I’m going to give the wonderful people here a passage that has been freely adapted by me for the purposes of this post. The original comes from Śramaṇa Zhìyǐ, an early Chinese Mahāyānist, but I hope that you will evaluate what is being said on its own merits.
[quote]Furthermore, a single moment of thought in the mind of a common being [in this lifetime] possesses the ten realms [of rebirth]. They completely possess the nature and characteristics of evil karma, yet the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. It is due to evil that there is virtue. Apart from evil there is no virtue. Turning over evils, there is virtue supporting them, like inside bamboo there being the nature of fire. It is not yet the object of fire, which is why it exists but does not burn. When meeting with conditions the phenomenon comes to exist, and then it can burn things. Evil as the nature of virtue is not yet an existent phenomenon. When it meets with conditions it become an existent phenomenon, and then there can be a turn to evil. It is like bamboo. Fire is emitted and returns, burning the bamboo. In evil there is virtue. When virtue comes to exist it returns, destroying the evil. This is why that which are the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. A single moment of thought of an ordinary being always possesses the consciousnesses, names and forms of the ten realms. The nature and characteristics of the path of saṃsāra – they misunderstand this path of saṃsāra, and saṃsāra remains expansive. This is misunderstanding Nirvāṇa as the path of saṃsāra. There is no separate Nirvāṇa apart from the path of saṃsāra, like mistaking south as north, there is no separate south. If one realizes saṃsāra, then it is Nirvāṇa. Thus it is said the nature, characteristics, and conceptualizations of the path of saṃsāra are the nature, characteristics, and conceptualizations of Nirvāṇa.[/quote]This quote has been altered for the purposes of this post.
Śramaṇa Zhìyǐ articulates a point very similar to many modern monks in the Theravāda tradition (I believe this position to be somewhat prominent in Zen as well but I lack sufficient exposure to that community of practitioners to say for sure), namely, that, rebirth actually occurs constantly in the present, not necessarily over long periods of time involving the death of multiple bodies, now, some monks are more radical, and argue that “conventional” rebirth is a superstition, and that in fact there is only this “inter-life” birthing of new “mental selves/identities” that constitutes rebirth, and I am not entirely in disagreement with this interpretation, but that is an issue for a different thread.
What I wanted to know people’s opinions on was the discourse towards the end, namely: “Thus it is said the nature, characteristics, and conceptualizations of the path of saṃsāra are the nature, characteristics, and conceptualizations of Nirvāṇa.”
Śramaṇa Zhìyǐ is showing his East Asian Madhyamaka roots here in this discourse, because it is clearly inspired or based on Nāgārjuna’s occasionally-infamous discourse: “There is no distinction whatsoever between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. There is no distinction whatsoever between nirvāṇa and saṃsāra.”
What do people think of this here?