World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
Polarity, Relationality, And Interdependence
A result of the transcendent law at work in the creation and sustenance of the cosmos is that the cosmos evidences order, regularity, and mutuality. All existences, great and small, are linked in a web of interdependent relationships. Every relationship has a certain polarity and a certain order, and there is dynamic, mutual movement, and exchange between male and female, heaven and earth, mind and matter, subject and object, light and dark, being and non-being, this and that, myself and the other. The movement within and between beings in relationship is the source of generation and creative power. This motion is seen in the regular cycles of nature, the changing seasons. It is sometimes mythically represented by the cosmic union of god and goddess, of male and female principles.
In addition, interdependence is the basis for teachings which deny egoism and acquisitiveness while encouraging compassion and reciprocity. The Buddhist and Taoist understandings of causality link all beings into an interdependent whole of which the individual is but one part, and this is the basis for the attitude of no-self and the ethic of compassion. Each person is his neighbor; any distinction between myself as subject and the other as object is illusory.
The Great Primal Beginning (t'ai chi) generates the two primary forces [yang and yin]. The two primary forces generate...the great field of action.
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.11.5-6
And of everything created We two kinds; haply you will remember.
Islam. Qur'an 51.49
Beauty arises from the fusion of extremes into a harmonious oneness.
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon 9-11-79
All things are twofold, one opposite the other, and he has made nothing incomplete. One confirms the good things of the other, and who can have enough of beholding his glory?
Christianity. Sirach 42.24-25
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 1.27
The Originator of the heavens and the earth; He has appointed for you of yourselves spouses, and pairs also of the cattle, by means of which He multiplies you.
Islam. Qur'an 42.11
All life, all pulsation in creation throbs with the mighty declaration of the biune truth of Shiva-Shakti, the eternal He and the eternal She at play in manifestation.
Hinduism. Kularnava Tantra 3
The creator, out of desire to procreate, devoted himself to concentrated ardor (tapas). Whilst thus devoted to concentrated ardor, he produced a couple, Matter and Life (prana), saying to himself, "these two will produce all manner of creatures for me." Now Life is the Sun; Matter is the Moon.
Hinduism. Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5
The Master said, "Heaven and earth come together, and all things take shape and find form. Male and female mix their seed, and all creatures take shape and are born." In the Changes it is said, "When three people journey together, their number decreases by one. When one man journeys alone, he finds a companion."
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.4.13
Sun Myung Moon 9-11-79: Cf. Book of Ritual 19, p. 325. Kularnava Tantra 3: In the Tantra this defines a Mantra 'Ham-sa,' identified with the breath, inhaling and exhaling. Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5: Tradition has speculated on the fact that Matter (rayi) is feminine and prana, that is Life or energy, is masculine. This is another expression of the polarity of Purusha and prakriti, or Shiva and Shakti. Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3, p. 252; Rig Veda 10.129, p. 130; 10.190.1-3, p. 150; Bhagavad Gita. 13.19-26, p. 178; Shiva Purana, p. 179. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.4.13: Cf. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4, p. 324.
Observe how all God's creations borrow from each other: day borrows from night and night from day, but they do not go to law one with another as mortals do.... The moon borrows from the stars and the stars from the moon... the sky borrows from the earth and the earth from the sky.... All God's creatures borrow from the other, yet make peace with one another without lawsuits; but if man borrows from his friend, he seeks to swallow him up with usury and robbery.
Judaism. Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 31.15
When the sun goes, the moon comes; when the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon alternate; thus light comes into existence. When cold goes, heat comes; when heat goes, cold comes. Cold and heat alternate, and thus the year completes itself. The past contracts. The future expands. Contraction and expansion act upon each other; hereby arises that which furthers.
The measuring worm draws itself together when it wants to stretch out. Dragons and snakes hibernate in order to preserve life. Thus the penetration of germinal thought into the mind promotes the workings of the mind. When this working furthers and brings peace to life, it elevates a man's nature.
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.5.2-3
Which of these two came earlier, which came later? How did they come to birth? Who, O Seers, can discern it? They contain within them all that has a name, while days and nights revolve as on a wheel.
You two, though motionless and footless, nurture a varied offspring having feet and movement. Like parents clasping children to their bosoms, O Heaven and Earth, deliver us from evil!
These twin maidens (day and night), like two friendly sisters nestled close together, rest in their parents' bosom and kiss together the center of the world. O Heaven and Earth, deliver us from evil!
Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.185.1,2,5
I Ching, Great Commentary 2.5.2-3: The philosophy of the I Ching emphasizes the constant dynamic interchange of yang and yin. Every action engenders its opposite. One who wishes to prosper should understand the principles of change and use them to his advantage; cf. Chuang Tzu 22, p. 550 and 27, p. 153. Hence the example: he who wishes to create and expand must first look within and concentrate the self--cf. Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. Exodus Rabbah 31.15: Cf. Isaiah 1.2-3, p. 456.
Heaven is high, the earth is low; thus the Creative and the Receptive are determined. In correspondence with this difference between low and high, inferior and superior places are established.
Movement and rest have their definite laws; according to these, firm and yielding lines [of the hexagrams] are differentiated.
Events follow definite trends, each according to its nature. Things are distinguished from one another in definite classes. In this way good fortune and misfortune come about. In the heavens phenomena take form; on earth shapes take form. In this way change and transformation become manifest.
Therefore the eight trigrams succeed one another by turns, as the firm and the yielding displace each other.
Things are aroused by thunder and lightning; they are fertilized by wind and rain. Sun and moon follow their courses and it is now hot, now cold.
The way of the Creative brings about the male.
The way of the Receptive brings about the female.
The Creative knows the great beginnings.
The Receptive completes the finished things.
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.1-5
Know that prakriti (nature, energy) and Purusha (spirit) are both without beginning, and that from prakriti come the gunas (qualities of the phenomenal world) and all that changes. Prakriti is the agent, cause, and effect of every action, but it is Purusha that seems to experience pleasure and pain. Purusha, resting in prakriti, witnesses the play of the gunas born of prakriti. But attachment to the gunas leads a person to be born for good or evil. Within the body the supreme Purusha is called the witness, approver, supporter, enjoyer, the supreme Lord, the highest Self... Whatever exists, Arjuna, animate or inanimate, is born through the union of the field and its Knower.
Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 13.19-22, 26
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.1-5: The philosophy of Change finds its concrete form in the system of divination of the I Ching, with its 64 hexagrams, each composed of two trigrams. Each of the six lines of the hexagram may be either yang or yin, firm or yielding. Because these lines change into each other according to rule: firm yang becoming yielding yin, firm yin becoming yielding yang, the hexagrams denote a fortune that is dynamic and has various potentials for change. This passage is a commentary on two paradigmatic hexagrams: the Creative (ch'ien) is composed of all six yang lines and the Receptive (k'un) is composed of all six yin lines. Bhagavad Gita 13.19-22, 26: The cosmos is formed by the polarity of Purusha--mind, consciousness, divinity--and prakriti--matter, energy, the world of nature. However, in monistic Vedanta, the duality of Purusha and prakriti is not at all benign or supportive of enlightenment, it is rather a fetter to be transcended. Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3, p. 387.
The original Being without a second, with neither beginning nor end... the Supreme Brahman, the all-pervasive and undecaying, vanished. The manifest form of that formless Being is Shiva. Scholars of the ancient and succeeding ages have sung of it as Ishvara.
Ishvara, though alone, then created the physical form Shakti from his body. This Shakti did not affect his body in any way.
Shakti is called by various names: Pradhana, Prakriti, Maya, Gunavati, Para. She is the mother of Cosmic Intelligence, without modification. That Shakti is Matter-energy (prakriti), the goddess of all and the prime cause and mother of the three gunas....
The supreme Purusha is Shiva. He has no other lord over Him.... In the form of Time (Kala) together with Shakti, they simultaneously created the holy center called Shivaloka. It is the seat of salvation shining over and above everything. The holy center is of the nature of supreme Bliss inasmuch as the primordial lovers, supremely blissful, made the beautiful holy center their perpetual abode.
Hinduism. Shiva Purana, Rudrasamhita I.16
The deities Izanagi and Izanami descended from Heaven to the island Ono-goro and erected a heavenly pillar and a spacious palace.... "Let us, you and me, walk in a circle around this heavenly pillar and meet and have conjugal intercourse," said Izanagi. "You walk around from the right, and I will walk around from the left and meet you."... They united and gave birth to children, [the eight islands of Japan].
Shinto. Kojiki 4-6
In space In the lotus is the triangle; lies knowledge; here meditate. here is union. Thence the circles Thence bliss in right order, self-experiencing, and the divine forms which is bodhicitta appearing in due order. and is thought of enlightenment.
Therefore the Innate is twofold, for Wisdom is the woman and Means is the man. Thereafter these both become twofold, distinguished as absolute and relative. In man there is this twofold nature: the thought of enlightenment [relative] and the bliss arising from it [absolute]; in woman too it is the same, the thought of enlightenment and the bliss arising from it.
Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.26-29
Kojiki 4-6: In Shinto, the deities Izanagi and Izanami correspond to the male and female principles. The union of opposites is seen as the source of life, divine and human. However, the deities at first erred in this ritual; the complete text is given on p. 431. Hevajra Tantra 8.26-29: This Tantric text advocates the attainment of enlightenment by the union of Wisdom (prajna) and Means (upaya), the female and male principles. The first column describes the Means, a meditation surrounded by certain geometric symbols, and the second column describes the unfolding of Wisdom.
When ones accumulate to become ten, it becomes a complete being. Heaven is three because positivity and negativity harmonize to produce the neutral. Earth is three because positivity and negativity come together to produce the one. Man is three because man and woman come together to produce the one. The three poles are added together to form six. The processes of life are manifested through the seven, eight, and nine.
The Ultimate One achieves the four by the movement of the three [poles]. The five becomes the seven by a circular movement, and then returns to the One as life flows on mysteriously. Although myriads of things come out from the One, flow, are used, and change, the root is always present in all movement coming and going. It lies in man to highly brighten the core of his mind like the sun.
Heaven is one, earth is one, and they move as one body. The end of a finite being is a return to the endless; the beginning and the end are one.
Korean Religions: Chun Boo Kyung
Chun Boo Kyung: This cryptic text plays with numbers one to ten but never explains what these numbers mean, leaving much to interpretation. Many see the Chun Boo Kyung as setting forth a theory of generation, movement, and return. The theory of generation states that the three poles, interpreted as mind, life, and energy, or positive, negative, and neutral (see Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95), are generated through the harmony of subject and object. This generates the power of growth through nine stages to maturity, the tenth stage. The theory of movement descibes a circular or spherical motion of the three poles centered on the Ultimate One, thus creating a unified body of four positions. It is said that man should similarly brighten his mind by centering on the Ultimate and participating in this movement. Finally, the theory of return affirms that all things return to their origin and continually change into new forms of existence.
Thirty spokes share one hub to make a wheel. Through its not-being (wu), There being (yu) the use of the carriage.
Mold clay into a vessel. Through its not-being, There being the use of the vessel.
Cut out doors and windows to make a house. Through its not-being There being the use of the house.
Therefore in the being of a thing, There lies the benefit; In the not-being of a thing, There lies its use.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 11
Every existence has both internal character [mind] and external form [body]; accordingly, its purpose is two-fold. One purpose pertains to internal character and the other to external form. The purpose pertaining to internal character is for the whole, while the purpose pertaining to external form is for the individual. These relate to each other as cause and effect, internal and external, and subject and object. Therefore, there cannot be any purpose of the individual apart from the purpose of the whole, nor any purpose of the whole that does not include the purpose of the individual. All the creatures in the entire universe form a vast complex linked together by these dual purposes.
Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1
This world of men, given over to the idea of "I am the agent," bound up with the idea "another is the agent," understand not truly this thing; they have not seen it as a thorn. For one who looks at this thorn with caution, the idea "I am the agent" exists not, the idea "another is the agent" exists not.
Buddhism. Udana 70
Tao Te Ching 11: The usefulness of the wheel, the vessel, and the house is through the empty space, or 'non-being,' contained in them. Utility comes through the reversive process of coming to be and ceasing to be, making a complete circuit of the Tao. Divine Principle I.1.3.1: The mind or 'internal character' of human beings is the original mind that pursues transcendent values, ideals, and love. Thus it most essentially relates with beings beyond itself. The body is concerned with gratification of sense-desires and survival. The relationship between them suggested here gives priority to the whole purpose of the 'internal character,' while the individual purpose of the 'external form' is in a supporting role. This interdependent complex linked together by purpose--compare 1 Corinthians 12.12-27, p. 276--is descriptive of nature, which follows God's principle, but prescriptive for humans, who often have their priorities upside-down.
We are members one of another.
Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 4.25
Why should I be unable To regard the bodies of others as "I"? It is not difficult to see That my body is also that of others.
In the same way as the hands and so forth Are regarded as limbs of the body, Likewise why are embodied creatures Not regarded as limbs of life?
Only through acquaintance has the thought of "I" arisen Towards this impersonal body; So in a similar way, why should it not arise Towards other living beings?
When I work in this way for the sake of others, I should not let conceit or [the feeling that I am] wonderful arise. It is just like feeding myself-- I hope for nothing in return.
Buddhism. Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.112-16
Everything has its "that," everything has its "this." From the point of view of "that" you cannot see it, but through understanding you can know it. So I say, "that" comes out of "this" and "this" depends on "that"--which is to say that "this" and "that" give birth to each other. But where there is birth there must be death; where there is death there must be birth. Where there is acceptability there must be unacceptability; where there is unacceptability there must be acceptability. Where there is recognition of right there must be recognition of wrong; where there is recognition of wrong there must be recognition of right. Therefore the sage does not proceed in such a way, but illuminates all in the light of Heaven. He too recognizes a "this", but a "this" which is also "that"; a "that" that is also "this". His "that" has both a right and a wrong in it; his "this" too has both a right and a wrong in it. So, in fact, does he still have a "this" and "that"? Or does he in fact no longer have a "this" and "that"? A state in which "this" and "that" no longer find their opposites is called the Hinge of the Way. When the hinge is fitted into the socket, it can respond endlessly.
Taoism. Chuang Tzu 2
The doing away with the notion of cause and condition, the giving up of a causal agency, the establishment of the Mind-only--this I state to be no-birth.
The getting-rid of the idea that things are caused, the removal of the dualism of imagined and imagining, the being liberated from the alternatives of being and non-being--this I state to be no-birth.
No external [separate] existence, no non-existence, not even the grasping of mind; things are like a dream, a hair-net, Maya, a mirage... this is what characterizes no-birth.
It is only in accordance with general convention that a chain of mutual dependence is talked of; birth has no sense when the chain of dependence is severed.
If [someone holds that] there is anything born somewhere apart from concatenation [the chain of mutual relations], he is one who is to be recognized as an advocate of no-causation as he destroys concatenation.
If concatenation worked [from outside] like a lamp revealing all kinds of things, this means the presence of something outside concatenation itself.
All things are devoid of self-nature [separate existence], have never been born, and in their original nature are [transparent] like the sky; things separated from concatenation belong to the discrimination of the ignorant.
When this entire world is regarded as concatenation, as nothing else but concatenation, then the mind gains tranquillity.
Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 78
Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.112-16: Vv. 112, 114-16. Cf. Samyutta Nikaya v.353, p. 173; Dhammapada 129-30, p. 478; Acarangasutra 5.101-02, p. 173. Chuang Tzu 2: The Taoist ideal is to transcend all distinctions of 'this' and 'that' and live in the free motion of the Tao, in which all things rise and fall, develop and revert to their origin. Cf. Tao Te Ching 2, p. 801; Chuang Tzu 2, p. 67, 7, p. 588. This ideal has resemblances to the satori of Zen; cf. Diamond Sutra 22-23, p. 588; Seng Ts'an, pp. 221ff. Lankavatara Sutra 78: All things are interdependent, mutually influencing one another through cause and effect, and hence bound to the realm of birth, suffering, and death. This concatenation must also include the observer; it is an illusion to think that there could exist a separate ego that can stand outside of it. But Buddhist insight can allow one to see the transcendent reality of no-birth, which is established in the mind when it rests in the state of Nirvana. Then discrimination of dualism ceases. Cf. Seng Ts'an, pp. 221ff; Heart Sutra, pp. 589-90; Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25, pp. 91f; and the traditional statement of dependent origination: Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90, pp. 548f.
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