THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

P2 Explains the organ and object.

Sutra:

“Does the discerning faculty of the conscious mind come from seeing, from forms, or from emptiness, or does it arise suddenly without a cause?

Commentary:

Does the discerning faculty of the conscious mind.
The consciousness has a comprehending nature; it comprehends and discriminates all appearances. But from where does the basic substance of consciousness arise? Where does it come from? What is the mother of consciousness? Does it come from seeing? Is seeing the mother of consciousness? Is the ability to see the mother of consciousness? Does it arise from forms? Are things with form and appearance the mother of consciousness? Does it arise from emptiness? Or is empty space the mother of consciousness? Ultimately, what is its mother? Or does it arise suddenly without a cause? Or is it born suddenly, without a mother? Are there things in the world which suddenly come into being without a mother? Where does the consciousness come from?

Sutra:

“Ananda, suppose your consciousness came from seeing. If there were no brightness, darkness, form, and emptiness - if these four did not exist you could not see. With seeing non existent, what would be the origin of your consciousness?

Commentary:

Ananda, suppose your consciousness came from seeing.
Suppose the nature of the substance of your consciousness was born from seeing. If there were no brightness, darkness - if the two appearances of light and darkness did not exist - form, and emptiness - if nothing existed that had a nature which is visible, and if there were no emptiness - if these four did not exist - if these four causes and conditions did not exist - you could not see - your seeing would not exist, either. Without light, darkness, form, or emptiness, you wouldn’t have any seeing.

With seeing non existent, what would be the origin of your consciousness? If the mother does not exist, how can the child be born? So, the consciousness does not arise from seeing.

Sutra:

"If your consciousness arose from form rather than from seeing, it would not see either in brightness or in darkness. In the absence of brightness and darkness, it would not see form or emptiness, either. In the absence of form, where would your consciousness come from?

Commentary:

If your consciousness arose from form rather than from seeing.
It has just been established that consciousness is not born from seeing. Perhaps, then, you say that it arises from appearances. In the absence of brightness and darkness - if it does not come from seeing, it cannot see light or darkness. Therefore, it does not see form or emptiness, either. If it can’t see light or darkness, how can it see form, appearances, or emptiness? In the absence of form, where would your consciousness come from? If there are no appearances to be its mother, where does the child called consciousness come from? Tell me.

Sutra:

“If it came from emptiness, it is neither an appearance nor the seeing. Since it does not see, it is unable by itself to discern brightness, darkness, form, or emptiness. Since it is not an appearance, it is in itself devoid of external conditions. Therefore, there is no place for seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing to be established.

Commentary:

If it came from emptiness
- you may say that the mother of consciousness is simply emptiness. In that case, it is neither an appearance nor the seeing. There isn’t any appearance, and there isn’t any seeing. Since it does not see, it is unable by itself to discern brightness, darkness, form, or emptiness. Without any discriminations, it cannot know them at all. Since it is not an appearance, it is in itself devoid of external conditions. If there are no appearances, conditions are also extinguished. There are no conditions at all, therefore, there is no place for seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing to be established. And since there is no seeing, hearing, awareness, or knowing, the situation is just as already explained: without the mother there’s no way the child can be born.

Sutra:

“Since its location is devoid of these two, the consciousness that arises from emptiness would be the same as non existent. Even if it did exist, it would not be the same as a thing. Even if your consciousness came forth from it, how would it discern anything?

Commentary:

Since its location is devoid of these two, the consciousness that arises from emptiness would be the same as non existent.
If you propose that it comes from emptiness, it would be devoid of the ability to see or of an appearance of its own. So if it is from emptiness, it is the same as non existent. It’s incorrect to be on the side of existence, and incorrect to be on the side of emptiness. If you can see it, no consciousness is born from it. If you can’t see it - if you don’t see anything at all, how can there be consciousness? If it were to arise from emptiness, it would not exist, and if it doesn’t exist, how can a consciousness come forth from it? Even if it did exist, it would not be the same as a thing. You may say that it exists, that it is produced from something that exists, but it’s not like a physical object. You can’t see it. So what is it? Even if your consciousness came forth from it - supposing that your consciousness arises from emptiness - how would it discern anything? How would your consciousness make discriminations? Tell me.

Sutra:

“If it suddenly comes forth without a cause, why can’t you discern the moonlight within the sunlight?

Commentary:

You say, “Ah, the consciousness suddenly appears.” If it suddenly comes forth without a cause, without any reason at all, why can’t you discern the moonlight within the sunlight? Can you see the bright moon when the sun is out? Why can’t the bright moon suddenly appear? Since it can’t, your consciousness can’t perceive the moon in the sunlight. So, it is a mistake for you to say that it can suddenly appear. That’s also incorrect.

The Buddha is being unreasonable. Basically, there’s no such principle, but he establishes it and asks Ananda about it and causes Ananda not to know what’s right.

Sutra:

“You should investigate this even more carefully, discriminate it in detail, and look into it. The seeing belongs to your eyes; the appearances are considered to be the environment; what has an appearance is existent; what is without any appearance is non existent. What, then, are the conditions that cause the consciousness to come into being?

Commentary:

Ananda, now you should investigate this even more carefully, discriminate it in detail, and look into it. At the point where the most minute and subtle distinctions can be made, you should investigate it in even more detail and look into it. The seeing belongs to your eyes. Seeing originates from your eyes. The appearances are considered to be the environment. What has form and appearance is the defiling environment before your eyes. What is without any appearance is non existent. What doesn’t have form or appearance is said to be non existent. What, then, are the conditions that cause the consciousness to come into being? Where does it come from?

P3 He makes him aware of how to put them together and return them.


Sutra:

“The consciousness moves and the seeing is quiet; they do not mix and unite. Smelling, hearing, awareness, and knowing are the same way. Nor should it be that the condition of consciousness exists spontaneously without an origin.

Commentary:

The consciousness moves and the seeing is quiet.
The consciousness makes discriminations, and its nature in its substance is one of animation. The nature of “the seeing is quiet,” it is unmoving. They do not mix and unite. So, you say they can combine, but they can’t. Smelling, hearing, awareness, and knowing are the same way. The nature of smelling, the awareness of hearing, and the nature that knows and is aware are the same: they do not mix and unite. Nor should it be that the condition of consciousness exists spontaneously without an origin. Although the state of consciousness does not mix and unite, it should not be that the conditions of consciousness come forth without an origin. The same principle applies again: without a mother, how can the child be born?

Sutra:

"If this conscious mind does not come from anywhere, you should know that the same is true of the mind, which makes distinctions, and the seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing, which are all complete and tranquil. Their nature is without an origin. They and emptiness, earth, water, fire, and wind are together called the seven elements. Their true natures are perfectly fused, and all are the treasury of the Thus Come One, fundamentally devoid of production and extinction.

Commentary:

If this conscious mind -
if the conscious mind which makes distinctions - does not come from anywhere - if there is basically nowhere that it comes from - you should know that the same is true of the mind, which makes distinctions, and the seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing - the awareness of seeing, the awareness of hearing, the awareness of smelling, the awareness of tasting, and the awareness of knowing - are all complete and tranquil. All are perfect, still, and very pure. Their nature is without an origin. There is nowhere that their nature comes from and nowhere that it is going to. They and emptiness, earth, water, fire, and wind are together called the seven elements. Their true natures are perfectly fused, and boundless. And all are the treasury of the Thus Come One. They arise from the treasury of the Thus Come One, and are fundamentally devoid of production and extinction. That’s why they are not born or destroyed.

Sutra:

“Ananda, your mind is coarse and shallow, and so you do not realize that the seeing and hearing are the treasury of the Thus Come One, and you do not discover that knowing is the same way. You should contemplate these six locations of consciousness: are they the same or different? Are they empty or existent? Are they neither the same nor different? Are they neither empty nor existent?

Commentary:

Ananda, your mind is coarse and shallow.
The Buddha admonishes Ananda again. “Your thoughts are too coarse, too superficial.” Coarse means “not subtle,” heedless. It means he doesn’t stop and think or look into things. He doesn’t investigate things. He’s too impulsive and reckless and slapdash when he does things. The word “shallow” refers to his mind - the mind which is the opposite of his deep mind. Later Ananda says, “I offer this deep thought to those who are as countless as the motes of dust of the Buddhalands, to repay the kindness shown me by the Buddha.” But, now his mind is shallow; it’s not his deep mind. It means he is not paying close attention to what is going on.

And so you do not realize that the seeing and hearing - and smelling, tasting, awareness, and knowing, their nature and capabilities - are the treasury of the Thus Come One. You don’t understand the principles the Buddha explained about earth, water, fire, wind, emptiness, and seeing. And you do not discover that knowing is the same way, also part of the Thus Come One’s treasury. You don’t comprehend that they are all functions of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

You should contemplate these six locations of consciousness. The six places of the conscious mind are earth, water, fire, wind, emptiness, and seeing. Are these six aspects of the conscious mind the same or different? Are they empty or existent? Are they neither the same nor different? Are they not the same and yet not different? Are they neither empty nor existent? Or are they not empty and yet not existent? What would you say these six consciousnesses are like?

P4 He concludes by showing the function of the nature.


Sutra:

“You basically do not know that in the treasury of the Thus Come One the nature of consciousness is bright and knowing. Enlightened brightness is the true consciousness. The wonderful enlightenment is tranquil and pervades the dharma-realm.

Commentary:

Ananda, you basically do not know that in the treasury of the Thus Come One the nature of consciousness is bright and knowing. The consciousness of the nature is bright light; it is enlightened. Enlightened brightness is the true consciousness. This enlightenment and light is the genuine consciousness. The wonderful enlightenment is tranquil. The inconceivable substance of enlightenment is tranquil and pure and pervades the dharma-realm.

Sutra:

“It encompasses the emptiness of the ten directions and issues forth in it. How can it have a location?

Commentary:

The consciousness encompasses the emptiness of the ten directions and issues forth in it. “Encompasses” means it contains the emptiness; “issues forth” means it flows forth in emptiness. Containing and flowing forth in the emptiness of the ten directions, the consciousness is everywhere. How can it have a location? How can it be in a certain direction or have a certain location?

P5 He rejects both as being mere conjectures.

Sutra:

“It is experienced to whatever extent is dictated by the law of karma. Ignorant of this fact, people in the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty words which have no real meaning..

Commentary:

It is experienced to whatever extent is dictated by the law of karma.
In accordance with the karmic response of living beings, these various retributions arise. Ignorant of this fact, people in the world - adherents to external paths, of the provisional vehicles, and of the small vehicles, and ordinary people, those who have no wisdom - are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions. They wonder if this doctrine is part of the doctrine of causes and conditions. They are confused and doubtful and don’t recognize it clearly. Or, they ascribe it to spontaneity, the doctrine discussed by adherents of the naturalism of some external ways.

These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind - this is entirely the conscious mind making discriminations and calculations - functioning on that level - are nothing but the play of empty words which have no real meaning.

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