THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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N6 Ananda attaches to the mind as being in the middle.
O10 Ananda attaches to the mind as being in the middle of the organ and the defiling object.
P1 Ananda brings up the teachings and recklessly reckons the mind is in the middle.


Sutra:

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I also have heard the Buddha discuss true appearance with Manjushri and the other disciples of the Dharma King. The World Honored One also said, ‘The mind is not inside and it is not outside.’

Commentary:

Ananda again uses the Buddha’s words as a basis for his argument, to prove that his own opinion is valid. Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I also have heard the Buddha discuss true appearance with Manjushri and the other disciples of the Dharma King. This is how you explained it, Buddha; it’s not something I made up. You said it that way.” As soon as he opens his mouth, he tries to justify himself by turning the Buddha’s words to his own use. Ananda has a lot of nerve.

Manjushri is Wonderfully Auspicious Bodhisattva, also called Wonderful Virtue Bodhisattva. The other disciples of the Dharma King include Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva who regards the sounds of the world; Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva of great strength, and other great Bodhisattvas. The Buddha is the Dharma King, and Bodhisattva are his disciples.

What is meant by “true appearance”? True appearance has no appearance. There isn’t anything at all. That is true appearance. And yet there is nothing which has no appearance. You say there isn’t anything at all, but at the same time there is everything. Everything is produced from within true appearance. There is nothing which does not come forth from within it. We speak of true emptiness, of wonderful existence, and of true suchness; these also refer to “true appearance.” Within true appearance is wonderful existence. In wonderful existence is true emptiness. So it is said that true emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence, and wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness. At the ultimate point of emptiness there is existence. At the ultimate point of existence there is nothing at all.

The World Honored One also said, ‘The mind is not inside and it is not outside.’ Buddha, this is just what you’ve said. If I repeat it, how can you say it is wrong?” is what Ananda is implying.

Sutra:

”As I now consider it, if it were within, it would see things it does not see; if it were outside, there would be no common perception. Since it cannot see inside, it cannot be inside; and since the body and mind have common perception, it does not make sense to say it is outside. Therefore, since there is a common perception and since there is no seeing within, it must be in the middle.”

Commentary:

As I now consider it
: I am thinking it over again. If it were within, it would see things it does not see. Saying the mind is within the body would imply that we could see within the body. If it were outside, there would be no common perception. The Buddha has just demonstrated that if the mind were outside the body, the mind and body could not have the kind of common perception that they do have. Since it cannot see inside, it cannot be inside. Since the mind does not know what is inside the body, it won.t work to say that it is located inside. And since the body and mind have common perception, it does not make sense to say it is outside. Our bodies and minds share knowledge of one another, as the Buddha just explained when he pointed out that Ananda experiences a common perception when his eyes see the Buddha’s hand and his mind distinguishes it. If the mind were outside the body, there would be no common perception. So it can’t be outside.

Therefore, since there is a common perception and since there is no seeing within - now that I understand this, I realize that it must be in the middle. Ananda now decides that the mind is in the middle. Precisely where this middle is he doesn’t say. Is it in the middle of the body, or in a middle outside the body? That is how the Buddha proceeds to question him.

P2 The Tathagata says the location of the middle must be fixed.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, “You say it is in the middle. That middle must not be haphazard or without a fixed location. Where is this middle that you propose? Is it in an external place, or is it in the body?

Commentary:

The Buddha said, “You say it is in the middle. That middle must not be haphazard or without a fixed location.
This middle of yours has to be somewhere; there has to be some sense and certainty about it. Therefore, where is this middle that you propose?” Consider that question. The Buddha presses the point: Is it in an external place, or is it in the body? Is your middle someplace outside, or it is in your body?

Sutra:

”If it were in the body, it could not be on the surface of the body since that is not the middle. But to be in the middle is no different than being inside. If it were in an external place, would there be some evidence of it, or not? If there were no evidence of it, that would be the same as if it did not exist. If there were evidence of it, then it would have no fixed location.

Commentary:

If it were in the body, it could not be on the surface of the body since that is not the middle. But to be in the middle is no different than being inside.
Supposing this middle you say the mind is located in is in the body: is it on the surface of the body? But then it isn’t in the middle. Is it in the middle of the body? But that is to say the mind is inside the body, and we’ve already rejected that as impossible. If it were in an external place, would there be some evidence of it, or not? If you say that the middle is somewhere else, can you point out where it is? Is there something about it that allows us to discern it? If there were no evidence of it, that would be the same as if it did not exist. If there is nothing to indicate its presence, if you can’t point to it as being in a certain place, then it does not exist. You still haven’t shown me a middle. If there were evidence of it, then it would have no fixed location. Why does the Buddha say this?

Sutra:

”Why? Suppose that someone were to indicate the middle by a marker. When regarded from the east, it would be to the west, and when regarded from the south, it would be to the north. The marker is unclear, and the mind would be equally chaotic.”

Commentary:

Why? Suppose that someone were to indicate the middle by a marker. Someone pounds a sign in the ground reading: “This place is the middle.” When regarded from the east, it would be to the west, and when regarded from the south, it would be to the north. Your sign may say “middle” but if you stand to the east of it, the sign is west of you: how is this the middle? Then you might stand to the south of it: now it is to the north of you. This is also not the middle. Basically, as I said earlier, the ten directions do not exist. You might say that something is south of you, but if you go south of it, it becomes north. You could then say it is north, but if you go north of that north, it becomes south again. So which is it? There is nothing fixed about it. The principle is the same here. The marker is unclear, and the mind would be equally chaotic. The marker doesn’t indicate anything at all; it cannot fix a middle. If the mind were in the middle, it would be as unfixed as your marker; it would be chaotic. Ultimately, which place is the middle? There isn’t any place that is the middle. So the middle you speak of is probably also a mistake.

P3 Ananda brings up an alternative view.

Sutra:

Ananda said, “The middle I speak of is neither of those. As the World Honored One has said, the eyes and forms are the conditions which create the eye-consciousness. The eyes make discriminations; forms have no perception, but a consciousness is created between them. That is where my mind is.”

Commentary:

Ananda said, “The middle I speak of is neither of those.
The mind isn’t located inside or outside; this isn’t what I meant, World Honored One. As the World Honored One has said, the eyes and forms are the conditions which create the eye-consciousness. It’s just as you explained before, World Honored One.”

Ananda is still using statements the Buddha made in the past as evidence for his points of view. “World Honored One, you said that when the eye encounters forms, the eye-consciousness is created between them. The eyes make discriminations. Why are the conditions for the arisal of the eye-consciousness, of seeing, created when the eyes encounter form? Because the eyes make discriminations. Forms have no perception, but a consciousness is created between them. That is where my mind is. The defiling object of form has no awareness of its own, but when the eyes encounter it, a kind of discriminating mind arises in their midst, and this is where my mind is. The middle I’m talking about is the place where the eyes and forms meet to create the eye-consciousness. That is the mind.”

O2 The Tathagata uses combining the two or not combining the two to refute his argument.
P1 He brings up two possibilities.


Sutra:

The Buddha said, “If your mind were between the eye and an object, does the mind’s substance combine with the two or does it not?

Commentary:

The Buddha listened to Ananda dispute his explanation and replied, “If your mind were between the eye and an object, does the mind’s substance combine with the two or does it not? Suppose it is as you say, and the mind is in the middle between the eye and the defiling object of form. Do they combine? Are they one or are they two?”

P2 He shows that both possibilities are impossible.

Sutra:

”If it did combine with the two, then objects and the mind-substance would form a chaotic mixture. Since objects have no perception, while the substance has perception, the two would stand in opposition. Which is the middle?

”If it did not combine with the two, it would then be neither perceiver nor perceived and would have no substance or nature. Where would the characteristic of “middle” be?

Commentary:

If it did combine with the two -
if your mind, the mind you say is in the middle, includes the sense organs and their objects - then objects and the mind-substance would form a chaotic mixture. Which, then, is the substance of your mind, and which are the objects? Can you make a distinction? If you cannot, they are mixed chaotically together in a confusing disorder. Since objects have no perception, while the substance has perception, the two would stand in opposition. Things don’t know anything, while your eye-organ has a mind-substance. They are opposites. Which is the middle? Where is the middle you speak of? Is your mind in the middle of your eye, or is it in the middle of the objects the eye sees?

If it did not combine with the two, it would then be neither perceiver nor perceived and would have no substance or nature. If your mind does not combine with the eye and the object the eye sees, it will not be perceiving anything; it will have no nature that is aware. Where would the characteristic of ‘middle’ be? In the final analysis, where is your mind?

P3 Concluding refutation.

Sutra:

”Therefore you should know that for the mind to be in the middle is impossible.”

Commentary:

For these reasons, Ananda, you should understand that your argument that the mind is in the middle won’t stand. There is no such principle.

N7 Ananda attaches to the mind as being non-attachment.
O1 Ananda presents the idea of non-attachment as being the mind.


Sutra:

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, when I have seen the Buddha turn the dharma wheel in the past with great Maudgalyayana, Subhuti, Purna, and Shariputra, four of the great disciples, he often said that the nature of the mind which perceives, makes discriminations, and is aware is located neither within nor outside nor in the middle; it is not located anywhere at all. That very non-attachment to anything is what is called the mind. Therefore, is my non-attachment my mind?”

Commentary:

One suspects that Ananda began to get nervous after hearing the Buddha refute yet another of his arguments. He had exhausted his knowledge and reached the end of his wits. By this time, there was no way out for him; there was no escape. So once again he transferred some of the principles the Buddha had spoken previously to the present situation in an attempt to save himself from defeat.

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, when I have seen the Buddha turn the dharma wheel in the past with great Maudgalyayana,” whose name means “descendent of a family of bean gatherers”; Subhuti, whose name means “born into emptiness”; Purna, whose name means “son of completion and compassion”; and Shariputra, four of the great disciples. They turn the dharma wheel together. What does it mean to “turn the dharma wheel”? It means to use the words spoken by the Buddha to teach and transform living beings. They are spoken this way and that way and all around, just as the principles of the Shurangama Sutra are now being explained over and over. That’s why it is called a “wheel.” Turning the dharma wheel reveals the principles and it crushes the heavenly demons and followers of other religions. When those of other religions encounter this wheel they are smashed by it. Obliterated.

He often said, he repeated many times in the Agama sutras and the Vaipulya sutras, that the nature of the mind which perceives, makes discriminations, and is aware is located neither within nor outside nor in the middle; it is not located anywhere at all. If the nature of the mind which calculates, knows, and makes distinctions is located neither inside nor outside, it should be located between them, in the middle; but it isn’t there either. It isn’t anywhere. That very non-attachment to anything is what is called the mind. The aware, perceptive mind is not attached anywhere at all, and since it has no place of attachment, it is called the mind. Therefore, is my non-attachment my mind? “Now, I’m not attached. The mind I speak of is also not attached. But I don’t know whether one can call it ‘mind’.” Ananda thought that if he asked it this way, the Buddha would certainly agree that what he referred to was the mind. After all, the Buddha himself had said so.

But what the Buddha had said previously was said in accordance with worldly dharmas. His explanation then was geared to the understanding of the people he was speaking to then. People of the small vehicle do not understand great vehicle dharma, and if one were to explain the true mind to them without any introduction, they would not believe it; so the Buddha spoke to them about the conscious mind. He was complying with worldly dharmas. Now Ananda wishes to take the conscious mind of ordinary people as his mind. Is he right? Basically, Ananda’s view would be acceptable from the point of view of ordinary people. But the mind the Buddha is speaking of is not the conscious mind. It is the permanently dwelling true mind, not the mind which has false thinking. Yet Ananda still thinks his false-thinking mind is his true mind; he continues to mistake a thief for his son.

O2 The Tathagata uses the existence or non-existence of the appearance of the mind as refutation.
P1 He asks if it exists or not.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You say that the nature of the mind which perceives, makes discriminations, and is aware is not located anywhere at all. The entirety of things existing in the world consists of space, the waters, the land, the creatures that fly and walk, and all external objects. Does your non-attachment also exist?

Commentary:

The Buddha again replied to Ananda’s explanation with a question: You say that the nature of the mind which perceives, makes discriminations, and is aware is not located anywhere at all. To have no attachment is to have no location. The entirety of things existing in the world consists of space, the waters, the land, the creatures that fly and walk, and all external objects. There are two kinds of worlds: the sentient world, composed of living beings, and the material world, which includes all the mountains, rivers, the great expanse of earth, and all the various buildings. These and empty space and the myriad external objects together make up the two kinds of retributions: dependent retribution, which includes the land, the waters, the buildings; and proper retribution, which refers to our bodies. The world consists of these two. Does your non-attachment also exist? Among all these things in the world, where are you? What place are you not attached to? Is there someplace where there is non-attachment or is there not? If your non-attachment is nowhere, then that’s the same as saying it doesn’t exist.

P2 He shows that neither are possible.

Sutra:

”If it does not exist, it is the same as hairs on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit. How can you speak of non-attachment?

Commentary:

If it does not exist, it is the same as hairs on a tortoise or horns on a rabbit.
Have you ever seen a turtle with hair or a horned rabbit? In other words, there is no such thing. How can you speak of non-attachment? If it doesn’t exist, what is it you are attached to? Why did you bring up the world “non-attachment”?

Sutra:

”If non-attachment existed, it could not be said to be non-existent. To be non-existent is to be without attributes. To be existent is to have attributes. Whatever has attributes has a location; how then can it be said to be unattached?

Commentary:

If non-attachment existed, it could not be said to be non-existent.
You propose that at a certain place there is a certain non-attachment. But you cannot say there isn’t anything there. You speak of non-attachment, but if there is a certain thing called non-attachment, then you still have something; and how can you call that non-attachment? But if in fact it doesn’t exist - if there is nothing there - why do you want to assign the name “non-attachment” to it? That is really a case of putting a head on top of a head or riding a donkey in search of a donkey.

To be non-existent is to be without attributes. If you haven’t any attachment, that is non-existence. To be existent is to have attributes. Whatever has attributes has a location; how then can it be said to be unattached? But if it is not non-existent, then it has characteristics, and if something has form and an appearance, it thereby must have a location. If it has a location, how can you say it is unattached?

P3 Concluding refutation.

Sutra:

”Therefore you should know, to call the aware, knowing mind non-attachment to anything is impossible.”

Commentary:

Ananda’s seventh attempt to locate his mind has failed, as well. The Buddha says, “Therefore you should know, Ananda, to call the aware, knowing mind non-attachment to anything is impossible. To say that your mind is non-attachment won’t work either. Your argument won’t stand. It is unreasonable.”

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