The Act of Silence


The Symbol ‘0’ is the original, the paradigmatic Self-Eating Expression. The effecting of the full self-scuttle with no remainder, the rounded circle.

It’s auditory analogue is the sound: ‘Silence!’. The analogue to the state of True Nothing is the state of Silence [Mounam: See: ‘The Symbol ‘0’: Definition‘]

The Buddha famously held his Silence [Avyākṛta, Anirvacaniya] to all questions about the terminus. It is one of his three most important Teachings outside the Sūtras [we’ll get to the other two later.]

Vimalakirti; 705-780 CE; Donhuang Caves, China

Bodhidharma [circa 500 CE], the Founding Patriarch of C’han-Zen defines the ends of Practice:

A special transmission outside the scriptures; no dependence on words and letters; seeing into one’s self-nature and the attaining to Buddha-hood.’

Vimalakīrtia man I would have related to, liked to spend his evenings at the cat-houses and casinos of the vibrant old city of Vaishali [now long dead, having been overrun by Religion].

Asked to ‘Explain the door to Non-Dual Understanding’, he stood silent. ‘Vimalakirti’s Lion’s Roar’ [Vimalakirt Sūtra].

From the Jǐngdé Records [Jǐngdé chuándēng], circa 10th Century CE:

Bodhidharma asked, “Can each of you say something to demonstrate your understanding?”
Dao Fu stepped forward and said, “It is not bound by words and phrases, nor is it separate from words and phrases. This is the function of the Tao.”
Bodhidharma: “You have attained my skin.”
The nun Zong Chi stepped up and said, “It is like a glorious glimpse of the realm of Akshobhya Buddha. Seen once, it need not be seen again.”
Bodhidharma; “You have attained my flesh.”
Dao Yu said, “The four elements are all empty. The five skandhas are without actual existence. Not a single dharma can be grasped.”
Bodhidharma: “You have attained my bones.”
Finally, Dazu Huike came forth, bowed deeply in silence and stood up straight.
Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my marrow.”

The Robe and Bowl were passed on to Dazu Huike


‘Silence’ [Mounam] has a long history going back to the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad and the mystic Mantra AUM. I’ll get to it in later Posts.

The late-stage teachings were Rahásya, ‘Secret’. ‘Mute’ [as in ‘Silent’] is from the Sanskrit Mūka; Mystic and Mystery derive from the Greek, Mῡein: ‘To close the eyes’. You close the eyes to see straight; shut the ear to hear clear.

The revealing answer to the [Rinzai] Zen Koan, the only documented external validations of denouement, are typically an abrupt, seemingly wildly irrelevant response. A deep insight into both Inexpressibility and simultaneously, an absence of need or necessity to express it.

Its counterpoint, captured in a struggle to express, marks the incomplete understanding, the fudged one. [The success rate of this method however is probably around thirty percent. But it’s as good as it gets. We get to the pioneering tradition of Zen and its history in later Posts.]

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