Eternity is Now

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Delighting in one of the wonderful comparisons of which he was so fond, Corbin recounts a conversation with D. T. Suzuki in Ascona in 1954: “…we asked him what homologies in structure he found between Mahayana Buddhism and the cosmology of Swedenborg in respect of the symbolism and correspondences of worlds: I can still see Suzuki suddenly brandishing a spoon and saying with a smile ‘This spoon now exists in Paradise… We are now in Heaven,’ he explained. This was an authentically Zen way of answering the question; Ibn ‘Arabi would have relished it. ”

– Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, 354

Boddhisatvas in the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in Turfan, on the Silk Road, Xinjiang, western China.
I found this over at Tom Cheetham’s blog and am delighted with, ‘This spoon now exists in Paradise… We are now in Heaven’ because I have often thought that eternity can have no beginning or end by definition. Therefore, even if this planet is in some way time-bound, it can be no more than a veil, and perhaps a necessary one for our lives here, but nevertheless eternity is now and not at some future time. It also reminds me of something I read recently while studying Mahayana Buddhism for a field study. This sounds very Sufi to me, “Until you reach the path you wander in the world with the precious form of the sugata completely wrapped as in a bundle of rags” and also, “Here it is. You have this precious tathagata wrapped in rags. Unwrap it, quickly!” (1). If we understand ‘sugata’ and ‘tathagata’, as Buddhists do, as Ultimate Reality, the Real, then in Sufi Muslim terms this is Al-Haqq. Under the veils (rags) that appear to separate us from Allah (swt) is our primordial nature, our fitrah, that is a manifestation of the Attributes of Allah. may we all have clean hearts that are clear mirrors reflecting the One.

(1) The Arya-tathagatagarbha-sutra in The door of Liberation translated by Geshe Wangyal, p.205

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