Materialism is the great bane of all Lankavatarists. The Lanka pulls no punches in relaying the dangers of materialism:
“Materialists employ all manner of expressions, arguments, metaphors, and embellishments to attract and deceive foolish people. They do not accept the personal understanding of what is real, nor are they aware that their projection of what exists is a delusion. Falling prey to dualities, they confuse simpleminded people and also harm themselves and cannot escape their continuation in other forms of existence. Unable to understand what are nothing but perceptions of their own mind, they do not get free of their attachments to projections of external existence. Thus, those who engage in materialist eloquence do not escape deception and confusion or the sorrows and afflictions of birth, old age, illness, and death.” (Red Pine, pgs. 202-03)
The Lanka warns that one should “keep your distance from materialists because they are able to promote the causes of suffering. Don’t associate with them.” (Red Pine, pg. 203) Mahamati next proceeds to ask the Blessed One the distinction between “embracing desires of the flesh or the Dharma.” (Red Pine, pg. 207) The Buddha responds by stating that all desires of the flesh “refer to clutching or letting go, touching or tasting, attachment to external sensation, addiction to dualistic views, and rebirth once more in a suffering body along with the anxiety, grief and affliction of birth, old age, and death.” (Red Pine, pg. 207) The Dharma refers to “understanding what are nothing but perceptions of one’s own mind, seeing that beings have no self and that dharmas have no self, not giving rise to projections, becoming versed in the higher stages, transcending the mind, the will, and conceptual consciousness, having one’s forehead anointed with wisdom by all the buddhas, embracing and fulfilling the ten inexhaustible vows, and gaining mastery of all teachings…it means not falling prey to any view, any fabrication, any projection, any existence or duality.” (Red Pine, pg. 207) It’s interesting to note that in one of the concluding gathas concerning materialism the Lanka states that “the slightest movement of mind” is an indication of materialism, while being “unmoved” by all these projections one is able to Recollect Mind as Mind, devoid of all these phenomenal outflows. Also, in that concluding gatha (verse) we see the essential nature of the Tathagata (Thus Come, Thus Gone): no longer appearing or disappearing—no longer concerned with what “comes or goes” (Moving principle), thus ceasing (Unmoving Principle) the ebb and flow of all mind projections.
The Lanka next expounds upon the notion of liberation from the world: Nirvana. It makes it clear in unequivocal terms, that nirvanva does not mean the extinction of anything:
“For followers of some paths it is the cessation of the skandhas, the dhatus, and the ayatanas, or the absence of worldly desires, or the impermanence of everything they see, or the non-arising of any and all mental activity, or not thinking about past, future, or present states, or putting an end to all sensation, like the extinguishing of a lamp or a fire or the destruction of a seed, or not giving rise to projections.” (Red Pine, pg. 209) All of these are but notions of the discriminating mind. What it all boils down to, says the Lanka, is that all these false notions suffer from duality. And so, what is Nirvana? “Nirvana means fully understanding that it is nothing but the perceptions of one’s own mind…it is seeing what is real without falling prey to dualistic projections that are pwerceptions of one’s own mind and that are devoid of perceiver or perceived.” (Red Pine, pg. 211) Reinforcing here once again what was written about nirvana in an earlier blog: Nirvana is the Noble self-realization that there is no independent entity that needs salvation from an abstracted and defiled representation that masquerades as apparent existence; in this sense, nirvana is the annihilation of this false no-self representation, thus rendering it extinct. The meaning of nirvana is thus: Annihilation of the false, abstracted, no-self and giving full recollection to the undivided awareness power of the unborn mind.