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The Consciousness Skandha
VOLUME 8, Chapter 6
K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
This is the ninth state, in which he aspires toward the fruition of cessation, based on perfecting the mind that seeks responses. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming enmeshed in emptiness.
This is the ninth state, in which he aspires toward the fruition of cessation, based on perfecting the mind that seeks responses. He strays far from the dharma-door of perfect penetration through the ear. And he turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming enmeshed in emptiness. He gets stuck in emptiness and stillness. He has no desire to progress and no wish to retreat. Emptiness becomes the most important thing in his life. He gets wrapped up in emptiness. Actually, emptiness means there is nothing at all, but he invents an emptiness within emptiness and becomes attached to it.
J10 Fixed-nature pratyekas.
K1 After formations are ended, consciousness manifests.
Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity.
Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has thoroughly investigated the states of the formations skandha, and they are empty for him. He has already ended the states of production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder and bliss of ultimate serenity.
K2 A wrong understanding leads to a mistake.
In that perfectly fused, pure, bright enlightenment, as he investigates the profound wonder, he may take it to be nirvana and fail to make further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed-nature pratyeka. Those enlightened by conditions and solitarily enlightened ones who do not turn their minds to the great vehicle will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding.
In that state of perfectly fused, pure, bright enlightenment, as he investigates the principle of profound wonder, he may take it to be nirvana and fail to make further progress in his cultivation, even though he has not yet broken through the consciousness skandha. If he interprets this wild and false understanding as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed nature pratyeka who fails to turn from the small and go toward the great.
Those enlightened by conditions and solitarily enlightened ones who do not turn their minds to the great vehicle, the fixednature Arhats, will become his companions. He will join ranks with them. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, the path to enlightenment, he will lose his proper knowledge and understanding.
K3 Giving its name and instructions to awaken.
This is the tenth state, in which he realizes a profound brightness based on fusing the mind with perfect enlightenment. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being unable to surpass his attachment to the brightness of perfect enlightenment.
This is the tenth state, the last of the gates of the consciousness skandha. If you can pass through this gate, then you won't have to worry anymore. There is no further danger. Unfortunately, this final step is not an easy one to take. At this point he's off by just a tiny bit. It is said, "If you are off by a hairsbreadth at the beginning, you will miss by a thousand miles at the end." If you're just a tiny bit off at the start, you'll be way off at the stage of fruition. This state is one in which he realizes a profound brightness based on fusing the mind with perfect enlightenment. At this time, the doctrine of perfect enlightenment is about to merge with his permanent true mind, and he attains a purity and brightness.
He strays far from perfect penetration. Nevertheless, he has not meshed with the dharma-door of perfect penetration of the ear, because he still has attachments. And he turns his back on the City of Nirvana, going against the wonderful fruition of nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being unable to surpass his attachment to the brightness of perfect enlightenment. He cannot get past his attachment to that state of perfection. There is still that tiny bit which he does not understand before he breaks through the consciousness skandha.
If at this point he can break through without succumbing to crazy interpretations, then he will have broken through all five skandhas. When the five skandhas have been broken through, he will attain the positions of the ten faiths, the ten dwellings, the ten practices, the ten transferences, and the ten grounds. Then he can rest assured that he will attain Buddhahood.
I3 Conclusion on the harm and command to offer protection.
J1 Show how this happens due to interaction.
Ananda, these ten states of dhyana are due to crazy explanations on the path of cultivation. Relying on them, the cultivator becomes confused and claims to have attained complete realization before actually having done so. All these states are the result of interactions between the consciousness skandha and his mental efforts.
Ananda, you should pay special attention to this point and understand it well. You should recognize the demon states that appear in these ten states of dhyana, these ten dharma-doors of contemplation in stillness. These ten states which appear in the cultivation of dhyana are due to crazy explanations on the path of cultivation.
Relying on them, the cultivator becomes confused and claims to have attained complete realization before actually having done so. At this point, although he has not attained the Way and realized the fruition, he says, "I've realized the fruition." Not having realized the first fruition, he says he has. Not having attained the second, third, or fourth fruitions either, he claims he has. He has not become a Buddha, yet he claims he has. If you ask him how he became a Buddha, he doesn't know. A Buddha who doesn't know how he attained Buddhahood is certainly a muddled Buddha!
But Buddhas all have perfect understanding, and there are no muddled Buddhas. If he's muddled, then he is just a ghost, goblin, demon, or weird creature who doesn't understand the truth. All these states are the result of interactions between the consciousness skandha and his mental efforts. These are tricks of the consciousness skandha. When you work hard, the consciousness skandha battles against your skill. If you have the slightest bit of greed, lust or false thinking, you will enter a demonic state. If you become attached to this state, then you will be possessed by a demon.
You will come up with some crazy theory, and once you do, it will be very hard to smash through it. Even if others point out to the cultivator that he is incorrect, he won't believe them. He will think, "What do you know, anyway? I'm already a Buddha! What you're saying is not right." Even if they tell him, he won't believe them. That is why such states occur.
Just now, Guo Di said most of us have placed the state of breaking through the five skandhas too high, and he's absolutely right. The Heart Sutra says, "When Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was practicing the profound Prajna Paramita, he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty."
Avalokiteshvara (the 'one who contemplates at ease') was sitting there meditating, advancing step by step in his cultivation of dhyana, heading towards the stage of wisdom. He was able to understand that the five skandhas are empty. Once a person sees the skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness as empty, he will no longer be obstructed by them. Since they no longer cover him over, his wisdom comes forth.
At this point, he has not by any means realized any fruition or left the triple realm. He has some wisdom, which allows him to leave suffering and attain bliss. Yet he has not really left suffering and attained bliss; he still has a ways to go. He still has to "deeply enter the sutra treasury and have wisdom like the sea," and to not be turned by states.
Right now, he is still being turned by the states of the five skandhas. Not only has he not realized the fourth fruition,he hasn't even reached the first fruition. An Arhat of the first fruition can walk without his feet having to touch the ground. His feet are about half a centimeter off the ground, so they never get muddy no matter where he goes. That's because he has eradicated the eighty-eight grades of delusion of views.
The delusion of views involves being confused by the state one is faced with and becoming attached to it. When one realizes the fruition, "The eyes see forms, but inside there is nothing. The ears hear sounds, but the mind doesn't know." One sees everything as empty and one has no attachments, so how could one "catch on fire and become possessed by a demon"? There are no demons to encounter and no fires to catch.
Being confused by principles and engaging in discrimination is called the delusion of thoughts. Sages of the second and third fruition must cut off the delusion of thoughts. If someone had already cut off the delusions of thought while cultivating in the realm of the five skandhas, would he be entertaining all kinds of wild thoughts and speculations? Would he make all kinds of discriminations as he investigates the principle? No way.
He would be able to decisively resolve any matter which comes up without having to discriminate and speculate about it. Those false thoughts all come from his consciousness. His consciousness is constantly discriminating the subtlest details. Not only has he not realized any fruition, he can't even ascend to the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-thought. Why not? Because he hasn't even seen through and put down his body! He's still going around in circles, expending effort on that stinking skinbag!
Do you think that someone who has broken through the five skandhas has realized some fruition? Breaking through the five skandhas is a path that has to be walked, and he is walking on that path. All of you should clearly recognize this state. Don't be like the unlearned bhikshu, who mistakenly thought that the fourth dhyana heaven was the fourth fruition. A person who has broken through the five skandhas is only at the level of the first or second dhyana. He is still in the very early stages of cultivation.
He has only just begun. You shouldn't mistake an elementary school student who has just begun his studies for a college graduate. Child prodigies who advance very quickly in their studies are not that common. In fact, they are extremely rare. You should be very clear about the dharma. I didn't say this earlier, because I wanted to see how much wisdom you all had. If a person hasn't cut off the delusion of views and the delusion of thought, how can he have realized any fruition? It would be impossible.
He hasn't realized any fruition yet. Those are all false states. Even if he has broken through form, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness, he still hasn't realized any fruition. He's just traveling on the path of cultivation, that's all. If he had realized any fruition, he would become irreversible; how could a demon possess him? Even a person who has realized the first fruition cannot be possessed by a demon.
The Heart Sutra says, "He illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty." One who has broken through the five skandhas has merely understood the principle of emptiness; he certainly hasn't ended birth and death or attained any fruition. He is still walking on the path (of cultivation) and has not reached his destination yet, so he can't be said to have ended birth and death. He has understood the principle of emptiness, which is a partial view, and at this point he feels that there isn't any suffering and there isn't any happiness.
If he were to stop at this point, he would fall into an external path. If he continues to progress, then it will be possible for him to become enlightened and to realize the fruition, but he must be vigorous. Therefore, in cultivation, no matter what level you reach, if you become satisfied with what little you have attained and feel you've gone far enough, then you are simply limiting yourself and quitting when you're only halfway there. That will be as far as your understanding goes, and you will make no further progress.
J2 Confusion will bring harm.
Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, their minds are confused by their individual likings and past habits, so they stop to rest in what they take to be the ultimate refuge. They claim to have perfected unsurpassed Bodhi, thus uttering a great lie.
After their karmic retribution as externalists and deviant demons comes to an end, they will fall into the Relentless Hells. The sound-hearers and those enlightened by conditions cannot make further progress.
Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Living beings are obstinate and intractable in their delusion. They do not stop to consider just what they are. They haven't shed their dog hides and pig skins, yet they claim to be Buddhas. They really overestimate themselves.
Encountering such situations, their minds are confused by their individual likings and past habits. "Individual likings" refers to their personal desires and greedy attachments, which have confused and stupefied their minds in life after life. So they stop to rest in what they take to be the ultimate refuge. They figure they have reached a treasure trove. But in fact, they are abiding in a transformed city. That transformed city is not the treasure trove. These people were on a quest for treasures, but after going halfway, they grew weary and decided to give up.
At that point, a person with spiritual powers conjured up a city and told them, "The treasure trove is just up ahead. We can go there and collect all the treasures. We can bring back all sorts of precious and rare jewels." The idea was that after they got there and took a rest, they could continue onwards. But all the people went to the transformed city, and thinking it was the treasure trove, they rested and did not go further. They say this is their final place of refuge, the place they want to go to.
They claim to have perfected unsurpassed Bodhi. They claim they have realized unsurpassed Bodhi and become Buddhas already, thus uttering a great lie. They haven't attained Buddhahood, but they say they have. Would any intelligent person say such a stupid thing? To say you've reached a position that you haven't reached is just being stupid.
In a democratic country, we say everyone can become president. True, everyone has the potential to become president, but that doesn't mean everyone is the president. You have to be elected to office before you actually are the president. You can't just say that everyone is a president. Then who is the real president? Who is the vice-president? It's the same principle here.
If you've never gone to school or studied anything, and you don't even know how to sign your own name, could you really become the president? It's the same with becoming a Buddha. If you haven't cultivated, and you don't have what it takes to spend six years in the Himalayas or forty-nine days under the Bodhi tree, if you haven't put in even one day of such effort, how could you become a Buddha? That would be too easy. That's crazy.
After their karmic retribution as externalists and deviant demons comes to an end, after the demonic karma they incurred has come to an end, they will fall into the Relentless Hells. Their lives as demons will also come to an end at some point When that happens, they will fall into the Relentless Hells. The soundhearers and those enlightened by conditions cannot make further progress. If fixed-nature sound-hearers or fixed-nature pratyekabuddhas utter a great lie, they will not fall into the hells.
However, they won't be able to advance either. They cannot make further progress.
J3 Command to offer protection.
All of you should cherish the resolve to sustain the Way of the Tathagata. After my nirvana, transmit this dharma-door to those in the Dharma-ending Age, universally causing living beings to awaken to its meaning. Do not let the demons of views cause them to create their own grave offenses and fall. Protect, comfort, and compassionately rescue them and dispel evil conditions.
Enable them to enter the Buddhas' knowledge and understanding with body and mind so that from the beginning to the final accomplishment they never go astray.
All of you, Ananda, and all the great Bodhisattvas, great Arhats, great bhikshus, great elders, and others in this assembly, should cherish the resolve to sustain the Way of the Tathagata. You should honor the principles spoken by the Tathagata. After my nirvana, transmit this dharma-door of the Shurangama Sutra, that of "directing the hearing inward to listen to the inherent nature, until the nature attains the Unsurpassed Way." Transmit this dharma-door of perfect penetration to those in the Dharma Ending Age. You should transmit this every day to those in the Dharma-ending Age, universally causing living beings to awaken to its meaning. Let all living beings understand these principles clearly.
Do not let the demons of views cause them to create their own grave offenses and fall. There are demons of views and demons of views and love. When people see states, demons of views cause them to be moved by the states. Sometimes people see things, give rise to love, and get turned by those states. That's the demons of views and the demons of views and love.
Don't let them cause people to create offenses and fall. Protect, comfort and compassionately rescue them, all living beings, and dispel evil and improper conditions. Subdue the crazy mind and wild nature. Put an end to wrong knowledge and views. Enable them to enter the Buddhas' knowledge and understanding with body and mind so that from the beginning to the final accomplishmet they never go astray. Do not allow them to be sidetracked a they walk on the proper path.