That is perfect. This is perfect. Perfect comes from perfect.
Take perfect from perfect, the remainder is perfect.
May peace and peace and peace be everywhere. Sanskrit Prayer
God's creation is perfect simply because it is. There is nothing more to add, nothing to take away; it is complete in and of itself. God created all of us in perfection but we are slow to realize the peace it brings.
Thank you adelfo for sharing this Sanskrit poem. It makes a perfect contrast to highlight a very important aspect of both the Urantia Book’s teachings and a similar concept within the Pure Land and Shin Buddhist traditions. It has to do with the relative levels of reality and the realities of imperfection:
The creature repercussion to finite-reality promulgation resulted in the appearance of perfect beings on the order of the eternal inhabitants of Havona and of perfected evolutionary ascenders from the seven superuniverses. But to attain perfection as an evolutionary (time-creative) experience implies something other-than-perfection as a point of departure. Thus arises imperfection in the evolutionary creations. And this is the origin of potential evil. Misadaptation, disharmony, and conflict, all these things are inherent in evolutionary growth, from physical universes to personal creatures. (1159.3)
The acid test for any religious philosophy consists in whether or not it distinguishes between the realities of the material and the spiritual worlds while at the same moment recognizing their unification in intellectual striving and in social serving. A sound religious philosophy does not confound the things of God with the things of Caesar. Neither does it recognize the aesthetic cult of pure wonder as a substitute for religion. (1114.3)
One of the most salient features of first Pure Land Buddhism, and then Shin Buddhism as taught by Honen and Shinran was that they took finitude, imperfection, and the natural evil state of human beings seriously. While the elite monks were withdrawing from the real world of war, famine, commerce, and the struggles of the common persons daily life to indulge themselves in monastic contemplative mysticism
and in a cult of aesthetic wonder
, Honen and Shinran went out and preached a gospel of salvation to the average person, the ignorant, the foolish, and the evil whom they both considered themselves to be, Shinran literally taking the name Gutoku
(愚禿) Shinran, with Gutoku meaning "bald headed ignorant one." Shinran assumed this name to make plain he was neither monk nor laymen
, but was a fellow nembutsu
follower and one of "humble status of mortal dependence," which like Jesus when he was called "Good Teacher," spontaneously replied, "Why do you call me good? None is good but God." (2092)
Honen, though experienced in these practices himself, explictly negated them saying, "Do not follow the recent trend of contemplation. So you haven't seen the Buddha--well, the statues that Unkei and Kokei sculpt are more vivid. You haven't seen the magnificence of the Pure Land--yet hardly ever is the sight as splendid as the flowers of cherries, plums, peaches, and pears." (HSZ
That the nembutsu
is a capacity open to all is stated in Honen's last work, the Ichimai kishomon
The nembutsu I have taught is not the contemplative practice that has been discussed and proclaimed by the accomplished sages of China and Japan. Neither is it to recite the nembutsu after having grasped its meaning through scholarly study. It is simply to utter namu Amida butsu, realizing that if you .... simply say the nembutsu with wholeness of heart, free of any pretensions to wisdom ... you are certain to attain birth in the Land of Bliss.
This recognition of the reality of imperfection gave rise to the common saying, "Not yet, but already!" which carried the meaning that while in finite animal form there was no escaping the realities of being human, and the imperfections it entails, in the one-thought-moment
and the consequent spiritual transformation, they were already in the spiritual sense able to taste and live as though they were born into the Pure Land. And they then went forth with faith and gratitude and lived as though they were in the presence of Amida Buddha.
James grasped the thrilling truth that Jesus wanted his children on earth to live as though they were already citizens of the completed heavenly kingdom. (1582.6)
Within the Buddhist tradition this aesthetic cult of pure wonder was often born of the doctrine of "no-mind" and "non-discrimination" between good and evil, with the assumption that there was no substantial difference between good and evil, and hence, they were one. This is a form of monistic idealism bordering on pantheism. It often led to such reactions to the harsh realities of life as the following poem composed by the Japanese poet Saisei Muroo in 1937 while invading Manchuria with the Japanese colonial army. While there he witnessed all kinds of things; rape, murder, and worse, and he wrote poems about them. Here is one poem called "Hawthorn Berries":Liike the curtain before a stage, a ragged cloth is
Framing one tatami six-by-three, her living room.
All day long she has slept deep, her face a sickly
She wants to smile, but no more smile is left in her.
She wants to week, but even sorrow is lost in her.
All day long she has worked hard—the work of
Here I am, without a word to say to her,
And not one thing to give.
Splashing sugar on my hawthorn berries,
I just gorge myself and stain my lips with the nectar.
-- Saisei Muroo, In The Evil Person: Essays on Shin Buddhism
. Maida, 1989.
Of course, the word "prostitute" is a euphemism for rape, for as the Japanese colonial armies moved through Manchuria they took themselves "comfort women" by force from the Korean and Chinese villages and then forced them into prostitution.
This form of philosophy of "non-discrimination between good and evil" represents one extreme of philosophy that leads to an aesthetic indifference to suffering
; the other extreme sometimes seen within Shin Buddhist philosophy is the idea that finite persons are totally depraved
, not capable of any good whatsoever, which also leads to a form of fatalism such as that expressed by Maida when he comments on Saisei’s poem, stating "dealing with a prostitute's reality it teaches us that all we can do is to accept the reality of our existence," and the "realization that one is an evil person is the realization that one does not have any ability to do good." (Maida 1989: 29, 56)
In the truly Buddhistic sense of the middle way
, Jesus taught, "My disciples must not only cease to do evil but learn to do well; you must not only be cleansed from all conscious sin, but you must refuse to harbor even the feelings of guilt. If you confess your sins, they are forgiven; therefore must you maintain a conscience void of offense." (1736.4)
But this philosophy does not represent the actual response that Honen himself took when he encountered a prostitute on his travels:
The Prostitute Finds Birth
When Honen arrived at the port of Muro on his way into exile on Shikoku in the spring of 1207, a small boat drew near carrying a women of the night. She said to Honen, "I heard that this was your boat, and I have come to meet you. There are many ways of getting on in the world, but what terrible acts could have been committed in a former life of mine to bring me into such a miserable life as this? What can a women who carries a load of karma like mine do to escape and be saved in the world to come?" (Watts et al. 2005: 50)
Honen compassionately replied, "Your guilt in living such a life is surely great and the penalties seem incalculable. If you can find another means of livelihood, give this up at once. But if you can't, or if you are not yet ready to sacrifice your very life for the true way, begin just as you are and call on the sacred name. It is for just such deluded folk as you that Amida Buddha made that wonderfully comprehensive Original Vow (hongan). So put your full trust in it without the smallest reservation. If you rely upon the Original Vow and repeat the nenbutsu, your ojo is absolutely certain." (Watts et al. 2005: 51)
Thus kindly taught, the women began to weep out of joy. Later, Honen said of her, "She is a women of strong faith. She is sure to attain ojo." A year later when he was returning to the capital after his exile, Honen called at this place again and inquired about her. He found out that from the time he had instructed her, she had retired to a village near the mountains and had been devoting herself to the practice of the nenbutsu. A short time after, as death drew near, it was with great composure that she safely accomplished her ojo. On being told this, Honen said, "Yes, it is just as I had expected." (Watts et al. 2005: 51) (Watts, Jonathan and Tomatsu Yoshiharu, eds. Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin. Tokyo: Jodo Shu Press; 2005; c2005 pp. 50-51.)
My wife, herself Korean, born and raised in a Japan, was deeply touched by the response of Jesus to the plight of the two prostitutes, and did not fail to note the very different response to "good and evil" in the two teachings:
When in Rome, Ganid observed that Jesus refused to accompany them to the public baths. Several times afterward the young man sought to induce Jesus further to express himself in regard to the relations of the sexes. Though he would answer the lad's questions, he never seemed disposed to discuss these subjects at great length. One evening as they strolled about Corinth out near where the wall of the citadel ran down to the sea, they were accosted by two public women. Ganid had imbibed the idea, and rightly, that Jesus was a man of high ideals, and that he abhorred everything which partook of uncleanness or savored of evil; accordingly he spoke sharply to these women and rudely motioned them away. When Jesus saw this, he said to Ganid: "You mean well, but you should not presume thus to speak to the children of God, even though they chance to be his erring children. Who are we that we should sit in judgment on these women? Do you happen to know all of the circumstances which led them to resort to such methods of obtaining a livelihood? Stop here with me while we talk about these matters." The courtesans were astonished at what he said even more than was Ganid. (1472.5)
As they stood there in the moonlight, Jesus went on to say: "There lives within every human mind a divine spirit, the gift of the Father in heaven. This good spirit ever strives to lead us to God, to help us to find God and to know God; but also within mortals there are many natural physical tendencies which the Creator put there to serve the well-being of the individual and the race. Now, oftentimes, men and women become confused in their efforts to understand themselves and to grapple with the manifold difficulties of making a living in a world so largely dominated by selfishness and sin. I perceive, Ganid, that neither of these women is willfully wicked. I can tell by their faces that they have experienced much sorrow; they have suffered much at the hands of an apparently cruel fate; they have not intentionally chosen this sort of life; they have, in discouragement bordering on despair, surrendered to the pressure of the hour and accepted this distasteful means of obtaining a livelihood as the best way out of a situation that to them appeared hopeless. Ganid, some people are really wicked at heart; they deliberately choose to do mean things, but, tell me, as you look into these now tear-stained faces, do you see anything bad or wicked?" And as Jesus paused for his reply, Ganid's voice choked up as he stammered out his answer: "No, Teacher, I do not. And I apologize for my rudeness to them--I crave their forgiveness." Then said Jesus: "And I bespeak for them that they have forgiven you as I speak for my Father in heaven that he has forgiven them. Now all of you come with me to a friend's house where we will seek refreshment and plan for the new and better life ahead." Up to this time the amazed women had not uttered a word; they looked at each other and silently followed as the men led the way. (1472.6)
Edited by Robert Reno, 25 August 2008 - 02:30 PM.