Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 1 (english)

Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha dwelt at the City of Shravasti in the sublime abode of the Jeta Grove with a gathering of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all. All were great Arhats without outflows, disciples of the Buddha who dwelt in and maintained the Dharma. They had fully transcended all existence, and were able to perfect the majestic deportment wherever they went. They followed the Buddha in turning the wheel and were wonderfully worthy of the bequest. Stern and pure in the Vinaya, they were great exemplars in the three realms. Their numberless response-bodies took beings across and liberated them, extricating and rescuing those of the future so they could transcend the bonds of all mundane defilements. The names of the leaders were: the Greatly Wise Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakaushtila, Purnamaitreyaniputra, Subhuti, Upanishad, and others.

Moreover, numberless Pratyekabuddhas who were beyond learning and those of initial resolve came to where the Buddha was. All the Bhikshus were there as well, having the Pravarana at the close of the summer retreat.

And there were also Bodhisattvas from the ten directions, who desired counsel in order to resolve their doubts. All were respectful and obedient to the compassionate and stately one as they prepared to seek the Secret Meaning.

Then the Tathagata arranged his seat, sat quietly and peacefully, and for the sake of everyone in the congregation, proclaimed the profound and mysterious. At the banquet of Dharma, what the members of the pure congregation obtained was unprecedented. The Immortal’s kalavinka-sound pervaded the worlds of the ten directions and Bodhisattvas as many as the Gange’s sands gathered at the Way-place with Manjushri as their leader.

On the day of mourning, King Prasenajit, for the sake of his father, the former king, arranged a vegetarian feast and invited the Buddha to the side rooms of the palace. He welcomed the Tathagataa with a vast array of superb delicacies of unsurpassed, wonderful flavors and himself invited the Great Bodhisattvas, as well. Elders and laypeople of the city were also prepared to provide meals for the Sangha at the same time, and they stood waiting for the Buddha to come and receive offerings.

The Buddha commanded Manjushri to assign the Bodhisattvas and Arhats to receive offerings from the various vegetarian hosts. Only Ananda, who had travelled far to accept a special invitation earlier, and had not yet returned, was late for the apportioning of the Sangha. No senior Bhikshu or Acharya was with him, and so he was returning alone on the road. On that day Ananda had received no offerings, and so at the appropriate time he took up his almsbowl and, as he travelled through the city, received alms in sequential order. As he set out to receive alms from the first to the last donors, his vegetarian hosts, he thought not to question whether they were pure or impure; whether they were kshatriyas of honorable name or chandalas. While practicing equality and compassion he would not select merely the lowly but was determined to perfect all beings’ limitless merit and virtue. Ananda was aware that the Tathagata, the Bhagavan(World Honored One), had admonished Subhuti and Mahakashyapa for being Arhats whose minds were not fair and equal. He revered the Tathagata’s instructions on impartiality for saving everyone from doubt and slander.

Having crossed the city moat, he walked slowly through the outer gates, his manner stern and proper as he strictly respected the rules for obtaining vegetarian food. At that time, because Ananda was receiving alms in sequential order, he passed by a house of prostitution and was waylaid by a powerful artifice. On the strength of Kapila’s mantra, which came from the Brahma Heaven, the daughter of Matangi drew him onto an impure mat. With her licentious body she caressed him until he was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance. The Tathagata, knowing Ananda was being taken advantage of by an impure artifice, finished the meal and immediately returned to the Sublime Abobe.

The king, great officials, elders, and laypeople followed along after the Buddha desiring to hear the essentials of the Dharma. Then the Bhagavan from his crown emitted hundreds of rays of jeweled light which dispelled all fear. Within the light appeared a thousand-petalled jeweled lotus, upon which was seated a transformation-body Buddha in full-lotus posture, proclaiming a holy Mantra. Shakyamuni Buddha commanded Manjushri to take the mantra and go provide protection, and, when the evil mantra was dispelled, to support Ananda and Matangi’s daughter and encourage them to return to where the Buddha was. Ananda saw the Buddha, bowed, and wept sorrowfully, regretting that from time without beginning he had been preoccupied with erudition and had not yet perfected his strength in the Way. He respectfully and repeatedly requested an explanation of the initial expedients of the wonderful shamatha, samapatti, and dhyana, by means of which the Tathagatas of the ten directions had realized Bodhi.

At that time Bodhisattvas as numerous as Ganges’ sands, great Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and others from the ten directions, were also present. Pleased at the opportunity to listen, they withdrew quietly to their seats to receive the sagely instruction.

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You and I are of the same family and share the affection of this natural relationship. At the time of your initial resolve, what were the outstanding characteristics which you saw in my Dharma that caused you to suddenly cast aside the deep kindness and love found in the world?”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “I saw the Tathagata’s thirty-two hallmarks, which were so supremely wonderful and incomparable that his entire body had a shimmering translucence just like that of crystal. I often thought that those hallmarks could not have been born of desire and love. Why? The vapors of desire are course and murky. From foul and putrid intercourse comes a turbid mixture of pus and blood which cannot give off such a magnificent, pure, and brilliant concentration of purple-golden light. And so I eagerly gazed upward, followed the Buddha, and let the hair fall from my head.”

The Buddha said, “Very good, Ananda. You should know that from beginningless time all beings are continually born and continually die, simply because they do not know the everlasting true mind with its pure nature and bright substance. Instead they engage in false thinking. These thoughts are not true, and so they lead to further transmigration. Now you wish to investigate the unsurpassed Bodhi and actually discover your nature. You should answer my questions with a straightforward mind. The Tathagatas of the ten directions escaped birth and death because their minds were straightforward. Since their minds and words were consistently that way, from the beginning, through the intermediate stages to the end, they were never in the least evasive. Ananda, I now ask you: at the time of your initial resolve, which arose in response to Tathagata’s thirty-two hallmarks, what was it that saw those characteristics and who delighted in them?” Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, this is the way I experienced the delight: I used my mind and eyes. Because my eyes saw the Tathagata’s outstanding hallmarks, my mind gave rise to delight. That is why I became resolved and wished to extricate myself from birth and death.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “It is as you say, that experience of delight actually occurs because of your mind and eyes. If you do not know where your mind and eyes are, you will not be able to conquer the wearisome mundane defilements. For example, when a country is invaded by thieves and the king sends out his troops to suppress and banish them, the troops must know where the thieves are. It is the fault of your mind and eyes that you undergo transmigration. I now ask you specifically about your mind and eyes: where are they now?”

Ananda answered the Buddha, “Bhagavan, All the ten kinds of beings in the world alike maintain that the mind-consciousness dwells within the body; and as I regard the Tathagata’s eyes that resemble blue lotuses, they are on the Buddha’s face. I now observe that these prominent organs, four kinds of defiling objects, are on my face, and my mind-consciousness actually is within my body.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You are now sitting in the Tathagata’s lecture hall. Where is the Jeta Grove that you are gazing at?” “Bhagavan, this great many-storied pure lecture hall is in the Garden of the Benefactor of the Solitary. At present the Jeta Grove is, in fact, outside the hall.”

“Ananda, as you are now in the hall, what do you see first?” “Bhagavan, here in the hall I first see the Tathagata, next I see the public, and from there, as I gaze outward, I see the grove and the garden.”

“Ananda, how are you able to see the grove and the garden.” “Bhagavan, since the doors and windows of this great lecture hall have been thrown open wide, I can be in the hall and see into the distance.”

Then, in the midst of the great assembly, the Bhagavan extended his golden arm, rubbed Ananda’s crown, and said to Ananda and the public, “There is a Samadhi called the King of the Foremost Shurangama at the Great Buddha’s Crown Replete with the Myriad Practices; it is a path wonderfully adorned and the single door through which the Tathagatas of the ten directions gained transcendence. You should now listen attentively.” Ananda bowed down to receive the compassionate instruction humbly.

The Buddha said to Ananda, “It is as you say. When one is in the lecture hall and the doors and windows are open wide, one can see far into the garden and the grove. Could someone in the hall not see the Tathagata and yet see outside the hall?” Ananda answered: “Bhagavan, to be in the hall and not see the Tathagata, and yet see the grove and fountains is impossible.”

“Ananda, you are like that too. Your mind is capable of understanding everything thoroughly. Now if your present mind, which thoroughly understands everything, were in your body, then you should first be aware of what is inside your body. Could there be beings who first see the inside of their bodies before observing external phenomena? Even if you cannot see your heart, liver, spleen, and stomach, still, you should be able to clearly perceive the growing of your nails and hair, the twist of your sinews, and the throb of your pulse. Why don’t you perceive these things? If you cannot perceive your internal organs, how could you perceive what is external to you? Therefore you should know that declaring that the aware and knowing mind is inside the body is an impossible statement.”

Ananda bowed his head and said to the Buddha, “Upon hearing the Tathagata proclaim this explanation of Dharma, such a Dharma-sound as the Tathagata has proclaimed, I realize that my mind is actually outside my body. How is that possible? For example, a lamp lit in a room will certainly illumine the inside of the room first, and only then will its light stream through the doorway to reach the recesses of the hall. Beings’ not being able to see within their bodies but only see outside them, is analogous to having a lighted lamp placed outside the room, so that it cannot illumine the rroom.This principle is clear and beyond all doubt. It is identical with the Buddha’s complete meaning, isn’t it?”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “All these Bhikshus, who just followed me to the city of Shravasti to go on sequential almsrounds to obtain balls of food, have returned to the Jeta Grove. I have already finished eating. Observing the Bhikshus, do you think that by one person eating everyone gets full?” Ananda answered, “No, Bhagavan. Why? Although these bhikshus are Arhats, their physical bodies and lives differ. How could one person’s eating enable everyone to be full?” The Buddha told Ananda, “If your mind which is aware, knows, and sees were actually outside your body, your body and mind would be mutually exclusive and would have no relationship to one another. The body would be unaware of what the mind perceives, and the mind would not perceive the awareness within the body. Now as I show you my hand which is soft like tula-cotton, does your mind distinguish it when your eyes see it?”

Ananda answered, “Yes, Bhagavan.”

The Buddha told Ananda, “If the two have a common perception, how can the mind be outside the body? Therefore you should know that declaring that the mind which knows, understands, and is aware is outside the body is an impossible statement.” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, it is as the Buddha has said. Since I cannot see inside my body, my mind does not reside in the body. Since my body and mind have a common awareness, they are not separate and so my mind does not dwell outside my body. As I now consider the matter, I know exactly where my mind is.”

The Buddha said: “So, where is it now?”

Ananda said, “Since the mind which knows and understands does not perceive what is inside but can see outside, upon reflection I believe it is concealed in the organ of vision. This is analogous to a person placing crystal lenses over his eyes; the lenses would cover his eyes but would not obstruct his vision. The organ of vision would thus be able to see, and discriminations could be made accordingly. And so my mind is aware and knows, understands, and is aware does not see within because it resides in the organ: it can gaze outside clearly, without obstruction for the same reason: it is concealed in the organ.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “Assuming that it is concealed in the organ, as you assert in your analogy of the crystals, if a person were to cover his eyes with the crystals and looks at the mountains and rivers, would he see the crystals as well?” “Yes, World Honored One, if that person were to cover his eyes with the crystals, he would in fact see the crystals.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “If your mind is analogous to the eyes covered with crystals, then when you see the mountains and rivers, why don’t you see your eyes? If you could see your eyes, your eyes would be part of the external environment, but that is not the case. If you cannot see them, why do you say that the aware and knowing mind is concealed in the organ of vision as eyes are covered by crystals? Therefore you should know that you state the impossible when you say that the mind which knows, understands, and is aware is concealed in the organ of vision in the way that the eyes are covered by crystals.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, I now offer this reconsideration: viscera and bowels lie inside the bodies of living beings, while the apertures are outside. There is darkness within where the bowels are and light at the apertures. Now, as I face the Buddha and open my eyes, I see light: that is seeing outside. When I close my eyes and see darkness, that is seeing within. How does that principle sound?”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “When you close your eyes and see darkness, does the darkness you experience lie before your eyes or not? If it did lie before your eyes, then the darkness would be in front of your eyes. How could that be said to be ‘within’? If it were within, then when you were in a dark room without the light of sun, moon, or lamps, the darkness in the room would constitute your vital organs and viscera. If it were not before you, how could you see it? If you assert that there is an inward seeing that is distinct from seeing outside, then when you close your eyes and see darkness, your would be seeing inside your body. Consequently, when you open your eyes and see light, why can’t you see your own face? If you cannot see your face, then there can be no seeing within. If you could see your face, then your mind which is aware and knows and your organ of vision as well would have to be suspended in space. How could they be inside? If they were in space, then they would not be part of your body. Otherwise the Tathagata who now sees your face should be part of your body as well. In that case, when your eyes perceived something, your body would remain unaware of it. If you press the point and insist that the body and eyes each have an awareness, then you should have two perceptions, and your one body should eventually become two Buddhas. Therefore you should know declaring that to see darkness is to see within is an impossible statement.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “I have often heard the Buddha instruct the four assemblies that since the mind arises, every kind of dharma arises and that since dharmas arise, every kind of mind arises. As I now consider it, the substance of that very consideration is truly the nature of my mind. Wherever it joins with things, the mind exists in response. It does not exist in any of the three locations of inside, outside and in between.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “Now you say that because dharmas arise, every kind of mind arises. Wherever it joins with things, the mind exists in response. But it has no substance, the mind cannot come together with anything. If, having no substance, it could yet come together with things, that would constitute a nineteenth realm brought about by a union with the seventh defiling object. But there is no such principle. If it had substance, when you pinch your body with your fingers, would your mind which perceives it come out from the inside, or in from the outside? If it came from the inside, then, once again, it should be able to see within your body. If it came from outside, it should see your face first.” Ananda said, “Seeing is done with the eyes; mental perception is not. To call mental perception seeing doesn’t make sense.”

The Buddha said, “Supposing the eyes did the seeing. That would be like being in a room where the doors could see! Also, when a person has died but his eyes are still intact, his eyes should see things. But how could one be dead if one can still see? Furthermore, Ananda, if your aware and knowing mind in fact had substance, then would it be of a single substance or of many substances? Would its substance perceive the body in which it resides or would it not perceive it? Supposing it were of a single substance, then when you pinched one limb with your fingers, the four limbs would be aware if it. If they all were aware if it, the pinch could not be at any one place. If the pinch is located in one place, then the single substance you propose could not exist. Supposing it was composed of many substances: then you would be many people. Which of those substances would be you? Supposing it were composed of a pervasive substance: the case would be the same as before in the instance of pinching. But supposing it were not pervasive; then when you touched your head and touched your foot simultaneously, the foot would not perceive being touched if the head did. But that is not how you are. Therefore you should know that declaring that wherever it comes together with things, the mind exists in response is an impossible statement.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, I also have heard the Buddha discuss reality with Manjushri and other disciples of the Dharma King. Bhagavan also said, ‘The mind is neither inside nor outside.’ As I now consider it, it cannot be inside since it cannot see within, and it cannot be outside since in that case there would be no shared perception. Since it cannot see inside, it cannot be inside; and since the body and mind do have shared perception, it does not make sense to say it is outside. Therefore, since there is a shared perception and since there is no seeing within, it must be in the middle.”

The Buddha said, “You say it is in the middle. That middle must not be haphazard or without a fixed location. Where is this middle that you propose? Is it in an external place, or is it in the body? If it were in the body, the surface of the body cannot be counted as being the middle. If it were in the middle of the body, that would be the same as being inside. If it were in an external place, would there be some evidence of it, or not? If there would not be any evidence of it, that amounts to it not existing at all. If there were some evidence of it, then it would have no fixed location. Why not? Suppose that middle were indicated by a marker. When seen from the east, it would be to the west, and when seen from the south, it would be to the north. Just as such a tangible marker would be unclear, so too the location of the mind would be chaotic.”

Ananda said, “The middle I speak of is neither one of those. As Bhagavan has said, the eyes and forms are the conditions which create the eye-consciousness. The eyes make discriminations; forms have no perception, but a consciousness is created between them: that is where my mind is.”

The Buddha said, “If your mind were between the eyes and their object, would such a mind’s substance combine with the two or not? If it did combine with the two, then objects and the mind-substance would form a chaotic mixture. Since objects have no perception, while the substance has perception, the two would stand in opposition. Where could the middle be? If it did not combine with the two, it would then be neither the perceiver nor the perceived. Since it would lack both substance and nature, what would such a middle be like? Therefore you should know that declaring the mind to be in the middle is an impossible statement.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, when I have seen the Buddha turn the Dharma Wheel in the past with Mahamaudgalyayana, Subhuti, Purna, and Shariputra, four of the great disciples, he often said that the nature of the mind which is aware, perceives, and makes discriminations is located neither within nor outside nor in the middle; it is not located anywhere at all. That very non-attachment to everything is what is called the mind. Therefore, is my non-attachment my mind?”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You say that the mind with its aware nature that perceives and makes discriminations is not located anywhere at all. Everything existing in the world consists of space, the waters, and the land, the creatures that fly and walk, and all external objects. Would your non-attachment also exist? If it did not exist, it would be the same as fur on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit. Just what would that non-attachment be? If non-attachment did exist, it couldn’t be described as a negation. The absence of attributes indicates negation. Anything not negated has attributes. Anything with attributes exists. How could that define non-attachment? Therefore you should know that to declare that the aware, knowing mind is non-attachment to anything is an impossible statement.”

Then Ananda rose from his seat in the midst of the great assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, respectfully put his palms together, and said to the Buddha: “I am the Tathagata’s youngest cousin. I have received the Buddha’s compassionate regard and have left the home life, but I have been dependent on his affection, and as a consequence have pursued erudition and am not yet without outflows. I could not overcome the Kapila mantra. I was swayed by it and almost went under in that house of prostitution, all because I did not know how to reach of the realm of reality. I only hope that Bhagavan, out of great kindness and sympathy, will instruct us in the path of shamatha to guide the icchantikas and overthrow the mlecchas.” After he had finished speaking, he placed his five limbs on the ground and then, along with the entire great assembly, stood in anticipation, waiting eagerly and respectfully to hear the instructions.

Then the Bhagavan radiated from his face various kinds of light, lights as dazzlingly brilliant as hundreds of thousands of suns. The Buddharealms quaked pervasively in six ways and thus lands as many as atoms of universe throughout the ten directions appeared simultaneously. The Buddha’s stateliness and sacrosanctity caused all the realms to unite into a single one. In these realms all the great Bodhisattvas, while remaining in their own countries, put their palms together, and listened.

The Buddha said to Ananda, “From beginningless time onward, all living beings and in all kinds of upsidedown ways, have created seeds of karma which naturally run their course, like the aksha cluster. The reason that cultivators cannot accomplish unsurpassed Bodhi, but instead reach the level of Hearers or of those enlightened to conditions, or become accomplished in externalist ways as heaven-dwellers or as demon kings or as members of the demons’ retinues is that they do not know the two fundamental roots and so are mistaken and confused in their cultivation.”

“They are like one who cooks sand in the hope of creating savory delicacies. They may do so for as many eons as there are atoms of universe, but in the end they will not obtain what they want. What are the two? Ananda, the first is the root of beginningless birth and death, which is the mind that seizes upon conditions and that you and all living beings now make use of, taking it to be your own nature. The second is the primal pure substance of beginningless Bodhi Nirvana. It is the primal bright essence of consciousness that can bring forth all conditions. Due to these conditions, you consider it to be lost. Having lost sight of that original brightness, although beings use it to the end of their days, they are unaware of it, and unintentionally enter the various destinies.”

“Ananda, now you wish to know about the path of shamatha with the hope of quitting birth and death. I will now question you further.”

Then the Tathagata raised his golden-colored arm and bent his five webbed fingers as he asked Ananda, “Do you see?” Ananda said, “I see.” The Buddha said, “What do you see?” Ananda said, “I see the Tathagata raise his arm and bend his fingers into a fist of light which dazzles my mind and my eyes.” The Buddha said, “What do you see it with?” Ananda said, “The members of the great assembly and I each see it with our eyes.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “You have answered me by saying that the Tathagata bends his fingers into a fist of light which dazzles your mind and eyes. Your eyes are able to see, but what is the mind that is dazzled by my fist?” Ananda said, “The Tathagata is asking where the mind is located. Now that I use my mind to search for it thoroughly, I propose that precisely that which is able to investigate is my mind.”

The Buddha exclaimed, “Hey! Ananda, that is not your mind. “Startled, Ananda leapt up from his seat, stood, put his palms together, and said to the Buddha, “If that is not my mind, what is it?” The Buddha said to Ananda, “It is your perception of false appearances based on external objects which causes your true nature to be deluded and has caused you from beginningless time to your present llife to take a thief for yourson, to lose your eternal source, and to undergo transmigration.” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, I am Buddha’s favorite cousin. It is because my mind loved the Buddha that I was led to leave the home life. With my mind I not only makes offerings to the Tathagata, but also, in passing through lands as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River to serve all Buddhas and good, wise advisors, and in marshalling great courage to practice every difficult aspect of the Dharma, I always use my mind. Even if I were to slander the Dharma and eternally sever my good roots, it would also be because of this mind. If this is not my mind, then I have no mind, and I am the same as a clod of earth or a piece of wood, because nothing exists apart from this awareness and knowing. Why does the Tathagata say this is not my mind? I am startled and frightened and not one member of the great assembly is without doubt. I only hope that Bhagavan will regard us with great compassion and instruct those who have not yet awakened.” Then the Bhagavan gave instruction to Ananda and the great assembly, wishing to cause their minds to enter the state of patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas.

From the lion’s seat he rubbed Ananda’s crown and said to him, “The Tathagata has often said that all dharmas that arise are only manifestations of the mind. All causes and effects, the worlds as many as atoms of universe, take on substance because of the heart. Ananda, if we regard all the things in the world, including blades of grass and strands of silk, examining them at their fundamental source, each is seen to have a nature, even empty space has a name and an appearance. And so how could the clear, wonderful, pure bright mind, the essence of all thought, itself be without substance? If you insist that the nature which is aware, observes and knows is the mind, then apart from all forms, smells, tastes, and tangibles–apart from the workings of all the defiling objects–that mind should have its own complete nature. And yet now, as you listen to my Dharma, it is because of sound that you are able to make distinctions.

“Even if you could put an end to all seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing, and maintain an inner composure, the shadows of your discrimination of dharmas would remain. I do not insist that you grant that it is not the mind. But examine your mind in minute detail to see whether there is a discriminating nature apart from sense objects. That would truly be your mind. If the discriminating nature you discover has no substance apart from objects, then that would make it just a shadow of discriminations of mental objects. The objects are not eternal, and when they pass out of existence, such a mind would be like f ur on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit. In that case your Dharma-body would come to an end along with it. Then who would be left to cultivate and attain patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas?” At that point Ananda and everyone in the great assembly was speechless and at a total loss.

The Buddha said to Ananda, “There are cultivators in the world who, although they realize the nine successive stages of Samadhi, do not achieve the extinction of outflows or become Arhats, all because they are attached to birth and death and false thinking and mistake these for what is truly real. That is why now, although you are highly erudite, you have not realized sagehood.”

When Ananda heard that, he again wept sorrowfully, placed his five limbs on the ground, knelt on both knees, put his palms together and said to the Buddha. “Since I followed the Buddha and left home, I have relied on the Buddha’s stateliness and sacrosanctity. I have often thought, ‘There is no reason for me to toil at cultivation’ expecting that the Tathagata would bestow Samadhi upon me. I never realized that he could not stand in for me in body or mind. Thus, I lost my original mind and although my body has left the home-life, my mind has not entered the Way. I am like the poor son who renounced his father and roamed around. Therefore, today I realize that although I’m greatly learned, if I do not cultivate, it amounts to having not learned anything; Just as someone who only speaks of food will never get full. Bhagavan, now we all are bound by two obstructions and as a consequence do not perceive the still, eternal nature of the mind. I only hope the Tathagata will empathize with us poor and destitute ones, disclose the wonderful bright mind, and open our Way-eyes.”

Then from the svastika “myriad” on his chest, the Tathagata poured forth gem-like light. Radiant with hundreds of thousands of colors, this brilliant light simultaneously pervaded throughout the ten directions to Buddha-realms as many as atoms of universe, anointing the crowns of every Tathagata in all these jeweled Buddhalands of the ten directions. Then it swept back to Ananda and all the great assembly. The Buddha said to Ananda, “I will now erect the great Dharma banner for you, to cause all living beings in the ten directions to obtain the wondrous subtle secret, the pure nature, the bright mind, and to attain those pure eyes.

“Ananda, you have told me that you saw my fist of bright light. How did it take the form of a fist? How did the fist come to emit light? How was the fist made? By what means could you see it?”

Ananda replied, “The body of the Buddha is born of purity and cleanness, and therefore, it assumes the color of Jambu river gold with deep red hues. Hence, it shone as brilliant and dazzling as a precious mountain. It was actually my eyes that saw the Buddha bend his five-wheeled fingers to form a fist which was shown to all of us.”

The Buddha told Ananda, “Today the Tathagata will tell you the truth: all those with wisdom are able to achieve enlightenment through the use of examples. Ananda, take, for example, my fist: If I didn’t have a hand, I couldn’t make a fist. If you didn’t have eyes, you couldn’t see. If you apply the example of my fist to the case of your eyes, is the principle the same?” Ananda said, “Yes, Bhagavan. Since I can’t see without my eyes, if one applies the example of the Tathagata’s fist to the case of my eyes, the principle is the same.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You say it is the same, but that is not right. Why? If a person has no hand, his fist is gone forever. But one who is without eyes is not entirely devoid of sight. Why not? Try consulting a blind man on a street: ‘What do you see?’ Any blind person will certainly answer, ‘Now I see only darkness in front of my eyes. Nothing else meets my gaze.’ The meaning is apparent: If he sees dark in front of him, how could his sight be considered ‘lost’?”

Ananda said, “The only thing blind people see in front of their eyes is darkness. How can that be called seeing?” The Buddha said to Ananda, “Is there any difference between the darkness seen by blind people, who do not have the use of their eyes, and the darkness seen by someone who has the use of his eyes when he is in a dark room?”

“Stated in that way, Bhagavan, there is no difference between the two kinds of blackness, that seen by a person in a dark room and that seen by the blind.”

“Ananda, if the person without the use of his eyes who sees only darkness were suddenly to regain his sight and see all kinds of forms, and you say it is his eyes which see, then when a person in a dark room who sees only darkness suddenly sees all kinds of forms because a lamp is lit, you should say it is the lamp which sees. If the lamp did the seeing, it would be endowed with sight. But then we would not call it a lamp anymore. Besides, if the lamp were to do the seeing, what would that have to do with you? Therefore you should know that while the lamp can reveal forms, the eyes, not the lamp, do the seeing. And while the eyes can reveal forms, the seeing-nature comes from the mind, not the eyes.”

Although Ananda and everyone in the great assembly had heard what was said, their minds had not yet understood, and so they remained silent. Hoping to hear more of the gentle sounds of the Tathagata’s teaching, They put their palms together, purified their minds, and stood waiting for the Tathagata’s compassionate instruction.

Then the Bhagavan extended his bright hand that is as soft as tula cotton, opened his five webbed fingers, and told Ananda and the great assembly, “When I first accomplished the Way I went to the Deer Park, and for the sake of Ajnatakaundinya and all five of the bhikshus, as well as for you of the four-fold assembly, I said, ‘It is because beings are impeded by transitory defilements and afflictions that they do not realize Bodhi or become Arhats.’ At that time, what caused you who have now realized the various fruitions of sagehood to become enlightened?”

Then Ajnatakaundinya arose and said to the Buddha, “Of the elders now present in the great assembly, only I received the name “Understanding” because I was enlightened to the meaning of tranisory defilements and realized the fruition. Bhagavan, the analogy can be made of a traveler who stops as a guest at a roadside inn, perhaps for the night or perhaps for a meal. When he has finished lodging there or when the meal is finished, he packs his baggage and sets out again. He does not remain there at his leisure. The host himself, however, does not leave. Considering it this way, the one who does not remain is called the guest, and the one who does remain is called the host. The transitory guest, then, is the one who does not remain. Again, the analogy can be made to how when the sun rises resplendent on a clear morning, its golden rays stream into a house through a crack to reveal particles of dust in the air. The dust dances in the rays of light, but the empty space is unmoving. Considering it is that way, what is clear and still is called space, and what moves is called dust. The defiling dust, then, is that which moves.”

The Buddha said, “So it is.”

Then in the midst of the great assembly the Tathagata bent his five webbed fingers. After bending them, he opened them again. After he opened them, he bent them again, and he asked Ananda, “What do you see now?” Ananda said, “I see the Tathagata’s hand opening and closing in the midst of the assembly, revealing his hundred-jeweled wheeled palms.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “You see my hand open and close in the assembly. Is it my hand that opens and closes, or is it your seeing that opens and closes?” Ananda said, “Bhagavan’s jeweled hand opened and closed in the assembly. I saw the Tathagata’s hand itself open and close while my seeing-nature neither opened nor closed.” The Buddha said, “What moved and what was still?” Ananda said, “The Buddha’s hand did not remain at rest. And since my seeing-nature is beyond even stillness, how could it not be at rest?”

The Buddha said, “So it is.” Then from his wheeled palm the Tathagata sent a gem-like ray of light flying to Ananda’s right. Ananda immediately turned his head and glanced to the right.

The Buddha then sent another ray of light to Ananda’s left. Ananda again turned his head and glanced to the left. The Buddha said to Ananda, “Why did your head move just now?” Ananda said, “I saw the Tathagata emit a wonderful gem-like light which flashed by my left and right, and so I looked left and right. My head moved by itself. Ananda, when you glanced at the Buddha’s light and moved your head left and right, was it your head that moved or your seeing that moved? Bhagavan, my head moved of itself. Since my seeing-nature is beyond even cessation, how could it move?” The Buddha said, “So it is.”

Then the Tathagata told everyone in the assembly, “Normally beings would say that the defiling dust moves and that the transitory guest does not remain. You have observed that it was Ananda’s head moved; yet his seeing did not move. You also have observed my hand open and close; yet your seeing did not stretch or bend. Why do you continue to rely on your physical bodies which move and on the external environment which also moves? From the beginning to the end, this causes your every thought to be subject to production and extinction. You have lost your true nature and conduct yourselves in upside-down ways. Having lost your true nature and mind, you take objects to be yourself, and so you cling to revolving on the wheel of rebirth.”