Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 3 (english)

“Furthermore, Ananda, why do I say that the six entrances are basically the wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata? Ananda, although the eyes’ staring causes fatigue, both the eye and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attributes of the fatigue come from the staring. Because of the two false defiling attributes of light and dark, a sense of seeing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to see. Apart from these two defiling attributes of light and dark, this seeing is ultimately without substance. In fact, Ananda, you should know that seeing does not originate from light or dark, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness. Why not? If it originated from light, then it would be extinguished when there was darkness, and you would not see darkness. If it came from darkness, then it would be extinguished when there was light, and you would not see light. If the essence of seeing came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of light and dark, then in that case, basically no seeing could take place. If it came from emptiness, then looking ahead it would see the shapes of mundane phenomena; looking back, it should see the eye itself. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the seeing, what would that have to do with your eye? From this you should understand that the eye-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person suddenly stops up his ears with his fingers. Because the sense organ of hearing become fatigued, he hears a sound in his head. However, both the ear and its fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from the monotony. Because of the two false defiling attributes of motion and stillness, a sense of hearing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to hear. Apart from the two defiling attributes of motion and stillness, this hearing is ultimately without substance. In fact, Ananda, you should know that hearing does not originate from motion and stillness; nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness. Why not? If it came from stillness, it would be extinguished when there was motion, and you would not hear motion. If it came from motion, then it would be extinguished when there was stillness, and you would not be aware of the stillness. If the capacity to hear came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of motion and stillness, then in that case basically the hearing would not have a nature of its own. Suppose it came from emptiness, then emptiness would become hearing and would no longer be empty. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the hearing, what would that have to do with your ear? From this you should understand that the ear-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person inhaled deeply through his nose. After he inhaled for a long time he became fatigued, and then there is a sensation of coldness in the nose. Because of that sensation, distinctions of penetration and obstruction, of emptiness and actuality, and so forth, including all fragrant and stinking vapors are made. However, both the nose and its fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from overexertion. Because of the two false defiling attributes of penetration and obstruction, a sense of smelling is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to smell. Apart from the two defiling attributes of penetration and obstruction, this smelling is ultimately without substance. You should know that smelling does not come from penetration and obstruction, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness. Why not? If it came from penetration, the smelling would be extinguished when there was obstruction, and then how could it experience obstruction? If i t existed because of obstruction, then where there was penetration there would be no smelling; in that case, how would the awareness of fragrance, stench, and other such sensations come into being? If the mechanism of hearing came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of penetration and obstruction, then in that case basically smelling would not have a nature. If it came from emptiness then smelling itself should be able to turn around and smell your own nose. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the smelling, what would that have to do with your ability to smell? From this you should understand that the nose-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person licks his lips with his tongue. His excessive licking causes fatigue. If the person is sick, he will taste a bitter flavor; A person who is not sick will taste a subtle sweetness. Sweetness and bitterness demonstrate the tongue’s sense of taste. When the organ is inactive, a sense of tastelessness prevails. However, both the tongue and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attributes of fatigue come from prolonged licking. Because the two false defiling attributes of sweetness and bitterness and of tastelessness, a sense of hearing is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the ability to taste. Apart from the two defiling attributes of sweetness and bitterness and apart from tastelessness, the sense of taste is originally without substance. In fact, Ananda, you should know that the perception of sweetness, bitterness, or tastelessness does not originate from sweetness or bitterness, nor from tastelessness, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness. Why not? If it came from sweetness or bitterness, it would cease to exist when tastelessness was experienced, so how could it recognize tastelessness? If it arose from tastelessness, it would vanish when the flavor of sweetness was tasted, so how could it perceive the two flavors of sweet and bitter? If it came from the tongue which is obviously devoid of sweetness, bitterness, and tastelessness, then in that case taste would not have a nature. If it came from emptiness, then the sense of taste should be experienced by emptiness instead of by the mouth. Moreover, if emptiness itself did the tasting, what would that have to do with your tongue? From this you should understand that the tongue-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person were to touch his warm hand with his cold hand. If the cold were greater than the warmth, the warm hand would become cold; if the warm were greater than the cold, the cold hand would become warm. That sensation of warmth and cold is felt through the contact and separation of the two hands. Fatiguing contact results in the mingling of warmth and cold. However, both the body and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The attribute of fatigue comes from protracted contact. Because of the two false defiling attributes of separation and union, a physical awareness is stimulated which in turn draws in those two defiling attributes. That is called the awareness of physical sensation. Apart from the two sets of defiling attributes of separation and union, and pleasure and pain, the awareness of sensation is originally without a substance. In fact, Ananda, you should know that this sensation does not come from separation and union, nor does it exist because of pleasure and pain, nor does it arise from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness. Why not? If it arose when there was union, it would disappear when there was separation, so how could it sense the separation? The two characteristics of pleasure and pain would be the same way. If it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of the four characteristics of union, separation, pleasure, and pain, then in that case basically no awareness of physical sensation could take place. If it came from emptiness, then the awareness of sensations would be experienced by emptiness itself. What would that have to do with your body? From this you should understand that the body-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, suppose a person becomes so fatigued that he goes to sleep. Having slept soundly, he awakens and tries to recollect what he experienced while asleep. He recalls some things and forgets others. Thus, his upsidedownness goes through production, dwelling, change, and extinction, which are taken in and processed through the mind’s central system habitually, each following the next without ever being overtaken. That is called the ability to know. The mind and its fatigue are both Bodhi. The attributes of fatigue come from persistent thinking. The two defiling attributes of arising and ending stimulate a sense of knowing which in turn grasps these inner sense data, reversing the flow of seeing and hearing. The place beyond the reach of this flow is known as the faculty of intellect. Apart from the two sets of defiling attributes of waking and sleeping and of arising and ceasing, the faculty of intellect is originally without substance. In fact, Ananda, you should know that the faculty of intellect does not come from waking, sleeping, arising or ceasing, nor from the mind organ, nor from emptiness. Why not? If it came from waking, it would disappear during sleep, so how could it experience sleep? If it came from arising, it would cease to exist at the time of ceasing, so how could it experience ceasing? If it came from ceasing it would disappear at the time of arising, so how could it experience arising? If mental awareness came from the faculty of the intellect, it would be no more than the physical opening and closing caused by the waking and sleep states respectively. Apart from these two movements, the faculty of intellect would be as insubstantial as flowers in space, and in that case basically no cognition could exist. If mental awareness came from emptiness, then emptiness itself should become cognition. What would that have to do with the mind entrance. From this you should understand that the mind-entrance is empty and false. Fundamentally its nature cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the twelve places are basically the wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata? Ananda, look again at the trees in the Jeta Grove and the river and pools. What do you think: do these things come into being because the forms arise and thus the eyes see them, or because the eyes produce the attributes of form? Ananda, if the eyes were to produce the attributes of forms, then when the eyes looked at empty space, the forms should be obliterated. Once they were obliterated, everything that had manifested would disappear. Since the attributes of forms would then be absent, who would be able to recognize emptiness? The same principle applied to emptiness. If, moreover, forms arose and the eyes saw them, then seeing should perish upon looking at space, which has no form. Once seeing perished, everything would disappear and then who would be able to recognize either emptiness or form? From this you should understand that neither seeing, nor form, nor emptiness can be located, and thus the two places of form and seeing are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, listen again to the drum being beaten in the Jeta Garden when the food is ready. The assembly gathers as the bell is struck. The sounds of the bell and the drum follow one another in succession. What do you think: do these things come into existence because the sound arrives in the vicinity of the ear, or because the ear’s hearing extends to the source of the sound. Ananda, once again, if the sound arrived in the vicinity of the ear, then that would be like when I go on alms rounds to the city of Shravasti, I am no longer in the Jeta Grove. And so, if the sound definitely arrived in the vicinity of Ananda’s ear, then neither Maudgalyayana nor Kashyapa would hear it, much less the twelve hundred and fifty Shramanas who, upon hearing the sound of the bell, come to the dining hall at the same time. Again, if the ear arrived in the vicinity of the sound, that would be like when I return to the Jeta Grove, I am no longer in the city of Shravasti. When you hear the sound of the drum, your hearing would already have gone to the place where the drum was being beaten. Thus, when the bell pealed, you could not hear that sound–even the less those of the elephants, horses, cattle, sheep, and all the other various sounds around you. However, without coming or going, there would be no hearing. From this you should understand that neither hearing nor sound can be located, and thus the two places of hearing and sound are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, you smell the chandana in this censer. When one particle of this incense is lit, it can be smelled simultaneously through forty miles around the city of Shravasti. What do you think? Is this fragrance produced from the chandana wood? Is it produced in your nose, or does it arise within emptiness? Ananda, once again, if the fragrance were produced from your nose, what is said to be produced from the nose should come forth from the nose Your nose is not chandana, so how can your nose have the fragrance of chandana? When you say you smell a fragrance, it should enter your nose. Smelling is not defined as the nose emitting fragrance. If it were produced from within emptiness, since the nature of emptiness is eternal and unchanging, the fragrance should be constantly present. Why should the presence of the fragrance be contingent on the burning of dry wood in the censer? If it were produced from the wood, since the nature of this incense is such that it gives off smoke when it is burned, then when the nose smelled it, the nose should be filled with smoke, which does not happen. The smoke rises into the air, and before it has reached the distance, how can the fragrance already be smelled at a distance of more than ten miles? From this you should understand that neither the fragrance nor the nose’s smelling can be located, and thus the two places of smelling and fragrance are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, twice every day you take up your bowl along with the rest of the assembly, and among what you receive may be fine-tasting foods, such as curds, buttermilk, and clarified butter. What do you think? Are these flavors produced from emptiness, do they come forth from the tongue, or does the food produce them? Ananda, once again, if the flavors came from your tongue, since you only have one tongue in your mouth, when that tongue had already tasted the flavor of curds, then it would not change if it encountered some dark rock candy. If it did not change then it could not be said to be aware of tastes. Yet if it did change, since the tongue is not made up of many substances, how could one tongue know so many tastes? If the tastes were produced from the food, since food does not have consciousness, how could it know tastes? Moreover, if the food itself were to recognize them, that would be the same as someone else eating. Then what connection would that have with what is called your recognition of tastes? If the tastes were produced in emptiness, then when you eat emptiness, what flavor does it have? Suppose that emptiness had the flavor of salt. Then since your tongue was salty, your face should also be salty , and likewise everyone in the world would be like fish in the sea. Since you would be constantly influenced by salt, you would never know tastelessness. Yet, if you did not recognize tastelessness, you could not be aware of the saltiness, either. You would not know anything at all. How could that be called taste? From this you should understand that neither the flavors nor the tongue’s tasting can be located, and thus the two places of tasting and flavors are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, early every morning you rub your head with your hand. What do you think? When the sensation of rubbing occurs, what does the touching? Does the head or the hand do the touching? If the ability to touch were in the hand, then the head should have no knowledge of it. How could we then say that the head was touched? If it were in the head, then the hand would be useless, and how could it be said to have touched? If each had the ability to touch, then you, Ananda, should have two bodies. If between the head and the hand only one touch took place, then the hand and the head would be of one substance. If they were one substance, then no touch would be possible. If they were two substances, to which would the touch belong? The one that was capable of touch would not be the one that was touched. The one that was touched would not be the one that was capable of touch. Nor should it be that the touch came into being between you and emptiness. From this you should understand that neither the sensation of touch nor the body can be located, and thus the two places of body and touch are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Ananda, your mind is always conditioned by the three qualities of good, bad, and indeterminate, which produce patterns of dharmas. Are these dharmas produced by the mind, or do they have a special place apart from the mind? Ananda, if they were the mind, the dharmas would not be its defiling objects. Since they would not be conditions of the mind, how could you say that they had a location? If they were to have a special place apart form the mind, then would the dharmas themselves be able to know? If they had a sense of knowing, they would be called a mind. Being something other than you and yet not defiling objects, they would be someone else’s mind. Being the same as you, they would be your own mind. But, how could your mind exist apart from you? If they had no sense of knowing, and yet these defiling objects were not forms, sounds, smells, or tastes, neither cold nor warmth, nor emptiness. Where would they be located? They are not represented in form or emptiness, nor is it likely that they exist somewhere in the human realm beyond emptiness, for if they did, the mind could not be aware of them. From where, then, would they arise? From this you should understand that neither dharmas nor the mind can be located, and thus the two places of mind and dharmas are empty and false. Fundamentally their natures cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the eighteen realms are basically the wonderful nature of True Suchness, the Treasury of the Tathagata?

“Ananda, as you understand it, the eyes and forms create the conditions that produce the eye-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the eyes, such that the eyes are its realm? Or is it produced because of forms, such that forms are its realm? Ananda, if it were produced because of the eyes, then in the absence of emptiness and form it would not be able to make distinctions; and so, even if you had a consciousness, of what use would it be? Moreover, your seeing is neither green, yellow, red, nor white. There is virtually nothing in which it is represented. Therefore, from what would the realm be established? If it were produced because of form, then when no forms were present in emptiness, your consciousness would cease to be. Then, why is it that the consciousness recognizes emptiness? If a form changes, you are also conscious of the form’s changing appearance, but your eye-consciousness does not change. Where is the boundary established? If the eye-consciousness did change when form changed, then such a realm would have no attributes. If it did not change, it would be constant, and given that it was produced from form, it should have no conscious knowledge of where emptiness was. If they were combined, then there would be a crack inbetween. If they were separate, then half of your eye-consciousness would possess awareness and half of it would lack awareness. With such chaotic and disordered substances and natures, how could they comprise a realm? From this you should understand that as to the eyes and form being the conditions that produce the realm of eye-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the natures of the eyes, forms, and the form realm, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the ear and sound create the conditions that produce the ear-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the ear such that the ear is its realm, or is it produced because of sound, such that sound is its realm? Ananda, if it were produced because of the ear, then since motion and stillness would be lacking, the ear would not be aware of anything. Certainly in the absence of awareness, nothing could be known and so what would characterize the consciousness? You may hold that the ears hear, but without motion and stillness, hearing cannot occur. Besides, how could the combination of the ears, which are but physical forms, and external objects be called the realm of consciousness? Once again, then, how would the realm of ear-consciousness be established? If it were produced from sound, then the consciousness would exist because of sound, and would have no connection with hearing. Without hearing, the attributes of sound would have no location. If the ear-consciousness came from sound, given that sound exists because of hearing, then what you heard would be the ear-consciousness itself. If the ear-consciousness were not heard, then there would be no realm. If it were heard, then it would be the same as sound. If the consciousness were being heard, who would the perceiver and hearer of the consciousness be? If there were no perceiver, then in the end you would be like grass or wood. Nor should the sound and hearing mix together to form a realm in between. Lacking a realm in between them, how could those internal and external phenomena be delineated? From this you should understand that as to the ears and sounds being the conditions that produce the realm of ear-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the natures of the ears, sounds, and the realm of awareness of sounds, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the nose and smells create the conditions that produce the nose-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the nose such that the nose is its realm, or is it produced because of smells, such that smells are its realm? Ananda, if it were produced because of the nose, then in your mind, what do you take to be the nose? Do you hold that it takes the form of two fleshy claws, or do you hold it is an inherent ability of the nature which perceives smells as a result of motion? If you hold that the nose is fleshy claws, flesh is an integral part of your body and the body’s perception is touch. Then it should be called ‘body’ instead of ‘nose’ and its objects would be those of touch. Since it would not even be called a nose, how could a realm be established for it? If you hold that the act of smelling is perceived, then, in your opinion, what is the perceiver? Were the flesh the perceiver, basically what the flesh perceives is objects of touch, which have nothing to do with the nose. Were emptiness the perceiver, then emptiness would perceive by itself and the flesh would have no awareness. If that were the case, then empty space would be you, and since your body would be without perception, Ananda would not exist.

“If the smells were the perceiver, perception itself would lie with the smells. What would that have to do with you? If you insist that smells of both fragrance and stench are produced from your nose, then these two wafting smells of fragrance and stench would not arise from the wood of airavana or chandana. Given that the smells would not come from those two things, when you smelled your own nose, would it be fragrant or would it stink? What stinks does not give off fragrance; what is fragrant does not stink. If you could smell both the fragrance and the stench, then you, a single person, would have two noses, and I would now be addressing questions to two Anandas. Which one would be you? If you only have one nose, then fragrance and stench would not have two separate identities. Since stench would be fragrance and fragrance would be stench, thereby lacking two distinctive natures, what would make up the realm? If the nose-consciousness were produced because of smells, it would exist because of smells. Just as the eyes can see but are unable to see themselves, so, too, if the nose-consciousness existed because of smells, it should not be aware of smells. If it had no awareness, it could not be a consciousness. If the consciousness were not aware of smells, then the realm could not be established from smells. If the consciousness was not aware of smells, then the realm could not be established due to smells. Since no realm of consciousness would exist between them, then how could any of the internal or external phenomena exist either? A nature of smelling like that would be ultimately empty and false. From this you should understand that as to the nose and smells being the conditions that produce the realm of nose-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the natures of the nose, smells and the realm of smelling, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the tongue and flavors create the conditions that produce the tongue-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the tongue so that the tongue is its realm, or is it produced because of the flavors, so that the flavors are its realm?

“Ananda, if it were produced because of the tongue, then all the sugar cane, black plums, huang-lien, salt, xixing, ginger, and cassia in the world would be entirely without flavor. Also, when you tasted your own tongue, would it be sweet or bitter? If your tongue’s natural flavor were bitter, then what would taste the tongue? Since the tongue cannot taste itself, who would have the sense of taste? If the natural flavor of the tongue was not bitter, then it could not engender tastes. How, then, could a realm be established?

“If the tongue-consciousness were produced because of flavor, the consciousness itself would be a flavor. Then the case would be the same as with the tongue-organ being unable to taste itself. How could the consciousness know whether it had flavor or not? Moreover, the many flavors do not all come from one thing. Since flavors are produced from many things, the consciousness would have many substances. If the consciousness were a single substance and that substance was definitely produced from flavor, then when salt, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors were combined, their various differences would change into a single flavor and there would be no distinctions among them. If there were no distinctions, it could not be called consciousness. So, how could it further be called the realm of tongue, flavor, and consciousness? Nor could empty space produce your conscious awareness. The tongue and flavors could not combine without each losing its basic nature. How, then, could a realm be produced? From this you should understand that as to the tongue and flavors being the conditions that produce the realm of tongue-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the natures of the tongue, flavors, and the realm of the tongue-consciousness, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the body and objects of touch create the conditions that produce the body-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the body, such that the body is its realm, or is it produced because of objects of touch, such that objects of touch are its realm?

“Ananda, if it were produced because of the body, the body alone cannot generate the awareness of contact or separation. What would the body be conscious of? If it were produced because of objects of touch, then your body shouldnot be necessary. But who can perceive contact with something other than the body? Ananda, things do not perceive objects of touch; the body does. What the body knows is objects of touch, and what is aware of objects of touch is the body. Objects of touch are not the body, and the body is not objects of touch. The two entities of body and objects of touch basically have no location. If it were the body-consciousness that came in contact with the body, then it would be the body’s own substance and nature. If the body-consciousness were separate from the body, then it would be like empty space. Since the internal and external aspects can’t be established, how can something be set up between them? Since no such middle can be set up, the internal and external aspects are by nature empty. From what, then, would your consciousness be produced? From this you should understand that as to the body and objects of touch being the conditions that produce the realm of body-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the body, objects of touch, and the realm of body-consciousness, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the mind and dharmas create the conditions that produce the mind-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the mind, such that the mind is its realm, or is it produced because of dharmas, such that dharmas are its realm?

“Ananda, if it were produced because of the mind, in your mind there certainly must be thoughts that give expression to your mind. If there were no dharmas before you, the mind would not give rise to anything. Apart from conditions, it would have no shape; thus, of what use would the consciousness be? Moreover, is your mind-consciousness the same as your mind-organ with its thought processes and discriminations, or is it different? If it were the same as the mind, then it would be the mind, how could it be something produced from it? If it were different from the mind, it shouldn’t have any consciousness. If it didn’t have any consciousness, how could it bee produced from the mind? If it did have consciousness, how could the mind be conscious of itself? Since it is by nature neither the same nor different, how can a realm be established?

“If it were produced because of dharmas, none of the mundane dharmas exist apart form the five defiling objects. Consider the dharmas of form, of sound, of smell, of taste, and of touch: each has a clearly distinguishable appearance and is matched with one of the five organs. They are not what the mind takes in. If your consciousness were indeed produced through a reliance on dharmas, then take a look at them now: what does each and every dharma look like? Apart from the attributes of form and emptiness, motion and stillness, penetration and obstruction, unity and separation, and arising and ceasing there is nothing at all. When there is arising, then form, emptiness, and all dharmas arise. When there is ceasing, then form, emptiness, and all dharmas cease to be. Since the objective causes do not exist, then what does the consciousness which those causes produce look like? If there is nothing discernible about the consciousness, how can a realm be established for it? From this you should understand that as to the mind and dharmas being the conditions that produce the realm of mind-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Fundamentally the mind, dharmas, and the realm of the mind-consciousness, these three, cannot be attributed to either causes and conditions or spontaneity.

Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, in discussing the dharmas of mixing and uniting and of causes and conditions, the Tathagata has often said that the transformations of all mundane phenomena can be discovered in the mixing and uniting of the four elements. Why does the Tathagata now reject causes and conditions and spontaneity as well? I do not know what your meaning pertains to. Please be so compassionate as to instruct us beings in dharmas that adhere to the complete meaning of the Middle Way and are not philosophical speculations.

At that time the Bhagavan said to Ananda, “You have already renounced the Small Vehicle dharmas of the Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions and have resolved to diligently seek unsurpassed Bodhi. Because of that, I will now explain the Complete Meaning of the Middle Way to you. Why do you still bind yourself up in mundane philosophical speculations and false thoughts about causes and conditions? Although you are very learned, you are like someone who can discuss medicines but annot recognize a real medicine when it is placed before you. The Tathagata says that you are truly pitiable. Listen attentively now as I explain this point in detail to enable you and those of the future who cultivate the Mahayana(Great vehicle) to penetrate to the ultimate reality.”

Ananda was silent and awaited the Buddha’s sagely instruction.

“Ananda, according to what you say, the mixing and uniting of the four elements can be discovered in the myriad transformations of all mundane phenomena. Ananda, if the natures of those elements did not mix and unite, then they could not combine with other elements, just as empty space cannot combine with forms. If the natures of those elements do not mix and unite, they are themselves transformations in a never-ending process of bringing each other into being. The continuation of comings into being and ceasings to be, of births and deaths, of deaths and births is like the unbroken wheel of flame that appears when a torch is spun in a circle.

“Ananda, the process is like water becoming ice and ice turning into water again.

“Consider the nature of earth: its coarsest aspect is the earth itself; its subtlest aspect is a mote of dust, which at its smallest would be a particle of dust bordering on emptiness. If one divided one of those particles of dust that is barely form to begin with into seven parts and then split one of those parts, emptiness itself would be arrived at. Ananda, if a particle of dust bordering on emptiness can be divided to arrive at emptiness, it should be that emptiness can give rise to form.

“Just now you asked if mixing and uniting doesn’t bring about all mundane transformations.

You should carefully consider how much emptiness mixes and unites with itself to arrive at a single particle of dust bordering upon emptiness. Such a particle could not be composed of other particles of dust bordering upon emptiness. Moreover, since particles of dust bordering upon emptiness can be reduced to emptiness, of how many particles of such form would emptiness be composed? When those particles of form mass together, a mass of form does not make emptiness; when emptiness is massed together, a mass of emptiness does not make form. Besides, although form can be divided, how can emptiness be massed together?

“You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata, the nature of form is true emptiness and the nature of emptiness is true form. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Reealm. Beings’ minds absorb itaccording to their capacity to know. Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the nature of fire is devoid of identity, being dependent upon various causes and conditions for its existence. Consider a family in the city that has not yet eaten. When they wish to prepare food, they hold up a brass mirror to the sun, seeking fire.

“Ananda, speaking of mixing and uniting, you and I and the twelve hundred and fifty Bhikshus unite a form a community. However, a careful analysis of the community reveals that every member composing it has his own body, family name, clan, and name. For instance, Shariputra is a Brahman, Uruvilva is of the Kashyapa clan, and you, Ananda, come from the Gautama family.

“Ananda, if fire existed because of mixing and uniting, then when your hand holds up the mirror to the sun to seek fire, does the fire come out of the mirror? Does it come out of the moxa tinder? Or does it come from the sun? Ananda, if the fire came from the sun, then only would it burn the moxa tinder in your hand, but as it came across the groves of trees, it should burn them up as well. Suppose it came from the mirror, since it would come out to the mirror to ignite the moxa tinder, why doesn’t the mirror melt? Yet, as your hand that holds the mirror feels no heat; how could the mirror melt? If the fire came from the moxa tinder, then why would fire be generated only when the bright mirror came into contact with the dazzling light? Furthermore, on closer examination, you will find that the mirror is held in your hands, the sun is high in the sky, and moxa is grown from the ground. So where does the fire come from? The sun and the mirror cannot mix and unite, since they are far apart. Nor can it be that the fire arises spontaneously without an origin.

“You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of fire is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true fire. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb it according to their capacity to know. Ananda, you should know that fire can be generated anyplace where a mirror is held up to the sunlight. If mirrors were held up to the sunlight everywhere in the Dharma Realm, fire would be generated everywhere. Since fire can come forth throughout the whole world, can there be any fixed place to which it is confined? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people in the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the nature of water is mutable, its flowing and stopping are erratic. Kapila, Chakra, Padma, Hasta, and other great magicians of Shravasti often hold up instruments to the light of the full moon at midnight to extract from it the essence of water to mix with their drugs. Does the water come out of the crystal ball that is used, or does it exist naturally in space? Or does it come from the moon? Ananda, if the water came from the distant moon, then, water should also flow from all the grasses and trees when the moonlight passes over them on its way to the crystal ball. If it did flow from them, why wait for it to condense on the surface of the crystal ball? Since it does not flow from the trees, then the water clearly cannot descend from the moon. If it came from the crystal ball, then it should flow from the crystal at all times. Why would one have to wait for midnight and the light of the full moon to receive it? If the water came from space, which is by nature boundless, it would flow everywhere until everything between heaven and earth was submerged. How, then, could there still be travel by water, land, and air? Furthermore, upon closer examination you will find that the moon moves through the sky, the crystal ball is held in the hand, and the pan for receiving the eater is put there by someone. So where does the water that flows into the pan come from? The moon and the crystal ball cannot mix and unite, since they are far apart. Nor should the essence of water arise spontaneously without an origin.

“You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of water is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true water. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb it according to their capacity to know. A crystal ball can be held up at a certain place, and water will come forth. If crystal balls were held up throughout the Dharma Realm, then throughout the Dharma Realm water would come forth. Since water can come forth throughout the entire world, can there be any fixed place to which it is confined? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign their origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the nature of wind has no substance, and it is patterns of movement and stillness are erratic. You always adjust your robe as you enter the great assembly. When the corner of your samghati robe brushes the person next to you, the air stirs against that person’s face. Does that wind come from the corner of the Kashaya sash, does it arise from emptiness, or is it produced from the face of the person brushed by the air” “Ananda, if that wind came from the corner of the Kashaya, then you would be clad in the wind, and your kashaya should fly off and leave your body. But my robe remains motionless and hangs straight down as I now speak Dharma in the midst of the assembly. Observing my robe closely, where is the wind in it? The wind could not be stored somewhere in the robe.

“If the wind arose from emptiness, why wouldn’t there be a brushing motion even when your robe did not move? Since the nature of emptiness is constant, the nature of the wind should be too. And so when the wind stopped, emptiness should also cease to be. The lack of wind can be detected, but what would signify the disappearance of emptiness? If emptiness came and went, it wouldn’t be emptiness. And since it is empty, how can it generate wind?

“If the wind came from the face of the person it brushed, it would blow upon you, too. Then while you were setting your robe in order, how could it blow backwards upon other people?

“Upon closer examination, you will find that the robe is set in order by yourself, the face blown by the wind belongs to the person by your side, and the emptiness is tranquil and not involved in movement. So where does the wind come from that blows in this place? The wind and emptiness cannot mix and unite, since they are different from each other. Nor could the wind exist spontaneously without an origin. You still have not realized that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of wind is true emptiness and the nature of emptiness is true wind. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb it according to their capacity to know. Ananda, in the same way that you alone shift your robe slightly and the air is stirred, so, too, if a similar movement were made throughout the Dharma Realm, the air would stir everywhere. Since wind can arise throughout the world, how could there be any fixed place to which it is confined? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign their origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the nature of emptiness has no shape; it is only apparent because of form. For instance, Shravasti is far from the river, so when the Kshatriyas, Brahmans, Vaishyas, Shudras, Bharadvajas, Chandalas, and so forth build their homes there, they dig wells seeking water. As a square foot of earth is removed, a square foot of emptiness becomes evident. As ten square feet of earth are removed, ten feet of emptiness become evident. The depth of the emptiness corresponds to the amount of earth removed. Does that emptiness come out of the earth? Or does it exist because of the digging? Or does it arise by itself, without a cause?

“Ananda, if that emptiness arose by itself without any cause, why wasn’t it evident even before the earth was dug? All that could be seen was the vast expanse of solid, impenetrable earth.

“If emptiness came about because of the removal of the earth, then, as the earth was removed, the entering of the emptiness should be visible. If no emptiness entered when the earth was first removed, then how could the emptiness come about because of the removal of the earth? If no removal or entering took place, then there would be no difference between the earth and emptiness. Not being different, they would be the same. In that case, wouldn’t the emptiness be removed from the well along with the earth in the process of digging?

“If emptiness appeared because of the digging, then the digging would bring out emptiness instead of the earth. If emptiness did not emerge because of the digging, then the digging should only remove the earth. Why, then, do we see emptiness appear as the well is dug?

“Consider this even more carefully. Look into it deeply, and you will find that the digging comes from the person’s hands engaged in that act, and the earth exists because of its removal from the ground. So what causes the emptiness to appear? The digging and the emptiness, one being substantial and the other insubstantial, are not compatible. They do not mix and unite. Nor could emptiness exists spontaneously without an origin. Although the nature of emptiness is completely pervasive and basically unmoving, you should know that emptiness, earth, water, fire, and wind are called the five elements. Their natures are true, perfectly fused, identical with the Treasury of the Tathagata, and neither come into being nor cease to be.

“Ananda, your mind is murky and confused, and you do not awaken to the fact that the source of the four elements is none other than the Treasury of the Tathagata . Is the emptiness you see subject to removal or entering or is it not subject to removal or entering? You still do not realize that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of enlightenment is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true enlightenment. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb it according to their capacity to know. Ananda, wherever there is an empty well, emptiness fills that well. The same is true of emptiness in the ten directions. Since emptiness fills the ten directions, how could there be any fixed place in which it was found? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign their origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the seeing-awareness does not perceive by itself. It depends upon form and emptiness for its existence. You are now in the Jeta Grove where you see the brightness of the morning and the darkness of the evening. Deep in the night you see brightness when the moon arises and darkness are discerned by the seeing. Is the seeing identical in substance with brightness, darkness, or emptiness, or are they not of the same substance? Are they the same and yet different, or are they neither the same nor different?

“Ananda, suppose seeing shared a single substance with brightness, darkness, or emptiness. Darkness and brightness cancel each other out. When it is dark, there is no light; when it is light, there is no darkness. If seeing were one with darkness, it would cease to exists in brightness; if it were one with brightness, it would cease to exist in darkness? Since it would cease to exists, how could it perceive both brightness and darkness? If brightness and darkness differ from each other and that seeing has neither existence nor ceasing to exist how can it be of the same substance with brightness and darkness?

“If the essence of seeing were not of one substance with brightness and darkness, and you were separate from light, darkness, and emptiness, then what shape and appearance would the source of the seeing have? In the absence of darkness, brightness, and emptiness, the seeing would be the same as fur on a tortoise or horns on a hare. How could there be seeing without the presence of the three attributes of brightness, darkness, and emptiness?

“How could the seeing be one with darkness and brightness since they are opposites? Yet, how could it be different from these three attributes, since in their absence there would be no seeing?

“How could the seeing not be one with emptiness, since no boundary exists between them? But how could the seeing not differ from emptiness, since the seeing remains unchanged, regardless of whether it is perceiving brightness or darkness?

“Examine this in even greater detail, investigate it minutely, consider and contemplate it carefully. The light comes from the sun and darkness from the new moon; penetration belongs to emptiness, and solidity returns to the earth, so where does the essence of seeing arise from? Seeing has awareness while emptiness is inanimate: they do not mix and unite. Nor could the essence of seeing arise spontaneously without an origin.

“If the natures of seeing, hearing, and knowing are pervasive and unmoving, you should know that the stable, boundless emptiness, together with the unstable elements such as earth, water, fire, and wind, are together known as the six elements. Their natures are true, perfectly fused, identical with the Treasury of the Tathagata, and fundamentally devoid of coming into being and ceasing to be.

“Ananda, your nature is so submerged that you have not realized that your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are basically the Treasury of the Tathagata. Contemplate seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing to see whether they are subject to coming into being and ceasing to be; whether they are identical or different; whether they are not subject to coming into being and ceasing to be; and whether they are neither identical nor different.

“You still do not realize that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of seeing is enlightened brightness, the essence of enlightenment is bright seeing. That fundamental purity pervades the Dharma Realm. Beings’ minds absorb it according to their capacity to know. Just as the eyes capacity to see pervades the Dharma Realm, so, too, do the capacities to hear, smell, taste, make contact, and know. All those capacities are glorious, magnificent qualities. Since they pervade the Dharma Realm and fill all emptiness in the ten directions, how could they be found in any fixed location? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

“Ananda, the nature of consciousness has no source, but is a false manifestation based on the six organs and their corresponding objects. Now, take a look at the entire sagely assembly gathered here. The observations made by your eyes are similar to reflections in a mirror, both being devoid of distinction-making. However, your consciousness will systematically identify what is seen: that is Manjushri, that is Purna, there is Maudgalyayana, there is Subhuti, and that one is Shariputra. Does the consciousness which is aware and knows comes from seeing, from forms, from emptiness, or does it arise suddenly without a cause?

“Ananda, if your consciousness came from seeing, then in the absence of the four attributes of brightness, darkness, form, and emptiness, you would not be able to see. Since those attributes would not exist where would your consciousness come form?

“If your consciousness arose from form rather than form seeing, it would see neither brightness nor darkness. In the absence of brightness and darkness, it would not see form or emptiness, either. Since those attributes would not exist, where would your consciousness come from?

“If it came from emptiness, it would be neither an appearance nor the seeing. Without seeing, it could not function, being unable to discern brightness, darkness, forms, or emptiness by itself. Without appearances there would be no external conditions, and thus no location where seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing could be established. Being located at neither of those two places, the consciousness would be empty, as if non-existent. If it did exist, it would not be a phenomenon. Even if you could exercise a consciousness, how would it discern anything.

“If it suddenly comes forth without a cause, why can’t you discern the moonlight within the sunlight?

“Investigate this even more carefully, discriminate it in detail, and look into it. The seeing belongs to your eyes; the appearances are considered to be the environment, what has an appearance exists. What lacks appearances does not. What, then, are the conditions that cause the consciousness to come into being? The consciousness moves and the seeing is still; they do not mix and unite. Smelling, hearing, awareness, and knowing are the same way. Nor could the condition of consciousness exist spontaneously without an origin.

“If the consciousness pertaining to the mind did not come from anywhere, the same would be true of the natures of the seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing, which are all complete and tranquil and do not come from anywhere. They together with emptiness, earth, water, fire, and wind are together called the seven elements. Their natures are true, perfectly fused, identical with the Treasury of the Tathagata, and fundamentally devoid of coming into being and ceasing to be.

“Ananda, your mind is coarse and shallow, and so you do not perceive that seeing, hearing, and the resulting awareness are Treasury of the Tathagata. Contemplate these six locations of consciousness to see whether they are identical or different; empty or existent; neither identical nor different; or neither empty nor existent. You still do not realize that in the Treasury of the Tathagata the nature of consciousness is bright knowing; enlightened brightness is the true consciousness. Wonderful enlightenment is tranquil and pervades the Dharma Realm. It encompasses the emptiness of the ten directions and issues forth from it. How could it have a location? Whatever manifests does so in compliance with karma. Ignorant of that fact, people of the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty and meaningless words.

At that time, Ananda and the great assembly, filled with the subtle, wonderful instruction of the Buddha, the Tathagata, experienced unhindered physical and mental peace. Everyone in the great assembly became aware of how his mind pervaded the ten directions, beholding emptiness in the ten directions as one might look at a leaf or other held in the palm of one’s hand. All mundane phenomena became the wonderfully bright primal mind of Bodhi. The essence of the mind became completely pervasive, containing the ten directions. Each person regarded his physical body as being like a particle of dust blown about in the emptiness of the ten directions; sometimes visible, sometimes not, or as being lie a single bubble floating on the clear, vast sea, appearing from nowhere and disappearing into oblivion. Each person comprehended and knew personally the fundamental wonderful mind possessed by all as being eternal and never ceasing to be. They bowed to the Buddha and placed their palms together, having gone through this unprecedented experience. Then, before the Tathagata, Ananda spoke a gatha(verse) in praise of the Buddha:

(Shurangama Vows)

“The wonderful and recondite Dharani,
the moveless Honored One,
the foremost Shurangama King,
is unique in the world.

It dissolves away my inverted thoughts that
gathered through billions of eons,
so I needn’t endure Asamkhyeya aeons
to consummate the Dharma-Body.

I wish now to achieve the result
and become an honored king,
who then returns to save beings
as many as Ganges’ sands.

I give this deepmost heart to all worlds
as many as atoms of universe,
to repay the kindness given to me by Buddhas.

Humbly I ask the Bhagavan to
certify my vow to come back to the five turbid evil realms,
and as long as even one being has not yet become a Buddha,
I will never enter Nirvana.

Great hero with great strength, great kindness and compassion,
please further search out and dispel my subtlest doubts,
cause me to quickly attain the supreme enlightenment,
and sit in Way-places in worlds of the ten directions.

Were even the nature of sunyata(emptiness) to entirely melt away,
This vajra mind will never waver.”

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.