Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

3.7: Zen

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \(\newcommand{\avec}{\mathbf a}\) \(\newcommand{\bvec}{\mathbf b}\) \(\newcommand{\cvec}{\mathbf c}\) \(\newcommand{\dvec}{\mathbf d}\) \(\newcommand{\dtil}{\widetilde{\mathbf d}}\) \(\newcommand{\evec}{\mathbf e}\) \(\newcommand{\fvec}{\mathbf f}\) \(\newcommand{\nvec}{\mathbf n}\) \(\newcommand{\pvec}{\mathbf p}\) \(\newcommand{\qvec}{\mathbf q}\) \(\newcommand{\svec}{\mathbf s}\) \(\newcommand{\tvec}{\mathbf t}\) \(\newcommand{\uvec}{\mathbf u}\) \(\newcommand{\vvec}{\mathbf v}\) \(\newcommand{\wvec}{\mathbf w}\) \(\newcommand{\xvec}{\mathbf x}\) \(\newcommand{\yvec}{\mathbf y}\) \(\newcommand{\zvec}{\mathbf z}\) \(\newcommand{\rvec}{\mathbf r}\) \(\newcommand{\mvec}{\mathbf m}\) \(\newcommand{\zerovec}{\mathbf 0}\) \(\newcommand{\onevec}{\mathbf 1}\) \(\newcommand{\real}{\mathbb R}\) \(\newcommand{\twovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\ctwovec}[2]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\threevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cthreevec}[3]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfourvec}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\fivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{r}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\cfivevec}[5]{\left[\begin{array}{c}#1 \\ #2 \\ #3 \\ #4 \\ #5 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\mattwo}[4]{\left[\begin{array}{rr}#1 \amp #2 \\ #3 \amp #4 \\ \end{array}\right]}\) \(\newcommand{\laspan}[1]{\text{Span}\{#1\}}\) \(\newcommand{\bcal}{\cal B}\) \(\newcommand{\ccal}{\cal C}\) \(\newcommand{\scal}{\cal S}\) \(\newcommand{\wcal}{\cal W}\) \(\newcommand{\ecal}{\cal E}\) \(\newcommand{\coords}[2]{\left\{#1\right\}_{#2}}\) \(\newcommand{\gray}[1]{\color{gray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\lgray}[1]{\color{lightgray}{#1}}\) \(\newcommand{\rank}{\operatorname{rank}}\) \(\newcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\col}{\text{Col}}\) \(\renewcommand{\row}{\text{Row}}\) \(\newcommand{\nul}{\text{Nul}}\) \(\newcommand{\var}{\text{Var}}\) \(\newcommand{\corr}{\text{corr}}\) \(\newcommand{\len}[1]{\left|#1\right|}\) \(\newcommand{\bbar}{\overline{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bhat}{\widehat{\bvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\bperp}{\bvec^\perp}\) \(\newcommand{\xhat}{\widehat{\xvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\vhat}{\widehat{\vvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\uhat}{\widehat{\uvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\what}{\widehat{\wvec}}\) \(\newcommand{\Sighat}{\widehat{\Sigma}}\) \(\newcommand{\lt}{<}\) \(\newcommand{\gt}{>}\) \(\newcommand{\amp}{&}\) \(\definecolor{fillinmathshade}{gray}{0.9}\)

    21 Zen

    The Lotus Sutra45



    Mañgusrî, the prince royal, said to the Lord: It is difficult, Lord, most difficult, what these Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas will attempt out of reverence for the Lord. How are these Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas to promulgate this Dharmaparyâya at the end of time, at the last period? Whereupon the Lord answered Mañgusrî, the prince royal: A Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, he who is to promulgate this Dharmaparyâya at the end of time, at the last period, must be firm in four things. In which things? The Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, must be firm in his conduct and proper sphere if he wishes to teach this Dharmaparyâya. And how, Mañgusrî, is a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva firm in his conduct and proper sphere? When the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî, is patient, meek, has reached the stage of meekness; when he is not rash, nor envious; when, moreover, Mañgusrî, he clings to no law whatever and sees the real character of the laws (or things); when he is refraining from investigating and discussing these laws, Mañgusrî; that is called the conduct of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva. And what is the proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, Mañgusrî? When the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, Mañgusrî, does not serve, not court, not wait upon kings; does not serve, not court, not wait upon princes; when he does not approach them; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon persons of another sect, Karakas, Parivrâgakas, Âgîvakas, Nirgranthas [Three kinds of mendicant friars not belonging to the Buddhist, nor to the Gaina persuasion], nor persons passionately fond of fine literature; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon adepts at worldly spells, and votaries of a worldly philosophy, nor keep any intercourse with them; when he does not go to see Kândâlas, jugglers, vendors of pork, poulterers, deer-hunters, butchers, actors and dancers, wrestlers, nor resort to places whither others flock for amusement and sport; when he keeps no intercourse with them unless from time to time to preach the law to them when they come to him, and that freely; when he does not serve, not court, not wait upon monks, nuns, lay devotees, male and female, who are adherents of the vehicle of disciples, nor keep intercourse with them; when he does not come in contact with them at the place of promenade or in the monastery, unless from time to time to preach the law to them when they come to him, and even that freely. This, Mañgusrî, is the proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva.

    Again, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva does not take hold of some favourable opportunity or another to preach the law to females every now and anon, nor is he desirous of repeatedly seeing females; nor does he think it proper to visit families and then too often address a girl, virgin, or young wife, nor does he greet them too fondly in return. He does not preach the law to a hermaphrodite, keeps no intercourse with such a person, nor greets too friendly in return. He does not enter a house alone in order to receive alms, unless having the Tathâgata in his thoughts. And when he happens to preach the law to females, he does not do so by passionate attachment to the law, far less by passionate attachment to a woman. When he is preaching, he does not display his row of teeth, let alone a quick emotion on his physiognomy. He addresses no novice, male or female, no nun, no monk, no young boy, no young girl, nor enters upon a conversation with them; he shows no great readiness in answering their address, nor cares to give too frequent answers. This, Mañgusrî, is called the first proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahasattva.

    Further, Mañgusrî, a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva looks upon all laws (and things) as void; he -sees them duly established, remaining unaltered, as they are in reality, not liable to be disturbed, not to be moved backward, unchangeable, existing in the highest sense of the word (or in an absolute sense), having the nature of space, escaping explanation and expression by means of common speech, not born, composed and simple, aggregated and isolated, not expressible in words, independently established, manifesting themselves owing to a perversion of perception. In this way then, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva constantly views all laws, and if he abides in this course, he remains in his own sphere. This, Mañgusrî, is the second proper sphere of a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva.

    And in order to expound this matter in greater detail, the Lord uttered the following stanzas :

    1. The Bodhisattva who, undaunted and unabashed, wishes to set forth this Sûtra in the dreadful period hereafter,

    2. Must keep to his course (of duty) and proper sphere; he must be retired and pure, constantly avoid intercourse with kings and princes.

    3. Nor should he keep up intercourse with king's servants, nor with Kândâlas, jugglers, and Tîrthikas in general.

    4. He ought not to court conceited men, but catechise such as keep to the religion. He must also avoid such monks as follow the precepts of the Arhat [of the Gainas], and immoral men.

    5. He must be constant in avoiding a nun who is fond of banter and chatter; he must also avoid notoriously loose female lay devotees.

    6. He should shun any intercourse with such female lay devotees as seek their highest happiness in this transient world. This is called the proper conduct of a Bodhisattva.

    7. But when one comes to him to question him about the law for the sake of superior enlightenment, he should, at any time, speak freely, always firm and undaunted.

    8. He should have no intercourse with women and hermaphrodites; he should also shun the young wives and girls in families.

    9. He must never address them to ask after their health. He must also avoid intercourse with vendors of pork and mutton.

    10. With any persons who slay animals of various kind for the sake of profit, and with such as sell meat he should avoid having any intercourse.

    11. He must shun the society of whoremongers, players, musicians, wrestlers, and other people of that sort.

    12. He should not frequent whores, nor other sensual persons; he must avoid any exchange of civility with them.

    13. And when the sage has to preach for a woman, he should not enter into an apartment with her alone, nor stay to banter.

    14. When he has often to enter a village in quest of food, he must have another monk with him or constantly think of the Buddha.

    15. Herewith have I shown the first sphere of proper conduct. Wise are they who, keeping this Sqtra in memory, live according to it.

    16. And when one observes no law at all, low, superior or mean, composed or uncomposed, real or not real;

    17. When the wise man does not remark, 'This is a woman,' nor marks,'This is a man;' when in searching he finds no laws (or things), because they have never existed;

    18. This is called the observance of the Bodhisattvas in general. Now listen to me when I set forth what should be their proper sphere.

    19. All laws (i.e. the laws, the things) have been declared to be non-existing, not appearing, not produced, void, immovable, everlasting; this is called the proper sphere of the wise.

    20. They have been divided into existing and non-existing, real and unreal, by those who had wrong notions; other laws also, of permanency, of being produced, of birth from something already produced, are wrongly assumed.

    21. Let (the Bodhisattva) be concentrated in mind, attentive, ever firm as the peak of Mount Sumeru, and in such a state (of mind) look upon all laws (and things) as having the nature of space [i.e. as being void],

    22. Permanently equal to space, without essence, immovable, without substantiality. These, indeed, are the laws, all and for ever. This is called the proper sphere of the wise.

    23. The monk observing this rule of conduct given by me may, after my extinction, promulgate this Sûtra in the world, and shall feel no depression.

    24. Let the sage first, for some time, coerce his thoughts, exercise meditation with complete absorption, and correctly perform all that is required for attaining spiritual insight, and then, after rising (from his pious meditation), preach with unquailing mind.

    25. The kings of this earth and the princes who listen to the law protect him. Others also, both laymen (or burghers) and Brahmans, will be found together in his congregation.

    Further, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who, after the complete extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time, the last period, the last five hundred years, when the true law is in a state of decay, is going to propound this Dharmaparyâya, must be in a peaceful state (of mind) and then preach the law, whether he knows it by heart or has it in a book. In his sermon he will not be too prone to carping at others, not blame other preaching friars, not speak scandal nor propagate scandal. He does not mention by name other monks, adherents of the vehicle of disciples, to propagate scandal. He cherishes even no hostile feelings against them, because he is in a peaceful state. All who come, one after the other, to hear the sermon he receives with benevolence, and preaches the law to them without invidiousness. He refrains from entering upon a dispute; but if he is asked a question, he does not answer in the way of (those who follow) the vehicle of disciples; on the contrary, he answers as if he had attained Buddha-knowledge.

    And on that occasion the Lord uttered the following stanzas :

    26. The wise man is always at ease, and in that state he preaches the law, seated on an elevated pulpit which has been prepared for him on a clean and pretty spot.

    27. He puts on a clean, nice, red robe, dyed with good colours, and a black woollen garment and a long undergarment;

    28. Having duly washed his feet and rubbed his head and face with smooth ointments, he ascends the pulpit, which is provided with a footbank and covered with pieces of fine cloth of various sorts, and sits down.

    29. When he is thus seated on the preacher's pulpit and all who have gathered round him are attentive, he proceeds to deliver many discourses, pleasing by variety, before monks and nuns,

    30. Before male and female lay devotees, kings and princes. The wise man always (takes care to) deliver a sermon diversified in its contents and sweet, free from invidiousness.

    31. If occasionally he is asked some question, even after he has commenced, he will explain the matter anew in regular order, and he will explain it in such away that his hearers gain enlightenment.

    32. The wise man is indefatigable; not even the thought of fatigue will rise in him; he knows no listlessness, and so displays to the assembly the strength of charity.

    33. Day and night the wise man preaches this sublime law with myriads of kotis of illustrations; he edifies and satisfies his audience without ever requiring anything.

    34. Solid food, soft food, nourishment and drink, cloth, couches, robes, medicaments for the sick, all this does not occupy his thoughts, nor does he want anything from the congregation.

    35. On the contrary, the wise man is always thinking: How can I and these beings become Buddhas? I will preach this true law, upon which the happiness of all beings depends, for the benefit of the world.

    36. The monk who, after my extinction, shall preach in this way, without envy, shall not meet with trouble, impediment, grief or despondency.

    37. Nobody shall frighten him, beat or blame him; never shall he be driven away, because he is firm in the strength of forbearance.

    38. The wise man who is peaceful, so disposed as I have just said, possesses hundreds of kotis of advantages, so many that one would not be able to enumerate them in hundreds of Æons.

    Again, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva who lives after the extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time when the true law is in decay, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who keeps this Sûtra is not envious, not false, not deceitful; he does not speak disparagingly of other adherents of the vehicle of Bodhisattvas, nor defame, nor humble them. He does not bring forward the shortcomings of other monks, nuns, male and female lay devotees, neither of the adherents of the vehicle of disciples nor of those of the vehicle of Pratyekabuddhas. He does not say: You young men of good family, you are far off from supreme, perfect enlightenment; you give proof of not having arrived at it; you are too fickle in your doings and not capable of acquiring true knowledge. He does not in this way bring forward the shortcomings of any adherent of the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas. Nor does he show any delight in disputes about the law, or engage in disputes about the law, and he never abandons the strength of charity towards all beings. In respect to all Tathâgatas he feels as if they were his fathers, and in respect to all Bodhisattvas as if they were his masters. And as to the Bodhisattvas Mahâsattvas in all directions of space, he is assiduous in paying homage to them by good will and respect. When he preaches the law, he preaches no less and no more than the law, without partial predilection for (any part of) the law, and he does not show greater favour to one than to another, even from love of the law.

    Such, Mañgusrî, is the third quality with which a Bodhisattva Mahâsattva is endowed who is to expound this Dharmaparyâya after the extinction of the Tathâgata at the end of time when the true law is in decay; who will live at ease' and not be annoyed in the exposition of this Dharmaparyâya. And in the synod he will have allies, and he will find auditors at his sermons who will listen to this Dharmaparyâya, believe, accept, keep, read, penetrate, write it and cause it to be written, and who, after it has been written and a volume made of it, will honour, respect, esteem, and worship it.

    This said the Lord, and thereafter he, the Sugata, the Master, added the following:

    39. The wise man, the preacher, who wishes to expound this Sûtra must absolutely renounce falsehood, pride, calumny, and envy.

    40. He should never speak a disparaging word of anybody; never engage in a dispute on religious belief; never say to such as are guilty of shortcomings, You will not obtain superior knowledge.

    41. He is always sincere, mild, forbearing; (as) a (true) son of Sugata he will repeatedly preach the law without any feeling of vexation.

    42. 'The Bodhisattvas in all directions of space, who out of compassion for creatures are moving in the world, are my teachers;' (thus thinking) the wise man respects them as his masters.

    43. Cherishing the memory of the Buddhas, the supreme amongst men, he will always feel towards them as if they were his fathers, and by forsaking all idea of pride he will escape hindrance.

    44. The wise man who has heard this law, should be constant in observing it. If he earnestly strives after a peaceful life, kotis of beings will surely protect him.

    Further, Mañgusrî, the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva, living at the time of destruction of the true law after the extinction of the Tathâgata, who is desirous of keeping this Dharmaparyâya, should live as far as possible away from laymen and friars, and lead a life of charity. He must feel affection for all beings who are striving for enlightenment and therefore make this reflection: To be sure, they are greatly perverted in mind, those beings who do not hear, nor perceive, nor understand the skilfulness and the mystery of the Tathâgata, who do not inquire for it, nor believe in it, nor even are willing to believe in it. Of course, these beings do not penetrate, nor understand this Dharmaparyâya. Nevertheless will I, who have attained this supreme, perfect knowledge, powerfully bend to it the mind of every one, whatever may be the position he occupies, and bring about that he accepts, understands, and arrives at full ripeness.

    By possessing also this fourth quality, Mañgusrî, a Bodhisattva Mahasattva, who is to expound the law after the extinction of the Tathâgata, will be unmolested, honoured, respected, esteemed, venerated by monks, nuns, and lay devotees, male and female, by kings, princes, ministers, king's officers, by citizens and country people, by Brahmans and laymen; the gods of the sky will, full of faith, follow his track to hear the law, and the angels will follow his track to protect him; whether he is in a village or in a monastery, they will approach him day and night to put questions about the law, and they will be satisfied, charmed with his explanation. For this Dharmaparyâya, Mañgusrî, has been blessed by all Buddhas. With the past, future, and present Tathâgata, Mañgusrî, this Dharmaparyâya is for ever blessed. Precious in all worlds, Mañgusrî, is the sound, rumour, or mentioning of this Dharmaparyâya.

    It is a case, Mañgusrî, similar to that of a king, a ruler of armies, who by force has conquered his own kingdom, whereupon other kings, his adversaries, wage war against him. That ruler of armies has soldiers of various description to fight with various enemies. As the king sees those soldiers fighting, he is delighted with their gallantry, enraptured, and in his delight and rapture he makes to his soldiers several donations, such as villages and village grounds, towns and grounds of a town; garments and head-gear; hand-ornaments, necklaces, gold threads, earrings, strings of pearls, bullion, gold, gems, pearls, lapis lazuli, conch-shells, stones (?), corals; he, moreover, gives elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers, male and female slaves, vehicles, and litters. But to none he makes a present of his crown jewel, because that jewel only fits on the head of a king. Were the king to give away that crown jewel, then that whole royal army, consisting of four divisions, would be astonished and amazed. In the same manner, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., exercises the reign of righteousness (and of the law) in the triple world which he has conquered by the power of his arm and the power of his virtue. His triple world is assailed by Mâra, the Evil One. Then the Âryas, the soldiers of the Tathâgata, fight with Mâra. Then, Mañgusrî, the king of the law, the lord of the law, expounds to the Aryas, his soldiers, whom he sees fighting, hundred thousands of Sûtras in order to encourage the four classes. He gives them the city of Nirvâna, the great city of the law; he allures them with that city of Nirvâna, but he does not preach to them such a Dharmaparyâya as this. just as in that case, Mañgusrî, that king, ruler of armies, astonished at the great valour of his soldiers in battle gives them all his property, at last even his crown jewel, and just as that crown jewel has been kept by the king on his head to the last, so, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata, the Arhat, &c., who as the great king of the law in the triple world exercises his sway with justice, when he sees disciples and Bodhisattvas fighting against the Mâra of fancies or the Mâra of sinful inclinations, and when he sees that by fighting they have destroyed affection, hatred, and infatuation, overcome the triple world and conquered all Mâras, is satisfied, and in his satisfaction he expounds to those noble (ârya) soldiers this Dharmaparyâya which meets opposition in all the world, the unbelief of all the world, a Dharmaparyâya never before preached, never before explained. And the Tathâgata bestows on all disciples the noble crown jewel, that most exalted crown jewel which brings omniscience to all. For this, Mañgusrî, is the supreme preaching of the Tathâgatas; this is the last Dharmaparyâya of the Tathâgatas; this is the most profound discourse on the law, a Dharmaparyâya meeting opposition in all the world. In the same manner, Mañgusrî, as that king of righteousness and ruler of armies took off the crown jewel which he had kept so long a time and gave it (at last) to the soldiers, so, Mañgusrî, the Tathâgata now reveals this long-kept mystery of the law exceeding all others, (the mystery) which must be known by the Tathâgatas.

    And in order to elucidate this matter more in detail, the Lord on that occasion uttered the following stanzas:

    45. Always displaying the strength of charity, always filled with compassion for all creatures, expounding this law, the Sugatas have approved this exalted Sûtra.

    46. The laymen, as well as the mendicant friars, and the Bodhisattvas who shall live at the end of time, must all show the strength of charity, lest those who hear the law reject it.

    47. But I, when I shall have reached enlightenment and be established in Tathâgataship, will initiate (others), and after having initiated disciples preach everywhere this superior enlightenment.

    48. It is (a case) like that of a king, ruler of armies, who gives to his soldiers various things, gold, elephants, horses, cars, foot soldiers; he also gives towns and villages, in token of his contentment.

    49. In his satisfaction he gives to some hand-ornaments, silver and gold thread; pearls, gems, conch-shells, stones (?), coral; he also gives slaves of various description.

    50. But when he is struck with the incomparable daring of one amongst the soldiers, he says: Thou. hast admirably done this; and, taking off his crown, makes him a present of the jewel.

    51. Likewise do I, the Buddha, the king of the law, I who have the force of patience and a large treasure of wisdom, with justice govern the whole world, benign, compassionate, and pitiful.

    52. And seeing how the creatures are in trouble, I pronounce thousands of kotis of Sûtrântas, when I perceive the heroism of those living beings who by pure-mindedness overcome the sinful inclinations of the world.

    53. And the king of the law, the great physician, who expounds hundreds of kotis of Paryâyas, when he recognises that creatures are strong, shows them this Sûtra, comparable to a crown jewel.

    54. This is the last Sûtra proclaimed in the world, the most eminent of all my Sûtras, which I have always kept and never divulged. Now I am going to make it known; listen all.

    55. There are four qualities to be acquired by those who at the period after my extinction desire supreme enlightenment and perform my charge. The qualities are such as follows.

    56. The wise man knows no vexation, trouble, sickness; the colour of his skin is not blackish; nor does he dwell in a miserable town.

    57. The great Sage has always a pleasant look, deserves to be honoured, as if he were the Tathâgata himself, and little angels shall constantly be his attendants.

    58. His body can never be hurt by weapons, poison, sticks, or clods, and the mouth of the man who utters a word of abuse against him shall be closed.

    59. He is a friend to all creatures in the world. He goes all over the earth as a light, dissipating the gloom of many kotis of creatures, he who keeps this Sûtra after my extinction.

    60. In his sleep he sees visions in the shape of Buddha; he sees monks and nuns appearing on thrones and proclaiming the many-sided law.

    61. He sees in his dream gods and goblins, (numerous) as the sands of the Ganges, as well as demons and Nâgas of many kinds, who lift their joined hands and to whom he expounds the eminent law.

    62. He sees in his dream the Tathâgata preaching the law to many kotis of beings with lovely voice, the Lord with golden colour.

    63. And he stands there with joined hands glorifying the Seer, the highest of men, whilst the Gina, the great physician, is expounding the law to the four classes.

    64. And he, glad to have heard the law, joyfully pays his worship, and after having soon reached the knowledge which never slides back, he obtains, in dream, magical spells.

    65. And the Lord of the world, perceiving his good intention, announces to him his destiny of becoming a leader amongst men: Young man of good family (says he), thou shalt here reach in future supreme, holy knowledge.

    66. Thou shalt have a large field and four classes (of hearers), even as myself, that respectfully and with joined hands shall hear from thee the vast and faultless law.

    67. Again he sees his own person occupied with meditating on the law in mountain caverns; and by meditating he attains the very nature of the law and, on obtaining complete absorption, sees the Gina.

    68. And after seeing in his dream the goldcoloured one, him who displays a hundred hallowed signs, he hears the law, whereafter he preaches it in the assembly. Such is his dream.

    69. And in his dream he also forsakes his whole realm, harem, and numerous kinsfolk; renouncing all pleasures he leaves home (to become an ascetic), and betakes himself to the place of the terrace of enlightenment.

    70. There, seated upon a throne at the foot of a tree to seek enlightenment, he will, after the lapse of seven days, arrive at the knowledge of the Tathâgatas.

    71. On having reached enlightenment he will rise up from that place to move forward the faultless wheel and preach the law during an inconceivable number of thousands of kotis of Æons.

    72. After having revealed perfect enlightenment and led many kotis of beings to perfect rest, he himself will be extinguished like a lamp when the oil is exhausted. So is that vision.

    73. Endless, Mañgughosha, are the advantages which constantly are his who at the end of time shall expound this Sûtra of superior enlightenment that I have perfectly explained.

    The Lankavatara Sutra46

    Chapter III

    Right Knowledge or Knowledge of Relations

    THEN MAHAMATI SAID: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the being and the non-being of all things?

    The Blessed One replied: People of this world are dependent in their thinking on one of two things: on the notion of being whereby they take pleasure in realism, or in the notion of non-being whereby they take pleasure in nihilism; in either case they imagine emancipation where there is no emancipation. Those who are dependent upon the notion of being, regard the world as rising from a causation that is really existent, and that this actually existing and becoming world does not take its rise from a causation that is non-existent. This is the realistic view as held by some people. Then there are other people who are dependent on the notion of the non-being of all things. These people admit the existence of greed, anger and folly, and at the same time they deny the existence of the things that produce greed, anger and folly. This is not rational, for greed, anger and folly are no more to be taken hold of as real than are things; they neither have substance nor individual marks. Where there is a state of bondage, there is binding and means for binding; but where there is emancipation, as in the case of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, masters and disciples, who have ceased to believe in both being and non-being, there is neither bondage, binding nor means for binding.

    It is better to cherish the notion of an ego-substance than to entertain the notion of emptiness derived from the view of being and non-being, for those who so believe fail to understand the, fundamental fact that the external world is nothing but a manifestation of mind. Because they see things as, transient, as rising from cause and passing away from cause, now dividing, now combining into the elements which make up the aggregates of personality and its external world and now passing away, they are doomed to suffer every moment from the changes that follow one after another, and finally are doomed to ruin.


    THEN MAHAMATI ASKED the Blessed One, saying: Tell us, Blessed One, how all things can be empty, un-born, and have no self-nature, so that we may be awakened and quickly realise highest enlightenment?

    The Blessed One replied: What is emptiness, indeed! It is a term whose very self-nature is false-imagination, but because of one's attachment to false-imagination we are obliged to talk of emptiness, no-birth, and no-self-nature. There are seven kinds of emptiness: emptiness of mutuality which is non-existence; emptiness of individual marks; emptiness of self-nature; emptiness of no-work; emptiness of work; emptiness of all things in the sense that they are unpredicable; and emptiness in its highest sense of Ultimate Reality.

    By the emptiness of mutuality which is non-existence is meant that when a thing is missing here, one speaks of its being empty here. For instance: in the lecture hall of Mrigarama there are no elephants present, nor bulls, nor sheep; but as to monks there are many present. We can rightly speak of the hall as being empty as far as animals are concerned. It is not asserted that the lecture hall is empty of its own characteristics, or that the monks are empty of that which makes up their monkhood, nor that in some other place there are no elephants, bulls, nor sheep to be found. In this case we are speaking of things in their aspect of individuality and generality, but from the point of view of mutuality some things do not exist somewhere. This is the lowest form of emptiness and is to be sedulously put away.

    By emptiness of individual marks is meant that all things have no distinguishing marks of individuality and generality. Because of mutual relations and interactions things are superficially discriminated but when they are further and more carefully investigated and analysed they are seen to be non-existent and nothing as to individuality and generality can be predicated of them. Thus when individual marks can no longer be seen, ideas of self, otherness and bothness, no longer hold good. So it must be said that all things are empty of self-marks.

    By emptiness of self-nature is meant that all things in their self-nature are un-born; therefore, is it said that things are empty as to self-nature. By emptiness of no-work is meant that the aggregate of elements that makes up personality and its external world is Nirvana itself and from the beginning there is no activity in them; therefore, one speaks of the emptiness of no-work. By emptiness of work is meant that the aggregates being devoid of an ego and its belongings, go on functioning automatically as there is mutual conjunction of. causes and conditions; thus one speaks of the emptiness of work. By emptiness of all things in the sense that they are unpredicable is meant that, as the very nature of false-imagination is inexpressible, so all things are unpredicable, and, therefore, are empty in that sense. By emptiness in its highest sense of the emptiness of Ultimate Reality is meant that in the attainment of inner self-realisation of Noble Wisdom there is no trace of habit-energy generated by erroneous conceptions; thus one speaks of the highest emptiness of Ultimate Reality.

    When things are examined by right knowledge there are no signs obtainable which would characterise them with marks of individuality and generality, therefore, they are said to have no self-nature. Because these signs of individuality and generality are seen both as existing and yet are known to be non-existent, are seen as going out and yet are known not to be going out, they are never annihilated. Why is this true? For this reason; because the individual signs that should make up the self-nature of all things are non-existent. Again in their self-nature things are both eternal and non-eternal. Things are not eternal because the marks of individuality appear and disappear, that is, the marks of self-nature are characterised by non-eternality. On the other hand, because things are un-born and are only mind-made, they are in a deep sense eternal. That is, things are eternal because of their very non-eternality.

    Further, besides understanding the emptiness of all things both in regard to substance and self-nature, it is necessary for Bodhisattvas to clearly understand that all things are un-born. It is not asserted that things are not born in a superficial sense, but that in a deep sense they are not born of themselves. All that can be said, is this, that relatively speaking, there is a constant stream of becoming, a momentary and uninterrupted change from one state of appearance to another. When it is recognised that the world as it presents itself is no more than a manifestation of mind, then birth is seen as no-birth and all existing objects, concerning which discrimination asserts that they are and are not, are non-existent and, therefore, un-born; being devoid of agent and action things are un-born.

    If things are not born of being and non-being, but are simply manifestations of mind itself, they have no reality, no self-nature:--they are like the horns of a hare, a horse, a donkey, a camel. But the ignorant and the simple-minded, who are given over to their false and erroneous imaginings, discriminate things where they are not. To the ignorant the characteristic marks of the self-nature of body-property-and-abode seem to be fundamental and rooted in the very nature of the mind itself, so they discriminate their multitudinousness and become attached to them.

    There are two kinds of attachment: attachment to objects as having self-nature, and attachment to words as having self-nature. The first takes place by not knowing that the external world is only a manifestation of the mind itself; and the second arises from one's clinging to words and names by reason of habit-energy. in the teaching of no-birth, causation is out of place because, seeing that all things are like maya and a dream, one does not discriminate individual signs. That all things are un-born and have no self-nature be-cause they are like maya is asserted to meet the thesis of the philosophers that birth is by causation. They foster the notion that the birth of all things is derived from the concept of being and non-being, and fail to regard it as it truly is,--as caused by attachment to the multitudinousness which arises from discriminations of the mind itself.

    Those who believe in the birth of something that has never been in existence and, coming into existence, vanishes away, are obliged to assert that things come to exist and vanish away by causation--such people find no foothold in my teachings. When it is realised that there is nothing born, and nothing passes away, then there is no way to admit being and non-being, and the mind becomes quiescent.


    THEN MAHAMATI SAID to the Blessed One: The philosophers declare that the world rises from causal agencies according to a law of causation; they state that their cause is unborn and is not to be annihilated. They mention nine primary elements: Ishvara the Creator, the Creation, atoms, etc., which being elementary are unborn and not to be annihilated. The Blessed One, while teaching that all things are un-born and that there is no annihilation, also declares that the world takes its rise from ignorance, discrimination, attachment, deed, etc., working according to a law of causation. Though the two sets of elements may differ in form and name, there does not appear to be any essential difference between the two positions. If there is anything that is distinctive and superior in the Blessed One's teaching, pray tell us, Blessed One, what it is?

    The Blessed One replied: My teaching of no-birth and no-annihilation is not like that of the philosophers, nor is it like their doctrine of birth and impermanency. That to which the philosophers ascribe the characteristic of no-birth and no-annihilation is the self-nature of all things, which causes them to fall into the dualism of being and non-being. My teaching transcends the whole conception of being and non-being; it has nothing to do with birth, abiding and destruction; nor with existence and non-existence. I teach that the multitudinousness of objects have no reality in themselves but are only seen of the mind and, therefore, are of the nature of maya and a dream. I teach the non-existence of things because they carry no signs of any inherent self-nature. It is true that in one sense they are seen and discriminated by the senses as individualised objects; but in another sense, because of the absence of any characteristic marks of self-nature, they are not seen but are only imagined. In one sense they are graspable, but in another sense, they are not graspable. When it is clearly understood that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the mind itself, discrimination no more rises, and the wise are established in their true abode which is the realm of quietude. The ignorant discriminate and work trying to adjust themselves to external conditions, and are constantly perturbed in mind; unrealities are imagined and discriminated, while realities are unseen and ignored. It is not so with the wise. To illustrate: What the ignorant see is like the magically-created city of the Gandharvas, where children are shown streets and houses, and phantom merchants, and people going in and coming out. This imaginary city with its streets and houses and people going in and coming out, are not thought of as being born or being annihilated, because in their case there is no question as to their existence or non-existence. In like manner, I teach, that there is nothing made nor un-made; that there is nothing that has connection with birth and destruction except as the ignorant cherish falsely imagined notions as to the reality of the external world. When objects are not seen and judged as they truly are in themselves, there is discrimination and clinging to the notions of being and non-being, and individualised self-nature, and. as long as these notions of individuality and self-nature persist, the philosophers are bound to explain the external world by a law of causation. This position raises the question of a first cause which the philosophers meet by asserting that their first cause, Ishvara and the primal elements, are un-born and un-annihilate; which position is without evidence and is irrational.

    Ignorant people and worldly philosophers cherish a kind of no-birth, but it is not the no-birth which I teach. I teach the un-bornness of the un-born essence of all things which teaching is established in the minds of the wise by their self-realisation of Noble Wisdom. A ladle, clay, a vessel, a wheel, or seeds, or elements--these are external conditions; ignorance discrimination, attachment, habit, karma,--these are inner conditions. When this entire universe is regarded as concatenation and as nothing else but concatenation, then the mind, by its patient acceptance of the truth that all things are un-born, gains tranquillity.

    Chapter IV

    Perfect Knowledge, or Knowledge of Reality

    THEN MAHAMATI ASKED the Blessed one: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the five Dharmas, so that we may fully understand Perfect Knowledge?

    The Blessed One replied: The five Dharmas are: appearance, name, discrimination, right-knowledge and Reality. By appearance is meant that which reveals itself to the senses and to the discriminating-mind and is perceived as form, sound, odour, taste, and touch. Out of these appearances ideas are formed, such as clay, water, jar, etc., by which one says: this is such and such a thing and is no other,--this is name. When appearances are contrasted and names compared, as when we say: this is an elephant, this is a horse, a cart, a pedestrian, a man, a woman, or, this is mind and what belongs to it,--the things thus named are said to be discriminated. As these discriminations come to be seen as mutually conditioning, as empty of self-substance, as un-born, and thus come to be seen as they truly are, that is, as manifestations of the mind itself,--this is right-knowledge. By it the wise cease to regard appearances and names as realities.

    When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, it is called the "Suchness" of Reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable, "Suchness" is the only Reality but it is variously characterised as Truth, Mind-essence, Transcendental Intelligence, Noble Wisdom, etc. This Dharma of the imagelessness of the Essence-nature of Ultimate Reality is the Dharma which has been proclaimed by all the Buddhas, and when all things are understood in full agreement with it, one is in possession of Perfect Knowledge, and is on his way to the attainment of the Transcendental Intelligence of the Tathagatas.


    THEN MAHAMATI SAID to the Blessed One: Are the three self-natures, of things, ideas, and Reality, to be considered as included in the Five Dharmas, or as having their own characteristics complete in themselves.

    The Blessed One replied: The three self-natures, the eightfold mind-system, and the twofold egolessness are all included in the Five Dharmas. The self-natures of things, of ideas, and of the sixfold mind-system, correspond with the Dharmas of appearance, name and discrimination; the self-nature of Universal Mind and Reality corresponds to the Dharmas of right-knowledge and "Suchness."

    By becoming attached to what is seen of the mind itself, there is an activity awakened which is perpetuated by habit-energy that becomes manifest in the mind-system. From the activities of the mind-system there rises the notion of an ego-soul and its belongings; the discriminations, attachments, and notion of an ego-soul, rising simultaneously like the sun and its rays of light.

    By the egolessness of things is meant that the elements that make up the aggregates of personality and its objective world being characterised by the nature of maya and destitute of anything that can be called ego-substance, are therefore un-born and have no self-nature. How can things be said to have an ego-soul? By the egolessness of persons is meant that in the aggregates that make up personality there is no ego-substance, nor anything that is like ego-substance nor that belongs to it. The mind-system, which is the most characteristic mark of personality, originated in ignorance, discrimination, desire and deed; and its activities are perpetuated by perceiving, grasping and becoming attached to objects as if they were real. The memory of these discriminations, desires, attachments and deeds is stored in Universal Mind since beginningless time, and is still being accumulated where it conditions the appearance of personality and its environment and brings about constant change and destruction from moment to moment. The manifestations are like a river, a seed, a lamp, a cloud, the wind; Universal mind in its voraciousness to store up everything, is like a monkey never at rest, like a fly ever in search of food and without partiality, like a fire that is never satisfied, like a water-lifting machine that goes on rolling. Universal mind as defiled by habit-energy is like a magician that causes phantom things and people to appear and move about. A thorough understanding of these things is necessary to an understanding of the egolessness of persons.

    There are four kinds of Knowledge: Appearance-knowledge, relative-knowledge, perfect-knowledge, and Transcendental Intelligence. Appearance-knowledge belongs to the ignorant and simple-minded who are addicted to the notion of being and non-being, and who are frightened at the thought of being unborn. It is produced by the concordance of the triple combination and attaches itself to the multiplicities of objects; it is characterised by attainability and accumulation; it is subject to birth and destruction. Appearance-knowledge belongs to word-mongers who revel in discriminations, assertions and negations.

    Relative-knowledge belongs to the mind-world of the philosophers. It rises from the mind's ability to consider the relations which appearances bear to each other and to the mind considering them, it rises from the mind's ability to arrange, combine and analyse these relations by its powers of discursive logic and imagination, by reason of which it is able to peer into the meaning and significance of things.

    Perfect-knowledge belongs to the world of the Bodhisattvas who recognise that all things are but manifestations of mind; who clearly understand the emptiness, the un-bornness, the egolessness of all things; and who have entered into an understanding of the Five Dharmas, the twofold egolessness, and into the truth of imagelessness. Perfect-knowledge differentiates the Bodhisattva stages, and is the pathway and the entrance into the exalted state of self-realisation of Noble Wisdom.

    Perfect-knowledge (jnana) belongs to the Bodhisattvas who are entirely free from the dualisms of being and non-being, no-birth and no-annihilation, all assertions and negations, and who, by reason of self-realisation, have gained an insight into the truths of egolessness and imagelessness. They no longer discriminate the world as subject to causation: they regard the causation that rules the world as something like the fabled city of the Gandharvas. To them the world is like a vision and a dream, it is like the birth and death of a barren-woman's child; to them there is nothing evolving and nothing disappearing.

    The wise who cherish Perfect-knowledge, may be divided into three classes: disciples, masters and Arhats. Common disciples are separated from masters as common disciples continue to cherish the notion of individuality and generality; masters rise from common disciples when, forsaking the error of individuality and generality, they still cling to the notion of an ego-soul by reason of which they go off by themselves into retirement and solitude. Arhats rise when the error of all discrimination is realised. Error being discriminated by the wise turns into Truth by virtue of the "turning-about" that takes place within the deepest consciousness. Mind, thus emancipated, enters into perfect self-realisation of Noble Wisdom.

    But, Mahamati, if you assert that there is such a thing as Noble Wisdom, it no longer holds good, because anything of which something is asserted thereby partakes of the nature of being and is thus characterised with the quality of birth. The very assertion: "All things are un-born" destroys the truthfulness of it. The same is true of the statements: "All things are empty," and "All things have no self-nature,"—both are untenable when put in the form of assertions. But when it is pointed out that all things are like a dream and a vision, it means that in one way things are perceived, and in another way they are not perceived; that is, in ignorance they are perceived but in Perfect-knowledge they are not perceived. All assertions and negations being thought-constructions are un-born. Even the assertion that Universal Mind and Noble Wisdom are Ultimate Reality, is thought construction and, therefore, is un-born. As "things" there is no Universal Mind, there is no Noble Wisdom, there is no Ultimate Reality. The insight of the wise who move about in the realm of imagelessness and its solitude is pure. That is, for the wise all "things" are wiped away and even the state of imagelessness ceases to exist.

    This page titled 3.7: Zen is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Noah Levin (NGE Far Press) .

    • Was this article helpful?