By A. H Keane

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It is not nearly so simple, though, for scattered throughout the Treasuries are enough echoes of traditional Buddhist cautionary rhetoric that we cannot assert that their attitudes toward the body, the senses, and sexuality are entirely unambiguous. Saraha, for instance, speaks of a time when “the body’s bonds are broken” (S46), “senses subside” (S29) “desire indeed is destroyed” (S50), or “all appearance / collapses before your eyes” (S74a); and, citing various desire-entranced animals as negative examples, instructs his listeners: “Don’t bind yourself / to sensuous things” (S71).

In other accounts, the four ecstasies are said to proceed in descending and ascending phases. In the descending phase, when the white drop at the crown reaches the throat cakra, ecstasy is attained; when it reaches the heart, utmost ecstasy is attained; when it reaches the navel, ecstasy of cessation is attained; and when it reaches the tip of the sexual organ, innate ecstasy is attained. These ecstasies are “ordinary,” but when ecstasy is conjoined with the realization of emptiness, one experiences extraordinary ecstasies: one draws the drop back up the central channel, through ecstasy at the navel, utmost ecstasy at the heart, ecstasy of cessation at the throat, and, finally, innate ecstasy at the crown.

Similarly, it is possible that when they sing of releasing the mind to go where it will, or simply seeing it as it is, wherever one is, they mean this to be a part of the path and not just an expression of what it is like for one who has attained the goal. At the very least, we must understand that, by their rhetoric and their indirection, Saraha, Ka¯nfi ha, and Tilopa may be warning their listeners (and us) that the crucial thing for anyone intent on freedom is simply to see and reveal the innate mind as it is.

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Asia by A. H Keane
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