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.”