- b. The Aspect of Nonenlightenment
Because of not truly realizing oneness with Suchness, there emerges an unenlightened mind and, consequently, its thoughts. These thoughts do not have any validity to be substantiated; therefore, they are not independent of the original enlightenment. It is like the case of a man who has lost his way: he is confused because of [his wrong sense of] direction. If he is freed from [the notion of] direction altogether, then there will be no such thing as going astray. It is the same with men: because of [the notion of] enlightenment, they are confused. But if they are freed from [the fixed notion of] enlightenment, then there will be no such thing as nonenlightenment. Because [there are men] of unenlightened, deluded mind, for them we speak of true enlightenment, knowing well what this [relative] term stands for. Independent of the unenlightened mind, there are no independent marks of true enlightenment itself that can be discussed.
Erratic thoughts are the result of losing touch with one’s Self-Same Suchness. Mind gets into the habit of second-guessing Its pure Essential-Stature and instead gets lost in a phenomenal-maze created from Its own discriminatory outflows. It’s like someone losing their sense of Right Direction. Mind’s proper compass is wu-wei (actionless spontaneity); if it begins to stutter then it slides into subjectivity and the mad game with Its own created images is on. Hence both enlightenment and non-enlightenment become concepts that hound Mind into oblivion.
Because of its nonenlightened state, [the deluded mind] produces three aspects that are bound to nonenlightenment and are inseparable from it.
First is the activity of ignorance. The agitation of mind because of its nonenlightened state is called activity. When enlightened, it is unagitated. When it is agitated, anxiety (duhkha) follows, for the result [i.e., anxiety] is not independent of the cause [i.e., the agitation contingent upon ignorance].
We now come to a series of deluded-mind episodes that can be likened to a construct of Star Wars: “A Disturbance in the Force there is…” As Master Yoda exclaims something goes awry in the Force (Bodhi-Mind) that is usually a Unitive-Power that binds-together all that is and is not. For our purposes here it is a kink in the proper flow of bodhipower resulting in agitation and loss of proper mindfulness. As a result nonenlightened activity ensues. Once again this is vincible enlightenment and its first activity is ignorance (avidya). When the Force is flowing with Wu-Wei there is no agitation; when “becoming” agitated dukkha is born.
Second is the perceiving subject. Because of the agitation [that breaks the original unity with Suchness], there appears the perceiving subject. When unagitated, [the mind] is free from perceiving.
Agitation begets subjectivity and the false no-mind self is born. This beast is a perceptional one and what it perceives is devoid of sukka (satisfaction); when unagitated Mind is once again freed from all perceptional pursuits.
Third is the world of objects. Because of the perceiving subject, the world of objects erroneously appears. Apart from the perceiving, there will be no world of objects.
Apart from the dirty lens of perception, there is no defiling garbha; objective reality is only real in the eye of the skandhic-perceiver. When the lens is cleansed, the act of perception and its resulting objects are null and void.
Conditioned by the [incorrectly conceived] world of objects, [the deluded mind] produces six aspects.
First is the aspect of the [discriminating] intellect. Depending on the [erroneously conceived] world of objects, the mind develops the discrimination between liking and disliking.
With the alaya-consciousness as its base, manas arises and its function is mentation, grasping all in its defiled field in a discriminatory manner.
Second is the aspect of continuity. By virtue of [the discriminating function of ] the intellect, the mind produces an awareness of pleasure and pain [with regard to things] in the world of objects. The mind, developing [deluded] thoughts and being bound to them, will continue uninterrupted.
Now bearing unwholesome seeds, emanating from the six-fold manifesting vjñānas, manas becomes incessantly self-deluded and even dependently infatuated with its defiled field.
Third is the aspect of attachment. Because of the continuity [of deluded thoughts], the mind, superimposing its deluded thoughts on the world of objects and holding fast to [the discriminations of liking and disliking] develops attachments [to what it likes].
With its misguided attempts to survive in its malignant atmosphere, manas craves continuation and blindly becomes attached to its own blind yearning.
Fourth is the aspect of the speculation (vikalpa) on names and letters [i.e., concepts]. On the basis of erroneous attachments, [the deluded mind] analyzes words that are provisional [and therefore devoid of validity].
The mano-vijñāna reality is always a provisional one and therefore conditioned upon particulars; yet in the Mind’s Dharma-Eye they are all devoid of any validity.
Fifth is the aspect of giving rise to [evil] karma. Relying on names and letters [i.e., concepts that have no validity, the deluded mind] investigates names and words and becomes attached to them, and creates manifold types of evil karma.
Given the various habit-energies of these deluded mind-fields, the manas experiences the ripening of evil karma, all conditioned upon a false-conceptual data-stream from the evil one.
Sixth is the aspect of anxiety attached to the [effects of evil] karma. Because of the [law of] karma, the deluded mind suffers the effects and will not be free. It should be understood that ignorance is able to produce all types of defiled states; all defiled states are aspects of nonenlightenment.
The Law of Karma induces an endless stream of anxiety from which there is no respite or escape. As stated all these defiled-states are aspects of vincible enlightenment and are incurred as such.
Another interesting compendium of all Mahayana is the Uttara-tantra-shastra AKA the Ratnagotravibhāga. I think the intention of that shastra was essentially the same. It was composed by a Yogācārin, Sthiramati.
Awakening Mahayanic Faith was “translated” by Paramārtha (499-569 CE), but scholars today believe he actually composed it. Interesting, this is the same guy who came up with the 9th Consciousness (an idea that pretty much died, that there’s a “pure consciousness” above the ālaya – instead, the Zen idea that the ālaya is originally pure prevailed).
The two texts seem to have a common goal: to systematize and unite all Buddhist insights into a single, coherent whole, from the vantage point of Tathāgatagarbha as the culmination of Lord Buddha’s teaching.
It would be interesting to compare the two texts.
Anyway, excuse this digression from the content of the shastra.
(The reason I mentioned the Uttara-tantra was to hear your thoughts about comparison with the Awakening shastra.)
I offer the following link; pretty much an exhaustive commentary on the Uttaratantra. You’re right, in terms of the root measure of suchness, tathagatagarbha, dharmadhatu, absolute truth these could be considered as sister texts.
Kantairon, it pleases me to see how your earnest studies have borne fruit. In truth I have every confidence in the accomplishment of your spiritual journey, and pray to all the Buddhas to continue to support you.
Thanks for the kind words n. yeti. The benevolence of the Buddha is truly all-encompassing. Let us express gratitude continously for having the luck of encountering the Dharma in this human birth. How have you been? It’s been a relatively long time.
Thanks for the very useful link, Vajragoni.
I’ve been waiting for Vajragoni to get around to this important series, so haven’t been popping in much, just observing. I suppose that’s the equivalent of ringing the doorbell and running away but I’ve been focused on other things.