World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


The Unitive State

The unitive state is the final goal of salvation in the great religions of the East. The experience of this unity is profound, and can be hinted at only vaguely by the words of scripture. It encompasses both union with God or Absolute Reality and union with all existence, the dissolution of subject and object, knower and known. Mystical union is less common in the Abrahamic faiths, which in their uncompromising monotheism have always insisted upon an absolute distinction between the infinite God and even the most saintly of his creatures. Yet the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity speak of a Beatific Vision, an encounter with God's presence that transforms the viewer. In Islam, traditions attributed to Muhammad himself undergird the unitive experiences of Sufi mystics.

Brahman is the end of the journey. Brahman is the supreme goal.

Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 1.3.11

Rooted in Nibbana, the holy life is lived. Nibbana is its goal, Nibbana is its end.

Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya iii.188

Meditate upon him and transcend physical consciousness. Thus will you reach union with the Lord of the universe. Thus will you become identified with him who is One without a second. In him all your desires will find fulfillment.

The truth is that you are always united with the Lord. But you must know this.

Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.11-12

Katha Upanishad 1.3.11: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7, p. 352. Svetasvatara Upanishad 1.11-12: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 5.24, p. 533; Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74.

As rivers flow into the sea and in so doing lose name and form, so even the wise man, freed from name and form, attains the Supreme Being, the Self-luminous, the Infinite. He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman.

Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.8-9

Gettan Osho said, "Keichu, the first wheelmaker, made a cart whose wheels had a hundred spokes. Now, suppose you took a cart and removed both the wheels and the axle. What would you have?

Mumon's Comment, "If anyone can directly master this topic, his eye will be like a shooting star, his spirit like a flash of lightning."

When the spiritual wheels turn, Even the master fails to follow them. They travel in all directions above and below, North, south, east, and west.

Buddhism. Mumonkan 8

That which is the finest essence--this whole world has that as its Self. That is Reality. That is the Self. That art thou.

Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7

When I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears; and his sight by which he sees; his hand by which he strikes; and his foot by which he walks.

Islam. Forty Hadith of An-Nawawi 38

Heaven and earth contain me not, but the heart of my faithful servant contains me.

Islam. Hadith of Suhrawardi

If the heart of God is not moving within your heart... once the invisible but powerful axis of the heart of God is moved out of you, everything becomes empty. Once the heart of God dwells within you, no matter how lonely you may be you will be filled and the universe will be filled. A person who is completely filled is a joyful person because he lacks nothing.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77

Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.8-9: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23, 27, p. 581; Katha Upanishad 3.13, p. 840; Maru Ashpadi, pp. 542f. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 38: This is a sacred hadith, with God Himself the speaker. Mumonkan 8: 'The wheels and the axel' means the body and mind. Cf. Sutta Nipata 1072-76, p. 532. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 197.

Now are for us no entanglements or snares, Nor a bit of egoism left. Now is all distance annulled, nor are curtains drawn between us. Thou art mine, I Thine.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bilaval, M.5, p. 821

I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.

Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Job 9.25-26

Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him.

Christianity. Bible, 1 John 3.2

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Christianity. 2 Corinthians 3.18

Some persons asked the Prophet, "Shall we see God on the day of resurrection?" He answered, "Do you feel any trouble in seeing the moon on the night when it is full? Do you feel any trouble in seeing the sun on a cloudless day?" They answered, "No." He said, "In the same way you will see your Lord."

Islam. Hadith of Muslim

Veiled by ignorance, The minds of man and Buddha Appear to be different; Yet in the realm of Mind Essence They are both of one taste. Some- Time they will meet each other In the great Dharmadhatu.

Buddhism. Milarepa

Bilaval, M.5: Cf. Majh, M.5, p. 198; Maru Ashpadi, M.1, pp. 542f. Job 19.25-26: Cf. Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74. 1 John 3.2: That is, we shall all become perfect and Christ-like. Thomas Aquinas described this Beatific Vision as "the ultimate goal for the redeemed." Cf. 1 Corinthians 13.12, p. 322. 2 Corinthians 3.18: Cf. 2 Corinthians 3.7-16, p. 634. Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Hadith, p. 87; Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74. Milarepa: The 'Dharmadhatu' is the world of Reality, unclouded by temporal phenomena or grasping for existence, as perceived by those who have attained enlightenment. Cf. Sutra of Hui Neng 3, p. 218; 6, p. 536; Seng Ts'an, pp. 221f.; Surangama Sutra, p. 546; Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74.

Buddha said, "Through the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment I acquired not even the least thing. This is altogether everywhere, without differentiation or degree."

Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 22-23

Whatever is here, that is there. What is there, that again is here. He obtains death after death Who seems to see a different here.

By the mind, indeed, is this realization to be attained: There is no difference here at all! He goes from death to death Who seems to see a difference here.

Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10-11

Those who see all creatures within themselves And themselves in all creatures know no fear. Those who see all creatures in themselves And themselves in all creatures know no grief. How can the multiplicity of life Delude the one who sees its unity?

Hinduism. Isha Upanishad 6-7

T'ien Ken was travelling to the south of Yin Mountain. He had reached the river Liao when he met a nameless sage, to whom he said, "I beg to ask about governing the world."

"Go away," said the nameless man, "you are a low fellow. How unpleasant is your question! I would be in companionship with the Maker of things. When wearied, I would mount on the bird of ease and emptiness, proceed beyond the world, wander in the land of nowhere, and live in the domain of nothingness. Why do you come to worry me with the problem of setting the world in order?"

T'ien Ken again asked his question, and the nameless man replied, "Make excursion in simplicity. Identify yourself with nondistinction. Follow the nature of things and admit no personal bias, then the world will be at peace."

Taoism. Chuang Tzu 7

Diamond Sutra 22-23: Cf. Mulamadhyamakakarika 25, pp. 91f. Lankavatara Sutra 78, p. 182. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10-11: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23, p. 581; Lankavatara Sutra 78, p. 182; Mulamadhyamakakarika 25, pp. 91f; Chuang Tzu 2, p. 181. Isha Upanishad 6-7: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23, p. 581; 7.25.2, p. 530; Chuang Tzu 22, pp. 98f. Chuang Tzu 7: 'Identify yourself with nondistinction:' see Seng Ts'an, pp. 221f; Chuang Tzu 2, p. 181.

In the Great Beginning, there was non-being. It had neither being nor name. The One originates from it; it has oneness but not yet physical form. When things obtain it and come into existence, that is called virtue [power which gives them their individual character]. That which is formless is divided [into yang and yin], and from the very beginning going on without interruption is called destiny. Through movement and rest it produces all things. When things are produced in accordance with the principle of life, there is physical form. When the physical form embodies and preserves the spirit so that all activities follow their own specific principles, that is nature.

By cultivating one's nature one will return to virtue. When virtue is perfect, one will be one with the Beginning. Being one with the Beginning, one becomes vacuous, and being vacuous, one becomes great. One will then be united with the sound and breath of things. When one is united with the sound and breath of things, one is then united with the universe. This unity is intimate and seems to be stupid and foolish. This is called profound and secret virtue, this is complete harmony.

Taoism. Chuang Tzu 12

Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom, the lovely, the holy!

Avalokita, the holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the wisdom which has gone beyond. He looked down from on high, he beheld but five heaps, and he saw that in their own-being they were empty.

Here, O Shariputra, form is emptiness, and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

Here, O Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they are not produced or stopped, not defiled or immaculate, not deficient or complete.

Therefore, O Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness; No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind; No sight-organ element [and so on to] no mind-consciousness element; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance [and so on through the twelve links of the chain of dependent origination to] there is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. There is no cognition, no attainment, and no non-attainment.

Therefore, O Shariputra, it is because of his indifference to any kind of personal attainment that a bodhisattva, through having relied on the perfection of wisdom, dwells without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought coverings he has not been made to tremble, he has overcome what can upset, and in the end he attains to Nirvana.

All those who appear as Buddhas in the three periods of time [are] fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment because they have relied on the perfection of wisdom.

Therefore one should know the perfection of wisdom as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth--for what could go wrong? By the Perfection of Wisdom has this spell been delivered. It runs like this, "Gone, Gone, Gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail!"

This completes the Heart of perfect wisdom.

Buddhism. Heart Sutra

A monk asked Tozan, "What is Buddha?" Tozan replied, "Three pounds of flax!"

Buddhism. Mumonkan 18

Chuang Tzu 12: This account of creation of all things from non-being leads to the principle that when a person becomes vacuuous he can be united with all things. See Tao Te Ching 40, p. 90; 65, p. 546; Chuang Tzu 15, p. 841; 19, pp. 562f; Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5, pp. 228f. Heart Sutra: It is said that this short sutra gives the essence of the perfection of wisdom. 'Heaps' in the first paragraph are the skandhas: form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness. These, the five constituents of human personality, are declared to be in reality empty. Their emptiness is described in the paradoxical dialectic: 'form is emptiness... emptiness is form,' which also describes the transcendental unity of subject and object, self and world, samsara and nirvana that is realized by the bodhisattva coursing in perfect wisdom. The 'dharmas' in the third paragraph refer not to 'things' or 'laws' but to a group of 75 mental and experiental factors enumerated in Buddhist Abhidharma philosophy; many are listed in the following paragraph: the five skhandhas, six sense-organs, six sense-objects, six corresponding forms of consciousness, twelve links of the chain of causation, Four Noble Truths, gnosis, and attainment of the fruits of meditation. They are likewise declared to be empty. The final 'spell' or mantra, delivered by Wisdom personified, describes the experience of awakening to the realization of this wisdom. The reader is referred to the excellent commentary on this sutra in Edward Conze, Buddhist Wisdom Books (New York: Harper, 1972). Cf. Lankavatara Sutra, p. 155. Mumonkan 18: This Zen koan stresses the folly of definition. You do not define the truth; you enter into it. If you think you can simply understand this koan to mean that the Buddha nature enters into everything, what do you make of Mumonkan 1, p. 800? Cf. Chuang Tzu 22, p. 98f., and Mumonkan 21, p. 99n.

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