Samdhinirmocana Sutra Sutra of unlocking the mysteries Part 2 of 8

 

Samdhinirmocana Sutra

Sutra of Unlocking the mysteries

2. Characteristics of Ultimate Truth

  At that time Logical Questioner, in the presence of the Buddha, asked unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine, "When it is said that all things are nondual, what are all things, and what is nonduality?"

Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine replied, "All things are generally of two kinds, created and uncreated. Of these, the created are neither created nor uncreated, and the uncreated too are neither uncreated nor created."

Logical Questioner asked further, "How is it that the created is neither created nor uncreated, and the uncreated is neither uncreated nor created?"

Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine replied, "’Created’ is an artificial definition temporarily set up by the Buddha. As such, it is a verbal expression assembled by conceptualization. If it is a verbal expression assembled by conceptualization, ultimately it is a verbal expression of various conceptualizations, and not actually real. Therefore it is not created."

  If you say it is uncreated, this too comes down to a matter of words. If you talk about anything outside of the created and the uncreated, the same thing applies.

  "That does not mean, however, that there is nothing being discussed. What is that thing? Sages, with their knowledge and vision, detach from names and words, and therefore actualize enlightenment. Then, because they wish to make others aware of this nature that is beyond words, they temporarily set up names and characteristics and call something created.

  "’Uncreated’ is also an artificial definition temporarily set up by the Buddha. As such, it is a verbal expression assembled by conceptualization, which means that it is ultimately verbal expression of various conceptualizations, and so is not actually real. Therefore it is not uncreated.

 "If you say it is created, this too comes down to a matter of words. Even if you talk about anything outside of the created and the uncreated, the same thing applies."

 "That does not mean, however, that there is nothing being discussed. What is the thing? Sages, with their knowledge and vision, detach from names and words, and therefore actualize enlightenment. Then, because they want to make others aware of this nature beyond words, they temporarily set up names and characteristics and call something uncreated.

 Then Logical Questioner asked Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine, "What are these things that sages, having detached from names and words and thus realized enlightenment, provisionally characterize as ‘created’ and ‘uncreated’ in order to make others aware of this nature beyond words?"

 Unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine said, "Suppose a magician or his apprentice gathers a bunch of grass, leaves, wood, and pebbles at a crossroads, and produces magic effects, creating the appearance of elephants, horses, chariots, soldiers, jewels, conch shells, coral, stores of various goods and grain, and so on. Deluded, ignorant, stupid people who do not know or understand anything think that the magic effects of elephants and horses and so on, which they perceive produced in the grass, leaves, wood, and pebbles, are really there. They cling fast to what they perceive, and say that this alone is real and that all else is delusion. They still need to examine further.

 "If people are not ignorant or dull-witted, if they are intelligent and perspicacious, when they see the magic effects they think that there are no real elephants and horses and so on in those magic illusions produced in the grass and leaves and wood and pebbles. They realize that the illusions deceive their eyes, producing various images. They do not cling to what they perceive as the only reality. In order to convey this point, they also make verbal explanations. They do not need to examine further.

 "If people are ignorant and have not yet attained the transcendent wisdom of sages, and cannot comprehend the true nature of all things beyond words, then when they have seen or heard of the created or the uncreated, they think that there really must be a ‘created’ and an ‘uncreated’ in what they have apprehended. They cling to what they see and hear, and say that this alone is true and that all else is ignorant folly. They need to examine further.

 "If people are not ignorant, and have seen the holy truths, and have attained the wisdom of sages, and know the true nature of all things beyond words as it really is, when they see or hear of the created and the uncreated they think that there really is no such thing as the created or the uncreated, but there are active forms created by discrimination, which are like magical effects deceiving the intellect into producing notions of created and uncreated, or notions of difference between created and uncreated. They do not cling to what they have seen or heard, or claim it is the only truth. In order to convey this point, they too make verbal explanations. They do not need to examine further.

 "In this way, in the midst of these things, sages detach from names and words by knowledge and insight, and therefore realize enlightenment. Then, because they want to make others aware of this real nature which is beyond words, they provisionally set up names and characteristics and call things created or uncreated."

 Then, to restate this point, unlocking the Implicit Intent of the Profound Doctrine said in verse:

 Buddha explains the meaning of nonduality beyond words;

It is most profound, beyond the scope of the ignorant.

The ignorant, confused by delusion about this,

Cling to duality and make false descriptions;

they are either unsettled or fixed in error

And revolve forever in the pains of birth and death.

Still repudiating discourse on true knowledge like this,

They will be reborn as goats and sheep.

 Then the great enlightening being Offspring of the Teaching said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, east of here, past as many worlds as grains of sand in seventy-two Ganges Rivers, is a world called Renowned. The Buddha there is called Great Renown. I left that Buddha’s land to come here.

  "In that land, I once saw a place where there were seventy-two thousand philosophers and their teachers gathered together in one assembly to consider the characteristics of the ultimate meaning of things. As they thought and assessed and contemplated and searched all over together, they were after all unable to get to the ultimate meaning of all things, just a medley of different interpretations, conflicting interpretations, varying interpretations. They contradicted one another and argued, got out weapons and attacked and wounded one another, finally breaking up and going their separate ways.

  "At that time, I thought to myself, ‘The appearance of a Buddha in the world is most wonderful because with the Buddha’s appearance in the world, it is possible to understand and realize the ultimate truth that is beyond the scope of all thought and deliberation.’"

  The Buddha said, "It is so. It is as you say. I have awakened to the ultimate truth, which is beyond all thought and reflection. And I explain it to others, revealing and analyzing it, defining and elucidating it. Why? The ultimate truth of which I speak is that which is inwardly realized by sages, while the scope of thought and deliberation is what unenlightened people testify to among themselves. Therefore, you should know that ultimate truth transcends all objects of thought and deliberation.

  "The ultimate truth of which I speak has no form to which to relate, whereas thought and deliberation operate only in the sphere of form. Based on this pinciple, you should know that ultimate truth transcends all objects of thought and deliberation.

  "The ultimate truth of which I speak cannot be expressed in words, whereas thought and deliberation operate only in the realm of words. Based on this principle, you should know that ultimate truth transcends all objects of thought and deliberation.

  "The ultimate truth of which I speak has no representation, whereas thought and deliberation operate only in the realm of representation. For this reason, you should know that ultimate truth transcends all objects of thought and deliberation.

  "The ultimate truth of which I speak puts an end to all controversy, whereas thought and deliberation operate only in the realm of controversy. For this reason, you should know that ultimate truth transcends all objects of thought and deliberation.

  "A man accustomed to pungent and bitter flavors all his life cannot think of, assess, or believe in the sweet taste of honey and sugar.

  "Someone in ignorance who has an overwhelming interest in desires because of passionate craving is therefore inflamed with excitement, thus cannot think of, or assess, or believe in the marvelous bliss of detachment and inward effacement of all sense data.

  "Someone in ignorance, who clings to rhetoric because of an overwhelming interest in words, thus cannot think of, or assess, or believe in the pleasure of holy silence with inner tranquility.

  "Someone in ignorance who clings to the signs of the world because of overwhelming interest in perceptual and cognitive signs thus cannot think of, or assess, or believe in the ultimate nirvana that obliterates all signs so that reification ends.

  "People in ignorance cling to mundane conventions because they have various controversies and beliefs involving attachments to self and possessions, and thus cannot think of, or assess, or believe in a utopia where there is no ego, no possession, no attachment, and no contention. In the same way, you should know, those who pursue thoughts cannot think of, or assess, or believe in the character of the ultimate truth that is beyond the sphere of all thought and deliberation."

  Then, to restate this point, Buddha said in verse:

  The inwardly realized signless sphere

Cannot be verbalized, having no expression.

The ultimate truth that stops all argument

Transcends all aspects of thought and deliberation.

  Then the enlightening being Purified Intelligence said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, it is most wonderful how well you have explained this. The character of ultimate truth of which you speak is very subtle and profound, transcending the aspects of sameness and difference of all things, difficult to comprehend.

  "Once I saw a group of enlightening beings, who were at that time cultivating the stage of zealous application, sitting together deliberating on the sameness or difference of the ultimate truth and practices. One party said that there is no difference at all between ultimate truth and practices. Another party said that it is not true that there is no difference at all between ultimate truth and practices, that ultimate truth is different from practices.

  "Others were doubtful and hesitant; they said, ‘Whose words are true, whose are false? Who is practicing correctly and who incorrectly?’ Some called out, ‘Ultimate truth and practices have no difference at all.’ Others called out, ‘Ultimate truth is different from practices.’

  "Seeing them, I thought, ‘these people are ignorant and dull. They are not illumined, not good, not practicing rightly, unable to understand that ultimate truth is so subtle and profound that it transcends sameness with and difference from practices.’"

  The Buddha said, "It is as you say. They are ignorant and dull. They are not illumined, not good, not practicing rightly, unable to understand that ultimate truth is so subtle and profound that it transcends sameness with and difference from practices. Why? When one does practices as they do, one cannot be said to comprehend ultimate truth or to be able to realize it.

  "Why? If ultimate truth and practices had no difference at all, everyone would already see the truth, and everyone would already have attained the highest expedient, tranquil nirvana, or they would have already attained supreme perfect enlightenment.

  "If ultimate truth were totally different from practices, those who already see the truth would not do away with the forms of practices. If they did not do away with the forms of practices, they would be bound by forms and would not attain liberation; since those who see the truth would in that case be bound by forms and not liberated, furthermore, they would also not be liberated from crude bondage to the physical self. Because of not being liberated from these two kinds of bondage, those who have seen the truth would not be able to attain the highest expedient, tranquil nirvana, or realize supreme perfect enlightenment.

  "But not everyone has seen the truth, not everyone has been able to attain the highest expedient, tranquil nirvana, and not everyone has realized supreme perfect enlightenment. Therefore it is not right to say that ultimate truth and practices are no different at all.

  "It is not the case, furthermore, that those who see the truth are not able to do away with the forms of practices; and indeed they do dismiss them.

  "And it is not the case that those who see the truth are unable to shed bondage to forms; and they are indeed liberated.

  "And it is not the case that those who see the truth are unable to shed crude bondage to the physical self; and they are indeed liberated.

  "Because they are able to shed these two kinds of bondage, they can also attain the highest expedient, tranquil nirvana; and some can realize supreme perfect enlightenment. So it is not right to say that ultimate truth and practices are totally different.

  "If ultimate truth were no different from practices, then when practices degenerate into impurity, ultimate truth would also degenerate into impurity. If ultimate truth were totally different from practices, then it would not be true that the common characteristic of practices is ultimate truth. Now then, because ultimate truth does not degenerate into impurity, and because the common characteristic of practices is the characteristic of ultimate truth, it is not right to say either that ultimate truth is no different from practices or that ultimate truth is totally different from practices.

  If ultimate truth were no different from practices, then just as the aspect of ultimate truth within practices has no differentiation, so also would the forms of practices have no differentiation; then whatever they see, whatever they hear, whatever they are aware of, and whatever they know, those who cultivate contemplative practices would not need to seek ultimate truth after that.

  "If ultimate truth were totally different from practices, it would not be true that practices being just the manifestation of selflessness and absence of inherent nature are the characteristics of ultimate truth.

  "Also, if practices and ultimate truth were totally different, they should simultaneously establish each other separately as defiled and pure.

  "Now then, since the forms of practices actually do have differences and are not undifferentiated, then whatever they perceive, those who cultivate contemplation practices still need to seek ultimate truth.

  "Furthermore, practices themselves being the manifestation of selflessness and absence of inherent nature are called the characteristics of ultimate truth.

  "Also, it is not that defilement and purity simultaneously establish each other as separate.

  "Therefore, it is not right to say either that ultimate truth and practices are no different or that they are completely different."

  "The whiteness of a shell can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from the shell. The same is true of the goldenness of gold. The musicality of the sound of pipes can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from the sound of the pipes. The fragrance of incense can hardly be defined as either one with or as distinct from incense. The pungency of pepper can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from pepper. The softness of silk can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from silk. The cream in milk can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from milk. The impermanence of all actions, the misery of all contaminated states, and the selflessness of all phenomena can hardly be defined either as one with or as different from actions, contaminated states, and phenomena. The restlessness and impurity of craving can hardly be defined either as one with or as distinct from craving; the same is true of hatred and folly. In the same way, ultimate truth cannot be defined either as one with or as different from practices.

  "I am truly aware of this characteristic of ultimate truth, which is very subtle, extremely subtle, very deep, extremely deep, difficult to comprehend, extremely difficult to comprehend, transcending the sameness and difference of things. Having realized it, furthermore, I explain it, reveal it, analyze it, define it, and clarify it for others."

  Then the Buddha spoke a verse to restate this principle:

 The realm of actions and ultimate truth are beyond sameness and difference;

Those who discriminate sameness and difference are not acting rightly.

People are bound by forms and gross materiality;

They should practice cessation and contemplation so as to attain release.

  Then the Buddha said to the reverend Subhuti, "Do you know how many people are conceited and approve their understanding because they are possessed by conceit? Do you know how many are free from conceited notions of understanding?"

  Subhuti replied, "I know there are few who are free from conceited approval of understanding. I know there are countless many who are conceited and approve their understanding because they are possessed by conceit.

  "Once when I was staying in a forest, there were many mendicants also staying in the forest near me. I saw them separate into groups and explain various teachings according to the contemplations they had achieved, approving their understanding.

  "One type approve their understanding because of having apprehended the physical and mental clusters, because of having apprehended the characteristics of the clusters, because of having apprehended the beginning of the clusters, because of having apprehended the ending of the clusters, because of having apprehended the extinction of the clusters, because of having apprehended the extinction of the clusters and made that their realization.

  "Just as this type based their understanding on apprehending the clusters, another type based theirs on apprehending the sense media, another on apprehending conditional origination in the same way. There was also another type who approved their understanding based on apprehending nourishment, the characteristics of nourishment, the beginning of nourishment, the end of nourishment, the extinction of nourishment, and taking the extinction of nourishment for realization.

  "There was another type who approved their realization based on apprehending the truths, the characteristics of the truths, thorough knowledge of the truths, eternal detachment through the truths, taking the truths as realization, and attaining practice of the truths.

  "There was another type who approved their understanding based on having apprehended the elements, the characteristics of the elements, the variety of the elements, the non-unity of the elements, the extinction of the elements, and taking extinction of the elements for realization.

  "There was also another type who approved their understanding based on attaining the points of mindfulness, realizing the characteristics of the points of mindfulness, realizing what and how the points of mindfulness cure, achieving cultivation of the points of mindfulness, being able to produce those points of mindfulness as yet undeveloped, and to strengthen, perpetuate, and extend the points of mindfulness once they have been developed.

  "Just as there were those who based their understanding on the points of mindfulness, there were also those who based theirs on the right efforts, the bases of occult powers, the religious faculties, the religious powers, the branches of enlightenment. There were also those who approved their understanding based on realizing the eightfold noble path, the characteristics of the path, how and what the path cures, the practice of the path, developing the path from scratch, and strengthening, perpetuating, and extending the path.

  "Seeing these mendicants, I thought to myself, ‘These elders expound various teachings based on the contemplations they have realized, and approve their understanding. Obviously these elders are all conceited. Because they are possessed by conceit, furthermore, they are unable to understand the unity of the ultimate truth that pervades all.

  "’Therefore Buddha is most marvelous, the Buddha explains well in that the Buddha says the character of the ultimate truth is subtle, most subtle, profound, most profound, hard to comprehend, most hard to comprehend, and it pervades all appearances.’ Even for the mendicants practicing Buddhism it is hard to comprehend the oneness of the ultimate truth pervading all; how much more difficult for those on other paths!"

  Then the Buddha said to Subhuti, "It is so, Subhuti, it is so. I have truly awakened to the most subtle, most profound, most difficult to comprehend, unique ultimate truth that pervades all. Having realized it, furthermore, I explain, reveal, analyze, define, and bring it to light for others.

  "How so? I have already pointed out that the pure object of attention in all the body-mind clusters is ultimate truth. I have already pointed out that the pure object of attention in all sense media, conditional origination, nourishment, truths, elements, points of mindfulness, right efforts, bases of occult powers, religious faculties and powers, branches of enlightenment and branches of the path, is ultimate truth.

 "This pure object of attention is uniform and undifferentiated in all the body-mind clusters, and also in all the sense media, and so on, including in the branches of the path. You should know, therefore, that ultimate truth is everywhere one.

  "Subhuti, once practitioners of contemplation have penetrated the selflessness of phenomena in the absolute sense in true thusness in one cluster, they do not further seek the selflessness of phenomena in the absolute sense in true thusness individually in the other clusters, the sense media, conditional origination, nourishment, the truths, the points of mindfulness, the right efforts, the bases of occult powers, the religious faculties and powers, the branches of enlightenment and the branches of the path. Simply by following this nondual knowledge of ultimate truth of true thusness as the touchstone, they closely observe and proceed to realization of the uniform ultimate truth pervading all. Based on this principle, you should know that ultimate truth is everywhere one.

  "Subhuti, the clusters are variously different. The sense media, conditional origination, nourishment, the truths, the elements, the points of mindfulness, the right efforts, the bases of occult powers, the religious faculties and powers, the branches of enlightenment, and the branches of the path, are also variously different. If the selflessness of phenomena in the ultimate sense in true thusness were likewise differentiated, then the selflessness of phenomena in the ultimate sense in true thusness would also have a cause and would be causally produced. If it were causally produced, it would be created; if it were created, it would not be ultimate truth. If it were not ultimate truth, it would be necessary to search further for another ultimate truth.

  "Therefore, the selflessness of phenomena in the ultimate sense in true thusness is not said to have a cause, is not causally produced, is not created. This is ultimate truth. Having realized this ultimate truth, one no longer seeks any other ultimate truth. There is only the stability of the true nature of things, the abiding of the realm of reality, which is constant and perpetual whether or not Buddhas appear in the world.

  "Based on this principle, Subhuti, you should know that ultimate truth is everywhere one. Just as the space in all kinds of different forms are signless, undifferentiated, unchanging, all-pervasive, and uniform, so is the ultimate truth within all things, which are different in nature and form, all-pervasive and uniform."

  Then the Buddha recapitulated in verse:

  This all-pervasive uniform ultimate truth

The Buddha’s say has no differentiation.

Any who imagine difference therein

Are certainly ignorant and conceited.

 
 
Advertisements
This entry was posted in Mahayana Treasures. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s