THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

CHAPTER 6

The Consciousness Skandha

H5 The characteristics of the demons of the consciousness skandha.
I1 Overview of the beginning and the end.
J1 In the beginning, one cultivates but has not yet broken through this region.
K1 Review of the ending of the previous formations skandha.


Sutra:

Ananda, when that good person, in cultivating samadhi, has put an end to the formations skandha, the subtle, fleeting fluctuation, the deep, imperceptible, pivotal source and the common foundation from which all life in the world springs, are suddenly obliterated. In the submerged network of the retributive karma of the pudgala, the karmic resonances are interrupted.

Commentary:


Ananda, when that good person who is cultivating in the formations skandha, in cultivating samadhi, has put an end to the formations skandha, the subtle, fleeting fluctuations, the deep, imperceptible, pivotal source and the common foundation from which all life in the world springs, are suddenly obliterated. Those imperceptible, subtle movements, which characterize all the twelve categories of beings in the world and are the common source of their births, are suddenly wiped out. In Chinese, the characters for "pivotal source" literally mean the large rope that forms the border of a net, or they can mean buttons and fastenings in clothing. They can also refer to the central point or axis.

Pudgala is a Sanskrit word translated as "that which goes on to repeated reincarnations," that which is born over and over again. It is also called "body while in a state of existence," and also "sentient being." Every sentient being is endowed with a "body while in a state of existence." When we die, we will have what is called "the body that exists while in between skandhas."

In the submerged network of the retributive karma of the pudgala, the bodies while in a state of existence, the karmic resonances are interrupted. In this interactive process of the mutual repayment of karma which runs very deep, cause and effect are suspended. "Karmic resonances" refers to cause and effect. Since the formations skandha has ceased, and birth and death have come to an end, cause and effect have been arrested. This is describing the end of the formations skandha and the beginning of the consciousness skandha.

K2 Introduction to the region of the consciousness skandha.


Sutra:

There is about to be a great illumination in the sky of nirvana. It is like gazing east at the cock's final crow to see the light of dawn. The six sense faculties are empty and still; there is no further racing about. Inside and outside there is a profound brightness. He enters without entering. Fathoming the source of life of the twelve categories of beings throughout the ten directions, he can contemplate that source without being drawn into any of the categories. He has become identical with the realms of the ten directions. The light does not fade, and what was hidden before is now revealed. This is the region of the consciousness skandha.

Commentary:


There is about to be a great illumination in the sky of nirvana of the inherent nature. He's on the verge of a great awakening. He is about to get enlightened. By analogy, it is like gazing east at the cock's final crow to see the light of dawn. When the cock crows for the first and second time to announce the dawn, there is still no light in the east. The sky is still dark. But if you gaze eastward when the cock crows for the third and final time, you will see the first light of the day.

The six sense faculties are empty and still. The feeling skandha has ended, so the sense faculties no longer perceive. They are "empty." The thinking skandha has ended, so there is no more false thinking. Thus it is "still." At this point, there is no more feeling and no more false thoughts causing the mind to run about. There is no further racing about. That means the shifting and flowing of the formations skandha have also ceased. The fluctuations of the formations skandha had been like ceaseless ripples, but now they have subsided, and there is no more running about. Inside and outside there is a profound brightness. At this point when only the consciousness skandha remains to be broken through, there is a brilliant light both inside and out. He enters without entering, because the functions of the sense faculties and sense objects have been severed. The six sense faculties and six objects have united, and there are no longer any faculties or any objects. There is no further pairing between faculty and object. They are non-dual. The six faculties and six objects are no longer differentiated, so there is no flow for him to enter.

Fathoming the source of life of the twelve categories of beings throughout the ten directions, he can contemplate that source without being drawn into any of the categories. He penetrates deeply to the primal life-source of the twelve categories of beings. He can reflect upon this source without being attracted to any of the twelve categories of beings. They have no sway over him. He has no further involvement with the twelve categories of beings. He has become identical with the realms of the ten directions. He is experiencing identity in substance with all realms everywhere. The light does not fade. This bright wisdom does not disappear, and what was hidden before is now revealed. The most secret and imperceptible states now become manifest. This state is the region of the consciousness skandha. It falls within the scope of the consciousness skandha.

J2 Ultimately it breaks up and reveals its false source.

Sutra:

If he has become identical with the beckoning masses, he may obliterate the individuality of the six gates and succeed in uniting and opening them. Seeing and hearing become linked so
that they function interchangeably and purely. The worlds of the ten directions and his own body and mind are as bright and transparent as Vaidurya. This is the end of the consciousness skandha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of life spans. Contemplating the cause of the consciousness skandha, one sees that the negation of existence and the negation of nonexistence are both unreal, and that upside-down false thoughts are its source.

Commentary:

If he has become identical with the beckoning masses. Having severed connections of cause and effect with the twelve categories of living beings, he has become identical with them. However, he is not influenced by them. Since he has cut off all interaction with them, he is no longer reborn among them. He may obliterate the individuality of the six gates. At this point, the entrances of the six sense faculties no longer function. They have been smelted. In what way do they no longer function?

This does not mean that the eyes cannot see, the ears cannot hear, the nose cannot smell, or the tongue cannot taste. Rather, what happens is that the six faculties function interchangeably. If you break through the formations skandha, then you will experience this state. The eyes can still see, but they can also speak and eat. The ear, which could only hear before, can now see as well. You can also see with your nose and your mouth. Each sense faculty is capable of all six functions. That's what obliterating the individuality of the six gates means. The former signs of defilement are now gone.

And he may succeed in uniting and opening them. "Uniting" means the six sense faculties unite to become one. "Opening" means each faculty has the functions of all six. Seeing and hearing become linked. There is communication between them. They can help each other out just like neighbors who show mutual concern for each other. The six faculties are linked so that they function interchangeably and purely. Isn't that wonderful? This state is really sublime.

The worlds of the ten directions and his own body and mind are as bright and transparent as Vaidurya. They are like that exquisite blue gem, which is so clear as to be transparent. This is the end of the consciousness skandha. When you reach this level you have put an end to the consciousness skandha, and so all five skandhas are gone. But before you reach this level, the consciousness skandha has not ended.

This person can then transcend the turbidity of life spans. Contemplating the cause of the consciousness skandha, one sees that the negation of existence and the negation of nonexistence are both unreal, and that upside-down false thoughts are its source. Questions of existence and nonexistence are elusive and intangible. Such upside-down false thoughts are the basis of the states that he attains.

I2 Ten attachments within this.
J1 Attachment to causes and that which is caused.
K1 When formations are gone, consciousness appears.

Sutra:

Ananda, you should know that the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.

Commentary:


Ananda, you should know that the good person who cultivates samadhi has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. Although he encountered so many demonic states, whether they were caused by demons from the heavens, demons of his own mind, or other kinds of demons, they did not sway his samadhi. Or it could have been that when he was cultivating samadhi, he didn't experience any demonic states at all. Or maybe when he encountered demonic states, he recognized them and did not become confused by them. Once he pierced through the confusion, the formations skandha was destroyed. Now he is at the beginning of the consciousness skandha. He has already fathomed the formations skandha and seen it as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. Now he has to break through the consciousness skandha, and when he does, he will return to the source, to the treasury of the Tathagata. He has already ended the states of production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He has yet to perfectly realize the nature of ultimate serenity.

K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.

Sutra:

He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. He also has a pervasive awareness of all the categories of beings in the ten directions. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can enter the perfect source. But if he regards what he is returning to as the cause of true permanence and interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.

Commentary:


He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. Now in the consciousness skandha, he has a false mental attachment. He is at the point where he "has not yet perfected the subtle wonders of ultimate serenity," but he can make his six sense faculties function inter-changeably. Each sense faculty has the abilities of all six. His eyes can talk and hear. His ears can eat and smell. The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind can function interchangeably to perceive sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and objects of touch.

You may think that ears cannot eat but when one attains the interchangeable functioning of the six faculties, they can. "Where are their teeth?" you wonder. Ask your ears. They don't eat things the way we do, anyway. When they start to eat they may just naturally grow teeth, and their teeth, will not fall out. Perhaps they don't even use teeth. Or perhaps the teeth appear when they need them. This is the true ability of science. Each faculty has six functions.

"Unite" refers to how the six faculties join to become one faculty. "Open" refers to how one faculty opens up to have the functions of all six. Would you say these are spiritual powers? Is this science? No matter how much research scientists do, even if they can transplant human hearts, livers and other parts of the body, they cannot enable each sense faculty to have the functions of all six. That's something science cannot achieve. No matter how advanced science becomes, I don't think it will ever have that capability. If you develop science in your own nature, then you can have this kind of function.

He also has a pervasive awareness of all the categories of beings in the ten directions. Not only does he have the ability to unite and open his six sense faculties to function interchangeably, he also knows what is going on with all twelve categories of beings throughout the ten directions. He and other beings share a mutual awareness. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can know the dispositions of all beings in the ten directions, and he can enter the perfect source, the perfection of the original nature.

But if he regards what he is returning to as a cause of true permanence. Suppose he becomes wrongly attached to the place of his return. What is his attachment? He says that it is true permanence and interprets this as a supreme state. Since he believes it to be true permanence, he interprets this as a kind of supreme liberation and supreme view. If he didn't hold such a view, there would be no problem. But as soon as he holds this view, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. He takes true permanence as the cause, but this is completely wrong. He thinks that place is characterized by true permanence. Actually he is still within consciousness, which is not true permanence. He becomes attached to a cause and what that cause pertains to. In fact this is not the cause, but he regards it as the cause. By attaching to it, he joins an external sect. He does business with them. He puts his investments there and forms a company. With what external sect does he get involved?

Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Kapila founded the "religion of the yellow-haired.' Earlier, we mentioned that the teacher of Matangi used a mantra of the Kapila religion, a mantra which came from the Brahma Heaven. The Truth of the Unmanifest postulates that there is nothing at all, that everything is transformed from the current state of the eighth consciousness. Thisreligion teaches that all things are born from the Truth of the Unmanifest. Once this cultivator becomes attached to this cause, he becomes friends with those of the "yellow-haired external sect." He incorporates with them, and it is not known when that corporation will ever end. Is it limited or unlimited?

Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, the Way of Enlightenment, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. He takes what is not a cause to be a cause. He shouldn't have set up this cause, but he did. Because he wrongly established that cause and what it pertains to, he no longer has true wisdom. He has lost it. Where did it go? If you want to help him look for it you will lose yours, too.

K3 Giving the name and instructions to awaken.

Sutra:

This is the first state, in which he concludes that there is a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of externalism.

Commentary:


This is the first state, in which he concludes that there is a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. His principle is wrong. In what way? He strays far from perfect penetration. What he does is completely opposed to "cultivating the perfect penetration of the ear organ by directing the hearing inward to listen to the inherent nature, thereby entering the flow and forgetting the source." Why? Because he has developed an attachment. And he turns his back on the City of Nirvana. What is this great City of Nirvana? It's where the four virtues of nirvana, permanence, bliss, true self, and purity, are found. Thus he is sowing the seeds of externalism. By postulating a nonexistent cause, he becomes attached to an external teaching. Since his premise is like the Truth of the Unmanifest of the Kapila religion, he makes friends with its adherents and joins their ranks.

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