that exists. Although this identification of the Absolute in terms of the Dharma-kāya is stressed within Mahayana Buddhism, and particularly in the Yogacara school which developed the doc-trine of the three ‘bodies’ of the Buddha subsequent to the 4th cen-
62. Ibid., p. 373.63. D.T. Suzuki, ‘The Buddhist Conception of Reality’, in Frederick Franck, ed., The Buddhist Eye (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2004), p. 85.64. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism (New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1988) p. 239.
tury CE, it has been argued by Edward Conze that ‘there is nothing really new about it … The identification of one side of the Buddha with the Dharma had often been made in the first period [of Bud-dhism] and is of the essence of Buddhism.’65To speak about ‘one side of the Buddha’ needs to be nuanced somewhat, for what is really meant is surely one aspect of the con-sciousness of the ‘Awakened one’: the Buddha insofar he is identi-fied with the content of his enlightenment. Then, the Dharma as Transcendent Being and source of life and consciousness will be grasped as That of which the Buddha’s enlightenment is an aspect: ‘From the Dharma one should see the Buddha’ and not vice versa, as we saw above.Marco Pallis, in his important essay, ‘Dharma and Dharmas as Principle of Inter-religious Communication’, would thus appear to be justified in stressing this concept as a bridge linking diverse religious traditions. The key sentence, as regards the metaphysical point we have been trying to make here, is the following: ‘If Dharma corresponds, on the one hand, to the absoluteness and infinitude of Essence, the dharmas for their part correspond to the relativity and contingency of the accidents.’66The Dharma can thus be understood in two distinct senses, one philosophical or ontological, and the other pedagogical or practi-cal. In the first sense, it refers to what Islamic thought understands as the Essence (al-Dhāt): the Essence of God is the Absolute (in theological terms) and the sole Reality (in spiritual terms). All par-ticular essences are relative (in theological terms) or illusory (in spiritual terms). In the pedagogical or practical sense, the Dharmaas teaching, law, norm, etc., can be seen to correspond to the Sharī‘a(exoterically) and the Tarīqa (esoterically). Taken together in both senses, ontological and practical, then, the single term Dharma in Buddhism might be seen to correspond approximately to the ternary in Islam: al-Haqīqa, al-Tarīqa, al-Sharī‘a: Essential Reality, Spiri-tual Path, Religious Law. All three of these terms are, in a certain sense summed up in the divine Name, al-Haqq, ‘the True’, or ‘the Real’, which might be seen as perhaps the divine Name most closely corresponding to Dharma, inasmuch as the notion of obligation and right, hence duty and law, so central to the meaning of dharma, are
65. E. Conze, Buddhism—A Short History (Oxford: Oneworld, 2000), p. 51.66. M. Pallis, A Buddhist Spectrum (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), p. 103
also implied in al-Haqq, one of whose principal connotations is in-deed that of a ‘right’ which is ‘due’ as an obligation. Both al-Haqq and the Dharma, then, imply at one and the same time the highest truth and reality in metaphysical terms, and also the deepest com-mitment to that truth, in human terms.Remembrance of GodAs regards worship, again it is a question of seeing that the two traditions come together at key points in respect of essence, and are widely divergent as regards form. This essence is cultivation of the consciousness of the Absolute, expressed in Islam as dhikr Allāh, remembrance/invocation/consciousness of God. The dhikr of God is described as the very raison d’être of all forms of prayer; this is made clear in the Qur’ānic verse in which God says: ‘Establish the prayer for the sake of My remembrance’ (20:14). The very pur-pose and goal of the prayer, its spiritual value and substance, is thus the remembrance of God. If formal or canonical prayer constitutes the core of religious practice, the dhikru’Llāh is, as the Qur’ān puts it very simply, akbar, that is, ‘greater’ or ‘greatest’: ‘Truly, prayer keeps [one] away from lewdness and iniquity, but the remembrance of God is greater’ (29:45).The Arabic word dhikr comprises two essential meanings, that of remembrance and that of invocation; it refers, therefore, to both the goal and the means: both the principle of permanent consciousness of the Absolute, and the means of realising that consciousness. This means of realisation is centred on the methodic invocation of the Name (or Names) of God, and most especially, the supreme Name of God in Islam, Allāh.Similarly, in Buddhism—and in particular in the later Mahayana schools—the invocation of the Name (or Names) of the Absolute figures as the means of salvation par excel-lence. Buddhism developed a panoply of disciplines and techniques of prayer, meditation, and incantation, inheriting also from Hin-duism the practice of japa-yoga, the way of repetition/invocation, which it articulated in numerous ways. While it would be unjustified to reduce all of these techniques of prayer and meditation to invoca-tion alone, it is nonetheless important to underline the extraordinary parallels between the Islamic tradition of dhikr and those schools of thought within Buddhism which likewise regard the practice of invocatory prayer to be the quintessence of all possible prayer. It suffices for our purposes to cite a few sayings from the Japanese authority, Honen (d. 1212), founder of the Jodo-shu, ‘Pure Land’, school of Mahayana Buddhism which is arguably one of the clos-est of all Buddhist schools to the Islamic contemplative tradition as regards invocatory prayer. It should also be noted that the Vajrayāna school, referred to in the introduction, is often referred to in the Ti-betan tradition as the Mantrayāna (‘vehicle of the mantra’) given the centrality of invocatory formulae in this branch of Buddhism.In the Pure Land school, the Buddha of Infinite Light, Amitābha(Omitofu in Chinese, Amida in Japanese), assumes the role of saviour, and is invoked as such. One is ‘saved’ by Amida by being resurrected after death in his ‘Pure land’, the Sukhāvatī or ‘Paradise of Bliss’, de-scriptions of which closely resemble those of the Qur’ānic Paradise. This salvific grace is the result of the vows taken by Dharmakāra, according to the Sutra of ‘Eternal Life’, the Chinese translation of which formed the chief basis of the Shin school within Pure Land Buddhism, both in China and in Japan (where it became known as JodoShin).67 In light of our earlier discussion about the ‘bodies’ of the Buddha, it should be clear that what is being invoked is not the human form of the Buddha, but ‘Amitābha’ as such, that is: infinite Light,68streaming forth from the Absolute, a Light which both enlightens and saves. It is thus as if the two divine Names, al-Nūr (‘The Light’) and al-Rahīm (‘The Merciful’) were synthesised69 and invoked as a single Name. According to the mythological70 account of the saving ‘vow’ of Amida, Shakyamuni speaks of having attained Buddhahood in the infinitely distant past—ten ‘kalpas’ ago, each kalpa being 432 million years.71 Here, the number of years is clearly symbolic: we are being invited to enter into a timeless domain, a distant past or origin—a
67. D. T. Suzuki, On Indian Mahayana Buddhism (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 137.68. The word Amitābha is also interpreted to include the aspect of ‘infinite life’, Amitāyus. Both Light and Life are infinite, and this degree of the Buddha-Reality is clearly transcendent and cannot be identified with any relative manifestations thereof within samsara or, in Islamic terms, the ‘created’ world.69. Or three, including al-Hayy, the eternally Living, if we include the ‘Amitāyusdimension of Amitābha.70. Taking this word in its positive sense: a myth is a story expressing a mys-tery—both words are derived from the same Greek root, ‘mu’, meaning ‘mute’ or ‘silent’. In the face of a divine mystery, the most appropriate response is to remain ‘silent’, but the ‘myth’ gives provisional and approximate expression to the mystery which is ultimately inexpressible.71. Kenryo Kanamatsu, Naturalness—A Classic of Shin Buddhism (Blooming-ton: World Wisdom, 2002), p. 17.
‘pre-eternity’, referred to in Islam as Azal. Pre-eternity is at one with post-eternity (Abad), or simply, eternity as such; and thus what is be-ing alluded to in these references to the unimaginable ‘past’ is in fact an eternal principle, above and beyond time. This ‘primordial’ or ‘original’ Buddha is also referred to as the Ādi-Buddha, which is also the ‘Absolute’ Buddha principle, since, as seen above, it is a synonym for the Dharma-kāya itself. If the Ādi-Buddha is the origin of all things, at the very beginning, it can correspond to what Muslims refer to in terms of the divine Name, al-Awwal, (‘The First’); and, metaphysically, ‘The First’ must also be ‘The Last’ (al-Ākhir): alpha and omega are in principle identical, and can be distinguished as origin and consummation only from the point of view of time itself; in themselves, they are not other than outward expressions of the principle of eternity transcending time altogether. This is succinctly expressed by a contemporary Jodo scholar, commenting upon the words of Shakymuni in which he de-scribes his primordial ‘enlightenment’: ‘This is the Eternal I am that speaks through the I am that is in me’.72 The Buddha is thus ‘speak-ing’ not as an individual or on his own behalf, but as the mouthpiece or transmitter of a universal reality. ‘His’ enlightenment aeons ago is a mythical way of referring to enlightenment as such, or the source of all enlightenment, Light as such, which is eternal, thus absolute and infinite, for, as Kanamatsu says: ‘Amida, the Infinite Being, is perfect and eternal.’73Likewise, in respect of the ‘vow’ taken by Amida not to enter enlightenment until all beings are saved, this can be understood in terms of universal principles, abstracted from their mythological garb: ‘Amida is … Heart of our hearts. He is the All-Feeling Com-passionate Heart … Amida is the Eternal Saving Will, the eternally working Original Vow.’74 This compassionate ‘vow’—normally ex-pressed as a vow not to enter final enlightenment until all beings are saved—can be seen as analogous to the metaphor used by God in the Qur’ān to describe His mercy: Your Lord has written Mercy upon His own Self (6:12). Also to be noted in this connection is
72. Ibid., p. 12. One is reminded here of what in Islam is called a hadīth qudsī, a ‘holy saying’, the speaker of which is God Himself, but delivered through the Prophet as a medium. These sayings are distinct from the Qur’ān, but their agent is still God Himself, and by no means the Prophet.73. Ibid., p. 13.74. Ibid., p. 85.
the verse: Call upon Allāh or call upon al-Rahmān (the ‘All-Com-passionate’) (17:110). One sees here that the intrinsic nature of the Absolute is saving compassion; the invocation of the ‘name’ of the Absolute is thus absolutely salvific. We shall return to the theme of mercy and compassion shortly. But for now, we should note that the Prophet of Islam expressed a sentiment analogous to the vow of Amida, alluding to his prerogative to intercede for sinners. In rela-tion to the verse of the Qur’ān which says: And your Lord shall give you, and you will be content (93:5), he said: ‘I shall not be content for as long as a single member of my community (umma) is in the Fire.’75 Given that the Prophet was sent as a ‘mercy to the whole of creation’ (21:107) his ‘community’ can be interpreted to mean all peoples—and even all ‘beings’, as in the vow of Amida—and not just ‘Muslims’ in the narrow sense of the word. Tariki and TawakkulIn the Amidist tradition these principles are operatively expressed in the Nembutsu, the invocation of the formula: namu Amida Butsu, ‘veneration to Amitābha Buddha’. Honen calls upon his followers to ‘cease not the practice of the Nembutsu even for a moment’;76‘seeing that the practice may be carried on, whether walking, stand-ing, sitting or lying, whensoever and wheresoever one may be … the Nembutsu is called an easy practice’.77 One is reminded here of the verse of the Qur’ān: Truly in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation between night and day, there are signs for possessors of substance, those who invoke God standing, sitting and reclining on their sides … (3:190–191).Honen tells his followers that there is no more effective disci-pline than that of the Nembutsu if one wishes to attain enlighten-ment and to be reborn in the ‘Land of Perfect Bliss’. ‘All the other disciplines’, he says, ‘are effective for their respective purposes, but not for birth in the Pure Land.’78 Likewise, we have such sayings as the following, from the Prophet, which refer to the practice of the dhikr as being the most efficacious of all forms of prayer and action:
75. Many sayings of a similar import are found in various collections. This par-ticular saying is found in the collection of al-Daylamī.76. Honen, The Buddhist Saint: His Life and Teaching, Shunjo, tr. H.H. Coates, R. Ishizuka (New York: Garland, 1981), vol. 2, p. 441.77. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 460.78. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 463.
‘Shall I not tell you about the best and purest of your works for your Lord, and the most exalted of them in your ranks, and the work that is better for you than giving silver and gold, and better for you than encountering your enemy, with you striking their necks and them striking your necks?’ The people addressed by him said: ‘What is that, O messenger of God?’ He said, ‘The perpetual invocation of God’.79The practice of the Nembutsu is strongly predicated upon the power of the ‘absolutely Other’, tariki, as opposed to one’s own power, jiriki. One might argue that tariki is precisely what tawakkul, reliance or trust, means in Islam: one relies totally upon the grace and power of the ‘Other’, which is absolutely other than oneself. In this total trust, this gift of self to the Other, one sees the Islamic conception of tawakkul (and the meaning of ‘Islam’ itself, literally ‘submission’) also evoking the idea of anattā, no-self, in Buddhism: the totality of one’s trust in, and submission to the Other disposes the self to a radical mode of self-effacement: one relies not on one-self but on the absolutely Other. In the Pure Land school, this faith in the Other is faith in the power of the grace emanating from Amida, principle of infinite light.Both tariki and tawakkul are aimed at realizing in practical mode, the existential concomitant of the anattā doctrine: removal of self-centred consciousness, reliance on the Absolute, which is the absolutely ‘Other’. Indeed, one can go further, and assert that tawakkul is not only governed by the same spiritual goal as that to which the anattā doctrine is attuned; the principle of tawakkul also makes explicit that which is logically necessary, while remaining unarticulated, in the earliest expressions of the anattā doctrine. For, as will be further argued below, it is logically impossible to over-come the sense of self by means of the self—there must be some-thing radically ‘other’, utterly beyond the self, which, alone, enables one to transcend one’s congenital sense of self-preoccupation. This self-preoccupation in turn generates a false sense of self-sufficiency. The authentic quality of self-sufficiency is the exclusive preserve of the one Reality; in the measure that the human soul attributes to itself this quality, it ‘rebels’ against the true nature of its own utter dependence on God as the Other, and rebels against the One which
79. Cited in Al-Ghazālī: Invocations and Supplications (Book IX of Ihyā’ ‘ulūm al-dīn), trans. K. Nakamura (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1990), p. 8. We have slightly modified the translation of the last sentence of the hadīth.
is, alone, truly ‘Independent’; as is said in the Qur’ān: Truly man is rebellious, in that he deems himself self-sufficient (96:6–7).The following passage from Kanamatsu’s Naturalness will not only evoke the spiritual commentaries made upon the famous ‘verse of light’ (āyat al-nūr, 24:35) in the Qur’ān; it also shows the extent to which this tradition of Buddhism resonates with Islam’s insis-tence upon the values of trust, faith, and unconditional submission to God:The lamp contains its oil, which it holds securely in its close grasp and guards from the least loss. Thus is it separate from all other objects around it and miserly. But when lit, it finds its meaning at once; its relation with all things far and near is established, and it freely sacrifices its fund of oil to feed the flame. Such a lamp is our self … the lamp must give up its oil to the light and thus set free the implicit purpose it has … This is emancipation … The naturalness (jen) which Shinran80 preached is nothing less than this emancipation of the self; a holy freedom through the melting of our self-power (jiriki) in the Other Power (tariki), through the sur-render of our self-will (hakarai) to the Eternal Will … This is what Shinran meant by declaring that the direct road to deliverance is absolute faith in Amida.81Key to SalvationThe remembrance/invocation of God is referred to by Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh al-Iskandarī (d. 1309), a major authority within Sufism, as ‘The Key to Salvation’: ‘Verily, the remembrance of God Most High is the key to salvation and the lamp of souls … the foundation of the Path and the pivotal support of realized sages … liberation from ignorance and forgetfulness through the permanent presence of the heart with the Truth.’82 Likewise, within Buddhism, the remembrance/invoca-tion can be seen as, at least, a ‘key to salvation’, as was affirmed by the Dalai Lama. He was asked whether the invocation, Om mani padme hum (Om, jewel in the lotus, hum) would suffice by itself to take a man all the way to Deliverance. ‘His Holiness replied that
80. Shinran (d. 1262) was the successor to Honen.81. Kenryo Kanamatsu, Naturalness, op. cit., pp. 42–43.82. Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh al-Iskandarī, The Key to Salvation—A Sufi Manual of Invoca-tion, tr. Mary Ann Koury Danner (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1996), pp. 43,45,
it would indeed suffice for one who had penetrated to the heart of its meaning, a ruling which itself bears out the saying that the Om mani padme hum contains “the quintessence of the teaching of all the Buddhas”. The fact that the Dalai Lama specifically exercises an “activity of presence” in this world in the name of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig,83 revealer of mani, renders his comment in this instance all the more authoritative.’84It is to be noted that Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh proceeds to define this re-membrance in the widest possible terms, and in doing so, enables us to see the extent to which the various forms of Buddhist devotion—including such practices as focusing upon the image of the Buddha or Bodhisattvas—can be incorporated within a broadly defined de-votional category, ‘the remembrance of God’. This makes it easier to see how forms of Buddhist devotion might be seen as akin to what would be regarded as authentic worship of the One by Muslims. Remembrance of God is defined by Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh as ‘the repetition of the Name of the Invoked by the heart and the tongue. It is alike whether it is God who is remembered, or one of His attributes, or one of His commandments, or one of His deeds … Remembering God may take the form of a supplication to Him, or the remem-brance of His Messengers, Prophets, saints or of anyone related to Him, or close to Him in some way, or because of some deed, such as reciting the Qur’ān, mentioning God’s Name, poetry, singing, a conversation or a story.’85The observations earlier regarding the deeper meaning of the ‘Face’ of God in the Qur’ān, together with al-Ghazālī’s exegesis, help us to appreciate how it is that Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh can include such practices as remembrance of God’s Prophets and saints within the category of remembrance of God. For if God’s Face is there, wher-ever one turns, one is, in principle, contemplating this Face, what-ever be the immediate object of perception. However, in the case of ordinary objects, the ‘face’ which is ephemeral and illusory, pertain-ing to the object as such, casts a veil over the Face of God by means of which it derives its existence; the face of the relative eclipses the
83. This is the Tibetan name of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, referred to as Kwan-Yin in Chinese and Kwannon in Japanese, born of Amitābha (called Opagmed in Tibetan). 84. Marco Pallis, A Buddhist Spectrum (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), p. 89.85. Ibid., p. 45.

Face of the Absolute. In the case of Prophets and saints, by contrast, given their effacement in the Face of the Absolute—their concrete realization that their own existence is, in Buddhist terms, ‘empty’—this Face of the Absolute shines through their individuality. Thus, God is seen or remembered ‘through’ such saintly beings; for to use Buddhist terms again, it is the Absolute which ‘exalts the holy persons’ (asamskrtaprabhāvitā hy āryā-pudgalā).This exalted spiritual station is referred to in the famous holy utterance (hadīth qudsī) in which God speaks in the first person on the tongue of the Prophet. Here, God declares ‘war’ on whosoev-er opposes one of His saints or more literally, ‘friends’ (walī, pl. awliyā’). Then follows this implicit description of the saint, who has devoted himself or herself entirely to God through supererogatory practices:My slave draws near to Me through nothing I love more than that which I have made obligatory for him. My slave never ceases to draw near to Me through supererogatory acts until I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand by which he grasps, and his foot by which he walks.86This passage of divine reality through the saint implies no compro-mise as regards divine transcendence. Quite to the contrary, for we are in the presence of the most radical manifestation of unsullied tawhīd, that oneness predicated upon complete integration: the saint, being one whose existence is effaced before God, allows free pas-sage for divine transcendence to manifest through him/her as divine immanence; the sole reality of God, at once transcendent and im-manent, inaccessible and yet inescapable, is affirmed in and through sanctity. The phenomenon of sanctity thus yields one of the most irrefutable proofs of tawhīd. Allusion to this principle can be discerned in much of the devo-tional literature on the Prophet.87 To take but one example, from the famous poem entitled al-Burda, of Imam al-Būsīrī: ‘Truly, the bounty
86. See An-Nawawī’s Forty Hadith, p. 118, no.38. It is cited there from Bukhārī, Kitāb al-riqāq, p. 992, no.2117.87. One should always bear in mind that, in Islam, every prophet (nabī) is by definition a saint (walī), but not every saint is a prophet. Whatever is said about a saint applies equally to a prophet, who has all that the saint has, in addition to the specific function of prophecy. It should also be noted that the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad is greater than that of any saint.
(fadl) of the Messenger of God has no limit, such that a speaker might be able to verbally articulate it’.88 Only God’s bounty, it might be ar-gued, can be described as limitless; and yet, because the attribute of bounty manifested by the Prophet is not restricted by any egotistic appropriation on the part of the Prophet, that attribute must be seen as reverting ultimately or metaphysically to God. It pertains to God, as regards its uncreated essence, and to the Prophet, as regards its manifested form. The Prophet is described in the Qur’ān as ‘kind and merciful’ (ra’ūf and rahīm; see 9:128), qualities which are also used to describe God. The Burda mentions these and many other qualities of the Prophet, all of which are seen in the light of the duo-dimension-ality noted above, both created and uncreated. All of the virtues of the Prophet, without exception, are so many manifestations of qualities which in fact belong not to him but to God. In praising these qualities, one is praising God, while mani-festing an intention to cultivate these qualities within oneself; the best way of cultivating them is emulating the beautiful exemplar(33:21), the Prophet in whom the human mode of those qualities were embodied to perfection. One is not reducing God to the level of the Prophet, rather, one is elevating to their divine source the quali-ties manifested by the Prophet, perceiving the transcendent arche-types of these qualities within the divine Essence. Buddhist metaphysics helps us to see that what is being ex-pressed here is far from the divinization of the Prophet, and thus a form of shirk (polytheism); rather, this mode of perceiving the prophetic qualities as expressions of their divine archetypes is de-manded by a rigorous application of tawhīd. This perception will be all the more accurate and focused in the measure that one ‘sees through’ the Prophet; in other words, one sees that he is but a slave (‘abd) or a ‘poor one unto his Lord’ (faqīr ilā rabbihi); thus, in Bud-dhist terms, he is one who is empty of himself (svabhava). The one who is most empty of his own self or dharma is the one who is most full of the Dharma: the pure, unsullied mirror of the Prophet’s soul thus reflects God’s Face; the praise directed initially to the character of the Prophet—the image of the Face reflected in the pure mirror—
88. As cited in the collection Mukhkh al-‘ibāda (Beirut: Dār al-Hāwī, 2008), p. 552; see the excellent English translation of this poem by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, The Burda of al-Busiri (Thaxted: Sandala, 2002). In his insightful introduction, Shaykh Hamza tells us that this poem ‘is arguably the most memorized and recited poem in the Muslim world’ (p. xvii).
is thus inevitably, and a fortiori, praise for the very nature of God—the Face as such, independent of the mirror reflecting it. It is in this way that remembrance of even a single attribute of the Prophet be-comes remembrance of God, and thus rejoins the very purpose of all worship, which in turn is the purpose of creation: I created the jinn and mankind only that they might worship Me (51:56).89Images of the Buddha, Blessings upon the ProphetThe citation above from Ibn ‘Atā’Allāh, together with the hadīth qudsī describing the saint, helps one also to understand how it is that contemplation of the images of the Buddha—one of the central acts of devotion in the Buddhist tradition—can be regarded as a mode of ‘remembrance of God’. For if it be accepted that the Buddha was one of the Messengers of God, and if remembrance of one of these Messengers is a form of remembrance of God, then the act of con-templation of the Buddha’s image may be seen as a legitimate form of remembrance of God—especially given the fact that, unlike in Islam, there is no prohibition on the use of images in Buddhism. The vast kaleidoscopic universe of Buddhist iconography can thus be viewed not as a temptation to idolatry but as a form of remem-brance. It is a form of devotion which passes through contemplation of the Buddha to remembrance of that ultimate Reality—the Dhar-ma—which the Buddha had realized. The various forms of Buddhist contemplation are far from idolatrous fixations on the form of the Buddha; for this form is utterly ‘empty’. The images which the dev-The images which the dev-otee contemplates are described in the Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition as ‘apparent but empty’.90The images ‘appear’ in this domain of manifestation, but they are transparent, allowing the devotee to see through them to the formless essence of which they are transient im-ages—images which appear and thus, like all formal manifestation, disappear. Appearance implies disappearance, on the one hand; the manifested form implies the supra-manifest Essence, on the other. Such contemplation is in fact an invitation to contemplate, cultivate and assimilate the ultimate content of the enlightenment of the Bud-dha, and not simply to marvel at his superhuman beauty, although
89. According to Ibn ‘Abbās—and following him, the majority of Qur’ānic com-mentators—the word ya‘budūni (‘they worship Me’) here means: ya‘rifūni (‘they know Me’). 90. See Reginald Ray, Secret of the Vajra World (Boston and London: Shamb-hala, 2002), p. 214.
this latter also has its part to play in the ‘economy of salvation’ as we shall see in a moment. In the words of Suzuki: The content of this enlightenment was explained by the Buddha as the Dharma which was to be directly perceived (sanditthika), beyond limits of time (akalika), to be per-sonally experienced (ehipassika), altogether persuasive (opanayika), and to be understood each for himself by the wise (paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi).91One of the most important teachers of the Pure Land doctrine in China, Tao-ch’o (d. 645), describes the four ways in which the Bud-dhas save: 1. Oral teachings, recorded and transmitted through books;2. The ‘supernatural beauty’ of the Buddhas; 3. Their powers, virtues and transformations; 4. Their names.92It can be argued that all four of these functions are performed by the Prophet in Islam. The ‘oral teachings’ are of course both ‘his’ as re-gards his own sayings (hadīth), but also God’s as regards the Qur’ān and the ‘holy utterances’ (ahādīth qudsiyya). His beauty—one of the most remarked upon features in the devotional literature93—might not be regarded as ‘salvific’ in the strict sense, but it can be seen as cultivating a sense of the human perfection which he personified, and thus as enhancing devotional receptivity to the saving content of his message. As for his virtues, as seen above, they pertain not only to the realm of human character, but also to the divine source of all positive qualities: praising his virtues is a way not only of realizing those virtues within oneself, but is also a mode of praising God. It is thus not surprising to find that the Prophet said: ‘I was sent only for
91. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 61.92. This is a quotation from a Sutra in Tao-ch’o’s Book of Peace and Happiness; cited by Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 157.93. On this subject see the fine essay by Mostafa Badawi, ‘The Muhammadan Attributes’ in Seasons—Semiannual Journal of Zaytuna Institute Spring-Summer Reflections, vol. 2, no.2, 2005, pp. 81–95. See also, for a general review of the literature on the subject of devotion to the Prophet, Annemarie Schimmel, And Mu-hammad is His Messenger—The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), especially ch. 2 ‘Mu-hammad the Beautiful Model’, pp. 24–55.
the sake of perfecting the most noble virtues’94 (emphasis added). One might object: if perfecting virtue were the sole aim of the pro-phetic mission, what of praising God, prayer to God, remembrance of God, attaining salvation by these means? One simple answer is that the ‘most noble virtues’ include piety in its widest meaning: de-votion, prayer, remembrance of God, and so forth. However, in light of our earlier discussion we could add this point also by way of re-ply: the perfection of virtues on the human plane is impossible with-out a total orientation to the divine source of all human virtues; then these virtues can be correctly grasped as so many mirrors reflecting the qualities of God. Each perfected virtue is then a mode of prayer, and rejoins the divine quality of which it is at once a reflection and a reminder. The Prophet, in whom and by whom all the noble virtues are perfected, is thus the most perfect mirror in which the utterly unknowable and eternally inaccessible Essence makes known and renders accessible Its own infinite perfections. As the Persian poet ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (d. 1492) sings, addressing the Prophet: God made you the mirror of the EssenceA looking-glass for the unique Essence.95Finally, as regards the saving quality of the ‘names’ of the Buddha: we saw earlier that, in strict Buddhist logic, the name of the Buddha cannot be reduced to an appendage of the human Sakyamuni, for the name would then be no more real—in fact far less real—than the empirical substance of the sage himself: both name and named are alike ‘empty of self’. The ‘names’ of the Buddha are thus to be seen as names of the eternal, absolute, transcendent attributes realized by Sakyamuni in his enlightenment. As we saw above, such a name as Amitābha saves not because it is an appendage (nāma-rupa) of the human being, Sakyamuni, but because it is one with the Named, the Reality designated by the Name: ‘Infinite Light’.What, therefore, can one say about the names of the Prophet? Among the most important names of the Prophet are ‘Abd Allāh(Slave of God) and Dhikr Allāh: these two names, alone, refer the devotee to the remembrance of God through the remembrance of the names of the Prophet. Given that he is a ‘slave’ of God, utterly empty of himself, all the human qualities manifest through him are likewise so many means of remembering God, as seen above. Joined
94. Cited in, among other sources, Ahmad b. Hanbal, 2:381.95. Cited in Schimmel, op. cit., p. 131.
to this slavehood or emptiness, moreover, is the quality of remem-brance. It is this utter receptivity to the Named which fills the void on the human plane. To invoke and praise the names of the Prophet is to praise the divine reality by which the Prophet’s consciousness is penetrated: remembrance of the Prophet’s names thus initiates an elevation of consciousness from these names to the names of God, and from these divine names to the Named (al-musammā), the Essence. To praise the Prophet is therefore also, and inescapably, to praise God, so that one can paraphrase the shahāda thus: ‘No praised one (hamīd) but the Praised One (al-Hamīd)’.96This way of looking at devotion to the Prophet provides an an-swer to critics within the Muslim tradition who claim that such de-votion is a form of idolatry. It should be clear, however, that this form of devotion pertains to a subtle but rigorous and penetrating expression of tawhīd. This appreciation of tawhīd not only helps us to perceive the metaphysics underlying the practice of Buddhist con-templation of the image of the Buddha. It also helps us to perceive some of the deeper implications of the traditional Muslim practice of blessing the Prophet, a practice enjoined by the Qur’ān and de-fined by the Prophet himself. God instructs the believers: Truly, God and His angels bless the Prophet; O ye who believe, bless him and greet him with peace (33:56). Upon the revelation of this verse, the Prophet was asked how one was to perform this blessing, and he replied with this formula: ‘O God, bless Muhammad and the de-scendents of Muhammad, as Thou hast blessed Abraham and the de-scendents of Abraham. Truly, thou art the Praised, the Glorious …’97On the surface, this blessing, and its reward, is straightforward: each time one invokes this blessing upon the Prophet one receives ten blessings oneself—according to the Prophet. But at a deeper level, the invocation of blessings upon the Prophet can be understood to be a mode of praising God, for whatever blessing is received by a re-flected image of the Essence reverts to the source of the image itself: one cannot bless the reflection of the Face without blessing the Face itself. Even the invocation of blessings upon the Prophet therefore passes through the Prophet and is received by God, who, in turn, showers blessings upon the soul of the devotee; in this way, blessing the Prophet and following in his footsteps is not just a mode of lov-
96. It is to be noted that the name Muhammad also means ‘the praised one’.97. This formula is then repeated almost verbatim, the word sallī (‘bless’) being replaced by a synonym, bārik.
ing God, it is also a magnet attracting God’s love to oneself: Say [O Prophet]: If you love God, follow me; God will love you (3:31). We are far from claiming that the Muslim and Buddhist forms of devotion to the Messenger/Buddha are identical, or reducible one to the other; rather, we are proposing that, however divergent be the forms taken by devotion to the founding figure of the respective traditions, it is possible to see these forms as expressions of principles which are analo-gous, if not identical: devotion to the human founder of the religions is a fundamental aspect and means of ‘remembering God’, in Islamic terms, or ‘contemplating the Dharma’ in Buddhist terms.* * *There is indeed for you in the Messenger of God a beautiful exem-plar for those who place their hope in God and the Last Day, and who remember God much (33:21). This verse renders clear the rela-tionship between following the Prophet and practising dhikr Allāh. Few, however, are able to follow the Prophetic Sunna in this domain, given that he was wont to spend long hours of each night in prayer:Truly your Lord knows that you spend close to two-thirds of the night in prayer, and half of it, and a third of it—you and a group of those who are with you (73:20)This intensity of prayer was not aimed at something yet to be at-tained, rather, it flowed from sheer gratitude at what had been giv-en, as is attested by the following incident. He was asked why he was standing in prayer at night, hour after hour, such that his feet swelled up, especially since he knew that God had ‘forgiven’ him any possible shortcomings on his part (referring to 48:1–2). The Prophet simply replied: ‘Should I not be a grateful slave?’98 What the Prophet did out of gratitude his followers are encouraged to do as a means of realizing that for the sake of which he was grate-ful: complete knowledge and unsurpassable virtue. The relationship between spiritual practice and the attainment of enlightenment is expressed in the verse:Worship God until certainty comes to you(15:99).99 This reminds us of what Milarepa referred to as ‘the most
98. Recounted in Qadi Iyad’s Ash-Shifā’, tr. Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley, Mu-hammad—Messenger of Allah (Inverness: Madinah Press, 1991), p. 74.99. The word translated as ‘certainty’ is al-yaqīn, which can be read also as ‘the certain, i.e., death’. The two interpretations are complementary rather than contradictory, especially insofar as full enlightenment, hence absolute certainty, is predicated upon the spiritual ‘death’ which fanā’ constitutes
precious pith-instruction’. He calls his disciple, Gambopa, and of-fers it to him, saying, ‘I only hope that you will cherish this teaching and never waste it. Now look!’ Milarepa lifted up his robe to reveal a body covered with lumps and calluses, evidence of the intensity of his ascetic practices. Then he said: ‘There is no profounder teaching than this. See what hardships I have undergone. The most profound teaching in Buddhism is to practise. It has simply been due to this persistent effort that I have earned the Merits and Accomplishment. You should also exert yourself perseveringly in meditation.’100Although Islam does not permit any institutionalized form of monasticism, it certainly permits and encourages the kind of ascetic practice associated with the Prophetic Sunna. In both traditions, the intensity of worship is strongly encouraged, even if in Buddhism, a far greater stress is placed on ascetic practice as a form of teaching, and this is precisely on account of the supra-conceptual or even non-conceptual nature of Buddhist doctrines, which already intimate at their own non-essentiality, paradoxically exposing their own trans-parency, in order to precipitate a state of awareness which transcends all possible concepts. To quote Milarepa again:I practise the Dharma by heart and not by mouth … I am ever happy for I never fall into the trap of mere conceptual-ization of the Void.101
100. The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, op. cit., p. 495. 101. Ibid., p. 377.

in 01) Classical Magahi Magadhi,
02) Classical Chandaso language,
03)Magadhi Prakrit,

04) Classical Hela Basa (Hela Language),

05) Classical Pali,

06) Classical Devanagari,Classical Hindi-Devanagari- शास्त्रीय हिंदी,
07) Classical Cyrillic
08) Classical Afrikaans– Klassieke Afrikaans

09) Classical Albanian-Shqiptare klasike,
10) Classical Amharic-አንጋፋዊ አማርኛ,
11) Classical Arabic-اللغة العربية الفصحى
12) Classical Armenian-դասական հայերեն,
13) Classical Azerbaijani- Klassik Azərbaycan,
14) Classical Basque- Euskal klasikoa,
15) Classical Belarusian-Класічная беларуская,
16) Classical Bengali-ক্লাসিক্যাল বাংলা,
17) Classical  Bosnian-Klasični bosanski,
18) Classical Bulgaria- Класически българск,
19) Classical  Catalan-Català clàssic
20) Classical Cebuano-Klase sa Sugbo,

21) Classical Chichewa-Chikale cha Chichewa,

22) Classical Chinese (Simplified)-古典中文(简体),

23) Classical Chinese (Traditional)-古典中文(繁體),

24) Classical Corsican-Corsa Corsicana,

25) Classical  Croatian-Klasična hrvatska,

26) Classical  Czech-Klasická čeština,
27) Classical  Danish-Klassisk dansk,Klassisk dansk,

28) Classical  Dutch- Klassiek Nederlands,
29) Classical English,Roman
30) Classical Esperanto-Klasika Esperanto,

31) Classical Estonian- klassikaline eesti keel,

32) Classical Filipino klassikaline filipiinlane,
33) Classical Finnish- Klassinen suomalainen,

34) Classical French- Français classique,

35) Classical Frisian- Klassike Frysk,

36) Classical Galician-Clásico galego,
37) Classical Georgian-კლასიკური ქართული,
38) Classical German- Klassisches Deutsch,
39) Classical Greek-Κλασσικά Ελληνικά,
40) Classical Gujarati-ક્લાસિકલ ગુજરાતી,
41) Classical Haitian Creole-Klasik kreyòl,

42) Classical Hausa-Hausa Hausa,
43) Classical Hawaiian-Hawaiian Hawaiian,

44) Classical Hebrew- עברית קלאסית
45) Classical Hmong- Lus Hmoob,

46) Classical Hungarian-Klasszikus magyar,

47) Classical Icelandic-Klassísk íslensku,
48) Classical Igbo,Klassískt Igbo,

49) Classical Indonesian-Bahasa Indonesia Klasik,

50) Classical Irish-Indinéisis Clasaiceach,
51) Classical Italian-Italiano classico,
52) Classical Japanese-古典的なイタリア語,
53) Classical Javanese-Klasik Jawa,
54) Classical Kannada- ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಕನ್ನಡ,
55) Classical Kazakh-Классикалық қазақ,

56) Classical Khmer- ខ្មែរបុរាណ,
57) Classical Korean-고전 한국어,

58) Classical Kurdish (Kurmanji)-Kurdî (Kurmancî),

59) Classical Kyrgyz-Классикалык Кыргыз,
60) Classical Lao-ຄລາສສິກລາວ,
61) Classical Latin-LXII) Classical Latin,

62) Classical Latvian-Klasiskā latviešu valoda,

63) Classical Lithuanian-Klasikinė lietuvių kalba,

64) Classical Luxembourgish-Klassesch Lëtzebuergesch,

65) Classical Macedonian-Класичен македонски,
66) Classical Malagasy,класичен малгашки,
67) Classical Malay-Melayu Klasik,

68) Classical Malayalam-ക്ലാസിക്കൽ മലയാളം,

69) Classical Maltese-Klassiku Malti,
70) Classical Maori-Maori Maori,
71) Classical Marathi-क्लासिकल माओरी,

72) Classical Mongolian-Сонгодог Монгол,

73) Classical Myanmar (Burmese)-Classical မြန်မာ (ဗမာ),

74) Classical Nepali-शास्त्रीय म्यांमार (बर्मा),
75) Classical Norwegian-Klassisk norsk,

76) Classical Pashto- ټولګی پښتو

77) Classical Persian-کلاسیک فارسی
78) Classical Polish-Język klasyczny polski,

79) Classical Portuguese-Português Clássico,
80) Classical Punjabi-ਕਲਾਸੀਕਲ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ,
81) Classical Romanian-Clasic românesc,
82) Classical Russian-Классический русский,
83) Classical Samoan-Samoan Samoa,

84) Classical Sanskrit छ्लस्सिचल् षन्स्क्रित्

85) Classical Scots Gaelic-Gàidhlig Albannach Clasaigeach,

86) Classical Serbian-Класични српски,
87) Classical Sesotho-Seserbia ea boholo-holo,
88) Classical Shona-Shona Shona,
89) Classical Sindhi,
90) Classical Sinhala-සම්භාව්ය සිංහල,
91) Classical Slovak-Klasický slovenský,
92) Classical Slovenian-Klasična slovenska,
93) Classical Somali-Soomaali qowmiyadeed,
94) Classical Spanish-Español clásico,
95) Classical Sundanese-Sunda Klasik,
96) Classical Swahili,Kiswahili cha Classical,
97) Classical Swedish-Klassisk svensk,
98) Classical Tajik-тоҷикӣ классикӣ,
99) Classical Tamil-பாரம்பரிய இசைத்தமிழ் செம்மொழி,
100) Classical Telugu- క్లాసికల్ తెలుగు,
101) Classical Thai-ภาษาไทยคลาสสิก,
102) Classical Turkish-Klasik Türk,
103) Classical Ukrainian-Класичний український,
104) Classical Urdu- کلاسیکی اردو
105) Classical Uzbek-Klassik o’zbek,
106) Classical Vietnamese-Tiếng Việt cổ điển,
107) Classical Welsh-Cymraeg Clasurol,
108) Classical Xhosa-IsiXhosa zesiXhosa,
109) Classical Yiddish- קלאסישע ייִדיש

110) Classical Yoruba-Yoruba Yoruba,

111) Classical Zulu-I-Classical Zulu

Dove-02-june.gif (38556 bytes)

Awakeness Practices

All 84,000
Khandas As Found in the Pali Suttas Traditionally the are 84,000 Dharma
Doors - 84,000 ways to get Awakeness. Maybe so; certainly the Buddha
taught a large number of practices that lead to Awakeness. This web page
attempts to catalogue those found in the Pali Suttas (DN, MN, SN, AN,
Ud & Sn 1). There are 3 sections:

discourses of Buddha are divided into 84,000, as to separate addresses.
The division includes all that was spoken by Buddha.”I received from
Buddha,” said Ananda,
“82,000 Khandas, and  from the priests 2000; these are 84,000 Khandas
maintained by me.” They are divided into 275,250, as to the stanzas of
the original text, and into 361,550, as to the stanzas of the
commentary. All the discourses including both those of Buddha and those
of the commentator, are divided  into 2,547 banawaras, containing
737,000 stanzas, and 29,368,000 separate letters.


 Positive Buddha Vacana — The words of the Buddha — Interested in All
Suttas  of Tipitaka as Episodes in visual format including 7D laser
Hologram 360 degree Circarama


Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice University
 Maha-parinibbana Sutta — Last Days of the Buddha

The Great Discourse on the Total Unbinding

wide-ranging sutta, the longest one in the Pali canon, describes the
events leading up to, during, and immediately following the death and
final release (parinibbana) of the Buddha. This colorful narrative
contains a wealth of Dhamma teachings, including the Buddha’s final
instructions that defined how Buddhism would be lived and practiced long
after the Buddha’s death — even to this day. But this sutta also
depicts, in simple language, the poignant human drama that unfolds among
the Buddha’s many devoted followers around the time of the death
oftheir beloved teacher.
Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṃ (Pali) - 2 Kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabbaṃ


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Free Online Awaken One With Awareness Mind (A1wAM)+ ioT (insight-net of Things)  - the art of Giving, taking and Living   to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal through Electronic Visual Communication Course on

Political Science-Techno-Politico-Socio Transformation and Economic Emancipation Movement (TPSTEEM). Struggle hard to see that all fraud EVMs are replaced by paper ballots by Start using Internet of things by creating Websites,blogs. Make the best use of facebook, twitter etc., to propagate TPSTEEMthru FOA1TRPUVF.

Practice Insight Meditation in all postures of the body - Sitting, standing, lying, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, martial arts etc., for health mind in a healthy body.


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Transformation and Economic Emancipation Movement followed by millions
of people all over the world in 112 Classical languages.

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LESSON 3210 Fri 13 Dec 2019 Free Online NIBBANA TRAINING from KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA -PATH TO ATTAIN PEACE and ETERNAL BLISS AS FINAL GOAL Let us Do good. Purify mind - ‘The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts – sabba danam dhamma danam jinati’ at 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL 3rd Stage, Bangalore- Magadhi Karnataka State -PRABUDDHA BHARAT through runs Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice University in
 111 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES Good News Good News GIF - GoodNews FairlyOddParents GIFs VOICE of ALL ABORIGINAL AWAKENED SOCIETIES (VoAAAS) for Sarvajan Hithaya Sarvajan Sukhaya i.e for the welfare, happiness and Peace for all societies and to attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal Pali shown the door in Buddha’s Land
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Posted by: site admin @ 4:42 am

LESSON 3210 Fri 13 Dec 2019




Let us Do good. Purify mind -

‘The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts – sabba danam
dhamma danam jinati’

at 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL 3rd Stage, Bangalore- Magadhi Karnataka State -PRABUDDHA BHARAT

Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice University in

Good News
Good News GIF - GoodNews FairlyOddParents GIFs
Sarvajan Sukhaya i.e for the welfare, happiness and Peace for all
societies and to attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal

Pali shown the door in Buddha’s Land

Un­ion Pub­lic Serv­ice Com­mis­sion (UPSC) of In­dia re­cent­ly
re­moved the an­cient Pali lan­guage from the list of pre­scri­bed
op­tion­al lan­guag­es of the main en­trance ex­ami­na­tion of the
In­di­an Ad­min­is­tra­tive Serv­ice (IAS), al­so com­mon­ly known as
the In­di­an Civ­il Serv­ice. This came as a shock­ing move to many, as
Pali is con­sid­ered as the sec­ond pop­u­lar lan­guage amongst IAS
can­di­dates.  How­ev­er dur­ing the tur­bu­lence which oc­cur­red
fol­low­ing this in­ci­dent, pro­fes­sors and teach­ers spe­cial­is­ing
in the Pali lan­guage in In­dia learnt that Pali which is in­dig­e­nous
to the In­di­an sub­con­ti­nent and the lan­guage in which Bud­dha
dis­closed the Dham­ma (which is al­so the lan­guage of the Bud­dhist
Can­on) Pali has not been rec­og­nised as an In­di­an clas­si­cal and
na­tion­al lan­guage. This promp­ted many Bud­dhists liv­ing around the
world to sad­ly ac­cuse the In­di­an Gov­ern­ment of giv­ing
step-moth­er­ly treat­ment to the Bud­dha’s lan­guage in his own
Pro­fes­sor and Head of the De­part­ment of Pali and
Bud­dhist Stud­ies in Ba­nares Sid­dharth Singh ad­dress­ing a me­dia
brief­ing on this mat­ter in Co­lom­bo last week said this ac­tion
dis­cri­mi­na­ted Bud­dhists in In­dia on both re­li­gious and eth­nic
” Re­mov­al of Pali is a great dam­age to Bud­dhist stud­ies
and the un­der­stand­ing of Bud­dhism in Bud­dha’s moth­er­land. Pali
is the foun­da­tion to un­der­stand­ing Bud­dhism. So this move of the
In­di­an gov­ern­ment should be op­posed “

“The sen­ti­ments of
the Bud­dhists in In­dia have been hurt through this act. We wrote to
the In­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh, to the lead­er of the
op­po­si­tion and to the mem­bers of the Ra­jya and Lok Sab­ha about
this great in­jus­tice. But so far they have not giv­en any rea­son or a
jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the re­mov­al of Pali from the In­di­an civ­il
serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion. Re­mov­al of Pali is a great dam­age to
Bud­dhist stud­ies and the un­der­stand­ing of Bud­dhism in Bud­dha’s
moth­er­land. Pali is the foun­da­tion to un­der­stand­ing Bud­dhism. So
this move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment should be op­posed,” Singh said.

 I be­lieve this act is an ef­fort to take venge­ance from the
Sched­uled Caste peo­ple and stop the spread­ing of Bud­dhism in In­dia.
To­day In­dia is talk­ing about the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of Sri
Lan­ka. But how can they criti­cise Sri Lan­ka, when they them­selves
are vi­o­lat­ing the hu­man rights of the Bud­dhist com­mun­i­ty liv­ing
in In­dia?  “
He fur­ther ex­plained that this move of the In­di­an
gov­ern­ment could re­sult in In­dia los­ing in­ter­na­tion­al
re­la­tions with the Bud­dhist na­tions around the world and that
dur­ing his stay in Sri Lan­ka he plan­ned to hand a mem­o­ran­dum to
the In­di­an High Com­mis­sion­er in Sri Lan­ka about this mat­ter who
he ex­pects would com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage to the In­di­an
“We wrote to the In­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Man Mohan
Singh, to the lead­er of the op­po­si­tion and to the mem­bers of the
Ra­jya and Lok Sab­ha about this great in­jus­tice. But so far they have
not giv­en any rea­son or a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the re­mov­al of Pali
from the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion “

on the con­se­quen­ces of re­mov­ing Pali from the In­di­an civ­il
serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion Singh said the de-list­ing of Pali may pre­vent
can­di­dates con­ver­sant in Pali (who are Bud­dhists in In­dia) from
sit­ting for the ex­am and join­ing the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice. He
said this would al­so cause the In­di­an ad­min­is­tra­tion in­clud­ing
its for­eign serv­ice to be man­ned by of­fi­cers ig­no­rant of Pali,
while Bud­dhists liv­ing in In­dia would lose the state pa­tron­age they
have had and the pres­er­va­tion of its few shrines and monu­ments
would come to an end.
“By the re­mov­al of Pali from the list of
‘ap­proved sub­jects’, the UPSC has open­ly vio­la­ted the pro­vi­sions
of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia (which they had sworn to up­hold);
re­mov­al of Pali con­sti­tutes vi­o­la­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights of
mi­nor­i­ties (Bud­dhists less than 0.79% in In­dia) and the less
priv­i­leged ‘sched­uled castes and sched­uled tribes’ pro­tec­ted by
the con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. The UPSC has vio­la­ted In­di­an
citi­zens’ fun­da­men­tal rights on the ‘right to equal­i­ty’ that
con­sti­tute ‘dis­crim­i­na­tion on grounds of re­li­gion’ vi­o­lat­ing
Ar­ti­cle-16, ‘equal­i­ty of op­por­tu­ni­ty in mat­ters of pub­lic
em­ploy­ment’ un­der the In­di­an Con­sti­tu­tion. De-list­ing of Pali
has in­fringed the In­di­an Con­sti­tu­tion un­der ‘di­rec­tive
prin­ci­ples of state pol­i­cy (ar­ti­cle 46) which states that
‘pro­mo­tion of ed­u­ca­tion­al and eco­nom­ic in­ter­ests of sched­uled
castes, sched­uled tribes and oth­er weak­er sec­tions in the so­ci­ety
would be pro­tec­ted from so­cial in­jus­tice and all forms of
ex­ploi­ta­tion. Ar­ti­cle-335 claims of Sched­uled Castes and
Sched­uled Tribes to serv­ices posts. There is al­so pro­vi­sion for
mak­ing claims against the UPSC to the “Na­tion­al Com­mis­sion for the
Sched­uled Castes and Sched­uled Tribes” un­der the spe­cial
pro­vi­sions re­lat­ing to cer­tain classes,” Singh said.
He­la Ur­u­maya (JHU) Par­lia­men­tar­i­an Ven. Athur­a­liye Ra­tha­na
Thera who was al­so pres­ent at this press con­fer­ence said that this
move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment was a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights
against the Sched­uled Caste peo­ple liv­ing in In­dia.
“I be­lieve
this act is an ef­fort to take venge­ance from the Sched­uled Caste
peo­ple and stop the spread­ing of Bud­dhism in In­dia. To­day In­dia is
talk­ing about the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of Sri Lan­ka. But how
can they criti­cise Sri Lan­ka, when they them­selves are vi­o­lat­ing
the hu­man rights of the Bud­dhist com­mun­i­ty liv­ing in In­dia? This
is a Brah­mic Caste act based on the re­gres­sive Brah­mic ideol­o­gy of
In­dia,” Ra­tha­na Thera said.
Mean­while when the Dai­ly Mir­ror
con­tac­ted the Sri Lan­kan For­eign Min­is­try about this is­sue,
sour­ces said they were yet to re­ceive com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion
on this mat­ter.   It is sad that many peo­ple to­day con­sid­er Pali a
‘dead lan­guage’ when the ear­li­est ex­tant Bud­dhist scrip­tures are
writ­ten in Pali. It was the lan­guage the Bud­dha used to
dis­sem­i­nate the Dham­ma on which the whole of the Bud­dhist
civ­i­li­za­tion is foun­ded. Our coun­try to­day re­mains a na­tion
where sev­er­al mil­lions of Bud­dhists re­side.
To­day Bud­dhism is
not on­ly a re­li­gion, but it has turned in­to a way of life. To­day
the Bud­dha’s Dham­ma (which is in Pali) is not on­ly chan­ted in a
rit­ual con­text by Bud­dhists all over the world, but it is al­so
prac­ticed and lived in their day-to-day lives. So if Pali is a ‘dead
lan­guage’ and ‘out­da­ted’ in to­day’s so­ci­ety as many con­sid­er it
to be, then how come so many peo­ple around the world to­day live by
this lan­guage?
Pix by War­u­na Wan­niar­ach­chi
FREE ONLINE E-Nālanda Research and Practice UNIVERSITY
68 With aroused effort to attain the highest, with a mind not sticky and lazy,
Thoroughly given up and with firm endeavour, fare alone like the single horned rhinoceros.
68. âraddhaviriyo paramatthapattiyà
Alãnacitto akusãtavutti,
Daëhanikkamo thàma khalåpapanno
Eko care khaggavisàõakappo.
Pali is a classical language now the TIPITAKA is being translated to 74 languages. And all these automatically become classical.
Brahmins right from time immemorial oppose anything they feel will
affect their interest. Now it is true that majority of the educated and
others started moving back to Buddhism the original religion of
Jambudvipa and one fine day again it will become a majority religion and
PRABUDDHA BHARATH will become reality because of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar,
Kanshi Ram and Ms Mayawati. This is not tolerated by the brahmins hence
the path followed by the Buddhist is correct.
Now is all that you have.
out Congress from power and do not allow BJP to come back as they are
remotely controlled by just 0.1% intolerant, violent, militant, number
one terrorists of the world, cunning, crooked, ever shooting, mob
lynching, lunatic, mentally retarded, timid, foreigners from BENE ISRAEL
CHITPAVAN BRAHMINS of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam SEvaks (RSS) who gobbled
the Master Key through the slaves, stooges, chamchas, chelas,
bootlickers, own mother’s flesh eaters, Murderer of democratic
institution and Master of diluting institutions (Modi) by tampering the
filthy fraud EVMs. Support BSP to acquire the Master Key to distribute
the wealth of the Country equally among all sections of the society for
their welfare, happiness and peace and also to enable them to attain
eternal Bliss as their final goal. That is the only hope of the nation.

aim of Buddha, Jesus and Islam is the same, that is, to save people
from suffering and to lead them to welfare, happiness, peace and to
their Eternal Bliss as ultimate goal during Ashoka the Great’s rule with
pictures, videos and Maps.
of December. It is celebrated all over the Christian world as the birth
of Jesus Christ. But for the whole world of SC/STs, it is an important
day as “manu smruti Dahan Din”, as it was on this day in 1927 that
manusmruti was publicly burned by Dr. Ambedkar, during the
“Maha-Sangharsha” of Mahad Satyagraha, and is an important mile stone in
SC/ST struggle against Foreigners from BENE ISRAEL chitpavan
brahmanism. Let us all remember this day with pride.
Manuvadis had
arranged that Ambedkar does not get a ground for meeting, but a Muslim
gentleman, Mr. Fattekhan, gave his private land. They had arranged that
no supplies of food, water or anything else could be bought, so
everything was brought from outside by our men. The volunteers had to
take a vow of five items:
1. I do not believe on Chaturvarna based on birth.
2. I do not believe in caste distinctions.
I believe that untouchability is an anathema on stealth shadowy
hindutva and I will honestly try my best to completely destroy it.
Considering that there is no inequality, I will not follow any
restrictions about food and drink among at least all hindutvaites.
5. I believe that untouchables must have equal rights in temples, water sources, schools and other amenities.
Ambedkar came from Bombay by boat “Padmavati” via Dasgaon port, instead
of Dharamtar, though it is longer distance, because in the event of
boycott by bus owners, they could walk down five miles to Mahad.
people later tried to say that Dr. Ambedkar decided to burn Manusmruti
at the eleventh hour, as he had to withdraw the programme of drinking
water from Chavadar Tank under court orders and persuasion by the
Collector. That is not true, because right in front of the pendal of the
meeting a “vedi” was created beforehand to burn manusmruti. Six people
were labouring for two days to prepare it. A pit six inches deep and one
and half foot square was dug in, and filled with sandle wood pieces. On
its four corners, poles were erected, bearing banners on three sides.
Banners said,
1. “manusmruti chi dahan bhumi”, i.e. Crematorium for manusmruti.
2. Destroy Untouchability and
3. Bury the chitpavan brahmanism.
25th December, 1927, at 9 p.m., the book of manusmruti was kept on this
and burned at the hands of Bapusahib Sahastrabuddhe and another five
six SC/ST sadhus.
 At the meeting there was Babasahib’s historical speech. The main points of speech:
have to understand why we are prevented from drinking water from this
tank. He explained chaturvarna, and declared that our struggle is to
destroy the fetters of chaturvarna, this was the starting point of the
struggle for equality. He compared that meeting with the meeting of 24th
Jan. 1789, when Loui XVI of France had called a meeting of French
peoples representatives. This meeting killed king and queen, harassed
and massacred the upper classes, remaining were banished, property of
the rich was confiscated, and it started a fifteen year long civil war.
People have not grasped the importance of this Revolution. This
Revolution was the beginning of the prosperity of not only France but
whole of Europe and has revolutionized the whole World. He explained
French Revolution in detail. He then explained that our aim is not only
to remove untouchabilty but to destroy chaturvarna, as the root cause
lies there. He explained how Patricians deceived Plebeians in the name
of religion. The root of untouchability lies in prohibition of
inter-caste marriages, that we have to break, he thundered. He appealed
to higher varnas to let this “Social Revolution” take place peacefully,
discard the sastras, and accept the principle of justice, and he assured
them peace from our side. Four resolutions were passed and a
Declaration of Equality was pronounced. After this manusmruti was burned
as mentioned above.
There was a strong reaction in chitpavan
brahmanical presstitutes; Babasaheb was called “Bheemaasura” by one
paper. Dr. Ambedkar justified the burning of manusmruti in various
articles. He ridiculed those people that they have not read the
manusmruti, and declared that we will never accept it. For those who say
it is an outdated booklet so why give importance to it, he invited
attention to atrocities on SC/STs and said, these are because
hindutvates are following this book. And further asked, if it is
outdated, how does it matter to you if somebody burns it. For those who
enquire, what is achieved by SC/STs by burning it, he retorted, what M.
Gandhi achieved by burning foreign clothes, what was achieved by burning
“Dnyana-prakash” which published about marriage of Khan-Malini, what
was achieved by those who burned Miss Mayo’s book “Mother India” in New
York, what was achieved by boycotting Simon Commission formed to frame
political reforms? These were the forms of registering the protests, so
was ours against manusmruti.
He further declared, that if
unfortunately, this burning of manusmruti does not result in destruction
of “chitpavan brahmanya”, we will have to either burn the “chitpavan
brahmanya-grast” people (i.e. affected by chitpavan brahmanism), or
renounce hindutva of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam Sevaks (RSS).
Let all of
us pay tribute to this great day by adopting online “manu smruti Dahan
Din” and to spread on all social media and the supporting media.
Courtesy: Posted on
December 25, 2014

Mayawati opposes Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
Daily Excelsior -

the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati
on Thursday said the Bill, brought in hurriedly by the Centre, was
completely divisive and unconstitutional.
The BSP president said to
grant citizenship on the basis of religion and discriminate among the
citizens on the basis of religion, etc was a step completely against the
desire and basic structure of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s humanitarian and
secular constitution. The BSP does not agree to the present form of this
Ms Mayawati said rather than imposing the Bill, brought in a
very unconstitutional and immature manner, much like demonetisation and
the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Centre should re-think on the
matter. It should be sent to a Parliamentary Committee for better
discussions and deliberations so that the Bill can be presented before
the people of the country in a constitutional manner.
The BSP chief
said she wanted to make it clear that if the Union government takes the
right and suitable decisions according to the Indian Constitution in the
country and public interest, they will rise above party-based politics
and support the Centre.
Further, the BSP honcho said her party has
always had a clear stand that if a policy is made after respecting
believers of every caste, community and religions, by not indulging in
narrow politics, it will be supported. If its the opposite case though,
her oppose will firmly oppose it.
The present Citizenship (Amendment)
Bill has many flaws and the Centre, for removing the same, should
deliberate and discuss the matter with all the parties before bringing
it in Parliament so that the various, serious apprehensions regarding it
are resolved. (UNI)                                             

Mayawati holds review meet of BSP

The Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Sunday held a review meeting
of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit here and issued instructions to the
leaders to remove shortcomings in functioning pointed out in earlier
such meetings, according to a statement.

stand taken by the party chief vis-a-vis the Citizenship (Amendment)
Bill was praised, and that there is positive discussion among people
regarding the stand taken by the party,” the statement issued by the BSP
Watch | All about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
CAB review sought

December 5, Ms. Mayawati had described the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
as “unconstitutional and divisive” and demanded that it be sent to a
parliamentary committee for review.

“Citizenship in the name of
religion and discrimination in the name of religion of the citizens
through it is totally against the basic structure of the humanitarian
and secular Constitution of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar,” she had said.
“Instead of forcing this Bill, like demonetisation and GST, the central
government should review it,” she said.

“It should be sent to a
parliamentary committee for better deliberations so that this Bill could
come before people in a proper manner that is in consonance with the
Constitution,” the BSP chief had said.  Comments:She is a strong lady of
99.9% All Aboriginal Awakened Societies  for Sarvajan Hithaya Sarvajan
Sukhaya i.e for the welfare, happiness and peace for all societies &
a good administrator. As CM of UP she distributed wealth of the State
equally among all sections of the society as enshrined in the
Constitution with her excellent administration and became the PM of this
country. This was not tolerated by  just 0.1% intolerant, violent,
militant, number one terrorists of the world, cunning, crooked, ever
shooting, mob lynching, lunatic, mentally retarded, timid, foreigners
from BENE ISRAEL CHITPAVAN BRAHMINS of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam SEvaks
(RSS) hence gobbled the Master Key through the slaves, stooges,
chamchas, chelas, bootlickers, own mother’s flesh eaters, Murderer of
democratic institution and Master of diluting institutions (Modi) by
tampering the filthy fraud EVMs.       Hence the solution is
Capturing the Master Key

Dr B.R Ambedkar has said that “political power is the master key using
which you can open all the doors of your progress and self respect”.

If Foreigners from Bene Israel chitpavan brahmins of Rowdy/Rakshasa Swayam
Sevaks (RSS) can call this as manusmriti manuvad hindutva land why can
not we declare this land as PRABUDDHA BHARAT for the benefit of All
Aboriginal Societies ?

As we were Buddhists, are Buddhists and continue to be Buddhists.


aim of Buddha, Jesus and Islam is the same, that is, to save people
from suffering and to lead them to welfare, happiness, peace and to
their Eternal Bliss as ultimate goal during Ashoka the Great’s rule with
pictures, videos and Maps.

Who was Ashoka?

became a patron of Buddhism, supporting the rise of the doctrine across
India. He reportedly dispatched emissaries to several countries,
including Syria and Greece, and he sent his own children as missionaries
to Sri Lanka.

Ashoka shared his new outlook on life through edicts carved into
stones and pillars located around the country at pilgrimage sites and
along busy trade routes. The edicts are considered among the first
examples of writing in Indian history. They were not carved in
Sanskrit—the official state language—but in local dialects, so that the
messages could be widely understood. For example, an edict near
modern-day Kandahar in Afghanistan, an area that had been under
Alexander the Great’s control for a period of time, is written in Greek
and Aramaic.

Tending to earthly needs

In addition to his edicts, Ashoka built stupas, monasteries, and
other religious structures at noteworthy Buddhist sites, such as
Sarnath. He was not an unworldly ruler, however. He efficiently managed a
centralized government from the Mauryan capital at Pataliputra. A large
bureaucracy collected taxes. Inspectors reported back to the emperor.
Irrigation expanded agriculture. Familiar hallmarks of ancient empires,
excellent roads were built connecting key trading and political centers;
Ashoka ordered that the roads have shade trees, wells, and inns.

Sarnath, pillar of faith

most famous pillar was erected at Sarnath, in the state of Uttar
Pradesh in northern India. The site is revered among Buddhist pilgrims
as the spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon and shared his Four
Noble Truths.

The pillar’s exquisitely carved capital, more than seven feet tall,
is divided into three sections. Its base is a lotus flower, a Buddhist
symbol. A cylindrical abacus features carvings of a horse, a lion, a
bull, and an elephant at the compass points of the cardinal directions,
with dharma wheels evenly spaced in between. At the top stand four
powerful lions, also facing the four cardinal directions and thought to
represent Ashoka’s power over all the land. The capital was adopted as
the national emblem of India in 1950 and is depicted on several of the
country’s coins and banknotes.


between the sixth and early fourth century B.C. by Siddhartha Gautama,
the Buddha or “awakened one with awareness,” Buddhism soon spread through India and
much of Asia. Buddha introduced the concept of peace through inner
discipline. His meditations told him that suffering came from desire for
sensory pleasures. Therefore, he laid out an Eightfold Path to inner
holiness: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct,
right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right

He taught that through meditation, discussion, humility, and denial
of a self, a person could achieve a perfect, peaceful state known as
nirvana. As years passed, increasing numbers of Buddhist monks fanned
out across Asia, acting as missionaries to promote the faith.

The Pillars of Ashoka

Ashokan pillar, c. 279 B.C.E. - 232 B.C.E, Vaishali, India (where Buddha preached his last sermon). Photo: Rajeev Kumar, CC: BY-SA 2.5)

A Buddhist king

happens when a powerful ruler adopts a new religion that contradicts
the life into which he was born? What about when this change occurs
during the height of his rule when things are pretty much going his way?
How is that information conveyed over a large geographical region with
thousands of inhabitants?
Ashoka, who many believe was an early convert to Buddhism, decided to
solve these problems by erecting pillars that rose some 50’ into the
sky. [1] The pillars were raised throughout the Magadha region in the
North of India that had emerged as the center of the first Indian
empire, the Mauryan Dynasty (322-185 B.C.E).  Written on these pillars,
intertwined in the message of Buddhist compassion, were the merits of
King Ashoka.
third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, Ashoka (pronounced Ashoke), who
ruled from c. 279 B.C.E. – 232 B.C.E., is widely believed to be the
first leader to accept Buddhism and thus the first major patron of
Buddhist art.  Ashoka made a dramatic conversion to Buddhism after
witnessing the carnage that resulted from his conquest of the village of
Kalinga. He adopted the teachings of the Buddha known as the Four Noble
Truths, referred to as the dharma (the law):
Life is suffering (suffering=rebirth)
the cause of suffering is desire
the cause of desire must be overcome
when desire is overcome, there is no more suffering (suffering=rebirth)
who come to fully understand the Four Noble Truths are able to achieve
Enlightenment, ending samsara, the endless cycle of birth and rebirth.
Ashoka also pledged to follow the Six Cardinal Perfections (the
Paramitas), which were codes of conduct created after the Buddha’s death
providing instructions for the Buddhist practitioners to follow a
compassionate Buddhist practice. Ashoka did not require that everyone in
his kingdom become Buddhist, and Buddhism did not become the state
religion, but through Ashoka’s support, it spread widely and rapidly.

The pillars

Asokan pillar capital at Vaishali, Bihar, India,
c. 250 B.C.E. (photo: mself, CC BY-SA 2.5)

One of Ashoka’s first artistic programs was to erect the pillars that
are now scattered throughout what was the Mauryan empire. The pillars
vary from 40 to 50 feet in height. They are cut from two different types
of stone—one for the shaft and another for the capital. The shaft was
almost always cut from a single piece of stone. Laborers cut and dragged
the stone from quarries in Mathura and Chunar, located in the northern
part of India within Ashoka’s empire. The pillars weigh about 50 tons
each. Only 19 of the original pillars survive and many are in fragments.
The first pillar was discovered in the 16th century.

Lotus and lion

physical appearance of the pillars underscores the Buddhist doctrine.
Most of the pillars were topped by sculptures of animals. Each pillar is
also topped by an inverted lotus flower, which is the most pervasive
symbol of Buddhism (a lotus flower rises from the muddy water to bloom
unblemished on the surface—thus the lotus became an analogy for the
Buddhist practitioner as he or she, living with the challenges of
everyday life and the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, was able to
achieve Enlightenment, or the knowledge of how to be released from
samsara, through following the Four Noble Truths). This flower, and the
animal that surmount it, form the capital, the topmost part of a column.
Most pillars are topped with a single lion or a bull in either seated
or standing positions. The Buddha was born into the Shakya or lion clan.
The lion, in many cultures, also indicates royalty or leadership. The
animals are always in the round and carved from a single piece of stone.
Ashoka Pillar at Lumbini, Nepal the birthplace of the Buddha 
(photo: Charlie Phillips, CC: BY 2.0)

The edicts

pillars had edicts (proclamations) inscribed upon them.  The edicts
were translated in the 1830s. Since the 17th century, 150 Ashokan edicts
have been found carved into the face of rocks and cave walls as well as
the pillars, all of which served to mark his kingdom, which stretched
across northern India and south to below the central Deccan plateau and
in areas now known as Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The
rocks and pillars were placed along trade routes and in border cities
where the edicts would be read by the largest number of people possible.
They were also erected at pilgrimage sites such as at Bodh Gaya, the
place of Buddha’s Enlightenment, and Sarnath, the site of his First
Sermon and Sanchi, where the Mahastupa, the Great Stupa of Sanchi, is
located (a stupa is a burial mound for an esteemed person. When the
Buddha died, he was cremated and his ashes were divided and buried in
several stupas. These stupas became pilgrimage sites for Buddhist

pillars were also inscribed with dedicatory inscriptions, which firmly
date them and name Ashoka as the patron. The script was Brahmi, the
language from which all Indic language developed. A few of the edicts
found in the western part of India are written in a script that is
closely related to Sanskrit and a pillar in Afghanistan is inscribed in
both Aramaic and Greek—demonstrating Ashoka’s desire to reach the many
cultures of his kingdom. Some of the inscriptions are secular in nature.
Ashoka apologizes for the massacre in Kalinga and assures the people
that he now only has their welfare in mind. Some boast of the good works
that Ashoka has done, underscoring his desire to provide for his

The Hinayana Period

pillars (and the stupas) were created in the Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle)
period. Hinayana is the first stage of Buddhism, roughly dated from the
sixth c. to the first century B.C.E., in which no images of the Buddha
were made. The memory of the historical Buddha and his teachings was
enough to sustain the practitioners. But several symbols became popular
as stand-ins for the human likeness of the Buddha. The lotus, as noted
above, is one. The lion, which is typically seen on the Ashokan pillars,
is another. The wheel (cakra) is a symbol of both samsara, the endless
circle of birth and rebirth, and the dharma, the Four Noble Truths.

Why a pillar?

are a few hypotheses about why Ashoka used the pillar as a means for
communicating his Buddhist message. It is quite possible that Persian
artists came to Ashoka’s empire in search of work, bringing with them
the form of the pillar, which was common in Persian art. But is also
likely that Ashoka chose the pillar because it was already an
established Indian art form. In both Buddhism and Hinduism, the pillar
symbolized the axis mundi (the axis on which the world spins).
pillars and edicts represent the first physical evidence of the
Buddhist faith. The inscriptions assert Ashoka’s Buddhism and support
his desire to spread the dharma throughout his kingdom. The edicts say
nothing about the philosophical aspects of Buddhism and scholars have
suggested that this demonstrates that Ashoka had a very simple and naïve
understanding of the dharma. But, as Ven S. Dhammika suggests, Ashoka’s
goal was not to expound on the truths of Buddhism, but to inform the
people of his reforms and encourage them to live a moral life. The
edicts, through their strategic placement and couched in the Buddhist
dharma, serve to underscore Ashoka’s administrative role and as a
tolerant leader.
Edict #6 is a good example:
Beloved of the Gods speaks thus: Twelve years after my coronation
started to have Dhamma edicts written for the welfare and happiness of
the people, and so that not transgressing them they might grow in the
Dhamma. Thinking: “How can the welfare and happiness of the people be
secured?” I give my attention to my relatives, to those dwelling far, so
I can lead them to happiness and then I act accordingly. I do the same
for all groups. I have honored all religions with various honors. But I
consider it best to meet with people personally.
Essay by Dr. Karen Shelby
[1] The
details and extent to which Emperor Ashoka was a practicing Buddhist is
a topic debated by scholars, though it is widely accepted that he was
the first major patron of Buddhist art on the Indian subcontinent. For
more discussions as to whether or not Ashoka was a “secular” ruler, see
Akeel Bilgrami, ed.,Beyond the Secular West (Columbia University Press,
2016); Charles Taylor and Alfred Stepan, eds., Boundaries of Toleration:
Religion, Culture, and Public Life (Columbia University Press, 2014);
and Ashis Nandy, “The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of
Religious Tolerance,” Alternatives XIII (1988), pp. 177-194. For more
on Ashoka’s relationship with the Buddhist community and
doctrine, see Alf Hiltebeitel, “King Asoka’s Dhamma,” in Dharma (University of Hawai’i Press, 2010), pp. 12-18 and John S. Strong, The Legend of King Asoka: A Study and Translation of the Asokavadana (Princeton University Press, 1983).

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Ashoka ancestors

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the MercifulMay Peace and Blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad

Introduction to Common Ground By H. R. H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad

Religions of the World and World PeaceAs of the year 2010 CE, 1431 AH,
at least 80% of the world’s popu-lation of 6.7 billion humans belong to
four of the world’s many re-ligions. Four out of five people on earth
are either Christian (32%), Muslim (23%), Hindu (14%) or Buddhist
(12%). Since religion (from the Latin ‘re-ligio’, meaning to
‘re-tie’ [man to Heaven]) is arguably the most powerful force in
shaping people’s attitudes and behaviour — in theory if not in practice —
it follows logically that if there is to be peace and harmony in the
world there must peace and harmony between religions as such, and in
particular between the world’s four largest religions.On October 13th
2007, 138 of the world’s leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals
(including such figures as the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Syria, Jordan,
Oman, Bosnia, Russia, and Istanbul) sent an Open Letter to the religious
leaders of Christianity. It was addressed to the leaders of the
Christian churches and denominations of the entire world, starting with
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. In essence, the Open Letter pro-posed,
based on verses from the Holy Qur’ān and the Holy Bible, that Islam and
Christianity share, at their core, the twin ‘golden’ command-ments of
the paramount importance of loving God and loving one’s
neighbour. Based on this joint common ground, it called for peace and
harmony between Christians and Muslims worldwide. That Open Letter
led to a historical global peace movement be-tween Muslims and
Christians specifically (as can be seen on,
and whilst it has not reduced wars as such be-tween Muslims
and Christians or ended mutual hatred and prejudice, it has done a
lot of good, by the Grace of God, and has noticeably changed
the tone between Muslim and Christian religious leaders and somewhat
deepened true understanding of each other’s religions in sig-nificant
ways. The A Common Word initiative was certainly not alone on the
world’s stage in attempting to make things better between people of
faith (one thinks in particular of the Alliance of Civilizations, H. M.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s Interfaith Initiative and
President Obama’s Cairo 2009 speech), but we think it nevertheless
significant that, for example, according to the October 2009 Pew Global
Report the percentage of Americans harbouring negative opinions about
Islam was 53% when only a few years earlier it was 59%. It is thus
possible to ameliorate tensions between two religious communities (even
though conflicts and wars rage and indeed have increased in number over
that same period of time) when religious leaders and intellectuals reach
out to each other with the right religious message.It was with all
these things in mind that, after detailed discus-sions with H.H. the
14th Dalai Lama, we conceived of the present ini-tiative. We
commissioned one of the Royal Academy’s Fellows, Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi —
a respected specialist in Islamic mysticism and a leading author
in comparative religion — to write an essay on the topic, which we then
asked him to expand into this treatise. We hope and pray that this book
will be blessed with the same kind of global effect between Muslims and
Buddhists that A Common Word Between Us and You did between Muslims and
Christians.Why Do We Need ‘Common Ground’?The specific intention and
goal of the commission was to identify a spiritual ‘Common
Ground’ (authentically based on the religious sacred texts of Islam and
Buddhism) between Muslims and Buddhists that will enable both
communities to love and respect each other not merely as human beings in
general, but also as Muslims and Buddhists in particu-lar. In other
words, we hoped to find out and understand what in our two great
religions — despite all of the many irreconcilable and unbridge-able
doctrinal, theological, juridical and other differences that we
do have between us and that we cannot and must not deny — we have in
common that will enable us to practise more loving mercy and respect
towards each other more because we are Muslims and Buddhists, and not
simply because we are all human beings. We believe that, despite the
dangers of syncretism, finding religious Common Ground is fruit-ful,
because Muslims at leastwill never be able to be whole-heartedly
enthusiastic about any ethic that does not even mention God or
refer back to Him. For God says in the Holy Qur’ān:But he who turneth
away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life, and I shall
bring him blind to the assem-bly on the Day of Resurrection. (The Holy
Qur’ān, Ta Ha, 20:124)

also:Restrain thyself along with those who cry unto their Lord at morn
and evening, seeking His Countenance; and let not thine eyes overlook
them, desiring the pomp of the life of the world; and obey not him whose
heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who followeth his own
lust and whose case hath been abandoned. (The Holy Qur’ān,Al-Kahf,
18:28)This explains why we do not simply propose a version of the
Sec-ond ‘Golden’ Commandment (‘Love thy Neighbour’) — versions of
which are indeed to be found in the same texts of Islam and Bud-dhism
(just as they are to be found in the sacred texts of Judaism,
Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism and Taoism amongst other
religions): without the First ‘Golden’ Commandment (‘Love thy
God’), the Second Commandment on its own inherently risks being
spiritually devoid of truth, and thus risks descending into a
superfi-cial sentimentalism without true virtue and goodness; it risks
being a secular ethic taking its stance on moods which we can conjure up
to ourselves on occasion, requiring nothing from the soul,
risking nothing, changing nothing, deceiving all. On the other hand,
one of the greatest ironies of many religious practitioners is
that despite the fact that their religions call for mercy and
respect between people, they disparage others (and deny them that mercy
and respect) if those others do not undertake the same paths of loving
mercy as them. Thus love of their own religions makes them
less lovingly merciful to other people rather making them more merci-ful
to other people! This seems to me as a Muslim to be particularly
ironic, because in all four traditional Sunni Juridical Schools of
Thought (Madhahib), as well as in traditional Shi’a thought and Ibadhi
thought — that is to say, in all the traditional juridical schools of
thought in Is-lam as such) — a person’s choice of religion is not
grounds for hostility against them (if they are not first hostile to
Muslims). Rather, Muslims are required to behave with mercy and justice
to all, believers and non-believers alike. God says in the Holy
Qur’ān:Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days
of God; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. /
Whoso doeth right, it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong, it is
against it. And afterward unto your Lord ye will be brought back. (The
Holy Qur’ān, Al-Jathiyah, 45:14–15)The same is clear in the following
passage from the Holy Qur’ān which starts by citing a prayer of earlier
believers:‘Our Lord! Make us not a trial for those who disbelieve, and
forgive us, our Lord! Lo! Thou, only Thou, are the Mighty, the Wise’. /
Verily ye have in them a goodly pattern for every-one who looketh to God
and the Last Day. And whosoever may turn away, lo! still God, He is the
Absolute, the Owner of Praise. / It may be that God will ordain love
between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. God is Mighty,
and God is Forgiving, Merciful. / God forbiddeth you not those who
warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from
your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with
them. Lo! God loveth the just dealers. (The Holy Qur’ān, Al-Mumta-hinah,
60:5–8)Thus Muslims must on principle show loving mercy and
respect to all those who are not waging war on them or driving them
from their homes (these thus being the conditions for just, defensive
war in Is-lam). Muslims must not make their mercy conditional upon other
peo-ple’s mercy, but it is nevertheless psychologically almost
inevitable that people will better appreciate their fellows more when
they know their fellows are also trying to show mercy and respect to
all. At least that was one of our chief assumptions in commissioning
this book. the Common GroundTurning to the book itself, we think
it not amiss to say that it has proved to be, by the grace
of God, in general a stunning piece of scholarship and a display
of depth of understanding and grandness of soul on behalf of the author.
That is not to say that every Mus-lim — or every Buddhist — will
accept, or even understand, ev-erything that the author says, but
nevertheless it can fairly be said that the book is generally normative
from the Islamic point of view (especially in that it is deliberately
based on the Holy Qur’ān, theHadith and the insights of the great
scholar and mystic Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali) and that it examines all the
major schools of Buddhist thought (as I understand them). Moreover, the
book shows beyond any reasonable doubt some very important similarities
and parallels between Islam and Buddhism, and in particular the
following:(1) The belief in the Ultimate Truth (Al-Haqq) who is also
Ab-solutely One, and who is Absolute Reality, and the Source of Grace
and Guidance to human beings.(2) The belief that each soul is
accountable to a principle of jus-tice in the Hereafter, and that this
principle is rooted in the very nature of Absolute Reality. (3) The
belief in the categorical moral imperative of exercis-ing
compassion and mercy to all, if not in the central cos-mogonic and
eschatological functions of mercy (by this we mean the idea that the
world was created through Mercy, and that through Mercy we are
saved and delivered).(4) The belief that human beings are capable of
supra-rational knowledge, the source both of salvation in the Hereafter
and enlightenment in the here-below. (5) The belief in the possibility
of a sanctified state for human beings, and the conviction that all
should aspire to this state of sanctity. (6) The belief in the efficacy
and necessity of spiritual practice:whether this take the form of
fervent prayer, contemplative meditation, or methodic invocation.(7)
The belief in the necessity of detachment from the world, from
the ego and its passional desires.As regards the Buddha’s not mentioning
of God as Creator, this is def-initely an absolute difference between
Muslims and Buddhists but if it is understood that the One is God, and
that the Buddha’s silence on the One as Creator is not a denial as such,
then it is possible to say that the points above certainly make
for substantial ‘Common Ground’ between Islam and Buddhism, despite
the many unbridgeable differ-ences between them. Certainly, these points
can be taken as constitut-ing or ‘establishing’ the core of
religion — and not being ‘divided’ therein, and this is precisely
what God says in the Holy Qur’ān is the essential message of the most
important messengers of God:He hath ordained for you that religion which
He commend-ed unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muham-mad),
and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying:
Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the
idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. God chooseth for Himself
whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward
Him).(The Holy Qur’ān, Al-Shura, 42:13)One might also say that these
points also make up the substance of the Two Greatest Commandments:
the belief in the One Absolute Truth and striving for detachment
from the world, the ego and the body through spiritual practices and
striving for sanctity (and hence supra-rational knowledge) might be
considered an inverse way of achieving the First Commandment,
and the categorical imperative of compassion and mercy is
clearly the Second Commandment in different words, if not the First
Commandment as well(with the im-mortality of the soul being indicated in
both Commandments by the naming of the whole ‘heart’). And God knows
best.People of the Scripture (Ahl Al-Kitab)All of the above leads us to
conclude as Muslims that the Buddha, whose basic guidance one in
ten people on earth have been in principle following for the
last 2500 years, was, in all likelihood — and God knows best — one
of God’s great Messengers, even if many Muslims will not accept
everything in the Pali Canon as being authentically attributable to
the Buddha. For if the Buddha is not mentioned in the Holy Qur’ān
by name, nevertheless it is clear that God says that every people
had their own ‘warner’ and that there were Messengers not
mentioned in the Holy Qur’ān:Lo! We have sent thee with the Truth, a
bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and there is not a nation but a
warner hath passed among them. (The Holy Qur’ān, Al-Fatir, 35:24)Verily
We sent messengers before thee, among them those of whom We have told
thee, and some of whom We have not told thee; and it was not given to
any messenger that he should bring a portent save by God’s leave, but
when God’s commandment cometh (the cause) is judged aright, and the
followers of vanity will then be lost. (The Holy Qur’ān, Al-Ghafir,
40:78)It seems to us then that the Umayyads and the Abbasids
were en-tirely correct in regarding Buddhists as if they were ‘Ahl
Al-Kitab’ (‘Fellow People of a Revealed Scripture’). This is in fact how
mil-lions of ordinary Muslim believers have unspokenly regarded their
pious Buddhists neighbours for hundreds of years, despite what
their scholars will tell them about doctrinal difference between the two
faiths.On a more personal note, may I say that I had read Zen Bud-dhist
texts as a younger man when studying in the West (such as some of the
writings of D.T. Suzuki and such as Eugen Herrigel’s seminal Zen in the
Art of Archery). I had greatly appreciated them, without for all that
being fully able to situate Buddhism in the con-text of my own faith,
Islam. More recently, I had noticed in myself an effect when meeting
with H. H. the Dalai Lama. It was simply this: I performed the five
daily prayers with greater concentration, and during the rest of
the day I was better able to monitor my own thoughts, and censor
and control my own impulses more eas-ily. I did not have any
particular urge to go out and learn more about Buddhism, as one
might expect, but I nevertheless realised that there was something
positive taking place. I asked my friend Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson
(who I knew had read a lot about Buddhism) why he thought this
happened, and he wisely answered that this was because: ‘Buddhists are
heirs to a very powerful spir-itual training’. Thus I am personally very
gratified to learn of the underlying Common Ground between Islam and
Buddhism in an explicit manner. Indeed, as a Muslim I am relieved and
delighted — if I may say so — to know that one eighth of the world who
is not Muslim practises Buddhism and makes the practice of
com-passion and mercy the centre of their lives (in theory at least).
And I hope that this book will lead to Muslims and Buddhists vying in
the compassion and mercy which is at the core of both their reli-gions.
God says in the Holy Qur’ān:And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture
with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a
watcher over it. So judge between them by that which God hath revealed,
and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto
thee. For each We have ap-pointed a law and a way. Had God willed He
could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which
He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another
in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will then inform you
of that wherein ye differ. (The Holy Qur’ān, Al-Ma’idah, 5:48)
Earlier Common Ground ?It would be amiss not to mention that although this book may repre-sent one of the first — if not the first — major attempt at a scholarly spiritual comparison between Buddhism as such and Islam as such in our modern age, there have been some very brilliant and serious intellectual and spiritual exchanges in the past between Islam and the ‘Three (Great) Teachings’ of China (Confucianism, Taoism and Bud-dhism). This is evinced in particular by the works of indigenous Chi-nese Muslims (the ‘Han Kitab’) during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in particular the two figures Wang Daiyu(ca. 1570–1660 CE)and Liu Zhi (ca. 1670–1724 CE). This work has been recently brought to light and translated into English (ironically, it is more or less unknown in Arabic and in modern Chinese) by Pro-fessors William Chittick, Sachiko Murata and Tu Weiming. Currently this team of scholars has produced the two following seminal books: (1) Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: Wang Tai-yü’s ‘Great Learning of the Pure and Real’ and Liu Chih’s ‘Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm’ (State University of New York Press, 2000); (2) The Sage Learning of Liu Zhi: Islamic Thought in Confucian Terms(Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Asia Centre, 2009). They are also working on Wang Daiyu’s The Real Commentary on the True Teaching (first published in 1642 CE). These works represent a criti-cal resource for mutual understanding between China and Islam, and scholars interested in delving further into spiritual comparisons be-tween Islam and Buddhism (as well as Confucianism and Taoism) could not do better than to start here. We hope that these treasures will be translated into Arabic and modern Chinese and made widely avail-able. When we make full use of the wisdom of the past, and combine it with the knowledge of today, we are better equipped to face the uncertainties of the future.And all praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds.The opinions expressed above represent solely Prince Ghazi’s per-sonal and private views and do not represent the views of the gov-ernment and people of Jordan in any way; nor are they meant to bear upon political issues in any form whatsoever.H. R. H. Prince Ghazi bin MuhammadMarch 2010

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