Introduction • p. 23 ABOUT THESE LEGENDARY ACCOUNTS
The attitude and hardened opinion among modem Buddhist studies scholars is that the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist scholars (and perhaps some members of the Shingon Buddhist tradition of Japan) could not manage to notice the difference between Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, and Chandrakirti - the philosopher sages of early and middle first millennium Buddhism - and the adepts by the same names listed here in the ancestral lineage of the Esoteric Community Tantra teachings. This disrespectful opinion about the naivete, or fundamentalism, or whatever else, on the part of the many great intellects to whom it is applied will simply no longer do. It goes along with the long-established, and now perhaps subliminal, "Westerners'" chauvinist idea and racial prejudice that "Eastern" people are to be lumped together with "primitive" people (not to mention that the so-called "primitives" don't fit the caricature either). The idea is that since "Eastern" people have no sense of linear time, no interest in history, and so live in the eternal now of endless cycles, this explains their lack of progress in the sciences and their general social backwardness and economic underdevelopment. Therefore, quite naturally, modem scholars would think that such "backward" people would be so unrealistic, unscientific, and unhistorical as to think that the two Nagarjunas, Aryadevas, and Chandrakirtis could be the same persons. And they think the same about the many other Indian master authors who also wrote both philosophical and exoteric works of solid repute as well as works on the esoteric Tantras (actually most of the great ones did).
The evidence for this truism of contemporary scholars is exclusively the presumed existence and nonexistence of texts. There is absolutely no "hard" evidence at all. The only dating used by modem scholars for these individuals comes from the recorded timing of Chinese or Tibetan translations of texts attributed to them, built upon by a certain amount of intertextual referencing. Texts in India were hand-written on palm leaf pages and never printed until recent times. They would not last too long and would be re-copied over and over, usually every few generations. Root texts and commentaries were often intermingled, so intertextual reference is sometimes an unreliable guide. Spiritual texts in particular were considered more importantly memorized than written, a tradition that came from Vedic practices. Additionally, esoteric texts were kept strictly secret, if committed at all to some handwritten pages. The tradition says that the Tantric traditions were kept hidden without being written down in the human realm for over 700 years.
This is the place to put this contentious issue into a new light (as I will do more in detail below), in the context of this work on the perfection stage of Unexcelled Yoga Tantra, considered by the Indo-Tibetan Universal Vehicle Buddhists to be the most advanced possible scientific and spiritual teaching. Since there is no hard evidence either way as to the dating, life-spans, and historical activities of these eminent personalities, it is more respectful and logical to accept the critical scholarship of the traditional analysts than it is to presume to know better and dogmatically follow our various modern, "Western," and "scientific" prejudices.
The basic presumption is that, since there are no such (we are certainly not) extraordinary, miracle-producing, highly enlightened beings with far-beyond-though-not-dissimilar-to-Einstein genius, no one ever could have been such a person, especially not a "pre-modern," Asian, spiritual person. Indeed the very concept of the enlightenment of buddhahood as the complete and accurate knowledge of the exact nature of reality is preposterous to us on its face. However, we must here confront the fact that the only evidence we have for the rigid opinion that there are no other extraordinary persons up to the inconceivably extraordinary person of a buddha is our own failure to be enlightened in that way. We cannot even say we have the evidence of never having met any such person, since they have the tradition of most often hiding their enlightenment, perhaps to avoid arrest, intrusive dissection, and lethal examination such as the E.T. in the film was about to undergo when he escaped. So we might have met one or two, but were unfortunately unable to recognize them. I do not say I am so enlightened, or that I know I have met any who are, but I am open to the fact that I wouldn 't have recognized one if I saw her or him. So at least I maintain an open mind.
To summarize this argument so far:
1) The presence or absence of texts in the climate of India cannot provide ironclad dating evidence. All the claims of contemporary scholars that there must be two of everybody are just speculation grounded in preconceived ideas.
2) The Tibetan scholars who accept that the two Nagarjunas, two Aryadevas, etc., are the same persons in different eras and contexts is a perfectly good hypothesis until something non-speculative arises to disprove it. A "modernist" presumption of superior perspective is no better than a racist, nationalist, religious, or culturalist one.
3) The whole program of disproving everything "traditional" people think and believe, based on the assumed superiority of our modernist knowledge and culture, is itself obsolete in the postmodern era. A key part of our critical scholarship's quest of objective truth has to be to question the rigidity of our conditioned subjectivities and their biases and blindnesses. Through global warming (over-heating), pollution, population explosion, etc., we are driving the world into extinction with our diseased, ignorance-driven, objectivist science and technology-magnified egocentrist culture. This cannot rationally be considered superiority in knowledge and culture. It will not do to proclaim like the late Richard Rorty that we are ethnocentric, and then just honor that fact by refusing to learn anything about any other culture or look at the world through other eyes and languages and worldviews.
4) The essence of the noble tradition of the Esoteric Community and other Unexcelled Yoga Tantras, as opposed to the Jiianapada tradition and perhaps others, is that the dialecticist centrist worldview goes along with the Unexcelled Yoga lifestyle. It is inner scientific and technological and not merely nonrational and mystical.
Tsong Khapa bows with powerful faith not because he is a fundamentalist -not at all - but because he has met these ancestral adepts personally, he has talked with them. They are immortal on the magic body (māyādeha) plane, like George Lucas's jedi masters, who can walk back and forth through time. So therefore, we need not be over-obsessed with ancillary issues of historicism. My only purpose in even bringing it up myself- in the face of the sharp teeth of all my colleagues' and even students' modernist presuppositions - is only as part of helping the reader break through for a moment their habitual intellectual and even unconscious entrapment in a horizon of preconceptions wherein everything explored in this work of Tsong Khapa and other Tibetan master scholar adepts is some sort of quaint pseudo-magical thinking, primitive superstitious twaddle, perhaps of some interest historically that people were ever so crazy.