Lankavatara Sutra (abridged)Chapters one and two (of thirteen)
Thus have I heard. The Blessed One once appeared in the Castle of Lanka which is on the summit of Mt.Malaya in the midst of the great Ocean. A great many Boddhisattva-Mahasattvas had miraculously assembled from all the Buddha-lands, and a large number of bhikshus were gathered there.
The Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas with Mahamati their head were all perfect masters of the various Samadhis, the tenfold Self-mastery, the ten powers, and the six Psychic Faculties. Having been anointed by the Buddha`s own hands, they all well understood the significance of the objective world ; they all knew how to apply the various means, teachings and disciplinary measures according to the various mentalities and behaviours of beings; They were thoroughly versed in the five Dharmas, the three Svabhavas, the eight Vijnanas, and the twofold Egolessness.
The Blessed One, knowing of the mental agitations going on in the minds of those assembled (like the surface of the ocean stirred into waves by the passing winds), and his great heart moved by compassion, smiled and said : In the days of old the Tathagatas of the past who were Arhats and fully-enlightened Ones came to the Castle of Lanka on Mt.Malaya and discoursed on the Truth of the Noble Wisdom that is beyond the reasoning knowledge of the philosophers as well as being beyond the understanding of ordinary disciples and masters ; and which is realizable only within the inmost consciousness; for your sakes, I too, would discourse on the same Truth. All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected. This is not comprehended by the philosophers and the ignorant, but those who thus see them truthfully. Those who see things otherwise walk in discrimination and, as they depend upon discrimination, they cling to dualism. The world as seen by discrimination is like seeing one's own image reflected in a mirror, or one's shadow, or the moon reflected in water , or an echo heard in the valley. People grasping their own shadows of discrimination become attached to this thing and that thing and failing to abandon dualism they go on forever discriminating and thus never attain tranquility. By tranquility is meant Oneness, and Oneness gives birth to the highest Samadhi which is gained by entering into the realm of Noble Wisdom that is realizable only within one's inmost consciousness.
Then all the Boddhisattva-Mahasattvas rose from their seats and respectfully paid him homage and Mahamati the Boddhisattva-Mahasattva sustained by the power of the Buddha drew his upper garment over one shoulder, knelt and pressing his hands together, praised him in the following verses: As thou reviewest the world with thy perfect intelligence and compassion it must seem to thee like an ethereal flower of which one cannot say : it is born, it is destroyed, for the terms being and non-being do not apply to it. As thou reviewest the world with thy perfect intelligence and compassion, it must seem to thee like a dream of which it cannot be said : it is permanent or it is destructible, for being and non-being do not apply to it.
As thou reviewest all things by thy perfect intelligence and compassion, they must seem to thee like visions beyond the reach of the human mind, as being and non-being do not apply to them. With thy perfect intelligence and compassion which are beyond all limit, thou comprehends the egolessness of things and persons, and art free and clear from the hindrances of passion and learning and egoism. Thou doest not vanish into Nirvana, nor does Nirvana abide in thee, for Nirvana transcends all duality of knowing and known, of being and non-being.
Those who see thee thus, serene and beyond conception, will be emancipated from attachment, will be cleansed of all defilement, both in this world and in the spiritual world beyond. In this world whose nature is like a dream, there is place for praise and blame, but in the ultimate Reality of the Dharmakaya which is far beyond the senses and the discriminating mind, what is there to praise?
O thou most Wise!
Then said Mahamati the Boddhisattva-Mahasattva : O blessed One, Sugata, Arhat and Fully-Enlightened One, pray tell us about the realization of Noble Wisdomwhich is beyond the path and usage of the philosophers ; which is devoid of all predicates such as being and non-being, oneness and otherness, bothness and non-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity : which has nothing to do with individuality and generality, nor false-imagination, nor any illusions arising from the mind itself ; but which manifests itself as the Truth of Highest Reality.
By which, going up continuously by the stages of purification, one enters at last upon the stage of Tathagata-hood, whereby, by the power of his original vows unattended by any striving, one will radiate its influence to infinite worlds, like a gem reflecting its variegated clors, whereby I and other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas will be enabled to bring all beings to the same perfection of virtue.
Said the Blessed One: Well done, Well done, Mahamati!And again, well done, indeed! It is because of your compassion for the world, because of the benefit it will bring to many people both human kind and celestial, that you have presented yourself before us to make this request.
Therefore, Mahamati, listen well and truely reflect upon what I shall say, for I will instruct you. Then Mahamati and the other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas gave devout attention to the teaching of the Blessed One.
Mahamati, since the ignorant and simple-minded, not knowing that the world is only something seen of the mind itself, cling to multitudinousness of external objects , cling to the notions of being and non-being, oneness and otherness, bothness and non-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity, and think that they have a self-nature of their own, all of which rises from the discriminations of the mind and is perpetuated by habit-energy, and from which they are given over to false imagination. It is all like a mirage in which springs of water are seen as if they were real. They are thus imagined by animals, who, made thirsty by the heat of the season, run after them. Animals, not knowing that the springs are an hallucination of their own minds, do not realize that there are no such springs.
In the same way, Mahamati, the ignorant and simple-minded, their minds burning with the fires of greed, anger and folly, finding delight in a world of multitudinous forms, their thoughts obsessed with ideas of birth, growth and destruction, not well understanding what is meant by existent and non-existent, and being impressed by the erroneous discriminations and speculations since beginningless time, fall into the habit of grasping this and that and thereby becoming attached to them.
It is like the city of the Gandharvas which the unwitting take to be a real city though it is not so in fact. The city appears as in a vision owing to their attachment to the memory of a city preserved in the mind as a seed ; the city can thus be said to be both existent and non-existent. In the same way, clinging to the memory of erroneous speculations and doctrines accumulated since beginningless time, they hold fast to such ideas as oneness and otherness, being and non-being, and their thoughts are not at all clear as to what after all is only seen of the mind. It is like a man dreaming in his sleep of a country that seems to be filled with various men, women, elephants, horses, pedestrians, villages, towns, hamlets, cows, buffalos, mansions, woods, mountains ,rivers and lakes, and who moves abcut in that city until he is awakened.
As he lies half awake, he recalls the city of his dreams and reviews his experiences there; what do you think, Mahamati, is this dreamer who is letting his mind dwell upon the various unrealities he has seen in his dream , - is he to be considered wise or foolish?
In the same way the ignorant and simple-minded who are favorably influenced by the erroneous views of the philosophers do not recognise that the views that are influencing them are only dream-like ideas originating in the mind itself, and consequently they are held fast by their notions of oneness and otherness, of being and non-being.
It is like a painter's canvas on which the ignorant imagine they see the elevations and depressions of mountains and valleys. In the same way there are people today being brought up under the influence of similar erroneous views of oneness and otherness, of bothness and non-bothness, whose mentality is being conditioned by the habit-energy of these false-imaginations and who later on will declare those who hold the true doctrine of no-birth which is free from the alternatives of being and non-being ; to be nihilists and by so doing will bring themselves and others to ruin. By the natural law of cause and effect these followers of pernicious views uproot meritorious causes that otherwise would lead to unstained purity.
It is like the dim-eyed ones who seeing a hairnet exclaim to one another:
"It is wonderful! Look, Honorable Sirs, it is wonderful!". But the hairnet has never existed ; in fact, it is neither an entity, nor a non-entity, for it has both been seen and has not been seen.
In the same manner those whose minds have been addicted to the discriminations of the erroneous views cherished by the philosophers which are given over to the realistic views of being and non-being, will contradict the good Dharma and will end in the destruction of themselves and others.
It is like a wheel of fire made by a revolving firebrand which is no wheel but which is imagined to be one by the ignorant. Not is it not-a-wheel because it has not been seen by some. By the same reasoning, those who are in the habit of listening to the discriminations and views of the philosophers will regard things born as non-existent and those destroyed by causation as existent. It is like a mirror reflecting colors and images as determined by conditions but without any partiality. It is like the echo of the wind that gives the sound of a human voice. It is like a mirage of moving water seen in a desert. In the same way the discriminating mind of the ignorant which has been heated by false-imaginations and speculations is stirred into mirage-like waves by the winds of birth, growth and destruction.
Then said Mahamati to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?
The Blessed One replied : It is because the ignorant cling to names, signs and ideas; as their mind move along these channels they feed on multiplicities of objects and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it ; they make discriminations of good and bad among appearances and cling to the agreeable. As they thus cling there is a reversion to ignorance, and karma born of greed, anger and folly, is accumulated. As the accumulation of karma goes on they become imprisoned in a cocoon of discrimination and are henceforth unable to free themselves from the round of birth and death. Because of the folly they do not understand that all things are like maya, like the reflection of the moon in water, that there is no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings, and that all their definitive ideas rise from their false discriminations of what exists only as it is seen of the mind itself. They do not realize that things have nothing to do with qualified and qualifying, nor with the course of birth, abiding and destruction, and instead they assert that they are born of a creator, of time, of atoms, of some celestial spirit. It is because the ignorant are given up to discrimination that they move along with the stream of appearances, but it is not so with the wise.
Then Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattca spoke to the Blessed One, saying :
You speak of the erroneous views of the philosophers, will you please tell us of them, that we may be on our guard against them?
The Blessed One replied, saying : Mahamati, the error in these erroneous teachings that are generally held by the philosophers lies in this; they do not recognize that the objective world rises from the mind itself; they do not understand that the whole mind-system also rises from the mind itself; but depending upon these manifestations of the mind as being real they go on discriminating them, like the simple-minded ones that they are ; cherishing the dualism of this and that, of being and non-being, ignorant of the fact that there is but one common Essence. On the contrary my teaching is based upon the recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself ; it teaches the cessation of ignorance, desire, deed and causality ; it teaches the cessation of suffering that arises from the discrimination of the triple world. There are some Brahman scholars who, assuming something out of nothing, assert that there is a substance bound up with causation which abides in time, and that the elements that make up personality and its environment have their genesis and continuation in causation and after thus existing, pass away. Then there are other scholars who hold a destructive and nihilistic view concerning such subjects as continuation, activity, breaking-up, existence, Nirvana, the Path, karma, fruition and Truth. Why? Because they have not attained an intuitive understanding of Truth itself and therefore they have no clear insight into the fundamentals of things. They are like a jar broken into pieces which is no longer able to function as a jar; they are like a burnt seed which is no longer capable of sprouting. But the elements that make up personality and its environrment which they regard as subject to change are really incapable of uninterrupted transformations. Their views are based upon erroneous discriminations of the objective world ; they are not based upon the true conception.
Again, if it is true that something comes out of nothing and there is a rise of the mind-system by reason of the combination of the three effect-producing causes, we could say the same of any non-existing thing ; for instance, that a tortoise could grow hair, or sand produce oil. This proposition is of no avail ; it ends in affirming nothing. It follows that the deed, work and cause of which they speak is of no use, and so also is their reverence for being and non-being. If they argue that there is a combination of the three effect-producing causes, they must do it on the principle of cause and effect, that is, that something comes out of something and not out of nothing.
As long as a world of relativity is asserted, there is an ever recurring chain of causation which cannot be denied under any circumstance, therefore we cannot talk of anything coming to an end of cessation. As long as these scholars remain on their philosophical ground their demonstration must conform to logic and their textbooks and the memory-habit of erroneous intellection will ever cling to them. To make the matter worse , the simple-minded ones , poisoned by this erroneous view, will declare this incorrect way of thinking taught by the ignorant, to be the same as that presented by the All-knowing One.
All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements that make up personality, Personal Soul, Supreme Spirit, Sovereign God, Creator - are all figments of imagination, and manifestations of the mind. Nevertheless transcendental Intelligence is not Noble Wisdom, it is only an intuitive awareness of it. Noble Wisdom is a perfect state of imagelessness: It is the All-conserving Divine Mind which in its pure Essence forever abides in Perfect Patience and Undisturbed Tranquility.
Transcendental Intelligence Rises when the intellectual Mind reaches it limits and , if things are to realized in their true and essential Nature, its processes of mentation, which are based on particularized ideas, discriminations and Judgements, must be transcended by an appeal of some higher faculty of cognition, if there be such a higher faculty. There is such a faculty in the intuitive Mind (Manas) which as we have seen is the link between the intellectual Mind and the Universal Mind.
While Intuition does not give information that can be analyzed and discriminated, it gives that which is far superior - Self-realization through Identification. There are four things by the fulfilling which an earnest disciple may gain Self-Realization and Noble Wisdom. First ; He must have a clear understanding that all things are only manifestations of the mind itself. Second ; He must clearly understand the egolessness
of both things and persons. As to the first: he must recognize and be fully convinced that this triple world is nothing but a complex manifestation of one's mental activities ; that it is devoid of selfness and its belongings. That there are no strivings, no comings and no goings. He must recognize and accept the fact that this triple world is manifested and imagined as real only under the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulated since the beginning-less past, by reason of memory, false-imagination, false-reasoning, and attachments to the multiplicities of objects and reactions in close relationship and in conformity to ideas of body-property-and-abode.
As to the Second thing ; he must recognize and be convinced that all things are to be regarded as forms seen in a vision and a dream, empty of substance, un-born without self-nature, that all things exist only by reason of a complicated network of causation.
As for the third; He must recognize and patiently accept the fact that his own mind and personality is also Mind-constructed, that it is empty of substance, unborn and Egoless.