THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

P2 The realm of ear, sound, and consciousness.
Q1 Sets the scene to discuss organ, object, and consciousness.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the ear and sound create the conditions that produce the ear consciousness.

Commentary:

Ananda,
as you ordinarily conceive of it, as you understand it, the ear and sound create the conditions that produce the ear consciousness. The organ of the ear hears the defiling objects of sound and together they give rise to causes and conditions. The ear consciousness is then produced. With the ear comes the production of a nature which makes discriminations, which is the ear consciousness.

Q2 Asks which gives rise to which.


Sutra:

“Is this consciousness produced because of the ear such that the ear is its realm, or is it produced because of sound, such that sound is its realm?

Commentary:

Is this consciousness produced because of the ear such that the ear is its realm?
What do you say? Is this consciousness called the ear consciousness because it is produced by the ear? Or is it produced because of sound, such that sound is its realm? Or is it produced because of sound, taking the defiling objects of sound to make up its realm? What do you say its realm is? The Buddha challenges Ananda to understand his meaning, but Ananda doesn’t have anything to say. The more the doctrine is explained, the more he feels he doesn’t understand. So, once again he doesn’t dare to speak. Shakyamuni Buddha continues:

Q3 Discusses them separately and together and rejects all possibilities.
R1 Refutes that it comes from the ear.


Sutra:

“Ananda, suppose the ear consciousness were produced because of the ear. The organ of hearing would have no awareness in the absence of both movement and stillness. Thus, nothing would be known by it. Since the organ would lack awareness, what would characterize the consciousness?

Commentary:

Ananda, suppose the ear consciousness were produced because of the ear.
Suppose you say that the ear consciousness was produced because of the ear. Yet, the two characteristics of movement and stillness must be present, perhaps one, perhaps the other. So, the organ of hearing would have no awareness in the absence of both movement and stillness. When the characteristic of neither movement nor stillness appeared, the ear by itself would not be aware of anything. By itself it would have no knowing awareness. Thus, nothing would be known by it. The ear definitely would not know of the existence of the defiling objects of sound. If the two characteristics of movement and stillness did not exist, there would be no sound, and without any sound, obviously nothing would be known. Since the organ would lack awareness - since it would not be able to know - what would characterize the consciousness? Where would your consciousness come from? What would the consciousness be like? This consciousness does not exist either.

Sutra:

“You may hold that the ears hear, but when there is no movement and stillness, hearing cannot occur. How, then, could the ears, which are but physical forms, unite with external objects to be called the realm of consciousness? Once again, therefore, how would the realm of consciousness be established?

Commentary:

You may hold that the ears hear.
Suppose you say that the ear consciousness is not produced because of the ear, but rather that the ear has a nature of hearing and that, therefore, the consciousness is produced from within the nature of hearing. But when there is no movement and stillness, hearing cannot occur. If there isn’t any sound of movement or of stillness, then you don’t hear anything. Since you do not hear anything, hearing is not accomplished. You cannot call it hearing. How, then, could the ears, which are but physical forms, unite with external objects to be called the realm of consciousness? You can consider the ear to be among the defiling objects of form, and so how can they combine with external objects, which are also form, to produce a realm? This cannot be. Once again, therefore, how would the realm of consciousness be established? Then where, ultimately, would the realm of the ear consciousness come from? Would it be established with the ear or with the defiling objects of sound? It certainly should come from one or the other. Which one?

Sutra:

“Suppose it was produced from sound. If the consciousness existed because of sound, then it would have no connection with hearing. Without hearing, then the characteristic of sound would have no location.

Commentary:

Suppose
you were to say that the realm of the ear-consciousness was produced from sound. If the consciousness existed because of sound - if the sound brings about the realm of the ear consciousness - then it would have no connection with hearing. Without hearing, then the characteristic of sound would have no location. If there isn’t any hearing, then there isn’t any sound, and without sound the consciousness would be absent. When the nature of hearing is gone, the characteristic of sound is gone, too. Without any hearing, how can there be a consciousness, a hearing nature?

R2 Refutes that it is produced from the sound.

Sutra:

“Suppose consciousness existed because of sound. Given that sound exists because of hearing, which causes the characteristic of sound to manifest, then you should also hear the hearing consciousness.

Commentary:

Suppose consciousness existed because of sound.
Suppose that the consciousness is produced from sound. Perhaps you want to say that the ear consciousness arises from sound. Given that sound exists because of hearing, which causes the characteristic of sound to manifest - we can say that sound exists because of the hearing nature; that is how the characteristic of sound arises. But, if that is the case, then you should also hear the hearing consciousness. The hearing should hear what its own consciousness sounds like. You say that the consciousness is produced from sound, that without any sound there wouldn’t be any consciousness; then, because you hear sound, you should also hear the consciousness.

Sutra:

“If the hearing consciousness is not heard, there is no realm. If it is heard, then it is the same as sound. If the consciousness itself is heard, who is it that perceives and hears the consciousness? If there is no perceiver, then in the end you would be like grass or wood.

Commentary:

If the hearing consciousness is not heard, there is no realm.
If it is not heard, there is no realm. If the consciousness is produced because of sound, then there can be the consciousness when there is sound. When there is no sound there isn’t any consciousness. When you hear the sound, you should hear the consciousness, and, by the same token, when the consciousness is not heard there will be no realm. If it is heard, then it is the same as sound. What is heard is sound. What you can hear cannot be called a consciousness; it is a sound. If the consciousness itself is heard, who is it that perceives and hears the consciousness? The hearing consciousness has the ability to know. But, if the hearing consciousness has already been heard, whose consciousness heard it? Someone else’s? Whose consciousness perceived the consciousness? Who is it who knew: “Oh, now I am hearing the consciousness.” If there is no perceiver - if you say no one perceives it, that there is no other consciousness which knows the circumstances of the hearing consciousness, then in the end you would be like grass or wood. If the hearing lacked perception, then you would be like grass and trees. So, this proposition will not stand.

R3 Refutes that it arises from a combination of the two.

Sutra:

“Nor is it likely that the sound and hearing mix together to form a realm in between. Since a realm in between could not be established, how could the internal and external characteristics be delineated?

Commentary:

Nor is it likely that the sound and hearing mix together to form a realm in between.
Nor can you say that sound and the hearing of sound mix together haphazardly, without their being distinguished at all clearly. In that way the boundaries of the realm would be unclear, because things incongruous cannot be clearly marked to form an intermediate realm. Since a realm in between could not be established - thus, if there is no clear indication of the position of the realm, how could the internal and external characteristics be delineated? The inside, outside, and middle of the ear consciousness realm are not delineated - the boundaries between the ear, the sound, and the point between them are not established anywhere. So, the consciousness can have no realm.

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

“Therefore, you should know that as to the ear and sound creating the conditions which produce the realm of the ear consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the three aspects of the ear, sound, and sound consciousness do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.

Commentary:

Therefore,
because of this, you should know, Ananda, that as to the ear and sound creating the conditions - the mutual causes and conditions of the ear and sound - which produce the realm of the ear consciousness, none of the three places exists. The realm of the ear consciousness, the realm of the ear organ, and the realm of the defiling objects of sound are all non existent; they have no fixed location. Thus, the three aspects of the ear, sound, and sound consciousness - the realms of the ear organ, of the defiling objects of sound, and of the consciousness of the existence of sound - these three realms - do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously. They, too, are nothing but representations from the wonderful nature of true suchness of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

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