THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

P5 The realm of body consciousness, objects of touch.
Q1 Sets the scene to discuss the organ, object, and consciousness.
Q2 Asks which gives rise to which.


Sutra:

“Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the body and objects of touch create the conditions that produce the body consciousness.

"Is this consciousness produced because of the body, such that the body is its realm, or is it produced because of objects of touch, such that objects of touch are its realm?

Commentary:

Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it
- in the doctrines of the small vehicle, the Provisional Teaching, which you have heard, the body and objects of touch create the conditions that produce the body consciousness. The organ of the body and the defiling objects of touch combine to produce conditions, and the existence of these conditions produces the body consciousness. The distinction of the body consciousness is produced.

Is this consciousness produced because of the body? Does this consciousness exist because the body produced it, such that the body is its realm? Is the body the realm of the body consciousness? Or is it produced because of objects of touch? Or is it the defiling objects of touch that produce the consciousness which makes distinctions?

Q3 Discusses them separately and together and refutes all possibilities.
R1 Refutes that it is produced from the body.


Sutra:

“Suppose, Ananda, that it were produced because of the body. When there was no awareness of the two conditions of contact with and separation from objects of touch, what would the body be conscious of?

Commentary:

Suppose, Ananda, that it were produced because of the body.
Suppose you say the consciousness is produced because of the body. When there was no awareness of the two conditions of contact with and separation from objects of touch, what would the body be conscious of? What about the case when there is neither unity nor separation for the body to be conscious of? What is the body aware of then? What consciousness would it have? Thus, how can the consciousness be produced only from the body?

R2 Refutes that it is produced from objects of touch.

Sutra:

“Suppose it were produced because of objects of touch. Then you would not need your body. Without a body, what could perceive contact with and separation from objects of touch?

Commentary:

Suppose it were produced because of objects of touch.
If you say the objects of touch produce the consciousness, then it is not produced from your body. Then you would not need your body. It would have nothing to do with your body. Without a body, what could perceive contact with and separation from objects of touch? Is there anyone in this world who can say, “It is not I who experience objects of touch with my body, but another body which perceives the sensation of unity and separation.” This doesn’t happen either.

Why do I say that?

R3 Refutes that it is produced from a combination of these.

Sutra:

"Ananda, things do not perceive objects of touch. It is the body that perceives objects of touch.

Commentary:

Ananda,
you should know that things do not perceive objects of touch. It is the body that perceives objects of touch. Things do not have the power of awareness. They do not have a nature that makes distinctions. You say the consciousness that makes distinctions comes from things; this is a mistake. If you can perceive the existence of objects of touch, the defiling objects of touch, it is your body that perceives them. If it were not for your body, how would you know there had been objects of touch? It is because objects of touch come into contact with your body that there is that awareness. Ultimately, however, where is the realm of the consciousness that is produced in the midst of the objects of touch and your body? Is it in the body, or is it in objects of touch?

Sutra:

“What the body knows is objects of touch, and what is aware of objects of touch is the body. What is objects of touch is not the body, and what is the body is not objects of touch.

Commentary:

What the body knows is objects of touch.
The consciousness which makes distinctions is aware of objects of touch by means of your body. The body’s awareness comes about because of objects of touch. Thus, contact is what is known, and the body is what experiences contact. So your consciousness knows of the body because of contact. The awareness arises from the contact.

And what is aware of objects of touch is the body. “Awareness” here refers to consciousness. With the consciousness you are aware of a sensation of touch, and that sensation of touch comes from the body.

However, what is objects of touch is not the body. To speak of the body by itself, the defiling object of touch is simply the defiling object of touch - it is not the body. And what is the body is not objects of touch. And your body is not the defiling objects of touch. The two work together, but they are not the same. So, if we try to determine exactly where, between your body and the defiling objects of touch, the consciousness is, if you say that the consciousness definitely lies on one side or the other - either on the side of the body or on the side of the objects of touch - you won’t be able to find it. If you cannot find it between the body and the objects of touch, then you fail to locate the actual place of the consciousness. So where will you go to find the consciousness?

Sutra:

“The two characteristics of body and objects of touch are basically without a location. If it united with the body, it would be the body’s own substance and nature. If it were apart from the body, it would have the same appearance as empty space.

Commentary:

The two characteristics of body and objects of touch
have no fixed location. You try to find out where the characteristic of the body and the characteristic of objects of touch ultimately are, but they are basically without a location. If it united with the body, it would be the body’s own substance and nature. If the consciousness unites with the body, if you want to say that the consciousness is produced from the body, then it would be the body’s own substance and nature. If it were apart from the body, it would have the same appearance as empty space. Suppose you say the consciousness is apart from the body. But, what is apart from the body is empty space, and you cannot find the appearance of a consciousness. So, the consciousness does not have the characteristic of a substance.

Sutra:

“Since the inside and the outside don’t stand up, how can one set up a middle? The middle cannot be set up, either. The inside and the outside are by nature empty. From what realm, then, is your consciousness born?

Commentary:

Since the inside and the outside don’t stand up, how can one set up a middle?
You say the consciousness is inside, but it is not; you say it is outside, but it is not; you say it is in the defiling objects of touch, but it is not; you say it is in the organ of the body, but it is not. Since, then, neither the inside nor the outside exist, how can there be an appearance of a middle? The middle cannot be set up, either. You cannot distinguish where the middle is. The inside and the outside are by nature empty. There isn’t any middle, and there isn’t any inside or outside. They are by nature empty. From what realm, then, is your consciousness born? There isn’t any inside, there isn’t any outside, and there isn’t any middle. So, ultimately, what does the consciousness make use of to form its realm? Where can it set up a realm?

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

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

Commentary:

The various principles explained above demonstrate that the realm of the body consciousness cannot be found. It has no realm. Therefore, you should know - because of this, Ananda, you ought to know - that, as to the body and contact being the conditions - the body and the defiling objects of touch being the mutual conditions - that produce the realm of body consciousness - earlier, in the teaching of the provisional vehicle, the principle of the production of the body consciousness realm was discussed - none of the three places exists. Thus, the three aspects of the body, objects of touch - the organ of the body and the defiling objects of touch - and the realm of the body - the realm of body consciousness - these three - do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously. They are a manifestation from within the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. You cannot find a fixed location for them. So, you should not compare the teaching methods of the provisional vehicle to the true and actual principles of the actual vehicle.

What was spoken before was expedient dharma. The dharma which is now spoken is the number one truth, it is the teaching method of the complete meaning of the Middle Way, which is totally different from the former dharma door. The five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms - all these various dharmas do not arise from causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.

Earlier, the Buddha used the dharma of causes and conditions to smash theories of spontaneity propounded by externalist sects. That is why Ananda became attached to the dharma of causes and conditions and couldn’t reject it. He couldn’t give up the idea. He thought that the dharma which had been spoken previously could not be altered, could not be changed. Why is the Buddha now negating the principles which he previously explained? For the Buddha himself not to recognize the dharma which he himself had spoken before is to contradict himself, isn’t it? He contradicts what he himself said. It is at this point that Ananda gives rise to all kinds of doubts and keeps coming up with questions. So now the Buddha tells Ananda that he explained the dharma of causes and conditions earlier in order to counteract the externalist sects’ explanation of the dharma of spontaneity; it was certainly not ultimate. It was certainly not the essential dharma door. Now the complete meaning of the Middle Way, the number one truth, the genuine dharma-door is being explained, and the former methods cannot be used; you cannot continue to hold on to them. Ananda had not understood that, so he kept asking questions.

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