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The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki: CHAPTER SIX. ON MOMENTARINESS

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The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
A Mahāyāna Text

Translated for the first time from
the original Sanskrit by
Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki


LXXXII The Tathāgata-garbha and the Alayavijñāna

(220) At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva made a request of the Blessed One, saying: Blessed One, tell me; Sugata, tell me about the rising and disappearing of the Skandhas, Dhātus, and Āyatanas. In case there is no ego-soul, what is it that comes to exist and to disappear? The ignorant who are attached to the notion of rising and disappearing, fail to understand the extinction of pain, and thus they know not what Nirvana is.

Said the Blessed One: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said: Certainly, Blessed One; and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, the Tathāgata-garbha holds within it the cause for both good and evil, and by it all the forms of existence are produced. Like an actor it takes on a variety of forms, and (in itself) is devoid of an ego-soul and what belongs to it. As this is not understood, there is the functioning together of the triple combination from which effects take place. But the philosophers not knowing this are tenaciously attached to the idea of a cause (or a creating agency). Because of the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulating variously by false reasoning since beginningless time, what here goes under the name of Ālayavijñāna is accompanied by the seven Vijñānas which give birth to a state known as the abode of ignorance. It is like a great ocean in which the waves roll on permanently but the (deeps remain unmoved; that is, the Alaya-) body itself subsists uninterruptedly, quite free from fault of impermanence, unconcerned with the doctrine of ego-substance, and (221) thoroughly pure in its essential nature.

As to the other seven Vijñānas beginning with the Manas and Manovijñāna, they have their rise and complete ending from moment to moment; they are born with false discrimination as cause, and with forms and appearances and objectivity as conditions which are intimately linked together; adhering to names and forms, they do not realise that objective individual forms are no[1] more than what is seen of the Mind itself; they do not give exact information regarding pleasure and pain; they are not the cause of emancipation; by setting up names and forms which originate from greed, greed is begotten in turn, thus mutually conditioned and conditioning. When the sense-organs which seize (upon the objective world) are destroyed and annihilated, the other things immediately cease to function, and there is no recognition of pleasure and pain which are the self-discrimination of knowledge; thus there is the attainment of perfect tranquillisation in which thoughts and sensations are quieted, or there is the realisation of the four Dhyānas, in which truths of emancipation are well understood; whereupon the Yogins are led to cherish herein the notion of (true) emancipation, because of the not-rising (of the Vijñānas).

(But) when a revulsion (or turning-back) has not taken place in the Ālayavijñāna known under the name of Tathāgata-garbha, there is no cessation of the seven evolving Vijñānas. Why? Because the evolution of the Vijñānas is depending on this cause; but this does not belong to the realm of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and those who are disciplining themselves in the exercises of the philosophers. As they (only) know the egolessness of the self-soul, as they (only) accept the individuality and generality of the Skandhas, Dhātus, and Āyatanas, there is the evolving of the Tathāgata-garbha. When an insight into the five Dharmas, the three Svabhāvas, and the egolessness of all things is obtained, the Tathāgata-garbha becomes quiescent. By causing a revulsion in the continuous development of the graded stages, (the Bodhisattva) may not be led astray in the path (of enlightenment) by those philosophers who hold different views. Thus establishing himself at the Bodhisattva stage of Acalā (immovable), (222) he obtains the paths leading to the happiness of the ten Samādhis. Supported by the Buddhas in Samādhi, observing the truths of the Buddha which go beyond thought and his own original vows, not entering into the happiness of the Samādhi which is the limit of reality, but by means of the self-realisation which is not generally gained by the paths of discipline belonging to the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers, he obtains the ten paths of discipline which belong to the noble family (of the Tathagatas), and (also obtains) the knowledge-body created by the will which is removed from the (premeditated) workings of Samādhi. For this reason, Mahāmati, let those Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who are seeking after the exalted truth effect the purification of the Tathāgata-garbha which is known as Ālayavijñāna.

Mahāmati, if you say that there is no Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna, there will be neither the rising nor the disappearing (of an external world of multiplicities) in the absence of the Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna. But, Mahāmati, there is the rising and disappearing of the ignorant as well as the holy ones. (Therefore), the Yogins, while walking in the noble path of self-realisation and abiding in the enjoyment of things as they are, do not abandon working hard and are never frustrated (in their undertakings). Mahāmati, this realm of the Tathāgata-garbha is primarily undefiled and is beyond all the speculative theories of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers; but it appears to them devoid of purity, as it is soiled by these external defilements. This is not the case with the Tathagatas, Mahāmati; with the Tathagatas it is an intuitive experience as if it were an Āmalaka fruit held in the palm of the hand.

This, Mahāmati, was told by me in the canonical text relating to Queen Śrīmālā, (223) and in another where the Bodhisattvas, endowed with subtle, fine, pure knowledge, are supported (by my spiritual powers) —that the Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna evolves together with the seven Vijñānas. This is meant for the Śrāvakas who are not free from attachment, to make them see into the egolessness of things; and for Queen Śrīmālā to whom the Buddha's spiritual power was added, the (pure) realm of Tathagatahood was expounded. This does not belong to the realm of speculation as it is carried on by the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and other philosophers, except, Mahāmati, that this realm of Tathagatahood which is the realm of the Tathāgata-garbha-ālayavijñāna is meant for those Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who like you are endowed with subtle, fine, penetrating thought-power and whose understanding is in accordance with the meaning; and it is not for others, such as philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, who are attached to the letters of the canonical texts. For this reason, Mahāmati, let you and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas discipline yourselves in the realm of Tathagatahood, in the understanding of this Tathāgata-garbha-ālayavijñāna, so that you may not rest contented with mere learning. So it is said:

1. The Garbha of the Tathagatas is indeed united with the seven Vijñānas; when this is adhered to, there arises duality, but when rightly understood, duality ceases.

2. The mind, which is the product of intellection since beginningless time, is seen like a mere image; when things are viewed as they are in themselves, there is neither objectivity nor its appearance.

3. As the ignorant grasp the finger-tip and not the moon, (224) so those who cling to the letter, know not my truth.

4. The Citta dances like a dancer; the Manas resembles a jester; the (Mano-) vijñāna together with the five (Vijñānas) creates an objective world which is like a stage.[2]

LXXXIII The Five Dharmas, and Their Relation to the Three Svabhāvas

At that time, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva made a request of the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell me, Blessed One; pray tell me, Sugata, concerning the distinguishing aspects of the five Dharmas, the (three) Svabhāvas, the (eight) Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness. By (recognising) the distinguishing aspects of the twofold egolessness, I and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas will be able to establish those truths while effecting a continuous development through the various stages of Bodhisattvahood. It is said that by these truths we can enter into all the Buddha-truths, and that by entering into all the Buddha-truths we can enter even into the ground of the Tathagata's inner realisation.

Said the Blessed One: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One, said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, I will tell you about the distinguishing aspects of the five Dharmas, the (three) Svabhāvas, the (eight) Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness. The five Dharmas are: name, form, discrimination, right knowledge, and suchness. (When these are thoroughly comprehended) by the Yogins, they enter into the course of the Tathagata's inner realisation, where they are kept away from such views as eternalism and nihilism, realism and negativism, and (225) where they come face to face with the abode of happiness belonging to the present existence as well as to the Samāpatti (tranquillisation). But, Mahāmati, as the ignorant do not understand that the five Dharmas, the (three) Svabhāvas, the (eight) Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness, together with the external objects which are regarded as existent and nonexistent— (all these are no more than) what is seen of the Mind itself—they are given to discrimination, but it is otherwise with the wise.

Said Mahāmati: How is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?

Said the Blessed One: Mahāmati, the ignorant cling to names, ideas, and signs; their minds move along (these channels). As thus they move along, they feed on multiplicities of objects, and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it, and cling to salutary appearances. As thus they cling, there is a reversion to ignorance, and they become tainted, karma born of greed, anger, and folly is accumulated. As karma is accumulated again and again, their minds become swathed in the cocoon of discrimination as the silk-worm; and, transmigrating in the ocean of birth-and-death (gati), they are unable, like the water-drawing wheel, to move forward. And because of folly, they do not understand that all things are like Māyā, a mirage, the moon in water, and have no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings; that things rise from their false discrimination; that they are devoid of qualified and qualifying; and have nothing to do with the course of birth, abiding, and destruction; that they are born of the discrimination of what is only seen of the Mind itself; and assert[3] that they are born of Iśvara, time, atoms, or a supreme spirit, for they follow names and appearances. Mahāmati, the ignorant move along with appearances.

Further, Mahāmati, by "appearance" is meant that which reveals itself to the visual sense (226) and is perceived as form, and in like manner that which, appearing to the sense of hearing, smelling, tasting, the body, and the Manovijñāna, is perceived as sound, odour, taste, tactility, and idea, —all this I call "appearance."

Further, Mahāmati, by "discrimination" is meant that by which names are declared, and there is thus the indicating of (various) appearances. Saying that this is such and no other, for instance, saying that this is an elephant, a horse, a wheel, a pedestrian, a woman, or a man, each idea thus discriminated is so determined.

Further, Mahāmati, by "right knowledge" is meant this: when names and appearances are seen as unobtainable owing to their mutual conditioning, there is no more rising of the Vijñānas, for nothing comes to annihilation, nothing abides everlastingly; and when there is thus no falling back into the stage of the philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, it is said that there is right knowledge. Further, Mahāmati, by reason of this right knowledge, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva does not regard name as reality and appearance as non-reality.

When erroneous views based on the dualistic notion of assertion and negation are gotten rid of, and when the Vijñānas cease to rise as regards the objective world of names and appearances, this I call "suchness." Mahāmati, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who is established on suchness attains the state of imagelessness and thereby attains the Bodhisattva-stage of Joy (pramuditā).

When (the Bodhisattva) attains the stage of Joy, he is kept away from all the evil courses belonging to the philosophers and enters upon the path of supra-worldly truths. When (all) the conditions (of truth) are brought to consummation, he discerns that the course of all things starts with the notion of Māyā, etc.; and after the attainment of the noble truth of self-realisation, he earnestly desires to put a stop to speculative theorisation; (227) and going up in succession through the stages of Bodhisattvahood he finally reaches the stage of Dharma-Cloud (dharmameghā). After being at the stage of Dharma-Cloud, he reaches as far as the stage of Tathagatahood where the flowers of the Samādhis, powers, self-control, and psychic faculties are in bloom. After reaching here, in order to bring all beings to maturity, he shines like the moon in water, with varieties of rays of transformation. Perfectly fulfilling[4] the (ten) inexhaustible vows, he preaches the Dharma to all beings according to their various understandings. As the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, Mahāmati, have entered into suchness, they attain the body which is free from the will and thought-constructions.[5]

Again, Mahāmati said: Are the three Svabhāvas to be regarded as included in the five Dharmas, or as having their own characteristics complete in themselves?

The Blessed One said: The three Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness—they are all included (in the five Dharmas). Of these, name and appearance are known as the Parikalpita (false imagination). Then, Mahāmati, discrimination which rises depending upon them, is the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it, —the notion and the discrimination are of simultaneous occurrence, like the rising of the sun and its rays. Mahāmati, the discrimination thus supporting the notion of self-nature which subsists in the multiplicities of objects, is called the Paratantra (dependence on another). Right knowledge and suchness, Mahāmati, are indestructible, and thus they are known as Parinishpanna (perfect knowledge).

Further, Mahāmati, by adhering to what is seen of the Mind itself there is an eightfold discrimination. This comes from imagining unreal individual appearances (as real). (228) When the twofold clinging to an ego-soul and what belongs to it is stopped, there is the birth of the twofold egolessness. Mahāmati, in these five Dharmas are included all the Buddha-truths and also the differentiation and succession of the (Bodhisattva-) stages, and the entrance of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tathagatas into the state of self-realisation by means of their noble wisdom.

LXXXIV The Five Dharmas

Further, Mahāmati, of the five Dharmas—name, appearance, discrimination, right knowledge, and suchnessappearance is that which is seen as having such characteristics as form, shape, distinctive features, images, colours, etc. —this is "appearance." Out of this appearance ideas are formed such as a jar, etc., by which one can say, this is such and such, and no other; this is "name." When names are thus pronounced, appearances are determined[6] and there is "discrimination, " saying this is mind and this is what belongs to it. That these names and appearances are after all unobtainable because when intellection is put away the aspect of mutuality (in which all things are determined) ceases to be perceived and imagined—this is called the "suchness" of things. And this suchness may be characterised as truth, reality, exact knowledge, limit, source, self-substance, the unattainable. This has been realised by myself and the Tathagatas, truthfully pointed out, recognised, made public, and widely shown. When, in agreement with this, (the truth) is rightly understood as neither negative nor affirmative, discrimination ceases to rise, and there is a state conformable to self-realisation by means of noble wisdom, which is not the course of controversy pertaining to the philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas; this is "right knowledge."

(229) These are, Mahāmati, the five Dharmas, and in them are included the three Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, the twofold egolessness, and all the Buddha-truths. In this, Mahāmati, reflect well with your own wisdom and let others do (the same) and do not allow yourself to be led by another. So it is said:

5. The five Dharmas, the Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness—they are all embraced in the Mahāyāna.

6. Name, appearance, and discrimination (correspond to) the first two Svabhāvas, while right knowledge and suchness are the Parinishpanna.

LXXXV Tathagata and Sands of the Gangā

At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One: It is told by the Blessed One in the canonical text the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future are like the sands of the river Gangā. Blessed One, is this to be accepted literally? or is there another distinct meaning? Pray tell me, Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: Mahāmati, do not take it in its literal sense; for, Mahāmati, the Buddhas of the three divisions of time are not measurable by the measurement of the sands of the Gangā. Why? Because an analogy which is superior to anything of the world and surpasses it cannot be called an analogy, since there is in it something resembling and something not resembling. (230) The Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones do not give out such an analogy that has in it something resembling and something not resembling and that is superior to the world and surpasses it. But this comparison is only given out, Mahāmati, by myself and the Tathagatas, in which the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā; the idea is to terrify those ignorant and simple-minded ones who, tenaciously clinging to the idea of permanency and impermanency, and giving themselves up to the ways of thinking and the erroneous views of the philosophers, follow up the wheel of transmigration. To those who, anxious to escape the intricacies of the wheel of existence, seek after the excellent state, thinking how this could be realised, it is told them that the appearance of the Tathagatas is not like the blooming of the Udumbara flower, because they will thereby see that the attainment of Buddhahood is not a difficult undertaking and will pu1 forward their energy. But it is told in the canonical text that the Tathagatas appear as rarely as the Udumbara flower, and this is in consideration of those people who are to be led by me. Mahāmati, however, no one has ever seen the Udumbara flower blooming, nor will anyone; while, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas are at present in the world, they were seen and are to be seen. To say that the Tathagatas appear as rarely as the Udumbara flower has (really) no reference to the establishment of the truth itself. When, Mahāmati, the establishment of the truth itself is pointed out, it surpasses beyond measure anything in the world that can be offered as an analogy to it, because (the ignorant) are incapable of believing. And thus there is an unbelief on the part of the ignorant and simple-minded. (231) There is indeed no room for analogies to enter in the realm of self-realisation which is effected by means of noble wisdom. The truth transcends all the notions that are characteristic of the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna. The truth is the Tathagatas, and, therefore, in them there is nothing describable by analogy.

But, Mahāmati, (sometimes) a comparison is made use of; that is to say, the Tathagatas are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā, because they are the same and impartial (to all things), because they are free from imagination and discrimination. For example, Mahāmati, the sands of the river Gangā are tossed about by the fishes, tortoises, porpoises, crocodiles, buffalos, lions, elephants, etc., but they are free from imagination and discrimination; for they do not resent, saying."We are down-trodden," or "We are not." They are non-discriminative, pure in themselves, separated from defilement. In the same way, Mahāmati, the self-realisation of noble wisdom which has been attained by the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones, is like the river Gangā, and their powers, psychic faculties, and self-control are like the sands; and however much they are tossed about by the fishes of the philosophers, by the ignorant who belong to other schools, they are not troubled by imaginations and discriminations. Because of their original vows, the Tathagatas (whose hearts are) filled with all the happiness of the Samāpatti are not troubled by imaginations and discriminations with regard to beings. Therefore, the Tathagatas, like the sands of the river Gangā, are free from partiality because of their being devoid of likes and dislikes.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: as the sands of the river Gangā partake of the character of the earth, the conflagration that will break out at the end of the Kalpa may burn the earth but does not destroy its self-nature. Mahāmati, the earth is not consumed because of its being inseparably connected with the element of fire, (232) and it is only the ignorant and simple-minded that on account of their falling into false ideas imagine the earth being consumed by fire. But as it supplies the material cause to the element fire, it is never consumed. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Dharmakāya of the Tathagatas, like the sands of the river Gangā, is never destroyed.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are immeasurable. In the same way, Mahāmati, the rays of light of the Tathagatas are beyond measure, which arc-emitted by them in all the Buddha-assemblies in order to bring beings to maturity and arouse them (to the knowledge of the truth).

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā do not assume another nature than itself remaining forever the same. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones are neither evolving nor disappearing in transmigration because in them the cause of making them come into existence is destroyed.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are unconcerned whether they are carried away or whether more is added into them. In the same way, Mahāmati, the knowledge of the Tathagatas which is exercised for the maturing of beings is neither exhausted nor augmented, because the Dharma is without a physical body. Mahāmati, that which has a physical body is subject to annihilation, but not that which has no physical body; and the Dharma is not a physical body.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā, however much they are compressed for the sake of the ghee and oil, are destitute of them. In the same way, (233) Mahāmati, the Tathagatas never abandon their deep concerns[7] and original vows and happiness as regards the Dharmadhātu, however hard they are oppressed with pain for the sake of beings, as long as all beings have not yet been led into Nirvana by the Tathagatas, who are endowed with a great compassionate heart.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are drawn along with the flow of the stream, but not where there is no water. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Tathagata's teaching in regard to all the Buddha-truths takes place along the flow of the Nirvana-stream; and for this reason the Tathagatas are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā.

Mahāmati, in tathāgata ("thus come") there is no sense of "going away"; Mahāmati, "going away" means destruction. Mahāmati, the primary limit of transmigration is unknown. Not being known, how can I talk of the sense of "gong away"? The sense of "going away," Mahāmati, is annihilation, and this is not known by the ignorant and simple-minded.

Mahāmati said: If, Blessed One, the primary limit of transmigration of all beings is unknowable, how is the emancipation of beings knowable?

The Blessed One said: Mahāmati, when it is understood that the objective world is nothing but what is seen of the Mind itself, the habit-energy of false speculations and erroneous discriminations which have been going on since beginningless time is removed, and there is a revulsion (or turning-back) at the basis of discrimination—this is emancipation, Mahāmati, and not annihilation. Therefore, Mahāmati, there cannot be any talk about endlessness. To be endless in limit, Mahāmati, is another name for discrimination. Apart from discriminations (234) there are no other beings. When all things external or internal are examined with intelligence, Mahāmati, knowing and known are found to be quiescent. But when it is not recognised that all things rise from the discrimination of the Mind itself, discrimination asserts itself. When this is understood discrimination ceases. So it is said:

7. Those who regard the removers of obstruction (i. e., Buddhas) as neither destroyed nor departed for ever, like the sands of the Gangā, see the Tathagata.

8. Like the sands of the Gangā they are devoid of all error: they flow along the stream and are permanent, and so is the essence (or nature) of Buddhahood.

LXXXVI Momentariness; the Eight Vijñānas

At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One; Tell me, Blessed One; tell me, Sugata, Tathagata, Arhat, Fully-Enlightened One, regarding the momentary destruction of all things and their distinctive signs. Blessed One, what is meant by all things being momentary?

The Blessed One replied: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One; said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, all things, all things we speak of, and they are good or bad, effect-producing or not effect-producing, of this world (235) or of super-world, faulty or faultless, of evil flowings or the non-flowings, receptive or non-receptive. In short, Mahāmati, the five appropriating[8] Skandhas have their rise from the habit-energy of the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna, they are imagined good or bad. Mahāmati, the happiness of the Samādhi and the attainments (resulting therefrom), which belong to the wise by reason of their abiding in the happiness of the existing world, are called the non-outflowing goods.

Again, Mahāmati, by good and bad are meant the eight Vijñānas. What are the eight? They are the Tathāgata-garbha known as the Ālayavijñāna, Manas, Manovijñāna, and the system of the five Vijñānas as described by the philosophers. Now, Mahāmati, the system of the five Vijñānas is together with the Manovijñāna, and there is an undivided succession and differentiation of good and bad, and the entire body moves on continuously and closely bound together; moving on, it comes to an end; but as it fails to understand that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of Mind-only, there is the rising of another Vijñāna (-system) following the cessation of the first; and the Manovijñāna in union with the system of the five Vijñānas, perceiving the difference of forms and figures, is set in motion, not remaining still even for a moment—this I call momentariness. Mahāmati, momentary is the Ālayavijñāna known as the Tathāgata-garbha, which is together with the Manas and with the habit-energy of the evolving Vijñānas— this is momentary. But (the Ālayavijñāna which is together) with the habit-energy of the non-outflows (anāsrava) (236) is not momentary. This is not understood by the ignorant and simple-minded who are addicted to the doctrine of momentariness. Not understanding the momentariness and non-momentariness of all things, they cherish nihilism whereby they even try to destroy the unmade (asaṁskṛita). Mahāmati, the system itself of the five Vijñānas is not subject to transmigration, nor does it suffer pleasure and pain, nor is it conducive to Nirvana. But, Mahāmati, the Tathāgata-garbha is together with the cause that suffers pleasure and pain; it is this that is set in motion and ceases to work; it is stupefied by the fourfold habit-energy. But the ignorant do not understand it, as their thoughts are infused with the habit-energy of discrimination which cherishes the view of momentariness.

Further, Mahāmati, gold, vajra, and the relics of the Buddha, owing to their specific character, are never destroyed but remain the same until the end of time. If, Mahāmati, the nature of enlightenment is momentary, the wise would lose their wiseness (āryatva), but they have never lost it. Mahāmati, gold and vajra remain the same until the end of time; remaining the same they are neither diminished nor increased. How is it that the ignorant, failing to recognise the hidden meaning of all things internal and external, discriminate in the sense of momentariness?

LXXXVII Three Kinds of the Pāramitās

Further, Mahāmati said: It is again said by the Blessed One that by fulfilling the six Pāramitās Buddhahood is realised. What are the six (237) Pāramitās? And how are they fulfilled?

The Blessed One replied: Mahāmati, there are three kinds of Pāramitās. What are the three? They are the worldly, the super-worldly, and the highest super-wordly. Of these, Mahāmati, the worldly Pāramitās (are practised thus): Adhering tenaciously to the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it and holding fast to dualism, those who are desirous for this world of form, etc., will practise the Pāramitā of charity in order to obtain the various realms of existence. In the same way, Mahāmati, the ignorant will practise the Pāramitās of morality, patience, energy, Dhyāna, and Prajñā. Attaining the psychic powers they will be born in Brahma's heaven.

As to the super-worldly Pāramitās, they are practised by the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas whose thoughts are possessed by the notion of Nirvana; the Pāramitās of charity, etc. are thus performed by them, who, like the ignorant, are desirous of enjoying Nirvana for themselves.

Again, Mahāmati, as to the highest super-worldly Pāramitās, (they are practised) by the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who are the practisers of the highest form of spiritual discipline; that is, perceiving that there is nothing in the world but what is only seen of the Mind itself, on account of discrimination, and understanding that duality is of the Mind itself, they see that discrimination ceases to function; and, that seizing and holding is non-existent; and, free from all thoughts of attachment to individual objects which are of the Mind itself, and in order to benefit and give happiness to all sentient beings, (the Bodhisattvas) practise the Pāramitā of charity. While dealing with an objective world there is no rising in them of discrimination; they just practise morality and this is the Pāramitā (of morality). To practise patience with no thought of discrimination rising in them (238) and yet with full knowledge of grasped and grasping —this is the Pāramitā of patience. To exert oneself with energy from the first part of the night to its end and in conformity with the disciplinary measures and not to give rise to discrimination—this is the Pāramitā of energy. Not to cherish discrimination, not to fall into the philosopher's notion of Nirvana—this is the Pāramitā of Dhyāna. As to the Pāramitā of Prajñā: when the discrimination of the Mind itself ceases, when things are thoroughly examined by means of intelligence, there is no falling into dualism, and a revulsion takes place at the basis, while previous karma is not destroyed; when (transcendental knowledge) is exercised for the accomplishment of self-realisation, then there is the Pāramitā of Prajñā. These, Mahāmati, are the Pāramitās and their meanings.

LXXXVIII[9] Views on Momentariness; Discrimination

So it is said:

9. The created (Samskrita) are empty, impermanent, momentary—so the ignorant discriminate; the meaning of momentariness is discriminated by means of the analogies of a river, a lamp, and seeds.

10. All things are non-existent, they are not-momentary, quiescent, not subject to destruction, and unborn— this, I say, is the meaning of momentariness.

11. Birth and death succeed without interruption— this I do not point out for the ignorant. Owing to the uninterrupted succession of existence, discrimination moves on in the (six) paths.

12. Ignorance is the cause and there is the general rising of -minds, when form is not yet born, where is the abode of the middle existence?

13. If another mind is set in motion in an uninterrupted succession of deaths, (239) where does it find its dependence as form is not established in time?

14. If mind is set in motion, somewhere, somehow, the cause is an unreal one; it is not complete; how can one know of its momentary disappearances?

15. The attainment of the Yogins, gold, the Buddha-relics, and the heavenly palace of Abhāsvara are indestructible by any worldly agencies.

16. Ever abiding are the truths attained by the Buddhas and their perfect knowledge; the nature of Buddhahood as realised (by them)—how can there be momentariness in them?

17. The city of the Gandharvas, Māyā-like forms—how can they be otherwise than momentary? Realities are characterised with unreality, and how can they be causal agencies?

Here Ends the Sixth Chapter "On Momentariness."


  1. According to T'ang and Sung.
  2. Sung and T'ang seem to be incorrect in their reading of this
  3. According to T'ang and Wei.
  4. According to Sung and T'ang.
  5. 'ang and Wei have citta-mano-manovijñānarahitam.
  6. Samadharmeti vā that follows here is probably to be dropped on the strength of the Chinese versions.
  7. After T'ang.
  8. All the Skandhas are self-appropriating, or self-grasping, as long as there is attachment to the notion of an ego-soul. When that is got rid of, the Skandhas are anāsrava, i. e. not tainted with evil outflows.
  9. The proper place for this section is after the section on "Momentary" and before the "Pāramitā," or what is the same thing the latter is wrongly inserted where it is found in in the text.

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