Since the lion is a traditional emblem of the Tathagata, and since I was born at the last possible moment within the 2500 years predicted by my predecessor, I was reluctantly forced to consider the unlikely contingency that I was, after all, the one sent to be his successor. I was already enlightened, and had been for nearly 22 years, so knew I was a buddha, but hoped I might be a private one, allowed to complete my worldly ambitions like the rest of us. I also knew that, in Laws of Form, I had rediscovered conditioned coproduction.
Nevertheless I still hoped I might be spared the total sacrifice of all my worldly ambitions in order to give my life wholly to teaching what I knew - to sacrifice friends, family, and privacy in what was bound to attract misunderstanding, and, among many I had hoped to call friends, no doubt scorn and obloquy.
pg. 14: Each new teacher must rediscover, wholly by himself, without any reference to any predecessor, what has to be taught, and although the teaching is always the same - there is no different way of creating an apparent universe -
it is not derived in any way from that of a predecessor, and what I prescribe, in respect of social attitudes, is sometimes contrary to the prescriptions attributed to Sakyamuni. (I knew nothing of what Sakyamuni thought until the spring of 1982, when I discovered Conze, Buddhism, 1951, and the Large Sutra, Berkeley, 1975. The 1951 text is enlightened and brilliant, the 1975 translation is the only text that rings true in the all-too-few pages of actual teaching - take no notice of the all-too-many pages of religious instruction.)
This is necessary because conditions change, and the disenlightenment of western civilization, as we know it today, is not at all as it was in the mountains of Nepal 2500 years ago.
A new teacher will teach in his native tongue, in contrast to scholars of the old teaching who use technical terms from the Sanskrit and Pali scriptures.
All these words have natural English equivalents except buddha and tathagata, to which there are no equivalents in any western language.
A buddha is one who is enlightened, that is, who knows that what appears is not anything. The Tathagata is the much rarer appearance of one who, or what, independently discovers and teaches the laws that determine just how nothing comes to appear as something.
When people have asked me, particularly in the last five years or so, if I am a buddhist, I have said, 'No, a buddha', and it has always surprised me that not one of the questioners seemed to think the answer was a strange one, but all seemed to accept it as a simple matter of fact. In any case the author of a way of life is never an ist. People fail to notice that the Christ was not a Christian, nor was (or is) the Buddha a Buddhist.
I must clearly dissociate myself from present-day Buddhism, in particular from its array of prohibitions and rituals, which is a learned codification of the training, rather than the teaching, offered by my predecessor, and if it were adequate today, as he knew it wouldn't be, it would not be necessary for me to teach anything at all.
The best idea I can think of, to include those who follow my teaching, is that we are watchers or sentinels. If we take away the final "l" we have "Sentine", which can be used both as a name of the doctrine and of a follower of it. Since the word contains the Indo-European root sent- it can also be thought of as a message or messenger.
What I teach in person is naturally more magic than what I write, for then it can be fashioned exactly to the individual need of the auditor. The Tathagata can always spin a new web exactly to requirement, whereas a mere scholar can only repeat what was said on some other occasion, in response to another requirement. Spring Ingress 1992
A Lion's Teeth:
Part 1 Heaven
0. One Who Came Thus (the word 'tathagata' means suchness (literally 'thus come' or 'thus gone') is all of us and none of us. For we all came exactly the same way, that is, thus. One Who Came Thus knows everything and never makes a mistake, and no one can know everything, and nothing never made a mistake, so One Who Came Thus is none of us.
1. Can there be any one who is nothing and no one? Can any one aspire to the nature, or lack of it, of nothing, and thus attain the absolute freedom of no one?
2. The idea is so contradictory that ordinary logic does not allow us to attempt it. Indeed to "attempt" it would not bring it about, for no act of creation attempts itself, but is what happens of its own accord.
3. That is, by its own laws, the laws that are themselves self-created because they accord with one another.
4. Creation, or all that appears, does not come from anywhere - how could it? If it came from somewhere, then that somewhere would be elsewhere, and what appeared would not be all. So all that appears simply has nowhere to come from, and that is how we know it comes from nowhere.
5. We learn this profound secret because we can see it is self-evident. Scientific knowledge, attained by studying the appearance of what are called things, gives no account of their fundamental nature and origin, how they came to exist and what they really are. It explains things in terms of other things, far ever putting the question back a step, without ever actually answering it. Religious explanations in terms of a supernatural "creator" are equally helpless, giving an account of the creation at the expense of an ignorance of the imagined creator.
6. We tend to forget that animals don't ask this question, because they don't possess the elaborate descriptive languages that we do. When we see the problem as one that our language has constructed for us, is when we begin to realize that, by an extremely profound analysis of what the language has done, we might answer the question in a way that "natural" science and "revealed" religion never have, and never could.
7. We made the mistake of thinking our questions must have religious or scientific answers, where in fact the answers are so simple, such obvious truisms, that people spend their whole lives failing to notice them. They look for something more complicated, and whereas, deep down, they "knew" the simple answer, they are brought up to believe it "must" be more complicated than it is, and so caretully continue to look for answers in every direction but the right one.
8. How we, and all appearance that appears with us, appear to appear (The double appearance of "appear" is no mistake. The first is to see that there is no evidence for the appearance of anything but appearance, that appearance is the only evidence we have for appearance, and that nothing other has ever been known to appear) is by conditioned coproduction, which I and my immediate predecessor, who was the last person to explain it correctly, have each given accounts of elsewhere.
9. The child who discovers conditioned coproduction must first have all its relationships with other beings destroyed.
10. It must then self-generate all its natural knowledge, which is identical in all beings, the outward form of the regeneration being specific only to the particular questions generated among those it has to teach, in particular, first, itself.
Boe: natural knowledge - vgl. Hui-neng: Essential buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent, so it is not cut off; that is called non-duality. Oneness is good, dualism is not good. The essential buddha-nature is neither good nor not good; this is called non-duality.
Ordinary people see the body and the world as two; the wise realise their essential nature is not two. The non-dual nature is the buddha-nature.
George Spencer Brown