The Surangama Sutra: Chapter Two – Section 4


Exposing the Faulty Nature of Discrimination and Pointing Directly to the One Mind

Then the Buddha, out of pity for Ananda and the assembly, began to explain extensively the profound practice of the samadhis of the Great Dharani: “Though you have memorized my teachings, it only broadens your knowledge. Your mind has not yet truly realized the subtle insight and illumination of samatha. Now listen attentively as I explain it in detail, for the benefit of all those who are still in the stream of transmigration so that you can all win the bodhi fruit.”

“Ananda, all living beings are subject to transmigration through various worlds because of two inverted, discriminating false views, which cause people to be caught in the turning wheel of samsara. What causes those two views? They are due to people’s individual and collective karmas.”

爾時世尊,憐愍阿難,及諸大眾。將欲敷演大陀羅尼,諸三摩提。妙修行路。告阿難言。汝雖強記,但益多聞,於奢摩他微密觀照,心猶未了。汝今諦聽。吾當為汝分別開示。亦令將來,諸有漏者,獲菩提果。阿難。一切眾生,輪迴世間,由二顛倒分別見妄,當處發生,當業輪轉。云何二見,一者,眾生別業妄見。二者,眾生同分妄見。

“What is meant by false views based on individual karma? Ananda, it is like a man who, because his eyes are inflamed, sees at night around the lamp a circular reflection composed of layers of five colors. Is this circle the colors of lamplight, or is it the colors of his seeing?”

“If it is the colors of lamplight, why does someone without the eye condition not see it? If it is only the seeing’s colors, then the seeing is colored, and what is the true color of the lamplight? Moreover, if the circular reflection is independent of the lamp, then it would be seen around the nearby curtains, the furniture, and the mats. If it is independent of the seeing, then it should not be seen by the eyes.”

“Therefore, you should know that the color is revealed by the lamp and becomes a circle when a person with eye condition sees it. Both the distorted shape (form) and the faulty seeing (perception) are the result of the person’s eye conditions. Thus, we should not say that it is due to the lamp or the seeing, or that it is neither due to the lamp nor due to the seeing.”

“It is like a second moon often seen when one presses on one’s eye looking up into the sky. It is neither the real moon nor its shadow, because it is an illusory vision caused by the pressure exerted on one’s eye. Hence, a wise person should not say that the second moon is a form or not a form. So wise people should not say that this illusion ‘is’ or ‘is not’, or that it exists apart from seeing or non-seeing. Likewise, how can you say that an illusion caused by eye conditions is from the lamp or from the seeing? Still less can you establish that it is neither from the lamp nor from the seeing.”

云何名為別業妄見。阿難,如世間人,目有赤眚,夜見燈光別有圓影,五色重疊。於意云何。此夜燈明所現圓光,為是燈色,為當見色。阿難。此若燈色,則非眚人何不同見,而此圓影。唯眚之觀。若是見色,見已成色,則彼眚人見圓影者,名為何等。復次阿難。若此圓影離燈別有,則合傍觀屏帳几筵,有圓影出。離見別有,應非眼矚,云何眚人目見圓影。是故當知,色實在燈,見病為影。影見俱眚,見眚非病。終不應言是燈是見。於是中有非燈非見。如第二月,非體非影。何以故。第二之觀,捏所成故。諸有智者,不應說言,此捏根元,是形非形,離見非見,此亦如是,目眚所成今欲名誰是燈是見。何況分別非燈非見。

“And what is meant by false views caused by collective karma? Ananda, this universe (Jambudvipa) comprises, besides the great seas, 3,000 continents, with the largest at the center, containing 2,300 great countries from east to west, and some other smaller continents also each consisting of smaller countries. Suppose that among them there is one small continent where there are only two countries, one of which is inhabited by people who, as a result of their bad karma, have experienced evil conditions, while the people inhabiting in another country have never seen nor even heard of them.”

云何名為同分妄見。阿難。此閻浮提,除大海水,中間平陸,有三千洲正中大洲東西括量,大國凡有二千三百。其餘小洲在諸海中,其間或有三兩百國。或一或二至於三十四十五十。阿難。若復此中,有一小洲,祇有兩國。唯一國人,同感惡緣則彼小洲,當土眾生,睹諸一切不祥境界或見二日,或見兩月其中乃至暈適珮玦。彗孛飛流。負耳虹蜺。種種惡相,但此國見彼國眾生,本所不見,亦復不聞。

“Ananda, now I will now go back and forth comparing these two karmic conditions for you. All living beings whose individual karma causes them to see falsely, are like the man whose eyes have cataracts and therefore he sees a circular reflection around the lamp, which appears to be real, but in fact only comes into being because of his eye disease. The circle is not a product of form. And the essence of seeing is free from all defects or diseases.”

“Similarly, if you look at mountains, rivers and people, they are all brought about by the distortion in your seeing, which was acquired since the beginningless time. This seeing and its causal falsities are in front of you, but they originally arise from your subjective awareness of your bright enlightenment, which leads to false perception of objective phenomena. Although awareness and perception cause wrong seeing, the bright, pure, true Bodhi Mind is free from all ills and able to see clearly. Its realization that the awareness and perception are faulty does not fall into delusion. It is what I mean by true seeing, which is not discriminative, while your seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing are all discriminative.”

“Therefore, your actual seeing of yourself, of me and of all living beings is a distorted seeing, and certainly not that which is aware of your wrong seeing. For the true essential seeing by nature is beyond all ills, hence it is not called seeing.”

“Ananda, now let us compare false seeing caused by collective karma with that caused by individual karma. The illusion of a circle around the lamplight seen by a man with cataracts, and the evil condition experienced by all the inhabitants of that small country because of their collective karma, are both created by a falsity in the seeing since the beginningless time. Thus, the Jambudvipa’s 3,000 continents, four great seas, and all samsaric countries in the ten directions as well as their inhabitants are the product of faulty seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing.”

“A person who can avoid the illusory mixture and union and non-mixture and non-union of concurrent causes, will be able to destroy all causes of birth and death, thereby perfecting the transcendental nature of Enlightenment and realizing the permanent basic Bodhi of pure Self-mind.

“Ananda, although you have understood that the bright nature of basic Enlightenment does not come from causes and conditions and is not by nature spontaneous, you have not yet realized that the enlightened source is produced neither from mixing and uniting nor from a lack of mixing and uniting.”

“Ananda, I must now ask you a question. Since you hold that all false thinking mixes and unites with causes and conditions, and you wonder whether the thoughts of a Bodhi mind also arise from such mixing and uniting. If they do, does your essence of perception mix with light or darkness, with clarity or obstruction? If it mixes with light, when the latter appears and you see it, where does it mix with your seeing? Since your seeing is clear, where can you find such mixture? If it is not the seeing, why do you see light? If it is the seeing, how can you see your own seeing? Since your seeing is complete by itself, how can it be mixed with the light? Since light is complete by itself too, where can it contain your seeing? Therefore, seeing and light differ, and if they are mixed up, even the word ‘light’ would cease to exist; in other words, such a mixture would suppress the light. Consequently, your concept of a mixture of seeing with light is wrong, and so is a mixture of seeing with darkness, clarity and obstruction.”

“Again, Ananda, does the essence of your perception unite with light, darkness, clarity and obstruction? If it unites with light, then when light vanishes and be replaced by darkness, the seeing should not unite with the latter, but why do you still see darkness? When you see darkness, if your seeing does not unite with it, then when it unites with light, you should not see light as well. If light is not seen, then when there is light, do you know that it is light and not darkness? Likewise, a union of the seeing with darkness, clarity and obstruction is equally false.”

阿難。吾今為汝。以此二事,進退合明。阿難。如彼眾生。別業妄見,矚燈光中所現圓影,雖現似境,終彼見者,目眚所成。眚即見勞,非色所造。然見眚者,終無見咎。例汝今日,以目觀見山河國土。及諸眾生,皆是無始見病所成。見與見緣,似現前境。元我覺明見所緣眚。覺見即眚。本覺明心,覺緣非眚。覺所覺眚,覺非眚中,此實見見,云何復名覺聞知見。是故汝今見我及汝,并諸世間十類眾生,皆即見眚。非見眚者,彼見真精,性非眚者,故不名見。阿難。如彼眾生同分妄見,例彼妄見別業一人。一病目人,同彼一國。彼見圓影,眚妄所生。此眾同分所見不祥,同見業中,瘴惡所起。俱是無始見妄所生。例閻浮提三千洲中,兼四大海,娑婆世界,并洎十方諸有漏國,及諸眾生。同是覺明無漏妙心,見聞覺知虛妄病緣,和合妄生,和合妄死。若能遠離諸和合緣,及不和合,則復滅除諸生死因。圓滿菩提,不生滅性。清淨本心,本覺常住。

阿難。汝雖先悟本覺妙明,性非因緣,非自然性。而猶未明如是覺元,非和合生,及不和合。阿難。吾今復以前塵問汝。汝今猶以一切世間妄想和合,諸因緣性,而自疑惑,證菩提心和合起者。則汝今者妙淨見精。為與明和,為與暗和,為與通和,為與塞和。若明和者,且汝觀明,當明現前,何處雜見,見相可辨,雜何形像。若非見者,云何見明。若即見者,云何見見。必見圓滿,何處和明。若明圓滿,不合見和。見必異明。雜則失彼性明名字。雜失明性,和明非義。彼暗與通,及諸群塞,亦復如是。復次阿難。又汝今者妙淨見精,為與明合,為與暗合,為與通合,為與塞合。若明合者,至於暗時,明相已滅,此見即不與諸暗合,云何見暗。若見暗時,不與暗合,與明合者,應非見明。既不見明,云何明合。了明非暗。彼暗與通,及諸群塞,亦復如是。

Ananda asked, “World Honored One, as I consider it now, the source of this wonderful enlightenment never mixes or unites, neither with any conditioned mundane object nor with the mind’s speculation. Is that the case?”

The Buddha said, “You now speak of not mixing and not uniting. Do you mean that this essence of seeing does not mix with light, darkness, clarity and obstruction? If so, then when you see the light, there should be a demarcation line between seeing and light. Now look carefully and tell me where the fields of light and of your seeing are, and where their boundaries are? If you do not see where light is, then your seeing will not reach it; if so, you will not even know where the light is, and how can there be a border line? It is the same with darkness, clarity and obstruction.”

“Again, do you mean that this essence of seeing does not unite with light, darkness, clarity and obstruction? If it does not unite with light, then both the seeing and light are in opposition. So your seeing would not perceive anything where there is light; then how can you cause them either to unite or not? It is the same with darkness, clarity and obstruction.”

“Ananda, you are still not clear about the illusory appearances of all passing phenomena which vanish wherever they arise. These illusions in the shape of forms spring from their underlying nature, which is the wonderful Bodhi. So are the six portals (organs), the twelve ayatana (six sense organs and six sense data) and the eighteen realms of senses, which falsely arise from the mixture and union of causes and conditions, and which falsely vanish when the same causes and conditions are disconnected. They are but creation and destruction appearing and vanishing within the wonderfully bright, permanent, immutable, all-embracing Bhutatathata (absolute) nature of the Tathagata store wherein neither coming nor going, neither delusion nor enlightenment, and neither birth nor death can be found.”

“Why are the five aggregates fundamentally the wondrous nature of the Absolute Tathagata? Ananda, when a man looks at a clear sky with clear eyes, he sees only the void containing nothing. If suddenly without any apparent reason, he adjusts his seeing, then it is disturbed and he starts seeing flowers dancing in the sky. Ananda, these dancing flowers come neither from the void nor from his eyes. If they came from the void, they would return to it; if there were really such a coming and going of these flowers, the void would not be empty. If void was not empty but solid, then flowers could not appear and vanish in it. (It is like Ananda’s body, which does not allow another Ananda to enter it.) If the flowers come from the eyes, they should be able to return to the eyes, and because they come from the faculty of seeing, they should be able to see things. Thus, when they leave the eyes, they become flowers in the sky; when they return, they should be able to see the organ of sight. If they cannot see things, they should be able to screen the sky when they leave, and veil the eyes when they return. But as we know, when the man sees the flowers, his eyes are not veiled. Then why do you wait until the sky is clear of everything to say that your eyes are clear? Therefore, you should know that the aggregate form is unreal for it is neither causal nor conditional nor self-existent.”

“Ananda, when a man is in good health and his limbs are in good condition, he does not feel anything. But if suddenly, without any reason, he rubs his palms together, he feels coarseness or smoothness, cold or warmth. It is the same with the second aggregate vedana. These sensations come from neither the void nor his palms. If they come from the void, why are they felt by his palms only and not by his body? If they come from his palms, they should not have waited for the palms to be brought together to be felt. Moreover, if they really come from his palms and are felt when the latter are brought together, then when they are separated, these sensations should re-enter the body, which should feel their re-entry. They should also be felt by the mind as coming in and out, as if something loving in and out of the body. If so, there was no need to bring the two palms together in the first place, in order to feel these sensations. Therefore, you should know that the aggregate vedana is unreal and is neither causal nor conditional nor self-existent.”

“Ananda, if someone speaks of sour plums, your mouth will start watering, and if you think of walking above an overhanging cliff, you will have the sensation of shivering in your legs. This is the same with the third aggregate sanjna. The talk of sourness does not come from the plum, nor does it enter your mouth. If it comes from the plum, it should be spoken of by the plum itself. If it enters your mouth, it should be your mouth which actually talks about it and not someone else. If it is your ears which alone hear it, why the water does not come out of the ears? This is the same with your thought of walking above a cliff. Therefore, you should know that the third aggregate sanjna is neither causal nor conditional nor self-existent.”

“Ananda, the fourth aggregate samskara is like water which flows in a torrent endlessly over a fall. This flow does not come from the void nor is it due to the water; it is neither the water itself nor does it exist apart from the void and the water. If it is created by the void, boundless space would become an endless flow of water and the whole world would be submerged. If it is due to the water, then it should have its own form and location. And it is impossible for it to exist apart from the void and water, since space is all-embracing and there is no flow without water. Therefore, you should know that the fourth aggregate samskara is neither causal nor conditional nor self-existent.”

“Ananda, the fifth aggregate consciousness is like the void in an empty pitcher with two holes. If someone blocks both holes and carries it to another location, the void does not go from one place to another. If the void comes from somewhere, that place should lose some of its voidness, and on arriving elsewhere, once the holes are opened and the pitcher reversed, one should see the void being poured out of it. Therefore, you should know that consciousness is unreal and is neither causal nor conditional nor self-existent.”

阿難白佛言:世尊。如我思惟,此妙覺元,與諸緣塵,及心念慮,非和合耶。佛言:汝今又言覺非和合。吾復問汝。此妙見精非和合者,為非明和,為非暗和,為非通和,為非塞和。若非明和,則見與明,必有邊畔。汝且諦觀,何處是明,何處是見,在見在明,自何為畔。阿難。若明際中必無見者,則不相及,自不知其明相所在,畔云何成。彼暗與通,及諸群塞,亦復如是。又妙見精,非和合者,為非明合,為非暗合,為非通合,為非塞合。若非明合,則見與明,性相乖角。如耳與明,了不相觸。見且不知明相所在,云何甄明合非合理。彼暗與通,及諸群塞,亦復如是。

阿難。汝猶未明一切浮塵,諸幻化相,當處出生,隨處滅盡。幻妄稱相,其性真為妙覺明體。如是乃至五陰六入,從十二處,至十八界,因緣和合,虛妄有生,因緣別離虛妄名滅。殊不能知生滅去來本如來藏。常住妙明,不動周圓妙真如性。性真常中求於去來迷悟生死,了無所得。

阿難。云何五陰,本如來藏妙真如性。阿難。譬如有人,以清淨目,觀晴明空,唯一晴虛,迴無所有。其人無故,不動目睛,瞪以發勞,則於虛空,別見狂華,復有一切狂亂非相。色陰當知亦復如是。阿難。是諸狂華,非從空來,非從目出。如是阿難。若空來者,既從空來,還從空入。若有出入,即非虛空。空若非空,自不容其華相起滅。如阿難體,不容阿難。若目出者,既從目出,還從目入。即此華性從目出故,當合有見。若有見者,去既華空,旋合見眼。若無見者,出既翳空,旋當翳眼。又見華時,目應無翳。云何睛空,號清明眼。是故當知色陰虛妄,本非因緣,非自然性。

阿難。譬如有人,手足宴安,百骸調適,忽如忘生,性無違順。其人無故,以二手掌,於空相摩,於二手中,妄生澀滑冷熱諸相。受陰當知亦復如是。阿難。是諸幻觸,不從空來,不從掌出。如是阿難。若空來者,既能觸掌,何不觸身。不應虛空,選擇來觸。若從掌出,應非待合。又掌出故,合則掌知,離則觸入,臂腕骨髓,應亦覺知入時蹤跡。必有覺心,知出知入。自有一物身中往來。何待合知,要名為觸。是故當知,受陰虛妄,本非因緣,非自然性。

阿難。譬如有人,談說酢梅,口中水出。思蹋懸崖,足心酸澀。想陰當知,亦復如是。阿難。如是酢說,不從梅生,非從口入。如是阿難。若梅生者,梅合自談,何待人說。若從口入,自合口聞,何須待耳。若獨耳聞,此水何不耳中而出。想蹋懸崖,與說相類。是故當知,想陰虛妄,本非因緣,非自然性。

阿難。譬如瀑流,波浪相續,前際後際,不相踰越。行陰當知,亦復如是。阿難。如是流性,不因空生,不因水有,亦非水性,非離空水。如是阿難。若因空生,則諸十方無盡虛空,成無盡流,世界自然俱受淪溺。若因水有,則此瀑流性應非水,有所有相,今應現在。若即水性,則澄清時,應非水體。若離空水,空非有外,水外無流。是故當知,行陰虛妄,本非因緣,非自然性。

阿難。譬如有人,取頻伽缾,塞其兩孔,滿中擎空,千里遠行,用餉他國。識陰當知亦復如是。阿難。如是虛空,非彼方來,非此方入,如是阿難。若彼方來,則本缾中既貯空去,於本缾地,應少虛空。若此方入,開孔倒缾,應見空出。是故當知,識陰虛妄,本非因緣,非自然性。