SHURANGAMA SUTRA – Chapter Three

Chapter Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Shurangama Vows:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quý vị có thể để lại nhận xét, ý kiến hoặc lời nhắn tại ô này. Thanh Tịnh Lưu Ly xin thành kính tri ân và ghi nhận mọi đóng góp ý kiến từ quý vị

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