The Purposeful Journey (5)©

Arising renewed from peaceful slumber, you stand, facing me, “Rav, have you taken this journey before?”

“Of course, my child. I have traveled the Unborn ‘road and not-road’ many times in past universes. You would think I could draw a map, but, I cannot for each journey encompasses new geography and new adventures. Moreover, whenever I bring another with me, the rest areas metamorphose so to adjust to the needs of the new one.”

One of you asks, “Where to next? Shall we click the heels of our Seven League Boots three times, pretending we are Dorothy of Oz?”

I reply, “Why not. I always enjoyed my visits to Oz. Those four witches are a trip after you get to know them. OK, ready or not here we go . . . one tap . . . two taps . . . three taps . . . off to Never-No-Where land!”

And with that the travelers bodies turned to smoke, contracting to a central point, and disappeared from the Garden Isle.

Poof . . . the travelers found themselves standing just outside a semicircle of monks and nuns in saffron colored gowns listening to a gentleman sitting on a stone in front of them. He was speaking in a language unknown to them. I quietly said, “Do not worry. In another moment or two you will understand the Pali language. We are sitting with my old friend, Siddhārtha Gautama Shakyamuni. Known to you as the Buddha. None of the monks or nuns know we are here. The Buddha knows we are here. Let us see what he has to say which is meant for our needs.”

Then Uttiya the wanderer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One,

“Master Gotama, is it the case that ‘The cosmos is eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Uttiya, I haven’t declared that ‘The cosmos is eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless.'”

“Very well, then, Master Gotama, is it the case that: ‘The cosmos is not eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Uttiya, I haven’t declared that ‘The cosmos is not eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless.'”

“Very well, then, Master Gotama, is it the case that ‘The cosmos is finite… The cosmos is infinite… The soul & the body are the same… The soul is one thing and the body another… After death a Tathagata exists… After death a Tathagata does not exist… After death a Tathagata both does & does not exist… After death a Tathagata neither does nor does not exist. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless’?”

“Uttiya, I haven’t declared that ‘After death a Tathagata neither does nor does not exist: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless.'”

“But, Master Gotama, on being asked, ‘Is it the case that “The cosmos is eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless”?’ you inform me, ‘Uttiya, I haven’t declared that “The cosmos is eternal: Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless.”‘ On being asked, ‘Is it the case that “The cosmos is not eternal… The cosmos is finite… The cosmos is infinite… The soul & the body are the same… The soul is one thing and the body another… After death a Tathagata exists… After death a Tathagata does not exist… After death a Tathagata both does & does not exist… After death a Tathagata neither does nor does not exist. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless”?’ you inform me, ‘Uttiya, I haven’t declared that “After death a Tathagata neither does nor does not exist. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless.”‘ Now is there anything you have declared?”

“Uttiya, having directly known it, I teach the Dhamma to my disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding.”

“And, Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the cosmos be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?”

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

Then the thought occurred to Ven. Ananda: “Don’t let Uttiya the wanderer acquire the evil viewpoint that, ‘When I asked him an all-encompassing question, Gotama the contemplative faltered and didn’t reply. Perhaps he was unable to.’ That would be for his long-term harm & suffering.” So he said to Uttiya, “In that case, my friend, I will give you an analogy, for there are cases where it is through the use of analogy that intelligent people can understand the meaning of what is being said.

“Uttiya, suppose that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong ramparts, strong walls & arches, and a single gate. In it would be a wise, competent, & knowledgeable gatekeeper to keep out those he didn’t know and to let in those he did. Patrolling the path around the city, he wouldn’t see a crack or an opening in the walls big enough for even a cat to slip through. Although he wouldn’t know that ‘So-and-so many creatures enter or leave the city,’ he would know this: ‘Whatever large creatures enter or leave the city all enter or leave it through this gate.’

“In the same way, the Tathagata isn’t concerned with whether all the cosmos or half of it or a third of it will be led to release by means of that [Dhamma]. But he does know this: ‘All those who have been led, are being led, or will be led [to release] from the cosmos have done so, are doing so, or will do so after having abandoned the five hindrances — those defilements of awareness that weaken discernment — having well-established[1] their minds in the four frames of reference, and having developed, as they have come to be, the seven factors for Awakening. When you asked the Blessed One this question, you had already asked it in another way.[2] That’s why he didn’t respond.”[From “Uttiya Sutta: To Uttiya” (AN 10.95), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013]

When the Buddha finished, the Ven. Ananda, his cousin, released the monks and nuns to their alms rounds. Ananda and the Buddha remained.

Our Rav approached the Blessed One, exchanging courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “My dear friend, I am escorting my worthy friends upon the Unborn path and not-path to enlightened understanding and our second step brought us to this grove and to the Lord Buddha.”

Lord Buddha smiled saying, “Old friend, so it would appear. Time is a curious fellow. Tell me of your journey.”

Rav replied, “Blessed One, in our time, we have learned much about the composition, structure, and laws underlying the physical world. We understand much of physicality from the imaginably small to the almost finitely large. Our medical scientists can image the workings of the human brain and correlate it to mental health and illness. Truly, all is impermanent, but change sometimes brings more knowledge. Still, old friend, the Dhamma remains true as to suffering and the cessation of suffering.”

Lord Buddha said nothing. He listened with a most serene smile upon his lips.

Continuing, Rav said, “Blessed One, I remember your aversion to discussing metaphysics with your monks–as such was not useful for liberation. But, in our time, we desire more than liberation from the round of rebirth. Rather than individual liberation, the stream enterers desire to remain within samsara (nibbana with residue) for the world will not survive without such helpers. Our advancements have given mankind the power to destroy the earth in its entirety. It is our fate to travel the paths of Work and of Study.”

The Blesses One replied,”I understand friend. Still, it remains true that all creatures suffer from greed, aversion, and confusion and so live life in error.”

“Yes, Blessed One. Suffering has not changed, but science has shown that mankind may be able to remove greed, aversion, and confusion from its very being and so become true stewards of the universe and all creatures within it.” replied Rav. “People still live in confusion, arguing over the existence or nonexistence of Ātman, the number of heavens and hells, and all of the ten questions you refused to answer in your day. Now, we need you to break your silence for the benefit of these stream enterers, old and true friend.”

Lord Buddha closed his eyes and entered into deep meditation for several minutes. He opened his eyes saying, “I see the problem of the future and I shall break my silence. The answer is not simple to understand in its fullness. So I will only provide some help for your party. They must continue this journey of learning so they will be able to address the needs of this future. The answer awaits at the end, just as it did at the beginning”

The Buddha began, “When you understand the meaning of these verses, you will know how to find the answer to your question: There is Ātman and there is not-Ātman. There is neither Ātman nor not-Ātman. No more shall I tell you.” And with this being said, the travelers found themself alone within the grove.

Rav said, “Then, I suggest you all sit in vipassana so to allow this question to settle deep into your psychocerebri as a seed for further study.” And soon all were deeply absorbed having passed into the eighth jnana.

Go To:  https://www.freedomexercises.org/library-1.html to continue with the Saga of Prince Morningstar . . .

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