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Nara Buddhism

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Nara not only constitutes a time in Japanese history but also refers to various Buddhist schools associated with this movement such as Kusha, Jujitsu, Sanron, Hosso, Kegon and Ritsu.

Originally these religious sects were not intended for the masses or general public but were primarily governmentally sponsored for the express interest and purpose towards the protection of the nation and the imperial family.

Many of the religious elements that make up the essential aspects of the teachings of these groups revolve around both Theravada and Mahayana beliefs. I have already wrote somewhat about Theravada philosophy and the concept of pain/suffering and even though I have not dealt with the question exhaustibly;this may be another resource or dimension towards the possibility of this dilemma in the drama of the human struggle.

Theravada Buddhism

What is controversial to these schools are the varied outlooks on Buddhist thought as originating a standard of how to perceive or achieve reality based on the pseudo scientific method of cognizant reasoning of what does it know, how does it know, how can it be known and what does it do. At first glance it appears to be more of an unbiased approach to knowledge but only as it fits within the framework of Buddhism whereby it conforms to a self specified reality of preconceived biases and world views which does not necessitate truth but rather only preferences.

Also much of what makes up historical Buddhism comes from its birthplace in India in which there are multitudes of gurus and swamis who make truth claims all the time as having the answer to life making buddhism just one possibility among the countless  ideas which are as numerous as the pantheon of Indian gods themselves which make up a cultural expression of a pick and choose society of  Athenian proportions which much like ancient greek culture mythologized their god(s) as to personalize their whims and fears regarding the latest and greatest ideas as encompassing truth. It is the wisdom of the world or the age so to speak which is equivalent to the foolishness and folly of men who have been skillfully seduced through the ignoramus of human ingenuity making them so smart that they are nonsensical. To present the brilliance of abstract ideas or thoughts does not mean that it is right or even plausible no more than the mathematical ideals of presenting an infinite set of numbers which only exists in the imagination of the numerical statistician.

Furthermore much of the mysterium of these so called philosophers and their mystical teachings were birthed in legend and superstition whether it be Dosho and his magical kettle or Nagarjuna and the hagiographic traditions that he somehow attained the alchemical ability to extend his life along with his reception of the “perfection of wisdom” from the legendary land of the nagas/serpent spirits or the fiction of  Asanga ascending to tusita heaven to be taught of the bodhisattva Maitreya in which Maitreya comes down to Jambudvipa and gives a series of lectures which many scholars think that this resultant  text of Yogacarabhumi did not originate with the  quasi-historical character of  Maitreya but rather was a compilation of Yogacara scholars.

In the same way that these collective stories were fabricated by others in making these outrageous tales is no different than the elaborate philosophical ideas that they produced as being the imagination of men.

Much of what predominates Buddhist thought revolves around the dilemma or condition of human suffering and its chief goal to eradicate this concept or potential in the mind/life of the spiritual practitioner by leading them on a scavenger hunt for nirvana and spiritual enlightenment. Some deal with this matter in perceiving it as a mental state of mind as merely being an illusory idea of human ignorance or delirium which practicality does nothing to effectively eliminate its influence on human society as it is self absorbed and preoccupied in dealing with it intrinsically therefore they ignore the practical implications of removing the causal and effectual agents because according to theory it is essentially non existent or unrealistic but ironically this is inconsistent with most peoples activities as this philosophy or belief system is neither livable nor real. This is just like the Indian philosopher Vasubandhu who had influenced the Kusha thinkers by making the irrational remark as implying that the nature of life resides in some kind of illusionary Matrix in that all seemingly external objects are only mental representations. Which also reminds me of the philosophy of Harivarman who has been influential among the Jujitsu sect who stated that all things are merely designations devoid of reality and that human beings are enveloped in the illusion that the ego or the world is real and neither are.

Harivarman also goes on to state that the past does not exist, the future has not come to be and the present as soon as it comes into being disappears. Hence the sense of continuity is illusory. If the past does not exist then does that include Harivarmans’ past existence and teachings/philosophy. Also what good is there to believe in this illusionary influencer if it can neither have a present or future reality?

To put these philosophies in their proper perspective I once heard a contemporary Indian man say that even Indians look both ways before crossing the street because they invariably know through experience that even though the mass of the vehicle supersedes the size of the human brain logic overrules and thus does not impair the person to safely reason that such philosophy is realistically fatal thus averting the potential of being the victim of a philosophers road kill.

Next is the philosophical culmination of the wisdom of the ages which supposedly came through the Indian philosopher named Nagarjuna and his influential teachings upon the Sanron group. However, ironically much of his lessons can be diminished to absurdum through his false beliefs in stating that all propositions about existence and non existence are erroneous which in turn is self refuting as including his own claims or remarks regarding these very same matters. Also his philosophical position of sunyata as being void of all false thinking and subsisting in selflessness is non coherent to someone who put a lot of wrong notions into the minds of these adherents as applying it selfishly to themselves and thus is inconsistent  with reality based on his own criteria. Moreover the preoccupation of personal freedom from suffering is focused on the self as well and is contradictory to what would be defined as self denial. Nagarjuna also presumptuously makes such remarks that ignorance or avidya distorts all mental states of an ordinary person and yet can he demonstrate that he is extraordinary as not being under the influence of his own statement about delusion? After all he wants others to divorce their intuitive and conceptual ideas of suffering to marry a radical and foreign ideal which instinctually goes against the grain of corporate society in presenting an elitist view which is so predictive of cultic behavior as presenting falsehood as reality to the degree that he claims that suffering is perceived as merely the mental state of ignorance and that there is no distinction between Samsara or the realm of suffering and nirvana/ enlightenment which may become an easy fix of escapism as a way to relieve the tension between these two concepts but this does nothing to convincingly prove his theory or equation/formula of belief. This whole notion of equality between these terms  is self contradictory as he makes a distinction by formulating an idealistic view of compassion which commentators associate as a means to eliminate the suffering of all beings. Also to say that we are not real and that there is no such thing as mankind ultimately existing in that we are contingent or dependent beings may be a way to somehow handle the inconspicuous way of Buddhas silence on the subject regarding the metaphysical continuance of the soul or spirit but does nothing to disprove it. To make such claims that dependent beings are not real is to make a statement about his own life and philosophy which would be equally questionable and thus unprovable. To even contemplate or question such matters as ones being is it to prove ones reality and existence apart from just some random firing of synaptic neuruons.  As the famous philosopher Rene Descartes once said “I think” therefore “I am” makes more sense than defining oneself as just a bundle of nerve fibers submerged in a vat of chemicals. To minimize mankind to the elements of physical constituents or molecules through reductionism as equating man to merely an animal or beast is Darwinian in thought but does not adequately explain such superior qualities as the uniqueness of volition/will, self consciousness, moral aptitude and intelligence/reason which are matters that can not be proven to be merely biologically determined even though the brain may be a vehicle of expression for the mind and thus to degrade man to a nothingness is an oversimplification of which scientists are still trying  to discover in the innermost regions of our being which far outweigh the antiquated views of a pre-scientific philosopher.  Perhaps the bigger question is not how we ontologically exist but rather answering the all the pervasive question of why we even exist at all which is a higher purpose that deals with origin which may be a better starting point as putting the horse before the cart.  Has it occurred to you that it is much more plausible to consider an intelligent creator or designer who eternally possesses the qualities of  independent personhood having the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence as a sovereign and “ultimate being” in existing as the primal causal agent as the first and only uncaused cause which alone has not been generated but is the pure  essence of “being” rather than “becoming” as creating all of reality thus making a teleological argument for God? Also to make a reductional analogy between a life breathing human with that of an inanimate object in comparing you with the  basal components of a water bottle is a category mistake. To make this kind of comparison there are obvious limitations even though we share the common features as being in part a physical entity which like a receptacle can hold water and likewise are formed apart from ourselves but the distinctions should go without mention as the one who pours from the receptacle is greater then the receptacle itself.  Also for this buddhist philosopher  to further disqualify any kind of God concept or interference by stating that any sort of relational identity between objects disqualifies an entity as an ultimate being does not disprove God and can easily be explained as a transcendent being who is immanently present in the role of creator as a maestro who orchestrates in this drama of life. To be instrumental does not reduce that entity to its level as being biologically finite and determined as what appears to be a temporal being  who is trapped within the confines of time and space but God unlike us can freely enter that dimension yet is not subjected, controlled or bound by its variables.

To possess the degree of intelligence we have along with the remarkable complexity and beauty to all living and non-living things shows or displays the mark of Gods glory upon the creative order apart from making any kind of pantheistic association. I know that traditional Buddhism is basically atheistic and I have written more posts in dealing with this subject at


The disadvantage to this whole concept of being “not real” as an empty host which has no ego and is merely just extinguishable material that is subjected to the mere destiny of annihilation as being under the influence of decay has historically backfired leading to the unrestraint of atheistic regimes to treat other human beings less than humane as this philosophy has germinated the seedbed for genocide which sees no ultimate sense of reality nor accountability.  Concurrently this whole concept of sunyata or emptiness is just a fable of hopelessness for people leading to an identity crisis as misdefining the reality of self based on negative connotations of a restrictive/limited and pessimistic  outlook towards nihilism of which Nagarjuna reacted by backtracking in stating that all emptiness is not real emptiness.

Furthermore I think another controversial doctrine is the traditional viewpoint of nirvana or enlightenment as being subjective as an insightful realization that can’t be conveyed and could merely be heartburn or just the flippant experience of emotionalism. If no one absolutely knows what it is then there is no definitive boundaries which could ascertain its fulfillment and thus it becomes just an illusory concept as being unreal.

Another thing is He also believed in  Kaccayana, in that the world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), and biases, fixations of awareness,  obsessions yet he too is also subjected to his own criteria as being partial to Sravaka philosophies and Mahayana tradition in opposition to the metaphysical approach of others such as  avoiding the substantialism of the Sarvastivadins as well as the nominalism of the Sautrantikas along with some of the elements of Brahmic tradition combined with rejecting certain aspects regarding the schools of thought as related to Kusha and Jujitsu philosphy. Thus I am convinced that Nagarjuna received these “texts of wisdom’ on the basis of intentionality as a reactionary response to support his own values by which he too is subjected to Kaccayana.

Lastly he is attributed as having magical powers in which I concur as he has mesmerized his audience through deceitfulness by means of pulling his  philosophical tricks out of his hat which has left the audience stupefied as being in a state of awe as he holds them spellbound under the illusionary power of his trance.

Next there is the Hosso School or Faxiang which is also called Yogocara or Vijnanavada that basically deals with the chaos of life in finding tranquility through a dissociative practice of avoidism by basically teaching that what  a person perceives does not correspond with reality as the conscious makes us think that we are somehow experiencing reality when in actually it is only a figment of ones false imagination. It is proposed that through their discipline of Yogic meditation that a person is said to reprogram or reset their minds to focus correctly on life by purging themselves of misconceptions or error.

Among some of these various schools of thought it has been debated that the mind is the true essence of reality as being purely illuminous while others state that even the conscious which is in constant state of flux is transitional and that it changes moment by moment in that what the conscious was milliseconds ago is not what it is now and thus does not conform to ultimate reality because it is not immutable making life purely subjective. Also it is believed that what a person perceives to exist as dharmic data is somehow lost in translation as the deception of the conscious manipulates the process by arranging the various variables including our sense perception by using a complicated template as a way to make us think that we are somehow living a realistic life when we are essentially just plugged into the Matrix of a “conscious only” reality. Supposedly the brilliance of the conscious somehow orders these unreal events so as to make sense of our lives by adapting a coherent filter in giving us relevance and meaning to maintain a sense of control or normality as through a system with a constant pattern of continuity and regularity.

In response to this head game philosophy I find this wrong on so many levels which I think its own presupposition refutes its illogical predisposition as succumbing to  becoming a victim of their own system which doubts the apprehension of conscious reality which should include their own thinking or reasoning on this matter as falsely constituting realism. It fails to prove that what a person is experiencing in the external world is not realistic and it counterintuitively wants you to adopt a counter perspective as a way of brainwashing your mind by ignoring the obvious to adapt a revisional thought pattern.

Essentially making truth claims is one thing but proving them is another and my challenge to this group is where is the burden of evidence and how do you know that you are not the one who is being deceived? Just to make an association such as  someone subconsciously or unconsciously experiencing the make believe world of entering  a “dream state” or a person being able to visualize an object as evidence to show that we can’t really trust our perceptions is fallacious in that our minds know the difference upon awakening and even while sleeping there are times that I have been  fully aware that I was dreaming. Furthermore the mind knows how to discern between imagination and what is tangibly real.

In addition to this there are other things I question such as where did the mind of intelligence come from or how did it originate and why does it exist or what is its purpose?

Which leads into my next question is how are they able to validate or substantiate their belief in the eternality of the mind and based on what we know of the universe that there is nothing that is eternal and that everything originates as a result of causality as an effect and so it would be difficult to authenticate or establish that an individual has a perpetual existence in a beginning-less state of time as continually existing through the transmigration of the soul or rebirth which seems more like a fairytale of fictional speculation. Again I have written somewhat about this in my previous posts on atheism, hinduism, theravada buddhism which you can reference above along with this documentary on life after death or near death experiences.

If in actuality a person comes to exist at the moment or time of natural birth much of this philosophy dissolves as this system builds upon the previous history or lifetimes of karmic traces as being a great storehouse, alayavijnana, or seedbed of adaptive thought. If the soul/spirit does exist eternally then how do you account for the universal differentiation and large gap of knowledge/experience between a young child and a mature adult since essentially they have both lived over eons of time and amassed an insurmountable amount of common knowledge of previous life times therefore according to the scale of time essentially they would only be minutely separated by different stages of life. If these karmic imprints or bijas is really intact and functional then why would a youthful individual have to really learn instead of recall data? Conversely how come young children seem to be more adept or have a greater capacity to learning new languages as showing they have stronger developmental skills which again indicates the inequality between individual minds and consciousness  which does not support the theory of particular seeds as this age gap is universally applicable as surpassing the restraints of accidentals.

It appears that it may be more probable when taking into account universal similarities that the shared denominator is not just the mind itself but rather the originator of the mind or a common creator who developed like creatures accordingly.

Furthermore regarding this whole matter is the philosophy really livable and does your life reflect these doctrinal beliefs? If not then how do you know that all of this is essentially true since it is not even consistent with your own lifestyle or existence? Also how do you know that you can really achieve a pure state of absolute “suchness” or tathata, to buddhahood. How can you conclusively know you have arrived at this state and is it possible that once you have entered into ultimate reality that a situation won’t occur which may cause you to regress? Also is yoga really a final emancipation if once you have achieved it that you still have to maintain it otherwise it might be lost which seems more like a system of bondage than liberation? Moreover why do we have misconceptions to begin with and how can it be the offspring of the accountability of karmic debt when theoretically morality could be classified as a part of the phenomenal world of which is not even real? Who or what determined that ultimate reality is to be reduced to the faculty of conscious over and against the perceivable world as perhaps it is a both/and equation instead? Who is able to rightfully make that judgement call? Also how do you differentiate between the biological functioning of the brain with that of the mind?

Anyway Indian philosophers are plentiful and it goes to show that you can pick and choose what you want to believe as corresponding to your own preference to reality.  This concept of reality as being offered in the marketplace of Indian fare as suiting your personal taste in feasting your eyes on it desirous wares is based on the real world of sensory or felt needs which includes theorizing and systemizing a process to rid oneself of pain and suffering. Likewise some people deal with this problem in different ways whether through the psychology of religion, philosophy along with chemical dependency or some kind of combination of these as a means or  methodology to cope with life’s troubles yet this doesn’t necessarily correspond with reality which maybe only treating the symptoms of this human sickness or tragedy.

Another school which is a apart of this movement is knows as Kegon which Fazang or Fatsang is considered to be its main founder based on the supposed  teachings  of the Buddha Vairocana as communicated through the Avatamsaka-sutra. One of the major drawbacks of the sect is the dichotomy between its philosophy about reality regarding the nature of the universe and how things really are. This conflict has resulted in a disharmony concerning their proposal of the principles and facts regarding their claims of perfect knowledge. For instance to state that the universe is self creating is principally flawed as it is impossible for the universe to rise simultaneously. This is because the phenomenal world can not exist and exist at the same time and in the same way based on the same relationship. Furthermore this discrepancy is not verifiable or observable based on phenomenal realities of experience and thus does not correspond with certainty. Moreover there is no proof in support of this view of spontaneous generation as this theory has already been debunked by other cosmologists. Therefore not only is this central tenet inconsistent with it own views of the universe but it is also contrary to  the modern advent of the scientific age and is not even a  potential explanation for ultimate reality or truth. However the metaphysical concept of an almighty and eternal being existing beyond the dimensions of time and space is at least philosophically possible and is a more probable explanation for maintaining a created order through a harmonious design. Again I write more about this on my posts about atheism/agnosticism at

Atheist and Agnostic

Lastly the school of Ritsu or Risshu is a religious sect which stresses morality based on traditional Theravadic views of Vinaya which lays down virtuous regulations to lead their society in diverse ways of life by which they will ultimately obtain enlightenment and purification of the mind. It appears that many of these moral laws they adhere to or espouse are generally good for any society as maintaining a civilization but my challenge is whether they are fully attainable through the vehicle of a strict religious observation. So I am wondering what is the level of efficacy as a spiritual practitioner in achieving and maintaining their spiritual goals. Christianity also has a moral code of conduct which reflects  the nature and character of God but the difference is that a person must first become born again or born anew where they are enlightened by God the Spirit who comes to indwell them thus cleansing them from defilement by making them a regenerated person as receiving a new nature which reflects the character of God in their personal lives. It differs from other religious orders as it is not about the worshipper achieving it through their own merit but rather it is a gift and sovereign work of God acting on on our behalf by which we trust and receive by faith resulting in the miracle of conversion which is not merely a sacramental antidote or expression but rather it is tangibly real and dynamic as evidenced by a radical change or alteration in the person’s character and nature thereby objectively confirming or affirming the reality. Moreover this concept is consistent with my testimony and that of many others.

Finally Jesus simply invites you to rest in His grace as He shoulders the religious burdens and  difficulties in life that has rattled our homes and society. Also He is able to give you the personal harmony and tranquility from the ills that plague your heart and soul as  properly relating to a righteous God and an immoral society as being receptacles of His  love, joy and peace which as humans we so desperately crave along with bringing about an ultimate sense of fulfillment and purpose to life as His people.


Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 



How to know God

Nara Buddhist Resources




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