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Classics > Being & Non Being

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B eing and non-being produce each other;




Daoism Quote n°3537 | 
Laozi 2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 7. 





I have been so naughted in Thy Love's existence that my nonexistence is a thousand times sweeter than my existence.




Islam / Sufism Quote n°3325 | 
The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 298, Trans. William C. Chittick. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1983 





E verything which is other than Allah is "hidden" in non-being, even if it appears to spiritually veiled beings to be endowed with existence. But the sage does not concern himself with what is non-being and does not make it the aim of his acts.




Islam / Sufism Quote n°3262 | 
Kitab al-Mawaqif 4, p. 38,in The Spiritual Writings of 'Abd al-Kader. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1995 





T hen God -- may He be exalted! -- said to me, "What are you?" I replied, "I am two things, according to two different relations. With respect to You, I am the Eternal, forever and ever. I am the necessary Being who epiphanizes himself. My necessity proceeds from the necessity of Your essence and my eternity from the eternity of Your knowledge and Your attributes.

"With respect to me, I am pure non-being who has never breathed the perfume of existence, the adventitious being who remains nonexistent in his adventitiousness. I only possess being so long as I am present with You and for You. Left to myself and absent from You I am one who is not, even while he is (fa-ana mafqud mawjud)."





Islam / Sufism Quote n°3260 | 
Kitab al-Mawaqif 30, pp. 77-78,in The Spiritual Writings of 'Abd al-Kader. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1995 





T he beginningless Brahman, … can be called neither being nor nonbeing… It is both near and far, both within and without every creature; it moves and is unmoving. In its subtlety it is beyond comprehension. It is indivisible, yet appears divided in separate creatures. Know it to be the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer. Dwelling in every heart, it is beyond darkness. It is called the light of lights, the object and goal of knowledge, and knowledge itself.




Hinduism Quote n°3226 | 
BG 13:12, 15-17, pp. 170-171, The Bhagavad Gita. Trans. Eknath Easwaran. Tomales, CA.: Nilgiri Press, 1985. 





T ear aside veils of all you see in this world, and you will find yourself apart in solitude with God. If you draw aside the veils of the stars and the spheres, you will see that all is one with the Essence of your own pure soul. If you will but tear aside the veil, you will see nonexistence, and you will see forthwith the true meaning of God's purpose. When you have cast aside the veil, you will see the Essence, and all things will be shown forth within the Essence. If you draw aside the veil from the Face of the Beloved, all that is hidden will be made manifest, and you will become one with God, for then will you be the very Essence of the Divine.




Islam / Sufism Quote n°2958 | 
Essential Sufism, by James Fadiman & Robert Frager, Harper SanFrancisco, p.233 





I n like manner, I teach, that there is nothing made nor unmade; that there is nothing that has connection with birth and destruction except as the ignorant cherish falsely imagined notions as to the reality of the external world. When objects are not seen and judged as they truly are in themselves, there is discrimination and clinging to the notions of being and non-being, and individualised self-nature, and as long as these notions of individuality and self-nature persist, the philosophers are bound to explain the external world by a law of causation.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2564 | 
Ch.III, p.298, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





I teach that the multitudinousness of objects have no reality in themselves but are only seen of the mind and, therefore, are of the nature of maya and a dream. I teach the non-existence of things because they carry no signs of any inherent self-nature. It is true that in one sense they are seen and discriminated by the senses as individualized objects; but in another sense, because of the absence of any characteristic marks of self-nature, they are not seen but are only imagined. In one sense they are graspable, but in another sense, they are not graspable.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2562 | 
Ch.III, p.297, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





T hose who believe in the birth of something that has never been in existence and, coming into existence, vanishes away, are obliged to assert that things come to exist and vanish away by causation-such people find no foothold in my teachings. When it is realized that there is nothing born, and nothing passes away, then there is no way to admit being and nonbeing, and the mind becomes quiescent.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2560 | 
Ch.III, p.296, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





F urther, besides understanding the emptiness of all things both in regard to substance and self-nature, it is necessary for Bodhisattvas to clearly understand that all things are un-born. It is not asserted that things are not born in a superficial sense, but that in a deep sense they are not born of themselves. All that can be said, is this, that relatively speaking, there is a constant stream of becoming, a momentary and uninterrupted change from one state of appearance to another. When it is recognized that the world as it presents itself is no more than a manifestation of mind, then birth is seen as no-birth and all existing objects, concerning which discrimination asserts that they are and are not, are non-existent and, therefore, un-born; being devoid of agent and action things are un-born.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2558 | 
Ch.III, p.296, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





W hen things are examined by right knowledge there are no signs obtainable which would characterize them with marks of individuality and generality, therefore, they are said to have no self-nature. Because these signs of individuality and generality are seen both as existing and yet are known to be non-existent, are seen as going out and yet are known not to be going out, they are never annihilated. Why is this true? For this reason; because the individual signs that should make up the self-nature of all things are non-existent. Again in their self-nature things are both eternal and non-eternal. Things are not eternal because the marks of individuality appear and disappear, that is, the marks of self-nature are characterized by non-eternality. On the other hand, because things are unborn and are only mind-made, they are in a deep sense eternal. That is, things are eternal because of their very non-eternality.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2557 | 
Ch.III, p.295, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





S ubhuti, how is it possible to explain this Scripture to others without holding in mind any arbitrary conception of things and phenomena and Dharmas? It can only be done, Subhuti, by keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and in self-less oneness with the 'suchness' that is Tathagatahood. And why? Because all the mind's arbitrary conceptions of matter, phenomena, and of all conditioning factors and all conception and ideas relating thereto are like a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, the evanescent dew, the lightning's flash. Every true disciple should thus look upon all phenomena and upon all the activities of the mind, and keep his mind empty and self-less and tranquil.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2530 | 
Diamond Sutra, 32, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





T hen the Lord made this more emphatic by saying:-Subhuti, when disciples begin their practice of seeking to attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, they ought thus to see, to perceive, to know, to understand, and to realize that all things and all Dharmas are no-things, and, therefore, they ought not to conceive within their minds any arbitrary conceptions whatever.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2529 | 
Diamond Sutra, 31, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





T he Lord Buddha continued:-If any disciple were to say that the Tathagata, in his teachings, has constantly referred to himself, other selves, living beings, an Universal Self, what think you Subhuti? Would that disciple have understood the meaning of what I have been teaching?
Subhuti replied: No Blessed Lord. That disciple would not have understood the meaning of the Lord's teachings. For when the Lord has referred to them he has never referred to their actual existence; he has only used the words as figures and symbols. It is only in that sense that they can be used, for conceptions, and ideas, and limited truths, and Dharmas have no more reality than have matter and phenomena.





Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2528 | 
Diamond Sutra, 31, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





T he Lord Buddha continued:-Do not think, Subhuti, that the Tathagata would consider within himself:-I will deliver human beings. That would be a degrading thought. Why? Because really there are no sentient beings to be delivered by the Tathagata. Should there be any sentient beings to be delivered by the Tathagata, it would mean that the Tathagata was cherishing within his mind arbitrary conceptions of phenomena such as one's own self, other selves, living beings and an universal self. Even when the Tathagata refers to himself, he is not holding in his mind any such arbitrary thought. Only terrestrial human beings think of selfhood as being a personal possession. Subhuti, even the expression 'terrestrial beings' as used by the Tathagata does not mean that there are any such beings. It is used only as a figure of speech.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2519 | 
Diamond Sutra, 25, in Dwight Goddard, A Buddhist bible 





T he sage moves within the thousand transformations but does not change, and travels on ten thousand paths of delusion but always goes through. This is so because he leaves the vacuous self-nature of things as it is and does not employ the concept of vacuity to make vacuous. Therefore the scripture says, "Marvellous, the World-Honored One (Buddha). You establish all dharmas in their places without disturbing Reality. (1) He does not depart from reality in order to establish them in their places; reality is right where they are established. This being so, is the Way far away? Reality is wherever there is contact with things. Is the sage far away? Realize him in one's life and there will be spiritual intelligence. (TSD, 45:152-153)




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2301 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 
(1) Fang-kuang ching, ch. 20, TSD, 8:140.





T hus there are reasons why all dharmas are nonexistent and therefore cannot be considered to be existent, and there are reasons why they are not nonexistent and therefore cannot be considered to be nonexistent. Why? Suppose we say that they are existent. Such existence is not true (or absolute). Or suppose we say that they are nonexistent. But phenomena have already taken shape. In as far as things have already taken shape, they cannot be said to be nonexistent, and since they have no true existence, they cannot be said to be really existent. From this, the principle of the emptiness of the unreal should become clear.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2300 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 





T he Mo-ho-yen lun says, "Since all dharmas arise through causation, therefore they should have [only relative] existence. [Likewise] since all dharmas arise through causation, therefore they should not have [absolute] existence. Since all nonexistent dharmas arise through causation, they should have [only relative] existence. And since all existent dharmas arise through causation, they should have no [absolute] existence." As we think about it, are these words about existence and nonexistence merely intended for disagreement?




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2299 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 





T he reason for this is this: If the existence of things is true (absolute) existence, this existence should be eternal by its own nature and should not depend on causes to be existent. If the nonexistence of things were absolute nonexistence, it should be eternal nonexistence by its own nature and should not depend on causes to be nonexistent. If existence is not existence by its own nature but depends on causes to be existent, we know that although it [appears to] exist, it has no true existence. Since it has no true existence, it cannot be called existence in the real sense although it exists.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2298 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 





W hat shall we say? Shall we say that things are nonexistent? Then the heterodox view [that things are annihilated] would not be erroneous. Shall we say that things are existent? Then the view that things are eternal would be correct. Because things are not nonexistent, the heterodox view is therefore erroneous, and because things are not existent, therefore the eternalist's view is incorrect. Thus the true words of the absolute truth are that things are neither existent nor nonexistent.




Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2297 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 





T he Supreme Vacuity which neither comes into [nor goes out of] existence is probably the subtle principle in the reflection of the mysterious mirror of prajna (wisdom) and the source of all existence. Unless one possesses the intelligence and special penetrating power of a sage, how can he harmonize his spirit with the realm of neither existence nor nonexistence? Therefore the perfect man penetrates the infinite with his wonderful mind and the finite cannot obstruct him. He applies to the utmost his ears to listen and his eyes to see, and sound and color cannot restrict him. Is this not because he leaves the vacuous self-nature of things as it is and therefore they cannot affect his spiritual intelligence?
Therefore the sage exercises his true mind and is in accord with principle (li), and there is no obstruction which he cannot pass through. He views the transformation of all things with the clear understanding that [they are all of] one material force (1) and therefore he is in accord with
whatever he may encounter. Since there is no obstruction which he cannot pass through, therefore he can mix with the impure and achieve purity, and since he is in accord with whatever he encounters, he sees the unity of things as he comes in contact with them. Since this is the case, although the ten thousand forms (phenomenal things) seem to be different, they are not so in themselves. As they are not different in themselves, it follows that these [apparent] forms are not the real forms.
As these forms are not the real forms, although they [appear to be] forms, they are not [real] forms at all.





Buddhism / Mahayana Quote n°2294 | 
Seng Chao, Treatises, The emptiness of the Unreal, Ch.2, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 21. 
This description of the mind of the sage is strikingly similar to those by Chuang Tzu and Kuo Hsiang." The desired state is practically identical with Chuang Tzu's becoming one with the universe and Kuo Hsiang's quiet harmony with all things. In all cases there is "no more deliberate mind of one's own" (wu-hsin) and consequently there is no obstruction between the self and the other but complete harmony without distinction.





H ow is virtue to be attained? It is to be attained through Tao. How is virtue to be completely fulfilled? It is through non-being as its function. As non-being is its function, all things will be embraced. Therefore in regard to things, if they are understood as non-being all things will be in order, whereas if they are understood as being, it is impossible to avoid the fact that they are products (phenomena). Although Heaven and Earth are extensive, non-being is the mind, and although sages and kings are great, vacuity (hsu) is their foundation. Therefore it is said that by returning and seeing [absolute quiet and perfect non-being], the mind of Heaven and Earth will be revealed.




Daoism Quote n°2275 | 
WANG PI, Lao Tzu chu, or Commentary on the Lao Tzu, ch. 38, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 19. 





T here was a beginning. (2) There was a time before that begining. (*1) (3) There was a time before the time which was before the beginning. (4) There was being. (5) There was non-being. (6) There was a time before that non-being. (7) There was a time before the time which was before that non-being.

(1) What is meant by "There was a beginning" is that there was accumulation which has not sprung unto activity. There were signs of sprouts and shoots but no physical form. (*2) Like insects moving (*3) they are about to spring into life but their species have not yet been formed.

(2) At the time before that beginning, the material force (ch'i) of Heaven began to descend and that of Earth began to ascend. Yin and yang interacted and united, competing leisurely to expand in the universe. Embracing genuine character and containing harmony, they were interfused and stayed together.. (*4) They wanted to come in contact with other things but they had not yet had physical form.

(3) At the stage when there was a time before the time which was before the beginning, Heaven contained harmony but had not yet descended, and Earth embraced the material force but had not yet ascended. It was empty, quiet, desolate, and dark, there was nothing which was even indistinct. At last the material force greatly penetrated the realm of darkness.

(4) "There was being" means that the myriad things appeared (*5) in great numbers. The roots, stems, branches, and leaves of plants were young, luxuriant, flourishing, and colorful. Insects flew, moved, crawled, and breathed. They could be touched and grasped and they could be counted in quantities.

(5) "There was non-being" means that the eye looked at it but could not see any form. The ear listened to it but could not hear any sound. The hand touched it but could not feel anything tangible. And as one look at it, its limit could not be reached. Great and extensive, it could not be measured and was identical with light.

(6) At the time before that non-being, Heaven and Earth were enclosed and the myriad things were molded and produced. The great universal (Tao) (*6) was undifferentiated and noumenal. Nothing, however deep, extensive, vast, or great, existed beyond it. Even the minutest hair and the sharpest point could not exist within it. It was space without surrounding walls. It produced the root of being and non-being.

(7) At the time before the time which was before that non-being, heaven and earth had not come into existence and yin and yang had not been distinguished. The four seasons had not yet separated and the myriad things had not yet been born. It was extremely peaceful and very tranquil. Forms were not yet visible. It was like light in the midst of nonbeing which retreats and is lost sight of. (*7)





Daoism Quote n°2269 | 
Huai-nan Tzu, SPPY, 2: la-2a, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 17. 
The seven stages were first mentioned by Chuang Tzu (ch.2, nhcc, 1:33b) but Huai-nan Tzu provided them with a content. Hu Shih (1891-1962) has arranged them in this order: 7, 3, 6, 2, 1, 4, 5 Huainan Tzu's view may not be scientific or logical. It is remarkable, however, that in an age of prevalent superstitions and common belief in prodigies, he should have maintained an absolutely naturalistic attitude toward creation.





I n the great beginning, there was non-being. It had neither being nor name. The One originates from it; it has oneness but not yet physical form. When things obtain it and come into existence, that is called virtue (which gives them their individual character). That which is formless is divided [into yin and yang], and from the very beginning going on without interruption is called destiny (ming, fate). Through movement and rest it produces all things. When things are produced in accordance with the principle (li) of life, there is physical form.




Daoism Quote n°2250 | 
Chuang Tzu, ch. 12 (Houang Lao School), NHCC. 5:8b-9b, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 8. 





L ife and death, and existence and non-existence are one.




Daoism Quote n°2240 | 
Chuang Tzu, chapter VI, in Wing-Tsit Chan, Chinese Philosophy, Chapter 8. 



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