Phoenix Collective
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Phoenix Collective

Trickster Buddhism: Dawn of the Hahayana

Tumbling Down The Thousandfold Path

From a Buddhist Children’s Book
Surfing the Mind to Limitless Freedom
Krishna and Radha, Jeevanlal
  1. Hinayana (“Lesser Vehicle”) — also known as Theravada Buddhism. This stage spans roughly the first 500 years after Gautama Buddha’s parinirvana (not death!), and is still followed in many countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. All worldly life and perception is taught to be suffering, so the goal of the path is ESCAPE SAMSARA (conditioned reality), GET TO NIRVANA (the unconditioned). It is essentially a vehicle of self-development, proceeding via willful cultivation of positive and perfect qualities: one pursues the eightfold path in order to attain Nirvana and become an Arahant, free from clinging and thus liberated from the samsaric cycle of involuntary death and rebirth.
  2. Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”), also known as the Bodhisattvayana. This begins around 100 BC onwards, spanning another 500-odd years before Vajrayana developments. This was all catalysed by the titanic philosopher-sage Nagarjuna, who recognised that the duality and separation between samsara and nirvana was totally false. Realising that the conditioned and un-conditioned fundamentally depend on one another, they cannot be said to be separate in any way: they are non-dual. Not two, not one. This culminates in that jewel of Mahayana wisdom: “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form”. As a result, the Buddhist devotee no longer has to reject Samsara and let go of everything in order to attain Nirvana: instead she sees that Nirvana is everywhere, in everything and every being. Thus Nagarjuna said that “the nature of all things is essentially peace” — is liberation, is Nirvana. The cosmic buddhas and bodhisattvas are immanent in all forms (all conditioned reality) — as is one’s own buddha-nature — while still preserving their/our transcendent (unconditioned) nature. True buddha-nature is thus beyond the duality of conditioned/unconditioned phenomena — again, it is totally inexpressible and inconceivable and must be “known” directly. The Mahayana sees the dawn of the Bodhisattva ideal: the one who aspires to awaken and realise their freedom for the benefit of all living beings. Heroically, they vow to forego personal realisation of Nirvana in order to stay with conditioned beings, suffering through the apparently endless task of serving and helping innumerable beings to realise their own liberated buddha-nature.
  3. Vajrayana (“Diamond Way””) — also called the Tantrayana or Mantrayana. Unable to bear the suffering of the beings that they love and depend on, the yogi attempts the audacious task of attaining the full liberation of buddhahood within this very lifetime. This entails “bringing everything to the path”: using powerful Tantric practices (such as visualisation mantras) to unlock deep unconscious energies (such as desire, anger, fear and bliss), yoking them all to the task of realising total liberation through the perception of the (divine and empty) buddha body. This enables a practitioner to rapidly realise the union of wisdom and compassion that is the awakened heart-mind: knowing the emptiness of everything, yet still able to perceive a self and world of divine appearances. The entire cosmos is seen and related to as utterly divine and mystical: a sacred mandala in which all beings (including oneself) are perceived as buddhas and deities. “All phenomena are the mandalas of the buddhas”.
  • Power Mode vs. Love Mode
  • Reactive Mode vs. Creative Mode
Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters

“The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All other wars are subsumed in it.” — Diane di Prima

Mr. President..



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