By Robert E. Buswell, Robert M. Gimello
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Extra info for Paths to Liberation: The Marga and Its Transformations in Buddhist Thought
28. This classical Mahayana theme was given special emphasis in the Huayen tradition of East Asian Buddhism. It also served as part of the foundation of Hua-yen marga theory. According to that theory, the bodhisattva's path is both complex and simple, both instantaneous and gradual. It comprises as many as fifty-three stages and stations (matching Sudhana's fifty-three karyiinamitra), but in each stage, even the most elementary, the final goal ofbuddhahood is proleptically and causally present.
Should this seem improbable in light of the rigorous apophasis of so much of Buddhism, let us cite a well-known but inexhaustible line from Nagarjuna himself: "Ultimate truth is not taught except upon the foundation of conventional discourse" (vyavaharaTfl aniifritya paramartho na defyate). ra) and its rough equivalent, conventional truth (saTJZvrtisatya), are but locutionary instances of emptiness and indeterminacy. For them actually to serve as a "support" or "foundation" (asraya, Ch. i) of ultimate truth, or as a vehicle for the transmission thereof, they must have some efficacy, some supportive force.
Irga in even the most apophatic of Buddhist contexts. i and associated concepts-an approach, that is to say, which exploits the vital and productive tension between the two constituents of the tradition-will reveal, we would propose, a Buddhism that is at once less alien from the world of ordinary human concerns and more sensitive to the presence of the transcendent in that world. irga or concerted and methodical practice i:hat Buddhism addresses itself to such temporal matters as the regimen of daily 28 Buswell and Gimello life, the particular arts and sciences of self-cultivation, the values and norms of interpersonal relationships, institutional organization and authority, and so forth.