Tuesday, June 06, 2006

from the text: there are other beings here too!

Despite what is reported in this blog, most of my time here is spent reading - reading a text that can be so dazzling in its narrative details that one easily overlooks any metaphorical readings. Here is my translation of a description of the moment that Buddha (then still just a bodhisattva) was conceived.

At that time, the earth trembled greatly, and the entire world was filled by a vast light, exceeding in its intensity the hues of the 33 gods. As a sun and moon in the darkest hells of the world: so great was this extraordinary appearance; so great was its power. This vast light filled even those places that were black with a blackening darkness that has not known the light of a sun or moon. The sentient beings born there had not seen even their own outstretched arms, but by this light they now saw one another. They said to one another, “Sirs, there are other beings here, too!” And so they came to know that there were other beings there too.

- Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinayavastu (Pravrajyāvastu)

This image itself is startling in its beauty, even without contemplating the implication that the experience of suddenly discovering that one is surrounded by others is being understood as one of the effects of the Buddha’s presence in the world.

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