Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 4 (english)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, Bhagavan.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”