Hui Hai (720-814)
Q: What does it mean when the sutra says: “The sound of discussion has ceased, and the role of thought is done”?
A: Words are used to manifest the doctrine. After understanding the doctrine, then, words are useless. The doctrine is void, voidness is the Tao, and the Tao is without words. This is the meaning of “The sound of discussion has ceased”. Since the real meaning of the doctrine does not give rise to a single thought or perception and because no thought or perception arises, it is unborn. Furthermore, because it is unborn, then the fundamental nature of all forms is void, Next, since the fundamental nature of all forms is void, then everything in the world is non-existent. Finally, since all things are fundamentally non-existent, “the role of thought is done”.
The best kind of understanding is a placid silence, no more; the “sound” of all dichotomous rambling is rendered null and void. The nature of this void is the Tao or Unborn. The Unborn doesn’t give rise to the thought-process. All incessantly moving perceptions in the realm of thought are skandhic-based. Motionless soundless-sound is Tathatic-based: Mahasunya, or entrance into the sanctum sanctorum of the Unborn Mind, wherein all sense of “otherness” dissolves away like debris settling on the depths of the still ocean bottom.
Q: What is the meaning of “The immutability of the Absolute is maintained in every state”?
A: “The immutability of the Absolute is maintained in every state” means, simply, that it is both never moved and forever unmoving. This is the mind of Bhutatathata, which is also referred to as Suchness. In reality, all Buddhas in the past attained Enlightenment by means of the principle of immutability. Also, all Buddhas in the present have attained Enlightenment in this way. Finally, all Buddhas in the future who practice in this way will attain Enlightenment. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: “It has ever been like this with all Buddhas; and it will ever be like this with Maitreya as well as with all sentient beings, because none of them can ever be dissociated from their Buddha-Nature.”
The Bhutatathatic-Mind is Absolute in Its Suchness. The Immutable Principle behind this is the markless-mark of the Mind of all Buddhas. As Hui Hai expounds, it has ever-been As Such with all Buddhas of the three times. It is also True As Such for all Tathagatas That transcend all temporal dimensions. Buddha-Nature is incontrovertibly woven in and between all known and unknown centres of higher-consciousness.