Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 4 (english)

Then Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat in the midst of the great assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, put his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “The most virtuous and awe-inspiring Bhagavan has for the sake of beings expounded the primary truth of the Tathagata with remarkable eloquence. Bhagavan often singles me out as the foremost among speakers of the Dharma. But now when I hear the Tathagata’s wonderful, subtle expressions of the Dharma, I am like a deaf person who at a distance of more than a hundred paces tries to hear a mosquito, which in fact cannot be seen, let alone heard. Although the Buddha’s clear expressions have succeeded in dispelling our doubts, we still have not fathomed the ultimate meaning that could enable us to rise above all delusions. Those who are like Ananda, although enlightened, have not yet ended their outflows of their habits. Those of us present in the assembly who have reached the stage of no outflows, despite having ended our outflows, still wonder about the Dharma spoken by the Tathagata today.

“Bhagavan, if all the mundane sense organs, sense objects, skandhas, places, and realms are the Treasury of the Tathagata, why, in that fundamental purity, do the mountains, rivers, great earth and all other conditioned phenomena suddenly arise, cyclically change and flow, end, and then begin again?

“Moreover, the Tathagata said that the basic natures of earth, water, fire, and wind are perfectly fused, pervade the Dharma Realm, and are tranquil and eternal. World Honored One, if the nature of earth is pervasive, how could it contain water? If the nature of water is pervasive, fire would not arise. Further, how do you explain that the natures of fire and water can each pervade empty space without displacing one another? Bhagavan, the nature of earth is solid; the nature of emptiness is vacuous. How can they both pervade the Dharma Realm? I don’t know what this doctrine is aiming at. I only hope the Tathagata will compassionately explain in order to clear the clouds of confusion that engulf all of us in this great assembly.”

After saying that, he made a full prostration and respectfully and expectantly awaited the Tathagata’s unsurpassed compassionate instruction.

The Bhagavan then told Purna and all the Arhats in the assembly who had ended their outflows and had reached the level beyond study, “Today the Tathagata will explain in depth the truest most supreme meaning. May those of you in the assembly who are Hearers or Arhats of a fixed nature who have not yet realized the two kinds of emptiness and all who are dedicated to the Superior Vehicle reach the tranquility of the One Vehicle, the true aranya, the proper place of cultivation. Listen attentively and I will explain it for you.”

Purna and the others listened quietly, respecting the Buddha’s expression of Dharma.

The Buddha said, “Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise. Have you not often heard the Tathagata expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of fundamental enlightenment?”

Purna said, “Yes, Bhagavan, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon that subject.”

The Buddha said, “You speak of understanding enlightenment; does the nature understand and is that called enlightenment? Or does enlightenment initially lack understanding and so you speak of understanding enlightenment?”

Purna said, “If a lack of understanding is called enlightenment, then there would be no understanding at all.”

The Buddha said, “If there were no understanding at all, then there could be no understanding of enlightenment. If understanding is added, then that is not enlightenment. If understanding is not added, then there’s no understanding. But a lack of understanding or ignorance is not the lucid bright nature of enlightenment. The nature of enlightenment certainly includes understanding. It’s redundant to speak of understanding enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a kind of understanding. Understanding sets up an objective realm. Once that objective realm is set up, your false subjective state arises.

“Where there was neither sameness nor difference, suddenly difference appears. What differs from that difference, becomes sameness. Once sameness and difference mutually arise, and due to them, what is neither the same nor different is created. This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. The combination of these in a murky turbidity creates afflictions with respect to wearisome defilements. The world comes about through this arising; the lack of any arising becomes emptiness. Emptiness is sameness; the world, difference. Those that have neither difference nor sameness become conditioned dharmas.

“The understanding added to enlightenment creates a light that stands in mutual opposition with the darkness of emptiness. As a result, wind wheels that support the world come into being. The tension between emptiness and that light creates movement. The false, persistent light congeals into a solidity that becomes metal. A lack of enlightenment nurtures that persistence and causes metal wheels to secure all lands. That tenacious unenlightened state creates metal, while the fluctuations of light cause the wind to rise. The friction between wind and metal creates fire, which is mutable in nature. Metal produces moisture, which causes flame to rise from the fire. Thus the wheel of water that encompasses all realms in the ten directions comes about. Fire rises and water falls, and the combination becomes tenacious. What is wet becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands. Because of this, fire often rises up in the oceans, and on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow. When the power of water is less then that of fire, high mountains result. That is why mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted. When the power of earth is less then that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. That is why the vegetation in groves and marshes turns to ashes when burned and oozes water when twisted. The interaction of that false dichotomy in turn creates these elements as seeds and from these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world.

“Moreover, Purna, the false understanding is none other than the mistake of adding understanding to enlightenment. After the falseness of the objective realm is established, the subjective understanding cannot transcend it. Due to that, hearing does not go beyond sound, and seeing does not surpass form. Forms, smells, tastes, objects of touch and the others of the six falsenesses are realized. Because of them there is a division into seeing, sensation, hearing, and knowing. Similar karma binds beings together; union and separation bring about their transformations.

“The manifastation of light is caused by false view and ignorance. Competitive views generate hatred; compatible views create love. The flow of love becomes a seed; the potential foetus is taken in and conception occurs. When intercourse takes place, beings with similar karma are drawn in. From these causes and conditions, the kalaka, arbuda, and other foetal stages evolve. The womb-born, egg-born, moisture-born, and transformation-born beings come about in response: the egg-born come from thought, the womb-born are due to emotion, the moisture-born arise from union, and transformations occur through separation. Emotion, thought, union, and separation go through further changes, and the maturation of such karma causes one to rise or sink. From such causes and conditions comes the continuity of beings.

“Purna, thought and love become bound together so that people love each other and cannot bear to be apart. As a result, ceaseless successive births of parents, children, and grandchildren occur in this world. And the basis for all that is desire and greed.

“Greed and emotional love feed on one another until the greed becomes insatiable. The result of that in this world is the tendency of egg-born, womb-born, moisture-born, and transformation-born beings to devour one another to the extent that their strength permits. The basis for all that is killing and greed.

“Suppose a person eats a sheep. The sheep dies and becomes a person; the person dies and becomes a sheep, The same applies in all rebirths among the ten categories. Through death after death and birth after birth, they eat each other. The evil karma one is born with continues to the bounds of the future. The basis for all that is stealing and greed.

“‘You owe me a life; I must repay my debt to you.’ Due to such causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of eons in sustained cycle of birth and death. ‘You love my mind; I adore your good looks.’ Due to such causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of eons in sustained mutual entanglement. Killing, stealing, and lust are the basic roots. From such causes and conditions comes the continuity of karma and retribution.

“Purna, these three kinds of upside-down continuity come from adding understanding to enlightenment. That lack of understanding generates an internal awareness which gives rise to external phenomena. Both are born of false views. From this falseness the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned phenomena unfold themselves in a succession that recurs in endless cycles.”

Purna said, “If this wonderful enlightenment, the wonderful awareness of fundamental enlightenment, which is neither greater than nor less than the mind of the Tathagata, abruptly brings forth the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth, and all conditioned phenomena, then now that the Tathagata has attained the wonderful emptiness of clear enlightenment, will the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned habitual outflows arise ever again?”

The Buddha said to Purna, “If a person living in a village were confused about directions, mistaking south for north, would that confusion be the result of confusion or of awareness?”

Purna said, “His confusion would be the result of neither. Why not? Confusion is fundamentally baseless, so how could anything arise because of it? And as awareness does not produce confusion, how could confusion arise out of it?”

The Buddha said, “If someone who knows the directions points them out to the confused person, then once the person who was confused becomes aware, do you suppose, Purna, that he could lose his sense of direction again in that village?”

“No, Bhagavan.”

“Purna, the Tathagatas of the ten directions are the same way. Confusion is groundless and ultimately empty in nature. In the past, there basically was no confusion. It merely seemed as if there were confusion and enlightenment. When the delusion about confusion and enlightenment is ended, enlightenment will not give rise to confusion. Consider the person who, because of cataracts, saw flowers in space. Once the cataracts were removed, the flowers in space disappeared. Were he to rush to the spot where the flowers disappeared and wait for them to reappear, would you consider that person to be stupid or wise?”

Purna said, “Originally there weren’t any flowers in space. It was through a seeing disability that they appeared and disappeared. To see the disappearance of the flowers in space is already a distortion. To wait for them to reappear is sheer madness. Why bother to determine further if such a person is stupid or wise?”

The Buddha said, “Since you explain it that way, why do you ask if the clear emptiness of wonderful enlightenment can once again give rise to the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth? Consider a piece of ore containing gold and other metals mixed together. Once the pure gold is extracted it will never become ore again. Consider wood that has burnt to ashes; it will never become wood again. The Bodhi and Nirvana of all Buddhas, the Tathagatas, are the same way.

“Purna, you also asked whether the natures of water and fire would not destroy each other if the natures of earth, water, fire, and wind were all perfectly fused and pervaded the Dharma Realm, and whether space and the great earth would not be incompatible if both pervaded the Dharma Realm.

“Purna, consider space: its substance is not the various phenomena, yet that does not prevent all phenomena from being included within it. How do we know that? Purna, empty space is bright on a sunny day, and dark when the sky is cloudy. It moves when the wind rises, it is fresh when the sky clears. It is turbid and hazy when the weather is foul, it is obscure when a dust storm breaks out. It casts a bright reflection on a pool of clear water. Do you think these conditioned phenomena come into existence at different places? Are they created from these conditions themselves or is their origin in space. If they arise from these conditions, Purna, then on a sunny day, since the sun is bright, all worlds of the ten directions should take on the form of the sun. Then why, on a sunny day do we see the round sun in the sky? If space is bright, space itself should shine. Then why, when there is a covering of clouds and fog, is no light evident? You should know that the brightness is not the sun, nor space nor other than the space or the sun. Contemplate how phenomena are ultimately false and cannot be verified. They are like flowers conjured up in space that cannot bear fruit. Why, then, investigate how such phenomena appear and disappear? Contemplate how the nature is ultimately truth and is solely the wonderful enlightened brightness. That wonderful enlightened bright mind originally was neither water nor fire. Why, then, ask about incompatibility?

“The truly wonderful enlightened brightness is the same way. You recognize space, and space appears. Recognizing earth, water, fire, and wind, each will appear. If all are recognized, all will appear. How can they all appear? Purna, consider the sun’s reflection as it appears in a single body of water. Two people gaze at it, both at the same time. Then one person walks east and the other walks west. Each person, still looking at the water will see a sun go along with him, one to the east, one to the west, while there seems to be no fixed direction for the movement of the sun’s reflection. Don’t belabor the question and ask, ‘If there is one sun, how can it follow both people? Or if the sun is double, why does only one appear in the sky?’ This is just revolving in falseness, because such things cannot be proven.

“Purna, you think that form and emptiness overcome and destroy one another in the Treasury of the Tathagata. Thus the Treasury of the Tathagata appears to you as form and emptiness throughout the Dharma Realm. And so, within it the wind moves, emptiness is still, the sun is bright, and the clouds are dark. The reason for this lies in the delusion of beings who have turned their backs on enlightenment and joined with the defiling dust. Thus, the wearisome defilements come into being and mundane phenomena exist.

“Based on wonderful understanding that neither ceases to be nor comes into being, I unite with the Treasury of the Tathagata. Thus the Treasury of the Tathagata is the unique and wonderful enlightened brightness which completely illumines the Dharma Realm. That is why, within it, the one is limitless; the limitless is one. In the small appears the great; in the great appears the small. Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, yet pervading the ten directions, my body contains the ten directions and endless emptiness. On the tip of a single hair appear the lands of the Jewelled Kings. Sitting in a mote of dust, I turn the great Dharma wheel, put an end to defiling dust, and unite with enlightenment, so that true suchness, the wonderful enlightened bright nature, comes into being.

“The Treasury of the Tathagata is the fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind. It is not the mind, nor emptiness, nor earth, nor water, nor wind, nor fire; it is not the eyes, nor the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, or the mind. It is not form, nor sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas. It is not the realm of eye-consciousness, nor any other, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness. It is not understanding, nor ignorance, nor the ending of understanding or ignorance, nor any other, up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death. It is not suffering, nor accumulation, nor extinction, nor the Way. It is neither knowing nor attaining. It is not Dana, nor Shila, nor Virya, nor Kshanti, nor Dhyana, nor Prajna, nor Paramita, nor any other: It is not the Tathagata, nor the Arhats, nor Samyaksambodhi, nor Parinirvana, nor Eternity, nor Bliss, nor True Self, nor Purity.

“Therefore, it is neither mundane nor transcendental, since the Treasury of the Tathagata is the wonder of the mind’s primal understanding. It is the mind; it is emptiness, it is earth; it is water; it is wind; it is fire; it is the eyes; it is the ears; the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. It is form; it is sounds; smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. It is the realm of eye-consciousness, and so forth, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness. It is understanding and ignorance and the ending of understanding and ignorance, and so forth up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death. It is suffering; it is accumulation; it is extinction; and it is the Way. It is knowing and attaining. It is Dana; it is Shila; it is Virya; it is Kshanti; it is Dhyana; it is Prajna; and it is Paramita, and so forth, up to and including the Tathagata, the Arhats, Samyaksambodhi, Parinirvana, Eternity, Bliss, True Self, and Purity.

“It is both mundane and transcendental, since the Treasury of the Tathagata is the wonderful understanding of the primal mind. It is apart from identity and negation. It is identity and negation.

“How can beings in the three realms of mundane existence and the Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions at the level of transcendental existence make suppositions about the unsurpassed Bodhi of the Tathagata with the minds that they know of, or enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the medium of worldly language? Consider lutes, flutes, and guitars. Although those can make wonderful sounds, but if there are no skilled fingers to play them, their music will never come forth. You and all beings are the same way. The precious, enlightened true mind is perfect in everyone. I apply pressure and the Ocean Impression emits light; you move your mind, and the wearisome defilements spring up. That happens all because you do not diligently seek the unsurpassed enlightened Way, but are fond of the lesser vehicle and are satisfied with little attainment.”

Purna said, “My mind and the Tathagata’s true wonderful pure mind are no different in their perfect precious enlightenment and complete understanding. But I have long been plagued with beginningless false thoughts and have long endured the cycle of rebirth. As of yet my attainment in the sagely vehicle is not ultimate. Bhagavan has completely ended all falseness and attained wonderful eternal truth. I venture to ask the Thus Come One why all beings exist in falseness and conceal their own wonderful understanding, so that they keep drowning in this deluge?”

The Buddha said to Purna, “Although you have cast off doubts, you still have not ended residual delusions. I will now question you about a mundane event. Did you hear about Yajnadatta from Shravasti who on impulse one morning held a mirror to his face and fell in love with the head in the mirror? He gazed at the eyes and eyebrows but got angry because he could not see his own face. He decided he must be a mountain or river sprite, lost control, and ran madly about. What do you think? Why did this person set out on a mad cause for no reason?”

Purna said, “That person was insane. There’s no other reason.”

The Buddha said, “What reason can you give for saying that the wonderful enlightened bright perfection, the fundamentally perfect bright wonder is false? If there is a reason, then how do you define false? All of your own false thinking becomes in turn the cause for more. From confusion you accumulate confusion through eon after eon; although the Buddha is aware of it, he cannot counteract it. From such confused causes, the cause of confusion perpetuates itself. When one realizes that confusion has no cause, the falseness becomes baseless. Since it never arose, why would you hope for its end? One who obtains Bodhi is like a person who awakens to tell of the events in a dream; since his mind will remain awake and clear, why would he want to hold onto the things in a dream?

“This is especially true for things that lack a cause and are basically non-existent, such as Yajnadatta’s situation that day in the city. Was there any reason why he became fearful for his head and went running about? If his madness had suddenly ceased, he still wouldn’t get his head back from someplace else outside; and so before his madness ceased, how could his head have been lost? Purna, falseness is the same way. How can it exist? You only need not follow discriminations about the three kinds of continuity of the world, beings, and karmic retributions. By cutting off those three conditions, the causes will not arise. Then the madness, like Yajnadatta’s, will cease by itself. Once it ceases, Bodhi appears. The supreme, pure, bright mind originally pervades the Dharma Realm. It is not something obtained from anyone else. Why, then, toil at cultivation making yourself bone-tired trying to gain certification? Consider a person who has a wish-fulfilling pearl sewn into his clothing but does not know it. Poverty-stricken and ragged, he roams around begging for food and always on the move. Although he is indeed destitute, the pearl is never lost. Suddenly a wise person points out the pearl: then all his wishes are fulfilled, he obtains great wealth, and he realizes that the pearl did not come from somewhere outside.”

Then from among the great assembly, Ananda bowed at the Buddha’s feet, stood, and said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan has just explained about the karma of killing, stealing and lust: when the three conditions are cut off, the three causes do not arise. Then the madness, like Yajnadatta’s, will cease by itself, and once it ceases, Bodhi appears. It is not something obtained from anyone else. Those clearly are causes and conditions; why, then, does the Tathagata abruptly reject causes and conditions? My enlightenments have come about through causes and conditions. Bhagavan, that is not only true of those of us who are young in years, or who are Hearers still in the process of learning. Mahamaudgalyayana, Shariputra, and Subhuti, and others who followed the elder Brahmans, became enlightened and obtained no outflows upon hearing the Buddha expound upon causes and conditions. Now you say that Bodhi does not come from causes and conditions. That would make the spontaneity that Maskari Goshaliputra and others advocated in Rajagriha the primary meaning! I only hope that the Greatly Kind One will dispel my confusion.”

The Buddha said to Ananda, “Let us take the case of Yajnadatta in the city: if the causes and conditions of his madness cease, the nature that is not mad will spontaneously come forth. The entire principle of spontaneity and causes and conditions is nothing more than that.

“Ananda, Yajnadatta’s head was naturally there; it was a natural part of him. There was never a time when it was not. Why, then, did he suddenly fear that he had no head and start running about madly?

“If he naturally had a head and went mad due to causes and conditions, would it not be just as natural for him to lose his head due to causes and conditions? Basically his head was never lost. The madness and fear arose from falseness. There was never any change that took place. Why, then, belabor the point about causes and conditions?

“Had the madness been his natural state, the madness and fear would be fundamental. Before he went mad, then, where was his madness hidden?

“Had the madness not been his natural state, and his head in fact not lost, why did he run about in a state of madness?

“If you realize that you have a head and recognize the madness of your pursuit, then both spontaneity and causes and conditions become idle theories. That is why I say that once the three conditions cease to be, the Bodhi-Heart appears. The arising of the Bodhi-Heart and the ending of the mind subject to arising and ceasing itself imply arising and ceasing.

“The ending of both arising and ceasing is the effortless Way. If there is spontaneity then clearly the thought of spontaneity must arise and the mind subject to arising and ceasing end: but that is still a case of arising and ceasing. To call the lack of arising and ceasing spontaneity would be like saying that a combination of mundane phenomena that form a single substance are mixed and united in nature, and that everything not mixed and united is spontaneous in nature. Spontaneity is not natural, and mixing and uniting lack unifying qualities. Spontaneity and unity alike must be abandoned, and both their abandonment and their existence cease to be. Achieving that would be no idle theory.

“Bodhi and Nirvana are still so far away that you must undoubtedly pass through eons of bitterness and diligence before you cultivate them and are certified. You can memorize the twelve divisions of the Sutras spoken by the Buddhas of the ten directions and their pure, wonderful principles as many as the sands of the Ganges river, but that only aids your idle theorizing. Although you can discuss causes and conditions and spontaneity and understand them perfectly clearly, and people refer to you as the one foremost in learning, still, the eons upon eons you have spent saturating yourself with learning, did not help you avoid the trouble with Matangi’s daughter. Why did you have to wait for me to use the holy Mantra of the Buddha’s Crown to put out the fire of lust in Matangi’s daughter’s heart, causing her to attain the position of an Anagamin and join a vigorous group in my Dharma assembly, drying up the river of emotional love in her and setting you free?

“Therefore, Ananda, your ability to intellectually master the Tathagata’s wonderful secret teachings for eons upon eons is not as good as a single day of non-outflow cultivation that is intent upon quitting the two worldly sufferings of love and hate. In Matangi’s daughter, a former prostitute, emotional love and desire were dispelled by the holy power of the Mantra. Now her Dharma name is Bhikshuni Nature. She and Rahula’s mother, Yashodhara, both became aware of their past causes and knew that for several eons they had endured the suffering of greed and emotional love. Due to their single-mindedness they became permeated with the cultivation of non-outflow goodness, they were both freed from their bonds and received predictions. Why, then, do you cheat yourself and still remain caught up in looking and listening?”

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the Buddha’s instruction, their doubts and delusions were dispelled. Their minds awakened to the ultimate reality, they experienced both physical and mental light ease, and unprecedented attainments. Once again Ananda wept, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, knelt, placed his palms together, and said to the Buddha, “The Unsurpassed, Great, Compassionate, Pure, and Precious King has instructed me well, so that, by means of these various causes and conditions, expedients and encouragements, all of us who were immersed in the sea of suffering have escaped it. Bhagavan, having heard that explanation of Dharma, I know that the Treasury of the Tathagata, the wonderful, enlightened, bright mind, pervades the ten directions and contains the lands of Tathagatas throughout the ten directions, all the pure and elegantly adorned kshetras of Wonderful Enlightened Kings. The Tathagata also admonished that erudition is of no merit and is not as good as cultivation. So now I am like a wanderer who suddenly encounters a divine king who bestows upon him an elegant house. Even though he has obtained a mansion, he has to enter through a door. I only hope the Tathagata will not withhold his great compassion in instructing those of us in the assembly who are covered by darkness, so that we may renounce the Small Vehicle and attain at last the Tathagata’s Nirvana without residue, the fundamental path of resolve. May he enable those who are still learning to know how to subdue the age-old habit of seeking to manipulate conditions to one’s advantage, to obtain Dharani, and to enter in to the knowledge and vision of the Buddhas.”

Having said this, he made a full prostration, and together with the members of the assembly, single-mindedly awaited the Buddha’s compassionate instruction.

The Bhagavan then sympathized with the Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions in the assembly, all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi-Heart. His sympathy also extended to helping beings in the future Dharma Ending Age after the Buddha’s entry into tranquility to arouse the Bodhi-Heart. He revealed the wonderful path of cultivation of the Unsurpassed Vehicle. He proclaimed to Ananda and to the great assembly, “You have decisively aroused the Bodhi-Heart and so you should not grow weary when it comes to the Wonderful Samadhi of the Buddhas, the Tathagatas. You must first understand two absolutes regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. What are the two absolutes regarding initial resolve for enlightenment?

“Ananda, the first absolute is that if you wish to renounce the position of Hearer and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddhas, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause-ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different. Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground to base one’s cultivation on the mind that is subject to arising and ceasing when in quest ofthe Buddha Vehicle, which neither arises nor ceases to be. For this reason, you should realize that all composite dharmas belonging to the material world will decay and disappear. Ananda, contemplate the world: what composite dharmas will not wear out? But I have never heard of empty space wearing out. Has anyone every heard of the disintegration of the void? Why not? Empty space is not a composite and it can never wear out.

“While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. Because of these four bonds, your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind divides into seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. From its beginning to its end you are emersed in the five layers of turbidity.

“What is meant by turbidity? Ananda, pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. Such are the properties of the two; their natures are not compatible. Suppose someone takes some dirt and tosses it into pure water. The dirt looses its solidity and the water is deprived of its transparency. The resulting cloudiness is called turbidity. Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it.

“Ananda, you see that space pervades the ten directions. There is no division between space and seeing. And yet space by itself cannot identify its own substance, and seeing alone has nothing to register awareness of. But the two become entangled in falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time.

“Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance, and from this, seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition and become entangled in falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views.

“Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. Apart from the defiling objects the consciousness would lack attributes. Apart from cognition the objects would have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. This is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions.

“And if day and night there is endless arising and ceasing as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. This entanglement become a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings.

“Originally, your seeing and hearing were not of different natures, but a multitude of defiling objects has divided them into crude differences. These natures have mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a life span.

“Ananda, you now want to cause your seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition to return to and tally with the eternity, bliss, true self, and purity of the Tathagata. You should first decide what the basis of birth and death is by relying on the perfect, tranquil nature which neither arises nor ceases. By means of this tranquility, influence the empty and false arising and ceasing so that it is subdued and returns to the source of enlightenment. The attainment of this source of bright enlightenment which neither arises nor ceases, is the mind of the cause-ground. Then, you can completely realize cultivation of and certification to the ground of fruition. To do that much is like purifying muddy water by placing it in a quite vessel which is kept completely still and unmoving. The sand and silt settle, and the pure water appears. That is called the initial subduing of transitory defiling afflictions.

“The complete removal of the mud from the water is called the eternal severance of fundamental ignorance. When clarity is pure to its very essence, then no matter what happens, there is no affliction. Everything is in accord with the pure and wonderful virtues of Nirvana.

“The second absolute is that if you definitely wish to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and to be especially courageous and dedicated in your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Vehicle, you must decisively renounce all conditioned phenomena. You should carefully consider the origin of afflictions: who creates and who endures the beginningless creation of karma and perpetual rebirth? Ananda, if in your cultivation of Bodhi you do not carefully consider the origin of affliction, you cannot realize where the location of the upsidedownness of the empty and false sense-organs and sense-objects is. If you don’t even know their location, how can you subdue them and reach the level of the Tathagata?

“Ananda, consider someone who wants to untie a knot. If he can’t see where the knot is, how can he untie it? But I have never heard of anyone unbinding empty space. Why not? Because emptiness has no form of appearance; and so there are no knots to untie. But now your visible eyes, ears, nose, and tongue, as well as your body and mind are like six thieving matchmakers who plunder the jewels of your own household. And, thus, from beginningless time, because beings and the temporal and spatial world, have been bound up together, beings are unable to transcend the material world.

“Ananda, how do we define beings and the temporal and spatial world? ‘Temporal’ refers to change and flow; ‘spatial’ refers to location. You should know by now that north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, above and below are space. Past, present, and future are periods of time. There are ten directions in space and three periods of time. All beings come into being because of false interaction. Their bodies go through changes and they are caught in the temporal and spatial combinations of this world.

“However, although there are ten directions in space, those known in the world as north, south, east, and west are the only ones that can be clearly fixed. Above and below have no position; the intermediates have no definite direction. Determined clearly to be four in number, they are then combined with the three periods of time. Three times four, or, alternately, four times three makes twelve. Increase this to the third place; from the tens through the hundreds to the thousands. The greatest possible efficacy of each of the six organs is one thousand two hundred.

“Ananda, you can thereby establish their value. Consider how the eyes see darkness behind and light in front. The front is totally light; the back is totally dark. With your peripheral vision included, you can see two thirds around at most. Therefore, its capacity can be expressed as an efficacy which is not complete. One third of its efficacy is without virtue. Know, then, that the eyes have an efficacy of only eight hundred.

“Consider how the ears hear everywhere in the ten directions, without any loss. They hear movements, whether far or near, and stillness without bounds. Know, then, that the organ of hearing is complete with the efficacy of twelve hundred.

“Consider how the nose smells odors with each inhalation and exhalation of the breath. It is deficient at the point between the inhalation and exhalation. The organ of smell can be considered to be deficient by one third. Know, then, that the nose has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

“Consider how the tongue can proclaim the entirety of worldly and transcendental wisdom. Although language varies according to locality, the principles go beyond boundaries of any kind. Know, then, that the organ of the tongue is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

“Consider how the body is aware of touch, registering it as pain or pleasure. When it makes contact, it is aware of the thing touched; when is isolation, it has no tactile knowledge of other things. Isolation has a single and contact has a dual aspect. The organ of the body can be considered as deficient by one third.

Know, then, that the body has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

“Consider how the mind silently includes all worldly and transcendental dharmas of the ten directions and three periods of time. Regardless of whether it be sagely or ordinary, everything is included in its boundlessness. Know, then, that the organ of the mind is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

“Ananda, now you wish to oppose the flow of desire that leads to birth and death. You should turn back the flow of the organs to reach a state of neither arising nor ceasing. You should investigate all of the six functioning organs to see which are uniting, which are isolated, which are deep, which are shallow, which will penetrate perfectly, and which are not perfect. If you can realize which organ penetrates perfectly, you can thereupon reverse the flow of its beginningless involvement in false karma and follow that to perfect penetration. The difference between that and an organ which is not perfect is like the difference between a day and an eon. I have now revealed to you the fundamental efficacy of the tranquil perfect brightness of these six. This is what the numbers are. It is up to you to select which one to enter. I will explain more to aid your progress in that.

“The Tathagatas of the ten directions, cultivating by means of one or another of the eighteen realms, attained perfect, unsurpassed Bodhi. For them, any of those eighteen were generally adequate. But you are at an inferior level and are not yet able to perfect comfortable wisdom among them. Therefore, I shall give you an explanation, so that you will be able to enter deeply into the door. Enter one without falseness, and the six sense-organs will be simultaneously pure.

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, how do we oppose the flow, enter deeply into one door, and cause the six organs to simultaneously become pure?”

The Buddha told Ananda, “You have already obtained the fruition of a Shrotaapana. You have already put an end to the view-delusions that living beings in the three realms possess, but you do not yet know that your organs have accumulated habits that are without beginning. The severing of these habits must be done through cultivation. Including the numerous subtleties of their arising, dwelling, changing, and ceasing.

“You should now contemplate the six organs further: are they one or six? Ananda, if you say they are one, why can’t the ears see? Why can’t the eyes hear? Why can’t the head walk? Why can’t the feet talk? If the six organs are definitely six, then as I now explain this subtle, wonderful Dharma-door for you in this assembly, which of your six organs is receiving it?”

Ananda said, ” I hear it with my ears.”

The Buddha said, “Your ears hear by themselves? What, then, does that have to do with your body and mouth? And yet you ask about the principles with your mouth, and your body displays veneration. Therefore, you should know that if they are not one, then they are six. And if they are not six, they must be one. But you can’t say that your organs are basically one and six.

“Ananda, you should know that these organs are neither one nor six. It is from being upside-down and sinking into involvements throughout time without beginning that the theory of one and six has become established. As a Shrotaapanna, you have dissolved the six, but you still have not done away with the one.

“That is like filling emptiness into differently shaped vessels and then saying that emptiness is whatever shape the vessel is. And then, upon getting rid of the vessels, looking at emptiness and saying it is all the same. How can emptiness become the same or different at your convenience? Even less can you call it ‘One’ or ‘not one.’ You should understand that the six receptive functioning organs are the same way.

“Seeing occurs because the two attributes of darkness and light and their like firmly adhere to quietude in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of seeing reflects form and combines with forms to become an organ. This organ, which was originally the four pure elements, is called an eye and is shaped like a grape. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs located in the head pursue, this one races out after form.

“Hearing occurs because the two reverberations of movement and stillness and their like firmly adhere to quietude in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of hearing reflects sound and resounds with it to become the organ of the ear. The primal composition of the ear-organ is the purely-defined four elements. Those portions we call the ears are shaped like fresh-curled leaves. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs pursue, this one is loosed upon sound.

“Smelling occurs because the two appearances of penetration and obstruction and their like firmly adhere to tranquility in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of smelling reflects the scents and takes in scents to become the organ of the nose. The primal composition of the nose-organ is the purely-defined four elements. That portion we call the nose is shaped like a double hanging claw. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs pursue this one probes out after scents.

“Tasting occurs because the two blends of blandness and variety of flavor? and their like firmly adhere to quietude in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of tasting reflects flavors and becomes entwined with flavors to become the organ of the tongue. The primal composition of the tongue-organ is in the purely-defined four elements. That portion we call the tongue is shaped like a crescent moon. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs pursue this one craves flavors.

“Sensation occurs because the two frictions of separation and union, and their like, firmly adhere to quietude in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of sensation reflects contact and seizes upon contact to become the organ of the body. The primal composition of the body-organ is in the purely-defined four elements. The portion we call the body is shaped like a table. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs pursue, this one is compelled by contact.

“Knowing occurs because the two continuities of production and extinction, and their like, firmly adhere to quietude in what originally was wonderful perfection. The essence of knowing reflects dharmas and grasps them to become the organ of the mind. The primal composition of the mind-organ is in the purely-defined four elements. Of the four defiling objects that the sense organs pursue, this one chases after dharmas.

“Ananda, because understanding is added to enlightenment, the six sense-organs lose their essence and adhere to falseness, confining their brilliance. Therefore, apart from darkness and light there is no substance to seeing for you now; apart from movement and stillness, there basically is no disposition of hearing; without penetration and obstruction, the nature of smelling does not arise; in the absence of variety and blandness, tasting does not occur; lacking separation and union, the sensation of contact is fundamentally non-existent; without arising and ceasing, knowing is put to rest.

“You only need not follow the twelve conditioned attributes of movement and stillness, union and separation, blandness and variety, penetration and obstruction, production and extinction, and brightness and darkness. Accordingly, extract one organ, free it from adhesion, and subdue it at its inner core. Once subdued, it will return to primal truth and radiate its innate brilliance. When that brilliance shines forth, the remaining five adhesions will be freed to accomplish total liberation. “Do not follow the knowing and seeing influenced by objects before you. True understanding does not follow from the sense-organs. Yet lodged at the organs is the potential to discover mutual functioning of the six organs. Ananda, don’t you know that now in this assembly Aniruddha is blind and yet can see; the dragon Upananda is deaf and yet can hear; the spirit of the Ganges River has no nose and yet smells fragrances; Gavampati has an unusual tongue and yet tastes flavor; and the spirit Shunyata has no body and yet is aware of contact? In the light of the Tathagata, this spirit is illumined temporarily as an ethereal essence without substance. In the same way, Mahakashyapa, who is also in this assembly, dwells in the Samadhi of extinction, having obtained the tranquility of a Hearer. He has long since put to rest the mind-organ, and yet he has a perfectly clear knowledge which is not due to the mental process of thinking.

“Ananda, if you can completely extract all your organs, you will glow with an inner brilliance. Then the ephemeral defiling objects and all the changing phenomena of the material world will become like ice being melted by hot liquid. In response to your mind, the transformation will bring unsurpassed enlightenment. Ananda, consider a person who has confined seeing to his eyes. If you suddenly have him close his eyes, he will see darkness before him. The six organs will be enveloped in total darkness. From head to toe he will experience that. If the person traces the shape of external things with his hands, then even though he cannot see, he can recognize someone from head and toe. Enlightenment is also like that. If light were the condition requisite for seeing, then darkness would bring the absence of seeing. But to perceive without light would mean that no dark manifestation could obscure the seeing. Once the organs and objects suddenly melt away, how could the enlightened brightness that results be anything but perfect and wonderful?”

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, as the Buddha has said, ‘The resolve for enlightenment on the cause-ground which seeks the eternal must be in mutual accord with the ground of fruition. Bhagavan, the ground of fruition is Bodhi; Nirvana: True Suchness; the Buddha Nature; the Amala-Consciousness; the Empty Treasury of the Tathagata; the great Perfect Mirror-Wisdom. But although it is called by these seven names, it is pure and perfect, its substance is enduring, like royal vajra, eternal and indestructible. If the seeing, hearing, and the rest are ultimately devoid of substance apart from light and darkness, movement and stillness, and penetration and obstruction and the rest then they would be like thoughts which, apart from immediate sense-objects, do not exist at all. How could an ultimate annihilationism like that be a cause by which one cultivates in the hope of obtaining the Tathagatas’ seven-fold eternal fruition? Bhagavan, if seeing is ultimately empty apart from light and darkness, just as thoughts cease of themselves in the absence of any immediate sense object. Then my comparisons become circular, and no matter how carefully I search, there seems to be no such thing as my mind or what pertains to it. Just what should be used to seek the Unsurpassed Enlightenment? The Tathagata previously referred to a tranquil essence, perfect and eternal. His present contradiction defies belief and is resort to idle theorizing. How can the Tathagata’s words be true and actual? I only hope the Buddha will let fall his great compassion and instruct us who do not understand and who are holding on tightly.

The Buddha told Ananda, “You study and learn much, but you have not yet put an end to outflows. In your mind you know only the causes of being upside down. But when the true inversion manifests, you really cannot recognize it yet. Lest your sincerity and faith remain insufficient, I will try to make use of an ordinary event to dispel your doubts.”

Then the Tathagata instructed Rahula to strike the bell once, and he asked Ananda, “Did you hear that?” Ananda and the members of the great assembly all said, “We heard it.” The bell ceased to sound, and the Buddha again asked, “Do you hear it now?” Ananda and the members of the great assembly all said, “We do not hear it.” Then Rahula struck the bell again. The Buddha again asked, “Do you hear it now?” Ananda and the great assembly again said, “We hear it.” The Buddha asked Ananda, “What do you hear, and what do you not hear?” Ananda and the members of the great assembly all said to the Buddha, “When the bell is rung, we hear it. Once the sound of the bell ceases, so that even its echo fades away, we do not hear it.”

The Tathagata again instructed Rahula to strike the bell, and asked Ananda, “Is there a sound now?” Ananda and the members of the great assembly all said, “There is a sound.” After a short time the sound ceased, and the Buddha again asked, “Is there a sound now?’ Ananda and the great assembly answered, “There is no sound.” After a moment, Rahula again struck the bell, and the Buddha again asked, “Is there a sound now?” Ananda and the great assembly said together, “There is a sound.” The Buddha asked Ananda, ‘What is meant by ‘sound,’ and what is meant by ‘no sound?” Everyone in the great assembly including Ananda told the Buddha, “When the bell is struck there is a sound. Once the sound ceases and even the echo fades away, there is said to be no sound.”

The Buddha said to Ananda and the great assembly, “Why are you inconsistent in what you say?” The great assembly and Ananda then asked the Buddha, “In what way have we being inconsistent?” The Buddha said, “When I asked if it was your hearing, you said it was your hearing. Then, when I asked you if it was sound, you said it was sound. I cannot ascertain from your answers if it is hearing or if it is sound. How can you not say that is inconsistent? Ananda, when the sound is gone without an echo, you say there is no hearing. If there were really no hearing, the hearing-nature would cease to be. It would be just like dead wood. If then the bell were sounded again, how would you know? What you know to be there or not to be there is the defiling object of sound which seems to come into being and cease to be. But how could the hearing-nature be there or not be there? And if the hearing really were, as you contend, not there, who would know it was not there?

“And so, Ananda, the sounds that you hear are what rise and cease. Your hearing-nature does not come into being and cease to be based on the arising and ceasing of the sounds you hear. You are so upside-down that you mistake sound for hearing. No wonder you are so confused that you take what is eternal to be annihilationism. Ultimately, you cannot say that there is no hearing-nature apart from movement and stillness, from obstruction and penetration and the rest.

“Consider a person who falls into a deep sleep while napping on his bed. While he is asleep, someone in his household starts beating clothes or pounding rice. In his dream, the person hears the sound of beating and pounding and takes it for something else, perhaps for the striking of a drum or the ringing of a bell. In his dream he wonders why the bell sounds like stone or wood. Suddenly he awakens and immediately recognizes the sound of pounding. He tells the members of his household, “I was just having a dream in which I mistook the sound of pounding for the sound of a drum. Ananda, how can this person in the dream-state remember stillness and motion, penetrability and obstruction? Although he is physically asleep, his hearing-nature is not unclear.

“Even when your physical existence melts away and your life-force changes and dwindles, how could that nature melt away and be gone from you? But because beings, from time without beginning, have pursued forms and sounds and have followed their thoughts as they turn and flow, they still are not enlightened to the wonderful eternal pure nature. They do not accord with what is eternal, but chase after things that are subject to arising and ceasing. That is what causes them to be born again and again, flowing and turning in defilement. But if they reject arising and ceasing and uphold the eternal truth, an enduring light will appear, and with that, the sense-organs, defiling objects, and consciousnesses will disappear. Then you must maintain your distance from the defilements of the manifestations of thinking and the emotional states of consciousness. Then your Dharma-eye will accordingly become pure and bright. And, how can you fail to realize Unsurpassed Enlightenment?”