Sutra of Unlocking the Mysteries
Then Manjushri asked the Buddha, "How many characteristics of omniscience are there?"
The Buddha replied, "In brief, there are five. First is appearing in the world with the voice of all-knowledge and being heard everywhere. Second is perfection of the thirty-two marks of greatness. Third is attainment of the ten powers, with ability to cut off the doubts of all people. Fourth is attainment of the fourfold confidence in expounding the truth, unrefuted by any other arguments, able to refute all false arguments. Fifth is manifesting the attainability of the eightfold noble path and its fruits. Living in this way, cutting through the web of doubts, being irrefutable while able to refute others, manifesting attainment of the noble path – these five are called characteristics of omniscience.
"This reason of realization is called pure based on direct experience, inference, wise teaching, and the aforementioned characteristics.
"As for the seven characteristics that are called impure, the first is when other cases in the same category can be found. Second is when other cases in different categories can be found. Third is when everything can be found in the same category. Fourth is when everything can be found in different categories. Fifth is when an example is taken from a different category. Sixth is not being completely true. Seventh is not being pure teaching.
"If reference is made to all phenomena being essentially representations of consciousness, then it can be said that everything can be found in the same category.
"If reference is made to the different appearances, natures, functions, laws, causes, and effects, pursuing each of these different characteristics is certain to produce even more individually different characteristics. Then it can be said that everything can be found in different categories.
"If other cases can be found in the same category, or if an example applies to everything else as well, because of this the proposition is not established with certainty; this is called not being completely true.
"Also, if other cases can be found in different categories, or if an example applies to everything in the same category, because of this the proposition is not established with certainty, so it is said to be not completely true.
"Not being completely true, it is not well-examined, pure reason. Not being pure, it should not be practiced.
"If an example is taken from a different category, or if it is not pure teaching, know that neither the substance nor the essence IS pure.
"The reason of natural law means that whether or not a Buddha appears in the world, the nature of reality remains unaffected; realities abide in the reality realm. This is called the reason of natural law.
"Totality and distinction refer to first generally expounding one statement of the teaching, then subsequently distinguishing and definitely revealing the differentiations in various statements.
"Characteristics of identity refer to the distinct elements by which it is possible to attain enlightenment, which I explain as involving practices and having conditions, such as the four points of mindfulness.
"Characteristics of effects refer to the extermination of mundane and transmundane afflictions, and to the resulting worldly and transcendental virtues developed.
"Characteristics of reception and teaching refer to reception by liberated intelligence and explaining for others.
"Characteristics of obstacles to the Teaching refer to polluting factors that can hinder the practice of the elements of enlightenment.
"Characteristics of accord with the Teaching refer to practices that accomplish a lot.
"Characteristics of ills refer to the faults in the factors that obstruct the Teaching.
"Characteristics of benefits refer to the virtues of following the Teaching."
Then the enlightening being Manjushri said to the Buddha, "Please give the enlightening beings a brief talk on concentrated formulations of scripture, discipline, and the mother, not common to outsiders, by which concentrated formulations enlightening beings are enabled to gain access to the deepest inner meanings of the teachings expounded by the enlightened."
The Buddha said to Manjushri, "Listen and I will give you a brief talk on the uncommon concentrated formulae that enables enlightening beings to gain understanding of the words I speak with hidden intent.
"I say that all things, be they polluted phenomena or pure phenomena, are totally void of function, and also void of personality. Because nothing has any connection to fabrication, it is not that polluted phenomena are impure at first and then later will be purified, and it is not that pure phenomena were purified after having first been polluted. Ordinary mortals cling to the distinctions in identities of personalities projected on phenomena in crude material bodies, and become stupefied by arbitrary views; because of these conditions, they conceive of the ideas of self and belongings. Due to these erroneous ideas, they think, ‘I see, I hear, I smell, I taste, I feel, I know, I consume, I work, I am polluted, I am pure,’ and misguided efforts of corresponding varieties go into operation.
"Any who can know this as it really is can then detach from the body of gross materiality forever and attain the ultimate purity in which no affliction remains, beyond all falsehood, based on non-contrivance, free from deliberate effort.
"This is a summary of the uncommon concentrated formulae."
Then the Buddha spoke a verse to recapitulate:
All phenomena, polluted and pure
Are void of function and personality.
Following my teaching, detach from fabrication,
And polluted and pure things are neither before nor after.
Stupefied views of the gross material body
Condition ideas of self and possession;
Based on this, one wrongly imagines,
"I see, I eat, I am polluted or pure."
If one can know this as it really is,
One can detach forever from the gross body
And attain undefiled purity, beyond falsehood,
Based on noncontrivance, free from deliberate effort.
Then the enlightening being Manjushri asked the Buddha, "How should we know the characteristics of the arousal of a Buddha’s mind?"
The Buddha replied, "Buddha hood is not manifested by mind, intellect, or consciousness. Nevertheless, the arising of mental events without deliberate effort does occur in Buddha’s. You should know that these phenomena are like magical apparitions."
Manjushri asked, "If the reality body of Buddha’s is beyond all deliberate effort, how can mental events occur without effort?"
The Buddha replied, "Arousal of mind occurs because of the power of concerted action of technique and insight previously cultivated.
"For example, when one enters into mindless sleep, one does not make a deliberate effort to awaken; one awakens again by virtue of the power and momentum of previous engagement in action.
"It is also like being in extinct trance: one does not make a deliberate effort to arise from trance; one arises from trance by virtue of the power and momentum of previous engagement in action.
"Just as the mind is rearoused when coming out of deep sleep or extinct trance, in the same way mental events recur in Buddha’s by virtue of the power of concerted actions of technique and insight previously cultivated."
Manjushri then asked the Buddha, "Should an emanation body of a Buddha be said to have a mind or to have no mind?"
The Buddha replied, "It neither has a mind nor has no mind. Why? Because of having no mind relative to self and because of having a mind relative to others."
Manjushri then asked, "What is the difference between the sphere of the Buddha’s and the realm of the Buddha’s?"
The Buddha replied, "The sphere of the Buddha’s refers to all kinds of pure domains of enlightenment adorned with infinite inconceivable qualities, common to all Buddha’s.
"The realm of the Buddha’s refers to all kinds of distinctions of five realms. What are the five? First is the realm of sentient beings. Second is the realm of worlds. Third is the realm of principle. Fourth is the realm of pacification. Fifth is the realm of expedient techniques of pacification.
"This is the distinction between the sphere and the realm of the Buddha’s."
Then Manjushri asked the Buddha, "World Honored One, Buddha’s attain true awakening, turn the wheel of true teaching, and enter ultimate nirvana; by what characteristics should these three things be known?"
The Buddha replied, "You should know that these three are all nondualistic. That means Buddha’s neither attain true awakening nor do not attain true awakening, neither turn the wheel of true teaching nor do not turn the wheel of true teaching, neither enter ultimate nirvana nor do not enter ultimate nirvana. Why? Because the reality body of Buddha’s is ultimately pure, and because the emanation bodies of Buddha’s are always manifest."
Manjushri also asked the Buddha, "Sentient beings see, hear, and attend the emanation bodies only, whereby they develop virtues. What affinity has Buddha with them?"
The Buddha replied, "Their relationship with Buddha is the supreme object of focus for them; and the emanation body involved is maintained by the power of Buddha."
Then Manjushri asked, "If it is equanimitous and effortless, how does the body of Buddha radiate the light of great knowledge and produce the images of countless emanation bodies for sentient beings? The body of liberation of hearers and individual illuminates does not have these things."
The Buddha replied, "It is like the light radiating equanimitously and effortlessly from the sun and moon, or from water and fire crystals. Only water and fire crystals held by beings of great power can do this, not other water and fire crystals. So it is because of the influential power of the actions of sentient beings.
"It is also like imprints stamped from a jewel engraved by a skilled artisan. Imprints cannot come from other jewels, which are not engraved. In the same way, the reality body of Buddha’s is put together by focus on the infinite techniques and insights of the realm of reality, cultivating them supremely well and polishing them to perfection; from this it is possible to radiate the light of great knowledge and produce the images of all sorts of emanation bodies. Such things do not come from the body of liberation alone."
Then Manjushri said to the Buddha, "As the World Honored One says; the power and support of Buddha’s and enlightening beings enable people to be born in rich and noble families in the realm of desire, with personal and material fulfillment. Personal and material fulfillment in the heavens of the realm of desire, or the realms of form and formlessness, can also be attained. World Honored One, what is the inner meaning of this? "
The Buddha replied, "The power and support of Buddha’s and enlightening beings; be it their ways or their practices, can enable people to attain personal and material fulfillment in all situations, in the sense that we explain to them such-and-such ways and practices according to their needs, so that any who correctly carry out these ways and practices will attain personal and material fulfillment in all situations.
"If people violate these ways and practices and make light of them, and if they have a vicious and malevolent attitude toward me, then after their lives are ended, the bodies and material goods they will get wherever they are will be base and inferior.
"Manjushri, in view of these conditions, you should realize that the power and support of Buddha’s and enlightening beings can not only make personal and material fulfillment possible; the support and power of Buddha’s and enlightening beings can also make people’s bodies and possessions base and inferior."
Manjushri then asked the Buddha, "World Honored One, in defiled lands, what things are easy to find, and what things are hard to find? In pure lands, what things are easy to find, and what things are hard to find?"
The Buddha replied, "In defiled lands, eight things are easy to find, while two things are hard to find.
"What are the eight things that are easy to find? First is false philosophies. Second is suffering sentient beings. Third is differences in race, caste, and family, and their flourishing and decline over the generations. Fourth is the currency of bad practices and evil acts. Fifth is repeated violation of ethics. Sixth is bad tendencies and miserable states. Seventh is lesser vehicles. Eighth is enlightening beings with inferior devotion and effort.
"What two things are hard to come by? One is an assembly of enlightening beings with higher devotion and intense effort. Second is the appearance of a Buddha in the world.
"In pure lands, the situation is reversed. The former eight things are very hard to find, while the latter two are easy to find."
Now Manjushri asked the Buddha, "Within this teaching explaining the deep mysteries, how should we name these instructions, and how should we follow them?"
The Buddha replied, "These are called instructions in the complete meaning of the deeds of the enlightened. You should follow them as instructions in the complete meaning of the deeds of the enlightened."
When these instructions in the complete meaning of the deeds of the enlightened were explained, seventy-five thousand advanced enlightening beings in the great assembly were able to attain conscious witness of the complete reality body.
Translated by Thomas Cleary.
May all beings benefit and be released from the bonds of ignorance and defilments