The Nescience Entrenchment

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(Death of Nescience:medusainfurs)

“World-Honored One, to say that the Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas now they are no more subject to future existence does not mean that they have eradicated all defilements or that they know all their rebirth. Why? The Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas still have some residual defilements not yet eradicated; therefore, they cannot know all their rebirths. 

“There are two kinds of defilements: underlying defilements and active defilements.” The underlying defilements are four in number. What are they? Attachment to a particular viewpoint, attachment to desire, attachment to form, and craving for existence. World-Honored One, these four underlying defilements can produce all active defilements. The active defilements arise from moment to moment in concomitance with the mind. World-Honored One, the underlying defilement of ignorance for their existence and growth. Once the underlying defilement of ignorance is cut off, all these defilements, will simultaneously be cut off.

underlying defilements are four in number: Wayman’s footnote:

“This group is obviously based on the Abhidharma subdivisions of the term upādāna, the ninth member of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada). According to Abhidharmakośa III, tr. p. 86, the Sautrantika view on the four kinds of upādāna is as follows:
kāma-upādāna = indulgence in the five strands of desire (the five sense objects).
dṛṣti-upādāna = indulgence in any of the 62 views of the Brahmajālasūtra.
śīlavrata–upādāna = indulgence in useless rules and vows.
ātmavāda-upādāna (understood as ātnabhāva-upādāna) = indulgence in embodiment.
When we compare the four static kinds of defilement, we notice:
I. static kind based in a particular viewpoint = drṣṭi-upādāna.
2. static kind in attraction to desire = kāma-upādāna.
3. static kind in attraction to form is a substitute for the old category śīlavrata-upādāna..
4. static kind in attraction to gestation = ātmabhāva-upāddāa.
The old expression śīlvrata-upādāna seems to have lost meaning over the centuries.
It is problematical whether the substitute expression “static kind in attraction to form” is intended to be equivalent to the old category, especially since the śīlavrata-upādāna can be subsumed under dṛṣti-upādāna (cf. Lamotte, Le Traité, I, 423), and thus disappear from explicit mention.”

*Entrenched avidya (lacking awareness): the nescience entrenchment (Wayman’s phrase) The main translation we have been using skips these passages completely; hence we will need to switch-over briefly to Wayman’s translation to cover them as they are of special significance. 

“Lord, the nescience entrenchment which has existed from beginingless time is unconscious. The great power among those four static kinds is the substratum of all the secondary defilements, but those four cannot bear comparison with the great power of the nescience entrenchment in terms of magnitude, portion, count, example, or cause. That being the case, the nescience entrenchment is the greatest power; it is also called ‘static kind in attraction to [supramundane] gestation.’ For example, the sinful Maras belong to the Paranirmitavasavartin class of gods; still they surpass those gods in shape, color, radiance, power, retinue, and lordliness. In the same way, this nescience entrenchment called ‘static kind in attraction to [supramundane] gestation’ surpasses those four by way of entrenchment. It is the foundation exceeding the Ganges sands of secondary defilements. It has cohabited a long time with the four defilements. It cannot be erased by the knowledge of the Disciples and the Self-Enlightened. It is destroyed only by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagatas. 

The Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas have been able to overcome the four defilements, yet they are still in the death-throes, as it were, of those adventitious defilements of primordial origin that are now deeply entrenched in the alaya-consciousness. Even the most astute Bodhisattva is affected by this nescience entrenchment which is avidya to the nth degree and hence is limitless and immeasurable. Such is the soiled vehicle of the alaya that has been accumulating these unconscious factors since time immemorial. This is the direct antithesis of the Tathagatagarbha that houses the unsoiled Dharma-seed and developing-embryo of the *Dharma-child. By the same token, it is the greatest enemy of the *Garbha-child and can prevent it from reaching maturity. 

the Paranirmitavasavartin class of gods: Mara is the chief of the foremost classification of gods in the Kāmāvacara worlds, or the Paranirmitavasavartin-devas. The “Maras” are members of his evil spiritual-clan.

It is destroyed only by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagatas: this type of avidya, which is like a metastasized core-cancer cell at the very heart of the Alaya, can only be ultimately dismembered and destroyed by the Luminous-Light of the Tathagatas.

*Another epithet for bodhichild

“Lord, indeed the nescience entrenchment is of great power. For example, with indulgence as condition and fluxional action as basic cause, there arises three kinds of gestation. In the same way, with nescience entrenchment as condition and nonfluxional action as basic cause, there arise the three bodies made of mind belonging to the Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas who have attained power. The nescience entrenchment is the condition for manifesting the nonfluxional karma and for the arising of these three bodies made of mind in three stages. Lord, there being a condition, a condition arises. That being the case, the nescience entrenchment is the condition for nonfluxional action and for the three bodies made of mind. For this reason it has the same name as the static kind in attraction to [mundane] gestation. However, its action is not common with the static kind in attraction to [mundane] gestation, since the nescience entrenchment is indeed different from the four static kinds. It is to be eliminated by the Buddha stage and to be utterly eradicated by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagata. The reason is that when the Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas eliminate the four static kinds, they neither gain the power over the ending of fluxes not do they manage to realize it directly. 

the three bodies made of mind: this is in reference to the early-mode of manomaya-kaya from the previous blog. The reason why they can be afflicted is that the nescience entrenchment is a ripe-condition for non-fluxional action; hence any proper bodhiflow is intercepted, obstructed, and thwarted from developing, essentially impeded via the nescience entrenchment that is the nefarious tool of the maras. Indeed, it is on the level of manomaya-kaya [in early-psychological mode] that the Beast entraps many here in lesser mind-fields. Tozen describes this in his Dharmakaya Sutra:

All these created realms, whether appearing as heavens or hells and believed to be inhabited or even existing as such on various levels by sentient beings, are mere apparitions of the skandhic mind. This is true whether they are experienced as rational or irrational worlds of certain predetermined conditions, or whether experienced as joyful or non-joyful, or experienced as razor-sharp realities of form awareness or void awareness, or even as various transparencies of embodied spiritual phenomena.

It’s a true inversion of Mind’s (and the developing bodhichild) proper development. Mara is the Absolute Monarch in these dim-worlds of the artificial; he once challenged the Blessed One with disdain:

Thou art a human being, Recluse, while I am a deva; thou wilt not escape from me.A recluse’s body is born of a mother and father, is a heap of boiled rice and sour milk, is subject to rubbing, massaging, sleep, dissolution, disintegration and destruction; while my body, Recluse, is made of mind (manomaya-kaya).” (Mv, II, 269 (Mv J, II, 253); cf. also Mv, II, 277-278 (Mv J, II, 260)

“Lord, ‘ending of fluxes’ is a term applying to the nescience entrenchment. That being so, even the Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and the Bodhisattvas in their last life, are obscured and prevented, are enwrapped and blinded by the nescience entrenchment. That is why they do not search and do not comprehend this and that nature (dharma). Not searching and not seeing this and that nature, they do not eliminate this and that nature which should be eliminated and purified. Since they do not eliminate or purify those natures to be eliminated, they are attended with remainder of elimination from faults, i.e., they are not liberated from all faults. They are subjects attended with remainder of purity since they are not subjects with complete purity. Their merits are attended with remainder because they do not have all merits. Lord, whoever are attended with a remainder of liberation from faults and so have not been liberated from all faults; who are subjects attended with remainder of purity and so are not subjects of complete purity; who are attended with remainder of merits and so do not have all merits are persons attended with remainder of suffering to search, attended with remainder of source of suffering to eliminate, attended with remainder of cessation of suffering to realize directly, and attended with remainder of path leading to the cessation of suffering to cultivate.

Another salient dimension of the effects from the nescience entrenchment: complete lack of gnosis and awareness. Also, their Dharma-eye, the direct route to Enlightenment in the Unborn, is struck as if blinded from any form of vision. Thus the umbilical-cord of the developing gotra (Dharma-fetus) is severed from further supernal contact with the Tathagata family.

“Lord, whoever are attended with remainder of suffering to search, of source of suffering to eliminate, of cessation of suffering to realize directly, and of path leading to the cessation of suffering to cultivate are persons who have a fractional Nirvana. Those who have attained a fractional Nirvana, Lord, are called ‘directed toward the Nirvana-realm.’ Those who search all suffering, who eliminate all sources of suffering, who realize directly the cessation of suffering attain the permanent, calm, and cooled Nirvana in the world destroyed by impermanence and ever sick, and become the protection and refuge of the world in a world without protection and refuge. Why so? Because Nirvana is not attained by those who distinguish superior and inferior natures: it is attained by those for whom knowledge is equal; it is attained by those for whom pure knowledge and vision are equal. Therefore, the Nirvana-realm has a single taste (ekarasa). That is to say, the tastes of knowledge and liberation are identical. Lord, whichever persons do not eliminate or purify the nescience entrenchment, are ones without the single taste of the Nirvana-realm; that is to say, for them, knowledge and liberation taste different. Why is it so? Because they who do not eliminate or purify the nescience entrenchment, do not eliminate or purify the natures to be eliminated that are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges; and when they do not eliminate or purify the natures to be eliminated that are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges, they do not reach, do not experience directly the virtuous natures more numerous than the sands of the Ganges. 

Since the nescience entrenchment has not been severed completely, there is no adequate understanding of the Four Noble Truths; hence since their Buddha-nature has not matured in proper Self-recognition, they are eternally bonded to the endless sands of samsara with incessant searching and suffering. They will never develop the one-singular-taste for nirvana—ekarasa.

“Lord, that being the case, the nescience entrenchment is the source from which arise all the [primary] defilements and secondary defilements, which should be eliminated by contemplation. 

Mahasidhra was describing an example of the nescience entrenchment the other day in his blog, “The Power of Nightmares,” and the way to combat it through Right Contemplation. 

From that [nescience entrenchment] there also arise the secondary defilements on thoughts, on calming, on clear vision, on meditation, on intense concentration, on equipoise, on yoga, on knowing, on the fruit, on understanding, on power, on fearlessness.

Nescience entrenchment is Invincible Ignorance, and the only way to combat it, lest it obstruct all one’s means to self-growth in the Unborn is through proper Buddha-gnosis, Right Contemplation, and above all, as stated earlier, proper recourse to the Wisdom of the Tathagatas.

“Lord, the secondary defilements which are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges are utterly eradicated by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagatas; and all of them arise from the nescience entrenchment. The nescience entrenchment is the cause and condition for all the secondary defilements and their manifestations. Those manifestations are momentary, a moment of consciousness and its associate (a dharma). From time immemorial, the nescience entrenchment has been unconscious. The natures to be eliminated, more numerous than the sands of the Ganges and which are utterly eradicated by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagatas, are all natures whose substratum and foundation is the nescience entrenchment. For example, whatever kind of seed it be, or grass, shrub, herb, or tree, all of them are founded on soil, germinate on soil, and grow on soil. If the great earth were shattered, should disintegrate, be displaced, and become nonexistent, then whatever kind of seed it be, or grass, shrub, herb, or tree, all of them would be shattered, would disintegrate, be displaced, and become nonexistent.

Lord, in the same way, the natures to be eliminated, exceeding the sands of the Ganges River, which are all utterly eradicated by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagata, are founded on the nescience entrenchment, are situated on the nescience entrenchment, germinate and grow [there]. If the nescience entrenchment were eliminated or purified and were to become nonexistent, the natures to be eliminated, exceeding the sands of the Ganges River, which are all utterly eradicated by the enlightenment wisdom of the Tathagata, would all be eliminated or purified and become nonexistent.” 

From this segment on the nescience entrenchment, one discerns that it is the main impediment to growth in the Unborn Mind. It is also a very clear and present danger to the developing gotra (Dharma-child) as it can circumvent direct Buddha-gnosis and Right Recollection of the Absolute Body of Truth—the Dharmakaya, without which, the Nirvana-Realm of the Tathagatas will never be Self-Realized.

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