The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines
Explanation of the Intermediate Teaching
- Daṃṣṭrasena (Diṣṭasena)?
- Yeshé Dé
Degé Tengyur, vol. 93 (sher phyin, pha), folios 1.b–292.b
Translated by Gareth Sparham
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines is a detailed explanation of the Long Perfection of Wisdom sūtras, presenting a structural framework for them that is relatively easy to understand in comparison to most other commentaries based on Maitreya-Asaṅga’s Ornament for the Clear Realizations. After a detailed, word-by-word explanation of the introductory chapter common to all three sūtras, it explains the structure they also all share in terms of the three approaches or “gateways”—brief, intermediate, and detailed—ending with an explanation of the passage known as the “Maitreya chapter” found only in the Eighteen Thousand Line and Twenty-Five Thousand Line sūtras. It goes by many different titles, and its authorship has never been conclusively determined, some Tibetans believing it to be by Vasubandhu, and others that it is by Daṃṣṭrāsena.
This commentary was translated by Gareth Sparham under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
I thank the late Gene Smith, who initially encouraged me to undertake this work, and I thank all of those at 84000—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the sponsors, and the scholars, translators, editors, and technicians—and all the other indispensable people whose work has made this translation possible.
I thank all the faculty and graduate students in the Group in Buddhist Studies at Berkeley, and Jan Nattier, whose seminars on the Perfection of Wisdom were particularly helpful. At an early stage, Paul Harrison and Ulrich Pagel arranged for me to see a copy of an unpublished Sanskrit manuscript of a sūtra cited in Bṭ3. I thank them for that assistance.
I also take this opportunity to thank the abbot of Drepung Gomang monastery, Losang Gyaltsen, and the retired director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Kalsang Damdul, for listening to some of my questions and giving learned and insightful responses.
Finally, I acknowledge the kindness of my mother, Ann Sparham, who recently passed away in her one hundredth year, and my wife Janet Seding.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous sponsorship of Kelvin Lee, Doris Lim, Chang Chen Hsien, Lim Cheng Cheng, Ng Ah Chon and family, Lee Hoi Lang and family, the late Lee Tiang Chuan, and the late Chang Koo Cheng. Their support has helped make the work on this translation possible.
This is a fourfold question about the Dharma: What are “bodhisattva great beings”? What is “want to fully awaken to all dharmas in all forms”? What is “should make an effort at”? And what is “the perfection of wisdom”? Again, there will be an explanation of the four below in their appropriate context.
in his explanation, then gives a twofold exposition, brief and detailed. From,
and so on, teaches four practices, which is to say, the four practices taught by this:
Among these, the practice of the perfections is accomplished with skillful means; the practice of the dharmas on the side of awakening is accomplished through knowledge of mastery; the practice of bringing beings to maturity is accomplished through compassion; and the practice of fully developing the buddhadharmas is accomplished with wisdom.
and so on, up until
teaches the practice without harming that brings beings to maturity. From
and so on, up until
teaches the practice without stains that brings the buddhadharmas to maturity.
and so on, teaches the practice of the perfections. It teaches the practice of the perfections in three parts: standing, achieving, and the purity of the three spheres, just like “the stand” that has to be taken, “the achieving” that has to be done, and “the state of mind” one has to be in that is taught in the Triśatikā.260
When bodhisattvas have given up wanting a special result other than that; when, through the force of compassion, they intend to establish benefit and happiness for all beings; and when, through the force of wisdom, they stand nowhere at all in the three realms or in any dharma, bodhisattvas have “stood in the perfection of wisdom.” Hence it says bodhisattvas have “stood in the perfection of wisdom by way of not taking their stand on it.” It means “with the correct method of not taking a stand anywhere.”261 This intends that just not taking a stand anywhere is standing in the perfection of wisdom. Here it has taught that the “perfection of wisdom” is also the knowledge of all aspects, or nonconceptual wisdom, or the Great Vehicle.
When bodhisattvas moved by compassion [F.43.b] give to all beings everything they want, it is simply called giving, but it is not the perfection of giving. When after giving, or after the giving of a gift, having made an investigation with the four ways of investigating and having comprehended properly with the four comprehensions263 they cause it to be cleansed with wisdom,264 at that time it has been well cleansed and it gets the name perfection. Bodhisattvas first do everything out of compassion and later clean it with wisdom, hence they practice with compassion and purify with wisdom—they purify intention with compassion and purify the endeavor with wisdom; they stand in the conventional and achieve with compassion, and endeavor, standing in the ultimate, with wisdom. With compassion all things are done for the sake of beings, so they are counted in the merit collection; with wisdom they are done for the sake of awakening, so they are counted in the wisdom collection. Therefore it says that bodhisattvas
In this regard, taking as the point of departure the fact that bodhisattvas standing on the first level realize suchness, ultimately abiding in suchness is by a direct vision when an investigation has been carried out, not otherwise.
Furthermore, no one can give or receive that suchness when a gift is given, so ultimately there is no “giving away” at all. Whatever food, drink, bedding, and so on are given away, they stand as falsely imagined dharmas, so, like a dream and like an illusion they do not exist. Hence this state, which is ultimately separated from the defining mark of giving, is called the “way of not giving up anything.” [F.44.a]
In this “way of not giving up anything” these three “are not apprehended”: the thing as “a gift,” I as a “giver,” and the one taking as a “recipient.” They are without the intrinsic nature of something that could be apprehended. The “because”265 is because the perfection of giving should be completed based on that, having taken that as its point of departure.
First, through the force of compassion they remain in the conventional mode by means of an ordinary course of practice and engage in giving. Then they remain in the ultimate mode governed by wisdom. When by means of an extraordinary course of practice all that has been investigated with wisdom cannot be apprehended, at that time the perfection of giving is named completed. Therefore, because they have not forsaken the two—first, the beings (sattva) who are the objective support of the production of the thought, and then awakening (bodhi)—they are endowed with all that the name bodhisattva signifies.
It is because of the force of the perfection of skillful means. The perfection of skillful means is both compassion that grasps the conventional and wisdom that grasps the ultimate. They are companions that achieve and operate simultaneously, like the movement on dry land and movement in water engaged in by an amphibian. They totally preclude each other as different things it does but do not preclude each other as aspects of what it does. This teaches that up until awakening the practice achieving all the merit accumulations and wisdom accumulations is the “supreme benefit of awakening and beings.” These two will be explained again just as they are in the appropriate contexts.
when bodhisattva householders [F.44.b] take up and follow the training to do with the bodhisattva code of conduct, and those gone forth to homelessness take up and follow the trainings to do with both codes of conduct, they incur no downfall. Even if they do incur a downfall, they do not compound it by letting time pass; they very quickly reveal it. Hence it says, “no downfall is incurred and no compounded downfall is incurred.” “Having stood in the perfection of wisdom” comes right after this as well so it should be understood that on account of not apprehending the three conceptualizations—“I am moral,” “this is morality,” “this is immorality”—it is the purity of the three spheres. Thus, below it will say,266
this teaches the nature of the perfection of patience. Furthermore, governed by compassion they are not disturbed by beings, and governed by wisdom they realize there is no self in the volitional factors. Here also the purity of the three spheres on account of not apprehending patience, an object of patience, or malice will be explained again in the appropriate contexts.
with the perseverance that causes them not to relax from any physical or mental effort at persisting, respecting, and trying hard. Not giving up, furthermore, is from wisdom and compassion. Here also the state of perfection is accomplished on account of not apprehending someone who has perseverence, perseverance, or laziness.
if they enter into a concentration for their own sake [F.45.a] it becomes the “experience” of a concentration. So, given that bodhisattvas spurn all practice done only for their own sake as a sin, how could they ever pay attention to the experience of a concentration? What it means to say is that of the three concentrations—defiled, purified, and without outflows—they become absorbed in purified concentrations and concentrations without outflows, not in defiled ones. Here also, on account of not apprehending someone in the concentration, the concentration, or distraction, the perfection becomes complete.
When “the perfection of wisdom” is work at the knowledge of all aspects and the Great Vehicle there is no fault. Still, when bodhisattvas are working on the perfection of nonconceptual wisdom, thinking “ultimately there is no perfection of wisdom dharma whatsoever,” they stand in the perfection of nonconceptual wisdom, the nature of which is the absence of the conceptualization of the perfection of wisdom. At that point, the wisdom produced in a conventional form, which thinks “the three realms and so on are simply just suchness,” is conceptual in nature, but as the path of preparation realization, since it is informed by the nonconceptual perfection of wisdom, it is called the perfection of wisdom. Therefore there is no fault, because the intention is that bodhisattvas, standing in the perfection of wisdom, cultivate the perfection of wisdom. Here [F.45.b] too it should be understood that on account of not apprehending someone who has wisdom, wisdom, or intellectual confusion, it is the purity of the three spheres.
and so on, teaches the practice of the dharmas on the side of awakening.
Qualm: The cultivation of the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening is appropriate for those in the Śrāvaka and Pratyekabuddha Vehicles who strive for nirvāṇa but is not appropriate for bodhisattvas.
Response: There is no fault here. Bodhisattvas want to realize all dharmas in all forms and are intent on not apprehending all dharmas, so, because they investigate whether the awakening dharmas do or do not exist ultimately, it is appropriate.
Qualm: Nevertheless, in that case, having cultivated the dharmas on the side of awakening they become a cause for their actualizing nirvāṇa. Bodhisattvas therefore will become stream enterers, up to worthy ones.
Response: They are accomplished because of the power of the force of an earlier endeavor,268 so there is no fault in it.
Still, those who see faults in saṃsāra and feel repulsion, and strive for and accomplish nirvāṇa having seen its good qualities, effortlessly actualize nirvāṇa because of the force of an earlier endeavor, on account of the cause—their meditation on the applications of mindfulness. Bodhisattvas, however, regard saṃsāra and nirvāṇa equally. They are intent on producing benefit and happiness for all beings, so they see good qualities in saṃsāra because it is the cause for the benefit of beings, like nirvāṇa; and they see nirvāṇa as disagreeable, like saṃsāra, because it is not a place to stand to be of benefit to beings. They see them as equal [F.46.a] because they are both merely the true nature of dharmas. So they have meditated on the dharmas on the side of awakening in order to understand analytically that they cannot be apprehended. They do it simply to actualize the dharmas on the side of awakening. They do not work on them in order to realize the result of stream enterer and so on, or nirvāṇa. Just that is “knowledge of mastery.” It will also be explained like this in the teaching on the knowledge of mastery where it will say that269
There are four objects to which mindfulness is applied: body, feelings, mind, and dharmas. The four observations of those four are “the four applications of mindfulness.” Having come to know them previously, when bodhisattvas then search for them as they really are, they comprehend that body, feelings, mind, and dharmas, the mindfulness and wisdom focused on them, as well as the mental factor dharmas associated with them, are marked as falsely imagined, and they understand that they are not in fact real. Since the inexpressible ultimate is not within the range of either mindfulness or wisdom, the bodhisattvas realize that ultimately there are no defining marks of the applications of mindfulness, and thus stand in the perfection of wisdom and
Construe the right efforts like this as well. It is saying that the defining marks [F.46.b] of the right efforts and so on are simply mere conventions, but ultimately the defining marks of the right efforts and so on have nonexistence for their intrinsic nature. Hence, understanding that the right efforts and so on have an intrinsic nature that cannot be apprehended, they, “having stood in the perfection of wisdom, … perfect” the dharmas on the side of awakening.
The three doors to liberation cause the attainment of nirvāṇa272 so they are in harmony with the cultivation of the dharmas on the side of awakening and are counted among the dharmas on the side of awakening. These are included in the bodhisattva stage so they are called “the three meditative stabilizations.”273
Among them, in regard to “the emptiness meditative stabilization,” that which is marked as the thoroughly established is empty of that which is marked as the falsely imagined. When it is cultivated as the empty aspect, “it is empty of those falsely imagined aspects,” and the mind has become single-pointed; this is “the emptiness meditative stabilization.”
Just that inexpressible ultimate, like space, separated from all the causal signs of form and so on, marked as the nonexistence of any aspect of a causal sign is the calming of all elaborations. When it is cultivated as the calm aspect, and the mind has become single-pointed, it is
Similarly, on account of seeing the three realms in their nonexistent intrinsic nature aspect, all dharmas come to be perceived as discordant. When the insight that they do not serve as a basis for anything to be wished for in the future has become a single-pointed mind, it is
Then the practice that brings beings to maturity is taught with
and so on.274 Those beings who are to be brought to maturity, furthermore, are ordinary beings and extraordinary beings, and the maturing has to be done with the dharmas in the concentration and meditative stabilization class, the clairvoyance class, [F.47.a] and the knowledge class, so it includes all three classes. That is presented as the practice that brings being to maturity because bodhisattvas first conventionally take up all the concentration dharmas, and so on, to work for the benefit of beings, then afterward, having searched for the ultimate, without settling down on the intrinsic nature of the concentrations, and so on, again with both compassion and skillful means take the conventional as their objective support and work for the benefit of beings.
There, in regard to the
having taken birth, decay, illness, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, depression, and grief; the impermanent, the empty, and the selfless and so on—the grounds for repulsion—as the objective support, seeing them as faults and paying attention to the feeling of disgust is “mindfulness of disgust.” As for a bodhisattva’s mindfulness of disgust, having seen that the foolish generate an awareness of all phenomena as having essences and engage with those even though they are selfless and are the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature, the attention preceded by the thought that they may quickly come to know that is “mindfulness of disgust.”
The pleasure of not trusting any ordinary knowledge or craftsmanship, or the sixty-four arts and so on, is
Not wanting anything in the three realms on account of not seeing any reason to be attached to them is
Having made known that all dharmas such as the aggregates and so on are, from a conventional perspective, just suffering, [F.47.b] then, even while knowing that they are ultimately utterly nonexistent things, in order to bring beings to maturity, knowing them conventionally in just the aspect of suffering and knowing how to make others understand them like that as well is the knowledge of suffering. Construe all the other noble truths similarly.
The knowledge that all their own and others’ afflictions, secondary afflictions, suffering, and existence are extinguished, and the knowledge of what causes them to be completely extinguished, is the bodhisattvas’
is the inferential knowledge of all dharmas as conventions, the knowledge that even though they were not directly perceptible as impermanent, and so on, they are so, and the subsequent knowledge bodhisattvas have that all dharmas are in accord with emptiness.
the knowledge with which bodhisattvas cultivate the three gateways to liberation—emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness,—and the dharmas on the side of awakening, without actualizing nirvāṇa, [F.48.a] the knowledge that causes only the habituation to and purification of them, is “knowledge of mastery.” Were they to actualize nirvāṇa they would become stream enterers and so on, but because they fear that, they do not touch the very limit of reality. With that knowledge they cultivate them as mere dharmas.279
As explained earlier,280 it is because they do not “pay attention to the feeling of disgust.” Furthermore, the precursor to the actualization of the very limit of reality is the cultivation of calm abiding and special insight. Bodhisattvas, however, do not practice a cultivation of such calm abiding and special insight that would cause them to reach the very limit of reality. Since theirs is only the vast cultivation of all dharmas without apprehending them, when they observe the dharmas on the side of awakening they understand them, unabsorbed, with an ordinary knowledge. Therefore, since they do not have the conditions281 for that calm abiding and special insight, they do not actualize the very limit of reality. Thus, later the Lord will again say,282
“Subhūti, when bodhisattva great beings contemplate emptiness furnished with the best of all aspects, they do not contemplate that they should actualize it; rather, they contemplate that they should master it. They contemplate that it is not the time it should be actualized, but rather it is the time it should be mastered. When not in actual283 meditative equipoise, bodhisattva great beings attach their minds to an objective support and without letting the dharmas on the side of awakening lessen, in the meantime do not actualize the extinction of outflows,” P18k
and so on.
any language whatsoever is “in accord with sound.” Knowledge of that is “knowledge in accord with sound.” So, knowledge in accord with sound is the knowledge [F.48.b] with which bodhisattvas have an understanding and knowledge of all the languages and speech of hell beings, animals, ghosts, gods, humans, and Brahmās.
All of these are taken together with “having stood in the perfection of wisdom,” so understand that all are cultivated without taking any as a real basis. Therefore, the One Hundred Thousand and so on spell it out like that in every case.
it is true that the six perfections have already been spoken about before, nevertheless here it speaks about them again in the context of bringing beings to maturity.
the ways śrāvakas think are as explained in the Subcommentary.287 As for the way bodhisattvas think, they think, “At some point may I be able to eliminate all the suffering of all beings”; they think, “At some point may I be able to establish in prosperity those who are suffering from poverty”; they think, “At some point may I be able to look after the needs of beings with the flesh and blood of my own body”; they think, “Even if I live long among the denizens of the hells may I at some point [F.49.a] only be of benefit to those beings”; they think, “With the ordinary and extraordinary endowments may I at some point come to see the hopes of the whole world fulfilled”; they think, “At some point, having become a buddha, may I deliver all beings from all the sufferings of saṃsāra”; they think, “In lifetime after lifetime may I never have a birth in which I am of no use to beings, a thought that is unconnected with the welfare of beings, a taste for the ultimate alone, meaningless words that do not satisfy all beings, a livelihood that does not benefit others, a body incapable of benefiting others, an awareness that does not illuminate what is of aid to others, wealth that is not used for the benefit of others, a position of importance in society that is not held for the sake of others, and a liking for causing harm to others”; and they think, “May all the results of evil deeds done by all other creatures come to fruition in me, and may all the results of my good conduct come to fruition in all beings.” These are “the eight ways great persons think.”
When thinking in that way, they should meditate on
so that those eight ways of thinking will bear fruit; so that, having viewed the world with compassion, they will bring about a benefit for others; so that, with wisdom, they will develop attention to not apprehending anything; and so that they will thoroughly understand the container world and its inhabitants.
Some say,289 “the nine things that cause anguish to beings.” Bodhisattvas are totally without “the nine things that cause anguish,” so they become the opposite, the nine things that cause no anguish at all. [F.49.b] Construe them this way: They are not caused anguish by the thought, “That one hurt me.” They are not caused anguish by the thought, “That one is hurting me.” They are not caused anguish by the thought, “That one will hurt me,” and so on.
After that, with
and so on, it teaches the practice that brings the buddhadharmas to maturity.
Since it has taught the four immeasurables before in the context of bringing beings to maturity, in the context of the practices that bring the buddhadharmas to maturity it teaches them with the different names—
and so on.
Having thus brought together all the dharmas and taught them in a brief exposition, now they have to be explained in detail. Earlier, by speaking about what has to be known by those “who want to fully awaken to all dharmas in all forms,” it indicated the intention of bodhisattvas. Now, wanting to give a detailed teaching of the cause and result of that same intention, together with those who have the intention and so on, the Lord again, with those
and so on, gives a detailed teaching about the intention.
Now the “why” taught previously, where it says in the exposition in eight parts “why bodhisattvas endeavor”—that “why” has to be explained.
The five parts of the statement, from
teaches the greatnesses of bodhisattvas. Then, from
teaches the greatnesses of buddhas.
In regard to those [five], the “three knowledges” are the knowledge of all aspects, the knowledge of path aspects, and all-knowledge.
The extraordinary path knowledge of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas that is caused by meditating on “everything compounded is impermanent,” “everything with outflows is suffering,” and “every dharma is selfless,” engaged with the aspects of impermanence and so on, is called
The statement “who want to fully awaken to the knowledge, furnished with the best of all aspects, of a knower of all” teaches that they want to fully awaken to the knowledge of all aspects;
teaches its result.
Qualm: But just that “want to fully awaken to all dharmas in all forms” has already taught the knowledge of all aspects, so why is it teaching it again?
There is no fault, because the earlier “want to fully awaken to all dharmas” was teaching all the dharmas that have to be realized, but here, with “want to fully awaken to the knowledge of a knower of all,” it is teaching the full awakening to just that knowledge of a knower of all.
Qualm: What is its purpose in qualifying it with “furnished with the best of all aspects”?
There, the knowledge of a knower of all is threefold: the all-knowledge of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, and the all-knowing knowledge of buddhas with all dharmas as its objective support. The nonconceptual all-knowing knowledge of buddhas is also called “the knowledge of a knower of all.” Were it just to have said “wants to fully awaken to the knowledge of a knower of all,” there would have been uncertainty about which knowledge it is referring to. Hence, it qualifies it with “furnished with the best of all aspects.” With that it teaches the “knowledge of a knower of all aspects.”
As for all the aspects, they are the nonarising unproduced aspect, the unceasing, the primordially calm, the naturally in nirvāṇa, the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature, emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, and so on. The best of all of those aspects, the principal one, is the emptiness aspect because it is the root of the other aspects. Therefore, it is taught that the entry into the sameness where the entities of apprehended and apprehender are the same, furnished with the best of all aspects and without conceptualization, [F.51.a] is the knowledge of a knower of all aspects.
Alternatively, the knowledge of a knower of all itself is being taught. All the aspects are then those aspects included in the collection of the wholesome, unwholesome, and neutral, as well as those included in the collection of those destined for what is right, destined for error, and those of uncertain destiny.294 In this case, a buddha’s knowledge of a knower of all is furnished with all aspects because it comprehends what is included in the collections of the unwholesome and neutral, as well as those destined for error and those of uncertain destiny. It is said to be “furnished with the best of all aspects” because it comprehends what is included in the collections of the wholesome and those destined for what is right. Those who want such an awakening are said to “want to fully awaken to the knowledge, furnished with the best of all aspects, of a knower of all”;
teaches its result. Residual impressions of action, residual impressions of affliction, and residual impressions of birth are the three sorts of residual impressions; connections of action, connections of affliction, and connections of birth are the three sorts of connections, because the connections of dependent origination are three. The meaning is that they “want to destroy” all “residual impressions,” all “connections, and all “afflictions.”
Then the two—
teach the knowledge of path aspects and its result, [F.51.b] because bodhisattvas perfect the knowledge of the aspects of the paths and realize the thought and activity of beings, whereby they accomplish the welfare of beings.
Then, “[they] want to perfect all-knowledge” teaches the knowledge of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, because, even though bodhisattvas have not actualized all-knowledge, for the sake of beings they know the nature of all-knowledge and the causes for attaining all-knowledge, and they establish beings in their respective results of stream enterer and so on. With that, therefore, they will have perfected all-knowledge. The conditions that aid all-knowledge are not taught because bodhisattvas will know what they are from just this, so it is unnecessary.
and so on teaches the desire for the greatnesses of bodhisattvas. Furthermore, it teaches four qualities of bodhisattvas: qualities of the impure levels, qualities of the pure levels, qualities of the level of detailed and thorough knowledge, and qualities when standing on the final level.
From the first to the seventh level are the impure levels because bodhisattvas make an active effort to pay attention there. There you should know their qualities are from “want to enter into the secure state of a bodhisattva” up to297
The qualities of the eighth level are from “want to thoroughly establish a buddha’s body” up to298
The qualities of the level of detailed and thorough knowledge, on the ninth level, are from
“tiny particles” P18k
Among these is
turning away from the state of a śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha is called “the secure state of a bodhisattva.” Others say to take “flawlessness”301 as the tathāgatagarbha. In regard to that302 there are three periods: flawlessness that is the absence of defilement, the secure state of a bodhisattva, and the certification of dharmas. As for the tathāgatagarbha, there are also three periods for that tathatā (“suchness”): the impure period in ordinary foolish beings, the period on the pure and impure bodhisattva levels, and the pure period on the Tathāgata level. There, the impure suchness is called “a being” (sattva). It is also called “the fixed state of defilement.” In the pure and impure period it is called “awakening and being” (bodhisattva) because the awakening (bodhi) period is pure, and the being (sattva) period impure. Just that is called “the secure state of a bodhisattva.” In the pure period it is called the tathāgata because it said,303
The period when a bodhisattva has forsaken the impure, fixed state of defilement period (when the tathāgatagarbha is called “being”), and reached the pure and impure [F.52.b] “secure state of a bodhisattva” period (when it is called “awakening and being”), is “the secure state of a bodhisattva.” Hence it means they “want” to reach the period of “the secure state of” reality called bodhisattva (“awakening and being”).305
this is because the qualities are superior, because a bodhisattva who has set out for the knowledge on the bodhisattva levels passes beyond the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha levels on account of four qualities: special faculties, special accomplishment, special knowledge, and special result.
There a śrāvaka has naturally dull faculties, a pratyekabuddha middling faculties, and a bodhisattva sharp faculties. Śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas naturally seek their own welfare, accomplish their own welfare, and complete benefits only for themselves. Bodhisattvas naturally seek their own and others’ welfare, accomplish their own and others’ welfare, and complete benefits for themselves and others. Śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas realize that dharmas are impermanent, suffering, empty, and selfless, while bodhisattvas who have set out to benefit themselves and others are skilled in all fields of knowledge, and, having established the many dispositions, aims, and mental states of beings, make them realize that all dharmas are characterized by being unfindable. Śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas gain the purification of afflicted obscurations and reach a nirvāṇa with no remaining aggregates, while bodhisattvas eliminate both afflicted obscurations and knowledge obscurations and establish themselves in a nonabiding nirvāṇa, looking after the welfare of beings until the end of saṃsāra. [F.53.a]
there are four reasons why those who have produced the thought of awakening later turn back from the thought of awakening: because they are no longer in the lineage, or have gotten into the clutches of bad friends, or have weak compassion, or are scared of the extremely long and unbearable sufferings of saṃsāra. All four of those causes, furthermore, are absent from bodhisattvas who have entered onto the bodhisattva levels. Therefore, the levels of Pramuditā and so on are called the irreversible levels.
the thought of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas when engaged in charity is not pure because it has craving, has conceptualization, and results in existence or in functioning for one’s own welfare. The bodhisattvas’ rejoicing thought is without craving, without conceptualization, does not have causal signs within its range, and is of benefit to self and others, so it is superior because of those qualities and hence is surpassing.
and so on in the same way as well.
“for the sake of all beings” says that it is for all beings; “a little gift” is because of not having many things. It becomes immeasurable and incalculable because of turning it over for the sake of all beings, because of turning it over to all-knowledge, and because of the purity of the three spheres.
on the seventh level [F.53.b] they know the form of the body of a buddha but at that time cannot achieve it. Having understood the form of the body of a buddha on that level they generate the desire to achieve it. Thus, it is saying306 that they enter into the intrinsic nature dharma body of all the buddhas from the tenth level; they also achieve the fine ornaments (the major marks and minor signs adorning the form body); and they cause the admiration of the tathāgata who is separated from speech, sound, and language, inexpressible, and naturally calm. Hence it307 teaches the three bodies.
here, take the tathāgata’s lineage to be the thoroughly established suchness, because at the eighth level all conceptualization, all exertion, and all causal signs are cut off, and there has been the transformation into the nature of purified suchness. This is called being “born in the tathāgata’s lineage.”
is just that very eighth level. Thus it says,308 “because it is totally without basic immorality it is called the heir apparent’s level.”
as the world in the sense of beings, because the world as beings is also without an end. It has the tathāgatagarbha as its terminus. The world that is
is the world as container.
it is inexhaustible just like a single drop of water poured into the ocean that does not run out because, dedicated to the knowledge of all aspects, it works for the welfare of beings until the end of saṃsāra. Also understand the inexhaustible as it is explained in The Teaching of Akṣayamati.310
means to ensure the progeny necessary to continue the unbroken line, so that the line of buddhas [F.54.a] will remain unbroken.
and so on teaches the sixteen emptinesses. It is true that emptiness, as an entity, is simply one. Nevertheless, it is divided into many types because of the different minds and interests of bodhisattvas.
Here, when bodhisattvas endeavor to pay attention to emptiness, they think, “If all dharmas are empty—that is, unreal—how does the ‘self’ in ‘Monks, I am my own master’;311 ‘The actions I did myself ripen in me’; ‘Stay by yourself in the form of an island’ and so on exist?” Having reflected on that, when they first take up in their mind these forms, feelings, and so on that are their own self’s inner dharmas and reflect on them, they perfectly review the fact that there is nothing that can be set forth as a “self” that ultimately exists. These are simply things set forth just conventionally; they are names plucked out of thin air. Hence, it says “inner emptiness.” This is teaching the aggregates as emptiness.
Then the bodhisattvas reflect, “If there is no self, does anything else exist or not?” They do not see any other things that can be set forth as “something else,” but see them simply as mere sense fields. Hence, it says
Then, again in order to determine just that meaning well, they take up in their mind the inner and outer dharmas as one and meditate on them, viewing them simply as just the eighteen constituents. Therefore, it says
Alternatively, tīrthikas say, “The enjoyer is the soul,” so it is necessary to teach the absence of a self of persons. And still those who have set out in this Dharma say, “The enjoyer is the inner sense fields,” [F.54.b] so it is necessary to teach that the sense fields are not real things. Hence it makes a presentation of inner and outer emptiness for both of those.
There it teaches inner emptiness based on the person not having a self, with “the eyes are empty of self and what belongs to self, and the ears… are empty of self and what belongs to self,” and so on;312 and it teaches inner emptiness based on the selflessness of dharmas with “the eyes are empty of eyes…, the ears are empty of ears,” and so on.313 Both explanations are given.
In this regard, there are also four possibilities to do with the eye: “my eyes are me”; “I have eyes”; “I am where my eyes are”; “my eyes are where I am.” This is similar to considering, “form is me”; “I have form”; “I am where form is”; and “form is where I am.” Among these, “my eyes are me” is grasping at the eyes as the self. “I have eyes”; “I am where my eyes are”; and “my eyes are where I am” is grasping at the eyes as belonging to the self. There, the understanding in accord with the reality of the eyes in a form that cannot be apprehended eliminates those four ways of grasping and perfectly sees in accord with the reality that the eyes are empty of self and what belongs to self. Similarly, connect this with the ears and so on as well. This is instruction in emptiness based on the selflessness of persons.
Based on the selflessness of dharmas, eyes have the three aspects of the falsely imagined eyes, the conceptualized eyes, and the true dharmic nature of the eyes.314 Among these, the falsely imagined eyes are the things taken to be the eyes that are in the form of expressed and expressor. The conceptualized eyes are the appearance of eyes in the specific form in which they exist as a subject and object entity. [F.55.a] The true dharmic nature of the eyes is the nature free from expressed and expressor, that is inexpressible, that is free from becoming something with an appearance, and is a thoroughly established private introspective knowledge.
There, in “the eyes are empty of eyes,” “the eyes” are the true dharmic nature of the eyes; they are “empty,” separated from “eyes,” the falsely imagined and the conceptualized eyes.315 That is the meaning. Similarly, connect this with “the ears are empty of ears” and so on.
That is true, but still, even though any compounded phenomena whatsoever—eyes and so on, a shape or a sound and so on—in the way they are when transformed, in their thoroughly established form, are not differentiated as separate and are in the same form, nevertheless, when you want to talk about them you have no choice except to make distinctions in order to give an explanation. They are merely indicated by specifically distinguishing them with words like “the shape’s suchness,” “the sound’s suchness,” “the smell’s suchness,” and so on. But that suchness is not in those forms and does not become expressible as them. Thus, all the true dharmic natures of the eyes and so on are devoid of intrinsic natures of the inner eye sense field and so on, and hence it says “inner emptiness.”
Having thus stopped grasping at an inner entity as an enjoyer, to stop grasping at outer entities as the enjoyed there is a presentation of outer emptiness. Tīrthikas grasp shapes and so on as the enjoyed, viewing them as what belongs to self; followers of this Dharma grasp them conceptually as just objects. To stop the former of these it says316 “a form is empty of self and what belongs to self,” “a sound is empty of self and what belongs to self,” and so on. [F.55.b] To stop the other of the two it says317 “a form is empty of a form,” “a sound is empty of a sound,” and so on. Again, you should construe that as above. Similarly, about outer objects devoid of self and what belongs to self, devoid of those falsely imagined dharma aspects, it says “outer emptiness.”
Having thus given an explanation of the conceptualizations of inner and outer enjoyer and enjoyed, now, to eliminate from the bodies of assembled inner and outer sense fields the view of “I” and “mine,” and the conceptualization of them as a body, it collects them both together and teaches
In order to eliminate views, bodhisattvas correctly view those assemblages of inner and outer sense fields as empty of a real “I” and “mine.” The presentation of the elimination of the conceptualization, furthermore, is based on there being no collections of the assemblages, because, contingent one on the other, they are empty of functioning.318 This means that the eyes are empty of a shape, so ultimately they do not perform the action of seeing and so on, having connected with it. Similarly, a shape is empty of the eyes in the sense that it does not perform a function together with them. Similarly, the ears are empty of a sound, and a sound is empty of the ears. Therefore, because the collection does not function, the conceptualization of the assemblage as a body is eliminated.
What does inner dharmas empty of outer dharmas mean? It means that the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the thinking mind are empty of shapes, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, and dharmas. Thus there is no “I” and “mine” in the assemblage of inner and outer dharmas. And the inner dharmas are devoid of the outer dharmas, [F.56.a] and the outer dharmas are devoid of the inner dharmas, so, because in the absence of an assemblage they are ultimately empty of functioning, it says “inner and outer emptiness.”
After perfectly setting forth the three emptinesses, bodhisattvas reflect, “Does ‘emptiness’ exist as an aspect of a phenomenon or not? If an ‘emptiness’ exists then emptiness exists, and the state of not being empty will come to exist as well, because the existence of an antidote without the existence of its opposition is untenable. And if there is a nonempty state, then that will be the nonempty state that all dharmas are in.” Having reflected thus, bodhisattvas then decide, “There is no ‘emptiness’ at all. Were some other ‘empty’ dharma to exist, then a nonempty dharma would exist, so there is no other ‘empty’ dharma at all.”
To illustrate, someone “sees” the city of the gandharvas and thinks they have seen it.319 Then, afterward, when they have really explored and looked for just that city and do not see it, they no longer think that they have seen it. But it is not suitable to say, when they see its emptiness, because they think it is empty that there is some other, different entity—the “emptiness” of the city they were thinking about. Similarly, taking a falsely imagined shape and so on as a real shape, they think they have seen a constituent element of reality. Then when they look into what it really is, because the knowledge of it as it really is does not see that constituent of reality when it is looked for, it is simply that the nonexistence of the intellectually active awareness of the constituent of reality and an intellectually active awareness of the empty is born. But it is not suitable to say that when they see it is empty that there is some other, different constituent of reality—“the empty”—there. Therefore, because emptiness does not exist, the nonempty state does not exist either; because the nonempty state does not exist, emptiness does not exist either. This is the correct explanation here.320 What you should not say is, “There is no emptiness,” [F.56.b] because all dharmas are empty. And you should not say, “Emptiness exists!” because when you investigate, there is no other dharma—“emptiness”—at all. So this is the
Again, bodhisattvas think,321 “If all dharmas are empty, why are all these moving and unmoving states of existence called ‘dependent origination.’ If they do not exist, they cannot be a dependent origination. And if a dependently originated phenomenon does exist, in that case all the moving and unmoving states of existence exist.” Having thought that, they determine there are no “dependently originated phenomena” at all, but even though they are thus totally nonexistent, still, from a time without beginning, for as long as they are not perfectly seen and directly realized322 they remain as existent causes and effects in the form of action, affliction, and maturation. And yet those actions, afflictions and maturations are emptinesses in each and every way. Those empty phenomena that exist as emptinesses in the form of causes and effects are dependent originations.
To illustrate, a certain magician, having deceived the eyes of beings with an abracadabra,323 conjures up the appearance of a real elephant, horse, chariot, small troop of soldiers, mountain, waterfall, ocean, and so on.
That becomes the condition that produces in a being whose eyes have been deceived by the abracadabra a consciousness of an elephant and so on appearing as that object, and those with those consciousnesses see those magically produced elephants and so on. Such a cause-and-effect reality existing as the magically produced elephant and so on, along with the consciousness, [F.57.a] is the dependent origination. The dependent origination that is those magically produced elephants and so on, and those consciousnesses, cannot possibly exist ultimately.
Similarly, all fools whose sight has been deceived by ignorance see karmically constructed, falsely imagined phenomena that are like the magically produced elephants and so on. Those falsely imagined phenomena become the condition that generates a consciousness that they are appearing as they are, and those with those consciousnesses see those phenomena. Those grasped-object phenomena and grasper-subject phenomena imagined like that, existing in the form of causes and effects, are dependent originations. Those grasped-grasper dependent originations cannot possibly exist ultimately, therefore
Were phenomena to have any unfabricated essential identity in the form of an intrinsic nature, they would not come forth, contingent on something else, in a form that arises under the power of causes and conditions. But phenomena do come forth as dependent phenomena, dependent on other conditions; they do not come forth through an intrinsic nature that is their own unfabricated being. Hence it should be known that they are not things with their own intrinsic nature. Because their own intrinsic nature is thus nonexistent, therefore they325 “lack an intrinsic nature.” Just because they lack an intrinsic nature, they are emptiness. Hence, “the meaning of no intrinsic nature is the meaning of dependent origination, and the meaning of emptiness is the meaning of dependent origination.”
When the perfect sight of reality has been produced and has overcome the force of abracadabra-like ignorance, falsely imagined dharmas like the magically produced elephant and so on, and the consciousness-dharmas that grasp them [F.57.b] in the form of a dependent origination marked as a cause-and-effect reality, stop appearing and disappear. This is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all dharmas are empty, the ultimate dharma is empty too. If it is empty, how326 is it ultimate? How does the vajropama meditative stabilization of the buddhas apprehend it? If that dharma does exist, then all dharmas will similarly exist as well.” They then determine as follows: No “ultimate” dharma exists at all. The tathāgatagarbha in its established state is not the nature of the dharmas, because you cannot say it “exists” or “does not exist.” You cannot say this thoroughly established state “exists” because it is presented as being characterized by the nonexistence of both the falsely imagined grasped-object and grasper-subject, and you cannot say of something characterized by nonexistence that it “exists.” You cannot say it is “nonexistent” either, because it exists as an intrinsic nature separated from duality. If you say that in such a form it “exists,” it comes to exist as a real thing and becomes the extreme of over-reification; and if you say it does not exist as a substantial reality, it becomes nonexistent like a rabbit’s horns and so on and becomes the extreme of over-negation. So, since it is inexpressible as either, it should not be conceived of like that.
And the statement that the vajropama meditative stabilization apprehends it is an ill-considered statement, because the extraordinary nonconceptual knowledge of the buddhas does not apprehend anything. At that time it has no grasped-object and grasper-subject aspects, so there has been a transformation into an absolutely pure state and hence it does not apprehend anything. But still, because of the earlier [F.58.a] habituation to being a grasper-subject in a saṃsāra that has no beginning, even though at that time it is not in the nature of a consciousness and has no grasped-object of its own,327 still it is labeled as itself operating like a grasper-subject. It is said to be “equal” because it is equally an apprehended and apprehender entity. It is said to be “equal to the equal” because it is just that apprehended and apprehender as well. Ultimate reality in such a form, not existing in the form of some other phenomenon, is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all phenomena are emptiness, compounded phenomena and uncompounded phenomena would not exist, but it is not right to say that they ‘do not exist’ because they are expressed as the compounded and uncompounded, and also from time to time in the scriptures they are impure appearance.” They then determine as follows: No transformed “compounded” phenomenon exists at all. Were it to exist, it would not be correct that it is in fact “compounded,” because the compounded is taken to be something made from a collection of causes and conditions that come together. If some compounded phenomenon were to exist ultimately, it would have been made by something else, and nothing can make an ultimate dharma. Since such a “compounded” phenomenon does not exist at all, it is fools using such names, because of a falsely imagined transformation. The arising, lasting, and perishing that are the characteristic marks of compounded things also have an imagined328 existence. Since the characteristic marks are said to have an imagined existence, the bearer of the marks definitely has to be taken as having an imagined existence as well. It is not right to characterize an ultimate dharma as imaginary. And even if a “compounded phenomenon” ultimately exists, it is not right for one phenomenon to have the three characteristic marks. Therefore [F.58.b] this is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “Those uncompounded phenomena that are empty on account of the compounded being compounded are not compounded things. They are therefore the ultimate nature.” They then determine as follows: No transformed “uncompounded” phenomenon exists at all. The “uncompounded” is taken to be the nonexistence of something compounded. It does not ultimately exist. It is similar to space, which is taken to be marked by the nonexistence of anything compounded. It does not exist marked as a discrete entity absolutely other than that. An analytic cessation is also marked just by the nonexistence of any compounded phenomenon. Similarly, a nonanalytic cessation is also marked by the destruction of compounded phenomena. If even in the śrāvaka system they do not ultimately exist, it goes without saying that they do not do so in the emptiness system. This realization that they are emptiness is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all dharmas are empty, is it right that we find in the scriptures statements that the lord buddhas are omniscient because they know those ‘past dharmas’ at the prior limit, ‘future dharmas’ at the later limit, and ‘present dharmas’ at the midpoint; that those lord buddhas’ knowledge of ‘the past free from unobstruction’ and so on is ‘a distinct attribute of a buddha’;329 and that the ‘divine eye’ and so on cover the three time periods?”330 They then determine as follows: It is not right that “prior limit, later limit, and the midpoint” dharmas exist at all, because [F.59.a] one single dharma cannot be said to be three, “future, present, and past.” If it is an ultimate dharma it is said to be just one. How could it be tenable that it is also at three times? The description of it in terms of three times is not right because then, whereas it is just one, at the later limit it would have to be the future, in between it would be the present, and at the prior limit it would be the past. So, since that is the case, it is just one.
To illustrate, the first month Citrā, which has gone into a mansion and has emerged from a mansion, is still one.331 This happens without it changing.
Furthermore, is this time contingently established or is it established in and of itself?
It is not right to say that it is established in and of itself, because it is feasible that things that stand still are established in and of themselves, but it is not feasible if they do not stand still. Time does not stand still. Its mode of operating is as something that is an instant, half a second, a second, a day and night, a fortnight, a month, the days in a month marking changes in constellation, a season, a yearly cycle, a time period, and so on. So time does not stand still even for an instant. It is labeled a half second when a bit of the past and a bit of the future are combined into one. Similarly, past and future combined together into one are labeled a day and a night. Therefore, a time “established in and of itself” does not exist in the past, the future, or the present, which are things that do not stand still.
Even if you say that time is contingently established, and contingent on the past there is a future and present, and similarly, contingent on the present there are the other two times, and so on, if the two times—the present and the future—exist contingent on the past, then, when it is the past, the present and the future will be there as well. [F.59.b] If both the present and the future are not there in the past, they are not contingent on it. If both present and future are there in the past, since they are both there, they are both the past. Similarly, if the two—the present and the past—are contingent on the future, both the present and the past will be there in the future, and if they are not there they will not be contingent on it. If those two are there in the future, then they both become the future as well. Similarly, if the two—the past and the future—are contingent on the present, both the past and the future will be here in the present, and if they are not here, they will not be contingent on it. And if those two, the past and the future, are here at the present time, then they are both here and are therefore both the present as well.
Therefore, time is still just one.
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all dharmas are empty, how could the Lord have said saṃsāra does exist: ‘Saṃsāra is long for fools’;332 ‘Bhikṣus, this saṃsāra has no beginning or end’?333 Thus, he did say it exists, and since it does, those who are in saṃsāra exist, and based on that, therefore, all dharmas exist as well.” They then determine as follows: There is no dharma called saṃsāra at all. And why? Because it “has no beginning or end.” Were there to be a dharma called saṃsāra, its beginning [F.60.a] would exist and its end would exist. No dharma with a beginning and end is to be seen at all. And the lord has said, “No prior limit appears.”334
If you say both a beginning and an end have been refuted but a middle has not been refuted, so a middle exists, that is not right, because how could there be a middle of something that does not have a beginning or an end? A “middle” exists contingent on a beginning and an end.
But why, if there is no dharma called saṃsāra in some other form in which beings are going through life after life, did the Lord say, “Bhikṣus! This saṃsāra has no beginning and no end because no beginning limit appears. Beings obscured by ignorance and bound by craving wander in saṃsāra”?
Again, the response is as follows: Being in saṃsāra is itself ultimately not tenable. If somebody is in saṃsāra, is the saṃsāra to be counted as permanent or impermanent? If it is permanent, it is not feasible that somebody is in saṃsāra, because it would be unchanging. Even if it is impermanent, it is not feasible that somebody is in saṃsāra, because each of the instants have perished and are no longer what they were, and the second instant arises as something quite other, so how could there be a saṃsāra there? Hence saṃsāra is the label given to the unbroken flow of compounded phenomena existing as an extended series of productions and cessations. This is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “Even though saṃsāra cannot be apprehended, when dharmas have been transformed, ‘nirvāṇa’ exists. You cannot say the truth of cessation does not exist because the Lord has explicitly taught it with, ‘Bhikṣus, the unproduced, unmade, unoriginated, uncompounded exists,’335 and so on. Hence nonrepudiation336 exists.” Take “the repudiated” [F.60.b] as the five aggregates, because they are to be repudiated and they are to be made nonexistent. In the sacred words of the Tathāgata Kāśyapa337 the label the repudiated is given to the five aggregates. And now338 as well “the one suffering existence to be repudiated” and “the five suffering existences to be repudiated” are explained. The thing to be repudiated not being there is called nonrepudiation. Where the aggregates will have stopped is called nonrepudiation. Hence it is cessation.
The bodhisattvas then determine as follows: It is not correct that there is any “nonrepudiation” phenomenon at all. The nonexistence of the aggregates is nonrepudiation, and that nonexistence of the aggregates is the nirvāṇa without any aggregates remaining, characterized as the nonexistence of everything. So you cannot make a presentation of it in any way in the form of some other phenomenon. Hence the expression nonexistent thing is an expression synonymous with nirvāṇa, cessation, all compounded phenomena at peace, nonrepudiation, and so on.
That is not tenable either. How could there ever be compounded phenomena that have passed into nirvāṇa? If compounded phenomena do pass into nirvāṇa, it must be reckoned some permanent or impermanent thing is passing into nirvāṇa. If you say “something permanent is passing into nirvāṇa,” that is untenable. Something permanent never changes, and there is no need for it to pass into nirvāṇa.
If you say “something impermanent339 is passing into nirvāṇa,” it would be impermanent; therefore, since it would have been destroyed it would not arise again. And passing into nirvāṇa does nothing to an entity that does not arise. And even if you say that nirvāṇa acts to counteract the other compounded phenomena that are the cause of its arising, they are also not there. [F.61.a] It is the fire of the extraordinary path that burns the seed of the tree of ignorance into an entity that will not arise again. Not arising in its nature—that is labeled nirvāṇa. And if even in the śrāvaka system there is no “nirvāṇa” at all in the form of some other dharma, it goes without saying there is none in the emptiness system. This realization is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all attributes340 are empty it is untenable that, based on the behaviors and thoughts, instincts, interests, dispositions, and personality types— needy and so on—constituting the basic nature of beings,341 the knowledge of various dispositions, the knowledge of various interests, the knowledge of various basic personalities and so on that are the special attributes of a buddha become operational attributes. Therefore, those attributes of a basic nature ultimately exist.”
The bodhisattvas then determine as follows: It is not right to describe them as attributes like that in the form of something quite other, because they are particular periods in a being’s continuum. They cannot be established as different or not different from the beings. Therefore this—thinking that such hypostatized attributes do not exist—is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all things342 are nonexistent, how can those attributes of them—impermanence, suffering, selflessness, and so on—exist? It is impossible to have an attribute without an attribute possessor. Thus, all compounded things are impermanent; all things with outflows are suffering; all things are selfless, and when that perfect knowledge of reality is seen and attained, [F.61.b] freedom from the suffering of all existences is established.”
The bodhisattvas then determine as follows: The impermanence attribute and so on cannot be the ultimate attribute. How could an ultimate attribute be impermanent, arise, and be destroyed? An attribute that changes and transforms cannot be an “ultimate.” Just that which is true, that which is unmistaken, is their ultimate.343 Therefore the ultimate does not change and nothing inheres in it.
Similarly, if an attribute in the form of suffering that serves as an ultimate were to exist then suffering would be permanent. And in that case, because the permanent suffering would always be there, ordinary or extraordinary happiness would never arise again.
Similarly, if a “selfless” attribute existed as the ultimate then selflessness would inhere in all things and they would become permanent. And were they to have become so, “liberation” would not be a state to be accomplished. Therefore, these basic natures of imaginary phenomena are just imaginary. The emptiness of all dharmas is not something that can be examined. Hence this is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think,344 “Even if, for the time being, impermanence and so on do not, as general characterizing marks, exist, still those marks particular to something—‘easily breakable,’ ‘seeable’ that is the mark345 of a form or physical object, ‘experience’ that is the mark of feeling, and so on—do exist. Since they exist, form and so on also exist.”
They then determine as follows: Are these marks different from the bases of the marks or not different? If they are not different, it is not correct that “just that is the mark, and just that is the basis of the marks,” because if the basis of a mark is not established, [F.62.a] the mark is not different than that and hence is not established. How could it be established as its mark?
If they are different, then the following investigation has to be pursued: Does the mark exist before the basis of the mark, or does it come about afterward, or are they there at the same time?
If the mark is there before the basis of the mark, then of what, in the absence of the basis of the mark, is it the mark? If just a mark without a basis exists there before, then later on it will be without a basis as well.
If the basis of the mark is there before and the mark comes about later, in that case the basis of the mark comes about without a mark before the mark is there, so why would it not be without a mark afterward as well? If the basis of the mark without a mark is already there before, later when it gets the mark, having come about without cause that mark will serve no function at all.
If the basis of the mark and the mark have come about at the same time, then that is a new discovery indeed—a basis of the mark that is different from the mark, and a mark that is different from the basis of the mark. So how could the bifurcation “this is the mark; this is the basis of the mark” be right? Therefore, the marks of imaginary dharmas are just falsely imagined, and hence unable to bear ultimate scrutiny. This is the
Again, the bodhisattvas think, “If all attributes cannot be apprehended, in that case an attribute that cannot be apprehended in the form of something quite other would exist. If that which cannot be apprehended is taken to be nonexistent then all attributes can be apprehended. Therefore, what cannot be apprehended does exist.”
They then determine as follows: It is not correct that an attribute that cannot be apprehended in the form of something quite other exists. If the attribute called “cannot be apprehended” in the form of something quite other exists, [F.62.b] an apprehending apart from that which cannot be apprehended would also exist. On account of that, that which cannot be apprehended would become an apprehended entity. And that is unsuitable because it stands negated—to be itself apprehended and to be itself something that cannot be apprehended is a contradiction. And even if it is thought, in regard to what cannot be apprehended, that apprehending is not there, in that case what cannot be apprehended also, because it cannot be apprehended, is just nonexistent. Therefore there is no apprehending of “an attribute that ‘cannot be apprehended’ in the form of something quite other exists”; rather, given the fact that attributes cannot be apprehended, that is merely labeling “it cannot be apprehended” onto this or that. Therefore, this is the
so the intrinsic nature of a ‘nonexistent thing’ as it pertains to every dharma has to be searched for. Therefore, because it is established as being in its intrinsic nature a nonexistent thing,348 a dharma ‘in its intrinsic nature a nonexistent thing’ exists. But if it is thought, ‘If dharmas are things that are nonexistent in their nature, then one would be saying “dharmas do not exist,” and what gain would there be in that?’ it is not so. There is a great gain because, when it has been accepted that ‘all falsely imagined dharmas are nonexistent in each and every way,’ it is being said that just those falsely imagined dharmas are there as the intrinsic nature of nonexistent things, so it becomes an explanation of the existence of one side of dharmas.”
They then determine as follows: What is the meaning of this statement, “all dharmas are in their intrinsic nature nonexistent things”P18k ? This “all dharmas” teaches falsely imagined dharmas and thoroughly established dharmas. Among these, falsely imagined dharmas do not exist, so it is said they are “in their intrinsic nature absolutely nonexistent things.” [F.63.a] Thoroughly established dharmas are suchness in the aspect of existent things when they have been stopped.349 So, taking “nonexistent thing” in this sense,350 it says “in its intrinsic nature a nonexistent thing.”
An “existent thing” is so called because it has come into being. Hence a compounded phenomenon is called an “existent thing.” When it has stopped, that which is the inexpressible aspect of private self-awareness is called “the intrinsic nature when there is no existent thing,”351 taught as “suchness.”
“They see perfectly that that in which something does not exist is empty of it, they know perfectly about that which is still left over in it, that ‘it is here,’ ”
it is true that suchness is always one. Nevertheless, it is presented as three in reference to its different bases: at the level of the knowledge of path aspects, at the level of the knowledge of all aspects, and at the all-knowledge level. The thoroughly established nature of any outer or inner dharma is “the suchness of all dharmas,” for example the suchness of a shape, the suchness of a sound, the suchness of a smell, and so on. The dharma body of all buddhas, the transformed tathāgatagarbha, is the second “suchness of the dharma-constituent” because it is the basis of all the buddhadharmas. The śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha nirvāṇa without remaining aggregates is “the suchness that is the very limit of reality.” That is what is being talked about where it says [F.63.b]
Furthermore, it speaks about the earlier “suchness of all dharmas” to teach that it is comprehended at the eighth level as effortlessly without conceptualization. As for this, it should be understood as being spoken about to teach the level when the end has been reached.
teaches, according to The Ten Bhūmis, the special qualities of the operation of knowledge on the tiny particles and so on.355
just like walls and so on that have blunted the force of the wind, the single tip of a finger blunts the shaking wind that pervades all world regions as does a wall and so on.
they want their posture to cover space, expanding into it and filling it up.
means with what they eat at one time, with what they eat at the proper time.
and so on—the flesh eye is the form body eye. The divine eye knows all meditative stabilizations, absorptions, and clairvoyances. [F.64.a] The wisdom eye knows the knowledge of a knower of all. The Dharma eye knows the path wherever it goes, higher and lower faculties, various dispositions, and various constituents.356 The knowledge of a worthy one’s path included in the vajropama meditative stabilization is the buddha eye.
“Moreover, Śāriputra, bodhisattva great beings who want to hear the entire doctrine that the lord buddhas in all world systems in all ten directions explain, and having heard it take it up perfectly by applying the power of memory uninterruptedly, and who do not want any to be lost up until they awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening should train in the perfection of wisdom.” P25k P18k
This passage is self-explanatory.
the regions between worlds are “blinding.”357
it says this because the secrets of the body358 are within the range of those who have attained the tenth level.
this is the gaze of holy beings. They do not look up at359 what is above, look down at what is below, look to the sides360 at what is to the right or left, twist their neck361 to look at what is behind, concentrate to look at what is far off, or look without concentrating at what is close by. This says that however they are carrying themselves and however they are looking, they “look down as an elephant looks” because they look at all beings and all dharmas in all world systems.362
It is said that
are the three ways they carry themselves when at the site of awakening; and
is when they pass into the great complete nirvāṇa. At both those times the ordinary earth cannot shake.
and hence without even the faintest habituation to afflictive emotion, so they could never
in the ways of gathering a retinue,365 in order to gather beings through the consistency between his words and deeds magically produces duplicates of himself for each of twenty-four thousand women and thrills them all. Hence, he made a show of Yaśodharā and the other twenty-four thousand women and the nine thousand dancers together with their many attendants, and he made a show of old age, sickness, and death—there is nothing he did not do among the gods and Brahmās, bringing them to maturity in the three vehicles. Therefore, he made a show of using sense objects in order to bring beings to maturity. Thus, it says,366
“Then the Bodhisattva had this thought:“ ‘I know that without end are the faults of sense objects, the roots of suffering with their death,367 enmity, and pain,Scary, like poison, like a mesmerizing diagram,368 like fire, like the blades of swords. I have no yearning desireFor the different sorts of sense objects. I do not deck myself out for life in the women’s quarters.
“But still, having made an analysis and realized the skillful means, looking to bring beings to maturity he felt great compassion and at that time pronounced this verse:Made a show371 of wives, offspring, and women; unattached to sense objects, they did not destroyThe ease of concentration, so I too will follow them in learning those qualities.’ ”
Qualm: If his enjoyment of sexual pleasure is not true, then it is a lie to say Rāhula is his son.
It is not a lie, because “son” is said not only of someone born from a womb on account of the enjoyment of sexual pleasure. There are also those born miraculously. Holy Rāhula, furthermore, was a bodhisattva great being who made a show of gestating in the womb because there was a purpose in doing so.
The “thought” here should be taken as wanting. It says “Production of the Thought chapter” to teach that wanting has arisen for all the qualities of a bodhisattva and all the qualities of a buddha.372
Venerable Śāriputra having thus inquired, the Lord said to him, “Śāriputra, here bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom do not, even while they are bodhisattvas, see a bodhisattva. They do not see even the word bodhisattva. They do not see awakening either, and they do not see the perfection of wisdom. They do not see that ‘they practice,’ and they do not see that ‘they do not practice.’ They also do not see that ‘while practicing they practice and while not practicing do not practice,’ and they also do not see that ‘they do not practice, and do not not practice as well.’ They do not see form. [F.65.b] Similarly, they do not see feeling, perception, volitional factors, or consciousness either,”373 P25k P18k
and so on, it teaches that they have to endeavor at practicing this. Śāriputra’s question,
Then, to eliminate those ways of apprehending, the Lord, by teaching three ways of not apprehending a bodhisattva, not apprehending the perfection of wisdom, and four ways of not apprehending practice speaks about the emptiness of not apprehending. The three absences of apprehending of a bodhisattva are not apprehending a bodhisattva, not apprehending a name, and not apprehending awakening.
As for “even while they are bodhisattvas,” this is to stop the extreme of over-negation because there are true-dharmic-nature bodhisattvas. They “do not… see a bodhisattva” because of not apprehending a bodhisattva. “They do not see even the word” that is falsely imagined in nature. “They do not see awakening either,” because, apart from the transformation of the basis, a phenomenon with the name awakening does not exist. “And they do not see the perfection of wisdom,” because, apart from the pure dharma-constituent, a perfection of wisdom dharma does not exist. “They also do not see that ‘they practice’ ” because there is nothing to be done for all the qualities. “And they do not see that ‘they do not practice,’ ” because even though action has been taken as nonexistent, there is a purification of the dharma-constituent. “They also do not see that ‘while practicing they practice and while not practicing they do not practice,’ ” [F.66.a] that is, they do not, having combined them into one, see both, because those exact same two faults occur. “And they also do not see that ‘they do not practice, and do not not practice as well,’ ” because, even though the nonexistence as the two like that has been stated, that mental image of the nonexistence as the two is a mental image that does not exist, so they do not see it.
Having thus earlier taught that a bodhisattva does not exist on account of the emptiness of a person, now on account of the emptiness of the dharmas it teaches, “They do not see form. Similarly, they do not see feeling,” and so on. Therefore one does not exist in the form of the five aggregates either.
and so on. Thus, the name bodhisattva is falsely imagined and they do not exist with that falsely imagined intrinsic nature, but that which is the emptiness that is the nonexistence, that does exist.375 Therefore, that “name bodhisattva is not empty because of emptiness.” This avoids the extremes of over-reification and over-negation.
does not exist in the form of a falsely imagined dharma. It does exist in the form of the pure dharma-constituent. The aggregates also do not exist on account of the intrinsic nature of the aggregates, but they do exist on account of the intrinsic nature that is the nonexistence of the aggregates.
Someone might still doubt this, so it says, “And why?” and teaches the reason.
What is the doubt? It is that if all those dharmas do not exist on account of the intrinsic nature of the dharmas, [F.66.b] but do exist on account of the intrinsic nature of the emptinesses, then “the dharmas exist” would become a fact, and since just those that are “the dharmas that exist” would be sufficient, what is the use of saying they are emptinesses or anything else? It says,
What does this teach? You cannot say, “The name bodhisattva is one thing and emptiness is another, so, because emptiness exists, therefore the name bodhisattva exists as well.” Similarly, you cannot say, “A bodhisattva is one thing and emptiness is another, so, because emptiness exists, a bodhisattva exists as well.” Construe the others like that also.
Having taught that, it addresses the doubt of others who think, “If emptiness is one thing and a dharma another, then the true nature of a dharma will be different than the dharma, and the dharma will be different than the true nature of the dharma, and that is not correct.” It says
is the conclusion. This means that because the name bodhisattva is to be used for this, the thoroughly established nature, it is not to be used for the imaginary, [F.67.a] so only “emptiness is the name bodhisattva.” Similarly, construe “bodhisattva” and “awakening” with that in the same way as well.
Thus, in this explanation, earlier it has said that “a bodhisattva is empty of the intrinsic nature of a bodhisattva, but… not empty because of emptiness.” Were it to have said that bodhisattvas exist with emptiness as their intrinsic nature, in that case it would have said that bodhisattvas just exist. So, it says “the emptiness of the bodhisattva is not the bodhisattva.” What it means to say is that the imaginary bodhisattva differs from emptiness so it377 does not have the fault.
It says this, and then to someone who says that if a dharma and the true nature of a dharma are different, the true nature of a dharma would be something else, it says “there is no bodhisattva apart from emptiness,” which is to say, the thoroughly established bodhisattva is not other than emptiness. With “the bodhisattva is emptiness,” it has taught just that. It means the bodhisattva is emptiness. And again, “emptiness is the bodhisattva as well” is the conclusion. This means the thoroughly established bodhisattva and emptiness are not different.
Construe all similarly.
Having said that others still entertain doubt, so it says
and teaches the reason. To someone who thinks, “If a bodhisattva and emptiness are not even slightly different bodhisattvas would be in their intrinsic nature emptiness, and hence [F.67.b] there would be no bodhisattvas,” it says,
and so on. Just that is exactly what we accept.
It means this: When, given that they thus exist, you say that “they exist,” and you can suppose that “they” are the bodhisattva, the name bodhisattva, or the awakening, and so on. They all are nonexistent, which is to say imaginary phenomena are simply
It is still not possible to be certain about this, so it says
and teaches the reason. Someone may think that if those dharmas do not exist how could what does not exist have the appearance of production and stopping? How could terrible forms of life decrease and good forms of life increase? Why would there be defilement before and purification afterward? To them, it says
Given that all dharmas are without an intrinsic nature, if the intrinsic natures of the name bodhisattva and so on, up to those of feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness, ultimately exist,378 how could they have “production, stopping, decrease, increase, defilement, and purification”?
Of those, a falsely imagined nature is absolutely nonexistent, like an illusion and so on. Just as there is no production [F.68.a] of illusory forms and so on when they appear, and no stopping when they do not appear, no decrease when they have turned into one, and no increase when they have turned into many, and just as there is not the slightest defilement or purification in them, similarly with imaginary natures. Because they are absolutely nonexistent they have no production, stopping, decrease, increase, defilement, or purification.
Even awakening, the thoroughly established entity, is, moreover, absolutely isolated, and is beyond all imagination and like space, so it too is not produced and it also does not stop. It does not decrease and it does not increase. Because it is absolutely pure it has no defilement, and because it is pure in its intrinsic nature it has no purification.
and so on explains. It explains, furthermore, in two parts: the nonexistence of the illusion, and the nonexistence of a grasper-subject consciousness in an illusion.
teaches that an illusion is imaginary and therefore does not exist.
teaches that consciousness does not exist.
There, “does not reside somewhere” teaches that the illusion is not marked as having form, because dharmas having forms do not reside anywhere.379 “Does not reside in a particular place” teaches that it is not marked as formless, because dharmas marked as formless such as consciousness and so on do not reside anywhere, but still, because they are designated as residing where there are the eyes and so on, they reside in a particular place. It “is mistaken” teaches that it is not true. It “does not exist” teaches that it is marked as a nonexistent thing. [F.68.b]
teaches that it does not exist in its intrinsic nature.
and so on,
teaches that they understand analytically that a bodhisattva is like an illusion. There, in a falsely imagined phenomenon the two—
do not exist because they are simply just appearance and nonappearance; in a dependent phenomenon the two—
do not exist because they are simply just imagined; and in a thoroughly established phenomenon the two—
But still, in order to eliminate a doubt, it says,
and so on—are made up and do not exist on account of their own intrinsic natures. Therefore, it should be understood that all phenomena have no intrinsic nature, because an intrinsic nature would not be made up.
As for a made-up state, that is taught by
“those interdependent dharmas,