Spiritual inquiry in Buddhism

by Fenner, Peter


Vol. 17 No. 2 Fall.1994


Copyright by ReVision

Buddhism stands unique among the world's spiritual traditions for its rich set of methods for integrating rigorous conceptual inquiry with the art of meditation. In Buddhist meditation we find intriguing techniques such as the Zen use of insight riddles (koan) and the sophisticated Middle Path (Madhyamika) method of paradoxical deconstruction (prasanga-vicara). These methods cut directly across the rift between intellectual activity and deep contemplation by harnessing the tremendous power and momentum of thought to effect an "inside job" in propelling consciousness to a direct, un-mediated encounter with reality. Similarly, the time-honored and ancient Buddhist tradition of mindfulness meditation (satipatthana) uses discrimination as a resource to produce a simple, close, and uncluttered appreciation of our immediate experience. Rather than fight against the dominating and pervasive presence of thought, these traditions turn our need to interpret and understand into a tool for penetrating spiritual inquiry. It would seem that Buddhism has achieved a balance wherein thought is used to help disclose rather than conceal the deepest spiritual truths. Although this interpretation of Buddhist meditation might appear comfort-ing to western "intellectual and scientific" Buddhists, there often lurks a suspicion among "serious" meditators and practitioners that any interpretation of the spiritual endeavor that values conceptual inquiry is yet another manifestation of the dilution and degeneration of Buddhism (the dharma). Thus, within spiritual traditions, we often see a divide between the thinkers (the philosophers, scientists, translators, and academics) and the practitioners (the meditators and yogis). Moreover, this divide is not only a social phenomenon. At a more fundamental level, it discloses a dilemma for all "thoughtful practitioners," that is, all practitioners who still find themselves thinking. The dilemma revolves around the question of the role and value of spiritual inquiry and understanding. To the extent that we acknowledge that purposeful inquiry and interpretation can both conceal and disclose the liberating reality (tattva) that we seek, we are forever in a dilemma about whether our own spiritual actions are bringing us closer to our goal or pushing us further away. Is our inquiry progressive or regressive? How can we tell? Is it helpful or harmful to search for, or invent, a means to distinguish helpful from harmful forms of inquiry? We are not even sure whether asking this very question is helpful or harmful. Is the time spent reading and engaging with this essay merely an intellectual indulgence or is it spiritually valuable? Is what I am doing right now central or tangential to my spiritual pursuits? In order to engage with these questions, I will begin by contrasting two seemingly contrary positions about the role of inquiry in the spiritual endeavor within Buddhism. I call these positions the "orthodox" and "unorthodox." The orthodox position is represented by the more mainstream Buddhist traditions, in which the claim is made that spiritual inquiry can help disclose the insight that frees us from ignorance and suffering. Within these traditions, spiritual inquiry is viewed as a method or device (upaya) for helping students see through the illusions of egoism and self-centeredness. The unorthodox position can be found within a handful of more esoteric Buddhist traditions, such as the Complete Seal (Mahamudra), Complete Fulfillment (rDzogs chen) and early Chinese Zen, which teach that all forms of spiritual inquiry are irrelevant, or even counterproductive, in terms of achieving spiritual awakening. Some texts and spiritual masters present the unorthodox perspective selectively, while others present it in a quite uncompromising form. These two sets of traditions, the orthodox, in which meditative investigation is advocated and used, and the unorthodox, in which such methods are repudiated. focus on the dilemma we are addressing in an acute and pronounced way. The radical difference in these two positions opens up the possibilities that spiritual inquiry is (1) helpful, (2) harmful, or (3) irrelevant to spiritual understanding.[2] While this essay will focus on the role of spiritual inquiry in Buddhism. the predicament we are addressing is encountered by all spiritual practitioners, because the question of whether "what one is doing" has spiritual value or not is a concern for practitioners of any religious, philosophical, or psychological system. Thus, though our discussion is of Buddhism, the implications of our analysis can be applied to the methods that occur in any religious or metaphysical tradition, such as prayer. liturgy, textual study, and contemplation. We will begin our own "inquiry" by briefly examining some of the important and representative forms of spiritual inquiry in Buddhism. In particular. we will look at mindfulness practice (sati-patthana and zazen), insight riddles (koan), and paradoxical deconstruction (prasanga-vicara). In order to provide the critique of spiritual inquiry we will mainly draw on the Complete Fulfillment tradition (rDzogs chen), though we will also refer to Zen, the Complete Seal (Mahamudra), and an unaligned Indian master. The main material liar this critique will come from a text by a fourteenth century Tibetan master, kLong chen pa. We will use extracts that present a comprehensive critique of goal-oriented forms of Buddhism. TYPES OF INQUIRY Mindfulness Meditation In early Buddhism, which is most accurately represented today by the Theravada tradition, we find a very basic and accessible form of spiritual inquiry called mindfulness meditation (satipatthana). This method is popular in the West, where it is taught as "mindfulness" or "insight meditation" by Western and Asian teachers such as Joseph Goldstein (1983,1993), Jack Kornfield (1993), Ayya Khema (1987), and Thich Nhat Hanh (1991, 1993). In this meditative practice, we learn to recognize and observe the individual components that make up the full range of human experience. The exercise is to attend to the different processes and phenomena that occur in the here-and-now as we are sitting in meditative posture or engaged in the various activities of our lives. This involves systematically observing our experience to find out what is there. The process of attending to our experience is assisted, in some interpretations of mindfulness, by applying simple and generic labels to the phenomena we observe. The intention is only to be aware of what is occurring in the present moment; we are nol looking for an answer to a problem we might have posed. Nor do we attend to our experience for the purpose of producing a theory or explanation about why things behave in the ways that they do. The Discourse on Mindfulness (Sati-patthana Sutta) taught by the Buddha describes this science of systematic observation in great detail. It lays out the processes and phenomena towards which the meditator directs his or her attention. For example, with respect to one's body one may serially attend to one's breathing and to the position of one's body--whether it is upright, settled, or prostrate. Within these positions one observes whether one is looking towards or away from something, whether one is moving or stationary, bending, stretching, eating, drinking, chewing, savoring, falling asleep, waking up. speaking, or remaining silent. With respect to one's feelings, one identifies whether what one is feeling is pleasant, painful, or neither and whether the feelings are of a worldly or spiritual form. One also observes the arising and dissolution of these various feelings. With respect to emotions and mental states, one recognizes the presence or absence of different moods and emotions, such as desire, hate, excitement, anger, worry, joy, love, agitation, torpor, and doubt. One also observes the presence or absence of ignorance and whether one's mental state is contracted or expanded, inferior or superior, concentrated or unconcentrated, free or constrained. With respect to the different dimensions (skandha) of our experience, one observes whether one is attending to a physical form (rupa), a Feeling (vedana), a perception (samjna), a drive or impulse (samskara), or consciousness itself (citta). In the domain of spiritual experiences one observes the presence or absence of mindfulness, inquiry, energy, joy, relaxation, concentration and equanimity.[3] The initial task in mindfulness meditation is to see things as they are in order to filter out thoughts, feelings, attitudes, etc., that disturb the emergence of peaceful awareness. As Ayya Khema (1987, 16) explains: When thoughts arise, look at them, give them a name. Whether it is a correct label or not doesn't matter. Any label during meditation means the thought needs to be dropped. When you have learned to label in meditation you will be able to label thought as wholesome, profitable, skillful or otherwise in daily living also. When you know it's not skillful or wholesome you can let it go. The ultimate aim of mindfulness meditation is to bring us into contact with the raw sensory information of our experience. When we get beneath the interpretative filters with which we analyze and add complexity to our experience, we discover that all compounded phenomena are impermanent, signless, and self-less. This recognition does not come through looking for these characteristics. They am not confirmed as the conclusion of an empirical hypothesis. Rather, reality simply shows up as constantly changing and without any abiding essence. As this practice matures the meditator also realizes that there is no self within the aggregation of components that constitute people and their experience. There is no stable observer observing what is being observed. The very instant an observer is identified, it takes on the characteristics of that which is being observed. At some level there is a witnessing or registration of experience but this registration dissolves into nothing as it is instantaneously replaced by another gestalt of sense datum. There is no core entity linking experience together as our experience. Our sense of personal continuity breaks down into an experience of disparate mental constructs built on notions of time, space, and experience. We discover that there is nothing within the physical body, feelings, perceptions, drives, and mental events that constitutes a person, self, or soul. This realization, which comes as the result of this inquiry, progressively frees the meditator from pain and suffering because there is no self to suffer. Ultimately the meditator ceases to exist as an independent entity. His or her conditioned experience (samsara) transforms into an experience of unconditional freedom (nirvana) which transcends all notions of time, space, and existence. The tradition of mindfulness meditation is also central to Zen Buddhism. In Soto Zen, the main practice is zazen, or sitting meditation. Traditionally, Japanese Soto is considered to have been established by Dogen Kigen (1200--1253) The practice he advocated is known as "only zazen (shikan taza)." In his great work, the Shobogenzo, he claimed that "Zazen is the Buddha-dhar-ma and the Buddha-dharma is zazen."[4] He describes zazen in this way: For sanzen [in this case, doing zazen as instructed by a master], a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Cast aside all involvement and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros or cons. Cease all movement the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think of not thinking. How do you think of not thinking? Without thinking. This is the essential art of zazen. (Kasulis 1981, 70 71) The main difference between Theravada mindfulness meditation patthana) and simply sitting (zazen) is that less texture is laid over our experience in the practice of simply sitting. Whereas in mindfulness practice we are offered a set of predefined categories through which to observe our experience, in simply sitting, the practice is to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they naturally present themselves to us. We do not even distinguish between our thoughts, feelings, etc., unless this is what we are already doing. In simply sitting (Kasulis 1981, 71-77) one enters a state "without thinking (hishiryo)." This is not a state of not thinking, for this would exclude thoughts. Nor is it a state of thinking, for this, would preclude no thought. So in simply sitting we enter a space of disclosure that allows whatever is there--thoughts or no thoughts--to be there, just as they are. Insight Puzzles (Koans) In the Rinzai (Chinese, Lin-chi) school of Zen (Miura and Sasaki 1965) the practice of simply sitting is combined with the use of insight fiddles called koans (Chinese, kung-an). The koan method of inquiry began in China in the twelfth century with the Sung masters. It was systematized in Japan in the thirteenth century. The koan is a kind of puzzle or problem given to a student by a master. The idea is that the koan brings to the surface a fundamental dilemma that lies within the student's mind and that obscures spiritual awakening. The student of Zen is invited to solve a puzzle that defies conceptual resolution. Sometimes the koans are dialectical in structure. For example, they might report a terse historical exchange (mondo) between a famous master and a student. A well-known koan of this type comes from an exchange between the ninth-century Chinese master Chao-chou (Japanese, Joahu) in which a monk asked Master Chao-chou: "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not? Chao-chou answered: "Mu!" In tinge this has developed into the koan, "Show me mu! Other koans are nonsensical claims or utterances that the student is invited to resolve. Hui neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, often set his students to work on the koan, "What was your original aspect before your mother and father were born?" Hakuin Zenji, a great reformer of Rinzai Zen, used to ask his students: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Alternatively, a master might deliver the koan to a student by holding up a staff and saying: "This is not a staff. What is it?" koan inquiry, then, is driven by the need to find an intelligible solution to a seemingly conceptual problem. By working through a series of koans the student progressively deconstructs the cognitive structures in her or his psyche that give rise to personal and spiritual conflicts. If this process is handled skillfully and diligently, the student will have a nonconceptual insight experience (satori or kensho) that is a taste of the full-blown experience of illumination or enlightenment. This experience, which is undeniable and revolutionary, then takes progressive hold in the life of the student as it is assimilated and consolidated. The first experience of insight (satori) was expected within two or three years of beginning koan practice. The full integration of this experience could take another ten to fifteen years (Miura and Sasaki 1965, 29). One cannot underestimate the intensity of the process leading up to the first experience of satori. D. T. Suzuki likens the process to being asked by the Zen master to climb to the top of a hundred-foot pole and then "execute a desperate leap utterly disregarding your existential safety" (Suzuki 1970. 50). The leap, of course, is the transcendence of egocentricity. The initial objective of the koan is to propel the student into an experience called the "great doubt (daigi)." The immense effort that the student has expended in working on the koan comes back in her or his face as the "great doubt block (daigidan)." Everything that the student believes he or she has left behind suddenly appears directly in front as a massive and immovable boulder blocking any further progress. It is as though the student, in attempting to transcend his or her ego, has in fact been consolidating his or her distinctiveness. The history of inquiring into the koan has been appropriated by the ego as evidence of the student' s commitment and spiritual worthiness to gain satori. Any attempt to move the boulder only adds to its size and sets it more firmly in place. Toward forcing the student into an experience of the "great doubt," koan practice is combined with the practice of zazen, or strict meditation. This combination produces a potent and highly charged environment in which the chances of achieving breakthrough insight (satori) are greatly enhanced. On top of the regular daily practice are frequent periods of still more intensified koan work called sesshin. During these periods the student meditates for up to eighteen hours a day and is required to have a formal interview with the master a number of times each day offering a "solution" to the koan. At times the intensity and seeming significance of these "encounters" is such that the student has to be forcibly dragged into the master's room by other students. As Richard De Martino (1970, 161) writes: Under the stimulation of such a regimen with its taut and serious atmosphere, the given koan may begin to take effect. The student, prodded by the stick of the head monk when dozing comes upon him, exertion wanes, or stiffness and tiredness set in, and spurred, inspired, goaded or even driven by the master, finds himself to be more and more caught by his koan. As his each response to it is rejected, he becomes increasingly dislodged, shaken, and unsteady in whatever assurance or complacency he originally had. The koan takes on the dimensions of a life-and-death struggle for the ego. "The koan thus comes to be . . . a living crisis, taking over as the central and exclusive concern of . . . [the student's] entire being" (De Martino 1970, 161). In working with a koan, the Zen student attempts to keep his or her inquiry active at all times. The student becomes totally obsessed by the koan. Every attempt to solve the puzzle intellectually is rejected by the master. But the search goes on unabated and with ever increasing intensity. The bankruptcy of the mind to find a solution places the student under tremendous pressure. The ego "holding onto this last remnant of itself . . . feels that it can still, at least for the present, preserve itself, albeit in an almost intolerable condition . . . . The ego, in an existential quandary which it can neither compose, endure, abandon, or escape, is unable to advance, unable to retreat, unable to stand fixed" (De Martino 1970, 162-163). Yet, the master continues, unrelentingly, to demand that the student resolve this insane predicament. The master demands that the student fully experience and live the contradiction that being an ego entails. Finally, when the student is at the point of total and utter desperation, the intellect can break open and allow the nature of the mind itself to appear in a satori experience. This represents a cataclysmic breakdown of the ego's defenses in which the student simultaneously dies and is reborn as simply a focus of awareness. It is a "great awakening" in which the student is irrevocably propelled into an infinitely more spacious and unrestricted level of awareness. Mind gives way to no-mind, and from here on the student allows the experience to permeate his or her entire being. The Middle Path and Paradoxical Deconstruction The most rigorous and exacting form of meditative inquiry within found in the method of paradoxical deconstruction (prasanga-vicara) employed by Middle Pathers (Madhyami-ka).[5] This method, which is also referred to as "middle-path analysis," "consequential analysis," and "unfindability analysis," was originally developed in India by the great second-century philosopher Nagrjuna. With this method Nagarjuna brought contemplative inquiry to a new level of rigor and precision. The form of spiritual inquiry he developed was subsequently refined by Tibetan meditators into a streamlined and powerful method that is central to their discernment meditations syana) on openness (sunyata).[6] "Paradoxical deconstruction" refers to a rigorous method of inquiry that is designed to reverse the tendency of thought to automatically fragment and perpetuate itself. This particular form of inquiry systematically deconstructs our belief that all things, ourselves included, have a real or intrinsic existence.[7] The great seventh-century Indian Middle Path philosopher Candrakirti (MA: 6.116-117) writes: When things [are conceived to intrinsically] exist, then conceptuality (kalpana) is produced. But a thorough analysis shows how things are not [intrinsically] existent. [When it is realized that] there are [intrinsically] existent things, conceptualization does not occur, just as for example, there is no fire without fuel. Ordinary people are restricted by their conceptualizations, but practitioners [by achieving a] non-conceptual [realization of the nature of things (dharmata) become liberated. The learned have said that the result of analysis (vicara) is the reversal of conceptualization. Candrakirti's Commentary (MABh: 229-230) adds that the disappearance of conceptuality comes as a direct result of analysis, and that such dissipation of conceptuality is concomitant with the onset of the insight into reality (tattva).[8] This particular form of inquiry performs an "inside job" in which thought is used to bring about its own destruction. The gradual breaking down of ontologizing forms of conceptuality results in a progressive induction of the insight into openness (sunyata). This insight exposes the open texture of reality wherein nothing has a substantial, independent, or autonomous existence (svabhava). It is an experience in which nothing exists in and of itself. Everything is seen to be coexistent and interdependent with everything else. Paradoxical deconstruction involves the structural manipulation of thought in conformity with certain formal patterns of reasoning while in a deep meditative state. If these deconstructive meditations are performed diligently and with sufficient precision and intentionality, they thoroughly dissolve all conceptual fragmentation (prapanca), thereby leaving the mind of the meditator clear and spacious (prabhasvara). This form of inquiry is also called "unfindability analysis" because it logically leads to the conclusion that what we thought had existed does not in fact exist. If, for example, we were investigating the reality of our personal identity (pudgala), the inquiry would experientally disclose our nonself-existence (nairatmya-pudgala). Deconstructive Meditation When Middle Pathers meditate on openness, they first develop their concentration so that they can focus their thoughts in a firm, precise, and sustained way. As in many Buddhist traditions, they begin by developing serenity (samatha) and mental integration (sa-madhi). These practices stabilize their emotions (klesa) and bring a new level of coherence and stability to previously fragmented and diffused thought processes. In beginning the actual deconstructive meditation, Middle Pathers establish the logical principles upon which their inquiry will be based. Specifically, they commit themselves to basing their thinking on the principles of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle.[9] In the traditional meditational manuals, this commitment is established in two steps: (1) determining what is to be refuted, and (2) ascertaining the pervasion. In the first step the meditator distinguishes an object to be investigated and then determines that it is this object and not something else that is to be analyzed. This involves making a firm commitment about the defining characteristics (svalaksana) of the object in question and deciding not to reconsider this definition during the investigation, nor to query the identifying characteristics or introduce any ambiguity about what it is that he or she is analyzing once a deconstructive meditation is underway. Thus, if the meditator is examining him- or herself, he or she will take a firm fix on what, for the purposes of any particular meditation, will be regarded as the self. He or she may decide to focus on a set of feelings, or memories, or ambitions, or physical appearance, or all of these and any other aspects of what he or she considers him- or herself to be. In the second step, called ascertaining the pervasion, the Middle Pather selects a logically contrasting relation within which to analyze the object that is chosen in the first step. When ascertaining the pervasion, the meditator commits her- or himself to the validity of the principle of the excluded middle or what is alternatively called the principle of joint exhaustion. This principle says that A and not A exhaust all the possible ways in which something can exist. This principle is invoked in order to ensure that no residue of intrinsic existence is left over at the completion of a meditation. Having established these two steps the meditator then chooses a contrasting relation through which to investigate the object selected in the first step. If the analyst is seeking to develop insight into the open nature of his or her own person then he or she will usually look at the experience of selfhood in relationship to his or her psychophysical organism--what we will call the "body-mind". The two contrasting relations with which to structure the analysis will be: (1) that one is one's body-mind, and (2) that one is not one's body-mind. A logical paradox is then generated for both of these alternatives. The conclusion that we are not our body-mind is logically derived from the position that we are our body-mind and the conclusion that we are our body-mind is logically derived from the belief that we are not our body-mind. Paradoxical analysis thus decontructs two mutually excluding and jointly exhaustive positions leaving the meditator in a radically transformed state of consciousness wherein one is neither the same as nor different from the body-mind.[10] This analysis is based on a template called "identity or difference." A template is an abstracted analytical framework that is superimposed on a "live" philosophical issue. The live issue is then reformulated around the template for the purposes of producing logical contradictions. The identity or difference template is the standard one for analyzing personal identity. The Tibetan Middle Path meditators have in fact developed a range of templates based, for example, on how something is produced, whether it exists as a unit or as a composite of parts, or whether its existence precedes, is concomitant with, or postdates its identification. With a rich armory of templates, meditators are able to gradually interrupt the flow of proliferating conceptuality by exposing self-contradictions within the thought process. This is a refined process that calls for both robust and refined analyses, with different templates being used to arrest conceptual flows that are based on personal identity, conditioned phenomena, and unconditioned things such as space and freedom.[11] The Destructuring of Conceptuality The process of paradoxical deconstruction, where a position and its opposite mutually entail each other, can be thought of figuratively as a series of steps that logically induce contradictory beliefs to coalesce at a common spatial and temporal location. As Shohei Ichimura (1981, 92) writes: "The predicament created by this dialectic is due to the unexpected contradiction which our convention implies, and this feature is suddenly disclosed by the particular context in which two contrary entities are juxtaposed over the same sphere and moment of illumination." Deconstructive meditation forces two contradicting beliefs to be held in consciousness at the same time. However, because the beliefs mutually exclude each other, each belief deconstructs or dissolves the other (Fenner 1994b; Fenner and Fenner 1994). Thus, two opposing beliefs that had previously achieved an artificial autonomy of existence collapse into and destroy each other. In this way deconstructive meditation experientially demonstrates that the intrinsic identity and seemingly independent existence of ourselves and other things is imposed on reality (tattva) because of the tendency of thought to bifurcate. The meditator directly sees that reality is boxed in and cut up purely as a function of conceptual designation (prajnaptisat). In the absence of conceptual splitting (vikalpa), independently existing things return to a ground of being that cannot be said to be dual or nondual. Though effort and application is required on the part of Middle Path meditators to counteract the energy and momentum of conceptual splitting, such splitting is viewed as an artificial condition that is maintained only through the constant investment of effort. At root it is propelled by the need to secure our own solid and independent existence. When that effort is relaxed conceptuality tends to naturally fold in on itself and dissipate. According to Middle Pathers, openness (sanyata) is a natural, effortless, and primordial condition of existence whereas conceptual proliferation is characterized by the continual expenditure of effort and struggle (duhkha). Thus, for Middle Pathers, conceptual bifurcation is the source of our suffering in the whirlpool of cyclic existence (samsara). In their meditations Middle Pathers plumb the deepest and most entrenched (sahaja) forms of conceptuality--modes that can only be penetrated through long and quiet meditation. By deconstructing the very foundations of their worldview, they gain experiences that are deeper and more lasting than the mere manipulation of conscious thought. Tibetan meditators often quote a line from Santideva's Introduction to the Evolved Lifestyle (BCA: 9.140a) in this regard that says, "Without contacting the thing that is imagined there is no ascertainment of its non-[intrinsic] existence." The import of this line is that one must get to the very center, or solid core, of one's beliefs if one is to liberate them through deconstructive meditations. Thus, when meditators work on realizing the open and insubstantial nature (nihsvabhava) of themselves they progressively connect with all aspects and dimensions of their personality structures. They begin by connecting with the more superficial or surface (parikalpita) aspects of who they are, such as the beliefs they have acquired in their formal education and upbringing. As these are deconstructed they move to more basic beliefs and emotions, such as the very need for survival. By locating and dismantling the deepest and most foundational flows of conceptuality they gain existentially far-reaching results from their deconstructive meditations. Through practice, Middle Pathers hone and refine their meditations so that their conceptual trajectories, as specified by the analytical procedures, are controlled, penetrating, and focused, thereby producing a predictable and consistent reversal of conceptual fragmentation. Through repeated meditations over many thousands of hours, they progressively and thoroughly eliminate all traces of the belief that they are unique and self-existent. Insight necessarily follows from rigorous analysis. The Complete Fulfillment and the Negative Value of Inquiry Up to this point we have outlined a number of different types of inquiry used within Buddhism to facilitate the development of spiritual insight. In the following sections, we will study the claim, developed in a number of different Buddhist traditions, that spiritual inquiry of the type we have just been considering is a counterproductive influence for the emergence of real spiritual understanding. The traditions within which one can find this critique of spiritual investigation include Zen, the Complete Seal (Mahamudra), and the Complete Fulfillment (rDzogs chen). Our own investigation will focus on the Complete Fulfillment tradition, though we will also draw on the observations of Zen and Complete Seal masters.[12] We will also draw on the comments of a contemporary nonaligned spiritual teacher whose roots are in the Hindu tradition. We will base this section on a particularly forthright text written by fourteenth-century Tibetan master kLong chen pa. The sections are extracted from a text titled The Natural Freedom of Being in the Complete Fulfillment Tradition (rDzogs pa chen po chos nyid rang grol), which in turn is the second book of a series titled Trilogy on Natural Freedom (Rang grol skor gsum).[13] We will begin by looking at the claims made by these unorthodox schools and then move on to explain why spiritual inquiry of the type exemplified in mindfulness practice, insight riddles (koan), and deconstructive meditation are viewed as a hindrance to the emergence of spiritual understanding.[14] kLong chen pa begins: Even though one may take sides and give allegiance to a philosophical system, or even [Cultivate] the innumerable types of philosophical viewpoints, meditational methods or [traditions of] action, still it is difficult to see the authentic meaning of the essential mind-in-itself (snying po'i sems nyid). Through their different analyses of selflessness of persons and things, the disciples [of the fully evolved teachers], those who have evolved by themselves, the Phenomenalists and the constructive Middle Pathers [lose sight of] the real practice of view, meditation and action, and get sidetracked in the four [types of diversions], such as getting spaced out. By [going astray in this way] innumerable creatures seem to [prolong their] existence. According to kLong chen pa it is impossible to understand the mind-in-itself by relying on any of the philosophical systems (siddhanta) or meditative methods that have been developed in Buddhism. By the mind-in-itself, kLong chen pa means the mind as distinct from mental activities such as thinking and perceiving. Mind-as-such is unconditioned and unstained by thought activity. It is likened to a mirror that reflects the world just-as-it-is without preferring any percept over any other one. The mind-in-itself is the Zen no-mind. From the large range of Buddhist philosophical systems, kLong chen pa specifically targets the Phenomenalists (Cittamatra or Yogacara), who held the view that all phenomena are mental, and the Middle Pathers (Madhyamika). According to kLong chen pa, the very deconstructive meditations that Middle Pathers claim reverse conceptuality in fact divert meditators from gaining any authentic spiritual insight. An identical assessment about the negative value of spiritual inquiry was voiced earlier by powerful exponents (mahasiddha) of the Complete Seal (Mahamudra) such as Saraha, who boldly proclaimed that: "Mantras and tantras, meditation and concentration are all a cause of self-deception. Do not defile in contemplation thought that is pure in its own nature, but abide in the bliss of yourself and cease these torments" (Conze 1954, 227). In Zen too, we can find similar declarations. The eighth-century Chinese master Mazu, for example, wrote, "To grasp the good and reject the bad, to contemplate emptiness and enter concentration, is all in the province of contrivance--and if you go on seeking externals, you get further and further estranged" (Cleary 1989, 1). Similarly, Yuanwu, a Chinese master from the East Mountain School of Zen, wrote, "To study Zen conceptually is like drilling in ice for fire, like digging a hole to look for the sky. It just increases mental fatigue. To study Zen by training is adding mud to dirt, scattering sand in the eyes, impeding you more and more" (Cleary 1989, 37). Continuing his critique, kLong chen pa writes: Some say that the purification (sangs) of the mind is the goal of view, meditation and action. Some suppress their drives and feelings. Some say that cutting their connection with the three times is the unimpeded state of immediate awareness. Others note the arisings and cessation [of whatever appears in their awareness]. They say these are the real aim [of practice, but here there are only] turbulent waves of proliferating conceptualization (rtog pa). In this paragraph kLong chen pa isolates more meditational methods. is Here he mentions the tantric methods of purification, the monastic method in which one suppresses emotions such as desire and anger, the trance-like meditations in which one is completely disconnected from the temporal world, and even the time-honored method of mindfulness meditation. All of these, he claims, precipitate rather than attenuate conceptual activity. After critiquing the methods of Buddhist tantra on the grounds that they stimulate desire, kLong chen pa continues: Alas! Because these people do not know how to recognize the precious jewel they appear to be searching for junk jewelry, having discarded the wish-fulfilling gem. Having rejected what is supreme, the veritable nature of the mind itself, [and instead] conditioning themselves with fabricated techniques [based on] hope and fear (re dogs) they are trapped in a nest of snakes. One can never become free with an obsessive mind. The defect Lies in the seeker who seeks for the meaning of that which is sought after. After emphasizing how seriously misguided the aforementioned practices are, kLong chen pa comes to the heart of the problem. The assumption in all the above methods of spiritual practice and inquiry is that our present condition is inadequate or impoverished and that it should not be this way. They are all predicated on the belief that "something is missing." For example, in Theravada we lack the experience of egolessness. In Zen we lack the breakthrough illumination of satori. In the Middle Path we lack the insight (prajna) that corrects our fundamental ignorance. The methods of these traditions are all designed to bring forth whatever is thought to be missing. Because the assumption that something is missing is so pervasive and constant, kLong chen pa refers to it as the "obsessed mind." This problem is inherent in the identity of the seeker because the seeker is driven by the belief that there is something of value to find. Yet for as long as the practitioner is a seeker, she or he is doomed to be dissatisfied because she or he has not reached the goal that is sought. Hence kLong chen pa writes that "the defect lies in the seeker who seeks for the meaning of that which is sought after." Centuries earlier Saraha made the same point--that reality is present and available yet elusive if deliberately sought--when he stated, "The nature of the sky is originally clear but by gazing and gazing the sight becomes obscured. Then when the sky appears deformed in this way, the fool does not know that this is the fault of his own mind" (Conze 1954, 229). The ninth-century Chinese Zen master Linji made the same observation, claiming that "when you look for it [enlightenment] you become further from it, when you seek it you turn from it all the more" (Cleary 1989, 6). kLong chen pa's text continues: Hey! If one wants to apprehend the meaning of the nature of the mind itself what is the use of many investigations and analyses? Whatever appears is fight there without the grasping of the appearance. When one has no fixations and doesn't adopt a position one does not need to accept or reject (blang dot) [anything at all]. Because everything is beyond mental orientation, don't meddle or spoil it! The claim by Middle Pathers that they can reconstruct conceptuality and bring about a cessation (nirodha) through analysis is a myth according to kLong chen pa. The Middle Pather using deconstructive techniques and the Zen practitioner who is working with a koan are just living in hope if they believe that these methods can precipitate a nonconceptual experience of reality. Thus, while mainstream Rinzai Zen practitioners rely on koans to achieve satori, some Zen masters criticized their use. Seventeenth-century Japanese master Bankei rejected both sitting meditation (zazen) and koan practice, calling them "tool Zen." He is quoted (Waddell 1973, 147) as saying: Zen masters of today generally use "old tools" when they deal with pupils, apparently thinking they cannot raise the barriers [to enlightenment] without them. They do not teach by thrusting themselves directly forward and confronting their students without their tools. These men who teach with tools and cannot do without them are the blind men of Zen. The contemporary nonaligned teacher U. G. Krishnamurti is an outspoken critic of all forms of spiritual and religious inquiry. According to Krishnamurti (1982, 62): If you practice any system of mind control, automatically the "you" is there, and through this it is continuing . . . Nor can you practice mindfulness, trying to be aware every moment of your life. You cannot be aware; you and awareness cannot co-exist. If you could be in a state of awareness for one second by the clock, once in your life, the continuity would be snapped, the illusion of the experiencing structure, the "you," would collapse, and everything would fall into the natural rhythm. In this state you do not know what you are looking at--that is awareness. The reason why we cannot reverse the thinking process is that thought only moves in the direction of producing more thought. Hence, according to Krishnamurti, if a reversal of the thinking process is ever to occur, it must be acausal because every attempt to cause it to invert only guarantees its continuation. It is impossible to willingly stop thinking because every effort to do this only adds momentum to conceptual activity. In other words, we cannot think our way to the end of thought. Under this interpretation, and contrary to the stated aim, every spiritual theory and method is in fact designed to perpetuate the practitioner's independence and individuality. It does not matter whether we are controlling our thoughts or letting them be, intensifying our emotions or releasing them, because the experiences that arise are all appropriated by the ego. The ego designs progressively more sophisticated methods for disguising its commitment to self-maintenance. The most sophisticated methods are found in the domain of spirituality where the name of the game is to "transcend the self." Thus, within the domain of spirituality we find a number of inventions that are designed to disguise our finite and ego-based existence. We have notions such as "timelessness," "non-conceptuality," and "non-self," which all act to maintain the status quo. For example, the continuation of time is guaranteed by inventing the concept of a "timeless dimension" and then pursuing an experience of "the timeless." In similar fashion, thought cremes the possibility of a state of "no-thought" and then ensures its own maintenance for as long as no-thought is sought. One of the most sophisticated ways of perpetuating the ego is found in the Buddhist theory of egolessness. Within this theory the ego denies its own existence, thereby creating the ideal and goal of realizing egolessness as a way of sealing the on-going existence of the ego. The game plan of the ego goes undetected in this theory because the ego is merely an illusion. The Dilemma The dilemma we are confronted with is now apparent. On the one hand we have the orthodox traditions of Buddhism that teach meditation and other forms of spiritual inquiry and provide the circumstances for such practices through the creation of monasteries, temples, and lay organizations. On the other hand we have highly accomplished sages from well-respected Buddhist traditions declaring that orthodox methods for spiritual advancement are useless. At a philosophical level the contrast is between those who in one way or another say that spiritual inquiry can causally produce a nonconceptual awareness and those claiming that spiritual inquiry can never be an agent for the emergence of spiritual insight. For example, Middle Pathers writing in the philosophical tenets (siddhanta) literature state that insight arises in dependence on deconstructive analysis. They thereby reject that insight occurs adventitiously or through no cause at all. Advocates of the Complete Fulfillment claim that spiritual methods perpetuate conceptualization and do not give rise to spiritual insight. Spiritual seekers relate to these philosophical positions personally as conflicting beliefs and attitudes that accompany the spiritual endeavor. They are experienced as pairs of polarized feelings and orientations that can change from year to year and day to day, such as the following pairs: There is something to do/There is nothing to do This isn't it/This is it There is something to get/There isn't anything to get There is something I need to know/There is nothing I need to know I need to think about this more/Thinking won't help me In general terms the first orientation in each polarity relates to orthodox traditions. The second orientation in each polarity is closer to the perspective of the unorthodox traditions.[16] There are two ways that we can become resolved about the issue. One possibility is to take a position in favor of the orthodox or unorthodox interpretation. The position that we adopt might be consistent with how we have thought about this question in the past or it could represent a change in our thinking. We might also achieve a point of resolution by settling into the position that there is no right interpretation, or that it is impossible to decide which approach is correct. We are certain that the problem is unsolvable as a simple decision in favor of one or other interpretation. If we are unable to come down unequivocally on either side, or are uncomfortable with declaring that the dilemma simply cannot be resolved, we are in a state of irresolution. In other words, we do not know where we are--we have lost our beatings and cannot respond decisively to the question of where we are situated vis-a-vis the correctness or adequacy of the orthodox versus unorthodox interpretations of the spiritual endeavor. With respect to the state of resolution we should note that in validating one interpretation and invalidating the other we have settled into a philosophical position. By agreeing with either the orthodox or unorthodox interpretation, we adopt a viewpoint and thereby also forsake the claim by Zen, the Middle Path, and the unorthodox schools that they are positionless. Strictly, there is nothing that they would defend as representing their own philosophy or refute as a misrepresentation. By preferring the orthodox or unorthodox interpretation we ignore a common guiding vision that is to be free of any viewpoint. Acceptance and rejection represent an intellectual resolution of problems, and the Middle Path, Zen, and Complete Fulfillment all close off such a conceptual resolution on the grounds that it has no spiritual value. Retracing Our Steps It is also instructive to see why you are persevering with this essay and the dilemma it is exposing, for it tells us something about how we live the spiritual life. We began this essay with the suggestion that the practice of Buddhism and of spiritual inquiry in general can be problematic, and herein lies the first clue to what has transpired. The claim that the spiritual life is problematic has a particularly seductive pull to it. We are ready consumers of the story that spiritual practice is demanding and difficult. We also subscribe to the belief that the dynamics of spiritual evolution can be subtle and mysterious. Consequently, in many of the traditions we have mentioned it is necessary to commit oneself to a rigorous discipline and consult a teacher if one is to successfully negotiate the spiritual path. Further, the fact that this discussion appears in this publication adds to the problematic nature of spirituality because serious papers typically tackle "real" problems and work toward furthering our understanding of the issues if not to resolving them. As readers of this article in this context we are already poised to accept the suggestion that there are conflicting approaches to living the spiritual life. We are spring-loaded, ready to bite into any "deep issue" surrounding our spiritual activities. In other words, our discussion has thus far been structured as "a problem" for which we are seeking "a solution." In doing this we have done what we always do. This is how we live our lives. We have created a problem--be it conceptual, personal, or spiritual--and then set about trying to find a solution for it. The earnestness and sincerity with which we read our spiritual source books or even this essay belies the fact that the problem this essay has constructed is our problem. Whether you have agreed or disagreed with how we have set up the problem or with the specific positions within our framework of discussion makes no difference, since it all points to the fact that we are searching for understanding and some degree of certainty. So how did we construct this problem? First, we simply declared that the role and function of spiritual inquiry is problematic and often ambiguous. We then pointed to a divide between scholars and practitioners that most people would recognize and acknowledge. We also personalized the problem by suggesting that an earnest spiritual seeker quite legitimately and appropriately finds her- or himself wondering from time to time whether the best or most profitable spiritual activity is to do their sadhana--their insight meditation, zazen, koan practice, etc.--or transform their regular activities into a spiritual activity by adding the "right" type of attitude or motivation, or just do what they are doing without any concern at all that it is or is not a "spiritual" activity. We then went on to suggest that two important sets of traditions--the orthodox and unorthodox--have something of interest and value to say about the role of spiritual inquiry. The high regard with which the representative traditions are held helped to trigger the assessment that we are dealing with a real and important issue, even though this flies in the face of the fact that they say they have nothing to defend. Having distinguished the orthodox and unorthodox approaches to spirituality we then suggested that their positions were different. In fact we said that they contradicted each other. Having juxtaposed these conflicting positions we then invited you, the reader, into our dilemma. And as any clear thinker knows, a dilemma is constricting and binding. A dilemma paralyses one. If we are stuck inside a dilemma we cannot move easily and naturally! It is uncomfortable to say the least! Having set the stage, we invited you into the "important" task of seeking a solution to a real problem. This need, I suggest, has provided the motivation for persevering with this essay up to now. Given that you have decided to continue, we now need to discover some means of working toward increased clarity and resolution. Let us consider two kinds of resolutions. The Orthodox Resolution Under the orthodox interpretation of Buddhism, the radical differences between the orthodox and unorthodox versions of spirituality present us with a problem that can be appreciated and resolved through recourse to the distinction between insight (prajna) and method (upaya). Under this device the different philosophies and systems of practice can be reconciled or harmonized by the notion that different spiritual perspectives are needed to penetrate the ultimate spiritual reality of egolesness (nairatmya) or suchness (dharmata). According to this theory, there is no right interpretation. Every interpretation has a purpose and is validated through fulfilling that purpose. Each interpretation is like a different story, the aim of which is to awaken different listeners to the fact of who they are--their pains, accomplishments, and possibilities. In fact, we need look no further than kLong chen pa if we wish to substantiate and validate this kind of orthodox resolution. In the very same text that we have quoted at length where he is highly critical of the value of spiritual methods, he describes and recommends a wide range of meditative methods drawn from the Tibetan Expansive Career (Mahayana) and Dynamic Transformation (tantra) tradition (Fenner 1994a). If we consider the text as a unit we would conclude that he rejects that meditative tools have any ultimate value while validating their capacity to produce a whole range of experiences that support and facilitate realizing the nature of reality itself (dharmata). An ultimately false connection is drawn between these methods and spiritual awakening in order to introduce students to a level of awakening that completely transcends the need for further practice or strategic intervention. A less-gratuitous explanation is that the methods are merely devices (upaya) that give temporary satisfaction to the illusion that there is a path, a goal, and something to do. As the fourteenth-century Chinese Zen master Yuansou said, the expedient means "are all simply means of stopping children from whining" (Cleary 1989, 77). A related way to resolve the dilemma is to invoke the theory of two levels of reality (satyadvaya). Under this interpretation, the orthodox methods are valid but only at the relative level of truth (samvrti-satya). At this level we are invited to believe that mindfulness practice, koans, and paradoxical deconstruction are valid and effective within the fictitious world that we create as a product of our interpretations. These ultimately unnecessary practices allow us to break through the illusions of our interpretations and directly experience the ultimate reality. In contrast, the unorthodox traditions present the ultimate viewpoint (paramartha-satya) in which there is no path, goal, or spiritual practice. An extension of the above explanation that accounts for contradictory philosophical frameworks is that such frameworks arise as corrections to each other. For example, when our spiritual life is shaped by the belief that there is something to do, this is viewed as a limit, and to balance this belief we need to let things be as they are. Conversely, if we believe that there is nothing to do at all, this is suitably balanced by a system of praxis suggesting specific things to think or do. In this interpretation, the orthodox and unorthodox emerge in contrast to each other, as corrections to two extreme points of view. While these frameworks do not present themselves in this way, it can be argued that they are created as practitioners swing away from upholding one or another position to the primary question of whether there is something specific they should be doing. The reasons behind such a movement are usually the presence of moods such as boredom, frustration, or some other form of dissatisfaction. This might sound useful, and this or any other explanation could no doubt be developed in an interesting way, but the real point here is that we are just constructing another "orthodox" interpretation of the spiritual endeavor in which methods of spiritual inquiry have a valued place. Once we begin the standard talk about these positions being heuristic devices (upaya) that provide the appropriate adjustment for people at different points in their spiritual growth, we fall into the orthodox extreme. In other words, if we say that the orthodox and unorthodox are complementary approaches to the ultimate viewpoint that adheres to neither one nor the other, we fall to the extreme of believing that we are located on a path and heading for a goal. Similarly, if we invoke the theory of two levels of reality, this signals that we have acceded to the orthodox extreme, since it presupposes that there is something to attain, that is, the ultimate viewpoint. In each of these orthodox interpretations, we are seeking a resolution to the dilemma by trying to "explain" our way out of it. The important point to appreciate is that the need for these explanations and the explanations themselves only arise within an orthodox orientation to spirituality. The Unorthodox Resolution However plausible and satisfying these orthodox interpretations may be, they do not resolve the problem we have constructed because such interpretations are roundly rejected by the unorthodox systems and by those sections of Complete Fulfillment, Complete Seal, and Zen texts where this position is presented. According to the unorthodox interpretation there is no problem to be resolved either in the spiritual life or in this article, and hence a distinction between insight and methods is unnecessary and irrelevant. Whereas in orthodox systems the methods (upaya) give rise to insight (prajna) or wisdom, in the unorthodox systems there is no difference between wisdom and method. As Manjusdmitra (1987, 61) says, "The state of pure and total presence of the Joyful One does not exist, it is a magical apparition of that [state] that appears to those who are deluded." If sublime or ecstatic experiences occur, they occur simply because they occur. They have no significance. They aren't indicative either of enlightenment or progress, since there is nowhere to progress to. Experiences are experienced as what they are, as lasting for as long as they last, and as changing into whatever follows them. They occur without any theological and mystical fabrication. If this perspective sounds attractive, it signals that we are sliding into the unorthodox extreme in which there is nothing to do and nothing to get. In summary, while we are now beginning to recognize how and when we fall into either an orthodox or unorthodox extreme, we still do not know how to resolve the fundamental dilemma of two contradicting interpretations of the role and value of spiritual inquiry. Of course, whether or not we take this seriously depends in turn on whether our perceptions at this point are conditioned through orthodox or unorthodox eyes. If we are still intent on persevering with this problem then we are located within an orthodox framework. Alternatively we might be inclined at this point to give up and declare that this game is absurd. Perhaps we recognize that, yes, we have been caught in a structure of seeking a solution to a fabricated problem but that now we can step outside this and see it for what it is. However, in making this move we simply slide into an unorthodox orientation. Falling to the Extremes If we are still in this and have not given up (i.e., become unorthodox), then the problem that presents itself is to be in a way that does not fall into either the orthodox or unorthodox extreme. However, immediately upon trying to do this we fall into the orthodox extreme of "trying" to do or not do something. On the other hand, if we just let things be as they are, without any concern for observing how we might fall into these extremes, we have fallen into the extreme of "letting go." Perhaps our mistake is taking this notion of "falling to an extreme" too seriously. Perhaps there is no such thing as an extreme at all. We might declare that we are simply thinking what we are thinking when we think we are falling to an extreme. In other words, thinking that we are falling to an extreme is not "falling to an extreme," it is just thinking that we are falling to an extreme. However this is a position that stands in contrast to believing that we can fall to an extreme, and as a position it falls to the unorthodox extreme of nonreferentiality and meaninglessness. So, like it or not, it seems that we are left with the notion of falling to an extreme. In fact, at this point it seems that all we can ever do is fall to an extreme. If we want to forge ahead we fall to the orthodox extreme. If we decide to give up, we fall to the unorthodox extreme. Furthermore, as soon as we distinguish a middle ground from the extremes this becomes a new extreme in the sense that the options are that we are either in the middle or on the edge. We are either balanced or unbalanced, appropriate or inappropriate. So to the extent that the middle ground is the place where we should be, it becomes a pole in another dualistic structure. At this point we might be inclined to boldly declare that ultimately "there is nothing to do or not to do," or that we are "neither orthodox or unorthodox." However, if we do this in a mood of insight and understanding we fall to the extreme of overvaluing what we are saying. We believe that the binegation really says something and that we know what this is. If, on the other hand we find that we are thrown into silence, or mouth a binegation "knowing" that it really does not say anything, we fall to the unorthodox extreme of meaninglessness and nonreferentiality. I am going to close this essay now with two observations. The first is that the question of when, how, and what would constitute finishing this article only arises when one is positioned within an orthodox interpretation of the role of spiritual inquiry. The second thing to say is that if one is positioned within an unorthodox framework then the question of "finishing" this article is totally irrelevant and nonsensical since there is nothing for it to show, resolve, or demonstrate. ABBREVIATIONS BCA = Santideva, Introduction to the Evolved Lifestyle (Bodhicaryavatara) MA = Candrakirti, Introduction to the Middle Path (Madhyamakavatara) MABh = Candrakirti, Commentary on the Introduction to the Middle Path (Madhyarnakavatara-bhasya) MK = Nigarjuna, Principal Stanzas on the Middle Path (Mulamadhya-makakarika) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Ven. Traleg Rinpoche and David Templeman for assistance in translating sections of kLong chen pa's Chos nyid rang grol, which appear in the article. This article has also benefitted through the presentation of sections at a "Festival of Tibet" sponsored by Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and Tibet House in New York, the IXth World Sanskrit Conference in Melbourne, Australia, and a graduate seminar at the Saybrook Institute. I am also grateful to Professor Donald Rothberg for detailed feedback and suggestions that have stimulated my own thinking and improved this essay. NOTES 1. I have thought about using different terms for these two broad traditions, such as constructive--deconstructive, causal--acausal, linear-nonlinear, and progressive-nonprogressive, but all of these suffer in that there are always specific schools or traditions that are exceptions to the usual meaning of these terms. For example, the Middle Path (Madhyamika) is deconstructive, yet with respect to the distinction we are creating, it is orthodox. For this reason, I have stuck with the terms orthodox and unorthodox. However, in using these terms, we need to remember that I am expanding the common usage of orthodox to include Buddhist traditions that are normally thought of as radical and unorthodox, such as Madhyamika, Tantra, and some approaches to Zen. Under our definition, these traditions are orthodox because they presume that some activities are more useful than others in supporting or causing spiritual insight. 2. To add room texture to these possibilities we may also wish to consider whether spiritual inquiry is (1) always helpful (or harmful); (2) never helpful (or harmful); or (3) helpful (or harmful) at some times and not at others. 3. These are outlined in the Satipatthana-sutta, which is sutta number 10 in the Majjihima Nikaya. See Walpola Sri Rahula, (1974, 19-19), for an abridged translation. 4. Ibid. p. 29. 5. Middle Pathers are traditionally divided into two types: Middle Pathers who use paradoxes (Prasangika Madhyamika) and Middle Pathers who use their own independent arguments (Svatantrika Madhyamika). Throughout this study we use Middle Path and Middle Pathers in a generic sense. 6. This term often translates as emptiness. However, it does not signify the absence of phenomena. Rather, it points to the phenomena as open and lacking any substratum or core. 7. According to Middle Pathers, a state of liberation (moksa) or unconditional freedom (nirvana) can only be gained through the skillful and diligent use of paradoxical analysis (prasanga-vicara). Later Tibetan philosophers and especially those of the dGe lugs pa school incorporate this claim as a central tenet in their philosophical system. The founder of the dGe lugs pa school, rJe Tsong ka pa, writes, for example, that "analytical meditation is necessary, since without practicing analytical meditation which cultivates the discriminating wisdom analysis of the import of selflessness, meditative realization will not emerge. . . . One seeks the understanding of selflessness repeatedly analyzing its meaning." (Thurman 1982, 114). It should be pointed out that the picture here is complicated by the fact that the dGe lugs pa's distinguish between a conceptual and a nonconceptual insight into egolessness. This distinction, though, is used in a confusing way. It is the conceptual insight that is produced through logical analysis. This leaves us, however, with the problem of how the conceptual insight is converted into a nonconceptual insight. In response to this, Tsong ka pa seems to say that "inference is necessarily conceptual, but can with repeated meditational familiarization be brought to a level of nonconceptual experience," as quoted in Elizabeth Napper (1989, 136). If analysis (equals inference) is a necessary factor in bringing the conceptual insight to the level of a nonconceptual insight, then the distinction in no way provides a solution for the problem we are addressing. If, on the other hand, analysis is immaterial to the conversion, we are squarely back with our original problem. Is the conversion causal or acausal? A number of western scholars of the Middle Way agree with the assessment that analysis produces insight. Frederick Streng, (1967, 156), has written that "dialectical activity is reality-being-realized." Robert A. F. Thurman (1984, 126), says, for example, that "enlightenment as wisdom is perfected as the culmination of the most refined rational inquiry, not at the cost of reason." 8. Santideva, in his Introduction to the Evolved Lifestyle (BCA), similarly claims that Middle Path analysis leads to liberation. In reply to a concern that analysis could get bogged down in an infinite regress with no natural conclusion, he writes (9.111), "Once an object of investigation has been investigated, there is no basis for investigation. Since there is no basis [further analysis] does not arise, and that is called unconditional freedom (nirvana)." 9. These are the same as Aristotle's "laws of thought." 10. See MK 10.14 and 22.1 and MA 6.121-165. For a detailed reconstruction of this analysis, see Peter Fenner (1991, 54-73). A contemporary interpretation of Middle Path analysis appears in Peter Fennet, 1994b. 11. See Peter Fenner (1991, 122-127). 12. Candrakirti also says (MABh: 100.12) that "there isn't an existence separate from the two (gnyis ka clang bral ba yod pa , . . ma yin) [of existence and nonexistence] 13. The first book of kLong chen pa's Trilogy, titled Sems nyid rang grol, has been translated twice, by Herbert V. Guenther (1975), and also by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche as "Naturally Liberated Mind" (1989, 316-54). 14. The lives of the masters from the Complete Seal and Complete Fulfillment traditions make very interesting reading. They provide another window on the unorthodox expressions of Buddhist enlightenment, Sample literature includes David Templeman, trans. (1983; 1989; 1992, 309-13); Keith Dowman (1985; 1988). 15. In earlier sections, he also refutes the methods of Buddhist tantra. 16. There is no point in trying to track these back to the Middle Path or Complete Fulfillment, because both traditions have advocated most of these attitudes at one time or another. REFERENCES Candrakirti. 1970. Madhyamakavatara-bhasya. Reprint. Louis de la Vallee Pousin. Madhyamakavatara Par Candrakirti. Osnabruck: Biblio Verlag. -----. 1991. Madhyamakavatara. 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Eastern Buddhist 8: 113129. ~~~~~~~~ By PETER FENNER Peter Fenner, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer in philosophy and religious studies at Deakin University in Australia. He has lectured in Buddhism and East-West psychology at universities in Australia and the United States. His books include The Ontology of the Middle Way (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer, 1990), Reasoning into Reality (Boston: Wisdom, 1994), and, with Penny Fenner, Intrinsic Freedom (Australia: Millenium Press, 1994). He was a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan tradition for nine years and is presently teaching innovative courses based on the perspective of the Middle Path (Madhyamika) and Complete Fulfillment (rDzogs chen). -------------------