The significance of paradoxical language in Hua-yen Buddhism

BY Dale S. Wright
Philosophy East and West
vol. 32, no.3(July, 1982)

P325 As to illuminating what is difficult to think, this refers to the fact that although one does not destroy an object's small capacity, yet it penetrates everywhere in the ten directions, and is revealed as universally including everything in its midst. This is because measure is nonmeasure, and lack of capacity is capacity.(1) In the above passage, Hua-yen(a) master Fa-tsang(b) has described the referent of his discussion as being "difficult to think" (nan-ssu(c) ) . Nevertheless, he has expressed his thoughts on the matter, thoughts which, here and in numerous other similar passages, culminate in blatantly paradoxical language. "...measure is nonmeasure, and lack of capacity is capacity." What possible meaning can be derived from this sort of language, and how can "thinking" such as this, which violates the logical rule of non-contradiction, be heralded as the high point of Chinese Buddhist philosophy?(2) If this passage has a meaningful referent at all, if it means something about something, then why aren't statements made logically and directly toward that object of reference? And, given the extreme difficulty of this matter for thought, why are we continually enjoined to "think it" (ssu chih(d)) when no logical instructions are given for how to accomplish this? What possible interpretation of the significance of this kind of paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts can open these texts to meaningful exegesis? This article arises both from a systematic attempt to follow this line of questioning and from the perplexity that emerged in an initial attempt to read and understand Hua-yen Buddhist texts. My overall goal will be to articulate an interpretation of the significance of paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts that will serve to render the language of these texts meaningful and understandable.(3) This essay is based upon an analysis of paradoxical statements which seeks to understand these statements in terms of the fundamental structures and goals of Hua-yen Buddhist thought. The principle method of interpretation, then, will be to uncover the relationships that obtain between various types of paradoxical assertions and Hua-yen thought as a whole. It is believed that this hermeneutical procedure will help to clarify and to shed light on these paradoxical assertions and on Hua-yen Buddhist thought, both of which present formidable obstacles to understanding. The interpretive task is made difficult at the outset, however, by the fact that none of the Hua-yen patriarchs explicitly address the issue of paradox. Nowhere is it explained why paradoxical expressions are used and why all profound doctrinal issues eventually culminate in paradox. Paradoxical assertions are simply displayed before the reader as one of the most prominent and visible aspects of Hua-yen texts. No attempt is made to avoid, eliminate, or to rationally solve paradoxical elements in the texts. There are, however, implications and clues in the system of thought itself which do point toward answers to our questions. ------------------------- Dale S. Wright is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California. P326 The use of paradoxical language is not unique to Hua-yen as a particular form of Buddhism, nor to Buddhism itself. It is a relatively common religio-philosophical phenomenon that can be found in various contexts in many different cultures. What is unique about paradox in Hua-yen texts, at least within the sphere of Buddhist thought, is that it is here that systematic cultivation of formal philosophical paradox reaches its climax and final point of development. After the decline of Hua-yen in China, paradoxical language continues to be significant in Buddhist thought and is developed further, but not in the domain of formal philosophical and religious thought. Paradox is taken directly into the sphere of practice in the Ch'an(e) and Zen schools. It seems to me that in Ch'an and Zen, the theoretical development of paradox in Hua-yen and earlier forms of Buddhism comes to fruition in the perfection of the soteriological function of paradoxical language.(4) The value of the present attempt to examine paradoxical language specifically in Hua-yen texts is that the theological and philosophical structures, which in later Ch'an and Zen texts are hidden by the overwhelming emphasis on practice, are still explicit and manifest. Here paradox is present in a clear doctrinal form and is therefore open to analysis. The abundance of paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts attests to its importance in that school of thought. Very few Hua-yen texts and very few passages within these texts do not, at some crucial point, come to culmination in paradoxical language. "Paradox" here will mean, first, in its most basic and etymological sense, something that is contrary to ordinary expectation, a startling statement that is literally "against the opinion" of conventional thought. But in a more technical sense, paradox will denote a unity of two contrary elements that in the order of conventional experience cannot be logically united. This author's examination of Hua-yen texts has yielded three distinct types of paradox, each deriving from different doctrinal structures. The first type of paradox is modeled after paradoxical assertions found in many early Mahayana texts that emphasize the concept emptiness (k'ung(f)/'suunyataa). Beginning with the assertion that a phenomenon, X, is empty (k'ung/'suunyaa) (that is, since X originates dependently, it is empty of own-being), one moves to the further paradoxical implication that X is not X. An example from Fa-tsang is the assertion that "when one understands that origination is without self-nature, then there is no origination."(5) A second type of paradox is derived from two doctrinal sources: the Hua-yen concept of "true emptiness" (chen-k'ung(g) ) and the Hua-yen interpretation of the dialectic of the One Mind (i-hsin(h)) in the Awakening of Faith. Whereas the first type of paradox worked with the negative assertion that phenomenal form is empty and nonexistent (wu so yu(i)), the second type reverses that claim by asserting that any empty phenomenon is an expression of, and the medium for, the ultimate truth of emptiness. The union of opposites effected here is the P327 identity between conditioned, relative reality and the ultimate truth of suchness (chen-ju(j)/tathataa) . Fa-tsang's paradoxical assertion illustrates this second type. "When the great wisdom of perfect clarity gazes upon a minute hair, the universal sea of nature, the true source, is clearly manifest."(6) The third variation of paradox is grounded in the Hua-yen doctrine of the "nonobstruction of all phenomena" (shih shih wu-ai(k)). According to this doctrine, when the ultimate truth of emptiness becomes manifest to the viewer, each phenomenon is paradoxically perceived as interpenetrating with and containing all others. This paradoxical violation of the conventional order of time and space is best exemplified by Fa-tsang's famous Essay on the Golden Lion. In each and every hair [of the lion] there is the golden lion. All of the lions contained in each and every hair simultaneously and suddenly penetrate into one hair. [Therefore], within each and every hair there are unlimited lions.(7) The common element in all three types of paradox is that they originate in the tension between the two truths, between conventional truth (su-ti(l) / and ultimate truth (chen-ti(m) /paramaarthasatya). Our task of interpreting the significance of paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts, therefore, will begin by working out an initial interpretation of the two truths and the relation between them. THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUA-YEN PARADOX In the Hua-yen system of thought, paradoxical expressions issue from the discontinuity between ordinary awareness or conventional truth and enlightened awareness or ultimate truth. The discontinuity becomes manifest and paradox begins to emerge wherever and whenever a human being who participates in conventional truth begins to seek ultimate truth. According to this analysis, the conventional mode of awareness into which all human beings are born is structured to function in terms of the basic opposition between subject (neng(n)) and object (so(o) ) . Conventional consciousness separates itself out from the world so that it deals with everything as an object over against itself as subject. In addition to objectifying, conventional consciousness differentiates the objective into discrete and autonomous entities, each of which is grasped in terms of its distinct form or self-nature (tzu-hsing(p)). These processes, which constitute conventional knowing, are all informed and governed by one's participation in language, the basis of conventional truth. "Suchness" (chen-ju/tathataa) and "true emptiness" (chen-k'ung/'suunyataa) are two synonyms for the ultimate truth that is revealed (hsien(q) ) to awareness in sudden realization (tun-chueh(r)). Both of these symbols seek to indicate that ultimate truth is not conditioned by any positive, graspable content. It is "such as it is," empty of all graspable form. It is unconditioned (wu-wei(s)) in the sense that it is neither subjective nor objective, nor is it conditioned by any particular form. When ultimate truth is realized, there is "nothing" (wu so yu) that is known. P328 On this basis a definite hiatus or discontinuity emerges between the two truths. Given the fact that ultimate truth is ungraspable, one's quest to know or grasp that truth moves toward paradoxical consequences. Human consciousness grasps only conditioned forms; ultimate truth, which is what consciousness attempts to grasp, is unconditioned and has no distinct form. All efforts to grasp ultimate truth appear to be self-defeating and paradoxical because they inevitably condition and objectify that truth. All statements about ultimate truth are necessarily paradoxical because in attempting to express it, they violate it by making it what it is not. Whereas the ultimate truth of suchness precedes the subject/object split, any statement about "it" (including this one) implies that split because the subject/object dichotomy is presupposed in the structure of language. For this reason no assertion about ultimate truth directly corresponds to that truth. Therefore all attempts in Hua-yen texts to bring ultimate truth into the conventional forms of language yield paradoxical statements. By paradoxically uniting an assertion with its own denial, or any other set of contradictory elements, they attempt to address the problem of the objectifying feature of all language. Hua-yen texts characteristically unite affirmative and negative elements in references to ultimate truth, thus maintaining the awareness of human inability to make that reference directly. The paradoxical nature of assertions about ultimate truth has another basis beside the fact that such references cannot be made directly within the limits of the linguistic structure of conventional truth. Not only are statements about ultimate truth paradoxical, but the way in which this truth makes its appearance is also paradoxical. The paradox lies not simply in the thinking subject, but in the way ultimate truth becomes manifest to the subject. The unconditional truth of suchness becomes known only through conditioned form (hsiang(t) ), a paradoxical manifestation. The experience of ultimate truth is paradoxical in that it is revealed through the medium of conventional truth. Any particular, empty form (for example, object, concept, dharma, etcetera) can be a symbol or medium through which the ultimate truth of emptiness is revealed. When the symbolic(8) capacity in any form is activated, Fa-tsang calls this the "illuminating cause" (liao-yin(u) ) of ultimate truth. The experience of the actualization of the symbolic potential in an object is the experience of the sudden breakthrough of "true emptiness" (chen-k'ung).In an ecstatic experience the rigid differentiation between subject and object is broken down along with the reified distinction between all forms of experience. But in "true emptiness, " the interrelation of all form is illuminated (liao(v)) without destroying either subject or object. Both subject and object are paradoxically negated and affirmed in an experience that illuminates ultimate truth. In this experience, ultimate truth makes its appearance through an object of conventional experience. However, in this experience, the object that becomes symbolic of ultimate truth is experienced in a contradictory and paradoxical manner. The object is revealed as the presence of ultimate truth, yet, simul- P329 taneously, its own ultimacy is denied or negated. The object is experienced as being empty (k'ung/'suunyaa) in its own-nature (tzu-hsing/svabhaava) while simultaneously manifesting the fullness of ultimate truth. Ultimate truth, therefore, becomes manifest in the form of a paradox in which both affirmation and negation are simultaneously united without obstruction (wu-ai(w)). The paradox cannot be resolved or eliminated since it is essential to the experience of ultimate truth. If, on the one hand, there is no object symbolizing ultimate truth, then that truth is not available to human experience. On the other hand, if the symbolic object is taken to be ultimate truth in itself, then that act of grasping or attachment denies the presence of that truth since the manifestation of true emptiness is what enables the elimination of all such attachment. Symbolic form is negated (min(x))(9) in order to point beyond itself to the ultimate truth that it symbolizes. The symbolic object is revealed as being empty in itself so that it is evident that its true significance is not itself but rather its referent, ultimate truth. The object is affirmed as the medium for the ultimate truth of emptiness and as a participant in emptiness, but it is also simultaneously negated in view of its referent. The object itself is conditioned and empty. It is not itself ultimate truth but rather the locus for the manifestation of that truth. The symbol emptiness (k'ung) is the norm and the model for the paradoxical character of all Buddhist symbols for ultimate truth because it denies the inherent ultimate truth of all symbols. Emptiness symbolizes the relativity of symbols as such, including itself. In its self-negation, the symbol emptiness denies its own ultimacy (svabhaava) as a symbol, and precisely in that activity refers beyond itself to the ultimate truth. In the self-denial of the symbol, its referent may be evoked. The structure of the symbol emptiness (k'ung/ 'suunyataa) is inherently paradoxical; it is a negation that is simultaneously an affirmation. Ultimate truth becomes manifest only to the extent that the symbol in which it becomes manifest negates itself. True emptiness is affirmatively revealed in the negation of emptiness. When, in his commentary on the Heart Suutra, Fa-tsang says, "One cannot grasp emptiness by means of emptiness,"(10) he is repeating the denial that is contained in the symbol itself and is referring to its paradoxical character. Emptiness (the concept/symbol) is not emptiness (the referent, that is, ultimate truth). Precisely what is negated (min) and what revealed (hsien) in the paradoxical union of affirmation and negation can be clarified by reference to the Hua-yen interpretation of the doctrine of the One Mind (i-hsin). The Hua-yen patriarchs' understanding of this important doctrine was based primarily on their reading of the Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahaayaana (Ta-ch'eng ch'i-hsin lun(ad)).(11) The Awakening of Faith describes the basic structure of the One Mind (i-hsin) as follows: On the basis of the Dharma of the One Mind, there are two aspects. What are these two? The first aspect is Mind as true suchness. The second aspect is Mind as origination and cessation [sheng-szu(ae)/ sa.msaara]. These two aspects each universally include all dharmas.(12) P330 The Hua-yen interpretation of this passage, as established in Fa-tsang's commentary on the Awakening of Faith,(13) understands reality in terms of a dialectical pattern. The One Mind comes forth (lai(af) ) from its unconditioned identity in creating (tso(ag) ) the human experience of sa.msaara, or conventional truth, and returns (kuei(ah) ) to itself in the experience of enlightenment or ultimate truth. The elements or moments in this dialectical pattern are the One Mind and its two aspects as set forth in the Awakening of Faith. The origin of the dialectic is the One Mind in its permanent (pu-pien(ai) ), nondual (wu-erh(aj) ) , unconditioned (wu-wei) identity. It is nondual and unconditioned in that the One Mind as primal emptiness is the prereflective, original awareness (pen-chiao(ak) ) that underlies or grounds all subsequent, reflective awareness. It is a fundamental awareness that precedes all differentiation that arises in language and thought. The first of two aspects that arise on the basis of the One Mind is the differentiation of Mind from its original, unconditioned state. This second moment in the dialectic of the One Mind is "Mind as origination and cessation." This refers to the differentiation and movement of Mind in which the forms of conventional awareness are created. Under the influence of the "winds of ignorance,"(14) the One Mind expresses (piao(al)) itself in creating the conventional world of birth and death, the continual origination and cessation of phenomena or form. In this activity, unconditioned Mind appears in the form of conditioned phenomena that arise and cease, dependent on conditions (yuan-ch'i(am) ) . The origination of distinct, objective phenomena is coterminous with the rise of language and thought and is the basis of conventional truth and existential suffering. Although the One Mind is the foundation from which all distinct form arises, the appearance of differentiated phenomena obscures its underlying presence. This is also to say that ultimate truth is present and presupposed in any conventional truth in spite of the fact that one who participates in conventional truth remains unaware of it. The third and final moment in the dialectic of the One Mind is the realization of ultimate truth and enlightenment. According to Hua-yen texts, enlightenment is the process in which one "returns to the source" (kuei-yuan(an)) of the One Mind from one's alienation in the world of conventional truth and sa.msaara.(15) As discussed in an earlier context, this is the sudden manifestation of ultimate truth within the forms of conventional truth; emptiness is revealed within form. Having differentiated itself from itself in sa.msaara, the One Mind returns to an awareness of its original unity and identity, an original unity and identity that was always present although in an unreflective, unconscious state. The final "return" (kuei) of the One Mind to itself in sudden enlightenment is not a complete return to the first element in the dialectical pattern, a formless identity. Mind returns to itself through its differentiation. True emptiness is realized through the symbolic forms in which it expresses itself. This is simply to say that enlightenment is not the total obliteration of the forms of ordinary P331 awareness. On the contrary, the "ordinary" is illuminated in the realization of the dialectical identity between Mind and its differentiation, emptiness and form, ultimate and conventional truth. Realization of this identity brings out the realization of the interrelatedness (that is, true emptiness) of all phenomena, and eliminates any static notion of autonomous (tzu-hsing/svabhaava) form. Expressions of paradoxical language, we can now see, begin to emerge at the point where one realizes ultimate truth and the dialectical identity of all phenomena with the One Mind. All phenomena are expressions of ultimate truth. Mind is not separate from the appearance of birth and death. Therefore, as to the appearance of birth and death, there are none that are not absolute truth. Sa.msaara is not separate from the characteristics of Mind. If it is not separated in this way, then it is called united.(16) The Hua-yen masters were fully aware of the fact that when one says that ultimate truth is the emptiness of form, that means that ultimate truth includes both form and its negation in emptiness. Reality includes both elements in any polarity, both affirmation and negation, in such a way that the strictly logical exclusion and separation of opposites perceives only isolated fragments of conventional truth. For one who dwells in the presence of form and emptiness, phenomena and their source in the One Mind, paradoxical language expresses the fullness of truth where opposites are dialectically united without obstruction (wu-ai). Although there is two, yet there is not two. Nonduality is identical with duality. This is the dharmadhaatu (fa-chieh(ao)).(17) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PARADOX Thus far we have seen that the foundations of paradox lie in the discontinuity between the two truths and in the fact that the two truths both have their basis in one source, true emptiness or suchness. If we now restate these foundations emphasizing the human existential situation within this overall ontological structure, it will be possible to make several suggestions concerning the significance of paradoxical language. According to the Hua-yen system of thought, the human existential situation is one of alienation from the source and ground of human existence. This can be formulated in a variety of ways, but within the framework of the present discussion, we can say that human beings are bound by the structures of conventional truth and thereby alienated from ultimate truth, and that in the self-negation and differentiation of the One Mind, alienated human awareness emerges. The One Mind eternally negates itself in the act of creating (tso) the realm of birth and death (sheng-ssu/sa.msaara). The realm of birth and death is the realm of conventional truth and human awareness. Human awareness takes form as the world is differentiated and divided. Reflexive awareness emerges as one differentiates oneself from what is other than oneself. This division between subject and object becomes fully reified as the activity of the P332 rational mind further differentiates the world into individual beings, each of which is considered to be essentially autonomous (tzu-hsing/svabhaava) and permanently distinct. All aspects of human existence including thinking and knowing take place presupposing this foundation in differentiation and conventional truth. This process of separation and alienation is the basis of human existential suffering (ku(ap)/ du.hkha). Human beings cannot, within the limits of the conventional structure of existence, come to know the source (yuan(aq) ) or ground (pen(ar)) of that existence since the source, One Mind, suchness, or ultimate truth, is not governed and constituted by the rational structures through which knowing takes place. Suchness (chen-ju/tathataa) is not simply one object within existence that can be known by conventional means. Individual consciousness (shih(as) ) is therefore powerless to terminate its alienation from its original foundation in the One Mind. The significance of paradoxical thought is that in this form of thought it may be possible for thinking to direct itself in such a way that it remains open to what lies beyond the domain of thought. Although thinking has no alternative but to proceed in terms of the conventional structure of language and logic, there is no rule of logic that requires that truth must appear within the logical structures of conventional truth. If rational thought entertains the possibility that ultimate truth may appear in a manner that transcends conventional truth and rationality, then that form of thought is one that remains open to the manifestation of what lies beyond thought. Paradoxical thinking, then, is thinking that remains aware of the limits of conventional thought, and, on that basis, is open and receptive to its own sublation in the immediate presence of that which is other than thought and conventional truth. Hua-yen paradoxical language can, therefore, be interpreted as a mode of thinking that functions to direct one beyond the realm constituted and structured by conventional truth. This use of paradox expresses the emptiness of the subject/object split, of objectification and static differentiation, and of all conventional, logical structures, and in this process it points to what is beyond and not limited by those forms of conventional truth. Paradoxical thinking is a receptive mode of thought that simultaneously employs and denies the forms of conventional thought. It employs them because that is the inescapable basis of thought and experience itself, and it denies them because the forms of conventional thought are inherently incapable of grasping the ultimate truth that they seek. Paradoxical thinking, therefore, is a form of thought that, even though it cannot grasp ultimate truth, nevertheless remains open and receptive to the possibility of its appearance. But, as stated earlier, paradoxical language is not simply an expression of the orientation of the subject toward ultimate truth and reality; paradox is also the form of the manifestation of that truth. True emptiness (chen-k'ung) makes its appearance in a paradoxical way by simultaneously affirming and negating the P333 school, kung-an are "public cases" of paradoxical utterances emerging from the enlightened awareness of Ch'an masters. These utterances are typically responses that contradict conventional expectations by uniting two elements (often a question and an answer) that cannot be united within the limits of conventional truth, that is, our definition of paradox. Kung-an may be understood as immediate human responses to the awareness of ultimate truth; they emerge spontaneously from the mind of the master without conceptual premeditation. In the latter history of the Ch'an school, these ecstatic utterances were compiled and recorded to be employed as a skillful means to evoke the experience from which they originally emerged. They were used as meditative or contemplative devices by means of which one could exhaust the structures of conventional truth and thereby come into view of that which is beyond conventional truth. As with our interpretation of paradoxical assertions in Hua-yen texts, the self-negation of thought to which one may arrive in systematic contemplation of a kung-an is precisely the point at which thought is open and receptive to what is beyond the realm of thought. In both the Hua-yen and Ch'an schools, the break- through of ultimate truth that might be elicited by means of a paradoxical contemplation (kuan) or a "public case" (kung-an) occurs in a sudden realization (tun-chueh). Neither the Hua-yen paradox nor the kung-an is conceptually resolvable, but is efficacious in an immediate intuition. Intuition here is understood as the breaking into awareness and existence of that which cannot be logically derived from existence or grasped in conventional awareness. One is suddenly and paradoxically aware of ultimate truth within the structures of conventional truth both affirming and negating those same structures. The sudden breakthrough that is the culminating goal of the paradoxical kuan and the kung-an is experienced as an ecstatic state in which the separation and autonomy of both subject and object are overcome. The bodhisattva is immediately conscious of the unconditioned foundation of all conditioned reality in true emptiness. Hua-yen texts describe this as the experience of the interdependently originating dharmadhaatu (fa-chieh yuan-ch'i(ay) ) . All phenomena or forms of conventional awareness are perceived as intrinsically interrelated and interpenetrating so that no entity is independent and autonomous (tzu-hsing) , the relative existence of each symbolizing and revealing the ultimate truth of suchness (chen-ju/tathataa). True emptiness is experienced not just objectively in the world, but subjectively as well, and in such a way that that distinction itself is relativized. In the awareness of suchness one fully realizes one's own situation within the intricate web of interrelations. In this realization the alienation of the subject from the objective world is overcome without destroying their conventional separation. In Hua-yen texts the enlightened awareness of "self' (wo(az)) is described as being inherently paradoxical. The realization of true emptiness involves the paradoxical awareness that one's personal thoughts and activities do not derive P334 simply from oneself as an individual subject. On the contrary, without destroying individual subjectivity, one experiences one's own thoughts and activities as those of the One Mind within oneself. In individual enlightenment, the One Mind returns to itself in reflexive awareness. In the contemplation of a paradoxical kuan or a kung-an, one attempts to grasp the ultimate truth of emptiness through the paradox. However, if the meditative technique is truly efficacious, the situation is reversed. The experience is one of being grasped by or taken up into true emptiness. The Hua-yen patriarchs refer to this experience as the arising of nature (hsing(ba)) or the tathaagatagarbha (ju-lai tsang(bb)). This is the experience of the Buddha becoming manifest within oneself, breaking down the barriers and limitations of the self.(18) PARADOX, LOGIC, AND TRUTH The initial concern of this final section is to ask how paradox is related to logic and conventional rationality. The most obvious response is that paradox violates conventional logic. Paradoxical assertions involve one in blatant self-contradiction so that the essential structure of logic, the principle of noncontradiction, is violated. One justification that was given for this violation is that by means of the negation or denial of logic, paradox directs one beyond the domain of logic and conventional rationality. But this justification hides the true significance of conventional logic and truth. It is crucial for an understanding of Hua-yen thought to note the important roles that logic and language do play in paradoxical assertions and in references to ultimate truth. Although paradoxical assertions fulfill their significance precisely in the violation of the logical rule of noncontradiction, they also necessarily presuppose and rely on that logical basis. The principle of non contradiction is presupposed in that it constitutes the conventional expectation or mode of awareness against which a paradoxical assertion is made. For a paradoxical statement to be paradoxical at all one must assume that it arises only within the framework, and on the foundation of, the rational, logical structure of conventional truth. Paradoxical language in Buddhist texts must not be considered a new or different kind of logic that emerges in a different cultural milieu. For paradoxical language to be effective it must arise within the context of conventional logic and it must fully contradict that logic. On this basis it has been maintained that parado- xical language in Hua-yen texts entails a dialectical negation of rational thought that functions to direct one through and beyond thought and the domain of logic to the unconditioned, "translogical" ground of conventional awareness in the One Mind or emptiness. However, in the negation or denial of rational thought, logic and thought are simultaneously affirmed. Language and logic, the bases of conventional truth and awareness, are affirmed as the medium for, and only means of access to, ultimate truth. In a different mode of expression this is to say that emptiness is present to consciousness only as it exists in form. Conventional logic and P335 conventional form through which it appears. Objectively, paradox is the form of the appearance of true emptiness; subjectively, paradox is the form of thought that corresponds to that appearance. Paradox is the form through which ultimate truth becomes manifest, and the form through which it is apprehended. When one's receptivity in paradoxical thinking corresponds to the paradoxical manifestation of true emptiness, then that is the occasion for the experience of ultimate truth. Paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts can be understood both as an expression emerging from the experience of ultimate truth and as a means to elicit that experience in the reader or hearer. Paradox can function as a skillful means (fang-pien(at)/upaaya) to evoke the experience of ultimate truth because, as we have seen, paradoxical thinking is thought that has attained an appropriate openness and receptivity to what lies beyond the limits (chi(au)) of conventional truth. Although paradoxical language is found throughout Hua-yen texts, one common form of its use is as a climax and conclusion to short, meditative passages called "contemplations" (kuan(av) /vispa'syanaa) . These contemplative passages typically conclude by paradoxically uniting an affirmative and a negative point which cannot be united within the order of conventional logic. Rather than concluding with a solution to the contradiction, the two polar elements are simply played off against each other in blatantly paradoxical assertions. By maintaining the tension between the two opposites rather than resolving the paradox, Hua-yen texts encourage and elicit an appropriate openness to the presence of ultimate truth. In these paradoxical contemplations (kuan) the Hua-yen masters attempted to evoke a mode of being in the world that is open to, and in awareness of, true emptiness (chen-k'ung). This mode of being cannot be maintained by adherence to either one or the other pole in the opposition; neither the affirmation nor the negation of conventional truth is the proper stance for the bodhisattva. Rather, the bodhisattva must attain a paradoxical receptivity to ultimate truth, which may be perceptible in the unity of the two opposites beyond the logical structure of conventional truth. The skillful means that is involved in the soter- iological use of paradox is the capacity to use language fluidly and dynamically so that one "settles down" in neither pole of the opposition, neither affirmation nor negation, but remains open to their common ground (pen) which lies between them. Since it is not existentially possible to grasp ultimate truth in thought, one must think ultimate truth in a paradoxical way, thus maintaining receptivity to its sudden manifestation (tun-hsien(aw)). This means that the bodhisattva must use concepts in such a way that they remove or deny themselves and thus refer beyond themselves to the nonconceptual basis of all concepts, true emptiness. This soteriological function of paradox bears great resemblance to the use of the kung-an(ax) (koan) in the Ch'an (Zen) school of Buddhism. Certainly, the origins of the kung-an in the Ch'an school can be traced to paradoxical language in Hua-yen texts as well as in other lines of Mahayana thought. In the Ch'an P336 language are necessary conditions for the possibility of enlightenment, so that apart from the differentiating, logical character of conventional truth, ultimate truth cannot be known. Hua-yen texts maintain the relativity of all lang- uage and logic by situating conventional truth within the perspective of emptiness and the dialectic of the One Mind. Conventional truth and awareness, that is, language and logic, emerge in the initial creative negation of the One Mind. This negation constitutes a functional alienation so that all human thought and experience proceed unconscious of their foundations in the One Mind or emptiness. Enlightenment or the awareness of emptiness then, dawns in the dialectical negation of rational thought as is expressed in paradoxical language. However, as the paradoxical union of affirmation and negation in enlightened awareness shows, this does not involve the complete denial of language and logic. The Hua-yen masters were not advocating the return to an unconscious state of preknowing where no distinctions obtain. Rather, Hua-yen texts can be seen as the attempt to point to the unconditioned ground of all knowledge within conditioned forms of knowing, that is, within the logical, linguistic structures of conventional experience. The experience of the manifestation of ultimate truth is referred to as a "return to the source" (kuei-yuan) because it is through a second, dialectical, or "returning" negation that it takes place. Conventional truth, which is the negation of the One Mind, is itself dialectically negated in such a way that one sees through conventional truth to its source and ground in the One Mind. Without language and conventional forms of aware- ness there would be no conscious experience of the ultimate truth of emptiness. Conventional truth is the medium through which that experience takes place. Where emptiness is interpreted as complete formlessness, any experience or awareness of it at all is denied. Emptiness becomes available to experience only within the forms of experience, although, in its manifestation, these forms are also denied. Language and logic, therefore, are not simply negated in the enlightening experience, but are paradoxically negated and affirmed at the same time. They are negated because they are not ultimate truth in themselves (tzu-hsing/svabhaava), and they are affirmed as expressions of ultimate truth and as the medium through which ultimate truth comes to awareness. For Hua-yen Buddhists, the sudden breakthrough of enlightenment does not entail the revelation of any absolute doctrines or principles. The experience of emptiness is one which precludes any positive, graspable content. Ultimate truth is not conditioned by any form or conceptual structure. Religious doctrines and symbols that are illuminated in the experience are illuminated precisely in their emptiness, that is, no doctrine or symbol is absolute or permanent. In fact, the enlightened mode or being makes possible the capacity to exist freely without attachment to any form at