Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part V

Author: Nanren Shi

Chairman of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation


For the same theme, In the “Diamond Sutra”, Buddha said : “ All conditioned phenomenons are like a dream, an illusion , a bubble, a shadow, like dew or a flash of lighting. Thus we shall perceive them.”

In the “ Diamond Sutra”, Buddha repeated that all conditional arisings are relative existence, are not permanent. As it said: “ “Because when the Buddha speaks of particles of dust, they are not, but are (expediently) called, particles of dust.” “World Honoured One, when the Tathagata speaks of worlds, they are not,but are (expediently) called, worlds. Why? Because if they really exist, they are just agglomerations.” “Subhuti, these so-called Dharmas are not, but are (expediently), called all Dharmas.”What Buddha wants to teach us is that all dependant arisings are relative truth, we give phenomena names for communication purpose, but all are not truthly existence. The essence of phenomena is emptiness. This is also the opinion of Nagarjuna in his “ The Middle Way”.


Chinese calligraphic writing by chairman Mr. Shi of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation 

Buddhist Yogacara school has its unique way to explain the middle way. As stated in Samdhinirmocana Sutra, one of the most important sutra in Budddhist Yogacara school, the two forms of extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence are wrong. The middle way is none of them. Staying away from both extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence is the perfect middle way. Extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence are relative truth.


In another Buddhist book “ Nadhyanta- Vibhagakarika Sastra”, it said “ Due to the distinguishing mind of illusion, ignorant mind creates the subject of ego “I” and the objects of ‘I”. Then the duality is given birth. But the truth nature of both “ I” and its objects are emptiness. Duality is nonexistence, is empty. However, the ultimate truth of emptiness can only be manifested when the distinguishing mind of illusion act with conditions.


According to the Trisvabhava of Buddhist Yogacara school, the Parikalpita-svabhava of the unenlightened is the form produced from conceptual construction. It is nonexistence. This matches the view of “ all phenomenons are emptiness” of the middle way school. Both Buddhist Madhyamaka school and Yogacara school believe that the phenomena are conditional existence. There are no truthly existence. We give phenomenon name as labels for communication purpose.

In the Treatise in Thirty Stanzas, it was said: “The metaphors of self and dharmas, which function in so many different ways, take place in the transformation of consciousness. “

In the Diamond Sutra, it was said:” “Subhuti, these so-called Dharmas are not, but are (expediently), called all Dharmas.” The is how the enlightened mind perceive phenomena. It was also said: “All Bhadras and Aryas differ on account of the Eternal Asamskrta Dharma.” This coincides the concept of Parinishpanna-svabhava (“the form perfectly attained”), the ultimate truth of transcendental emptiness in Buddhist Yogacara school. Therefore, it is said in the Diamond Sutra that “ the Dharma the Tathagata expounds cannot be clung to and cannot be expressed (in words); it is neither Dharma nor Not-Dharma.”


Through comparing the different views in Agama, Buddhist Madhyamaka school, Buddhist Yogacara school and the Diamond Sutra, we can cultivate our view of the Buddhist middle way. We will realize its true meaning once we can apply it in the real world.