Sutra of Unlocking the mysteries
3. Characteristics of Mind, Intellect, and Consciousness
Then the enlightening being Vast Intelligence said to the Buddha, "You speak of enlightening beings who are versed in the mysteries of mind, intellect, and consciousness. What does this refer to, and how is such an enlightening being defined?"
The Buddha replied, "It is good that you are able to ask me about such a profound matter. You have asked this question because you want to aid and comfort innumerable beings, because you have compassion for the world and want to foster welfare and happiness. Listen closely, and I will explain the meaning of the mysteries of the mind, intellect, and consciousness.
"You must know that in mundane life and death, the various creatures fall into various categories of beings. They may be born in various ways, and their bodily parts go through a process of development. In the course of this process, at first the mind and consciousness containing all potentialities develop, combine, and grow, based on two kinds of grasping. One is grasping the material organs of sense and what they are based on. The other is grasping the habit energy of false description expressing arbitrary conceptions of characteristics and names. These two kinds of grasping are present in the realm of form, but not in the formless realm.
"This consciousness is also called clinging consciousness, because this consciousness follows and clings in the body. It is also called repository consciousness, because this consciousness receives and stores in the body, indifferent to good or bad. This consciousness is also called mind, because this consciousness accumulates and increases form, sound, scent, flavor, feeling, and so on.
"With the clinging consciousness as the basis, the foundations, the bodies of six consciousnesses operate – the consciousness of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect. Here, the eye, consciousness, and form and color are the conditions producing eye-consciousness. Discriminating conceptual consciousness operates along with eye-consciousness, at the same time and with the same objects.
"The ear, nose, tongue, and body with consciousness, and sound, scent, flavor, and feeling, are the conditions producing ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, and body-consciousness. Discriminating conceptual consciousness operates along with these consciousnesses, at the same time and with the same objects.
"When the eye-consciousness alone is operating, there is only one discriminating conceptual consciousness operating along with the eye-consciousness. When two, three, four, or five bodies of consciousness are operating, there is still only one discriminating conceptual consciousness operating along with the five consciousness bodies.
"It is like a torrent of water: if conditions for the production of one wave appear, then only one wave is formed; if the conditions for the production of two or more waves appear, then two or more waves form. The torrent itself, nonetheless, flows constantly, without interruption of exhaustion.
"It is also like a clear mirror: if the conditions for one image are there, just one image appears; and if the conditions for two or more images are there, then two or more images appear. The surface of the mirror itself does not change into images, and no end to its function can be found.
"In the same way, because the torrent-like clinging consciousness acts as a basis, as a foundation, when there are conditions producing the eye-consciousness, then the eye-consciousness operates, and when there are conditions producing the five consciousness bodies, the five consciousness bodies operate.
"Even if enlightening beings are versed in the mysteries of mind, intellect, and consciousness based on knowledge of reality, nevertheless the Buddha does not consider them to be versed in all the mysteries of mind, intellect, and consciousness. If enlightening beings inwardly truly do not see clinging or clinging consciousness, do not see repository or repository consciousness, do not see accumulation, do not see mind, do not see the eye, form, or eye-consciousness, do not see ear, sound, or ear-consciousness, do not see nose, scent, or nose-consciousness, do not see tongue, flavor, or tongue-consciousness, do not see body, feeling, or body-consciousness, do not see intellect, phenomena, or conceptual consciousness, then they are called enlightening beings well versed in ultimate truth. The Buddha defines them as enlightening beings versed in ultimate truth; these are called enlightening beings versed in all the mysteries of mind, intellect, and consciousness."
Then the Buddha spoke a verse to restate this principle:
The clinging consciousness is very deep and subtle;
All potentials are like a torrential flow.
I do not explain this to the ignorant,
For fear they will get the idea it is self.
4. Characteristics of All Phenomena
Then the enlightening being Root of Virtue said to the Buddha, "You speak of an enlightening being familiar with the characteristics of phenomena. To what does this refer, and how is such an enlightening being defined?"
The Buddha said, "It is good that you ask about this profound matter. You have asked this question because you want to aid and comfort innumerable beings, because you have compassion for the world and want to foster their welfare and happiness. Listen closely, and I will explain the characteristics of phenomena.
"Phenomena all have three kinds of characteristics. First is the characteristic of mere conceptual grasping. Second is the characteristic of dependent origination. Third is the perfect characteristic of reality.
"The merely conceptual characteristic of phenomena as grasped refers to the differences in the identities of things as provisionally defined by names in order to talk about them.
"The characteristic of dependent origination of phenomena means that the inherent nature of all things is dependent origination. When something exists, then something else exists; when something is produced, something else is produced. For example, ignorance conditions actions, and so on, ultimately bringing together a mass of suffering.
"The perfect characteristic of reality in phenomena is true thusness, which is equal in all things. Enlightening beings can realize this true thusness by diligent effort, right attention, and unperverted thought. Realizing this, and gradually cultivating this realization, they will ultimately reach true enlightenment, and then witness it fully.
"The merely conceptual characteristic is like the affliction of a man with cataracts in his eyes. The characteristic of dependent origination is like the various optical illusions appearing to the man with cataracts. The perfect characteristic of reality is like the unconfused sphere of operation natural to dear eyes without cataracts.
"Suppose dear crystal is combined with blue coloring with the result of it looking like sapphire; it confuses people, because they mistake it for sapphire. Combined with red coloring, it looks like ruby; it confuses people, because they mistake it for ruby. Combined with green coloring, it looks like emerald; it confuses people, because they mistake it for emerald. Combined with yellow coloring, it looks like gold; it confuses people, because they mistake it for real gold.
"The coloring agent on the crystal is like the habits of description held to by conceptualization imposed on dependent existence. The misapprehension of the crystal as sapphire, ruby, emerald, or gold is like dinging to conceptualization imposed on dependent existence. The dear crystal itself is like dependent existence. Just as the appearances of sapphire, ruby, emerald, or gold imposed on the crystal never have any reality, never have intrinsic being, the characteristics imposed on dependent existence by conceptual clinging never have any reality or intrinsic being. You should know the perfect characteristic of reality to be like this.
"The characteristic of conceptual grasping can be known through the association of names and characterizations. The characteristic of dependent origination can be known through the conceptual clinging superimposed on dependent existence. The perfect characteristic of reality can be known by not clinging to conceptions superimposed on dependent existence.
"If enlightening beings can truly know the characteristic of conceptual grasping superimposed on the dependency of phenomena, then they can truly know all phenomena as signless. If they truly know the characteristic of dependency, they can truly know all phenomena in their defiled aspect. If they truly know the perfect characteristic of reality, they can truly know all phenomena in their pure aspect. If enlightening beings truly know signlessness in dependency, then they can put an end to defilement; if they can put an end to defilement, they can realize purity.
"In this way, enlightening beings truly know the conceptualized, dependent, and real characteristics. They truly know signlessness, defilement and purity. Because they truly know signlessness, they can cut off all defilement and therefore can realize all purity. These are called enlightening beings versed in the characteristics of phenomena; the Buddha defines them as such."
Then the Buddha spoke a verse to restate this principle:
If you do not know phenomena are signless,
You cannot eliminate their defilement.
When you do not eliminate defilement,
You ruin realization of subtle purity.
If you do not see the faults of conditionings,
Indulging conditionings, you will hurt living beings.
Negligent of the stable and the unstable,
Pitiful is the loss in missing one and reifying the other