The Surangama Sutra: Chapter One – Section 3 – (3)


Does the Mind Come into Being in Response to Conditions?

“Your Holiness,” Ānanda said to the Buddha, “On second thought, our viscera are located inside our bodies in darkness, while our orifices are open to the outside and seeing light. For example, I am now facing the Buddha with my eyes open, so I see light. Therefore I would call seeing the light as ‘seeing outside,’ while seeing darkness as ‘seeing inside.’ How does that sound?”

The Buddha said, “When you close your eyes and see darkness, is that darkness in front of your eyes? If the darkness is in front of your eyes, how can it be inside? If you equalized seeing darkness as seeing inside, then suppose you were in a completely dark room not lit by either the sun or the moon or by lamps, the darkness in the room would have to be your ‘inside’ as well. And if the darkness of your inside were not in front of you, how could you see it? Suppose you did see inside in a way that is distinct from the way you see outside – in that case, if we grant that closing your eyes and seeing darkness would be to see the inside of your body, then when you open your eyes and see light, why couldn’t you see your own face? Of course you don’t see your own face, because if you did, your eyes and your mind that knows what you see would be all suspended in the air – then how could they be part of your body?”

“If your eyes and mind were suspended in the air, then they would not be part of your body. Otherwise, the Buddha who is looking at your face right now would be part of your body too. If your eyes and mind were not part of your body, then when your eyes became aware of something, your body would not be able to simultaneously be aware of it. Suppose you press the point and say that the body and the eyes each have a separate awareness, then you would have two awarenesses, thus you would have two Buddhas in one body. Therefore, when you say that seeing darkness is seeing inside, you’re stating what is impossible.”

阿難白佛言:世尊,我今又作如是思惟。是眾生身,腑藏在中,竅穴居外。有藏則暗。有竅則明。今我對佛,開眼見明,名為見外。閉眼見暗,名為見內。是義云何。佛告阿難。汝當閉眼見暗之時,此暗境界,為與眼對,為不對眼。若與眼對,暗在眼前,云何成內。若成內者,居暗室中,無日月燈,此室暗中,皆汝焦腑。若不對者,云何成見。若離外見,內對所成。合眼見暗,名為身中。開眼見明,何不見面。若不見面,內對不成。見面若成,此了知心,及與眼根,乃在虛空,何成在內。若在虛空,自非汝體。即應如來今見汝面,亦是汝身。汝眼已知,身合非覺。必汝執言身眼兩覺,應有二知,即汝一身,應成兩佛。是故應知,汝言見暗名見內者,無有是處。

Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Now I recall that the Buddha has taught the four assemblies that because a state of mind arises, various perceived objects arise, and that because perceived objects arise, various states of mind arise. So I am wondering that my very act of thinking right now, which is an instance of a state of mind arising in response to perceived objects, is my mind’s true nature. If it is, then the mind doesn’t exist in one of the three locations — inside, outside, or the eyes, rather, it must come into being while responding to objects wherever they arise.

The Buddha said, “Now you are saying that when perceived objects arise, various states of mind arise, and therefore the mind comes into being in response to those perceived objects. But such a mind would have no essential nature of its own, and so it could not combine with anything. If, although having no essential nature of its own, it’s still able to combine with perceived objects, then there would be a nineteenth constituent element of perception, because such a mind would be combining with a seventh category of perceived object — and that is impossible.”

“Furthermore, if such a mind did have an essential nature of its own, then when you pinch yourself and your mind becomes aware of the pinch, would the mind be coming forth from inside your body or from outside? If it came from inside, then once again, you would see the inside of your body. If it came from outside, it would be able to see your face.”

Ānanda said, “It is the eyes that see. And it is the mind that is aware.”

The Buddha said, “If the eyes alone could see, then when you be in a room, could your eyes be the doorway and see what is outside the room? Or when a person dies with his eyes intact, could his eyes still see?”

“Ānanda, suppose your mind which knows and makes distinctions indeed has an essential nature of its own, then would it be a single essential nature or multiple essential natures? Would the essential nature pervade your entire body, or would it not? Suppose it were a single essential nature, then if you pinch one limb, why wouldn’t you feel that pinch in all four limbs? Since you only feel the pinch in one limb, then it’s obvious your mind doesn’t have just a single essential nature. But if your mind had multiple essential natures, you would be multiple people. Which of those essential natures would be you then? Besides, if a single essential nature did pervade your entire body, then a single pinch would be felt throughout your body. On the other hand, if the single essential nature did not pervade your body, then when you touch your head and your foot at the same time, you would only feel the touch on one part of your body instead of both parts.”

“Therefore, when you say the mind comes into being in response to perceived objects wherever they arise, you’re stating what is impossible.”

阿難言;我嘗聞佛開示四眾。由心生故,種種法生。由法生故,種種心生。我今思惟,即思惟體,實我心性。隨所合處,心則隨有。亦非內外中間三處。佛告阿難汝今說言,由法生故,種種心生,隨所合處。心隨有者,是心無體,則無所合。若無有體而能合者,則十九界因七塵合。是義不然。若有體者,如汝以手自挃其體。汝所知心,為復內出,為從外入。若復內出,還見身中。若從外來,先合見面。阿難言:見是其眼。心知非眼。為見非義。佛言:若眼能見,汝在室中,門能見不。則諸已死,尚有眼存,應皆見物。若見物者,云何名死。阿難,又汝覺了能知之心,若必有體,為復一體,為有多體。今在汝身,為復遍體,為不遍體。若一體者,則汝以手挃一支時,四支應覺。若咸覺者,挃應無在。若挃有所,則汝一體,自不能成。若多體者,則成多人,何體為汝。若遍體者,同前所挃。若不遍者,當汝觸頭,亦觸其足,頭有所覺,足應無知。今汝不然。是故應知,隨所合處,心則隨有,無有是處。