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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

This is called ignorance or avidya


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style="text-align: justify;">[Footnote 1: Technical name for a very vast period of time.]

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destroy hindrances wherever they are met with and obtain all-penetrating insight that enables them to become conscious of the absolute oneness (_samata_) of the universe (_sarvaloka_) and to see innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas."

There is a difference between the perfuming which is not in unison with suchness, as in the case of s'ravakas (theravadin monks), pratyekabuddhas and the novice bodhisattvas, who only continue their religious discipline but do not attain to the state of non-particularization in unison with the essence of suchness. But those bodhisattvas whose perfuming is already in unison with suchness attain to the state of non-particularization and allow themselves to be influenced only by the power of the dharma. The incessant perfuming of the defiled dharma (ignorance from all eternity) works on, but when one attains to Buddhahood one at once puts an end to it. The perfuming of the pure dharma (i.e. suchness) however works on to eternity without any interruption. For this suchness or thatness is the effulgence of great wisdom, the universal illumination of the dharmadhatu (universe), the true and adequate knowledge, the mind pure and clean in its own nature, the eternal, the blessed, the self-regulating and the pure, the tranquil, the inimitable and the free, and

this is called the tathagatagarbha or the dharmakaya. It may be objected that since thatness or suchness has been described as being without characteristics, it is now a contradiction to speak of it as embracing all merits, but it is held, that in spite of its embracing all merits, it is free in its nature from all forms of distinction, because all objects in the world are of one and the same taste; and being of one reality they have nothing to do with the modes of particularization or of dualistic character. "Though all things in their (metaphysical) origin come from the soul alone and in truth are free from particularization, yet on account of non-enlightenment there originates a subjective mind (_alayavijnana_) that becomes conscious of an external world." This is called ignorance or avidya. Nevertheless the pure essence of the mind is perfectly pure and there is no awakening of ignorance in it. Hence we assign to suchness this quality, the effulgence of great wisdom. It is called universal illumination, because there is nothing for it to illumine. This perfuming of suchness therefore continues for ever, though the stage of the perfuming of avidya comes to an end with the Buddhas when they attain to nirva@na. All Buddhas while at

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the stage of discipline feel a deep compassion (_mahakaru@na_) for all beings, practise all virtues (_paramitas_) and many other meritorious deeds, treat others as their own selves, and wish to work out a universal salvation of mankind in ages to come, through limitless numbers of _kalpas_, recognize truthfully and adequately the principle of equality (_samata_)among people; and do not cling to the individual existence of a sentient being. This is what is meant by the activity of tathata. The main idea of this tathata philosophy seems to be this, that this transcendent "thatness" is at once the quintessence of all thought and activity; as avidya veils it or perfumes it, the world-appearance springs forth, but as the pure thatness also perfumes the avidya there is a striving for the good as well. As the stage of avidya is passed its luminous character shines forth, for it is the ultimate truth which only illusorily appeared as the many of the world.


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