The Surangama Sutra: Chapter One – Section 2 – (2)

Is the Mind in the Eyes?

Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Indeed, Your Holiness, since I do not see inside my body, my mind is not located there, and because the body and mind work together without separation, my mind is not outside my body either. Now that I think of it, I know just where the mind is.”

The Buddha said, “Where is it, then?”

Ānanda replied, “Since the mind sees nothing of what is inside but can see what is outside, I believe, upon reflection, that the mind is hidden in the eyes. The eye-faculty is like two transparent crystal cups over the mind – although the cups cover the mind, they do not obstruct the mind’s vision. In this way the mind can see and make discernments accordingly. So, my mind that knows yet does not see inside must be hidden in the eye-faculty, through which it gazes at what is outside the body, seeing clearly and without impediment.”

The Buddha said, “Let us assume the mind is hidden in the eyes, as you asserted in your analogy of the crystals. When someone places crystal cups over his eyes and looks at the mountains, the rivers, and all else on this great earth, does he see the crystal cups too?”

“He does, Your Holiness. He sees the crystal cups when he places them over his eyes.”

The Buddha then said, “If your mind can be compared to someone’s eyes being covered with crystals, then when you look at the world of perceived objects, why don’t you see your own eyes? Since you cannot see your eyes, how could you say that the mind that makes distinctions is concealed within the eye-faculty, like being covered by crystal cups? On the other hand, if you could see your eyes, your eyes would be part of your external surroundings. In that case your mind and eyes would not be able to work together to make distinctions. So, in either case, you’re stating what is impossible.”