The Three Svabhāva and The Five Dharmas: important core concepts from the Laṅkāvātara Sutra — full English Sutra at end of commentary
The Lankavatara Sutra is an important text to both the Zen and the Cittamātra (Mind Only) Schools of Mahayana Buddhism. Although there are many important concepts and themes in this sutra, we will explore only two in this brief essay.
Commentary by Eddie Sobenes
Full English translation of all chapters of Lankavatara Sutra below the commentary.
The Three Svabhāvas
The three svabhāvas, or self-natures, are types of knowledge. They are parikalpita, paratantra, and pariṇiṣpanna. Parikalpita is a kind of misunderstanding or false judgment of things. It is that which discriminates between self and other, me and mine verses other things, pleasure and irritation. Parikalpita causes us to grasp at things that we want or desire, while creating aversion for things we dislike. This may seem quite normal, but by constantly grasping at impermanent phenomena and chasing our desires, we unintentionally create misery for ourselves and others.
Paratantra, and dependent origination
Paratantra is a concept closely linked to dependent origination. By falsely seeing things as complete, independent objects, we are misinterpreting their true nature. Our perception of something is quite different from its true nature. Take a car for example. We see the car and suppose it to be a complete entity. We imagine ourselves in the car driving down the highway and being seen in it. We think people will like us for owning such a great car and that it is a reflection of our personality. This is an incomplete understanding of what the car is. We are only superficially aware of the parts making up the automobile, all the laws of physics giving it propulsion, and all the headaches the car is going to cause us when one of its many parts malfunctions.
Paratantra is akin to parikalpita in the sense that it involves dualistic and incomplete thinking that fails to understand the true nature of phenomena. It is dualistic in the sense that it causes us to discriminate. Although we may be aware that one thing is made up of two or more parts, like water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, we do not understand its real nature.
Pariniṣpanna is a complete vision, or perfected understanding of the nature of reality. According to the Lankavatara Sutra, everything that exists, exists only as phenomena within our own minds; the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness. This does not mean that the phenomena with which we come into contact do not matter, but possessing this knowledge can reduce the intensity of our attachment to them. It can minimize or even eradicate our bondage to perceived circumstances. In this way, pariniṣpanna can minimize our suffering.
In short, parikalpita gives us a prejudiced and distorted view of ourselves and the world. Paratantra only allows us to perceive things superficially. It is through pariniṣpanna that we perceive phenomena in their true state, impermanent, empty of inherent existence, which is neither changing nor unchanging. It is a state beyond the limitations of discrimination and logic.
The five dharmas, as I understand them, are classifications for states of understanding phenomena. Here the word dharmas may be interpreted as things or phenomena.
The five dharmas are: name, appearance, discrimination, right knowledge, and suchness (tathātā).
A thing, or a phenomenon, has a form, a shape, or an appearance. This does not only mean appearance in the visual sense, but it also refers to scents, textures, sounds, flavors, etc.
These so-called names and appearances are misrepresentations. We give these phenomena names without fully understanding their true nature. We use our discriminating faculties to interpret them, but our discrimination faculties are imperfect, and since they are imperfect, our understanding of names and forms is faulty. This brings about a total misunderstanding of the nature of reality. Moreover, our faculty of discrimination causes us to develop attachments to certain phenomena while creating aversion and repulsion for others.
Our only way out of this cycle of misunderstanding, delusion, and attachments is to develop right knowledge. Right knowledge is the proper understanding of ourselves and the phenomena around us. We realize that through discrimination we have developed an imperfect understanding of the nature of reality, and due to this, we have developed prejudices and aversions. Right knowledge allows us to work ourselves out of this unenlightened situation. Moreover, right knowledge can lead to the state of suchness (tathātā), where we see things as they really are, in their true nature. In the state of suchness, we penetrate all the falsities and fabrications of our once benighted minds and all attachments and aversions are gone.
Since the five dharmas are mentioned several times in the Lankavatara Sutra, we can assume their importance to its theology. In the sutra, it reads
“Gathering truth from the vinaya, from the teachings in the sutras, let the yogin have a clear insight into the five dharmas, mind itself, and egolessness.”
As we prepare to walk the bodhisattva path, we must look deep into our minds and understand its nature. Contemplating important concepts, like the five dharmas and the three svabhāvas, assists us in our spiritual development.
A quote from the Lankavatara Sutra, and the research of Buddhist scholars, including DT Suzuki, illustrates the corresponding elements of the five dharmas and the three svabhāvas. Please see the chart and quote below. Similar charts have been used by many authors.
|Five Dharmas||Three Svabhāvas|
“ The five dharmas, the svabhāvas, the eight vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness—they are all embraced in the Mahāyāna.
Name, appearance, and discrimination [correspond to] the first two svabhāvas, while right knowledge and suchness are the pariniṣpanna”
The full Lankavatara Sutra in English:
The Lankavatara Sutra
Thus have I heard:
The Blessed One once appeared in the Castle of Lanka, which is on the summit of Mt. Malaya in the midst of the great Ocean. A great many Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas had miraculously assembled from all the Buddha-lands, and a large number of Bhikshus were gathered there. The Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas with Mahamati at their head were all perfect masters of the various Samádhis, the tenfold Self-mastery, the ten Powers, and the six Psychic Faculties. Having been anointed by the Buddha’s own hands, they all well understood the significance of the objective world; they all knew how to apply the various means, teachings and disciplinary measures according to the various mentalities and behaviors of beings; they were all thoroughly versed in the five Dharmas, the three Svabhavas, the eight Vijnanas, and the twofold Ego-less-ness.
The Blessed One, knowing the mental agitations going on in the minds of those assembled (like the surface of the ocean stirred into waves by the passing winds), and his great heart moved by compassion, smiled and said, “In the days of old the Tathágatas of the past who were Arhats and fully-enlightened Ones came to the Castle of Lanka on Mount Malaya and discoursed on the Truth of Noble Wisdom that is beyond the reasoning knowledge of the philosophers as well as being beyond the understanding of ordinary disciples and masters; and which is realizable only within the inmost consciousness; for your sakes, I too, would discourse on the same Truth. All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected. This is not comprehended by the philosophers and the ignorant, but those who thus see things see them truthfully. Those who see things otherwise walk in discrimination and, as they depend upon discrimination, they cling to dualism. The world as seen by discrimination is like seeing one’s own image reflected in a mirror, or one’s shadow, or the moon reflected in water, or an echo heard in a valley. People grasping their own shadows of discrimination become attached to this thing and that thing and failing to abandon dualism they go on forever discriminating and thus never attain tranquility. By tranquility is meant Oneness, and Oneness gives birth to the highest Samádhi, which is gained by entering into the realm of Noble Wisdom that is realizable only within one’s inmost consciousness
Then all Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas rose from their seats and respectfully paid him homage and Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva sustained by the power of the Buddhas drew his upper garment over one shoulder, knelt and pressing his hands together, praised him in the following verses:
As you review the world with your perfect intelligence and compassion, it must seem to you like an ethereal flower of which one cannot say: it is born, it is destroyed, for the terms beings and non-being do not apply to it.
As you review the world with your perfect intelligence and compassion, it must seem to you like a dream of which it cannot be said: it is permanent or it is destructible, for the being and non-being do not apply to it.
As you review all things by your perfect intelligence and compassion, they must seem to you like visions beyond the reach of the human mind, as being and non-being do not apply to them.
With your perfect intelligence and compassion, which are beyond all limit, you comprehend the ego-less-ness of things and persons, and are free and clear from the hindrances of passion and learning and egoism.
You do not vanish into Nirvana, nor does Nirvana abide in you, for Nirvana transcends all duality of knowing and known, of being and non-being.
Those who see thee thus, serene and beyond conception, will be emancipated from attachment, will be cleansed of all defilements, both in this world and in the spiritual world beyond.
In this world whose nature is like a dream, there is place for praise and blame, but in the ultimate Reality of Dharmakaya, which is far beyond the senses and the discriminating mind, what is there to praise? O you who are most Wise!
Then said Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: O blessed One, Sugata, Arhat and Fully-Enlightened One, pray tell us about the realization of Noble Wisdom which is beyond the path and usage of philosophers; which is devoid of all predicates such as being and non-being, oneness and otherness, both-ness and non-both-ness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity; which has nothing to do with individuality and generality, nor false-imagination, nor any illusions arising from the mind itself; but which manifests itself as the Truth of Highest Reality. By which, going up continuously by the stages of purification, one enters at last upon the stage of Tathágata-hood, whereby, by the power of his original vows unattended by any striving, one will radiate its influence to infinite worlds, like a gem reflecting its variegated colors, whereby I and other Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas will be enabled to bring all beings to the same perfection of virtue.
Said the Blessed One: Well done, well done, Mahamati! And again, well done, indeed! It is because of your compassion for the world; because of the benefit it will bring upon many people both human kind and celestial, that you have presented yourself before us to make this request. Therefore, Mahamati, listen well and truly reflect upon what I shall say, for I will instruct you.
Then Mahamati and the other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas gave devout attention to the teaching of the Blessed One.
Mahamati, since the ignorant and simple-minded, not knowing that the world is only something seen of the mind itself, cling to the multitudinous-ness of external objects, cling to the notions of beings and non-being, oneness and otherness, both-ness and non-both-ness, existence and non-existence eternity and non-eternity, and think that they have a self-nature of their own, and all of which rises from the discriminations of the mind and is perpetuated by habit-energy, and from which they are given over to false imagination. It is all like a mirage in which springs of water are seen as if they were real. They are imagined by animals who, made thirsty by the heat of the season, run after them. Animals not knowing that the springs are merely hallucinations of their own minds, do not realize that there are no such springs. In the same way, Mahamati, the ignorant and simple-minded, their minds burning with the fires of greed, anger and folly, finding delight in a world of multitudinous forms, their thoughts obsessed with ideas of birth, growth and destruction, not well understanding what is meant by existence and non-existence, and being impressed by erroneous discriminations and speculations since beginning-less time, fall into the habit of grasping this and that and thereby becoming attached to them.
It is like the city of the Gandharvas which the unwitting take to be a real city when in fact it is not so. The city appears as in a vision owing to their attachment to the memory of a city preserved in the mind as a seed; the city can thus be said to be both existent and non-existent. In the same way, clinging to the memory of erroneous speculations and doctrines accumulated since beginning-less time, they hold fast to such ideas as oneness and otherness, being and non-being, and their thoughts are not at all clear as to what after all is only seen of the mind. It is like a man dreaming in his sleep of a country that seems to be filled with various men, women, elephants, horses, cars, pedestrians, villages, towns, hamlets, cows, buffalos, mansions, woods, mountains, rivers and lakes, and who moves about in that city until he is awakened. As he lies half awake, he recalls the city of his dreams and reviews his experiences there; what do you think, Mahamati, is this dreamer who is letting his mind dwell upon the various unrealities he has seen in his dream, is he to be considered wise or foolish? In the same way, the ignorant and simple-minded who are favorably influenced by the erroneous views of the philosophers do not recognize that the views that are influencing them are only dream-like ideas originating in the mind itself, and consequently they are held fast by their notions of oneness and otherness, of being and non-being. It is like a painter’s canvas on which the ignorant imagine they see the elevations and depressions of mountains and valleys.
In the same way there are people today being brought up under the influence of similar erroneous views of oneness and otherness, of both-ness and not-both-ness, whose mentality is being conditioned by the habit-energy of these false-imaginings and who later on will declare those who hold the true doctrine of no-birth which is free from the alternatives of being and non-being, to be nihilists and by so doing will bring themselves and others to ruin. By the natural law of cause and effect these followers of pernicious views uproot meritorious causes that otherwise would lead to unstained purity. They are to be shunned by those whose desires are for more excellent things.
It is like the dim-eyed ones who seeing a hairnet exclaim to one another: “It is wonderful! Look, Honorable sirs, it is wonderful!” But the hairnet has never existed; in fact; it is neither an entity, nor a non-entity, for it has both been seen and has not been seen. In the same manner those whose minds have been addicted to the discriminations of the erroneous views cherished by the philosophers which are given over to the unrealistic views of being and non-being, will contradict the good Dharma and will end in the destruction of themselves and others.
It is like a wheel of fire made by a revolving firebrand which is no wheel but which is imagined to be one by the ignorant. Nor is it a not a wheel because it has not been seen by some. By the same reasoning, those who are in the habit of listening to the discriminations and views of the philosophers will regard things born as non-existent and those destroyed by causation as existent. It is like a mirror reflecting colors and images as determined by conditions but without any partiality. It is like the echo of the wind that gives the sound of a human voice. It is like a mirage of moving water seen in a desert. In the same way the discriminating mind of the ignorant, which has been heated by false-imaginations and speculations, is stirred into mirage-like waves by the winds of birth, growth, and destruction. It is like the magician Pisaca, who by means of his spells makes a wooden image or a dead body to throb with life, though it has no power of its own. In the same way the ignorant and the simple-minded, committing themselves to erroneous philosophical views become thoroughly devoted to the ideas of oneness and otherness, but their confidence is not well grounded. For this reason, Mahamati, you and other Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas should cast off all discriminations leading to the notions of birth, abiding, and destructions, of oneness and otherness, of both-ness and not-both-ness, of being and non-being and thus getting free of the bondage of habit-energy become able to attain reality realizable within yourselves of Noble Wisdom.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?
The Blessed One replied: it is because the ignorant cling to names, signs and ideas; as their minds move along these channels they feed on multiplicities of objects and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it; they make discriminations of good and bad among appearances and cling to the agreeable. As they thus cling there is a reversion to ignorance, and karma born of greed, anger and folly, is accumulated. As the accumulation of karma goes on they become imprisoned in a cocoon of discrimination and are thenceforth unable to free themselves from the round of birth and death.
Because of folly they do not understand that all things are like Maya, like the reflection of the moon in water, that there is no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings, and that all their definite ideas rise from their false discriminations of what exists only as it is seen of the mind itself. They do not realize that things have nothing to do with qualify and qualifying, nor with the course of birth, abiding and destruction, and instead they assert that they are born of a creator, of time, of atoms, of some celestial spirit. It is because the ignorant are given up to discrimination that they move along with the stream of appearances, but it is not so with the wise.
False-Imaginations and Knowledge of Appearances
Then Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva spoke to the Blessed One, saying: You speak of the erroneous views of the philosophers, will you please tell us of them, that we may be on our guard against them?
The Blessed One replied, saying: Mahamati, the error in these erroneous teachings that are generally held by the philosophers lies in this: they do not recognize that the objective world rises from the mind itself; they do not understand that the whole mind-system also arises from the mind itself; but depending upon these manifestations of the mind as being real they go on discriminating them, like the simple-minded ones that they are, cherishing the dualism of this and that, of being and non-being, ignorant to the fact that there is but one common Essence.
On the contrary my teaching is based upon recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself; it teaches the cessation of ignorance, desire, deed and causality; it teaches the cessation of suffering that arises from the discriminations of the triple world.
There are some Brahman scholars who, assuming something out of nothing, assert that there is a substance bound up with causation, which abides in time, and that the elements that make up personality and its environment have their genesis and continuation in causation and after thus existing, pass away. Then there are other scholars who hold a destructive and nihilistic view concerning such subjects as continuation, activity, breaking-up, existence, Nirvana, the Path, karma, fruition and Truth. Why, because they have not attained an intuitive understanding of Truth itself and therefore they have no clear insight into the fundamentals of things. They are like a jar broken into pieces, which is no longer able to function as a jar; they are like a burnt seed, which is no longer capable of sprouting. But the elements that make up personality and its environment, which they regard as subject to change are really incapable of uninterrupted transformations. Their views are based upon erroneous discriminations of the objective world; they are not based upon the true conception.
Again, if it is true that something comes out of nothing and there is the rise of the mind-system by reason of the combinations of the three effect-producing causes, we could say the same of any non-existing thing: for instance, that a tortoise could grow hair, or sand produce oil. This proposition is of no avail; it ends up in affirming nothing. It follows that the deed, work and cause of which they speak is of no use, and so also is their reference to being and non-being, if they argue that there is a combination of the three effect-producing causes, they must do it on the principle of cause and effect, that is, that something comes out of something and not out of nothing. As long a world of relativity is asserted, there is an ever-recurring chain of causation, which cannot be denied under any circumstance; therefore we cannot talk of anything coming to an end or of cessation. As long as these scholars remain on their philosophical ground their demonstration must conform to logic and their textbooks, and the memory habit of erroneous intellection will ever cling to them. To make the matter worse, the simple-minded ones, poisoned by this erroneous view, will declare this incorrect way of thinking taught by the ignorant, to be the same as that presented by the All-knowing One.
But the way of instruction presented by the Tathágatas is not based on assertions and refutations by means of words and logic. There are four forms of assertion that can be made concerning things not in existence, namely, assertions made about individual marks that are not in existence; about objects that are not in existence, about a cause that is non-existent; and about philosophical views that are erroneous. By refutation is meant that one, because of ignorance, has not examined properly the error that lies at the base of these assertions.
The assertion about individual marks that really have no existence, concerns the distinctive marks as perceived by the eye, ear, nose, etc., as indicating individuality and generality in the elements that make up personality and its external world; and then, taking these marks for reality and getting attached to them, to get into the habit or affirming that things are just so and not otherwise.
The assertion about objects that are non-existent is an assertion that rises from attachment to these associated marks of individuality and generality. Objects in themselves are neither in existence nor in non-existence and are quite devoid of the alternative of being and non-being; and should only be thought of as one thinks of the horns of a hare, a horse, or a camel, which never existed. Objects are discriminated by the ignorant who are addicted to assertion and negation, because their intelligence has not been acute enough to penetrate into the truth that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind itself.
The assertion of a cause that is non-existent assumes the causeless birth of the first element of the mind-system, which later on comes to have only a Maya-like non-existence. That is to say, there are philosophers who assert that an originally unborn mind-system begins to function under the conditions of eye, form, light and memory, which functioning goes on for a time and then ceases. This is an example of a cause that is non-existent.
The assertion of philosophical views concerning the elements that make up personality and its environing world that are non-existent, assume the existence of an ego, a being, a soul, a living being, a “nourisher”, or a spirit. This is an example of philosophical views that are not true. It is this combination of discrimination of imaginary marks of individuality, grouping them and giving them a name and becoming attached to them as objects, by reason of habit-energy that has been accumulated since beginning-less time, that one builds up erroneous views whose only basis is false-imaginations. For this reason Bodhisattvas should avoid all discussions relating to assertions and negations whose only basis is words and logic.
Word-discrimination goes on by the coordination of brain, chest, nose, throat, palate, tongue, teeth and lips. Words are neither different nor not different from discrimination. Words rise from discrimination as their cause; if words were different from discrimination they could not have discrimination for their cause; then again, if words are not different, they could not carry and express meaning. Words, therefore, are produced by causation and are mutually conditioning and shifting and, just like things, are subject to birth and destruction.
There are four kinds of word discrimination, all of which are to be avoided because they are alike unreal. First there are words indicating individual marks which rise from discriminating forms and signs as being real in themselves and, then, becoming attached to them. There are memory-words, which rise from the unreal surroundings, which come before the mind when it recalls some previous experience. Then there are words growing out of attachment to the erroneous distinctions and speculations of the mental processes. And finally, there are words growing out of inherited prejudices as seeds of habit-energy accumulated since beginning-less time, or which had their origin in some long forgotten clinging to false-imagination and erroneous speculation.
Then there are words where there are no corresponding objects, as for instance, the hare’s horns, a barren woman’s child, etc., there are no such things but we have the words, just the same. Words are an artificial creation; there are Buddha-lands where there are no words. In some Buddha-lands ideas are indicated by looking steadily, in others by gestures, in still others by a frown, by a movement of the eyes, by laughing, by yawning, by the clearing of the throat, or by trembling. For instance, in the Buddha-land of the Tathágata Samantabadra, Bodhisattvas, by a Dhyana transcending words and ideas, attain recognition of all things as un-born and they, also, experience various most excellent Samádhis that transcend words. Even in this world such specialized beings as ants and bees carry on their activities very well without recourse to words. No, Mahamati, the validity of things is independent of the validity of words.
Moreover, there are other things that belong to words, namely, the syllable-body of words, the name-body of words, and the sentence-body of words. By the syllable-body is meant that by which words and sentences are set up or indicated: there is a reason for some syllables, some are mnemonic, and some are chosen arbitrarily. By name-body is meant the object depending upon which a name-word obtains its significance, or in other words, name-body is the “substance” of a name-word. By sentence-body is meant the completion of the meaning by expressing the word more fully in a sentence. The name for this sentence-body is suggested by the footprints left in the road by elephants, horses, people, deer, cattle, goats, etc. But neither words nor sentences can exactly express meanings, for words are only sweet sounds that are arbitrarily chosen to represent things, they are not the things themselves, which in turn are only manifestations of mind. Discrimination of meaning is based upon the false-imagination that these sweet sounds which we call words and which are dependent upon whatever subjects they are supposed to stand for, and which subjects are supposed to be self-existent, all of which is based on error. Disciples should be on their guard against the seductions of words and sentences and their illusive meanings, for by them the ignorant and the dull-witted become entangled and helpless as an elephant floundering about in the deep mud.
Words and sentences are produced by the law of causation and are mutually conditioning they cannot express highest Reality. Moreover, in highest Reality there are no differentiations to be discriminated and there is nothing to be predicated in regards to it. Highest Reality is an exalted state of bliss, it is not a state of word-discrimination, and it cannot be entered into by mere statements concerning it. The Tathágatas have a better way of teaching, namely, through self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Mahamati asked the Blessed One: Pray tell us about the causation of all things whereby I and other Bodhisattvas may see into the nature of causation and may no more discriminate it as to the gradual or simultaneous rising of all things?
The Blessed One replied: There are two factors of causation by reason of which all things come into seeming existence: external and internal factors. The external factors are a lump of clay, a stick, a wheel, a thread, water, a worker, his labor, and the combination of these produces a jar. As with a jar which is made from a lump of clay, or a piece of cloth made from thread, or matting made from fragrant grass, or a sprout growing out of a seed, or fresh butter made from sour milk by a man churning it; so it is with all things which appear one after another in continuous succession. As regards the inner factors of causation, they are of such kinds as ignorance, desire, purpose, all of which enter into the idea of causation. Born of these two factors there is the manifestation of personality and the individual things that make up its environment, but they are not individual and distinctive things: they are only so discriminated by the ignorant.
Causation may be divided into six elements: indifference-cause, dependence-cause, possibility-cause, agency-cause, objectivity-cause, manifesting-cause. Indifference-cause means that if there is no discrimination present, there is no power of combination present and so no combination takes place, or if present there is dissolution. Dependence-cause means that the elements must be present. Possibility-cause means that when a cause is to become effective there must be a suitable meeting of conditions both internal and external. Agency-cause means that there must be a principle vested with supreme authority like a sovereign king present and asserting itself. Objectivity-cause means that to be a part of the objective world the mind-system must be in existence and must be keeping up its continuous activity. Manifesting-cause means that as the discriminating faculty of the mind-system becomes busy individual marks will be revealed as forms are revealed by the light of a lamp.
All causes are thus seen to be the outcome of discrimination carried on by the ignorant and simple-minded, and there is, therefore, no such thing as gradual or simultaneous rising of existence. If such a thing as the gradual rising of existence is asserted, it can be disapproved by showing that there is no basic substance to hold the individual signs together which makes a gradual rising impossible. If simultaneous rising of existence is asserted, there would be no distinction between cause and effect and there will be nothing to characterize a cause as such. While a child is not yet born, the term father has no significance. Logicians argue that there is that which is born and that which gives birth by the mutual functioning of such causal factors as cause, substance, continuity, acceleration, etc., and so they conclude that there is a gradual rising of existence; but this gradual rising does not obtain except by reason of attachment to the notion of a self-nature.
When ideas of body, property and abode are seen, discriminated and cherished in what after all is nothing but what is conceived by the mind itself, an external world is perceived under the aspect of individuality and generality which, however, are not realities and, therefore, neither a gradual nor a simultaneous rising of things is possible. It is only when the mind-system comes into activity and discriminates the manifestations of mind that existence can be said to come into view. For these reasons, Mahamati, you must get rid of notions of graduation and simultaneity in the combination of causal activities.
Mahamati said: Blessed One; to what kind of discrimination and to what kind of thoughts should the term, false-imagination, be applied?
The Blessed One replied: So long as people do no understand the true nature of the objective world, they fall into the dualistic view of things. They imagine the multiplicity of external objects to be real and become attached to them and are nourished by their habit-energy. Because of this system of mentation-mind and what belongs to it-is discriminated and is thought of as real; this leads to the assertion of an ego-soul and its belongings, and thus the mind-system goes on functioning. Depending upon and attaching itself to the dualistic habit of mind, they accept the views of the philosophers founded upon these erroneous distinctions, of being and non-being, existence, and non-existence, and there evolves what we call, false-imaginations. But Mahamati, discrimination does not evolve nor is it put away because, when all that is seen is truly recognized to be nothing but the manifestation of mind, how can discrimination as regards being and non-being evolve? It is for the sake of the ignorant who are addicted to the discriminations of the multiplicity of things, which are of their own mind, that it is said by me that discrimination takes its rise owing to attachment to the aspect of multiplicity, which is characteristic of objects. How otherwise can the ignorant and simple-minded recognize that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind itself, and how otherwise can they gain an insight into the true nature of mind and be able to free themselves from wrong conceptions of cause and effect? How otherwise can they gain a clear conception of the Bodhisattva stages, and attain and “turning-about” in the deepest seat of their consciousness, and finally attain an inner self-realization of Noble Wisdom which transcends the five Dharmas, the three Self-natures, and the whole idea of a discriminated Reality? For this reason it is said by me that discrimination takes its rise from the mind becoming attached to the multiplicities of things, which in themselves are not real, and that emancipation comes from thoroughly understanding the meaning of Reality as it truly is. False-imaginations rise from the consideration of appearances; things are discriminated as to form, signs and shape; as to having color, warmth, humidity, motility or rigidity. False-imagination consists in becoming attached to these appearances and their names. By attachment to objects is meant, the getting attached to inner and outer things as if they were real. By attachment to names is meant, the recognition in these inner and outer things of the characteristic marks of individuation and generality, and to regard them as definitely belonging to the names of the objects.
False-imagination teaches that because all things are bound up with causes and conditions of habit-energy that has been accumulating since beginning-less time by not recognizing that the external world is of mind itself, all things are comprehensible under the aspects of individuality and generality. By reason of clinging to these false-imaginations there is multitudinous-ness of appearances, which are imagined, to be real but which are only imaginary. To illustrate: when a magician depending on grass, wood, shrubs and creepers, exercises his art, many shapes and beings take form that are only magically created; sometimes they even make figures that have bodies and that move and act like human beings; they are variously and fancifully discriminated but there is no reality in them; everyone but children and the simple-minded know that they are not real. Likewise based upon the notion of relativity false-imagination perceives a variety of appearances, which the discriminating mind proceeds to objectify and name and become attached to, and memory and habit-energy perpetuate. Here is all that is necessary to constitute the self-nature of false-imagination. The various features of false imagination can be distinguished as follows: as regards words, meaning, individual marks, property, self-nature, cause, philosophical views, reasoning, birth, no-birth, dependence, bondage and emancipation. Discrimination of words is the becoming attached to various sounds carrying familiar meanings. Discrimination of meaning comes when one imagines that words rise depending upon whatever subjects they express, and which subjects are regarded as self-existent. Discrimination of individual marks is to imagine that whatever is denoted in words concerning the multiplicities of individual marks (which in themselves are like a mirage) is true, and clinging tenaciously to them, to discriminate all things according to such categories as warmth, fluidity, motility, and solidity. Discrimination of property is to desire a state of wealth, such as gold, silver, and various precious stones.
Discrimination of self-nature is to make discriminations according to the views of the philosophers in reference to the self-nature of all things which they imagine and stoutly maintain to be true, saying: “This is just what it is and it cannot be otherwise.” Discrimination of cause is to distinguish the notion of causation in reference to being and non-being and to imagine that there are such things as “cause-signs.” Discrimination of philosophical views means considering different views relating to the notions of being and non-being, oneness and otherness, both-ness and not-both ness, existence and non-existence, all of which are erroneous, and becoming attached to particular views. Discrimination of reasoning means the teaching whose reasoning is based on the grasping of the notion and ego-substance and what belongs to it. Discrimination of birth means getting attached to the notion that things come into existence and pass out of existence according to causation. Discrimination of no-birth is to see that causeless substances which were not, come into existence by reason of causation. Discrimination of dependence means the mutual dependence of gold and the filaments made of it. Discriminations of bondage and imagination is like imagining that there is something bound because of something binding, as in the case of a man who ties a knot and loosens one. These are the various features of false-imagination to which all the ignorant and simple-minded cling. Those attached to the notion of relativity are attached to the notion of the multitudinous-ness of things, which arises from false-imagination. It is like seeing varieties of objects depending upon Maya, but these varieties thus revealing themselves are discriminated by the ignorant as something other than Maya itself, according to their way of thinking. Now the truth is, Maya and varieties of objects are neither different nor not different; if they were different, varieties of objects would not have Maya for their characteristic; if they were not different there would be no distinction between them. But as there is a distinction these two–Maya and variety of objects–are neither different nor not different, for the very good reason: they are one thing.
Mahamati said to the Blessed One: Is error an entity or not? The Blessed One replied: Error has no character in it making for attachment; if error had such a character no liberation would be possible from its attachment to existence, and the chain of origination would only be understood in the sense of creation as upheld by the philosophers. Error is like Maya, also, and as Maya is incapable from producing other Maya, so error in itself cannot produce error; it is discrimination and attachment that produce evil thoughts and faults. Moreover, Maya has no power of discrimination in itself; it only rises when invoked by the charm of the magician. Error has in itself no habit-energy; habit-energy only rises from discrimination and attachment. Error in itself has no faults; faults are due to the confused discriminations fondly cherished by the ignorant concerning ego-soul and its mind. The wise have nothing to do either with Maya or error.
Maya, however, is not an unreality because it only has the appearance of reality; all things have the nature of Maya. It is not because all things are imagined and clung to because of the multitudinous-ness of individual signs that they are like Maya; it is because they are alike unreal and as quickly appearing and disappearing. Being attached to erroneous thoughts they confuse and contradict themselves and others. As they do not clearly grasp the fact that the world is no more than mind itself, they imagine and cling to causation, work, birth and individual signs, and their thoughts are characterized by error and false-imaginations. The teaching that all things are characterized by the self-nature of Maya and a dream is meant to make the ignorant and simple-minded cast aside the idea of self-nature in anything.
False-imagination teaches that such things as light and shade, long and short, black and white are different and are to be discriminated; but they are not independent of each other; they are only different aspects of the same thing, they are terms of relation and not of reality. Conditions of existence are not of a mutually exclusive character; in essence things are not two but one. Even Nirvana and Samsára’s world of life and death are aspects of the same thing, for there is no Nirvana except where is Samsára, and no Samsára except where is Nirvana. All duality is falsely imagined.
Mahamati, you, and all Bodhisattvas should discipline yourselves in the realization and patience acceptance of the truths of the emptiness, un-born-ness, no self-nature-ness, and the non-duality of all things. This teaching is found in all the sutras of all the Buddhas and is presented to meet the varied dispositions of all beings, but it is not the Truth itself. These teachings are only a finger pointing towards Noble Wisdom. They are like a mirage with its springs of water, which the deer take to be real and chase after. So with the teachings in all the sutras: They are intended for the consideration and guidance of the discriminating minds of all people, but they are not the Truth itself, which can only be self-realized within one’s deepest consciousness.
Mahamati, you and all the Bodhisattvas must seek for this inner self-realization of Noble Wisdom, and not be captivated by word teaching.
Right Knowledge or Knowledge of Relations
Then Mahamati said: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the being and the non-being of all things?
The Blessed One replied: People of this world are dependent in their thinking on one of two things: on the notion of being whereby they take pleasure in realism, or in the notion of non-being whereby they take pleasure in nihilism; in either case they imagine emancipation where there is no emancipation. Those who are dependent upon notions of being, regard the world as rising from a causation that is really existent, and that this actually existing and becoming world does not take its rise from a causation that is non-existent. This is the realistic view as held by some people. Then there are other people who are dependent on the notion of the non-being of all things. These people admit the existence of greed, anger and folly, and at the same time they deny the existence of the things that produce greed, anger and folly. This is not rational, for greed, anger and folly are no more to be taken hold of as real than are things; they neither have substance nor individual marks. Where there is a state of bondage, there is binding and means for binding; but where there is emancipation, as in the case of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, masters and disciples, who have ceased to believe in both being and non-being, there is neither bondage, binding nor means for binding.
It is better to cherish the notion of an ego-substance than to entertain the notion of emptiness derived from the view of being and non-being, for those who so believe fail to understand the fundamental fact that the external world is nothing but a manifestation of mind. Because they see things as transient, as rising from cause and passing away from cause, now dividing, now combining into the elements which make up the aggregates of personality and its external world and now passing away, they are doomed to suffer every moment from the changes that follow one after another, and finally are doomed to ruin.
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One, saying: Tell us, Blessed One, how all things can be empty, un-born, and have no self-nature, so that we may awakened and quickly realize highest enlightenment?
The Blessed One replied: What is emptiness, indeed! It is a term whose very self-nature is false-imagination, but because of one’s attachment to false-imagination we are obliged to talk of emptiness, no-birth, and no self-nature. There are seven kinds of emptiness: emptiness of mutuality which is non-existence; emptiness of individual marks; emptiness of self-nature; emptiness of no-work, emptiness of work; emptiness of all things in the sense that they are unpredictable, and emptiness in its highest sense of Ultimate Reality.
By the emptiness of mutuality, which is non-existent, is meant that when a thing is missing here, one speaks of it being empty here. For instance: in the lecture hall of Mrigarama there are no elephants present, nor bulls, nor sheep; but as to monks there are many present. We can rightly speak of the hall as being empty as far as animals are concerned. It is not asserted that the lecture hall is empty of its own characteristics, or that the monks are empty of that which makes up their monk hood, nor that in some other place there are no elephants, bulls, nor sheep to be found. In this case we are speaking of things in their aspect of individuality and generality, but from the point of view of mutuality some things do not exist somewhere. This is the lowest form of emptiness and is to be sedulously put away.
By emptiness of individual marks is meant that all things have no distinguishing marks of individuality and generality. Because of mutual relations and interactions things are superficially discriminated but when they are further and more carefully investigated and analyzed they are seen to be non-existent and nothing as to individuality and generality can be predicated of them. Thus when individual marks can no longer be seen, ideas of self, otherness and both-ness, no longer hold good. So it must be said that all things are empty of self-marks.
By emptiness of self-nature is meant that all things in their self-nature are un-born; therefore, it is said that things are empty as to self-nature. By emptiness of ‘no work’ is meant that the aggregate of elements that makes up personality and its external world is Nirvana itself and from the beginning there is no activity in them; therefore, one speaks of the emptiness of ‘no work’. By emptiness of work is meant that the aggregates being devoid of an ego and its belongings, go on functioning automatically as there is mutual conjunction of causes and conditions; thus one speaks of the emptiness of work. By emptiness of all things in the same sense that they are unpredictable is meant that, as the very nature of false-imagination is inexpressible, so all things are unpredictable, and, therefore, are empty in that sense. By emptiness in its highest sense of the emptiness of Ultimate Reality is meant that the in the attainment of inner self-realization of Noble Wisdom there is no trace of habit-energy generated by erroneous conceptions; thus one speaks of the highest emptiness of Ultimate Reality.
When things are examined by right knowledge there are no signs obtainable which could characterize them with marks of individuality and generality, therefore, they are said to have no self-nature. Because these signs of individuality and generality are seen both as existing and yet are known to be non-existent, are seen as going out and yet are known not to be going out, they are never annihilated. Why is this true? For this reason; because individual signs that should make up the self-nature of all things are non-existent. Again in their self-nature things are both eternal and non-eternal. Things are not eternal because the marks of individuality appear and disappear, that is, the marks of self-nature are characterized by non-eternality. On the other hand, because things are un-born and are only mind-made, they are in a deep sense eternal. That is, things are eternal because of their very non-eternality.
Further, besides understanding the emptiness of all things both in regard to substance and self-nature, it is necessary for Bodhisattvas to clearly understand that all things are un-born. It is not asserted that things are not born in a superficial sense, but that in a deep sense they are not born of themselves. All that can be said, is this, that relatively speaking, there is a constant stream of becoming, a momentary and uninterrupted change from one state of appearance to another. When it is recognized that the world as it presents itself is no more than a manifestation of mind, then birth is seen as no-birth, and all existing objects, concerning which discrimination asserts that they are and are not, are non-existent and, therefore, un-born; being devoid of agent and action things are un-born.
If things are not born of being and non-being, but are simply manifestations of mind itself, they have no reality, no self-nature: they are like the horns of a hare, a horse, a donkey, a camel. But the ignorant and simple-minded, who are given over to their false and erroneous imaginings, discriminate things where they are not. To the ignorant the characteristic marks of the self-nature of body-property-and-abode seem to be fundamental and rooted in the very nature of mind itself, so they discriminate their multitudinous-ness and become attached to them.
There are two kinds of attachment: attachment to objects as having a self-nature, and attachment to words as having self-nature. The first takes place by not knowing that the external world is only a manifestation of the mind itself; and the second arises from one’s clinging to words and names by reason of habit-energy. In the teaching of no-birth, causation is out of place because, seeing that all things are like Maya and a dream, one does not discriminate individual signs. That all things are un-born and have no self-nature because they are like Maya is asserted to meet the thesis of the philosophers that birth is by causation. They foster the notion that the birth of all things is derived from the concept of being and non-being, and fail to regard it as it truly is, as caused by attachments to the multitudinous-ness which arises from discriminations of the mind itself.
Those who believe in the birth of something that has never been in existence and, coming into existence, vanishes away, are obliged to assert that things come to exist and vanish away by causation – such people find no foothold in my teachings. When it is realized that there is nothing born, and nothing passes away, then there is no way to admit being and non-being, and the mind becomes quiescent.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: The philosophers declare that the world rises from causal agencies according to the law of causation; they state that their cause is unborn and is not annihilated. They mention nine primary elements: Ishvara the Creator, the Creation, atoms, etc., which being elementary are unborn and not to be annihilated. The Blessed One, while teaching that all things are un-born and that there is no annihilation, also declares that the world takes its rise from ignorance, discrimination, attachment, deed, etc., working according to the law of causation. Though the two sects of elements may differ in form and name, there does not appear to be any essential difference between the two positions. If there is anything that is distinctive and superior in the Blessed One’s teaching, pray tell us, Blessed One, what is it?
The Blessed One replied: My teaching of no-birth and no-annihilation is not like that of the philosophers, nor is it like their doctrine of birth and impermanency. That to which the philosophers ascribe the characteristic of no-birth and no-annihilation is the self-nature of all things, which causes them to fall into the dualism of being and non-being. My teaching transcends the whole conception of being and non-being; it has nothing to do with birth, abiding and destruction; nor with existence and non-existence. I teach that the multitudinous-ness of objects have no reality in themselves but are only seen of the mind and, therefore, are of the nature of Maya and a dream. I teach the non-existence of things because they carry no signs of any inherent self-nature. It is true that in one sense they are seen and discriminated by the senses as individualized objects; but in another sense, because of the absence of any characteristic marks of self-nature, they are not seen but are only imagined. In one sense they are graspable, but in another sense, they are not graspable.
When it is clearly understood that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the mind itself, discrimination no more rises, and the wise are established in their true abode, which is the realm of quietude. The ignorant discriminate and work trying to adjust themselves to external conditions, and are constantly perturbed in mind; unrealities are imagined and discriminated, while realities and unseen and ignored. It is not so with the wise. To illustrate: What the ignorant see is like the magically-created city of the Gandharvas, where children are shown, street and houses, and phantom merchants, and people going in and coming out. This imaginary city with its streets and houses and people going in and coming out, are not thought of as being born or being annihilated, because in their case there is no question as to their existence or non-existence. In like manner, I teach, that there is nothing made nor un-made; that there is nothing that has connection with birth and destruction except as the ignorant cherish falsely imagined notions as to the reality of the external world. When objects are not seen and judged as they truly are in themselves, there is discrimination and clinging to the notions of being and non-being, and individualized self-nature, and as long as these notions of individuality and self-nature persist, the philosophers are bound to explain the external world by a law of causation. This position raises the question of a first cause, which the philosophers meet by asserting that their first cause, Ishvara and the primal elements, are un-born and un-annihilate; which position is without evidence and is irrational.
Ignorant people and worldly philosophers cherish a kind of no-birth, but it is not the no-birth, which I teach. I teach the un-born-ness of the un-born essence of all things which teaching is established in the minds of the wise by their self-realization of Noble Wisdom. A ladle, clay, a vessel, a wheel, or seeds, or elements – these are external conditions; ignorance, discrimination, attachment, habit, karma, – these are inner conditions. When this entire universe is regarded as concatenation and as nothing else but concatenation, then the mind, by its patient acceptance of the truth that all things are un-born, gains tranquility.
Perfect Knowledge or Knowledge of Reality
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the five Dharmas, so that we may fully understand perfect knowledge?
The Blessed One replied: The five Dharmas are: appearance, name, discrimination, right-knowledge, and Reality. By appearance is meant that which reveals itself to the senses and to the discriminating-mind and is perceived as form, sound, odor, taste, and touch. Out of these appearances ideas are formed, such as clay, water, jar, etc., by which one says: this is such and such a thing and no other, this is name. When appearances are contrasted and names compared, as when we say: this is an elephant, this is horse, a cart, a pedestrian, a man, a woman, or, this is mind and what belongs to it, the things thus named are said to be discriminated. As these discriminations come to be seen as mutually conditioning, as empty of self-substance, as un-born, and thus come to be seen as they truly are, that is, as manifestations of the mind itself, this is right-knowledge. By it the wise cease to regard appearances and names as realities.
When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, it is called the “Suchness” of Reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable, “Suchness” is the only Reality, but it is variously characterized as Truth, Mind-essence, Transcendental Intelligence, Noble Wisdom, etc. This Dharma of the imageless-ness of the Essence-nature of Ultimate Reality is the Dharma, which has been proclaimed by all the Buddhas, and when all things are understood in full agreement with it, one is in possession of Perfect Knowledge, and is on his way to the attainment of the Transcendental Intelligence of the Tathágatas.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: Are the three self-natures, of things, ideas, and Reality, to be considered as included in the Five Dharmas, or as having their own characteristics complete in themselves.
The Blessed One replied: The three self-natures, the eightfold mind-system, and the twofold ego-less-ness are all included in the Five Dharmas. The self-natures of things, of ideas, and of the six-fold mind-system, correspond with the Dharmas of appearance, name and discrimination; the self-nature of Universal Mind and Reality corresponds to the Dharmas of right-knowledge and “Suchness.”
By becoming attached to what is seen of the mind itself, there is an activity awakened which is perpetuated by habit-energy that becomes manifest in the mind-system, from the activities of the mind-system there rises the notion of an ego-soul and its belongings; the discriminations, attachments, and notion of an ego-soul, rising simultaneously like the sun and its rays of light.
By the ego-less-ness of things is meant that the elements that make up the aggregates of personality and its objective world being characterized by the nature of Maya and destitute of anything that can be called self-substance are therefore un-born and have no self-nature. How can things be said to have an ego-soul? By the ego-less-ness of persons is meant is that in the aggregates that make up personality there is no ego-substance, nor anything that is like an ego-substance nor that belongs to it. The mind-system, which is the most characteristic mark of personality, originated in ignorance, discrimination, desire, and deed; and its activities are perpetuated by perceiving, grasping, and becoming attached to objects as if they were real. The memory of these discriminations, desires, attachments and deeds is stored in Universal Mind since beginning-less time, and is still being accumulated where it conditions the appearance of personality and its environment and brings about constant change and destruction from moment to moment. The manifestations are like a river, a seed, a lamp, a cloud, the wind; Universal mind in its voraciousness to store up everything, is like a monkey never at rest, like a fly ever in search of food and without partiality, like a fire that is never satisfied, like a water-lifting machine that goes on rolling. Universal mind as defiled by habit-energy is like a magician that causes phantom things and people to appear and move about. A thorough understanding of these things is necessary to an understanding of the ego-less-ness of persons.
There are four kinds of Knowledge: Appearance-knowledge, relative-knowledge, perfect-knowledge, and Transcendental Intelligence. Appearance-knowledge belongs to the ignorant and simple-minded who are addicted to the notion of being and non-being, and who are frightened at the thought of being un-born. It is produced by the concordance of the triple combination and attaches itself to the multiplicities of objects; it is characterized by attainability and accumulation; it is subject to birth and destruction. Appearance-knowledge belongs to wordmongers who revel in discriminations, assertions, and negations.
Relative-knowledge belongs to the mind-world of the philosophers. It rises from the mind’s ability to consider the relations which appearances bear to each other and to the mind considering them, it rises from the minds ability to arrange, combine, and analyze these relations by its powers of discursive logic and imagination, by reason of which it is able to peer into the meaning and significance of things.
Perfect-knowledge (jnana) belongs to the world of the Bodhisattvas who recognize that all things are but manifestations of mind; who clearly understand the emptiness, the un-born-ness, the ego-less-ness of all things; and who have entered into an understanding of the Five Dharmas, the twofold ego-less-ness, and into the truth of imageless-ness. Perfect-knowledge differentiates the Bodhisattva stages, and is the pathway and entrance into the exalted state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Perfect-knowledge belongs to the Bodhisattvas who are entirely free from the dualisms of being and non-being, no-birth and no-annihilation, all assertions and negations, and who, by reason of self-realization, have gained an insight into the truths of ego-less-ness and imageless-ness. They no longer discriminate the world as subject to causation: they regard the causation that rules the world as something like the fabled city of the Gandharvas. To them the world is like a vision and a dream, it is like the birth and death of a barren-woman’s child; to them there is nothing evolving and nothing disappearing.
The wise who cherish Perfect-knowledge, may be divided into three classes, disciples, masters and Arhats. Common disciples are separated fro masters as common disciples continue to cherish the notion of individuality and generality; masters rise from common disciples when, forsaking the errors of individuality and generality, they still cling to the notion of an ego-soul by reasons of which they go off by themselves into retirement and solitude. Arhats rise when the error of all discrimination is realized. Error being discriminated by the wise turns into Truth by virtue of the “turning-about” that takes place within the deepest consciousness. Mind, thus emancipated, enters into perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
But, Mahamati, if you assert that there is such a thing as Noble Wisdom, it no longer holds good, because anything of which something is asserted thereby partakes of the nature of being and is thus characterized with the quality of birth. The very assertion: “All things are un-born” destroys the truthfulness of it. The same is true of the statements: “All things are empty”, and “All things have no self-nature,” both are untenable when put in the form of assertions. But when it is pointed out that all things are like a dream and a vision, it means that in one way they are perceived, and in another way they are not perceived; that is, in ignorance they are perceived but in Perfect-knowledge they are not perceived. All assertions and negations being thought-constructions are un-born. Even the assertion that Universal Mind and Noble Wisdom are Ultimate Reality, is thought construction and, therefore, is un-born. As “things” there is no Universal Mind, there is no Noble Wisdom; there is no Ultimate Reality. The insight of the wise who move about in the realm of imageless-ness and its solitude is pure. That is, for the wise all “things” are wiped away and even the state of imageless-ness ceases to exist.
The Mind System
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what is meant by the mind (citta)?
The Blessed One replied: All things of this world, be they seemingly good or bad, faulty or faultless, effect producing or not effect-producing, receptive or non-receptive, may be divided into two classes: evil out-flowings and the non out-flowing good. The five grasping elements that make up the aggregates of personality, namely, form, sensation, perception, discrimination, and consciousness, and that are imagined to be good and bad, have their rise in the habit-energy of the mind-system, they are the evil out-flowings of life. The spiritual attainments and the joys of the Samádhis and the fruitage of the Samapatis that come to the wise through their self-realization of Noble Wisdom and that culminate in their return and participation in the relations of the triple world are called the non out-flowing good.
The mind-system, which is the source of the evil out-flowings, consists of the five sense organs and their accompanying sense-minds (Vijnanas) all of which are unified in the discriminating-mind (manovijnana). There is an unending succession of sense-concepts flowing into this discriminating or thinking-mind, which combines them and discriminates them and passes judgment upon them as to their goodness or badness. Then follows aversion to or desire for them and attachment and deed; thus the entire system moves on continuously and closely bound together. But it fails to see and understand that what it sees and discriminates and grasps is only a manifestation of its own activity and has no other basis, and so the mind goes on erroneously perceiving and discriminating differences of forms and qualities, not remaining still even for a minute.
In the mind-system there are three modes of activity distinguishable: the sense-minds functioning while remaining in their original nature, the sense-minds as producing effects, and the sense-minds as evolving. By normal functioning the sense-minds grasp appropriate elements of their external world, by which sensation and perception arise at once and by degrees in every sense-organ and every sense-mind, in the pores of the skin, and even in the atoms that make up the body, by which the whole field is apprehended like a mirror reflecting objects, and not realizing that the external world itself is only a manifestation of mind. The second mode of activity produces effects by which these sensations react on the discriminating mind to produce perceptions, attractions, aversions, grasping, deed and habit. The third mode of activity has to do with the growth, development and passing of the mind-system, that is, the mind-system is in subjection to its own habit-energy accumulated from beginning-less time, as for instance: the “eye-ness” in the eye that predisposes it to grasp and become attached to multiple forms and appearances. In this way the activities of the evolving mind-system by reason of its habit-energy stirs up waves of objectivity in the face of Universal Mind, which in turn conditions the activities and evolvement of the mind-system. Appearances, perception, attraction, grasping, deed, habit, reaction, condition one another incessantly, and the functioning sense-minds, the discriminating-mind and Universal Mind are thus bound up together. Thus, by reason of discrimination of that which by nature Maya-like and unreal false-imagination and erroneous reasoning takes place, action follows and its habit-energy accumulates thereby defiling the pure face of Universal Mind, and as a result the mind-system comes into functioning and the physical body has its genesis. But the discriminating-mind has no thought that by its discriminations and attachments it is conditioning the whole body and so the sense-minds and the discriminating-mind go on mutually related and mutually conditioned in a most intimate manner and building up a world of representations out of the activities of its own imagination. As a mirror reflects forms, the perceiving senses perceive appearances which the discriminating-mind gathers together and proceeds to discriminate, to name and become attached to. Between these two functions there is no gap, nevertheless, they are mutually conditioning. The perceiving senses grasp that for which they have an affinity, and there is a transformation takes place in their structure by reason of which the mind proceeds to combine, discriminate, apprise, and act; then follows habit-energy and the establishing of the mind and its continuance.
The discriminating-mine because of its capacity to discriminate, judge, select and reason about, is also called the thinking-mind, or intellectual-mind. There are three divisions of its mental activity: mentation which functions in connection with attachment to objects and ideas, mentation that functions in connection with general ideas, and mentation that examines into the validity of these general ideas. The mentation, which functions in connection with attachment to objects and ideas derived from discrimination, discriminates the mind from its mental processes and accepts the ideas from it as being real and becomes attached to them. A variety of false judgments are thus arrived at as to being, multiplicity, individuality, value, etc., a strong grasping takes place which is perpetuated by habit-energy and thus discrimination goes on asserting itself.
These mental processes give rise to general conceptions of warmth, fluidity, motility, and solidity, as characterizing the objects of discrimination, while the tenacious holding to these general ideas gives rise to proposition, reason, definition, and illustration, all of which lead to the assertions of relative knowledge and the establishment of confidence in birth, self-nature, and an ego-soul.
By mentation as an examining function is meant the intellectual act of examining into these general conclusions as to their validity, significance, and truthfulness. This is the faculty that leads to understanding, right-knowledge and points the way to self-realization.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what relation ego-personality bears to the mind-system?
The Blessed One replied: To explain it, it is first necessary to speak of the self-nature of the five grasping aggregates that make up personality, although as I have already shown they are empty, un-born, and without self-nature. These five grasping aggregates are: form, sensation, perception, discrimination, consciousness. Of these, form belongs to what is made of the so-called primary elements, whatever they may be. The four remaining aggregates are without form and ought not to be reckoned as four, because they merge imperceptibly into one another. They are like space, which cannot be numbered; it is only due to imagination that they are discriminated and likened to space. Because things are endowed with appearances of being, characteristic-marks, perceivable-ness, abode, work, one can say that they are born of effect-producing causes, but this cannot be said of these four intangible aggregates for they are without form and marks. These four mental aggregates that make up personality are beyond calculability, they are beyond the four propositions, they are not to be predicated as existing or as not existing, but together they constitute what is known as mortal-mind. They are even more Maya-like and dream-like than are things, nevertheless, as discriminating mortal-mind they obstruct the self-realization of Noble Wisdom. But it is only by the ignorant that they are enumerated and thought of as an ego-personality; the wise do not do so. This discrimination of the five aggregates that make up personality and that serve as a basis for an ego-soul and ground for its desires and self-interests must be given up, and in its place the truth of image-less-ness and solitude should be established.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about Universal Mind and its relation to the lower mind-system?
The Blessed One replied: The sense-minds and their centralized discriminating-mind are related to the external world, which is a manifestation of itself and is given over to perceiving, discriminating, and grasping its Maya-like appearances. Universal Mind (Alaya-Vijnana) transcends all individuation and limits. Universal Mind is thoroughly pure in its essential nature, subsisting unchanged and free from faults of impermanence, undisturbed by egoism, unruffled by distinctions, desires and aversions. Universal Mind is like a great ocean, its surface ruffled by waves and surges but its depths remaining forever unmoved. In itself it is devoid of personality and all that belongs to it, but by reason of the defilements upon its face it is like an actor and plays a variety of parts, among which a mutual functioning takes place and the mind-system arises. The principle of intellection becomes divided and mind the functions of mind, the evil out-flowings of mind, take on individuation. The sevenfold gradation of mind appears: namely, intuitive self-realization, thinking-desiring-discriminating, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and all their interactions and reactions take their rise.
The discriminating-mind is the cause of the sense-minds and is their support and with them is kept functioning as it describes and becomes attached to a world of objects, and then, by means of its habit-energy, it defiles the face of Universal Mind. Thus Universal Mind becomes the storage and clearinghouse of all the accumulated products of mentation and action since beginning-less time.
Between Universal Mind and the individual discriminating-mind is the intuitive-mind (manas), which is dependent upon Universal Mind for its cause and support and enters into relation with both. It partakes of the universality of Universal Mind, shares its purity, and like it, is above form and momentary-ness. It is through the intuitive-mind that the good non out-flowings emerge, are manifested and are realized. Fortunate it is that intuition is not momentary for if the enlightenment, which comes by intuition, were momentary the wise would loose their “wise-ness” which they do not. But the intuitive-mind enters into relations with the lower mind-system, shares its experiences and reflects upon its activities.
Intuitive-mind is one with Universal Mind by reason of its participation in Transcendental Intelligence (Arya-jnana), and is one with the mind-system by its comprehension of differentiated knowledge (Vijnana). Intuitive-mind has no body of its own nor any marks by which it can be differentiated. Universal Mind is its cause and support but it is evolved along with the notion of an ego and what belongs to it, to which it clings and upon which it reflects. Through intuitive-mind, by the faculty of intuition, which is a mingling of both identity and perceiving, the inconceivable wisdom of Universal Mind is revealed and made realizable. Like Universal Mind it cannot be the source of error.
The discriminating mind is a dancer and a magician with the objective world as his stage. Intuitive-mind is the wise jester who travels with the magician and reflects upon his emptiness and transiency. Universal Mind keeps the record and knows what must be and what may be. It is because of the activities of the discrimination mind that error rises and an objective world evolves and the nation of an ego soul becomes established. If and when the discriminating mind can be gotten rid of, the whole mind system will cease to function and universal Mind will alone remain. Getting rid of the discriminating mind removes the cause of all error.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what is meant by the cessation of the mind-system?
The Blessed One replied: The five sense-functions and their discriminating and thinking function have their risings and complete ending from moment to moment. They are born with discrimination as cause, with form and appearance and objectivity closely linked together as condition. The will-to-live is the mother and ignorance is the father. By setting up names and forms greed is multiplied and thus the mind goes on mutually conditioning and being conditioned. By becoming attached to names and forms, not realizing that they have no more basis than the activities of the mind itself, error rises, false-imagination as to pleasure and pain rises, and the way to emancipation is blocked. The lower system of sense-minds and the discriminating-mind do not really suffer pleasure and pain – they only imagine they do. Pleasure and pain are the deceptive reactions of mortal-mind as it grasps an imaginary objective world.
There are two ways in which the ceasing of the mind-system may take place: as regards form, and as regards continuation. The sense organs function as regards form by the interaction of form, contact and grasping; and they cease to function when this contact is broken. As regards continuation, when these interactions of form, contact and grasping cease, there is no more continuation of the seeing, hearing and other sense functions; with the ceasing of these sense functions, the discriminations, grasping and attachments of the discriminating-mind cease; and with their ceasing act and deed and their habit-energy cease, and there is no more accumulation of karma-defilement on the face of Universal Mind.
If the evolving mortal-mind were of the same nature as Universal Mind the cessation of the lower mind-system would mean the cessation of Universal Mind, but they are different for Universal Mind is not the cause of mortal-mind. There is no cessation of Universal Mind in its pure and essence-nature. What ceases to function is not Universal Mind in its essence-nature, but is the cessation of the effect-producing defilements upon its face that have been caused by the accumulation of the habit-energy of the activities of the discriminating and thinking mortal-mind. There is no cessation of Divine Mind, which in itself, is the abode of Reality and the Womb of Truth.
By the cessation of the sense-minds is meant, not the cessation of their perceiving functions, but the cessation of their discriminating and naming activities, which are centralized, in the discriminating mortal-mind. By the cessation of the mind-system as a whole is meant, the cessation of discrimination, the clearing away of the various attachments, and, therefore, the clearing away of the defilements of habit-energy in the face of Universal Mind which have been accumulating since beginning-less time by reason of these discriminations, attachments, erroneous reasoning’s, and following acts. The cessation of the continuation aspect of the mind-system, namely, the discriminating mortal-mind the entire world of Maya and desire disappears. Getting rid of the discriminating mortal mind. With the cessation of mortal mind the entire world of Maya and desire disappears. Getting rid of the discriminating mortal-mind is Nirvana.
But the cessation of the discriminating-mind cannot take place until there has been a “turning-about” in the deepest seat of consciousness. The mental habit of looking outward by the discriminating-mind upon an external objective world must be given up, and a new habit of realizing Truth within the intuitive-mind by becoming one with the Truth itself must be established. Until this intuitive self-realization of Noble Wisdom is attained, the evolving mind-system will go on. But when an insight into the five Dharmas, the three self-natures, and the twofold ego-less-ness is attained, then the way will be opened for this “turning-about” to take place. With the ending of pleasure and pain, of conflicting ideas, of the disturbing interests of egoism, a state of tranquilization will be attained in which the truths of emancipation will be fully understood and there will be no further evil out-flowings of the mind-system to interfere with the perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Then said Mahamati: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what constitutes Transcendental Intelligence?
The Blessed One replied: Transcendental Intelligence is the inner state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom. It is realized suddenly and intuitively as the “turning-about” takes place in the deepest seat of consciousness; it neither enters nor goes out – it is like the moon seen in water. Transcendental Intelligence is not subject to birth or destruction; it has nothing to do with combination or concordance; it is devoid of attachment and accumulation; it transcends all dualistic concepts.
When Transcendental Intelligence is considered, four things must be kept in mind: words, meanings, teachings and Noble Wisdom (Arya-Prajna). Words are employed to express meanings but they are dependent upon discriminations and memory as cause, and upon the employment of sounds or letters by which a mutual transference of meaning is possible. Words are only symbols and may or may not clearly and fully express the meaning intended and, moreover, words may be understood quite differently from what was intended by the speaker. Words are neither different nor not different from meaning and meaning stands in the same relation to words.
If meaning is different from words it could not be made manifest by means of words; but meaning is illumined by words as things are by a lamp. Words are just like a man carrying a lamp to look for his property, by which he can say: this is my property. Just so, by means of words and speech originating in discrimination, the Bodhisattva can enter into the meaning of the teachings of the Tathágatas and through the meaning he can enter the exalted state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom, which, in itself, is free from word discrimination. But if a man becomes attached to the literal meaning of words and holds fast to the illusion that words and meaning are in agreement, especially in such things as Nirvana which is un-born and un-dying, or as to distinctions of the Vehicles, the five Dharmas, the three self-natures, then he will fail to understand the true meaning and will become entangled in assertions and refutations. Just as varieties of objects are seen and discriminated in dreams and in visions, so ideas and statements are discriminated erroneously and error goes on multiplying.
The ignorant and simple-minded declare that meaning is not otherwise than words that as words are, so is meaning. They think that as meaning has no body of its own that it cannot be different from words and, therefore, declare meaning to be identical to words. In this they are ignorant of the nature of words, which are subject to birth and death, whereas meaning is not; words are dependent upon letters and meaning is not; meaning is apart from existence and non-existence, it has no substratum, it is un-born. The Tathágatas do not teach a Dharma that is dependent upon letters. Anyone who teaches a doctrine that is dependent upon letters and words is a mere prattler, because Truth is beyond letters and words and books.
This does not mean that letters and books never declare what is in conformity with meaning and truth, but it means that words and books are dependent upon discriminations, while meaning and truth are not; moreover, words and books are subject to the interpretation of individual minds, while meaning and truth are not. But if Truth were not expressed in words and books, the scriptures, which contain the meaning of Truth, would disappear, and when the scriptures disappear there will be no more disciples and masters and Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, and there will nothing to teach. But no one must become attached to the words of the scriptures because even the canonical texts sometimes deviate from their straightforward course owing to the imperfect functioning of sentient minds. Religious discourses are given by myself and other Tathágatas in response to the varying needs and faiths of all manner of being, in order to free them from dependence upon the thinking function of the mind-system, but they are not given to take the place of the self-realization of Noble Wisdom. When there is recognition that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the mind itself, all dualistic discriminations will be discarded and the truth of image-less-ness will be understood, and will be seen to be in conformity with the meaning rather than with words and letters.
The ignorant and simple-minded being fascinated with their self-imaginations and erroneous reasoning’s, keep on dancing and leap about, but are unable to understand the discourse by words about the truth of self-realization, much less are they able to understand the Truth itself. Clinging to the external world, they cling to the study of books which are a means only, and do not know properly how to ascertain the truth of self-realization, which is Truth unspoiled by the four propositions. Self-realization is an exalted state of inner attainment which transcends all dualistic thinking and which is above the mind-system with its logic, reasoning, theorizing, and illustrations. The Tathágatas discourse to the ignorant, but sustain Bodhisattvas as they seek self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Therefore, let every disciple take good heed not to become attached to words as being in perfect conformity with meaning, because Truth is not in the letters. When a man with his finger-tip points to something to somebody, the finger-tip may be mistaken for the thing pointed at; in the like manner the ignorant and simple-minded, like children, are unable even to the day of their death to abandon the idea that the finger-tip of words there is meaning itself. They cannot realize Ultimate Reality because of their intent, clinging to words, which were intended to be no more than a pointing finger. Words and their discrimination bind one to the dreary round of rebirths into the world of birth-and-death; meaning stands alone and is a guide to Nirvana. Meaning is attained by much learning, and much learning is attained by becoming conversant with the meaning and not with words; therefore, let seekers for truth reverently approach those who are wise and avoid the sticklers for particular words.
As for teachings: there are priests and popular preachers who are given to ritual and ceremony and who are skilled in the various incantations and in the art of eloquence; they should not be honored nor reverently attended upon, for what one gains from them is emotional excitement and worldly enjoyment; it is not the Dharma. Such preachers, by their clever manipulation of words and phrases and various reasoning’s and incantations, being the mere prattle of a child, as far as one can make out and not at all in accordance with truth nor in unison with meaning, only serves to awaken sentient and emotion, while it stupefies the mind. As he himself does not understand the meaning of all things, he only confuses the minds of his hearers with his dualistic views. Not understanding himself, that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind, and himself attached to the notion of self-nature in external things, and unable to know one path from another, he has no deliverance to offer others. Thus these priests and popular preachers who are clever in various incantations and skilled in the art of eloquence, themselves never being emancipated from such calamities as birth, old age, disease, sorrow, lamentation, pain and despair, lead the ignorant into bewilderment by means of their various words, phrases, examples, and conclusions.
Then there are the materialistic philosophers. No respect nor service is to be shown to them because their teachings, though they may be explained using hundred of thousands of words and phrases, do not go beyond the concerns of this world and this body and in the end they lead to suffering. As the materialists recognize no truth as existing by itself, they are split up into many schools, each of which clings to its own way of reasoning.
But there is that which does not belong to materialism and which is not reached by the knowledge of the philosophers who cling to false-discriminations and erroneous reasoning’s because they fail to see that, fundamentally, there is no reality in external objects. When it is recognized that there is nothing beyond what is seen of the mind itself, the discrimination of being and non-being ceases and, as there is thus no external world of object of perception, nothing remains but the solitude of Reality. This does not belong to the materialistic philosophers; it is the domain of the Tathágatas. If such things are imagined as the coming and going of the mind-system, vanishing and appearing, solicitation, attachment, intense affection, a philosophic hypothesis, a theory, an abode, a sense-concept, atomic attraction, organism, growth, thirst, grasping, these things belong to materialism, they are not mine. These are things that are the object of worldly interest, to be sensed, handled and tasted; these are things that are the object of worldly interest, to be sensed, handled and tasted; these are the things that attract one, that bind one to the external world; these are the things that appear in the elements that make up the aggregates of personality where, owing to the procreative force of lust, there arise all kinds of disaster, birth, sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, disease, old age, death. All these things concern worldly interests and enjoyment; they lie along the path of the philosophers, which is not the path of the dharma. When the true ego-less-ness of things and persons is understood, discrimination ceases to assert itself; the lower mind-system ceases to function; the various Bodhisattva stages are followed one after another; the Bodhisattva is able to utter his ten inexhaustible vows and is anointed by all the Buddhas. The Bodhisattva becomes master of himself and of all things by virtue of a life of spontaneous and radiant effortlessness. Thus the Dharma, which is Transcendental Intelligence, transcends all discriminations, all false-reasoning’s, all philosophical systems, and all dualism.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: In the Scriptures mention is made of the Womb of Tathágata-hood and it is taught that that which is born of it is by nature bright and pure, originally unspotted and endowed with the thirty-two marks of excellence. As it is described it is a precious gem but wrapped in a dirty garment soiled by greed, anger, folly and false-imagination. We are taught that this Buddha-nature immanent in everyone is eternal, unchanging, and auspicious. It is not this, which is born of the Womb of Tathágata-hood the same as the soul-substance that is taught by the philosophers? The Divine Atman as taught by them is also claimed to be eternal, inscrutable, unchanging, and imperishable. Is there, or is there not a difference?
The Blessed One replied: No, Mahamati, my Womb of Tathágata-hood is not the same as the Divine Atman as taught by the philosophers. What I teach is Tathágata-hood in the sense of Dharmakaya, Ultimate Oneness, Nirvana, emptiness, unborn-ness, unqualified ness, devoid of will-effort. The reason why I teach the doctrine of Tathágata-hood is to cause the ignorant and simple-minded to lay aside their fears as they listen to the teaching of ego-less-ness and come to understand the state of non-discrimination and imageless-ness. The religious teaching of the Tathágatas are just like a potter making various vessels by his own skill of hand with the aid of rod, water and thread, out of the one mass of clay, so the Tathágatas by their command of skillful means issuing from Noble Wisdom, by various terms, expressions, and symbols, preach the twofold ego-less-ness in order to remove the last trace of discrimination that is preventing disciples from attaining a self-realization of Noble Wisdom. The doctrine of the Tathágata-womb is disclosed in order to awaken philosophers from their clinging to the notion of a Divine Atman as transcendental personality, so that their minds that have become attached to the imaginary notion of “soul” as being something self-existent may be quickly awakened to a state of perfect enlightenment. All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements, that make up personality, personal soul, Supreme Spirit, Sovereign God, Creator, are all figments of the imagination and manifestations of mind. No, Mahamati, the Tathágata’s doctrine of the Womb of Tathágata-hood is not the same as the philosopher’s Atman.
The Bodhisattva is said to have well grasped the teaching of the Tathágatas when, all alone in a lonely place, by means of his Transcendental Intelligence, he walks the path leading to Nirvana. Thereon his mind will unfold by perceiving, thinking, meditating, and, abiding in the practice of concentration until he attains the “turning-about” at the source of habit-energy, he will thereafter lead a life of excellent deeds. His mind concentrated on the state of Buddhahood, he will become thoroughly conversant with the noble truth of self-realization; he will become perfect master of his own mind; he will be like a gem radiating many colors; he will be able to assume bodies of transformation; he will be able to enter into the minds of all to help them; and; finally, by gradually ascending the stages he will become established in the perfect Transcendental Intelligence of the Tathágatas.
Nevertheless, Transcendental Intelligence (Arya-jnana) is not Noble Wisdom (Arya-prajña) itself, only an intuitive awareness of it. Noble Wisdom is a perfect state of imageless-ness; it is the Womb of “Suchness;” it is the all-conserving Divine Mind (Alaya-Vijnana), which in its pure Essence forever abides in perfect patience and undisturbed tranquility.
Then said Mahamati: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what is the nature of Self-realization by reason of which we shall be able to attain Transcendental Intelligence?
The Blessed One Replied: Transcendental Intelligence rises when the intellectual-mind reaches its limit and, if things are to be realized in their true and essence nature, its processes of mentation, which are based on particularized ideas, discriminations and judgments, must be transcended by an appeal to some higher faculty of cognition, if there be such a higher faculty. There is such a faculty in the intuitive-mind (Manas), which as we have seen is the link between the intellectual-mind and Universal Mind. While it is not an individualized organ like the intellectual-mind, it has that which is much better, direct dependence upon Universal Mind. While intuition does not give information that can be analyzed and discriminated, it gives that which is far superior, self-realization through identification.
Mahamati then asked the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what clear understandings an earnest disciple should have if he is to be successful in the discipline that leads to self-realization?
The Blessed One replied: There are four things by the fulfilling of which an earnest disciple may gain self-realization of Noble Wisdom and become and Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: First, he must have a clear understanding that all things are only manifestations of the mind itself; second, he must discard the notion of birth, abiding and disappearance; third, he must clearly understand the ego-less-ness of both things and persons; and fourth, he must have a true conception of what constitutes self-realization of Noble Wisdom, provided with these four understandings, earnest disciples may become Bodhisattvas and attain Transcendental Intelligence.
As to the first; he must recognize and be fully convinced that this triple world is nothing but a complex manifestation of one’s mental activities; that it is devoid of selfness and its belongings; that there are no strivings, no comings, no goings. He must recognize and accept the fact that this triple world is manifested and imagined as real only under the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulated since the beginning-less past by reason of memory, false-imagination, false-reasoning, and attachments to the multiplicities of objects and reactions in close relationship and in conformity to ideas of body-property-and-abode.
As the to second; he must recognize and be convinced that all things are to be regarded as forms seen in a vision and a dream, empty of substance, un-born and without self-nature; that all things exist only by reason of a complicated network of causation which owes its rise to the discrimination and attachment and which eventuates in the rise of the mind-system and its belongings and evolvements.
As to the third, he must recognize and patiently accept the fact that his own mind and personality is also mind-constructed, that it is empty of substance, unborn and ego-less. With these three things clearly in mind, the Bodhisattva will be able to enter into the truth of image-less-ness.
As to the fourth, he must have a true conception of what constitutes self-realization of Noble Wisdom. First, it is not comparable to the perceptions attained by the sense-mind, and neither is it comparable to the cognition of the discriminating and intellectual-mind. Both of these presuppose a difference between self and not self and the knowledge so attained is characterized by individuality and generality. Self-realization is based on identity and oneness; there is nothing to be discriminated nor predicated concerning it. But to enter into it the Bodhisattva must be free from all presuppositions and attachments to things, ideas and selfness.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, concerning the characteristics of deep attachments to existence and as to how we may become detached from existence?
The Blessed One replied: When one tries to understand the significance of things by means of words and discriminations, there follow immeasurably deep-seated attachments to existence. For instance: there are the deep-seated attachments to signs of individuality, to causation, to the notion of being and non-being, to the discrimination of birth and death, of doing and of not-doing, to the habit of discrimination itself upon which philosophers are so dependent.
There are three attachments that are especially deep-seated in the minds of all: greed, anger and infatuation, which are based on lust, fear and pride. Back of these lies discrimination and desire which is procreative and is accompanied with excitement, avariciousness, and love of comfort and desire for eternal life; and, following, is a succession of rebirths on the five paths of existence and a continuation of attachments. But if these attachments are broken off, no signs of attachment nor of detachment will remain because they are based on things that are non-existent; when this truth is clearly understood the net of attachment is cleared away.
But depending upon and attaching itself to the triple combination which works in unison there is the rising and the continuation of the mind-system incessantly functioning, and because of it there is the deeply-felt and continuous assertion of the will-to-live. When the triple combination that causes the functioning of the mind-system ceases to exist, there is the triple emancipation and there is no further rising of any combination. When the existence and the non-existence of the external world are recognized as rising from the mind itself, then the Bodhisattva is prepared to enter into the state of imageless ness and therein to see into the emptiness which characterizes all discrimination and all the deep-seated attachments resulting there from. Therein he will see no signs of deep-rooted attachment nor detachment; therein he will see no one in bondage and no one in emancipation, expect those who themselves cherish bondage and emancipation, because in all things there is no “substance” to be taken hold of.
But so long as these discriminations are cherished by the ignorant and simple-minded they go on attaching themselves to them and, like the silkworms, go on spinning their thread of discrimination and enwrapping themselves and others, and are charmed with their prison. But to the wise there are no signs of attachment nor of detachment; all things are seen as abiding in solitude where there is no evolving of discrimination. Mahamati, you and all the Bodhisattvas should have your abode where you can see all things from the viewpoint of solitude.
Mahamati, when you and the other Bodhisattvas understand well the distinction between attachment and detachment, you will be in possession of skillful means for avoiding becoming attached to words according to which one proceeds to grasp meanings. Free from the domination of words you will be able to establish yourselves where there will be a “turning-about” in the deepest seat of consciousness by means of which you will attain self-realization of Noble Wisdom and be able to enter into all the Buddha-lands and assemblies. There you will be stamped with the stamp of the powers, self-command, the psychic faculties, and will be endowed with the wisdom and the power of the ten inexhaustible vows, and will become radiant with the variegated rays of the Transformation Bodies. Therewith you will shine without effort like the moon, the sun, the magic wishing-jewel, and at every stage will view things as being of perfect oneness with yourself, uncontaminated by any self-consciousness. Seeing that all things are like a dream, you will be able to enter into the stage of the Tathágatas and be able to deliver the discourses on the Dharma to the world of beings in accordance with their needs and be able to free them from all dualistic notions and false discriminations.
Mahamati, there are two ways of considering self-realization: namely, the teachings about it, and the realization itself. The teachings as variously given in the nine divisions of the doctrinal works, for the instructions of those who are inclined toward it, by making use of skillful means and expedients, are intended to awaken in all beings a true perception of the Dharma. The teachings are designed to keep one away from all the dualistic notions of being and non-being and oneness and otherness.
Realization itself is within the inner consciousness. It is an inner experience that has no connection with the lower mind-system and its discriminations of words, ideas and philosophical speculations. It shines out with its own clear light to reveal the error and foolishness of mind-constructed teachings, to render impotent evil influences from without, and to guide one unerringly to the realm of the good non-out-flowings. Mahamati, when the earnest disciple and Bodhisattva is provided with these requirements, the way is open to his perfect attainment of self-realization of Noble Wisdom, and to the full enjoyment of the fruits that arise there from.
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the One Vehicle which the Blessed One has said characterizes the attainment of the inner self-realization of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: In order to discard more easily discriminations and erroneous reasoning’s, the Bodhisattva should retire by himself to a quiet, secluded place where he may reflect within himself without relying on anyone else, and there let him exert himself to make successive advances along the stages; this solitude is the characteristic feature of the inner attainment of self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
I call this the One Vehicle, not because it is the One Vehicle, but because it is only in solitude that one is able to recognize and realize the path of the One Vehicle. So long as the mind is distracted and is making conscious effort, there can be no culmination as regards the various vehicles; it is only when the mind is alone and quiet that it is able to forsake the discriminations of the external world and seek realization of an inner realm where there is neither vehicle nor one who rides in it. I speak of the three vehicles in order to carry the ignorant. I do not speak much about the One Vehicle because there is no way by which earnest disciples and masters can realize Nirvana, unaided. According to the discourses of the Tathágatas earnest disciples should be segregated, disciplined, and trained in meditation and Dhyana whereby they are aided by many devices and expedients to realize emancipation. It is because earnest disciples and masters have not fully destroyed the habit-energy of karma and the hindrances of discriminative knowledge and human passion that they are often unable to accept the twofold ego-less-ness and the inconceivable transformation death, that I preach the triple vehicle and not the One Vehicle. When earnest disciples have gotten rid of all their evil habit-energy and been able to realize the twofold ego-less-ness, then they will not be intoxicated by the bliss of the Samádhis and will be awakened into the super-realm of the good non-out-flowings. Being awakened into the realm of the good non-out-flowings, they will be able to gather up all the requisites for the attainment of Noble Wisdom, which is beyond conception and is of sovereign power. But really, Mahamati, there are no vehicles, and so I speak of the One Vehicle. Mahamati, the full recognition of the One Vehicle has never been attained by either earnest disciples, masters, or even by the great Brahma; it has been attained only by the Tathágatas themselves. That is the reason that it is known as the One Vehicle. I do not speak much about it because there is no way by which earnest disciples can realize Nirvana unaided.
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One, saying: What are the steps that will lead an awakened disciple toward the self-realization of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: The beginning lies in the recognition that the external world is only a manifestation of the activities of the mind itself, and that the mind grasps it as an external world simply because of its habit of discrimination and false reasoning. The disciple must get into the habit of looking at things truthfully. He must recognize the fact that the world has no self-nature that it is un-born, that it is like a passing cloud, like an imaginary wheel made by a revolving firebrand, like the castle of the Gandharvas, like the moon reflected in the ocean, like a vision, a mirage, a dream. He must come to understand that mind in its essence-nature has nothing to do with discrimination nor causation; he must not listen to discourses based on the imaginary terms and qualifications; he must understand that Universal Mind in its pure essence is a state of image-less-ness, that it is only because of the accumulated defilements on its face that body-property-and-abode appear to be its manifestations, that in its own pure nature it is unaffected and unaffecting by such changes as rising, abiding and destruction; he must fully understand that all these things come with the awakening of the notion of an ego-soul and its conscious mind. Therefore, Mahamati, let those disciples who wish to realize Noble Wisdom by following the Tathágata Vehicle desist from all discrimination and erroneous reasoning about such notions as the elements that make up the aggregates of personality and its sense-world or about such ideas as causation, rising, abiding and destruction, and exercise themselves in the discipline of Dhyana that leads to the realization of Noble Wisdom.
To practice Dhyana, the earnest disciple should retire to a quiet and solitary place, remembering that life-long habits of discriminative thinking cannot be broken off easily nor quickly. There are four kinds of concentrative meditation (Dhyana): The Dhyana practiced by the ignorant; the Dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning; the Dhyana with “Suchness” (Tathata) for its object; and the Dhyana of the Tathágatas.
The Dhyana practiced by the ignorant is the one resorted to by those who are following the example of the disciples and masters but who do not understand its purpose and, therefore, it becomes “still-sitting” with vacant minds. This Dhyana is practiced, also, by those who, despising the body, see it as a shadow and a skeleton full of suffering and impurity, and yet who cling to the notion of an ego, seek to attain emancipation by the mere cessation of thought.
The Dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning, is the one practiced by those who, perceiving the un-tenability of such ideas as self, other and both, which are held by the philosophers, and who have passed beyond the twofold-ego-less-ness, devote Dhyana to an examination of the significance of ego-less-ness and the differentiations of the Bodhisattvas stages.
The Dhyana with Tathata, or “Suchness”, or Oneness, or Divine Name, for its object is practiced by those earnest disciples and masters who, while fully recognizing the twofold ego-less-ness and the imageless-ness of Tathata, yet cling to the notion of an ultimate Tathata.
The Dhyana of the Tathágatas is the Dhyana of those who are entering upon the stage of Tathágata-hood and who, abiding in the triple bliss, which characterizes the self-realization of Noble Wisdom, are devoting themselves for the sake of all beings to the accomplishment of incomprehensible works for their emancipation. This is the pure Dhyana of the Tathágatas. When all lesser things and ideas are transcended and forgotten, and there remains only a perfect state of imageless-ness where Tathágata and Tathata are merged into perfect Oneness, then the Buddhas will come together from all their Buddha-lands and with shining hands resting on his forehead will welcome a new Tathágata.
The Attainment of Self-Realization
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Pray tell us more as to what constitutes the state of self-realization?
The Blessed One replied: In the life of an earnest disciple there are two aspects that are to be distinguished: namely, the state of attachment to the self-natures arising from discrimination of himself and his field of consciousness to which he is related; and second, the excellent and exalted state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom. The state of attachment to the discriminations of the self-natures of things, ideas, and selfhood is accompanied by emotions of pleasure or aversion according to experience or as laid down in books of logic. Conforming himself to the ego-less-ness of things and holding back wrong views as to his own ego-ness, he should abandon these thoughts and hold himself firmly to the continuously ascending journey of the stages.
The exalted state of self-realization as it relates to an earnest disciple is a state of mental concentration in which he seeks to identify himself with Noble Wisdom. In that effort he must seek to annihilate all vagrant thoughts and notions belonging to the externality of things, and all ideas of individuality and generality, of suffering and impermanence, and cultivate the noblest ideas of ego-less-ness and emptiness and imageless-ness; thus will he attain a realization of truth that is free from passion and is ever serene. When this active effort at mental concentration is successful it is followed by a more passive, receptive state of Samádhi in which the earnest disciple will enter into the blissful abode of Noble Wisdom and experience its consummations in the transformations of Samapatti. This is an earnest disciple’s first experience of the exalted state of realization, but as yet there is no discarding of habit-energy nor escaping from the transformation of death.
Having attained this exalted and blissful state of realization as far as it can be attained by disciples, the Bodhisattva must not give himself up to the enjoyment of its bliss, for that would mean cessation, but should think compassionately of other beings and keep ever fresh his original vows; he should never let himself rest nor exert himself in the bliss of the Samádhis.
But, Mahamati, as earnest disciples go on trying to advance on the path that leads to full realization, there is one danger against which they must be on their guard. Disciples may not appreciate that the mind-system, because of its accumulated habit-energy, goes on functioning, more or less unconsciously, as long as they live. They may sometimes think that they can expedite the attainment of their goal of tranquilization by entirely suppressing the activities of the mind-system. This is a mistake, for even if the activities of the mind are suppressed, the mind will still go on functioning because the seeds of habit-energy will still remain in it. What they think is extinction of mind, is really the non-functioning of the mind’s external world to which they are no longer attached. That is, the goal if tranquilization is to be reached not by suppressing all mind activity but by getting rid of discriminations and attachments.
Then there are others who, afraid of the suffering incident to the discriminations of life and death, unwisely seek Nirvana. They have come to see that all things subject to discrimination have no reality and so imagine that Nirvana must consist in the annihilation of the senses and their fields of sensation; they do not appreciate that birth-and-death and Nirvana are not separate one from the other. They do not know that Nirvana is Universal Mind in its purity. Therefore, these stupid ones who cling to the notion that Nirvana is a world by itself that is outside what is seen of the mind, ignoring all the teachings of the Tathágatas concerning the external world, go on rolling themselves along the wheel of birth-and-death. But when they experience the “turning-about” in their deepest consciousness, which will bring with it the perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom, then they will understand.
The true functioning of the mind is very subtle and difficult to be understood by young disciples, even masters with all their powers of right-knowledge and Samádhis often find it baffling. It is only the Tathágatas and the Bodhisattvas who are firmly established on the seventh stage who can fully understand its workings. Those earnest disciples and masters who wish to fully understand all the aspects of the different stages of Bodhisattva-hood by the aid of their right-knowledge must do so by becoming thoroughly convinced that objects of discrimination are only seen to be so by the mind and, thus, by keeping themselves away from all discriminations and false reasoning’s which are also of the mind itself, by ever seeking to see things truly (yathabhutam), and by planting roots of goodness in Buddha-lands that know no limits made by differentiations.
To do all this, the Bodhisattva should keep himself away from all turmoil, social excitements and sleepiness; let him keep away from the treatises and writings of worldly philosophers, and from the ritual and ceremonies of professional priest-craft. Let him retire to a secluded place in the forest and there devote himself to the practice of the various spiritual disciplines, because it is only by so doing that he will become capable of attaining in this world of multiplicities a true insight into the workings of Universal Mind in its Essence. There surrounded by his good friends the Buddhas, earnest disciples will become capable of understanding the significance of the mind-system and its place as a mediating agent between the external world and the Universal Mind and he will become capable of crossing the ocean of birth-and-death, which rises from ignorance, desire and deed.
Having gained a thorough understanding of the mind-system, the three self-natures, the twofold ego-less-ness, and established himself in the measure of self-realization that goes with that attainment, all of which may be gained by his right-knowledge, the way will be clear for the Bodhisattva’s further advance along the stages of Bodhisattva-hood. The disciple should then abandon the understanding of mind which he has gained by right-knowledge, which in comparison with Noble Wisdom is like a lame donkey, and entering on the eighth stage of Bodhisattva-hood, he should then disciple himself in Noble Wisdom according to its three aspects.
These aspects are: First, imageless-ness, which comes forth when all things belonging to discipleship, mastership, and philosophy are thoroughly mastered. Second, the power added by all the Buddhas by reason of their original vows including the identification of their lives and the sharing of their merit with all sentient lives. Third, the perfect self-realization that thus far has only been realized in a measure, as the Bodhisattva succeeds in detaching himself from viewing all things, including his own imagined ego-ness, in their phenomenality, and realizes the states of Samádhi and Samapatti whereby he surveys the world as a vision and a dream, and being sustained by all the Buddhas, he will be able to pass on to the full attainment of the Tathágata stage, which is Noble Wisdom itself. This is the triplicity of the noble life and being furnished with this triplicity the perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom has been attained.
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One, saying: Blessed One, is the purification of the evil out-flowings of the mind which come from clinging to the notions of an objective world and an empirical soul, gradual or instantaneous?
The Blessed One replied: There are three characteristic out-flows of the mind, namely, the evil out-flowings that rise from thirst, grasping and attachment; the evil out-flowings that arise from the illusions of the mind and the infatuations of egoism; and the good non-out-flowings that arise from Noble Wisdom.
The evil out-flowings that take place from recognizing an external world, which in truth is only a manifestation of mind, and from becoming attached to it, are gradually purified and not instantaneously. Good behavior can only come by the path of restraint and effort. It is like a potter making pots that is done gradually and with attention and effort. It is like the mastery of comedy, dancing, singing, lute playing, writing, and any other art; it must be acquired gradually and laboriously. Its reward will be a clearing insight into the emptiness and transiency of all things.
The evil out-flowings that arise from the illusions of the mind and the infatuations of egoism, concerns the mental life more directly and are such things as fear, anger, hatred and pride; these are purified by study and meditation and that, too, must be attained gradually and not instantaneously. It is like the ‘amra’ fruit that ripens slowly; it is like grass, shrubs, herbs and trees that grow up from the earth gradually. Each must follow the path of study and meditation by himself gradually and with effort, but because of the original vows of the Bodhisattvas and all the Tathágatas who have devoted their merits and identified their lives with all animate life that all may be emancipated, they are not without aid and encouragement; but even with the aid of the Tathágatas, the purification of the evil out-flowings of the mind are at best slow and gradual, requiring both zeal and patience. Its reward is the gradual understanding of the twofold ego-less-ness and its patience acceptance, and the feet well set on the stages of Bodhisattva-hood.
But the good non-out-flowings that come with the self-realization of Noble Wisdom is a purification that comes instantaneously by the grace of the Tathágatas. It is like a mirror reflecting all forms and images instantaneously and without discrimination; it is like the sun or moon revealing all forms instantaneously and illuminating them dispassionately with its light. In the same way the Tathágatas lead earnest disciples to a state of imageless-ness; all the accumulations of habit-energy and karma that had been collecting since beginning-less time because of attachment to erroneous views which have been entertained regarding an ego-soul and its external world, are cleared away, revealing instantaneously the realm of Transcendental Intelligence that belongs to Buddhahood. Just as Universal Mind defiled by accumulations of habit-energy and karma reveals multiplicities of ego-souls and their external worlds of false-imagination, so Universal Mind cleared of its defilements through the gradual purifications of the evil out-flowings that come by effort, study and meditation, and by the gradual self-realization of Noble Wisdom, at the long last, like the Dharmata Buddha shining forth spontaneously with the rays that issue from its pure Self-nature, shines forth instantaneously. By it the mentality of all Bodhisattvas is matured instantaneously: they find themselves in the palatial abodes of the Akanishtha heavens, themselves spontaneously radiating the various treasures of its spiritual abundance.
The Fruit of Self-Realization
Mahamati asked the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what is the fruitage that comes with the self-realization of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: First, there will come a clearing insight into the meaning and significance of things and following that will come an unfolding insight into the significance of the spiritual ideals (Paramitas) by reason of which the Bodhisattvas will be able to enter more deeply into the abode of imageless-ness and be able to experience the higher Samádhis and gradually to pass through the higher stages of Bodhisattva-hood.
After experiencing the “turning-about” in the deepest seat of consciousness, they will experience other Samádhis even to the highest, the Vajravimbopama, which belongs to the Tathágatas and their transformations. They will be able to enter into the realm of consciousness that lies beyond the consciousness of the mind-system, even the consciousness of Tathágata-hood. They will become endowed with all the powers, psychic faculties, self-mastery, loving compassion, skillful means, and ability to enter into other Buddha-lands. Before they had attained self-realization of Noble Wisdom they had been influenced by the self-interests of egoism, but after they attain self-realization they will find themselves reacting spontaneously to the impulses of a great and compassionate heart endowed with skillful and boundless means and sincerely and wholly devoted to the emancipation of all beings.
Mahamati said: Blessed One, tell us about the sustaining power of the Tathágatas by which the Bodhisattvas are aided to attain self-realization of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: There are two kinds of sustaining power, which issue from the Tathágatas and are at the service of the Bodhisattvas, sustained by which the Bodhisattvas should prostrate themselves before them and show their appreciation by asking questions. The first kind of sustaining power is the Bodhisattva’s own adoration and faith in the Buddhas by reason of which the Buddhas are able to manifest themselves and render their aid and to ordain them with their own hands. The second kind of sustaining power is the power radiating from the Tathágatas that enables the Bodhisattvas to attain and to pass through the various Samádhis and Samapattis without becoming intoxicated by their bliss.
Being sustained by the power of the Buddhas, the Bodhisattva even at the first stage will be able to attain the Samádhi known as the Light of Mahayana. In that Samádhi Bodhisattvas will become conscious of the presence of the Tathágatas coming from all their different abodes in the ten quarters to impart to the Bodhisattvas their sustaining power in various ways. As the Bodhisattva Vajragarbha was sustained in his Samádhis and as many other Bodhisattvas of like degree and virtue have been sustained, so all earnest disciples and masters and Bodhisattvas may experience this sustaining power of the Buddhas in their Samádhis and Samapattis. The disciple’s faith and the Tathágata’s merit are two aspects of the same sustaining power and by it alone are the Bodhisattvas enabled to become one with the company of the Buddhas.
Whatever Samádhis, psychic faculties and teachings are realized by the Bodhisattvas, they are made possible only by the sustaining power of the Buddhas; if it were otherwise, the ignorant and the simple-minded might attain the same fruitage. Wherever the Tathágatas enter with their sustaining power there will be music, not only music made by human lips and played by human hands on various instruments, but there will be music among the grass and shrubs and trees, and in the mountains and towns and palaces and hovels; much more will there be music in the heart of those endowed with sentiency. The deaf, dumb and blind will be cured of their deficiencies and will rejoice in their emancipation. Such is the extraordinary virtue of the sustaining power imparted by the Tathágatas.
By the bestowal of this sustaining power, the Bodhisattvas are enabled to avoid the evils of passion, hatred and enslaving karma; they are enabled to transcend the Dhyana of the beginners and to advance beyond the experience and truth already attained; they are enabled to demonstrate the Paramitas; and finally, to attain the stage of Tathágata-hood. Mahamati, if it were not for this sustaining power, they would relapse into the ways and thoughts of the philosophers, easy-going disciples and the evil-minded, and would thus fall short of the highest attainment. For these reasons, earnest disciples and sincere Bodhisattvas are sustained by the power of all the Tathágatas.
Then said Mahamati: It has been said by the Blessed One that by fulfilling the six Paramitas, Buddhahood is realized. Pray tell us what the Paramitas are, and how they are to be fulfilled?
The Blessed One replied: The Paramitas are ideals of spiritual perfection that are to be the guide of the Bodhisattvas on the path to self-realization. There are six of them but they are to be considered in three different ways according to the progress of the Bodhisattva on the stages. At first they are to be considered as ideals for the worldly life; next as ideals for the mental life; and, lastly, as ideals of the spiritual and unitive life.
In the worldly life where one is still holding tenaciously to the notions of an ego-soul and what concerns it and holding fast to the discriminations of dualism, if only for worldly benefits, one should cherish ideals of charity, good behavior, patience, zeal, thoughtfulness and wisdom. Even in the worldly life the practice of these virtues will bring rewards of happiness and success.
Much more in the mind-world of earnest disciples and masters will their practice bring joys of emancipation, enlightenment and peace of mind, because the Paramitas are grounded on right-knowledge and lead to thoughts of Nirvana, even if the Nirvana of their thoughts is for themselves. In the mind-world the Paramitas become more ideal and more sympathetic; charity can no longer be expressed in the giving of impersonal gifts but will call for the more costly gifts of sympathy and understanding; good behavior will call for something more than outward conformity to the five precepts because in the light of the Paramitas they must practice humility, simplicity, restraint and self-giving. Patience will call for something more than forbearance with external circumstances and the temperaments of other people: it will now call for patience with one’s self. Zeal will call for something more than industry and outward show of earnestness: it will call for more self-control in the task of following the Noble Path and in manifesting the Dharma in one’s own life. Thoughtfulness will give way to mindfulness wherein discriminated meanings and logical deductions and rationalizations will give way to intuitions of significance and spirit. The Paramita of Wisdom (Prajna) will no longer be concerned with pragmatic wisdom and erudition, but will reveal itself in its true perfect-ness of All-inclusive Truth, which is Love.
The third aspect of the Paramitas as seen in the ideal perfection of the Tathágatas can only be fully understood by the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who are devoted to the highest spiritual discipline and have fully understood that there is nothing to be seen in the world but that which issues from the mind itself; in whose minds the discrimination of dualities has ceased to function; and seizing and clinging has become non-existent. Thus free from all attachments to individual objects and ideas, their minds are free to consider ways of benefiting and giving happiness to others, even to all sentient beings. To the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas the ideal of charity is shown in the self-yielding of the Tathágata’s hope of Nirvana that all may enjoy it together. While having relations with an objective world there is no rising in the minds of the Tathágatas of discriminations between the interests of self and the interests of others, between good and evil, there is just the spontaneity and effortless actuality of perfect behavior. To practice patience with full knowledge of this and that, of grasp and grasping, but with no thought of discrimination nor of attachment, that is the Tathágatas Paramita of Patience. To exert oneself with energy from the first part of the night to its end in conformity with the disciplinary measures with no rising of discrimination as to comfort or discomfort, that is the Tathágata’s Paramita of Zeal. Not to discriminate between self and others in thoughts of Nirvana, but to keep the mind fixed on Nirvana, that is the Paramita of Mindfulness. As to the Prajna-Paramita, which is Noble Wisdom, who can predicate it? When in Samádhi the mind ceases to discriminate and there is only perfect and love-filled imageless-ness, then an inscrutable “turning-about” will take place in the inmost consciousness and one will have attained self-realization of Noble Wisdom that is the highest Prajna-Paramita.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: You have spoken of an astral-body, a “mind-vision-body” (manomayakaya) which the Bodhisattvas are able to assume, as being one of the fruits of self-realization of Noble Wisdom: pray tell us, Blessed One, what is meant by such a transcendental body?
The Blessed One replied: There are three kinds of such transcendental bodies: First, there is one in which the Bodhisattva attains enjoyment of the Samádhis and Samapattis. Second, there is the one, which is assumed by the Tathágatas according to the class of beings to be sustained, and which achieves and perfects spontaneously with no attachment and no effort. Third, there is the one in which the Tathágatas receive their intuition of Dharmakaya.
The transcendental personality that enters into the enjoyment of the Samádhis comes with the third, fourth and fifth stages as the mentations of the mind-system become quieted and waves of consciousness are no more stirred on the face of Universal Mind. In this state, the conscious-mind is still aware, in a measure, of the bliss being experienced by this cessation of the mind’s activities.
The second kind of transcendental personality is the kind assumed by Bodhisattvas and Tathágatas as bodies of transformation by which they demonstrate their original vows in the work of achieving and perfecting; it comes with the eighth stage of Bodhisattva-hood. When the Bodhisattva has a thoroughgoing penetration into the Maya-like nature of things and understands the dharma of imageless-ness, he will experience the “turning-about” in his deepest consciousness and will become able to experience the higher Samádhis even to the highest. By entering into these exalted Samádhis he attains a personality that transcends the conscious-mind, by reason of which he obtains supernatural powers of self-mastery and activities because of which he is able to move as he wishes, as quickly as a dream changes as quickly as an image changes in a mirror. This transcendental body is not a product of the elements and yet there is something in it that is analogous to what is so produced; it is furnished with all the differences appertaining to the world of form but without their limitations; possessed of this “mind-vision-body” he is able to be present in all the assemblages in all the Buddha-lands. Just as his thoughts move instantly and without hindrance over walls, rivers, trees, and mountains, and just as in memory he recalls and visits the scenes of his past experiences, so, while his mind keeps functioning in the body, his thoughts may be a hundred thousand yojanas away. In the same fashion the transcendental personality that experiences the Samádhi Vajravimbopama will be endowed with supernatural powers and psychic faculties and self-mastery by reason of which he will be able to follow the noble paths that lead to the assemblages of the Buddhas, moving about as freely as he may wish. But his wishes will no longer be self-centered nor tainted by discrimination and attachment, for this transcendental personality is not his old body, but is the transcendental embodiment of his original vows of self-yielding in order to bring all beings to maturity.
The third kind of transcendental personality is so ineffable that it is able to attain intuitions of the Dharmakaya, that is, it attains intuitions of the boundless and inscrutable cognition of Universal Mind. As Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas attain the highest of the stages and become conversant with all the treasures to be realized in Noble Wisdom, they will attain this inconceivable transformation-body which is the true nature of all the Tathágatas past, present and future, and will participate in the blissful peace which pervades the Dharma of all the Buddhas.
Discipleship: Lineage of the Arhats
Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One: Pray tell us how many kinds of disciples there are?
The Blessed One replied: There are as many kinds of disciples as there are individuals, but for convenience they may be divided into two groups: disciples of the lineage of the Arhats, and disciples known as Bodhisattvas. Disciples of the lineage of the Arhats may be considered under two aspects: First, according to the number of times they will return to this life of birth-and-death; and second, according to their spiritual progress. Under the first aspect, they may be subdivided into three groups: The “Stream-entered,” the “Once-returning,” and the “Never-returning.”
The Stream-entered are those disciples, who having freed themselves from the attachments to the lower discriminations and who have cleansed themselves from the twofold hindrances and who clearly understand the meaning of the twofold ego-less-ness, yet who still cling to the notion of individuality and generality and to their own ego-ness. They will advance along the stages to the sixth only to succumb to the entrancing bliss of the Samádhis. They will be reborn seven times, or five times, or three times, before they will be able to pass the sixth stage. The Once-returning are the Arhats, and the Never-returning are the Bodhisattvas who have reached the seventh stage.
The reasons for these gradations is because of their attachment to the three degrees of false-imagination: namely, faith in moral practices, doubt, and the view of their individual personality. When these three hindrances are overcome, they will be able to attain the higher stages. As to moral practices: the ignorant, simple-minded disciples obey the rules of morality, piety and penance, because they desire thereby to gain worldly advancement and happiness, with the added hope of being reborn in more favorable conditions. The Stream-entered ones do not cling to moral practices for any hope of reward for their minds are fixed on the exalted state of self-realization; the reason they devote themselves to the details of morality is that they wish to master such truths as are in conformity with the undefiled out-flowings. As regards the hindrance of doubt in the Buddha’s teaching, that will continue so long as any of the notions of discrimination are cherished and will disappear when they disappear. Attachment to the view of individual personality will be gotten rid of as the disciple gains a more thorough understanding of the notions of being and non-being, self-nature and ego-less-ness, thereby getting rid of the attachments to his own selfness that goes with those discriminations. By breaking up and clearing away these three hindrances the Stream-entered one will be able to discard all greed, anger and folly.
As for the Once-returning Arhats; there was once in them the discrimination of form, signs, and appearances, but as they gradually learned by right-knowledge not to view individual objects under the aspect of quality and qualifying, and as they became acquainted with what marks the attainment of the practice of Dhyana, they have reached the stage of enlightenment where in one more rebirth they will be able to put an end to the clinging to their own self-interests. Free from this burden of error and its attachments, the passions will no more assert themselves and the hindrances will be cleared away forever.
Under the second aspect disciples may be grouped according to the spiritual progress they have attained, into four classes, namely, disciples (Sravaka), masters (Pratyekabuddha), Arhats, and Bodhisattvas.
The first class of disciples means well but they find it difficult to understand unfamiliar ideas. Their minds are joyful when studying about and practicing the things belonging to appearances that can be discriminated, but they become confused by the notion of an uninterrupted chain of causation, and they become fearful when they consider the aggregates that make up personality and its object world as being Maya-like, empty and ego-less. They were able to advance to the fifth or sixth stage where they are able to do away with the rising of passions, but not with the notions that give rise to passion and, therefore, they are unable to get rid of the clinging to an ego-soul and its accompanying attachments, habits and habit-energy. In this same class the disciples are the earnest disciples of other faiths, who clinging to the notions of such things as, the soul as an external entity, Supreme Atman, Personal God, seek a Nirvana that is in harmony with them. There are others, more materialistic in their ideas, who think that all things exist in dependence upon causation and, therefore, that Nirvana must be in like dependence. But none of these, earnest though they be, have gained an insight into the truth of the twofold ego-less-ness and are, therefore, of limited spiritual insights as regards deliverance and non-deliverance; for them there is no emancipation. They have great self-confidence but they can never gain a true knowledge of Nirvana until they have learned to disciple themselves in the patient acceptance of the twofold ego-less-ness.
The second class of masters are those who have gained a high degree of intellectual understanding of the truths concerning the aggregates that make up personality and its external world but who are filled with fear when they face the significance and consequences of these truths, and the demands which their learning makes upon them, that is, not to become attached to the external world and its manifold forms making for comfort and power, and to keep away from the entanglements of its social relations. They are attracted by the possibilities that are attainable by so doing, namely, the possession of miraculous powers such as dividing the personality and appearing in different places at the same time, or manifesting bodies of transformation. To gain these powers they even resort to the solitary life, but this class of master never gets beyond the seductions of their learning and egoism, and their discourses are always in conformity with that characteristic and limitation. Among them are many earnest disciples who show a degree of spiritual insight that is characterized by sincerity and undismayed willingness to meet all the demands that the stages make upon them. When they see that all that makes up the objective world is only a manifestation of mind, that it is without self-nature, un-born and ego-less, they accept it without fear, and when they see their own ego-soul is also empty, un-born and ego-less, they are untroubled and undismayed, with earnest purpose they seek to adjust their lives to the full demands of these truths, but they cannot forget the notions that lie back of these facts, especially the notion of their own conscious ego-self and its relation to Nirvana. They are of the Stream-entered class.
The class known as Arhats are those earnest masters who belong to the returning class. But their spiritual insight they have reached the sixth and seventh stages. They have thoroughly understood the truth of the twofold ego-less-ness and the imageless-ness of Reality; with them there is no more discrimination, nor passions, nor pride of egoism; they have gained an exalted insight and seen into the immensity of the Buddha-lands. By attaining an inner perception of the true nature of Universal Mind they are steadily purifying their habit-energy. The Arhats has attained emancipation, enlightenment, the Dhyanas, the Samádhis, and his whole attention is given to the attainment of Nirvana, but the idea of Nirvana causes mental perturbations because he has the wrong idea of Nirvana. The notions of Nirvana in his mind are divided: he discriminates Nirvana from self, and self from others. He has attained some of the fruits of self-realization but he still thinks and discourses on the Dhyanas, subjects for meditation, the Samádhis, the fruits. He pride-fully says: “There are fetters, but I am disengaged from them.” His is a double fault: he both denounces the vices of the ego, and still cling to its fetters. So long as he continues to discriminate notions of Dhyana, Dhyana practice, subjects for Dhyana, right-knowledge and truth, there is a bewildered state of mind; he has not attained perfect emancipation. Emancipation comes with the acceptance of imageless-ness.
He is master of the Dhyanas and enters into the Samádhis, but to reach the higher stages one must pass beyond the Dhyanas, the immeasurables, the world of no-form, and the bliss of the Samádhis into the Samapattis leading to the cessation of thought itself. The Dhyana practitioner, Dhyana, the subject of Dhyana, the cessation of thought, once-returning, never-returning, all these are divided and bewildering states of mind. Not until all discrimination is abandoned is there perfect emancipation. Thus the Arhats, master of the Dhyanas, participating in the Samádhis, but unsupported by the Buddhas yields to the entrancing bliss of the Samádhis – and passes to his Nirvana.
Disciples and masters and Arhats may ascend the stages up to the sixth. They perceive that the triple world is no more than mind itself; they perceive that there is no becoming attached to the multiplicities of external objects except through the discriminations and activities of the mind itself; they perceive that there is no ego-soul; and, therefore, they attain a measure of tranquilization. But their tranquilization is not perfect every minute of their lives, for with them there is something effect producing, some grasped and grasping, some lingering trace of dualism and egoism. Though disengaged from the actively functioning passions they are still bound in with the habit energy of passion and, becoming intoxicated with the wine of the Samádhis, they will have their abode in the realm of the out-flowings. Perfect tranquilization is possible only with the seventh stage. So long as their minds are in confusion, they cannot attain to a clear conviction as to the cessation of all multiplicity and the actuality of the perfect oneness of all things. In their minds the self-nature of things is still discriminated as good and bad, therefore, their minds are in confusion and they cannot pass beyond the sixth stage. But at the sixth stage all discrimination ceases as they become engrossed in the bliss of the Samádhis wherein they cherish the thought of Nirvana and, as Nirvana is possible at the sixth stage, they pass into their Nirvana, but it is not the Nirvana of the Buddhas.
Bodhisattva-hood and Its Stages
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Will you tell us now about the disciples who are Bodhisattvas?
The Blessed One replied: The Bodhisattvas are those earnest disciples who are enlightened by reason of their efforts to attain self-realization of Noble Wisdom and who have taken upon themselves the task of enlightening others. They have gained a clear understanding of the truth that all things are empty, un-born, and of a Maya-like nature; they have ceased from viewing things discriminatively and from considering them in their relations; they thoroughly understand the truth of twofold ego-less-ness and have adjusted themselves to it with patient acceptance; they have attained a definite realization of image-less-ness; and they are abiding in the perfect-knowledge that they have gained by self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Well stamped by the seal of “Suchness” they entered upon the first of the Bodhisattva stages. The first stage is called the stage of Joy (Pranudita). Entering this stage is like passing out of the glare of the shadows into a realm of “no-shadows”; it is like passing out of the noise and tumult of the crowded city into the quietness of solitude. The Bodhisattva feels within himself the awakening of a great heart of compassion and he utters his ten original vows: To honor and serve all Buddhas; to spread the knowledge and practice of the Dharma; to welcome all coming Buddhas; to practice the six Paramitas; to persuade all beings to embrace the Dharma; to attain a perfect understanding of the universe; to attain a perfect understanding of the mutuality of all beings; to attain perfect self-realization of the oneness of all the Buddhas and Tathágatas in self-nature, purpose and resources; to become acquainted with all skillful means for the carrying out of these vows for the emancipation of all beings; to realize supreme enlightenment through the perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom, ascending the stages and entering Tathágata-hood.
In the spirit of these vows the Bodhisattva gradually ascends the stages to the sixth. All earnest disciples, masters and Arhats have ascended thus far, but being enchanted by the bliss of the Samádhis and not being supported by the powers of the Buddhas, they pass to their Nirvana. The same fate would befall the Bodhisattvas except for the sustaining power of the Buddhas, by that they are enabled to refuse to enter Nirvana until all beings can enter Nirvana with them. The Tathágatas point out to them the virtues of Buddhahood, which are beyond the conception of the intellectual-mind, and they encourage and strengthen the Bodhisattvas not to give in to the enchantment of the bliss of the Samádhis, but to press on to further advancement along the stages. If the Bodhisattvas had entered Nirvana at this stage, and they would have done so without the sustaining power of the Buddhas, there would have been the cessation of all things and the family of the Tathágatas would have become extinct.
Strengthened by the new strength that comes to them from the Buddhas and with more perfect insight that is theirs by reason of their advance in self-realization of Noble Wisdom, they re-examine the nature of the mind-system, the ego-less-ness of personality, and the part that grasping and attachment and habit-energy play in the unfolding drama of life; they re-examine the illusions of the fourfold logical analysis, and the various elements that enter into enlightenment and self-realization, and, in the thrill of their new powers of self-mastery, the Bodhisattvas enter upon the seventh stage of Far-going (Durangama).
Supported by the sustaining power of the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas at this stage enter into the bliss of the Samádhi of perfect tranquilization. Owing to their original vows they are transported by emotions of love and compassion as they become aware of the part they are to perform in the carrying out of their vows for emancipation of all beings. Thus they do not enter into Nirvana, but, in truth, they too are already in Nirvana because in their emotions of love and compassion there is no rising of discrimination; henceforth, with them, discrimination no more takes place. Because of Transcendental Intelligence only one conception is present – the promotion of the realization of Noble Wisdom. This is called the Bodhisattva’s Nirvana – the losing oneself in the bliss of perfect self-yielding. This is the seventh stage, the stage of Far-going.
The eighth stage is the stage of No-recession (Acala). Up to this stage, because of the defilements upon the face of Universal Mind caused by the accumulation of habit-energy since beginning-less time, the mind-system and all that pertains to it has been evolved and sustained. The mind-system functioned by the discriminations of an external and objective world to which it became attached and by which it was perpetuated. But with the Bodhisattva’s attainment of the eighth stage there come a “turning-about” within his deepest seat of consciousness from self-centered egoism to universal compassion for all beings, by which he attains perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom. There is an instant of cessation of the delusive activities of the whole mind-system; the dancing of the waves of habit-energy on the face of Universal Mind are forever stilled, revealing its own inherent quietness and solitude, the inconceivable Oneness of the Womb of Tathágata-hood.
Henceforth there is no more looking outward upon an external world by senses and sense-minds, nor a discrimination of particularized concepts and ideas and propositions by an intellectual-mind, no more grasping, nor attachment, nor pride of egoism, nor habit-energy. Henceforth there is only the inner experience of Noble Wisdom, which has been attained by entering into its perfect Oneness.
Thus establishing himself at the eighth stage of No-recession, the Bodhisattva enters into the bliss of the ten Samádhis, but avoiding the path of the disciples and masters who yielded themselves up to their entrancing bliss and who passed to their Nirvanas, and supported by his vows and the Transcendental Intelligence which now is his and being sustained by the power of the Buddhas, he enters upon the higher paths that lead to Tathágata-hood. He passes through the bliss of the Samádhis to assume the transformation body of a Tathágata that through him all beings may be emancipated. Mahamati, If there had been no Tathágata-womb and no Divine Mind then there would have been no rising and disappearance of the aggregates that make up personality and its external world, no rising and disappearance of ignorant people nor holy people, and no task for Bodhisattvas; therefore, while walking in the path of self-realization and entering into the enjoyments of the Samádhis, you must never abandon working hard for the emancipation of all beings and your self-yielding love will never be in vain. To philosophers the conception of Tathágata-womb seems devoid of purity and soiled by these external manifestations, but it is not so understood by the Tathágatas, to them it is not a proposition of philosophy but an intuitive experience as real as though it was an amalaka fruit held in the palm of the hand.
With the cessation of the mind-system and all its evolving discriminations, there is cessation of all strain and effort. It is like a man in a dream who imagines he is crossing a river and who exerts himself to the utmost to do so, who is suddenly awakened. Being awake, he thinks: “Is this real or is it unreal?” Being now enlightened he knows that it is neither real nor unreal. Thus when the Bodhisattva arrives at the eighth stage, he is able to see all things truthfully and, more than that, he is able to thoroughly understand the significance of all dream-like things of his life as to how they came to pass and as to how they pass away. Ever since beginning-less time the mind-system has perceived multiplicities of forms, conditions, and ideas, which the thinking-mind has discriminated, and the empirical-mind has experienced, grasped, and clung to. From this has risen habit-energy that by its accumulation has conditioned the illusions of existence and non-existence, individuality and generality, and has thus perpetuated the dream-state of false-imagination. But now, to the Bodhisattvas of the eighth stage, life is past and is remembered, as it truly was – a passing dream.
As long as the Bodhisattva had not passed the seventh stage, even though he had attained an intuitive understanding of the true meaning of life and its Maya-like nature, and as to how the mind carried on its discriminations and attachments yet, nevertheless, the cherishing of the notions of these things had continued and, although he no longer experienced within himself any ardent desire for things nor any impulse to grasp them yet, nevertheless, the notions concerning them persisted and perfumed his efforts to practice the teachings of the Buddhas and to labor for the emancipation of all beings. Now, in the eighth stage, even the notions have passed away, and all effort and striving is seen to be unnecessary. The Bodhisattva’s Nirvana is perfect tranquilization, but it is not extinction nor inertness; while there is an entire absence of discrimination and purpose, there is the freedom and spontaneity of potentiality that has come with the attainment and patient acceptance of the truths of ego-less-ness and imageless-ness. Here is perfect solitude, undisturbed by any gradation or continuous succession, but radiant with the potency and freedom of its self-nature, which is the self-nature of Noble Wisdom, blissfully peaceful with the serenity of Perfect Love.
Entering upon the eighth stage, with the “turning-about” at the deepest seat of consciousness, the Bodhisattva will become conscious that he has received the second kind of Transcendental-body (Manomayakaya). The transition from mortal-body to Transcendental-body has nothing to do with mortal death, for the old body continues to function and the old mind serves the needs of the old body, but now it is free from the control of mortal mind. There has been an inconceivable transformation-death (accintya-parinama-cyuti) by which the false-imagination of his particularized individual personality has been transcended by a realization of his oneness with the universalized mind of Tathágata-hood, from which realization there will be no recession. With that realization he finds himself amply endowed with all the Tathágata’s powers, psychic faculties, and self-mastery, and, just as the good earth is the support of all beings in the world of desire (karmadathu), so the Tathágatas become the support of all beings in the Transcendental World of No-form.
The first seven of the Bodhisattva stages were in the realm of mind and the eighth, while transcending mind, was still in touch with it; but in the ninth stage of Transcendental Intelligence (Sadhumati), by reason of his perfect intelligence and insight into the imageless-ness of Divine Mind which he had attained by self-realization of Noble Wisdom, he is in the realm of Tathágata-hood. Gradually the Bodhisattva will realize his Tathágata-nature and the possession of all its powers and psychic faculties, self-mastery, loving compassion, and skillful means, and by means of them will enter into all the Buddha-lands. Making use of these new powers, the Bodhisattva will assume various transformation-bodies and personalities for the sake of benefiting others. Just as in the former mental life, imagination had risen from relative-knowledge, so now skillful means rise spontaneously from Transcendental Intelligence. It is like the magical gem that reflects instantaneously appropriate responses to one’s wishes. The Bodhisattva passes over to all the assemblages of the Buddhas and listens to them as they discourse on the dream-like nature of all things and concerning the truths that transcend all notions of being and non-being, that have no relation to birth and death, nor to eternality nor extinction. Thus facing the Tathágatas as they discourse on Noble Wisdom that is far beyond the mental capacity of disciples and masters, he will attain a hundred thousand Samádhis, indeed, a hundred thousand Nayutas of kotis of Samádhis, and in the spirit of these Samádhis he will instantly pass from one Buddha-land to another, paying homage to all the Buddhas, being born into all the celestial mansions, manifesting Buddha-bodies, and himself discoursing on the Triple Treasure to lesser Bodhisattvas that they too may partake of the fruits of self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Thus passing beyond the last stage of Bodhisattva-hood, he becomes a Tathágata himself endowed with all the freedom of the Dharmakaya. The tenth stage belongs to the Tathágatas. Here the Bodhisattva will find himself seated upon a lotus-like throne in a splendid jewel-adorned palace and surrounded by Bodhisattvas of equal rank. Buddhas from all Buddha-lands will gather about him and with their pure and fragrant hands resting on his forehead will give him ordination and recognition as one of themselves. Then they will assign him a Buddha-land that he may posses and perfect as his own.
The tenth stage is called the Great Truth Cloud (Dharmamegha), inconceivable, inscrutable. Only the Tathágatas can realize perfect Imageless-ness and Oneness and Solitude. It is Mahesvara, the Radiant Land, the Pure Land, the Land of Far-distances; surrounding and surpassing the lesser worlds of form and desire (karmadathu), in which the Bodhisattva will find himself ‘atonement.’ Its rays of Noble Wisdom which is the self-nature of the Tathágatas, many-colored, entrancing, auspicious, are transforming the triple world as other worlds have been transformed in the past, and still other worlds will be transformed in the future. But in the Perfect Oneness of Noble Wisdom there is no gradation nor succession nor effort. The tenth stage is the first, the first is the eighth, and the eighth is the fifth, the fifth the seventh: what gradation can there be where perfect Image-less-ness and Oneness prevail? And what is the reality of Noble Wisdom? It is the ineffable potency of the Dharmakaya; it has no bounds nor limits; it surpasses all the Buddha-lands, and pervades the Akanistha and the heavenly mansions of the Tushita (Heavens).
Tathágata-hood, Which Is Noble Wisdom
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: It has been taught in the canonical books that the Buddhas are subject to neither birth nor destruction, and you have said that “the Un-born” is one of the names of the Tathágatas; does that mean that the Tathágata is a non-entity?
The Blessed One replied: The Tathágata is not a non-entity nor is he to be conceived as other things are as neither born nor disappearing, nor is he subject to causation, not is he without significance; yet I refer to him as “The Un-born.” There is yet another name for the Tathágata. “The Mind-appearing One” (Manomayakaya) which his Essence-body assumes at will in the transformations incident to his work of emancipation. This is beyond the understanding of common disciples and masters and even beyond the full comprehension of those Bodhisattvas who remain in the seventh stage. Yes, Mahamati, “The Un-born” is synonymous with Tathágata.
Then Mahamati said: If the Tathágatas are un-born, there does not seem to be anything to take hold of – no entity – or is there something that bears another name than entity? And what can that “something” be?
The Blessed One replied: Objects are frequently known by different names according to different aspects that they present, the god Indra is sometimes known as Shakra, and sometimes as Purandara. These different names are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes they are discriminated, but different objects are not to be imagined because of the different names, nor are they without individuation. The same can be said of myself as I appear in this world of patience before ignorant people and where I am known by uncounted trillions of names. They address me by different names not realizing that they are all names of the one Tathágata. Some recognize me as Tathágata, some as the self-existent one, some as Gautama the Ascetic, some as Buddha. Then there are others who recognize me as Brahma, as Vishnu, as Ishvara; some see me as Sun, as Moon; some as a reincarnation of the ancient sages; some as one of “ten powers”; some as Rama, some as Indra, and some as Varuna. Still there are others who speak of me as The Un-born, as Emptiness, as “Suchness,” as Truth, as Reality, as Ultimate Principle; still there are others who see me as Dharmakaya, as Nirvana, as the Eternal; some speak of me as sameness, as non-duality, as un-dying, as formless; some think of me as the doctrine of Buddha-causation, or of Emancipation, or of the Noble Path; and some think of me as Divine Mind and Noble Wisdom. Thus in this world and in other worlds am I known by these uncounted names, but they all see me as the moon is seen in the water. Though they all honor, praise and esteem me, they do not fully understand the meaning and significance of the words they use; not having their own self-realization of Truth they cling to the words of their canonical books, or to what has been told to them, or to what they have imagined, and fail to see that the name they are using is only one of the many names of the Tathágata. In their studies they follow the mere words of the text vainly trying to gain the true meaning, instead of having confidence in the one “text” where self-confirming Truth is revealed, that is, having confidence in the self-realization of noble Wisdom.
Then said Mahamati: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the self-nature of the Tathágatas?
The Blessed One replied: If the Tathágata is to be described by such expressions as made or un-made, effect or cause, we would have to describe him as neither made, nor un-made, nor effect, nor cause; but if we so described him we would be guilty of dualistic discrimination. If the Tathágata is something made, he would be impermanent; if he is impermanent anything made would be a Tathágata. If he is something un-made, then all effort to realize Tathágata-hood would be useless. That which is neither an effect or cause, is neither a being nor a non-being, and that which is neither a being nor non-being is outside the four propositions. The four propositions belong to worldly usage; that which is outside them is no more than a word, like a barren-woman’s child; so are all the terms concerning the Tathágata to be understood.
When it is said that all things are ego-less, it means that all things are devoid of self-hood. Each thing may have its own individuality—the being of a horse is not of cow nature—it is such as it is of its own nature and is thus discriminated by the ignorant, but, nevertheless, its own nature is of the nature of a dream or vision. That is why the ignorant and the simpleminded, who are in the habit of discriminating appearances, fail to understand the significance of ego-less-ness. It is not until discrimination is gotten rid of that the fact that all things are empty, un-born and without self-nature can be appreciated.
Mahamati, all these expressions as applied to the Tathágatas are without meaning, for that which is none of these is something removed from all measurement, and that which is removed from all measurement turns into a meaningless word; that which is a mere word is something un-born; that which is un-born is not subject to destruction; that which is not subject to destruction is like space and space is neither effect nor cause; that which is neither effect nor cause is something unconditioned; that which is unconditioned is beyond all reasoning; that which is beyond all reasoning, — that is the Tathágata. The self-nature of Tathágata-hood is far removed from all predicates and measurements; the self-nature of Tathágata-hood is Noble Wisdom.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: Are the Tathágatas permanent or impermanent?
The Blessed One replied: The Tathágatas are neither permanent nor impermanent; if either is asserted there is error connected with the creating agencies for, according to the philosophers, the creating agencies are something uncreated and permanent. But the Tathágatas are not connected with the so-called creating agencies and in that sense he is impermanent. If he is said to be impermanent then he is connected with things that are created for they also are impermanent. For these reasons the Tathágatas are neither permanent nor impermanent.
Neither can the Tathágatas be said to be permanent in the sense that space is said to be permanent, or that the horns of a hare can be said to be permanent for, being unreal, they exclude all ideas of permanency or impermanency. This does not apply to the Tathágatas because they come fourth from the habit-energy of ignorance, which is connected with the mind-system and the elements that make up personality. The triple world originates from the discrimination of unrealities and where discrimination takes place there is duality and the notion of permanency and impermanency, but the Tathágatas do not rise from the discrimination of unrealities. Thus, as long as there is discrimination there will be the notion of permanency and impermanency; when discrimination is done away with, Noble Wisdom, which is based on the significance of solitude, will be established.
However, there is another sense in which the Tathágatas may be said to be permanent. Transcendental Intelligence rising with the attainment of enlightenment is of a permanent nature. This Truth-essence, which is discoverable in the enlightenment of all who are enlightened, is realizable as the regulative and sustaining principle of Reality, which forever abides. The Transcendental Intelligence attained intuitively by the Tathágatas by their self-realization of Noble Wisdom, is a realization of their own self-nature, in this sense the Tathágatas are permanent. The eternal-unthinkable of the Tathágatas is the “Suchness” of noble Wisdom realized within themselves. It is both eternal and beyond thought. It conforms to the idea of a cause and yet is beyond existence and non-existence. Because it is the exalted state of Noble-Wisdom, it has its own character. Because it is the cause of highest Reality, it is its own causation. Its eternality is not derived from reasoning’s based on external notions of being and non-being, nor of eternality nor non-eternality. Being classed under the same head as space, cessation, Nirvana, it is eternal. Because it has nothing to do with existence and non- existence, it is no creator; because it has nothing to do with creation, nor with being and non-being, but is only revealed in the exalted state of noble Wisdom, it is truly eternal.
When the twofold passions are destroyed, and the twofold hindrances are cleared away, and the twofold ego-less-ness is fully understood, and the inconceivable transformation death of the Bodhisattva is attained – that which remains is the self-nature of the Tathágatas. When the teachings of the Dharma are fully understood and are perfectly realized by the disciples and masters that which is realized in their deepest consciousness is their own Buddha-nature revealed as Tathágata.
In a true sense there are four kinds of sameness relating to Buddha-nature: there is sameness of letters, sameness of words, sameness of meaning, and sameness of Essence. The name of the Buddha is spelt: B-U-D-D-H-A; the letters are the same when used for any Buddha or Tathágata. When the Brahmans teach they use various words, and when the Tathágatas teach they use the very same words; in respect to the words there is a same-ness between us. In the teachings of all the Tathágatas there is a same-ness of meaning. Among all the Buddhas there is a sameness of Buddha nature. They all have the thirty-two marks of excellence and the eighty minor signs of bodily perfection; there is no distinction among them except as they manifest various transformations according to the different dispositions of beings who are to be disciplined and emancipated by various means. In the Ultimate Essence, which is Dharmakaya, all the Buddhas of the past, present and future, are of one same-ness.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: It has been said by the Blessed One that from the night of Enlightenment to the night of the Parinirvana, the Tathágata has uttered no word nor ever will utter a word. In what deep meaning is this true?
The Blessed One replied: By two reasons of deepest meaning is it true: In the light of Truth self-realized by Noble Wisdom, and in the Truth of an eternally abiding Reality. The self-realization of Noble Wisdom by all Tathágatas is the same as my own self-realization of Noble Wisdom; there is no more, no less, no difference, and all the Tathágatas bear witness that the state of self-realization is free from words and discriminations and has nothing to do with the dualistic way of speaking, that is, all beings receive the teachings of the Tathágatas through self-realization of Noble Wisdom, not though words of discrimination.
Again Mahamati, there has always been an eternally abiding reality. The “substance” of Truth (Dharmadhatu) abides forever whether a Tathágata appears in the world or not. So does the Reason of all things (dharmata) eternally abide; so does Reality (paramartha) abide and keep its order. What has been realized by myself and all other Tathágatas is this Reality (Dharmakaya), the eternally abiding self-orderliness of Reality; the “Suchness” (tathata) of all things; the realness of things (bhutata); Noble Wisdom, which is Truth itself. The sun radiates its splendor spontaneously on all alike and with no words of explanation; in like manner do the Tathágatas radiate the Truth of Noble Wisdom with no recourse to words and to all alike. For these reasons is it stated by me that from the night of enlightenment to the night of the Tathágata’s Parinirvana, he has not uttered, nor will he utter, one word. And the same is true of all the Buddhas.
Then said Mahamati: Blessed one, you speak of the sameness of all Buddhas, but in other places you have spoken of Dharmata-Buddha, Nishyanda-Buddha and Nirmana-Buddha as though they were different from each other; how can they be the same and yet different?
The Blessed One replied: I speak of the different Buddhas as opposed to the views of the philosophers who base their teachings on the reality of an external world of from and who cherish discrimination and attachments arising there from; against the teachings of these philosophers I disclose the Nirmana-Buddha, the Buddha of Transformations. In the many transformations of the Tathágata stage, the Nirmana-Buddha establishes such matters as charity, morality, patience, thoughtfulness, and tranquillization: by right-knowledge he teaches the true understanding of Maya-like nature of the elements that make up personality and its external world; he teaches the true nature of the mind-system as a whole and in the distinctions of its forms, functions and ways of performance. In a deeper sense, the Nirmana-Buddha symbolizes the principles of differentiation and integration by reason of which all component things are distributed, all complexities simplified, all thoughts analyzed; at the same time it symbolizes the harmonizing, unifying power of sympathy and compassion; it removes all obstacles, it harmonizes all differences, it brings into perfect Oneness the discordant many. For the emancipation of all beings the Bodhisattvas and Tathágatas assume bodies of transformation and employ many skilful devices, this is the work of the Nirmana-Buddha.
For the enlightenment of the Bodhisattvas and their sustaining along the stages, the Inconceivable is made realizable. The Nishyanda-Buddha, the “Out-flowing-Buddha,” though Transcendental Intelligence, reveals the true meaning and significance of appearances, discrimination, attachment; and of the power of habit-energy which is accumulated by them and conditions them; and of the un-born-ness, the emptiness, the ego-less-ness of all things. Because of Transcendental Intelligence and the purification of the evil out-flowings of life, all dualistic views of existence and non existence are transcended and by self realization of Noble Wisdom the true image-less-ness of Reality is made manifest. The inconceivable glory of Buddhahood is made manifest in rays of Noble Wisdom; Noble Wisdom is the self-nature of the Tathágatas. This is the work of the Nishyanda-Buddha. In a deeper sense, the Nishyanda-Buddha symbolizes the emergence of the principles of intellection and compassion but as yet undifferentiated and in perfect balance, potential but un-manifest. Looked at from the in-going side of the Bodhisattva, Nishyanda-Buddha is seen in the glorified bodies of the Tathágatas; looked at from the fourth-going side of Buddhahood, Nishyanda-Buddha is seen in the radiant personalities of the Tathágatas ready and eager to manifest the inherent Love and Wisdom of the Dharmakaya.
Dharmata-Buddha is Buddhahood in its self-nature of perfect oneness in whom absolute Tranquility prevails. As noble Wisdom, Dharmata-Buddha transcends all differentiated knowledge, is the goal of intuitive self-realization, and is the self-nature of the Tathágatas. As Noble Wisdom, Dharmata-Buddha is the ultimate Principle of Reality from which all things derive their being and truthfulness, but which in itself transcends all predicates. Dharmata-Buddha is the central sun, which holds all, illumines all. Its inconceivable Essence is made manifest in the “out-flowing” glory of Nishyanda-Buddha and in the transformations of the Nirmana-Buddha.
Then said Mahamati: Pray tell us, Blessed One, more about the Dharmakaya?
The Blessed One replied: We have been speaking of it in terms of Buddhahood, but it is inscrutable and beyond predicate we may just as well speak of it as the Truth-body, or the Truth-principle of ultimate Reality (Paramartha). This Ultimate Principle of Reality may be considered as it is manifested under seven aspects: First, as Citta-gocara, it is the world of spiritual experience and the abode of the Tathágatas on their outgoing mission of emancipation. It is Noble Wisdom manifested as the principle of irradiancy and individuation. Second, as Jnana, it is the mind-world and its principle of the intellection and consciousness. Third as Dristi, it is the realm of dualism which is the physical world of birth and death wherein are manifested all the differentiations of thinker, thinking, and thought about and where-in are manifested the principles of sensation, perception, discrimination, desire, attachment and suffering.
Fourth, because of the greed, anger, infatuation, suffering and need of the physical world incident to discrimination and attachment, it reveals a world beyond the realm of dualism wherein it appears as the integrating principle of charity and sympathy. Fifth, in a realm still higher, which is the abode of the Bodhisattva stages, and is analogous to the mind-world, where the interests of heart transcend those of the mind, it appears as the principle of compassion and self-giving. Sixth, in the spiritual realm where the Bodhisattvas attain Buddhahood, it appears as the principle of perfect Love (Karuna). Here the last clinging to an ego-self is abandoned and the Bodhisattva enters into his self-realization of noble Wisdom, which is the bliss of the Tathágata’s perfect enjoyment of his inmost nature. Seventh as Prajna it is the active aspect of the Ultimate Principle wherein both the forth going and the in-coming principles are alike implicit and potential, and wherein both Wisdom and Love are in perfect balance, harmony and the Oneness.
These are the seven aspects of the ultimate Principle of the Dharmakaya, by reason of which all things are made manifest and perfected and then reintegrated, and all remaining within its inscrutable Oneness, with no signs of individuation, nor beginning, nor succession, nor ending, we speak of it as Dharmakaya, as Ultimate Principle, as Buddhahood, as Nirvana; what matters it? They are only other names for Noble-Wisdom.
Mahamati, you and all Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should avoid the erroneous reasoning of the philosophers and seek for self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Pray tell us about Nirvana?
The Blessed one replied: the term, Nirvana, is used with many different meanings, by different people, but these people may be divided into four groups: There are people who are suffering, or who are afraid of suffering, and who think of Nirvana; there are philosophers who try to discriminate Nirvana; there are the class of disciples who think of Nirvana in relation to themselves; and finally there is the Nirvana of the Buddhas.
Those who are suffering or who fear suffering, think of Nirvana as an escape and recompense. They imagine that Nirvana consists in the future annihilation of the senses and the sense-minds; they are not aware that universal mind and nirvana are one, and that this life-and-death world and Nirvana are not to be separated. These ignorant ones, instead of meditating on the image-less-ness of Nirvana, talk of different ways of emancipation. Being ignorant of, or not understanding, the teachings of the Tathágatas, they cling to the notion of Nirvana that is outside what is seen of the mind and, thus, go on rolling themselves along with the wheel of life and death.
As to the Nirvanas discriminated by the philosophers: there really are none. Some philosophers conceive Nirvana to be found where the mind-system no more operates owing to the cessation of the elements that make up personality and its world; or is found where there is utter indifference to the objective world and its impermanency. Some conceive Nirvana to be a state where there is no recollection of the past or present, just as when a lamp is extinguished, or when a seed is burnt, or when a fire goes out; because then there is the cessation of all the substrata, which is explained by the philosophers as the non-rising of discrimination. But this is not Nirvana, because Nirvana does not consist in simple annihilation and vacuity.
Again, some philosophers explain deliverance as though it was the mere stopping of discrimination, as when the wind stops blowing, or as when one by self-effort gets rid of the dualistic view of knower and known, or gets rid of the notions of permanency and impermanency; or gets rid of the notions of good and evil; or overcomes passion by means of knowledge–to them Nirvana is deliverance. Some, seeing in “form” the bearer of pain alarmed by the notion of “form” and look for happiness in a world of “no-form.” Some conceive that in consideration of individuality and generality recognizable in all things inner and outer, that there is no destruction and that all beings maintain their being forever and, in this eternality, see Nirvana. Others see the eternally of things in the conception of Nirvana as the absorption of the finite-soul in the supreme Atman; or who see all things as a manifestation of the vital-force of some Supreme Sprit to which all return; and some, who are especially silly, declare that there are two primary things, a primary substance and a primary soul, that react differently upon each other and thus produce all things from the transformations of qualities; some think that the world is born of action and interaction and that no other cause is necessary; others think that Ishvara is free creator of all things; clinging to these foolish notions, there is no awakening, and they consider Nirvana to consist in the fact that there is no awakening.
Some imagine that Nirvana is where self-nature exists in its own right, unhampered by other self-natures, as the variegated feathers of a peacock, or
various precious crystals, or the pointed-ness of a thorn. Some conceive being to be Nirvana, some non-being, while others conceive that all things and Nirvana are not to be distinguished from one another. Some, thinking that time is the creator and that as the rise of the world depends on time; they conceive that Nirvana consists in the recognition of time as Nirvana. Some think that there will be Nirvana when the “twenty-five” truths are generally accepted, or when the king observes the six virtues, and some religionists think that Nirvana is the attainment of paradise.
These views severally advanced by the philosophers with their various seasonings are not in accord with logic nor are they acceptable to the wise. They all conceive Nirvana dualistically and in some causal connection; by these discriminations philosophers imagine Nirvana, but where there is no rising and no disappearing, how can there be discrimination? Each philosopher
relying on his own textbook from which he draws his understanding, sins against the truth, because truth is not where he imagines it to be. The only result is that it sets his mind to wandering about and becoming more confused as Nirvana is not to be found by mental searching, the more his mind becomes confused the more he confuses other people.
As to the notion of Nirvana as held by disciples and masters who still cling to the notion of an ego-self, and who try to find it by going off by themselves into solitude: their notion of Nirvana is an eternity of bliss like the bliss of the Samádhis-for themselves. They recognize that the world is only a manifestation of mind and that all discriminations are of the mind, and so they forsake social relations and practice various spiritual disciplines and in solitude seek self-realization of Noble Wisdom by self-effort. They follow the stages to the sixth and attain the bliss of the Samádhis, but as they are still clinging to egoism they do not attain the “turning-about” at the deepest seat of consciousness and, therefore, they are not free from the thinking-mind and the accumulation of its habit-energy. Clinging to the bliss of the Samádhis, they pass to their Nirvana, but it is not the Nirvana of the Tathágatas. They are of those who have “entered the stream”; they must return to this world of life and death.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: When the Bodhisattvas yield up their stock of merit for the emancipation of all beings, they become spiritually one with all animate life; they themselves may be purified, but in others there yet remain unexhausted evil and un-matured karma. Pray tell us, Blessed One, how the Bodhisattvas are given assurance of Nirvana? And what is the Nirvana of the Bodhisattvas?
The Blessed One replied: Mahamati, this assurance is not an assurance of numbers nor logic; it is not the mind that is to be assured but the heart. The Bodhisattva’s assurance comes with the unfolding insight that follows passion hindrances cleared away, knowledge hindrance purified, and ego-less-ness clearly perceived and patiently accepted. As the mortal-mind ceases to discriminate, there is no more thirst for life, no more sex-lust, no more thirst for learning, no more thirst for eternal life; with the disappearance of these fourfold thirsts, there is no more accumulation of habit-energy; with no more accumulation of habit-energy the defilements on the face of the Universal Mind clear away, and the Bodhisattva attains self-realization of Noble Wisdom that is the heart’s assurance of Nirvana.
There are Bodhisattvas here and in other Buddha-lands, who are sincerely devoted to the Bodhisattva’s mission and yet who cannot wholly forget the bliss of the Samádhis and the peace of Nirvana-for themselves. The teaching of Nirvana in which there is no substrate left behind, is revealed according to a hidden meaning for the sake of these disciples who still cling to thoughts of Nirvana for themselves, that they may be inspired to exert themselves in the Bodhisattva’s mission of emancipation for all beings. The Transformation-Buddhas teach a doctrine of Nirvana to meet conditions as they find them, and to give encouragement to the timid and selfish. In order to turn their thoughts away from themselves and to encourage them to a deeper compassion and more earnest zeal for others, they are given assurance as to the future by the sustaining power of the Buddhas of Transformation, but not by the Dharmata-Buddha.
The Dharma, which establishes the Truth of Noble Wisdom, belongs to the realm of the Dharmata-Buddha. To the Bodhisattvas to the seventh and eighth stages, Transcendental Intelligence is revealed by the Dharmata-Buddha and the Path is pointed out to them, which they are to follow. In the perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom that fallows the inconceivable transformation death of the Bodhisattva’s individualized will-control, he no longer lives unto himself, but the life that he lives thereafter is the Tathágata’s universalized life as manifested in its transformations. In this perfect self-realization of Noble Wisdom the Bodhisattva realizes that for the Buddhas there is no Nirvana.
The death of a Buddha, the great Parinirvana, is neither destruction nor death, else would it be birth and continuation. If it were destruction, it would be an effect-producing deed, which is not. Neither is it a vanishing nor abandonment, neither is it attainment, nor is it of no attainment; neither is it of one significance nor of no significance, for there is no Nirvana for the Buddhas.
The Tathágata’s Nirvana is where it is recognized that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind itself; is where, recognizing the nature of the self-mind, one no longer cherishes the dualisms of discrimination; is where there is no more thirst nor grasping; is where there is no more attachment to external things. Nirvana is where the thinking-mind with all its discriminations, attachments, aversions and egoism is forever put away; is where logical measures, as they are seen to be inert, are no longer seized upon; is where even the notion of truth is treated with indifference because of its causing bewilderment; is where, getting rid of the four propositions, there is insight into the abode of Reality. Nirvana is where the twofold passions have subsided and the twofold hindrances are cleared away and the twofold ego-less-ness is patiently accepted; is where, by the attainment of the “turning-about” in the deepest seat of consciousness, self-realization of Noble Wisdom is fully entered into, that is the Nirvana of the Tathágatas.
Nirvana is where the Bodhisattva stages are passed one after another; is where the sustaining power of the Buddhas upholds the Bodhisattvas in the bliss of the Samádhis; is where compassion for others transcends all thoughts of self; is where the Tathágata stage is finally realized.
Nirvana is the realm of the Dharmata-Buddha; it is where the manifestation of Noble Wisdom that is Buddhahood expresses itself in Perfect Love for all; it is where the manifestation of Perfect Love that is Tathágata-hood expresses itself in Noble Wisdom for the enlightenment of all- -there, indeed, is Nirvana!
There are two classes of those who may not enter the Nirvana of the Tathágatas: there are those who have abandoned the Bodhisattva ideals, saying, they are not in conformity with the sutras, the codes of morality, nor with emancipation. Then there are the true Bodhisattvas who, on account of their original vows made for the sake of all beings, saying, “So long as they do not attain Nirvana, I will not attain it for myself,” voluntarily keep themselves out of Nirvana. But no beings are left outside by the will of the Tathágatas; some day each and every one will be influenced by the wisdom and love of the Tathágatas of Transformation to lay up a stock of merit and ascend the stages. But, if they only realized it, they are already in the Tathágata’s Nirvana for, in Noble Wisdom, all things are in Nirvana from the beginning.
 名、相、分別、正智、如如 (真如)，respectively.
 from the Sagathagam Line (349)
 Suzuki, DT Trans. 1932 The Lankavatara Sutra: a Mahayana Text. London: Routledge. Page 198.