Existence and Enlightenment in the Lankavatara sutra by Florin Giripescu Sutton

By Florin Giripescu Sutton

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The chapter on Causation (Hetu-pratyaya, causes and conditions). -vis the question of how one can know the truth in a world characterized by change and impermanency. The issue of causality is crucial in answering this question, for, jf we know how things are derived from one another, we may also know which things are primary and which are secondary, and perhaps arrive at the first cause, the creator, the atom, and so on. However, the frame of mind from which the author of the Sutra begins his inquiry into the issues related to Causation may be summarized by the disjunctive formula: Neither this, nor that .

Bearing all this in mind, I shall now describe how I have structured the wealth of ideas scattered rather amorphously throughout the ten chapters of the Lailkavattira-siitra. e different doctrines dealing with various aspects of Being: its inner essence, and its outer manifestations in time and space. The initial introductory section (ch. ) is an atempt at placing the Buddhist view of the world within the larger spectrum of possible ontological interpretations available in both Eastern and Western rehgiophilosophical traditions.

It is the cognitive equivalent of Tathagata-garbha, when taken to mean either the universal womb, in which all beings are included, or the essence of all dharmas (or existential building blocks). A modern approximation may also be found in the Jungian concept of the Collective Unconscious, remote as itmay be from the cultural point of view. There are two reasons why this third meaning of cit/a cannot stand by itself (apart from the first two) as a denial of the external world as such: First, it is, in the final analysis, a psychological construct rather than an ontological assessment of Reality beyond the mental realm of cognition, and second, like any construct, its spurious nature is due to artificial discrimination (vikalpa), based upon conventional language and error (bhriinti), both removed from Reality as such.

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