Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 2 (english)

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the Buddha’s instructions, they became peaceful and composed both in body and mind. They recollected that since time without beginning, they had strayed from their fundamental true mind by mistakenly taking the shadows of the differentiations of conditioned defilements to be real. Now on this day as they awakened, they were each like a lost infant who suddenly finds its beloved mother. They put their palms together to make obeisance to the Buddha. They wished to hear the Tathagata enlighten them to the dual nature of body and mind, of what is false, of what is true, of what is empty and what is existent, and of what is subject to production and extinction and what transcends production and extinction.

Then King Prasenajit rose and said to the Buddha, “In the past, when I had not yet received the teachings of the Buddha, I met Katyayana and Vairatiputra, both of whom said that this body ends at death, and that this is Nirvana. Now, although I have met the Buddha, I still wonder about that. How can I go about realizing the mind at the level of no production and no extinction? Now all in this Great Assembly who still have outflows also wish to be instructed on this subject.”

The Buddha said to the great king, “Let’s talk about your body as it is right now. Now I ask you, will your physical body be like vajra, indestructible and living forever? Or will it change and go bad?”

“Bhagavan, this body of mine will keep changing until it eventually perishes.” The Buddha said, “Great king, you have not yet perished. How do you know you will perish?” “Bhagavan, although my impermanent, changing, and decaying body has not yet become extinct, I observe it now, as every passing thought fades away. Each new one fails to remain, but is gradually extinguished like fire turning wood to ashes. This ceaseless extinguishing convinces me that this body will eventually completely perish.”

The Buddha said, “So it is. Great king, at your present age you are already old and declining. How does your appearance and complexion compare to when you were a youth?”

“Bhagavan, in the past when I was young my skin was moist and shining. When I reached the prime of life, my blood and breath were full. But now in my declining years, as I race into old age, my form is withered and wizened and my spirit dull. My hair is white and my face is wrinkled and not much time remains for me. How could one possibly compare me now with the way I was when in my prime?”

The Buddha said, “Great king, your appearance should not decline so suddenly.” The king said, “Bhagavan, the change has been a hidden transformation of which I honestly have not been aware. I have come to this gradually through the passing of winters and summers. How did it happen? In my twenties, I was still young, but my features had aged since the time I was ten. My thirties were a further decline from my twenties, and now at ‘sixty-two I look back at my fifties as hale and hearty.

“Bhagavan, I now contemplate these hidden transformations. Although the changes wrought by this process of dying are evident through the decades, I might consider them further in finer detail: these changes do not occur just in periods of twelve years; there are actually changes year by year. Not only are there annual changes, there are also monthly transformations. Nor does it stop at monthly transformations; there are also differences day by day. Examining them closely, I find that kshana by kshana, thought after thought, they never stop. And so I know my body will keep changing until it has perished.”

The Buddha told the Great King, “By watching the ceaseless changes of these transformations, you awaken and know of your perishing, but do you also know that at the time of perishing there is something in your body which does not become extinct?”

King Prasenajit put his palms together and said to the Buddha, “I really do not know.”

The Buddha said, “I will now show you the nature which is neither produced and nor extinguished. Great King, how old were you when you saw the waters of the Ganges?”

The King said, “When I was three years old my compassionate mother led me to visit the goddess Jiva. We passed a river, and at the time I knew it was the waters of the Ganges.”

The Buddha said, “Great King, you have said that when you were twenty you had deteriorated from when you were ten. Day by day, month by month, year by year until you reached sixty, in thought after thought there has been change. Yet when you saw the Ganges River at the age of three, how was it different from when you were thirteen?”

The King said, “It was no different from when I was three, and even now when I am sixty-two it is still no different.”

The Buddha said, “Now you are mournful that your hair is white and your face wrinkled. In the same way that your face is definitely more wrinkled then it was in your youth, has the seeing with which you look at the Ganges aged, so that it is old now but was young when you looked at the river as a child in the past?”

The King said, “No, Bhagavan.”

The Buddha said, “Great King, your face is wrinkled, but the essential nature of your seeing will never wrinkle. What wrinkles is subject to change. What does not wrinkle does not change. What changes will perish, but what does not change is fundamentally free of production and extinction. How could it be subject to your birth and death? Furthermore, why bring up what Maskari G oshaliputra and the others say: that after the death of this body there is total annihilation?”

The king heard these words, believed them, and realized that when the life of this body is finished, there will be rebirth. He and the entire great assembly were greatly delighted at having obtained what they never had before.

Ananda then arose from this seat, made obeisance to the Buddha, put his palms together, knelt on both knees, and said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, if this seeing and hearing are indeed neither produced nor extinguished, why did Bhagavan refer to us people as having lost our true natures and as going about things in an upside-down way? I hope that Bhagavan will give rise to great compassion and wash my dust and defilement away.”

Then the Tathagata let his golden-colored arm fall so his webbed fingers pointed downward, and demonstrating this to Ananda, said, “You see the position of my hand: is it right-side-up or upside-down?” Ananda said, “Being in the world take it to be upside-down. I myself do not know what is right-side-up and what is upside-down.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “If people of the world take this as upside-down, what do people of the world take to be right-side-up? Ananda said, “They call it right-side-up when the Tathagata raises his arm, with the fingers of his cotton-soft hand pointing up in the air.”

The Buddha then held up his hand and said: “And so for it to be upside-down would be for it to be just the opposite of this. Or at least that’s how people of the world would regard it. In the same way they will differentiate between your body and the Tathagata’s pure Dharmabody and will say that the Tathagata’s body is one of right and universal knowledge, while your body is upside down. But examine your body and the Buddha’s closely for this upside-downness: What exactly does the term ‘upside down’ refer to?”

Thereupon Ananda and the entire great assembly were dazed and stared unblinking at the Buddha. They did not know in what way their bodies and minds were upside down.

The Buddha’s compassion arose as he empathized with Ananda and all in the great assembly and he spoke to the great assembly in a voice that swept over them like the ocean-tide. “All of you good people, I have often said that all conditions that bring about forms and the mind as well as dharmas pertaining to the mind and all the conditioned dharmas are manifestations of the mind only. Your bodies and your minds all appear within the wonder of the bright, true, essential, magnificent mind. Why do I say that you have lost track of what is fundamentally wonderful, the perfect, wonderful bright mind, and that in the midst of your gem-like bright and wonderful nature, you wallow in confusion while being right within enlightenment.

“Mental dimness turns into emptiness. This emptiness, in the dimness, unites with darkness to become form. Form mixes with false thinking and the thoughts take shape and become the body. As causal conditions come together, there are perpetual internal disturbances which tend to gallop outside. Such inner turmoil is often mistaken for the nature of the mind. Once that is mistaken to be the mind, a further delusion determines that it is located in the physical body. You do not know that the physical body as well as the mountains, the rivers, empty space, and the great earth are all within the wonderful bright true mind. Such a delusion is like ignoring hundreds of thousands of clear pure seas and taking notice of only a single bubble, seeing it as the entire ocean, as the whole expanse of the great and small seas.

Refuting the false perception to eliminate the fourth aggregate

and reveal the non-existence of the seventh consciousness

Ananda’s wrong view

“You people are doubly deluded among the deluded. Such delusion does not differ from that caused by my lowered hand. The Tathagata says you are pathetic.”

Having received the Buddha’s compassionate rescue and profound instruction, Ananda wept, folded his hands, and said to the Buddha, “I have heard these wonderful sounds of the Buddha and have awakened to the primal perfection of the wonderful bright mind as being the eternally dwelling mind-ground. But now in awakening to the Dharma-sounds that the Buddha is speaking, I know that I have been using my conditioned mind to regard and revere them. Having just become aware of that mind, I dare yet claim to recognize that fundamental mind-ground. I pray that the Buddha will be compassionate and with his perfect voice explain to us in order to pull our doubts out by the roots and enable us to return to the unsurpassed Way.”

Unreality of illusory causes

The Buddha told Ananda, “You and others like you still listen to the Dharma with the conditioned mind, and so the Dharma becomes conditioned as well, and you do not obtain the Dharma-nature. This is similar to a person pointing his finger at the moon to show it to someone else. Guided by the finger, the other person should see the moon. If he looks at the finger instead and mistakes it for the moon, he loses not only the moon but the finger also. Why? Because he mistakes the pointing finger for the bright moon. Not only does he lose the finger, but he also fails to recognize light and darkness. Why? He mistakes the solid matter of the finger for the bright nature of the moon, and so he does not understand the two natures of light and darkness. The same is true of you.

“If you take what distinguishes the sound of my speaking Dharma to be your mind, then that mind itself, apart from the sound which is distinguished, should have a nature which makes distinctions. Take the example of the guest who lodged overnight at an inn; he stopped temporarily and then went on. He did not dwell there permanently, whereas the innkeeper did not go anywhere, since he was the host of the inn.

Falseness of both sense organs and consciousness

“The same applies here. If it were truly your mind, it would not go anywhere. And so why in the absence of sound does it have no discriminating nature of its own? This, then, applies not only to the distinguishing of sound, but in distinguishing my appearance, that mind has no distinction-making nature apart from the attributes of form. This is true even when the making of distinctions is totally absent; when there is no form and no emptiness, or in the obscurity which Goshali and others take to be the ‘profound truth’: that mind still does not have a distinction-making nature in the absence of casual conditions.

“How can we say that the nature of that mind of yours plays the part of host since everything perceived by it can be returned to something else?” Ananda said, “If every state of our mind can be returned to something else as its cause, then why does the wonderful bright original mind mentioned by the Buddha return nowhere? We only hope that the Buddha will empathize with us and explain this for us.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “As you now look at me, the essence of your seeing is fundamentally bright. Although that seeing is not the wonderful essential brightness of the mind, it is like a second moon, rather than the moon’s reflection. Listen attentively, for I am now going to explain to you the concept of not returning to anything.

“Ananda, this great lecture hall is open to the east. When the sun rises in the sky, it is flooded with light. At midnight, during a new moon or when the moon is obscured by clouds or fog, it is dark. Looking out through open doors and windows your vision is unimpeded; facing walls or houses your vision is hindered. In such places where there are forms of distinctive features Your vision is causally conditioned. In a dull void, you can see only emptiness. Your vision will be distorted when the objects of seeing are shrouded in dust and vapor; you will perceive clearly when the air is fresh. Ananda, observe all these transitory characteristics as I now return each to its source. What are their sources? Ananda, among these transitions, the light can be returned to the sun. Why? Without the sun there would be no light; therefore the cause of light belongs with the sun, and so it can be returned to the sun. Darkness can be returned to the new moon.

Penetration can be returned to the doors and windows while obstruction can be returned to the walls and eaves. Conditions can be returned to distinctions. Emptiness can be returned to dull emptiness. Darkness and distortion can be returned to mist and haze. Bright purity can be returned to freshness, and nothing that exists in this world goes beyond these categories. To which of the eight states of perception would the essence of your seeing be reducible? Why do I ask that? If it returned to brightness, you would not see darkness when there was no light. Although such states of perception as light, darkness, and the like differ from one another, your seeing remains unchanged.

“That which can be returned to other sources clearly is not you; if that which you cannot return to anything else is not you, then what is it? Therefore I know that your mind is fundamentally wonderful, bright, and pure. You yourself are confused and deluded. You abuse what is fundamental, and end up undergoing the cycle of rebirth, bobbing up and down in the sea of birth and death. No wonder the Tathagata says that you are the most pathetic of creatures.”

Ananda said, “Although I recognize that the seeing-nature cannot be traced back to anything, but how can I come to know that it is my true nature?”

The Buddha told Ananda, “Now I have a question for you. At this point you have not yet attained the purity of no outflows. Blessed by the Buddha’s holy strength, you are able to see into the first dhyana heavens without any obstruction, just as Aniruddha looks at Jambudvipa with such clarity as he might at an amala fruit in the palm of his hand. Bodhisattvas can see hundreds of thousands of realms. The Tathagatas of the ten directions see everything throughout pure lands as numerous as atoms of universe. By contrast, ordinary beings’ sight does not extend beyond a fraction of an inch.”

“Ananda, as you and I now look at the palace where the four heavenly kings reside, and inspect all that moves in the water, on dry land, and in the air, some are dark and some are bright, varying in shape and appearance, and yet all of these are nothing but the dust before us, taking solid form only through our own distinction-making. Among them you should distinguish which is self and which is other. I ask you now to select from within your seeing which is the substance of the self and which is the appearance of things. Ananda, if you take a good look at everything everywhere within the range of your vision extending from the palaces of the sun and moon to the seven gold mountain ranges, all that you see is phenomena of different features and degrees of light. At closer range you will gradually see clouds floating, birds flying, wind blowing, dust rising, trees, mountains, streams, grasses, seeds, people, and animals, all of which are phenomena, but none of which are you.”

“Ananda, all phenomena, near and far, have their own nature. Although each is distinctly different, they are seen with the same pure essence of seeing. Thus all the categories of phenomena have their individual distinctions, but the seeing-nature has no differences. That essential wonderful brightness is most certainly your seeing-nature.”

“If seeing were a phenomenon, then you should also be able to see my seeing. If we both looked at the same phenomenon, you would also be seeing my seeing. Then, when I’m not seeing, why can’t you see my not-seeing? If you could see my not-seeing, it clearly would not be the phenomenon that I am not seeing. If you cannot not see my not seeing, then it is clearly not a phenomena. How could it not be you? Besides that, if your seeing of phenomena was like that, then when you saw things, things should also see you. With substance and nature mixed together, you and I and everyone in the world would no longer be distinguishable from each other.”

“Ananda, when you see, it is you who sees, not me. The seeing-nature pervades everywhere; whose is it if it is not yours? Why do you have doubts about your own true-nature and come to me seeking verification, thinking your nature is not true?”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, given that this seeing-nature is certainly mine and no one else’s, when the Tathagata and I regard the hall of the Four Heavenly Kings with its supreme abundance of jewels or stay at the palace of the sun and moon, this seeing completely pervades the lands of the Saha world. Upon returning to this sublime lecture hall, the seeing only observes the monastic grounds and once inside the pure central hall, it only sees the eaves and corridors. Bhagavan, that is how the seeing is. At first its substance pervaded everywhere throughout the one realm, but now in the midst of this room it fills one room only. Does the seeing shrink from great to small, or do the walls and eaves press in and cut it off? Now I do not know where the meaning of this lies and hope the Buddha will extend his vast compassion and proclaim it for me thoroughly.”

The Buddha told Ananda, “All the aspects of everything in the world, such as big and small, inside and outside, amount to the dust before you. Do not say the seeing stretches and shrinks. Consider the example of a square container in which a square of emptiness is seen. I ask you further: is the square emptiness that is seen in the square container a fixed square shape, or is it not fixed as a square shape? If it is a fixed square shape, when it is switched to a round container the emptiness would not be round. If it is not a fixed shape, then when it is in the square container it should not be a square-shaped emptiness. You say you do not know where the meaning lies. The nature of the meaning being thus, how can you speak of its location? Ananda, if you wished there to be neither squareness nor roundness, you would only need to remove the container. The essential emptiness has no shape, and so do not say that you would also have to remove the shape from the emptiness. If, as you suggest, your seeing shrinks and becomes small when you enter a room, then when you look up at the sun shouldn’t your seeing be pulled out until it reaches the sun’s surface? If walls and eaves can press in and cut off your seeing, then why if you were to drill a small hole, wouldn’t there be evidence of the seeing reconnecting? And so that idea is not feasible.

“From beginningless time until now, all beings have mistaken themselves for phenomena and, having lost sight of their original mind, are influenced by phenomena, and end up having the scope of their observations defined by boundaries large and small. If you can influence phenomena, then you are the same as the Tathagata. With body and mind perfect and bright, you are your own unmoving Way-place. The tip of a single fine hair can completely contain the lands of the ten directions.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, if this seeing-essence is indeed my wonderful nature, my wonderful nature should no be right in front of me. The seeing being truly me, what, then, are my present body and mind? Yet it is my body and mind which make distinctions, whereas the seeing does not make distinctions and does not discern my body. If it were really my mind which caused me to see now, then the seeing-nature would actually be me, and my body would not be me.

How would that differ from the question the Tathagata asked about phenomena being able to see me? I only hope the Buddha will extend his great compassion and explain for those who have not yet awakened.”

The Buddha told Ananda, “What you have just now said–that the seeing is in front of you–is actually not the case. If it were actually in front of you, it would be something you could actually see, and then the seeing-essence would have a location. There would have to be some evidence of it. Now as you sit in the Jeta Grove you look about everywhere at the grove, the pond, the halls, up at the sun and moon, and at the Ganges River before you. Now, before my Lion’s Seat, point out these various appearances: what is dark is the groves, what is bright is the sun, what is obstructing is the walls, what is clear is emptiness, and so on including even the grasses and trees, and the most minute objects. Their sizes vary, but since they all have appearances, all can be located. If you insist that your seeing is in front of you, then you should be able to point it out. What is the seeing?

“Ananda, if emptiness were the seeing, then since it had already become your seeing, what would have become of emptiness? If phenomena were the seeing, since they had already become the seeing, what would have become of phenomena? You should be able to cut through and peel away the myriad appearances to the finest degree and thereby distinguish and bring forth the essential brightness and pure wonder of the source of seeing, pointing it out and showing it to me from among all these things, so that it is perfectly clear beyond any doubt.”

Ananda said, “From where I am now in this many-storied lecture hall, reaching to the distant Ganges River and the sun and moon overhead, all that I might raise my hand to point to, all that I indulge my eyes in seeing, all are phenomena; they are not the seeing. Bhagavan, it is as the Buddha has said: not to mention someone like me, a Hearer of the first stage, who still has outflows, even Bodhisattvas cannot break open and reveal, among the myriad appearances which are before them, an essence of seeing which has a special nature of its own apart from all phenomena.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is.”

The Buddha further said to Ananda, “It is as you have said. No seeing-essence that would have a nature of its own apart from all phenomena can be found. Therefore, all the phenomena you point to are phenomena, and none of them is the seeing. Now I will tell you something else: as you and the Tathagata sit here in the Jeta Grove and look again at the groves and gardens, up to the sun and moon, and at all the various different appearances, having determined that the seeing-essence is not among anything you might point to. I now advise you to go ahead and discover what, among all these phenomena, is not your seeing.”

Ananda said, “As I look all over this Jeta Grove, I do not know what in the midst of it is not my seeing. Why is that? If trees were not the seeing, why would I see trees? If trees were the seeing, then how could they also be trees? The same is true of everything up to and including emptiness: if emptiness were not the seeing, why would I see emptiness? If emptiness were the seeing, then how could it also be emptiness? As I consider it again and explore the subtlest aspects of the myriad appearances, none is not my seeing.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is.”

Then all in the great assembly who had not reached the stage beyond study were stunned upon hearing these words of the Buddha, and could not make heads or tails of it all. They were agitated and taken aback at the same time, having lost their bearings. The Tathagata, knowing they were anxious and upset, let empathy rise in his heart as he consoled Ananda and everyone in the great assembly. “Good people, what the unsurpassed Dharma King says is true and real. He says it just as it is. He never deceives anyone; he never lies. He is not like Maskari Goshaliputra advocating his four kinds of non-dying, spouting deceptive and confusing theories. Consider this carefully and do not be embarrassed to ask about it.”

Then Dharma Prince Manjushri, feeling sorry for the fourfold assembly, rose from his seat in the midst of the great assembly, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, the great assembly has not awakened to the principle of the Tathagata’s two-fold disclosure of the essence of seeing as being both form and emptiness and as being neither of them. World Honored One, if conditioned forms, emptiness, and other phenomena mentioned above were the seeing, there should be an indication of them; and if they were not the seeing, there should be nothing there to be seen. Now we do not know what is meant, and this is why we are alarmed and concerned. Yet our good roots from former lives are not deficient. We only hope the Tathagata will have the great compassion to reveal exactly what all the things are and what the seeing-essence is. Among all of those, what exists and what doesn’t?

The Buddha told Manjushri and the great assembly, “To the Tathagatas and the great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, who dwell in this Samadhi, seeing and the conditions of seeing, as well as thoughts regarding seeing, are like flowers in space–fundamentally non-existent. This seeing and its conditions are originally the wonderful pure bright substance of Bodhi. How could one inquire into its existence or non-existence? Manjushri, I now ask you: Could there be another Manjushri besides you? Or would that Manjushri not be you?

“No, Bhagavan: I would be the real Manjushri. There couldn’t be any other Manjushri. Why not? If there were another one, there would be two Manjushris. But as it is now, I could not be that non-existent Manjushri. Actually, neither of the two concepts ‘existent’or ‘non-existent’ applies.”

The Buddha said, “That is how the basic substance of wonderful Bodhi is in terms of emptiness and mundane objects. They are basically misnomers for the wonderful brightness of unsurpassed Bodhi, the pure, perfect, true mind. Our misconception turns them into form and emptiness, as well as hearing and seeing. They are like the second moon: does that moon exist or not? Manjushri, there is only one true moon. That leaves no room for questioning its existence or non-existence. Therefore, your current contemplating of the seeing and the mundane objects and the many observations that entails are all false thoughts. You cannot transcend existence and non-existence while caught up in them. Only the true essence, the wonderful enlightened bright nature is beyond pointing out or not pointing out.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, it is truly as the Dharma King has said: the condition of enlightenment pervades the ten directions. It is clear and eternal its nature is neither produced nor extinguished. How does it differ, then, from the Elder Brahmin Kapila’s teaching of the mysterious truth or from the teaching of the ash-smeared ascetics or from the other externalist sects that say there is a true self which pervades the ten directions? Also, in the past, Bhagavan gave a lengthy lecture on this topic at Mount Lanka for the sake of Great Wisdom Bodhisattva and others:

‘Those externalist sects always speak of spontaneity. I speak

of causes and conditions which is an entirely different frame of

reference.’ Now as I contemplate original enlightenment in its

natural state, as being neither produced nor extinguished, and as apart from all empty falseness and inversion, it seems to have nothing to do with your causes and conditions or the spontaneity advocated by others. Would you please enlighten us on this point so we can avoid joining those of deviant views, thus enabling us to obtain the true mind, the bright nature of wonderful enlightenment?”

The Buddha told Ananda, “Now I have instructed you with such expedients in order to tell you the truth, yet you do not awaken to it but mistake what I describe for spontaneity. Ananda, If it definitely were spontaneous, you should be able to distinguish the substance of the spontaneity. Now you investigate the wonderful bright seeing. What is its spontaneous aspect? Is the bright light its spontaneous aspect? Is darkness its spontaneous aspect? Is emptiness its spontaneous aspect? Are solid objects its spontaneous aspect? Ananda, if its spontaneous aspect consisted of light, you should not see darkness. Or, if its spontaneous aspect were emptiness, you should not see solid objects. Continuing in the same way, if its spontaneous aspect were all dark appearances, then, when confronted with light, the seeing-nature should be cut off and extinguished, so how could you see light?”

Ananda said, “The nature of this wonderful seeing definitely does not seem to be spontaneous. And so I propose that it is produced from causes and conditions. But I am not totally clear about this. I now ask the Tathagata whether this idea is consistent with the nature of causes and conditions.”

The Buddha said, “You say the nature of seeing is causes and conditions. I ask you about that: because you are now seeing, the seeing-nature manifests. Does this seeing exist because of light? Does it exist because of darkness? Does it exist because of emptiness? Does it exist because of solid objects? Ananda, if light is the cause that brings about seeing, you should not see darkness. If darkness is the cause that brings about seeing, you should not see light. The same question applies to emptiness and solid objects. Moreover, Ananda, does the seeing derive from the condition of there being light? Does the seeing derive from the condition of there being darkness? Does the seeing derive from the condition of there being emptiness? Does the seeing derive from the condition of there being solid objects? Ananda, if it existed because there is emptiness, you should not see solid objects. If it exists because of there are solid objects, you should not see emptiness: It would be the same with light or darkness as it would be with emptiness or solid objects.

“Thus you should know that the essential, enlightened wonderful brightness is due to neither causes nor conditions nor does it arise spontaneously. Nor is it the negation of spontaneity. It is neither a negation nor the denial of a negation. All dharmas are defined as being devoid of any attributes. Now in the midst of them, how can you use your mind to make distinctions that are based on clever debate and technical jargon? To do that is like grasping at empty space: you only end up tiring yourself out. How could empty space possibly yield to your grasp?”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “If the nature of the wonderful enlightenment has neither causes nor conditions then why does Bhagavan always tell the bhikshus that the nature of seeing derives from the four conditions of emptiness, brightness, the mind, and the eyes? What does that mean?”

The Buddha said, “Ananda, what I have spoken about causes and conditions in the mundane sense does not describe the primary meaning. ”

Ananda, I ask you again: people in the world say, ‘I can see.’

What is that ‘seeing’? And what is ‘not seeing’?”

Ananda said, “The light of the sun, the moon, and lamps is the cause that allows people in the world to see all kinds of appearances: that is called seeing. Without these three kinds of light, they would not be able to see.”

“Ananda, if you say there is no seeing in the absence of light, then you should not see darkness. If in fact you do see darkness, which is just lack of light, how can you say there is no seeing?”

“Ananda, if, when it is dark, you call that ‘not seeing’ because you do not see light, then since it is now light and you do not see the characteristic of darkness, that should also be called ‘not seeing.’ Thus, both aspects would be called ‘not seeing.’ Although these two aspects counteract each other, your seeing-nature does not lapse for an instant. Thus you should know that seeing continues in both cases. How, then, can you say there is no seeing?

“Therefore, Ananda, you should know that when you see light, the seeing is not the light. When you see darkness, the seeing is not the darkness. When you see emptiness, the seeing is not the emptiness. When you see solid objects, the seeing is not the solid objects. And by extention of these four facts, you should also know that when you see your seeing, the seeing is not that seeing . Since the former seeing is beyond the latter, the latter cannot reach it. Such being the case, how can you describe it as being due to causes and conditions or spontaneity or that it has something to do with mixing and uniting? You narrow-minded Hearers are so inferior and ignorant that you are unable to penetrate through to the purity of ultimate reality. Now I will continue to instruct you. Consider well what is said. Do not become weary or negligent on the wonderful road to Bodhi.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, we have still not understood what the Buddha, the Bhagavan, has explained for me and for others like me about causes and conditions, spontaneity, the attributes of mixing and uniting, and the absence of mixing and uniting. And now to hear further that the seeing that can be seen is not the seeing adds yet another layer of confusion. Humbly, I hope that with your vast compassion you will bestow upon us the great wisdom-eye so as to show us the bright pure enlightened mind.” After saying this he wept, made obeisance, and waited to receive the sacred instruction.

Then the Bhagavan, out of pity for Ananda and the great assembly, began to explain extensively the wonderful path of cultivation for all Samadhis of the Great Dharani. And said to Ananda, “Although you have a keen memory, it only benefits your extensive learning. But your mind has not yet understood the subtle secret contemplation and illumination of shamatha. Listen attentively now as I explain it for you in detail and cause all those of the future who have outflows to obtain the fruition of Bodhi.

“Ananda, all living beings turn in the cycle of rebirth in this world because of two upside-down discriminating false views. Wherever these views arise, they cause one to revolve through the cycle in accord with their corresponding karma. What are the two views? The first consists of the false view based on living beings’ individual karma. The second consists of the false view based on living beings’ collective karma.

“What is meant by false views based on individual karma? Ananda, take for example someone who has cataracts on his eyes so that at night he alone sees around the lamp a circular reflection composed of layers of five colors. What do you think? Are the colors that compose the circle of light that appears around the lamp at night created by the lamp or are they created by the seeing? Ananda, if the colors were created by the lamp, why is it that someone without the disease does not see the same thing, and only the one who is diseased sees the circular reflection?

If the colors were created by the seeing,, then the seeing would have already become colored; what, then, should the circular reflection that the diseased person sees to be called? Moreover, Ananda, if the circular reflection were a thing in itself, apart from the lamp, then it should be seen around the folding screen, the curtain, the table, and the mats. On the other hand, if it had nothing to do with the seeing, the eyes should not see it. So why does the man with cataracts see the circular reflections with his eyes? Therefore, you should know that in fact the colors originate from the lamp, and the disease of the seeing brings about the reflection. Both the circular reflection and the faulty seeing are the result of the cataract. But that which sees the diseased film is not sick. Thus you should not say that the cause is the lamp or the seeing or neither the lamp nor the seeing. Consider the example of which is neither substantial nor a reflection. This is because the double image of the moon is merely a result of applying pressure on the eyeball. Hence, a wise person would not try to aruge-spelling? that the second moon either has or doesn’t have a form, or that it is apart from the seeing or not apart from the seeing. The same is true in this case: the illusion is created by the diseased eyes. You cannot say it originates from the lamp or from the seeing: even less can it be said not to originate from the lamp or the seeing.

“What is meant by the false view of the collective karma? Ananda, in Jambudvipa, besides the waters of the great seas, there is level land that forms some three thousand continents. “East and west, throughout the entire expanse of the great continent, there are twenty-three hundred large countries. In the other smaller continents in the seas there may be two or three hundred countries, or perhaps one or two, or perhaps thirty, forty, or fifty. Ananda, suppose that among them there is one small continent where there are only two countries. The people of just one of the countries collectively experience evil conditions. On that small continent, all the people of that country see all kinds of inauspicious omens. “Perhaps they see two suns, perhaps they see two moons ,perhaps they see the moon with circles of , or a dark haze, or girdle-ornaments around them(white vapor around it, or half around it ); or comets with long rays, or comets with short rays, moving (or “flying”)stars, shooting stars, ‘ears’ on the sun or moon, (evil haze above the sun, or evil haze besides the sun), (morning) rainbows, secondary (evening) rainbows, and various other evil signs. Only the people in that country see them. The beings in the other country never do see or hear anything unusual.

“Ananda, I will now summarize and compare these two cases for you, to make both of them clear. Ananda, let us examine the case of the being’s false view involving individual karma. He saw the appearance of a circular reflection around the lamp. Although this appearance seemed to be real, in the end, what was seen came about because of the cataracts on his eyes. The cataracts are the result of the weariness of the seeing rather than the products of form. However, what perceives the cataracts is free from all defects. By the same token, you now use your eyes to look at the mountains, the rivers, the countries, and all the living beings: and they are all brought about by the disease of your seeing contracted since time without beginning. Seeing and the conditions of seeing seem to reveal what is before you. Originally our enlightenment is bright. The cataracts influence the seeing and its conditions, so that what is perceived by the seeing is affected by the cataracts. But no cataract affects the perception and the conditions of our fundamentally enlightened bright mind. The perception that perceives the cataracts is a perception not affected by the cataracts. That is the true perception of seeing. Why name it other things like awareness, hearing, knowing, and seeing? T herefore, you now see me and yourself and the world and all the ten kinds of living beings because of a disease in the seeing.

What perceives the disease is not diseased. The nature of true essential seeing has no disease. Therefore it is not called seeing.

“Ananda, let us compare the false views of those living beings’ collective karma with the false views of the individual karma of one person. The individual person with the diseased eyes can be likened to the people of that one country. He sees circular reflections, erroneously brought about by a disease of the seeing. The beings with a collective share see inauspicious things. In the midst of their karma of identical views arise pestilence and evils. Both are produced from a beginningless falsity of seeing. It is the same in the three thousand continents of Jambudvipa, throughout the four great seas in the saha world and on through the ten directions. All countries that have outflows and all living beings are the enlightened bright wonderful mind without outflows. Seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are an illusory falseness brought about by the disease and its conditions. Mixing and uniting with that brings about a false birth; mixing and uniting with that creates a false death.

“If you can leave far behind all conditions which mix and unite as well as those which do not mix and unite, then you can also extinguish and cast out the causes of birth and death, and obtain perfect Bodhi, the nature of which is neither produced nor extinguished. That is the pure clear basic mind, the eternal fundamental enlightenment.

“Ananda, although you have already realized that the wonderful bright fundamental enlightenment is not orginated by conditions nor is it originated by spontaneity, you have not yet understood that the source of enlightenment does not originate from mixing and uniting or from a lack of mixing and uniting.

“Ananda, now I will once again make use of the mundane objects before you to question you. You now hold that false thoughts mix and unite with the causes and conditions of everything in the world, and you wonder if the Bodhi-Heart one realizes might arise from mixing and uniting. To follow that line of thinking, right now, does the wonderful pure seeing-essence mix with light, does it mix with darkness, does it mix with penetration or does it mix with obstructions? If it mixed with light, then when you looked at light, when light appeared before you, at what point would it mix with your seeing? Given that seeing has certain attributes, what would the altered shape of such a mixture be?

If that mixture were not the seeing, how could you see the light? If it were the seeing, how could the seeing see itself? If you insist that seeing is complete, what room would there be for it to mix with the light? And if light were complete in itself, it could not unite and mix with the seeing. If seeing were different from light, then, when mixed together, both its quality and the light would lose their identity. Since the mixture would result in the loss of the light and the quality of seeing, the proposal that the seeing-essence mixes with light doesn’t hold. The same principle applies to its mixing with darkness, with penetration, or with all kinds of solid objects.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you are right now, once again, does the wonderful pure seeing-essence unite with light, does it unite with darkness, does it unite with penetration, or does it unite with solid objects? If it united with light, then when darkness came and the attributes of light ceased to be, how could you see darkness since the seeing would not be united with darkness? If you could see darkness and yet at the same time there was no union with darkness, but rather a union with light, you should not be able to see light. Since you could not be seeing light, then why is it that when your seeing comes in contact with light, it recognizes light, not darkness? The same would be true of its union with darkness, with penetration, or with any kind of solid object.”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, as I consider it, the source of this wonderful enlightenment does not mix or unite with any conditioned mundane objects or with mental speculation. Is that the case?”

The Buddha said, “Now you want to say that the enlightened nature neither mixes nor unites. So now I ask you further: as to this wonderful seeing-essence’s neither mixing nor uniting, does it not mix with light? Does it not mix with darkness? Does it not mix with penetration? Does it not mix with solid objects? If it does not mix with light, then there should be a boundary between seeing and light. Examine it closely:

At what point is there light? At what point is there seeing? Where are the boundaries of the seeing and the light? Ananda, if there were no seeing within the boundaries of light, then there would be no contact between them, and clearly one would not know what the attributes of light were. Then how could its boundaries be defined? As to its not mixing with darkness, with penetration, or with any kind of solid object, the principle would be the same.

“Moreover, as to the wonderful seeing essence’s neither mixing nor uniting, does it not unite with light? Does it not unite with darkness? Does it not unite with penetration? Does it not unite with solid objects? If it did not unite with light, then the seeing and the light would be at odds with each other by their nature, as are the ear and the light, which do not come in contact. Since the seeing would not know what the attributes of light were, how could it determine clearly whether there is union? As to its not uniting with darkness, with penetration, or with any kind of solid object, the principle would be the same.”

“Ananda, you have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral phenomena, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. Their phenomena aspects are illusory and false, but their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment. Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction. Who would have thought that production and extinction, coming and going are fundamentally the eternal wonderful light of the Tathagata, the unmoving, all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of True Suchness! If within the true and eternal nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, one will never find them.

“Ananda, Why do I say that the five skandhas are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata? Ananda, suppose a person with clear vision were to gaze at clear bright space. His gaze would perceive only clear emptiness devoid of anything else. Then if that person for no particular reason fixed his gaze, the staring would cause fatigue. Thus in empty space he would see illusory flowers and other illusory and disordered unreal appearances. You should be aware that the form skandha is like that. Ananda, those illusory flowers did not originate from space nor did they come from the eyes. In fact, Ananda, if they came form space, coming from there they should also return to and enter space. But if objects were to enter and leave it, space would not be empty. And if space was not empty, then there would be no room for it to contain the flowers that might appear and disappear, just as Ananda’s body cannot contain another Ananda. If the flowers came from the eyes, coming from them, they should also return to the eyes. If the image of flowers originated in the eyes, then they themselves should have vision. If they had vision, when they went out to space, they should be able to turn around and see the person’s eyes. If they didn’t have vision, then in going out, they would obscure space and in returning they would obscure the eyes. But when the person saw the flowers, his eyes should not have been obscured. But on the contrary, isn’t it when we see clear space that our vision is said to be clear? From this you should understand that the form skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person’s hands and feet were relaxed and his entire body was in balance. He was unaware of his life-processes to the point that he experienced neither pain nor pleasure. Then for no particular reason that person might rub his hands together creating the illusory sensation of friction and smoothness, cold and warmth, and other sensations. You should be aware that the feeling skandha is like that. Ananda, that imaginary contact did not originate in the surrounding air nor did it originate in the palms. In fact, Ananda, if it had come from the air, since the contact affected the palms, why didn’t it affect the rest of the body? Nor should the air select what it comes in contact with. If the sensation came from the palms, there would be no need to rub the palms together to experience it. Besides, if it came from the palms, the palms would experience it when joined, but when they were not joined, the sense of contact should return into the palms. And in that case, the arms, wrists, bones, and marrow should also be aware of its course of entry. If you insist that the mind would be aware of is leaving and entering, then the contact would be a thing in itself that came and went in the body. What need would there be to wait for the palms to be joined to experience it and identify it as contact? From this you should understand that the feeling skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be atttributed to either causes andconditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person’s mouth watered at the mention of sour plums, or the soles of his feet tingled when he thought about walking along a precipice. You should be aware that the thinking skandha is like that. Ananda, The mouth’s watering caused by the mention of plums does not originate from the plums, nor does it originate in the mouth. In fact, Ananda, if the mouths’ watering came from the plums, the plums should speak for themselves, why wait for someone to mention them? If it came from the mouth, the mouth itself should hear, so what need would there be to wait for the ear’s perception? If the ear alone heard, then why doesn’t it produce the saliva? Thinking about walking along a precipice can be explained in the same way. From this you should understand that the thinking skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a swift rapids had waves that follow upon one another in orderly succession, the ones behind never overtaking the ones in front. You should be aware that the activity skandha is like that. Ananda, that flowing does not arise because of emptiness, nor does it come into being because of water. It is not identical to the water and yet it is not separate from either the emptiness or the water. In fact, Ananda, if the flow arose because of emptiness, then the inexhaustible emptiness throughout the ten directions would become an unending flow, and all the worlds would inevitably be drowned. If the swift rapids existed because of water, then they would have to differ from water, and the location and attributes of their existence should be apparent. If the rapids were identical to water, then when the rapids disappeared and became still and clear, the water should also disappear. Suppose the rapids were separate from both the emptiness and the water. But there isn’t anything beyond emptiness, and without water there couldn’t be any flow. From this you should understand that the activity skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a man picked up a kalavinka pitcher, up its two holes, lifted up the pitcher filled with emptiness, and walking some thousand miles away, presented it to another country. You should be aware that the consciousness skandha is like that. Ananda, that emptiness did not originate in one place, nor did it go to another. In fact, Ananda, if the emptiness were to come from one place, then, when the stored-up emptiness in the pitcher was carried elsewhere, there should be less emptiness in the place where the pitcher originally was.

And if it were to enter the other region, when the holes were unplugged and the pitcher was turned over, one would see emptiness emerge. From this you should understand that the feeling skandha is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.