The Surangama Sutra: Chapter One – Section 3 – (4)


Is the Mind in the Middle?

Again, Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Now I recall the Buddha once said that the mind is neither inside nor outside the body. My understanding is, since the mind can’t see anything inside, certainly it is not inside the body; and since its awareness is not separate from the body, certainly it is not outside the body either. So I guess the mind must be in the middle.”

The Buddha replied, “A middle must be in some specific place. Where is this ‘middle’ you are talking about? Is it at the surface of the body or within it? If it’s at the surface, it would not be in the middle; if it’s within, it would be inside the body. Does this ‘middle’ have a location, then? If there was no indication of its location, the ‘middle’ would mean nothing. Even if there was an indication of its location, that location would be indefinite. Suppose someone were to place a marker to indicate the location of a middle. Seen from the east, it would be in the west; seen from the south, it would be in the north. Such a marker would not mark a definite middle, and a mind in an indefinite ‘middle’ must be a confused mind.”

Ānanda said, “The middle I am talking about is in none of those places. As the Buddha has said, for sight to occur, the eyes and visible objects are necessary conditions. The eyes record visual distinctions, while the objects seen by the eyes have no awareness. Once eye-consciousness is produced, the mind is there.”

The Buddha said, “If your mind were located between the eye-faculty and the objects it perceives, would the nature of mind be the same as the nature of eye-faculty, as well as the nature of perceived objects? If they’re the same, it would be a confused state about what is aware and what is not aware. Even if the nature of mind were not the same as the nature of either the eye-faculty or the objects, the mind would be neither aware nor unaware. Such a mind would have no essential nature at all. How then could it be in the middle? Therefore, it would be impossible for the mind to be in the middle.”

阿難白佛言:世尊,我亦聞佛,與文殊等諸法王子,談實相時,世尊亦言,心不在內,亦不在外。如我思惟,內無所見,外不相知。內無知故,在內不成。身心相知,在外非義。今相知故,復內無見,當在中間。佛言:汝言中間,中必不迷,非無所在。今汝推中,中何為在。為復在處。為當在身。若在身者,在邊非中,在中同內。若在處者,為有所表,為無所表。無表同無。表則無定。何以故。如人以表,表為中時,東看則西,南觀成北。表體既混,心應雜亂。阿難言:我所說中,非此二種。如世尊言,眼色為緣,生於眼識。眼有分別,色塵無知。識生其中,則為心在。佛言:汝心若在根塵之中,此之心體,為復兼二,為不兼二。若兼二者,物體雜亂。物非體知,成敵兩立,云何為中。兼二不成,非知不知,即無體性,中何為相。是故應知,當在中間,無有是處。