The Awakening Of Faith In Mahayana
I take refuge in the Buddha, the greatly Compassionate One, the Savior of the
world, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, of most excellent deeds in all the
ten directions; And in the Dharma, the manifestation of his Essence, the
Reality, the sea of Suchness, the boundless storehouse of excellencies; And in
the Sangha, whose members truly devote themselves to the practice, May all
sentient beings be made to discard their doubts, to cast aside their evil
attachments, and to give rise to the correct faith in the Mahayana, that the
lineage of the Buddhas may not be broken off.
The Contents of the Discourse
There is a teaching (dharma), which can awaken in us the root of faith in the
Mahayana, and it should therefore be explained. The explanation is divided into
five parts. They are (1) the Reasons for Writing; (2) the Outline; (3) the
Interpretation; (4) on Faith and Practice; (5) the Encouragement of Practice and
the Benefits Thereof.
The Reasons for Writing
Someone may ask the reasons why I was led to write this treatise. I reply:
there are eight reasons. The first and the main reason is to cause men to free
themselves from all sufferings and to gain the final bliss; it is not that I
desire worldly fame, material profit, or respect and honor. The second reason is
that I wish to interpret the fundamental meaning of the teachings of the
Tathágata so that men may understand them correctly and not be mistaken about
them. The third reason is to enable those whose capacity for goodness has
attained maturity to keep firm hold upon an un-retrogressive faith in the
teachings of Mahayana.
The fourth reason is to encourage those whose capacity
for goodness is still slight to cultivate the faithful mind. The fifth reason is
to show them expedient means (upaya) by which they may wipe away the hindrance
of evil karma guard their minds well, free themselves from stupidity and
arrogance, and escape from the net of heresy. The sixth reason is to reveal to
them the practice of two methods of meditation, cessation of illusions and clear
observation (samatha and vipassana), so that ordinary men and the followers of
Hinayana may cure their minds of error. The seventh reason is to explain to them
the expedient means of single-minded meditation (smriti) so that they may be
born in the presence of the Buddha and keep their minds fixed in an
un-retrogressive faith. The eighth reason is to point out to them the advantages
of studying this treatise and to encourage them to make an effort to attain
enlightenment. These are the reasons for which I write this treatise.
Question: What need is there to repeat the explanation of the teaching
when it is presented in detail in the sutras?
Answer: Though this
teaching is presented in the sutras, the capacity and the deeds of men today are
no longer the same, nor are the conditions of their acceptance and
comprehension. That is to say, in the days when the Tathágata was in the world,
people were of high aptitude and the Preacher preached with his perfect voice,
different types of people all equally understood; hence, there was no need for
this kind of discourse. But after the passing away of the Tathágata, there were
some who were able by their own power to listen extensively to others and to
reach understanding; there were some who by their own power could listen to very
little and yet understand much; there were some who, without any mental power of
their own, depended upon the extensive discourses of others to obtain
understanding; and naturally there were some who looked upon the wordiness of
extensive discourses as troublesome, and who sought after what was
comprehensive, terse, and yet contained much meaning, and then were able to
Thus, this discourse is designed to embrace, in a general way,
the limitless meaning of the vast and profound teaching of the Tathágata. This
discourse, therefore, should be presented.
The reasons for writing have been explained. Next the outline will be given.
Generally speaking, Mahayana is to be expounded from two points of view. One is
the principle and the other is the significance. The principle is "the Mind of
the sentient being." This Mind includes in itself all states of being of the
phenomenal world and the transcendental world. On the basis of this Mind, the
meanings of Mahayana may be unfolded. Why? Because the absolute aspect of this
Mind represents the essence (svabhava) of Mahayana, and the phenomenal aspect of
this Mind indicates the essence, attributes (lakshana), and influences (kriya)
of Mahayana itself.
Of the significance of the adjective Maha (great) in the
compound, Mahayana, there are three aspects: (1) the "greatness" of the essence,
for all phenomena (dharma) are identical with Suchness and are neither
increasing nor decreasing; (2) the "greatness" of the attributes, for the
Tathagata-garbha is endowed with numberless excellent qualities; (3) the
"greatness" of the influences, for the influences of Suchness give rise to the
good causes and effects in this and in the other world alike. The significance
of the term yana (vehicle) in the compound, Mahayana: The term yana is
introduced because all Enlightened Ones (Buddhas) have ridden on this vehicle,
and all Enlightened Ones-to-be (Bodhisattvas), being led by this principle, will
reach the stage of Tathágata.
The part on outline has been given; next the part on interpretation of the
principle of Mahayana will be given. It consists of three chapters: (1)
Revelation of the True Meaning; (2) Correction of Evil Attachments; (3) Analysis
of the Types of Aspiration for Enlightenment.
CHAPTER ONE: Revelation of True Meaning
I. One Mind and Its Two Aspects
The revelation of the true meaning of the principle of Mahayana can be
achieved by unfolding the doctrine that the principle of One Mind has two
aspects. One is the aspect of Mind in terms of the Absolute (tathata or
Suchness), and the other is the aspect of Mind in terms of phenomena (samsára or
birth and death). Each of these two aspects embraces all states of existence.
Why, because these two aspects are mutually inclusive.
A. Mind in Terms of the Absolute
The Mind in terms of the Absolute is the one World of Reality (Dharmadhatu)
and the essence of all phases of existence in their totality. That which is
called "the essential nature of the Mind" is unborn and is imperishable. It is
only through illusions that all things come to be differentiated. If one is
freed from illusions, then to him there will be no appearances (lakshana) of
objects regarded as absolutely independent existences; therefore all things from
the beginning transcend all forms of verbalization, description, and
conceptualization and are, in the final analysis, undifferentiated, free from
alteration, and indestructible. They are only of the One Mind; hence the name
Suchness. All explanations by words are provisional and without validity, for
they are merely used in accordance with illusions and are incapable of denoting
Suchness. The term Suchness likewise has no attributes, which can be verbally
specified. The term Suchness is, so to speak, the limit of verbalization wherein
a word is used to put an end to words. But the essence of Suchness itself cannot
be put an end to, for all things in their Absolute aspect are real; nor is there
anything which needs to be pointed out as real, for all things are equally in
the state of Suchness. It should be understood that all things are incapable of
being verbally explained or thought of; hence the name Suchness.
Question: If such is the meaning of the principle of Mahayana, how is it
possible for men to conform themselves to and enter into it?
they understand that, concerning all things, though they are spoken of, there is
neither that which speaks, nor that which can be spoken of, and though they are
thought of, there is neither that which thinks, nor that which can be thought
of, then they are said to have conformed to it. And when they are freed from
their thoughts, they are said to have entered into it. Next, Suchness has two
aspects if predicated in words. One is that it is truly empty (sunya), for this
aspect can, in the final sense, reveal what is real. The other is that it is
truly non-empty (a-sunya), for its essence itself is endowed with undefiled and
1. Truly Empty
Suchness is empty because from the beginning it has never been related to any
defiled states of existence, it is free from all marks of individual distinction
of things, and it has nothing to do with thoughts conceived by a deluded mind.
It should be understood that the essential nature of Suchness is neither with
marks nor without marks; neither not with marks nor not without marks; nor is it
both with and without marks simultaneously; it is neither with a single mark nor
with different marks; neither not with a single mark nor not with different
marks; nor is it both with a single and with different marks simultaneously. In
short, since all unenlightened men discriminate with their deluded minds from
moment to moment, they are alienated from Suchness; hence, the definition
"empty"; but once they are free from their deluded minds, they will find that
there is nothing to be negated.
2. Truly Nonempty
Since it has been made clear that the essence of all things is empty, i.e.,
devoid of illusions, the true Mind is eternal, permanent, immutable, pure, and
self-sufficient; therefore, it is called "nonempty." And also there is no trace
of particular marks to be noted in it, as it is the sphere that transcends
thoughts and is in harmony with enlightenment alone.
B. The Mind in Terms of Phenomena
1. The Storehouse Consciousness
The Mind as phenomena (samsára) is grounded on the Tathagata-garbha. What is
called the Storehouse Consciousness is that in which "neither birth nor death
(nirvana)" diffuses harmoniously with "birth and death (samsára)", and yet in
which both are neither identical nor different. This Consciousness has two
aspects, which embrace all states of existence and create all states of
existence. They are: (a) the aspect of enlightenment, and (b) the aspect of
a. The Aspect of Enlightenment
(1) Original Enlightenment
The essence of Mind is free from thoughts. The characteristic of that which
is free from thoughts is analogous to that of the sphere of empty space that
pervades everywhere. The one without any second, i.e. the absolute aspect of the
World of Reality (Dharmadhatu) is none other than the undifferentiated
Dharmakaya, the "Essence-body" of the Tathágata. Since the essence of Mind is
grounded on the Dharmakaya, it is to be called the original enlightenment. Why?
Because "original enlightenment" indicates the essence of Mind (a priori) in
contradistinction to the essence of Mind in the process of actualization of
enlightenment; the process of actualization of enlightenment is none other than
the process of integrating the identity with the original enlightenment.
(2) The Process of Actualization of Enlightenment
Grounded on the original enlightenment is non-enlightenment. And because of
non-enlightenment, the process of actualization of enlightenment can be spoken
of. Now, to be fully enlightened to the fountainhead of Mind is called the final
enlightenment, and not to be enlightened to the fountainhead of Mind, non-final
enlightenment. What is the meaning of this? An ordinary man becomes aware that
his former thoughts were wrong; then he is able to stop (nirodha) such thoughts
from arising again.
Although this sometimes may also be called enlightenment,
properly it is not enlightenment at all because it is not enlightenment that
reaches the fountainhead of Mind. The followers of Hinayana, who have some
insight, and those Bodhisattvas who have just been initiated become aware of the
changing state (anyathatva) of thoughts and are free from thoughts which are
subject to change [such as the existence of a permanent self (atman), etc.].
Since they have forsaken the rudimentary attachments derived from unwarranted
speculation (vikalpa), their experience is called enlightenment in appearance.
Bodhisattvas who have come to the realization of Dharmakaya become aware of the
temporarily abiding state (sthiti) of thoughts and are not arrested by them.
Since they are free from their rudimentary false thoughts derived from the
speculation that the components of the world are real, their experience is
called approximate enlightenment.
Those Bodhisattvas who have completed the
stages of a Bodhisattva and who have fulfilled the expedient means needed to
bring forth the original enlightenment to the fullest extent will experience the
oneness with Suchness in an instant; they will become aware of how the
inceptions of the deluded thoughts of the mind arise (jati), and will be free
from the rise of any deluded thought.
Since they are far away even from subtle
deluded thoughts, they are able to have an insight into the original nature of
Mind. The realization that Mind is eternal is called the final enlightenment. It
is, therefore, said in a sutra that if there is a man who is able to perceive
that which is beyond thoughts he is advancing toward the Buddha wisdom.
it is said that there is an inception of the rising of deluded thoughts in the
mind, there is no inception as such that can be known as being independent of
the essence of Mind. And yet to say that the inception of the rising of deluded
thoughts is known means that it is known as existing on the ground of that which
is beyond thoughts [i.e., the essence of Mind].
Accordingly, all ordinary people
are said not to be enlightened because they have had a continuous stream of
deluded thoughts and have never been freed from their thoughts; therefore, they
are said to be in a beginning-less ignorance. If a man gains insight into that
which is free from thoughts, then he knows how those thoughts, which
characterize the mind [i.e., deluded thoughts] arise, abide, change, and cease
to be, for he is identical with that which is free from thoughts.
reality, no difference exists in the process of the actualization of
enlightenment, because the four states [of arising, abiding, etc.] exist
simultaneously and each of them is not self-existent; they are originally of one
and the same enlightenment [in that they are taking place on the ground of
original enlightenment, as its phenomenal aspects]. And, again, original
enlightenment, when analyzed in relation to the defiled state [in the phenomenal
order], presents itself as having two attributes. One is the "Purity of Wisdom"
and the other is the "Supra-rational Functions."
(a) Purity of Wisdom.
By virtue of the permeation (vasana or perfuming) of the influence of dharma
[i.e., the essence of Mind or original enlightenment], a man comes to truly
discipline himself and fulfills all expedient means of unfolding enlightenment;
as a result, he breaks through the compound consciousness [i.e., the Storehouse
Consciousness that contains both enlightenment and non-enlightenment], puts an
end to the manifestation of the stream of deluded mind, and manifests the
Dharmakaya [i.e., the essence of Mind], for his wisdom (Prajna) becomes genuine
and pure. What is the meaning of this? All modes (lakshana) of mind and
consciousness under the state of non-enlightenment are the products of
ignorance. Ignorance does not exist apart from enlightenment; therefore, it
cannot be destroyed [because one cannot destroy something which does not really
exist], and yet it cannot not be destroyed [insofar as it remains]. This is like
the relationship that exists between the water of the ocean [i.e.,
enlightenment] and its waves [i.e., modes of mind] stirred by the wind [i.e.,
ignorance]. Water and wind are inseparable; but water is not mobile by nature,
and if the wind stops the movement ceases. But the wet nature remains
undestroyed. Likewise, man's Mind, pure in its own nature, is stirred by the
wind of ignorance. Both Mind and ignorance have no particular forms of their own
and they are inseparable. Yet Mind is not mobile by nature, and if ignorance
ceases, then the continuity of deluded activities ceases. But the essential
nature of wisdom [i.e., the essence of Mind, like the wet nature of the water]
(b) Supra-rational Functions
He who has fully uncovered the original enlightenment is capable of creating
all manner of excellent conditions because his wisdom is pure. The manifestation
of his numberless excellent qualities is incessant; accommodating himself to the
capacity of other men he responds spontaneously, reveals himself in manifold
ways, and benefits them.
(3) The Characteristics of the Essence of Enlightenment
The characteristics of the essence of enlightenment have four great
significances that are identical with those of empty space or that are analogous
to those of a bright mirror. First, the essence of enlightenment is like a
mirror, which is really empty of images. It is free from all marks of objects of
the mind and it has nothing to reveal in itself, for it does not reflect any
images. Second, it is like a mirror influencing (vasana) all men to advance
toward enlightenment. That is to say, it is truly nonempty; appearing in it are
all the objects of the world, which neither go out nor come in, which are
neither lost nor destroyed.
It is eternally abiding One Mind. All things appear
in it because all things are real. And none of the defiled things are able to
defile it, for the essence of wisdom [i.e., original enlightenment] is
unaffected by defilements, being furnished with an unsoiled quality and
influencing all men to advance toward enlightenment. Third, it is like a mirror,
which is free from defiled objects reflected in it. This can be said because the
nonempty state [of original enlightenment] is genuine, pure, and bright, being
free from hindrances both affectional and intellectual, and transcending
characteristics of that which is compounded [i.e., the Storehouse
Consciousness]. Fourth, it is like a mirror influencing a man to cultivate his
capacity for goodness, serving as a coordinating cause to encourage him in his
endeavors. Because the essence of enlightenment is free from defiled objects, it
universally illumines the mind of man and induces him to cultivate his capacity
for goodness, presenting itself in accordance with his desires [as a mirror
presents his appearance].
b. The Aspect of Non-enlightenment
Because of not truly realizing oneness with Suchness, there emerges an
unenlightened mind and consequently, its thoughts. These thoughts do not have
any validity to be substantiated; therefore, they are not independent of the
original enlightenment. It is like the case of a man who has lost his way: he is
confused because of his wrong sense of direction. If he is freed from the notion
of direction altogether, then there will be no such thing as going astray.
the same with men: because of the notion of enlightenment, they are confused.
But if they are freed from the fixed notion of enlightenment, then there will be
no such thing as non-enlightenment. Because there are men of unenlightened,
deluded mind, for them we speak of true enlightenment, knowing well what this
relative term stands for. Independent of the unenlightened mind, there are no
independent marks of true enlightenment itself that can be discussed. Because of
its non-enlightened state, the deluded mind produces three aspects, which are
bound to non-enlightenment and are inseparable from it.
First is the activity of
ignorance. The agitation of mind because of its non-enlightened state is called
activity. When enlightened, it is un-agitated. When it is agitated, anxiety
(dukkha) follows, for the result [anxiety] is not independent of the cause [the
agitation contingent upon ignorance]. Second is the perceiving subject. Because
of the agitation that breaks the original unity with Suchness, there appears the
When un-agitated, the mind is free from perceiving. Third is
the world of objects. Because of the perceiving subject, the world of objects
erroneously appears. Apart from the perceiving, there will be no world of
objects. Conditioned by the incorrectly conceived world of objects, the deluded
mind produces six aspects. First is the aspect of the discriminating intellect.
Depending on the erroneously conceived world of objects, the mind develops the
discrimination between liking and disliking. Second is the aspect of continuity.
By virtue of the discriminating function of the intellect, the mind produces an
awareness of pleasure and pain with regard to things in the world of objects.
The mind, developing deluded thoughts and being bound to them, will continue
uninterrupted. Third is the aspect of attachment. Because of the continuity of
deluded thoughts, the mind, superimposing its deluded thoughts on the world of
objects and holding fast to the discriminations of liking and disliking develops
attachments to what it likes. Fourth is the aspect of the speculation (vikalpa)
on names and letters [i.e., concepts]. On the basis of erroneous attachments,
the deluded mind analyzes words, which are provisional and therefore devoid of
Fifth is the aspect of giving rise to evil karma. Relying on names and
letters [i.e., concepts which have no validity, the deluded mind] investigates
names and words and becomes attached to them, and creates manifold types of evil
karma. Sixth is the aspect of anxiety attached to the effects of evil karma.
Because of the law of karma, the deluded mind suffers the effects and will not
be free. It should be understood that ignorance is able to produce all types of
defiled states; all defiled states are aspects of non-enlightenment.
c. The Relationships between Enlightenment and Non-enlightenment
Two relationships exist between the enlightened and non-enlightened states.
They are "identity" and "nonidentity."
Just as pieces of various kinds of pottery are of the same nature in that
they are made of clay, so the various magic-like manifestations (Maya) of both
enlightenment (anasrava: non-defilement) and non-enlightenment (avidya:
ignorance) are aspects of the same essence, Suchness. For this reason, it is
said in a sutra "all sentient beings intrinsically abide in eternity and are
entered into nirvana. The state of enlightenment is not something that is to be
acquired by practice or to be created. In the end, it is unobtainable [for it is
given from the beginning]." Also it has no corporeal aspect that can be
perceived as such. Any corporeal aspects [such as the marks of the Buddha] that
are visible are magic-like products of Suchness manifested in accordance with
the mentality of men in defilement. It is not, however, that these corporeal
aspects, which result from the supra-rational functions of wisdom, are of the
nature of non-emptiness [i.e., substantial], for wisdom has no aspects that can
Just as various pieces of pottery differ from each other, so differences
exist between the state of enlightenment and that of non-enlightenment, and
between the magic-like manifestations of Suchness manifested in accordance with
the mentality of men in defilement, and those of men of ignorance who are
defiled [i.e., blinded] as to the essential nature of Suchness.
2. The Cause and Conditions of Man's Being in Samsára
That a man is in samsára (birth and death) results from the fact that his
mind (manas) and consciousness (Vijnana) develop on the ground of the Storehouse
Consciousness (citta). This means that because of the aspect of
non-enlightenment of the Storehouse Consciousness, he is said to be in
possession of ignorance [and thus is bound to remain in samsára].
The mentality, which emerges in the state of non-enlightenment, which
incorrectly perceives and reproduces the world of objects and, conceiving that
the reproduced world of objects is real, continues to develop deluded thoughts,
is what we define as mind. The mind has five different names. The first is
called the "activating mind," for without being aware of it, it breaks the
equilibrium of mind by the force of ignorance. The second is called the
"evolving mind," for it emerges contingent upon the agitated mind as the subject
that perceives incorrectly. The third is called the "reproducing mind," for it
reproduces the entire world of objects as a bright mirror reproduces all
When confronted with the objects of the five senses, it
reproduces them at once. It arises spontaneously at all times and exists forever
reproducing the world of objects in front of the subject. The fourth is called
the "analytical mind", for it differentiates what is defiled and what is
undefiled. The fifth is called the "continuing mind," for it is united with
deluded thoughts and continues uninterrupted. It retains the entire karma, good
and bad, accumulated in the immeasurable lives of the past, and does not permit
any loss. It is also capable of bringing the results of the pain, pleasure,
etc., of the present and the future to maturity; in doing so, it makes no
mistakes. It can cause one to recollect suddenly the things of the present and
the past and to have sudden and unexpected fantasies of the things to come. The
triple world, therefore, is unreal and is of mind only.
Apart from it there are
no objects of the five senses and of the mind. What does this mean? Since all
things are, without exception, developed from the mind and produced under the
condition of deluded thoughts, all differentiations are no other than the
differentiations of one's mind itself. Yet the mind cannot perceive the mind
itself; the mind has no marks of its own that can be ascertained as a
substantial entity as such. It should be understood that the conception of the
entire world of objects can be held only on the basis of man's deluded mind of
ignorance. All things, therefore, are just like the images in a mirror which are
devoid of any objectivity that one can get hold of; they are of the mind only
and are unreal. When the deluded mind comes into being, then various conceptions
(dharma) come to be; and when the deluded mind ceases to be, then these various
conceptions cease to be.
What is called "consciousness (Vijnana) "is the "continuing mind," because of
their deep-rooted attachment, ordinary men imagine that I and Mine are real and
cling to them in their illusions. As soon as objects are presented, this
consciousness rests on them and discriminates the objects of the five senses and
of the mind. This is called "Vijnana" [i.e., the differentiating consciousness]
or the "separating consciousness." The propensity for discrimination of this
consciousness will be intensified by both the intellectual defilement of holding
fast to perverse views and the affectional defilement of indulgence in passion.
That the deluded mind and consciousness arise from the permeation of ignorance
is something that ordinary men cannot understand; the followers of the Hinayana,
with their wisdom, likewise fail to realize this. Those Bodhisattvas, who,
having advanced from the first stage of correct faith by setting the mind upon
enlightenment through practicing contemplation, have come to realize the
Dharmakaya, can partially comprehend this.
Yet even those who have reached the
final stage of Bodhisattva-hood cannot fully comprehend this; only the
Enlightened Ones have thorough comprehension of it. Why? The Mind, though pure
in its self-nature from the beginning, is accompanied by ignorance. Being
defiled by ignorance, a defiled state of Mind comes into being. But, though
defiled, the Mind itself is eternal and immutable. Only the Enlightened Ones are
able to understand what this means. What is called the essential nature of Mind
is always beyond thoughts. It is, therefore, defined as "immutable." When the
one World of Reality is yet to be realized, the Mind is mutable and is not in
perfect unity with Suchness. Suddenly, a deluded thought arises and this state
is called ignorance.
c. Defiled States of Mind
Six kinds of defiled states of mind conditioned by ignorance can be
identified. The first is the defilement united with attachment to atman (self),
from which those who have attained liberation in Hinayana and those Bodhisattvas
at the "stage of establishment of faith" are free. The second is the defilement
united with the "continuing mind," from which those who are at the "stage of
establishment of faith" and who are practicing expedient means to attain
enlightenment can gradually free themselves and free themselves completely at
the "stage of pure-heartedness."
The third is the defilement united with the
discriminating "analytical mind," from which those at the "stage of observing
precepts" begin to be liberated and finally are liberated completely when they
arrive at the "stage of expedient means without any trace." The fourth is the
subtle defilement disunited from the represented world of objects, from which
those at the "stage of freedom from the world of objects" can be freed. The
fifth is the subtler defilement disunited from the "evolving mind that
perceives" [i.e., the defilement existing prior to the act of perceiving], from
which those at the "stage of freedom from evolving mind" are freed. The sixth
and subtlest is the defilement disunited from the basic "activating mind," from
which those Bodhisattvas who have passed the final stage and have gone into the
"stage of Tathágata-hood" are freed.
d. Comments on the Terms Used in the Foregoing Discussion
On the expression "the one World of Reality is yet to be realized:" From this
state those Bodhisattvas who have advanced from the "stage of the establishment
of faith" to the "stage of pure-heartedness," after having completed and severed
their deluded thoughts, will be more and more liberated as they advance, and
when they reach the "stage of Tathágata-hood", they will be completely
liberated. On "united:" By the word "united" appearing in the first three
defilements is meant that though difference [i.e., duality] exists between the
mind (subject) and the datum of the mind (object), there is a simultaneous
relation between them in that when the subject is defiled the object is also
defiled, and when the subject is purified the object is also purified. On
"disunited": By the word "disunited" is meant that the second three subtle
and fundamental defilements are the aspects of non-enlightenment on the part of
the mind existing prior to the differentiation into the subject and object
relationship; therefore, a simultaneous relation between the subject and object
is not as yet established. On the expression "defiled state of
mind:" It is called "the hindrance originating from defilements", for it
obstructs any fundamental insight into Suchness. On "ignorance:" Ignorance is called the "hindrance originating from misconceptions of objects,"
for it obstructs the wisdom that functions spontaneously in the world. Because
of the defiled state of mind, there emerges the subject that perceives
[incorrectly; i.e., the evolving mind] and that which reproduces [the
reproducing mind] and thus one erroneously predicates the world of objects and
causes oneself to deviate from the undifferentiated state of Suchness. Though
all things are always in quiescence and devoid of any marks of rising, because
of the non-enlightenment due to ignorance, one erroneously strays from the
dharma [i.e., Suchness]; thus one fails to obtain the wisdom that functions
spontaneously by adapting oneself to all circumstances in the world.
3. The Characteristics of Beings in Samsára
In analyzing the characteristics of beings in samsára, two categories may be
distinguished. The one is "crude," for those who belong to this category are
united with the crude activities of the defiled mind; the other is "subtle," for
those who belong to this category are disunited from the subtle activities of
the defiled mind. Again, each category may in turn be subdivided into the cruder
and the subtler. The cruder of the crude belongs to the range of mental activity
of ordinary men; the subtler of the crude and the cruder of the subtle belong to
that of Bodhisattvas; and the subtler of the subtle belongs to that of Buddhas.
These two categories of beings in the phenomenal order come about because of the
permeation of ignorance; that is to say, they come about because of the primary
cause and the coordinating causes. By the primary cause, "non-enlightenment" is
meant, and by the coordinating causes, "the erroneously represented world of
objects." When the primary cause ceases to be, then the coordinating causes will
cease to be. Because of the cessation of the primary cause, the mind disunited
from the represented world of objects, etc. will cease to be; and because of the
cessation of the coordinating causes, the mind united with the attachment to
atman, etc. will cease to be.
Question: If the mind ceases to be, what will become of its continuity?
If there is continuity of mind, how can you explain its final cessation?
Answer: What we speak of, as "cessation" is the cessation of the marks of
the deluded mind only and not the cessation of its essence. It is like the case
of the wind, which following the surface of the water leaves the marks of its
movement. If the water should cease to be, then the marks of the wind would be
nullified and the wind would have no support on which to display its movement.
But since the water does not cease to be, the marks of the wind may continue.
Because only the wind ceases, the marks of its movement cease accordingly. This
is not the cessation of water. So it is with ignorance; on the ground of the
essence of Mind there is movement. If the essence of Mind were to cease, then
people would be nullified and they would have no support. But since the essence
does not cease to be, the mind may continue. Because only stupidity ceases to
be, the marks of the stupidity of the mind cease accordingly. It is not that the
wisdom [i.e., the essence] of Mind ceases. Because of the four kinds of
permeation, the defiled states and the pure state emerge and continue
uninterrupted. They are (1) the pure state, which is called Suchness; (2) the
cause of all defilements, which is called ignorance; (3) the deluded mind, which
is called "activating mind"; (4) the erroneously conceived external world, which
is called the "objects of the five senses and of mind."
The meaning of
permeation: Clothes in the world certainly have no scent in themselves, but
if a man permeates them with perfumes, then they come to have a scent. It is
just the same with the case we are speaking of. The pure state of Suchness
certainly has no defilement, but if it is permeated by ignorance, then the marks
of defilement appear on it. The defiled state of ignorance is indeed devoid of
any purifying force, but if it is permeated by Suchness, then it will come to
have a purifying influence.
a. Permeation of Ignorance
How does the permeation of ignorance give rise to the defiled state and
continue uninterrupted? It may be said that, on the ground of Suchness [i.e.,
the original enlightenment], ignorance [i.e., non-enlightenment] appears.
Ignorance, the primary cause of the defiled state, permeates into Suchness.
Because of this permeation a deluded mind results. Because of the deluded mind,
deluded thoughts further permeate into ignorance. While the principle of
Suchness is yet to be realized, the deluded mind, developing thoughts fashioned
in the state of non-enlightenment, predicates erroneously conceived objects of
the senses and the mind.
These erroneously conceived objects of the senses and
the mind, the coordinating causes in bringing about the defiled state, permeate
into the deluded mind and cause the deluded mind to attach itself to its
thoughts, to create various evil karma, and to undergo all kinds of physical and
The permeation of the erroneously conceived objects of the
senses and the mind is of two kinds. One is the basic permeation by the
"activating mind," which causes Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and all Bodhisattvas to
undergo the suffering of samsára, and the other is the permeation which
accelerates the activities of the "object-discriminating consciousness" and
which makes ordinary men suffer from the bondage of their karma. The permeations
of ignorance are of two kinds. One is the basic permeation, since it can put
into operation the "activating mind," and the other is the permeation that
develops perverse views and attachments, since it can put into operation the
b. Permeation of Suchness
How does the permeation of Suchness give rise to the pure state and continue
uninterrupted? It may be said that there is the principle of Suchness, and it
can permeate into ignorance. Through the force of this permeation, Suchness
causes the deluded mind to loathe the suffering of samsára and to aspire for
nirvana. Because this mind, though still deluded, is now possessed with loathing
and aspiration, it permeates into Suchness in that it induces Suchness to
manifest itself. Thus a man comes to believe in his essential nature, to know
that what exists is the erroneous activity of the mind and that the world of
objects in front of him is nonexistent, and to practice teachings to free
himself from the erroneously conceived world of objects.
He knows what is really
so - that there is no world of objects in front of him - and therefore with
various devices he practices courses by which to conform himself to Suchness. He
will not attach himself to anything nor give rise to any deluded thoughts.
Through the force of this permeation of Suchness over a long period of time, his
ignorance ceases. Because of the cessation of ignorance, there will be no more
rising of the deluded activities of mind. Because of the non-rising of the
deluded activities of mind, the world of objects as previously conceived ceases
to be; because of the cessation of both the primary cause (ignorance) and the
coordinating causes (objects), the marks of the defiled mind will all be
nullified. This is called "gaining nirvana and accomplishing spontaneous acts."
The permeation of Suchness into the deluded mind is of two kinds. The first is
the permeation into the "object-discriminating consciousness." Because of this
permeation, ordinary men and the Hinayanists come to loathe the suffering of
samsára, and thereupon each, according to his capacity, gradually advances
toward the highest enlightenment. The second is the permeation into mind.
Because of this permeation, Bodhisattvas advance to nirvana rapidly and with
aspiration and fortitude. Two kinds of permeation of Suchness into ignorance can
be identified. The first is the "permeation through manifestation of the essence
of Suchness" and the second is "the permeation through external influences."
(1) Permeation through Manifestation of the Essence of Suchness
The essence of Suchness is, from the beginning-less beginning, endowed with
the "perfect state of purity." It is provided with supra-rational functions and
the nature of manifesting itself (literally, the nature of making the world of
object). Because of these two reasons it permeates perpetually into ignorance.
Through the force of this permeation it induces a man to loathe the suffering of
samsára, to seek bliss in nirvana, and, believing that he has the principle of
Suchness within himself, to make up his mind to exert himself.
Question: If this is so, then all sentient beings are endowed with
Suchness and are equally permeated by it. Why is it that there are infinite
varieties of believers and nonbelievers, and that there are some who believe
sooner and some later? All of them should, knowing that they are endowed with
the principle of Suchness, at once make an effort utilizing expedient means and
should all equally attain nirvana.
Answer: Though Suchness is originally
one, yet there are immeasurable and infinite shades of ignorance. From the very
beginning ignorance is, because of its nature, characterized by diversity, and
its degree of intensity is not uniform. Defilements, more numerous than the
sands of the Ganges, come into being because of the differences in intensity of
ignorance, and exist in manifold ways; defilements, such as the belief in the
existence of atman and the indulgence in passion, develop because of ignorance
and exist in different ways. All these defilements are brought about by
ignorance, in an infinitely diversified manner in time. The Tathágatas alone
understand all about this. In Buddhism there is a teaching concerning the
primary cause and the coordinating causes. When the primary cause and the
coordinating causes are sufficiently provided, there will be the perfection of a
It is like the case of wood: though it possesses a latent fire nature
which is the primary cause of its burning, it cannot be made to burn by itself
unless men understand the situation and resort to means of actualizing fire out
of wood by kindling it. In the same way a man, though he is in possession of the
correct primary cause, Suchness with permeating force cannot put an end to his
defilements by himself alone and enter nirvana unless he is provided with
coordinating causes, i.e., his encounters with the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or
good spiritual friends. Even though coordinating causes from without may be
sufficiently provided, if the pure principle [i.e., Suchness] within is lacking
in the force of permeation, then a man cannot ultimately loathe the suffering of
samsára and seek bliss in nirvana.
However, if both the primary and the
coordinating causes are sufficiently provided, then because of his possession of
the force of permeation of Suchness from within and the compassionate protection
of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from without, he is able to develop a loathing
for suffering, to believe that nirvana is real, and to cultivate his capacity
for goodness. And when his cultivation of the capacity for goodness matures, he
will as a result meet the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and will be instructed,
taught, benefited, and given joy, and then he will be able to advance on the
path to nirvana.
(2) Permeation through Influences
This is the force from without affecting men by providing coordinating
causes. Such external coordinating causes have an infinite number of meanings.
Briefly, they may be explained under two categories: namely, the specific and
the general coordinating causes.
(a) The Specific Coordinating Causes
A man, from the time when he first aspires to seek enlightenment until he
becomes an Enlightened One, sees or meditates on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as
they manifest themselves to him; sometimes they appear as his family members,
parents, or relatives, sometimes as servants, sometimes as close friends, or
sometimes as enemies. Through all kinds of deeds and incalculable performances,
such as the practice of the four acts of loving-kindness, etc., they exercise
the force of permeation created by their great compassion, and are thus able to
cause sentient beings to strengthen their capacity for goodness and are able to
benefit them as they see or hear about their needs. This specific coordinating
cause is of two kinds. One is immediate and enables a man to obtain deliverance
quickly; and the other is remote and enables a man to obtain deliverance after a
long time. The immediate and remote causes are again of two kinds: the causes,
which strengthen a man in his practices of expedient means to help others and
those, which enable him to obtain enlightenment.
(b) The General Coordinating Causes
Every Buddha and Bodhisattva desires to liberate all men, spontaneously
permeating them with their spiritual influences and never forsaking them.
Through the power of the wisdom, which is one with Suchness, they manifest
activities in response to the needs of men as they see and hear them. Because of
this indiscriminately permeating cause, men are all equally able, by means of
concentration (samádhi), to see the Buddhas. This permeation through the
influence of the wisdom whose essence is one with Suchness is also divided into
two categories according to the types of recipients. The one is yet to be united
with Suchness. Ordinary men, the Hinayanists, and those Bodhisattvas who have
just been initiated devote themselves to religious practices on the strength of
their faith, being permeated by Suchness through their mind and consciousness.
Not having obtained the indiscriminate mind, however, they are yet to be united
with the essence of Suchness, and not having obtained the perfection of the
discipline of free acts, they are yet to be united with the influence of
Suchness. The other is the already united with Suchness: Bodhisattvas who
realize Dharmakaya have obtained undiscriminating mind and are united with the
essence of the Buddhas; they, having obtained free acts, are united with the
influence of the wisdom of the Buddhas.
They singly devote themselves with
spontaneity to their religious disciplines, on the strength of Suchness within;
permeating into Suchness so that Suchness will reclaim itself, they destroy
ignorance. Again, the defiled principle (dharma), from the beginning-less
beginning, continues perpetually to permeate until it perishes by the attainment
of Buddhahood. But the permeation of the pure principle has no interruption and
no ending. The reason is that the principle of Suchness is always permeating;
therefore, when the deluded mind ceases to be, the Dharmakaya [i.e., Suchness,
original enlightenment] will be manifest and will give rise to the permeation of
the influence of Suchness, and thus there will be no ending to it.