Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind. Hence Buddhas of the past and future teach mind to mind without bothering about definitions. But if they don’t define it, what do they mean by mind? You ask. That’s your mind. I answer. That’s my mind. If I had no mind how could I answer? If you had no mind, how could you ask? That which asks is your mind. Through endless kalpas” without beginning, whatever you do, wherever you are, that’s your real mind, that’s your real buddha. This mind is the buddha” says the same thing. Beyond this mind you’ll never find another Buddha. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature the absence of cause and effect, is what’s meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a Buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind’, but such a place doesn’t exist.
Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space.
Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab if. Beyond mind you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of the mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind? Buddhas of the past and future only talk about this mind. The mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the mind. Beyond the mind there’s no Buddha and beyond the Buddha there’s no mind. If you think there is a Buddha beyond the mind’, where is he? There’s no Buddha beyond the mind, so why envision one? You can’t know your real mind as long as you deceive yourself. As long as you’re enthralled by a lifeless form, you’re not free. If you don’t believe me, deceiving yourself won’t help. It’s not the Buddha’s fault. People, though, are deluded. They’re unaware that their own mind is the Buddha. Otherwise they wouldn’t look for a Buddha outside the mind.
Bodhidharma (as well as Huang Po) says that if you try to seek outside Mind for Mind you will not find it; there are no set-parameters—the one asking this in the first place is the skandhic-mind. The Mind of the Buddha is always prior to anything you can ask or imagine. If you think there is a Buddha outside the Unborn Buddha Mind, you do so in vain. It’s like trying to grab space…it can’t be done. People become deluded because they search for this buddha-thing outside the Unborn Buddha Mind.
Buddhas don’t save Buddhas. If you use your mind to look for a Buddha, you won’t see the Buddha. As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you’ll never see that your own mind is the Buddha. Don’t use a Buddha to worship a Buddha. And don’t use the mind to invoke a Buddha.” Buddhas don’t recite sutras.” Buddhas don’t keep precepts.” And Buddhas don’t break precepts. Buddhas don’t keep or break anything. Buddhas don’t do good or evil.
This is an excellent example showing that phenomena can never, never be equaled with Buddha-nature. Buddhas do not save some nominally-conceived notion of a buddha; if you incessantly use your skandhic-infested mind to conceive of a buddha you will never find the Buddha. Don’t use a marble-chiseled buddha to worship a Buddha; using the skandhic-mind to invoke a Buddha is like trying to sculpt in smoke. You will never find a Buddha reading a sutra, or trying to overcome both good and evil.
To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature.” Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking Buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good memory; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth, and making offerings results in future blessings-but no buddha. If you don’t understand by yourself, you’ll have to find a teacher to get to the bottom of life and death. But unless he sees his nature, such a person isn’t a teacher. Even if he can recite the Twelvefold Canon he can’t escape the Wheel of Birth and Death. He suffers in the three realms without hope of release. Long ago, the monk Good Star was able to recite the entire Canon. But he didn’t escape the Wheel, because he didn’t see his nature. If this was the case with Good Star, then people nowadays who recite a few sutras or shastras and think it’s the Dharma are fools. Unless you see your mind, reciting so much prose is useless.
To find a Buddha all you have to do is see your nature. Your nature is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the person who’s free: free of plans, free of cares. If you don’t see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you’ll never find a buddha. The truth is there’s nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a teacher and you need to struggle to make yourself understand. Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain.
There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open. But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize then that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.
Whoever turns-about from sensate phenomena will invoke Unborn Light that shines on your true-nature—this is called climbing into the Dharma-womb; when the bodhi-seed is activated through bodhicitta—this is when the potential for Buddhahood arises. If one does not discover the dormant gotra (bodhichild with mystical familial ties with the Tathagatas), merely memorizing scripture or invoking mantras and engaging in soteriological practices will be a totally useless endeavor. Even if you find an erudite teacher, if he or she has not discovered the hidden bodhichild then their teaching is done in vain. Self-deception consists in taking the false fata morganas to be real; once one drinks those mystical waters from within the Dharma-womb one will never be subject to the diurnal wheel of samsaric life and death ever-again
These 40 days of spiritually sojourning with Vimalakirti have left an indelible imprint on my psyche. I have literally awoken daily with Vimalakirti, walked with Vimalakirti , meditated with Vimalakirti, absorbed Vimalakirti’s teaching and have received the auspicious gift of being afforded the grace to catch a tiny glimpse of just what constitutes Bodhisattvahood. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti has been classified as the “Crowning-Jewel” of the Mahayana; as indicated earlier, the Mahayana was originally referred to as the Bodhisattva-yana—and this auspicious Sutra certainly highlights why that was so. The Vimalakirti Sutra is a wonderful blend of the Prajñāpāramitā, Mādhyamikas and Avatamsaka traditions. One can indeed see the influences of these in their respective chapters—like when embracing the six paramitas (Prajñāpāramitā), the total re-evaluation of all values wherein the Bodhisattva is both sinner and saint and neither (Mādhyamikas) and the absolute mind-blowing stanzas that relay Vimalakirti’s miraculous powers (in sundry universes and planes of realities) and manomayakāyaic-transformations (Avatamsaka). While my heart shall always be devoted to the Lanka first and foremost, the Vimalakirti Sutra as well shall forever hold a place of undivided reverence.
The magnanimous spirit of Bodhi (undivided awareness in perfect wisdom yoked with the Tathagata-kaya [luminous body of the Tathagata] ) is fully revealed in the propitious pages of this Sutra. Some scholars have wrongly aligned the Bodhisattva in the same vein as the saint of monotheist religions. While certain parallels can be gleamed from such devotional (bhakti) practices associated with Bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara –whose own offshoots are Kuan-Yin and Kannon, along with a great pantheon (due to Hellenistic influences) of bodhisattvas, the similarity ends there; a Bodhisattva is a Bodhi-being in the unparalleled sense of the term. As foreshadowed even within the ancient Pāli texts (Nikāyas), a Bodhi-being (Bodhisatta) is That which constitutes the very “Essence” of Bodhicitta—or the communal power of [coming to the] awakened-mind of the Tathagatas, thus [being] empowered to annuttara-samyak-sambodhi, or Sammā-Sambuddha (permanently enlightened—one-in-being with the Buddha in the Pāli). In this light, a Bodhisattva is not just a stand-alone being—some kind of an idol that can be prayed to and invoked during times of personal crisis. A Bodhi-being is linked with the Unborn Light of infinite Tathagatas and shares, through the mystical umbilical-cord [within the Tathagata-garbha] of the bodhichild, the very Source of Tathata (Suchness). Invoking the aid of Bodhisattvas is essentially calling upon that illuminative light of all Bodhi-beings since the beginningless past.
As the Lanka winds-down, we are left with some very constructive impressions. Red Pine masterfully translates the great malady that affects all sentient beings—the diurnal wheel of samsara and its accompanying dependent origination:
“Fools let their thoughts wander among the names and appearances of convention to which they are attached. And as they wander among the multitude of shapes that appear, they fall prey to views and longings concerning a self and what belongs to a self, and they become attached to excelling. And once they are attached, they are blinded by ignorance and give rise to passion. And once they are inflamed, the karma produced by desire, anger, and delusion accumulates. And as it accumulates, they become enveloped in their own projections, like silkworms in cocoons, or submerged in boundless states of existence in the sea of birth and death, as if they were on a waterwheel. But because of their ignorance, they do not realize that their own existence is an illusion, a mirage, a reflection of moon in the water, and without a self or what belongs to a self, that is devoid of the origination, duration, or cessation of what characterizes or what is characterized, and that rises from the projections of their own mind and not from a creator, time, motes of dust, or a supreme being. Thus do they wander among names and appearances.” (Red Pine, pg. 245)
Nothing exceeds the Lanka in this assessment of what characterizes apparent life in the saha-realm—what a concise summation of the relentless ignorant wandering, confined to the prison of one’s own mind projections, yearning and even worshipping the animations rather than turning-about and Recollecting That which animates. In contrast, the sweetness of the bodhichild avoids “dualistic views of assertion or denial because [It] knows that names and appearances do not arise. This is what is meant by ‘suchness’. (Red Pine, pg. 245) Even the gods are awestruck as they witness this unsurpassed transformative bodhipower. The seeds of samsara no longer take root, and even all former belief-systems are mere child’s play when seen through Unborn Eyes That reflect no time-bound reality, but the unbounded bodhirealm of suchness. This self-realization of Noble Wisdom defies any comparison, “Mahamati, those who establish their own understanding [the self-realization] are beyond worldly expectations, and ordinary people find it hard to believe them, for there is nothing to which the realm of personal realization of buddha knowledge can be compared. Tathagatas are truly beyond the characteristics perceived by the mind, the will, or conceptual consciousness. They are beyond comparison.” (Red Pine, pg. 249) Truly the Way of the Lankavatarian is not a popular one—it will never win a popularity contest and it never desires to do so as it is “beyond worldly expectations”; it has broken all former ties to samsara and has severed the strings of the puppetmaster. (i.e, mind, will, conceptual consciousness.)
It’s all a Magical Mystery Tour after all, where “nothing is real, nothing to get hungabout”, just Strawberry Fields forever in the karmadhatu of the vijnanas. What is Real, is the dharmadathu, where the Real looks at the Real and no-thing else. (Suchness) In true Bodhisattvic spirit, the Lankavatarian practices the six transcendent paramitas of wisdom:
“Not letting their mind become attached to material appearances, they engage in the transcendent practice of the paramita of charity for the happiness of all beings. Not giving rise to the restrictions regarding the projection of objective conditions, this is the paramita of morality. Not giving rise to the projection of patience while knowing what grasps and what is grasped, this is the paramita of forbearance. Not giving rise to the projection of practice while practicing with zeal during the three periods of the night, this is the paramita of vigor. Not becoming attached to the nirvana of the shravakas when projections cease, this is the paramita of meditation. And examining the nonexistence of the projections of one’s mind with insight without falling into dualities, and transforming one’s karmic body into an indestructible one, and reaching the realm of the personal realization of Buddha knowledge, this is the paramita of wisdom.” (Red Pine, pg. 257) Not being attached or unattached is key here. All former karmic afflictions and attachments and associations are forever silenced as the undivided power of Bodhi fills one with peaceful quietude. Even the concluding segment on vegetarianism is a reminder of just how compassionate this Lankaian stance is, “Because of my past acts of great compassion, I look on all beings as I would a child. And why would I approve eating the flesh of children?” (Red Pine, pg. 265)
The long and winding road of the Lanka leads to the imageless door of the Tathagatas which opens to the other shore of deathlessness. On your own journey to the Undiscovered Shore of the Unborn, through untold hours of disciplined dhyana and faithful study of this Sutra, may this auspicious gift awaken you to Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.
Let us conclude with the Lankavatara Dharani Blessing…may it truly lead to liberation from all Maras:
Tutte, tutte—vutte, vutte—patte, patte—katte, katte—amale, amale—vimale, vimale—nime, nime—hime, hime—vame, vame—kale, kale, kale, kale—atte, matte—vatte, tutte—jnette, sputte—katte, katte—latte, patte—dime dime—cale, cale—pace, pace—badhe, bandhe—ance, mance—dutare, dutare—patare, patare—arkke, arkke—sarkke, sarkke—cakre, cakre—dime, dime—hime, hime—tu tu tu tu –du du du du –ru ru ru ru–phu phu phu phu–svaha.
Having been graced with a full understanding of the Noble Wisdom of self-realization, the perfected bodhisattvas (mature garbha, or bodhichild) enter into deep and unfathomable samadhis for the benefit of all sentient beings: “And they enter hundreds of thousands of samadhis, countless hundreds of thousands of samadhis. And as they do so, they travel to other buddhalands and venerate other buddhas and are reborn in celestial palaces, where they praise the three treasures and appear as buddhas themselves surrounded by assemblies of sharvakas and bodhisattvas, and where they liberate beings by explaining to them that what they perceive is nothing but their own mind and that external existence does not exist, thus enabling them to transcend such views as existence and nonexistence.” Perfected in this fashion, these noble champions of Unborn Light empower the blind to see with imageless eyes that all dualistic manifestations are nothing more than fata morganas on the plane of emptiness (sunyata); devoid of self-awakening and recollection of the true and Primordial Self-hood in the dharmatic womb of suchness—tathata—these unwholesome projections of the deluded mind can even lead to the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, the awful curses of believing that some-thing (apart from the Unborn Mind) can exist forever—while simultaneously a belief that this thing-ness is basically a form of nothingness. The Lanka teaches that it is always best to avoid all forms of discriminatory assertions and denials—and also to never cling to the “word-ness” of things since this can lead to extreme wordiness and thus utter dependence upon words (vs. what words are pointing to) in themselves.
Section XXVIII begins to discuss the nature of the tathata-garbha: Red Pine highlights this understanding as, “The Buddha explains how the tathagata-garbha is not the same as a self but rather an expedient means used to attract those who cling to a self by providing something less frightening than no self.” Florin Sutton, in his analysis of the Lanka, Existence and Enlightenment in the Lankavatara Sutra, expounds upon it further: “For instance, we will find that quite often Tathagata-garbha is used with a sense resemblant to the Hindu Atman, that is, as an underlying ontological Reality, or essential nature behind phenomena.This can be said to attribute a passive, or static, quality to the garbha element in the compound. An opposite meaning is distinguishable when the Tathagata-garbha is said to evolve, or be set in motion, along with the personality aggregates (skandhas), elements (dhaatus), and bases (ayatanas). In such a case, the meaning of garbha is very appropriately rendered by the words “embryo”, “germ”, or “seed”, which suggest a dynamic, active sense. A third possible, intermediate, meaning – rendered by the words “womb”, “matrix”, or “receptacle” – as something potentially active but dormant (like a seed or an embryo) is conferred by Tathagata-garbha when explicitly equated with Alaya-vijnana, a situation uniquely evidenced in the Lankavatara-sutra.” (Sutton, p. 52) Sutton’s work wonderfully highlights that the nature of the Tathagata-garbha has a wide spectrum of scholarly interpretations—all culminating in the sense that it is used in a heavily didactic sense for expedient purposes. A note of caution: Red Pine translates the end of this section: “Therefore, Mahamati, in order to avoid the views of followers of other paths, you should rely on the selfless tathagata-garbha.” What he essentially means as “selfless” is the absence of the skandhas, as verse XXIX states, “A continuous person in the skandhas…projections of nothing but mind.” Suzuki translates the end of section XXVIII: “Therefore, Mahamati, in order to abandon the misconception cherished by the philosophers, you must strive after the teaching of egolessness and the Tathagata-garbha.” Suzuki has the better rendering since “egolessness AND the Tathagata-garbha” is preferable to “selfless tathagata-garbha”—which can be misconstrued as the womb of suchness somehow being aligned with and an affirmation of anātmanism.
For a full mystical slant on the nature of the tathataga-garbha and the growth of the developing bodhisattvic fetus, or bodhichild, the following video from part 3 of Tozen’s Dharmakaya Sutra offers a hearty dose of Bodhicitta–or the undivided bodhipower of the awakening mind:
The dark contemplation, aligned with the Spirit of Bodhi, descends like a blanket of divine darkness over the sensate and spiritual faculties of the adept. What transpires next is a refined cleansing of both faculties. Firstly, the skandhas are purged, awakening the bodhichild from its former slumber within endless cycles of desire—its eyes now beholding the undivided awareness power of the Unborn Mind. Now forming within the dark-garbha of superessential light, this child’s own Bodhisoul is marked with auspicious qualities of buddhaic grace, thus initiating its own baptism in union with the Unborn Spirit and Mind.
The purgation of the skandhas is most ordinary and can occur with regularity for even the most elementary adept. Whereas the illumination within the Bodhisoul is most rare and happens as infrequently as a flower appearing in the deepest snows of Tibet; one needs to be deeply attuned to the Power of Bodhi and disciplined in the Recollective Resolve whose constant vigilance awaits the arrival of its Imageless Master. Many adepts never grasp this divine self-realization and those who do cannot describe this ineffable state of grace.
Blinded by the skandhas, a young adept is bewitched by their influences and is inclined to favor their own inner-impulses and desires that hinder them on this path to Divine Union. If one fully attunes their dharma ears (dhammasota) to the ever-abiding and loving influence of the Unborn Spirit, these primal instincts and yearnings can be transmuted into the loving gaze of the inner-bodhichild, whose own recollective fervor is designed to transcend the effects of the skandhas in favor of its Bodhisoul’s exclusive union with the Unborn Spirit and Mind and no-thing else. In this fashion, one is liberated from their skandhic imperfections empowering them to enter into communion with the very vivifying Source of their self-nature.
Through this dark contemplation, the adept can now say adieu to their own imagination, as image after insatiable image is dispelled through the rays of divine darkness. One’s former discursive thought-patterns are now stilled as the sweet breathe of the bodhichild whispers its canticle of self-awakening… “Awake, O Sleeper, Arise from the dead, and the Light of the Unborn will shine upon you.”
The 16th century Spanish Mystic John of the Cross was most prolific when it came to spiritual writing that focused upon “All-Created-Things” that could hinder the path to Union with the Imageless purity of the Unborn. Although catholic in expedient form and using language that needed to appease the religious authority of the time, one can still discern the hidden “arcane” reason shining through to help the adept on the road to full Recollection of the Unborn Buddha Mind. If read in light of the Unborn, then his writings can prove to be of help for those adepts who struggle with their own “practice”. His classic poem, The Dark Night of the Soul, can be read as a loving process that depicts the movement from created obstructions to the very heart and development of the bodhichild. (Bodhisattvic Child of Light)
One dark night,
Fired with love’s urgent longings
–Ah, the sheer grace!—
I went out unseen,
My house being now all stilled;
This “night” is darkness to the senses; in a very real sense, the adept is now “free” of their bewitching influence by way of the “Turn-About” and, fired with the urgency of the antecedent vigilance, invokes the recollective-power of the Unborn. The effects are very grace-filled indeed! The volatile mind is now silenced as the “I” evaporates in the ecstasy of the recollective vigor; “My House” meaning the presence of the Five Skandhas (form, sensation, thought, motion, mortal consciousness) are no longer effective and hence “stilled”.
In darkness, and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised,
–Ah, the sheer grace!—
In darkness and concealment,
My house being now all stilled;
The luminous darkness of the Buddhic Light enhances securement from the former skandhic hold as if by a “secret ladder” ascending and descending right in the very midst of phenomena itself. The effects are very grace-filled indeed! The last two verses are a loving repetition of the recollective vigor.
On that glad night,
In secret, for no one saw me,
Nor did I look at anything,
With no other light or guide
Than the one that burned in my heart;
A further loving repetition of the recollective resolve; “In secret, for no one saw me”—meaning the gnostic and grace-filled moment cannot be understood nor recognized through the lens of skandhic perception; which, by the way, is an indicative reminder that phenomena is too ill-equipped and therefore void to the illuminating encounter; “Nor did I look at anything”—once again the “I” is absent since there is no phenomena for it to behold; “With no other light or guide Than the One that burned in my heart”—Indeed, the marvelous illuminating dark principle is all one needs since it is the authentic guide that is the constant pilot-light of the heart.
This guided me
More surely than the light of noon
To where Christ waited for me
–Him I knew so well—
In a place where no one else appeared.
IT alone is the guiding Light “More surely than the light of noon”—indeed! “To where Christ waited for me”—Christ—the anointed One of the Unborn, the great Bodhisattva Bringer of Light; “Him I knew so well, In a place where no one else appeared”—meaning, the “gotra”, the seedbed of the dormant Christ-bodhichild—a place where nothing else “created” appears.
O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
The Lover with His beloved,
Transforming the beloved in her Lover.
A very significant and highly mystical verse; after the first two lines that sing further praise to the dark wonder bestowed within the recollective resolve, the verse depicts the actual “union” of the bodhichild with the Unborn. The marvelous moment of consecrated ecstasy occurs as this mystic child becomes transformed within Unborn Light Itself.
Upon my flowering breast
Which I kept wholly for Him alone,
There He lay sleeping,
And I caressing Him
There in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
After union, the language depicts the loving intimacy and careful nurturing of this Self-Actualized Child and future Tathagata.
When the breeze blew from the turret
Parting His hair,
He wounded my neck
With His gentle hand,
Suspending all my senses.
The opening line of this verse is reminiscent of a line from the Flower Ornament Scripture: “The pure light does not shine in vain–Any who meet IT, IT will cause to dissolve heavy barriers…” The purity of the bodhichild bespeaks intimacy with the Light; when one is attuned with this gentle Child of Light, a “spiritual wound” occurs–meaning the dark night of spirit now overshadows the garish light of the senses; thus dissolving and suspending them.
I abandonded and forgot myself,
Laying my face on my Beloved;
All things ceased; I went out from myself,
Leaving all my cares
Forgotten among the lilies.
This final verse depicts the total abandonment of the false-self through the abiding and total attentive care of the bodhichild; nothing else matters now but this persistent and vigilant attentiveness. ALL one’s cares are now forgotten among the lilies…
Essentially, metanoia (greek) means an inward conversion, a radical change of heart through the “turning-about” within the deepest recesses of consciousness. Jesus the Christ in Matthew’s Gospel account explains it thus, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 18:3) The Lankavatara Sutra calls this radical inner conversion, the turn-about—pavavritti—or a sudden awakening within the dormant bodhimind of the aspiring adept. In Unbornmind Zen, Jesus’ words ring true concerning the notion of becoming childlike in this endeavor, for it is the dormant gotra, or bodhiseed that gradually develops into the bodhichild (developing bodhisattva); it is this bodhichild that turns-about from defiled sensate phenomena and begins the process of Recollecting its true essential and primordial stature in the Unborn Buddha Mind.
Why this whole emphasis upon becoming childlike in order to realize the Nirvanic Kingdom of your Inner-Selfhood, or Dharmakaya? (ref: previous post) Without this metanoia, the weary samsaric soul remains bound to its aggregated perceptional environment, much like The Dhammapada describing a land-bound fish suffocating from lack of water. It is the childlike, receptive quality, of the inner bodhichild that receives the necessary buddhaic-grace from countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in order to break-free from the redundant cycle of dependent origination, thereby turning-back to the primordial pool of the Dharmakaya Itself. As Tozen’s Dharmakaya Sutra states, this is an imageless affair of true perfection within the Unborn Mind, devoid of the interference from its temporal consciousness. (Dharmakaya Sutra, 4:16)
Invoking metanoia is a true source of wisdom, of listening to the Unborn Spirit within the dharmawomb of the tatagatagarbha; this requires a fine-tuning of one’s own dharma-ear (Dhammasota), thus empowering and engendering the dormant gotra to awaken and claim its rightful affinity as a pure Bodhichild of Unborn Light. In this fashion, one becomes enlightened and enlivened with a new heart and a new spirit, wherein one’s stony-hearts from yesteryear slowly descends and dissolves away in the dark waters of Bodhi.