Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 2 (english)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The King said, “No, Bhagavan.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refuting the false perception to eliminate the fourth aggregate

and reveal the non-existence of the seventh consciousness

Ananda’s wrong view

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

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

Unreality of illusory causes

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

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

Falseness of both sense organs and consciousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Those externalist sects always speak of spontaneity. I speak

of causes and conditions which is an entirely different frame of

reference.’ Now as I contemplate original enlightenment in its

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shurangama Sutra – Chapter 1 (english)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ananda answered, “Yes, Bhagavan.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Buddha said, “So it is.”

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

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

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

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