14 October 2011

Kūkai's Theory of Mantra

Sound Word RealityI've just posted a short essay about an aspect of Kūkai's writing about mantra on Jayarava's Raves, my other blog. In Sound Word Reality I link Kūkai's 声字実相義 (Shōji jissō gi) to the Arapacana meditation tradition. I argue that Kūkai's three level analysis must stem from the Arapacana where a sound, represents a word, which reminds us of an aspect of the emptiness (śūnyatā) of all dharmas.

We see this in the phrase:

akāro mukhaḥ sarvadharmāṇāṃ ādyanutpannatvāt
where akāro means the 'letter a', anutpanna is the keyword indicated by 'a' and it means non-arisen. And the whole phrase reminds us that dharmas are just mental events and that nothing substantial arises when we have an experience.

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