Dear I Ching,
The topic of trinity versus unity has arisen. Another of those pesky conflicts that tempt the mind's wheels to go awhirr, spining round and round in a dizzying merry-to-round circle. A sure sign that something is amiss as you've told us over and over again that the Way is straight and narrow and simple.
So I ran to Buddha's clarity for wise advice that might erase the storm clouds of confusion and put an end to this circular argument, once and for all.
In the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha tells us plainly: "only the stupid talk about the trinity of vehicles".
That's pretty clear and simple, wouldn't you say?
Yet, here we are facing the idea and ideal of trinity on our minds: ying, yang and Tao.
Adam, Eve, Creator.
Personality, Soul, Spirit.
Micocosm, Macrocosm, Void.
1 - 2 - 3.
3 - 2 -1.
Lao Tzu tells us in Chapter 42 of Tao Te Ching:
Tao enlivens one.
One enlivens two.
Two enlivens three.
Three enlivens all things.
Christian Gnosticism tells us that God manifests as three-in-one: Divine Will,
Divine Love, and Divine Intelligence.
Or said another way: Divine Father, Divine Mother, Divine Sun/Son.
(And if we consider that, then the mind goes awhirrrrrr again, this time gnawing on 'God-manifest' and 'God-unmanifest'. So it feels like the two best sources for wise counsel, on this particular topic, are Buddha and Lao Tzu.)
One says it is stupid to talk about this. The other says Tao enlivens one.
And that everything after is produced by what is behind it -- a chain, a sequence.
(Oddly, that is exactly what Buddha says too, so both must be saying the same thing -- just stated differently).
To seek the highest insight, we must peer all the way to Tao and stop being stupid by hanging around like sight-seeing cosmic tourists at 2 and 3 or, heaven forbid, 76 or 34 or any numeration that is not whole and complete unto itself.
As you can see, Dear I Ching, all these divisions, numbers, and sects and sub-cultures are mystifying. Confusing.
So it is a real relief to be pointed to the straight and narrow of One. Looking to what stands behind One is almost comforting. No divisions, no groups, no sects. No isms or philosopies, no methods or practices, no male or female. No planets or constellations. And most importantly -- no worries. And most surprising -- no questions..
Sometimes I think we become so fascinated with slicing and dicing up 'multitudinous' (as Buddha calls it) and get carried away by the explanations the mind projects outward as reassurance that our grasping and clinging nature is on the right track, that we are easily misled by mental hunger. Trying to intellectually grasp head-knowledge.
So why do we teach about the trinity when Buddha tells us, for a fact, that it is the subject matter of the stupid. Is it because ordinary folk are stupid? Or that this world is dualistically oriented and discerns everything as 'self' and 'other'? That must be so because Buddha goes on to tell us that his teachings about seeing everything as mind-only (not dualistic, not anything other than what we see and sense is a film clip from the contents of mind played out on the projection screen, right before our very eyes).
As an expedient tool, the very idea of Three inserts "another" into the tug-of-war between 'you' and 'me', 'them' and 'us'. Therefore, Three is a helpful number. It levels the playing field, as we ponder and question Three so that our attachments to either side of life's dance of "she' and 'he' can be broken. If there is something else besides 'man' and 'woman' or 'positive' and 'negative' or 'yin' and 'yang', what could that be? Humans call it neutral or non-polarized, the stillness of non-motion, silence or even, a void or black hole. But all these descriptors give rise to their immediate opposites. For silence to exist, there must be noise. The absence of noise is what we call silence. But if we've never been acquainted with noise, then how can we know silence? For neutral to exist, then there must be some objective field, something against which a contrast is made -- like contrasts of light giving rise to the sense of shadows. So we have to throw neutral out, too.
For one to be netural, something must exist for one to be neutral about. And then there is all that clinging that goes on to the in-between state of merely being a spectator, a movie-goer observing life's process. It is all well and good to 'invoke the observer' as the book: The Power of Now suggests. But to identify with the observer as being True Self is not the Way, either. We've still identified ourselves as some independent, individual onlooker. Tho' this is a necessary stage because at some point, we each must relinquish male and female and come to know that Two is, indeed, the product of One. If you cling to One, then Two will appear. If you cling to Two, then Three will appear.
Buddha and other sages tell us to cling to nothing, to consider everything as 'empty space' whilst knowing all the while that 'empty space' is a mental concept, another mirage. In other words, everything we sense, see, taste, touch, and experience is some temporary and fleeting arousal of the contents of mind-only. We could get very lofty and say that the mirror, reflective nature of mind is the yin side and the peering-into side is the yang. And that if the mind is aroused in such a way, then there must be an impulse or some trigger to bring forth arousal. And we could spend hours or years or lifetimes talking about the nature of arousal, all the way through the chakras and dimensions. Tho', as we sadly see in the pitiful state of this world, arousal here is generally discussed as sexual and so most ordinary folks are stuck in seeking a mate through which they might experience a more heavenly state. And so each and every one of them is looking in the wrong direction -- outside of themselves. And all they can do is feed the idea of needing someone (an 'other') to complete themselves or for some condition to improve. So we can see why earthly life is one of hunger -- ruled by gain and loss, feeding and starvation.
Whether Adam longs for Eve, believing she is his completion or Eve longs for God, believing He is her completion or a devotee throws him or herself into helpful work to gain perceived merits or acrue enough virtue to proceed on an evolutionary path of transmigration-- all of it is a mythical chain..
"Seeking" enlivens "Finding". 1 - 2. "Finding" enlivens "Possession or Gain". 3. So in this sequence model, we have the idea of seeking producing the activity of finding and the objectification of the found (or findable) acquistion. Sherlock Holmes might say: "Look, Watson, we've unraveled the clues of a mystery! If there is nothing to seek, then there is nothing to be found. If there is nothing to be found, there is nothing to acquire, gain or possess."
Of course, all of this is word-play negation, but it does give one pause to consider subtle influences and how easily we can be swept up in seeking and finding and claiming the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as our very own reward.
The only thing for sure and for certain is that Buddha was spot-on when he said: "only the stupid talk about the trinity of vehicles".
Therefore, from this point on, this particular writer isn't going to talk about trinity. If we stick to the Divine Spark, there is no confusion, no mind going awhirrrrrrr over perceived differences and oppositions.
The Gnostics say: "God is Whole and Complete Unto Himself, as Himself."
Lao Tzu says in Chapter 56:
4 You are not
intimate by acquiring it.
You are not distant in not acquiring it;
You do not profit by acquiring it.
You do not lose by not acquiring it;
You are not ennobled by acquiring it.
You are not disgraced by not acquiring it.
5 This is the nobility of the world.