using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 51 of the “poverty of his merit,” his perception changes. He now sees the naga maidens as fear- some she-yakkhas (ogres) and the crystal palace as a dreaded prison-house. This anticipates by many centuries a statement by the great Zen master Dogen: Some beings see water as wondrous blos- soms, but they do not use blossoms as water. Hungry ghosts see water as raging fire or pus and blood. Dragons see water as a palace or a pavilion. Some beings see water as a forest or a wall. Some see it as the dharma nature of pure liberation, the true human body, or as the form of body and the essence of mind. Human beings see water as water. Water is seen as dead or alive depending on causes and conditions. —from Dogen’s Mountains and Water Sutra, translated by Arnold Kotler and Kazuaki Tanahashi There are a pair of contemplations that are often used as preliminary practice in Tibetan Buddhism: the horror of samsara and the pre- ciousness of human rebirth. (While these are not found as a pair in the Theravada texts, they can both be found separately.) These contem- plations are skillful means for establishing the right attitude to practice dharma. Both are firmly grounded in the cosmological vision. The hor- ror of samsara in the first instance refers to the continual suffering found here. The Buddha says that the tears we have shed over the loss of loved ones in our beginningless wandering makes the great ocean look like a puddle. He also says that it’s as difficult for a being who has fallen into the lower realms to find his way back as it is for a blind tortoise who surfaces once in a hundred years to put his neck through a yoke floating on the surface of the sea. But on a deeper level, the horror of samsara rests in its ultimate futility. A being can experience the sensual bliss of Tavatimsa but then be reborn as a dog. For those in the midst of samsara, it all seems so real and vital, but it is ultimately mean- ingless and leads only to more of the same. The brahma looking down on the thousand worlds below may understand this about the world of sensuality, but a higher brahma sees his whole universe reduced to just one in a thousand as well! In the Vimanavatthu the laywoman Uttara says, “The circle of the world is too narrow, the realm of brahma is too low,” and this statement is approved by the Buddha: “Sadhu! Sadhu!” This statement takes on an added dimension of power when we understand just how vast samsara was thought to be, as well as how high the world of brahma was envisioned. But in the end, it is all just conditioned phenomena; hell- beings, humans, devas, and brahmas are all alike in their suffering and their impermanent, empty natures. The whole cosmos, from top to bottom, must be abandoned to realize the unconditioned, the true goal of Buddhist practice. In the midst of this multilayered and teeming cosmos, there is the possibility of human rebirth. This is considered a rare and precious thing, the result of previously having made good karma. The human state is considered precious because it is the best station from which to achieve lib- eration and put an end to the whole merry-go- round. It is here that the Buddhas arise. (Indeed in the classic Theravada view, all Buddhas arise in the Middle Country of north-central India, on the continent of Jambudipa and nowhere else.) It is as a human that the balance of pleasure and pain is ideal; in the lower realms beings are overwhelmed by misery, and in the upper realms they are intoxicated by pleasure. The wis- est among the devas long for a human rebirth. Without a conception of the broader cosmology, it is hard to understand the full implications of the preciousness of human rebirth. When asked point-blank, “Are there gods?” the Buddha answered, “There are indeed!”