The Word as the Vehicle
The power of the word is a double edged sword. It can bind one up in confusion and ignorance and it can be the Vehicle that transports one through the door to Enlightenment.
When we are born into this world, we are without any recogniziable cognitive mental functions and we are unable to distinguish the different objects in our environment that we sense. As our minds develop this cognitive function becomes ever stronger, primarily through the vehicle of words. We create names for objects and so we are able to distinguish them. Our entire system of self-identity is built upon this superstructure of names that categorize and divide everything into the separate forms and aspects of our existence, including our own self-existence. This accumulation of identifications and associations in words constitutes our body of knowledge and our sense of self.
This cognitive ability is crucial in our mental development. Good reading and math skills are essential in the development of a critical thinking mind, and in opening up the doors of knowledge to the world we live in.
This cognitive world that we create is not the absolute reality however. Our entire self-existence and its superstrucure of words and names is artificial and provisional. It is used as a means of understanding and in communicating with others. It is not only our body of knowledge but it is also the source of our confusion. In becoming attached to names and words there is adhesion to egos and false views. Although words are our way of perceiving reality, the lens of our self-identity and its persective can completely color and obscure our view of that reality.
The practice of meditation is designed to transcend this cognitive function that is ever reasoning, rationalizing and calculating the information of the senses into egocentric, false and distorted views. Having transcended it, one reaches the inner silence, the absolute reality that transcends the mundane reality. It is the calm that brings upon serenity and spiritual insight.
However, the cognitive function can also be channeled to invoke spiritual awakening. This is the chaneling of the cognitive and affective (emotional) mental energies into the power of Samadhi through the power of Prayer. During prayer, one honestly faces one's own desires and motivations from the past (confesses) and makes genuine resolutions regarding the future (vows). One seeks aid and comfort from the higher spiritual powers that lie untapped within. The source of these spiritual powers are embodied in the Three Treasures that are found in the Sutra.
Beyond making one's own personal prayers, there are two primary forms of formalized Buddhist prayer:
Next, the Sutra as the Sphere of Enlightenment (The Pure Land)
1. The Dharani of the Lotus Sutra is devotion to its title, which Chih-I explained to include the entire meaning and intent of the Sutra. Nichiren revealed this as ‘Nam-Myoho Renge Kyo’.
2. Samadhi: See the four levels of meditation for more on transcending the cognitive and affective states of mind and reaching Samadhi.
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