The Root of the Matter

Yesterday’s blog made reference to The Awakening of Faith Shastra and its revelation that all apparent interdependency is really a reflective reality and manifestation of the One Mind—Dharmadhatu. The hologram was also utilized as a metaphor of how the many becomes One and the One becomes many. This is a reflection of the Dharmakaya, whose Suchness “illuminates the entire Universe.” The following is a salient portion from the Shastra—it really pinpoints the root foundation from which many of the key terminologies utilized throughout this blog are derived; for instance, the numerous references to the Unmoving and Moving Principles are no arbitrary formulations—as you will see they are essentially procured from this seminal and foundational work within Mahayana thought. It’s interesting, no one really knows just who the original author of this work is…the main speculation is that it is most likely Paramartha—the ancient Indian translator and sage—although for those with little sand in their eyes it is without question, from the quill of a most advanced Black Dragon (one instilled with incomparable wisdom).

The Greatness of the Attributes of Suchness

From the beginning, Suchness in its nature is fully provided with all excellent qualities; namely, it is endowed with the light of great wisdom, the qualities of illuminating the entire universe, of true cognition and mind pure in its self-nature; of eternity, bliss, Self, and purity; of refreshing coolness, immutability, and freedom. It is endowed with these excellent qualities which outnumber the sands of the Ganges, which are not independent of, disjointed from, or different from the essence of Suchness, and which are suprarational attributes of Buddhahood. Since it is endowed completely with all these, and is not lacking anything, it is called the Tathagata-garbha when latent and also the Dharmakaya of the Tathagata.

Question: It was explained before that the essence of Suchness is undifferentiated and devoid of all characteristics. Why is it, then, that you have described its essence as having these various excellent qualities?

Answer: Though it has, in reality, all these excellent qualities, it does not have any characteristics of differentiation; it retains its identity and is of one flavor; Suchness is solely one.

Question: What does this mean?

Answer: Since it is devoid of individuation, it is free from the characteristics of individuation; thus it is one without any second.

Question: Then how can you speak of differentiation [i.e., the plurality of the characteristics of Suchness]?

Answer: In contrast to the characteristics of the phenomena of the “activating mind” the characteristics of Suchness can be inferred.

Question: How can they be inferred?

Answer: All things are originally of the mind only; they in fact transcend thoughts. Nevertheless, the deluded mind, in nonenlightenment, gives rise to irrelevant thoughts and predicates the world of objects. This being the case, we define this mentality as “the state of being destitute of wisdom (avidya: ignorance)”. The essential nature of Mind is immutable in that it does not give rise to any deluded thoughts, and therefore, is the very opposite of ignorance; hence, it is spoken of as having the characteristic of “the light of great wisdom”. When there is a particular perceiving act of the mind, objects other than the objects being perceived will remain unperceived. The essential nature of Mind is free from any partial perceiving; hence, Suchness is spoken of as having the characteristic of “illuminating the entire universe”. When the mind is in motion [stirred by ignorance], it is characterized by illusions and defilements, outnumbering the sands of the Ganges, such as lack of true cognition, absence of self-nature, impermanence, blisslessness, impurity, fever, anxiety, deterioration, mutation, and lack of freedom. By contrast to this, the essential nature of Mind, however, is motionless [i.e., undisturbed by ignorance]; therefore, it can be inferred that it must have various pure and excellent qualities, outnumbering the sands of the Ganges. But if the mind gives rise to irrelevant thoughts and further predicates the world of objects, it will continue to lack these qualities. All these numberless excellent qualities of the pure principle are none other than those of One Mind, and there is nothing to be sought after anew by thought. Thus, that which is fully endowed with them is called the Dharmakaya when manifested and the Tathagata-garbha when latent.

The Greatness of the Influences of Suchness

The Buddha-Tathagatas, while in the stages of Bodhisattvahood, exercised great compassion, practiced paramitas, and accepted and transformed sentient beings. They took great vows, desiring to liberate all sentient beings through countless aeons until the end of future time, for they regarded all sentient beings as they regarded themselves. And yet, they never regarded them as separate sentient beings. Why? Because they truly knew that all sentient beings and they themselves were identical in Suchness and that there could be no distinction between them. Because they possessed such great wisdom which could be applied to expedient means in quest of enlightenment, they extinguished their ignorance and perceived the original Dharmakaya. Spontaneously performing incomprehensible activities, exercising manifold influences, they pervade everywhere in their identity with Suchness. Nevertheless, they reveal no marks of their influences that can be traced as such. Why? Because the Buddha-Tathagatas are no other than the Dharmakaya itself, and the embodiment of wisdom. They belong to the realm of the absolute truth, which transcends the world where the relative truth operates. They are free from any conventional activities. And yet, because of the fact that sentient beings receive benefit through seeing or hearing about them, their influences [i.e., of Suchness] can be spoken of in relative terms. The influences of Suchness are of two kinds. The first is that which is conceived by the mind of ordinary men and the followers of Hinayana [i.e., the influence of Suchness as reflected] in the “object-discriminating consciousness”. This is called the influence of Suchness in the form of the “Transformation-body” (Nirmanakaya). Because they do not know that it is projected by the “evolving mind”, they regard it as coming from without; they assume that it has a corporeal limitation because their understanding is limited. The second is that which is conceived by the mind of the Bodhisattvas, from the first stage of aspiration to the highest stage, [i.e., the influence of Suchness as reflected] in the mentality which regards external objects as unreal. This is called the influence of Suchness in the form of the “Bliss-body” (Sambhogakaya). It has an infinite number of corporeal forms, each form has an infinite number of major marks, and each major mark has an infinite number of subtle marks. The land where it has its abode has innumerable adornments. It manifests itself without any bounds; its manifestations are inexhaustible and free from any limitations. It manifests itself in accordance with the needs of sentient beings; and yet it always remains firm without destroying or losing itself. These excellent qualities were perfected by the pure permeation acquired by the practice of paramitas and the suprarational permeation of Suchness. Since the influence is endowed with infinite attributes of bliss, it is spoken of as the “Bliss-body”. What is seen by ordinary men is only the coarse corporeal forms of the manifestation of Suchness. Depending upon where one is in the six transmigratory states, his vision of it will differ. The visions of it conceived by the unenlightened beings are not in a form of Bliss; this is the reason why it is called the “Transformation-body” [i.e., the body appearing in the likeness of the conceiver]. The Bodhisattvas in their first stage of aspiration and the others, because of their deep faith in Suchness, have a partial insight into the nature of the influence of Suchness. They know that the things of the Bliss-body, such as its corporeal forms, major marks, adornments, etc., do not come from without or go away, that they are free from limitations, and that they are envisioned by mind alone and are not independent of Suchness. These Bodhisattvas, however, are not free from dualistic thinking, since they have yet to enter into the stage where they gain complete realization of the Dharmakaya. If they advance to the “stage of pure-heartedness”, the forms they see will be subtler and the influences of Suchness will be more excellent than ever. When they leave the last stage of Bodhisattvahood, they will perfect their insight into Suchness. When they become free from the “activating mind” they will be free from the perceiving of duality. The Dharmakaya of the Buddhas knows no such thing as distinguishing this from that.

Question: If the Dharmakaya of the Buddhas is free from the manifestation of corporeal form, how can it appear in corporeal form?

Answer: Since the Dharmakaya is the essence of corporeal form, it is capable of appearing in corporeal form. The reason this is said is that from the beginning corporeal form and Mind have been nondual. Since the essential nature of corporeal form is identical with wisdom, the essence of corporeal form which has yet to be divided into tangible forms is called the “wisdom-body”. Since the essential nature of wisdom is identical with corporeal form, the essence of corporeal form which has yet to be divided into tangible forms is called Dharmakaya pervading everywhere. Its manifested corporeal forms have no limitations. It can be freely manifested as an infinite number of Bodhisattvas, Buddhas of Bliss-body, and adornments in the ten quarters of the universe. Each of them has neither limitation nor interference. All of these are incomprehensible to the dualistic thinking of the deluded mind and consciousness, for they result from the free influence of Suchness.

This entry was posted in Zen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Root of the Matter

  1. Zerthimon says:

    I have read the Awakening of Faith not long ago and found its systematic ordering of Mahayana truly remarkable; it is as if a German philosopher ordered it – so perfect its inner logic and flow. – I think it’s a great text for an advanced student to “map” the territory. – For me, it’s not yet the time. – I have decided to abandon all texts except three short excerpts on practice I selected, and keep them near the zafu – and just focus on that which is before all images for an indefinite time. Thank you dear spiritual companion! From here on – one must walk alone. But I will join you again when I finish inspecting my solitude, and continue my cultivation through your exegesis.

  2. Bodhichild says:

    Om shanti shanti shanti…

    🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*