Lying On the Couch of Unitary Thusness


Today’s Blog-Title comes from Wŏnhyo’s opening comment to his exegesis on the Fourth Chapter. “When bodhisattvas cultivate contemplation and gain nonproduction, they thoroughly penetrate to the fact that sentient beings are originally calm and quiescent, which is their original enlightenment. Lying on the couch of unitary thusness, they benefit sentient beings through this original inspiration.” [ibid, pg. 137] Wŏnhyo assures that this is a most beneficial enterprise—one that shatters “the great dream of deluded [consciousness—inclusion mine] and conceptions.” Once all delusional episodes are shredded, one rests in calm equipoise on the velvety couch of unborn quiescence.

Chapter Four: The Benediction of Self-Enlightenment

At that time, Apratisthia (Non-Abiding) Bodhisattva heard the Buddha’s discourse on single-taste Reality, which is inconceivable. From faraway land (most probably another world system) he had personally come near to the tathagata’s seat with the sole intention of listening to the discourse on Noble-Truth. Accessing the pure domain [of the Absolute-void], his body and mind were motionless.

Apratisthia (Non-Abiding): although self-realizing that Original Enlightenment does not engender any action, this bodhisattva does not rest on the couch long but arises to advocate the Buddhadharma. Thus he non-abides in dreamy solitude and gets out to preach the message.

From faraway land (most probably another world system): love this translation, most reminiscent of a Vimalakriti rendering how inhabitants from cosmic abodes travel from all directions to hear the Blessed One preach. Many people wonder whether these are just metaphorical illusions to the inner-workings of Mind and unfortunately place no trust in the authentic spirit behind these type of sutra references. As has been stated elsewhere in these blogs, they are not just metaphors but actual spiritual beings and locations [world-systems] in the vast order of the Buddhist Cosmological Heavens.

his body and mind were motionless:  this bodhisattva is free and unhindered in the motionless Bodhimaṇḍa (Original Seat) of the Unborn Buddha Mind.

At that time, the Buddha addressed Apratisthia Bodhisattva: “Where have you come from? Where have you arrived now?”

Apratisthia Bodhisattva replied, “Lord! I come from where there is no origination, and have now arrived where there is [also] no origination.”

The Buddha said, “You originally came from where there is no origination, and have now arrived where there is [also] no origination. You have attained the [Dharma of] Self-Benediction, which is inconceivable. You are a bodhisattva-mahasattva.”


…as a person approaches the stage of sanctity [after progressing from] the stage of an ordinary person (pṛthagjana) to the incipiency of sanctity, he reviews [his development] from past to present. In the past, when he was at the stage of an ordinary person and first aroused the intent [to seek enlightenment], he himself believed that his own mind was originally free from generating activity, because the origin of this generation of activity could not be found. Now that he has reached the stage of sanctity and attained nonproduction, he knows through realization that his own mind is originally unproduced, because an origin for such production cannot be found. Hence, he knows that he has first come from that place where there is no origin, and the place where he has now arrived is also where there is no origin. [ibid, pg. 139]

A most succinct review of the progress of a Bodhi-being [sattva]. In the early stages there is much seeking, doubt accompanied by incessant trial and error, but after the Baptism of the Such one self-realizes that all is originally unproduced, including one’s own previously un[mis]informed faculties. Essentially, one arrives where one has never left. As the Blessed One specifies, this is a true Maha-Bodhisattva indeed.

Immediately emitting a great light that pervaded the many thousands of world-systems, the Buddha recited the stanza:

Oh Great bodhisattva,
Replete in wisdom,
Constantly by means of Self-Benediction,
To benefit sentient beings.
In all four postures [walking, standing, sitting, lying],
You constantly abide by Self-Benediction,
Guiding all beings,
Neither coming nor going (silently without signs).

Apratisthia Bodhisattva then addressed the Buddha: “Lord! Through what skillful means can one transform the defiled consciousness of sentient beings so that they can access the amala (ultimate-fruition consciousness transformed from the eighth consciousness)?”

The Buddha replied, “All the buddhas, the tathagatas, constantly transform all the [defiled] consciousness of sentient beings by means of the One-Enlightenment so that they can access the amala. Why? As all sentient being are endowed with Self-Enlightenment (primordially enlightened), the buddhas, constantly awaken all beings by guiding them to regain Self-Enlightenment.

Once enlightened, all the defiled consciousnesses will be [realized to be] void, calm and non-arising. Why? [Because] the Absolute Self-Nature is motionless.”

Self-Benediction: Once the mantle of deathlessness is placed on the head of the mind-adept, all secondary-agencies fostering self-awareness are no longer active or necessary. Thus as stated in an earlier blog from this series, “The Perfection of Noble Wisdom is ultimately in the Mind-Seat alone”—wherein the Self anoints Itself.

access the amala: early reference to the “Immaculate Consciousness”. Wŏnhyo states that Paramāmartha’s own interpretation of this ninth-consciousness is derived from this passage. He then goes on to state that the Amala IS Original Enlightenment. Thus, the ripened Bodhi-seed of the Amala receptacle grows to fruition in the motionless (devoid of outflows) and Immaculate Womb of the Tathāgatas.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “As every one of the eight consciousness arises [through co-origination] vis-à-vis the sense-realms, how could they be motionless?”

The Buddha answered, “All the sense-realms are basically void [of independent existence]. [Similarly] all consciousnesses are basically void. Since the nature of the void is not affected by co-origination, how can they be created by co-origination?”

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “If all the sense-realms are void, how can there be perception?”

The Buddha replied, “Perception is [ultimately] a delusion. Why? All the tens of thousands of manifestations are [ultimately] unborn and without form. Originally they are without names. They are all void and calm. The characteristics of all dharmas are the same. The bodies of all sentient beings are also the same. Since the bodies do not [ultimately] exist, how can perception exist!”

The lens of [ordinary] perception are blackened with skandhic contamination. Hence all these forms of perceptions are delusional in scope and mar the vision of True Motionlessness in the Mind-void of no-becoming. One must never place undue stock in these clouded phantasms of misperception.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva said, “If all the sense-realms are void, all bodies are void, and all consciousnesses are void, then enlightenment must also be void.”

The Buddha replied, “The One-Enlightenment is beyond both destruction and decay since it is the Absolute. It is neither void nor non-void as it is free from being void or non-void.”

Apratisthia Bodhisattva remarked, “It is the same for all the sense-realms. They are not characterized by being void or non-void.”

The Buddha agreed, “So it is. The nature of all the sense-realms is basically within the Absolute [void]. The base of the Absolute [void] has no abode.”  

Apratisthia Bodhisattva said, “Enlightenment is also the same: it is not located anywhere.”

The Buddha agreed, “So it is. As enlightenment has no abode, it is pure [and void]. Being pure, it is free from [any sign of] enlightenment. Sense-objectification has no abode, it is pure. Being pure, it (purity) is free from [any characteristic of] sense-object.”

The One-Enlightenment is devoid of voidness. In this realization the Absolute has no associative-nature since Its nature is Self-contained in the [void] THAT is locationless and free of any objectifications—pure and unadulterated.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva remarked, “The mind and eye consciousness are also the same. This is inconceivable!”

The Buddha said, “Yes, the consciousness of the mind and eye consciousness are similarly inconceivable. Why? A sense-object (rupa) has no abode; it is pure without name. It does not intrude internally [into the sense-bases]. Eye consciousness has no abode; it is pure and non-seeing [without the sense of a self that sees]. It does not go towards the external [sense-objects]. 

The mind [too] has no abode. Its purity is without ceasing, without a birthplace. [Similarly as well as ultimately the other] consciousnesses have no abode. They are pure and motionless, not affected by conditions [of co-origination] or differentiations. The nature [of all dharmas] is void and calm. This nature is [therefore] free from any sign of enlightenment. This is how enlightenment is being realized.

“Good man! When one awakens [to the wisdom] that there is ultimately no [attainment in] enlightenment, all the [eight] consciousnesses will access [enlightenment]. Why? At the stage of the diamond (a buddha’s Absolute) wisdom, the path (practice) leading to liberation is being dropped [as there is neither liberation nor bondage]. Having abandoned the path, one accesses the non-abiding stage [of unexcelled enlightenment] where there is neither egress nor access the Absolute Domain where the mind has no abode. The base [of that state] is pure, like the transparent lapis lazuli [representing dharmakaya, attainment of the great, perfect mirror-like wisdom]. It is in perpetual equanimity, like the great earth [representing the attainment of liberation of the impartial wisdom]; enlightened, miraculous, contemplative wakefulness [representing the ultimate prajna], like the effulgence of the sun of wisdom; perfected through Self-enlightenment, like the great rain of Dharma. One who accesses this wisdom is accessing the buddhas’ domain of wisdom. For one who has accessed this domain of wisdom, none of the consciousnesses will arise.” 


[This clarifies the fact] that all the consciousnesses are unproduced. It seeks to clarify that, originally, all the consciousnesses are produced in accordance with ignorance. Now, through the acquired enlightenment, [these consciousnesses] return to the fountainhead of the mind; and once they return to the fountainhead of the mind, none of the consciousnesses will any longer be generated. Because the consciousnesses are not generated, acquired   enlightenment will be consummated. [ibid, pg. 148]

When one has freely accessed the Wisdom Store [perfect mirror-like receptivity of the Such] the generation of [ordinary] consciousness itself cessates. All of this is the Dharmakayic-Domain of the Amala.

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11 Responses to Lying On the Couch of Unitary Thusness

  1. Mr.Nobody says:

    Here’s how I see it:

    On the ground of ignorance, there is the fabrication of discrimination (skhandic-consciousness), the fabrication of discrimination (skhandic-consciousness) results in the appearance of “things”, as these things only appear due to this fabricated discrimination; when ignorance ceases from right knowledge, the fabrication of discrimination (skhandic-consciousness) ceases. As all things are without discrimination originally (which is a fabrication of ignorance), when the fabrication ceases (as ignorance has ceased) then there is only the natural state of suchness (non-discriminated mind-ground). Realizing that discrimination is a fabrication of ignorance, all things are originally without production, as the appearance of production was the appearance of discrimination which in itself was a fabrication of ignorance. Seeing thusly, one abides in non-abiding, as to abide in anything would be abiding in the fabricated discrimination of ignorance; which in itself is without location (thus called the ground / abode of ignorance); as the natural state of things is without this fabrication, there is no need to grasp onto this fabrication of discrimination; when one does not know the nature of mind and thus does not know that discrimination is a fabrication of ignorance, then the deluded mind “suffers” through not recognizing that the discriminating consciousness is itself a fabrication of ignorance.

    • Vajragoni says:

      Mostly spot-on up to “one abides in non-abiding”. Abiding in non-abiding is still abidance [Recollect: neither-perception-nor-non-perception] This is what is meant by, “Do not linger in either non-calming or in non-abiding.”

  2. Mr.Nobody says:

    This site kept coming up as unavailable until earlier today, no idea what that was about; anyways, thanks so much! So, essentially, abiding in non-abiding is akin to neither-perception-nor-non-perception; what we are aiming for is cessation which follows…yes?

    So, if one neither lingers in non-calming nor in non-abiding, does one not abide anywhere? In other words, do not allow the mind to rest in non-abiding (or in other words, do not non-conceptually abide in the knowledge of non-abidance) but instead do not settle the mind in anything, whether in the knowledge of non-abidance or in the knowledge of non-calming; instead allow the mind to rest freely without any indication whether non-conceptual or otherwise?

    • Vajragoni says:

      Your mind will not rest easy with this until it is anointed with Deathless Signlessness.

      • Mr.Nobody says:

        I see (so to speak). I understand (so to speak) that it cannot be thought of and that reliance on words is another obstacle. The only reason i asked was because I was attempting to articulate something that I realized I cannot yet articulate properly which leads to my attempts at communication to appear less than ideal, for my own standards at least.

        I appreciate the response, I have mainly focused in practice with not bothering with conjecture, conceptualization, etc. because as said before, it has been realized in a deep manner (though, obviously not down to the core of my being, as there is still the apparent illusion of binding) that mind is beyond discrimination and cannot be observed, viewed, understood, etc. through discrimination but only in itself as itself purely; in other words, mind in its own natural state of quiescence realizes itself wordlessly by it’s own self-abiding.

        I will put what you’ve said into practice though, as i realize that the matter will not be fully grasped (though, i do not attempt to grasp that which cannot be grasped, as mind cannot grasp mind; at least in this sense i mean that the conceptual mind that the product of the discriminating consciousness cannot grasp that which is pure suchness.) until the highest stage possible; I feel foolish for attempting to put into words what i understand only intuitively and thus not able to fully express my understanding.

        I read the replies, etc. I appreciate n.yeti’s response, I understand where he is coming from but (and with no offense meant, at all of course. I see all as my beloved, so I would never mean to truly offend anyone, unless it was needed for them to penetrate deeper into their own mind) I did not see his response as being coy in and of itself, in fact I saw it as being the best response possible; truly It was something that I had told myself before, seeing someone else remind me of it helped me to kind of cut off that run away train of thought that was being taken too seriously at the time; It essentially reminded me to splash metaphorical water on my face and wake up from the delusion of words, which i knew but at times seem to forget.

        Thanks also tozen for your reply, I appreciate that as well. I am looking forward to reading the posts of this series, I fell behind due to various things happening on my end in real life but I have been eagerly waiting for the chance to digest and enjoy this material. I look forward to reading what has been produced since my last visit and look forward to integrating and assimilating it into my practice.

        Thanks again. Looking forward to this. Appreciate all your help.

      • Mr.Nobody says:

        There is nothing to grasp, there is nothing to do; Appearance and no-appearance are characteristics of discrimination, which is a fabrication; there is no abiding in discrimination. Fabrications are born of ignorance, mentation is fabrication, verbalization/conceptualization is discrimination/differentiation; there is no differentiation as all is equal.

        There is nothing to grasp from the very beginning, there is nothing to abide in from the very beginning, there is nothing to learn from the very beginning.

        There are no actions to take, there are no signs to perceive, there is only thus-awareness, silent and complete.

        There is no other way to communicate the state of mind that is present, description is conceptualiztion and the described are fabricated dharmas of discrimination; Now, there is only resting, only self-surrender; anything else is folly.

        Thank you, there is nothing else that can be said that would not lead to error; (I) will rest now, (I) see that, that is the only option that ever was.

        To seek anything, anything at all; anymore knowledge, anymore commentary, anymore understanding; this is folly and an empty endeavor. (I) will let what comes, be; there is no more intention and there is no more desire to do otherwise; thanks again.


  3. n. yeti says:

    Vajragoni, while I cannot say your reply to Mr. Nobody is untrue, I think it is worth considering that Shakyamuni rarely, at least as recorded, refused to answer when the questioner was sincere. Honestly, I find such tactics needlessly coy and perhaps even an anachronism of a wistful past in Zen, perhaps one never to be regained, especially given the state of humanity in this woeful age of spiritual confusion.

    I might add you have done so in the past as well, most recently when I asked your point of view out of mere curiosity on the term “independent” in a sutra, and instead of answering this simple honest question as it was asked, you chose to play word games and make assumptions about what (in your view) I needed to hear; now this is something of no great account to me or anyone else and I only mention it to substantiate my point about your reply to Mr. Nobody, who has (and I will take his words at face value), apparently had a spiritual event recently which perhaps he himself is struggling to assimilate, on his own, so that he may penetrate the inexpressible truth of the matter. Certainly you yourself have “been there”, something which I hope would confer humility and compassion.

    So to offer additional perspective, I think at least two familiar references from the Pali discourses are applicable to Mr. Nobody’s question.

    The first, from the Cittavagga sermon (dhp 34), is the metaphor of the mind who confronts Mara, which Shakyamuni skillfully described as gasping and throbbing like a fish pulled from water. Thus the mind pulled from the habits of mundane intellectualization, as a result of an auspicious encounter with the true Dharma, gasps and throbs most distressingly when contemplating the inconceivable AS IT IS (still through the veil of vestigial doubts/obscurations/habits of the born and dying sentient mind), when THAT reality cannot be mentally rendered, “brought down”, nor spoken of but can indeed be personally known by the very dropping of efforts, desires, even greed to do so. In fact I would say there is no other way it can be known, something at times, it seems, which has been lost in the mythologizing of the spiritual teacher/guru by those of this floating world, and the constant swopping of one form of confusion for the other (i.e. panting/gasping like a fish on land). Hence the great difficulty of this teaching for the teacher as well as the disciple. “Be a lamp unto yourselves”. “Be diligent, monks and seek your own liberation.”

    The second, of course (and you may well have guessed where I am going with this) is SN 12.68, which describes the state of mind of one whom, having caught a glimpse of the unconditioned (asankhata), but has not yet realized its deeper truth (again AS IT IS, and NOT as conjured, distorted, or puzzled over with defiled mental outflows and turbidities), is described with the metaphor of a man on a desert road dying of thirst who encounters a deep well with water down below and no way to draw it up. In the commentaries it explained the drinking from this well is, for some monks, experienced and described as “to dwell touching of this water with the body”; I think if the context of this scripture is explored it might be helpful to understand the references to abiding above, since it is not (at least as it appears to me) different than the “single taste” expounded so eloquently in this present series.

    I certainly do not intend to admonish Vajragoni, who in forbearance and heroic endurance works endlessly for the liberation of beings, even fellows such as myself, who have been little more than a nuisance all along. For this I am most grateful. Even so, Buddha was compassionate enough to expound, when asked, as clearly as he could, so as to give the earnest asker some contextual (and provisional) meaning on a hard, and most abundantly difficult path – one I dare say, hardly anyone these days is willing to tread, and those who venture on, more often than not, do so amid great bewilderment, and with endless fermentations. In other words he did not resort to the Zen tricks and riddles of the Song period but earnestly sought to present what he knew even though he knew it could not be expressed.

    To Mr. Nobody I would say again, be a lamp unto yourself. Reliance upon the sangha has always been the way of Buddhism (the Triple Gem), but knowing IT is up to you. The work is yours, the cry of victory yours, blessed may it be. In my experience, which may not be so very different than yours though you may choose not to see it, one of the greatest obstacles has been to tame a kind of spiritual greed, an implacable thirst for spiritual knowledge which far from being helpful at times can result in ever more confusion because it merely ends up adding to mental spasms when quiescence and dropping the desire for more would be more fruitful.

    Spiritual friends and Buddhas may take endless forms, even frightening ones (in an effort to scare us back to the proper path, thus have I heard). While the Dharma may be expounded endlessly and effortlessly as expedient in samsara by saints and scriptures, the unitary taste of THAT is the same, regardless of the manifold rays that emanate from mind. The seeking and reliance upon external views can, in my experience, only muddy the waters of turbid mentation, because it is by your own self known, and not by endless chatting or racking up insights, sutra study, sitting, meditative bliss, good works, rituals, etc., requiring as it were a kind of deadly serious spiritual resolve to defeat one’s ignorance (i.e. mundane mental formations of myriad shapes and dazzling colors, all bewitching and ensnaring) directly, like a slash of a sword, not by abiding endlessly to gather such various means of resolve which are but preparatory for the battle; yea, a warrior spirit is required on this most difficult of paths.

    And to Vajragoni, to stretch this expedient notion to its limit, I would gently point out that in the warrior arts, it is not uncommon for a “white belt” to subdue one technically more skilled from time to time, and it is helpful when this occurs, in my opinion, to shatter complacency and demolish any vestige of obscurations along the Bhumis, which is still NOT Buddhahood. Perhaps you should not begrudge those who come here some respect. Maybe the form is ugly or unorthodox, but it should not matter. Disciples are like the roots of enlightenment of the Bodhisattva, and should be treated respectfully and honored as the same, with compassion. Verily even the blind and lowly earthworm, trapped in a tight space, buried in the darkness which it cannot even perceive, can one day emerge into a great and powerful dragon, and one would do well to respect all sentients who gasp and struggle to unbind themselves, even to those appear to be of inferior skill, but in truth lack nothing.

    • Vajragoni says:

      The response to Mr. Nobody’s question has nothing to do with being coy or trying to subjugate. The response is the best one. As are my responses to you in the past. Adding this excessive “pali baggage” in no way helps the matter. You need to reassess before posting your own excessive and unwarranted verbose baggage.

    • Tozen says:

      Vajragonis most expedient reply to Mr. No[body]´s spiritual confusion arised from residual friction between the spiritual and the material (which is old karma) was precise and to the point. The message initself coveyed exactly what MrN needs for the time being in order to cast aside certain deluded notions and presuppositions that muddles the clear and nirvanic view of the Pure Essence constituting his true nature (Unborn Mind).

      I have been teaching many promising students on a personal level for two decades now and can assure you that I would certainly reply on a similar manner considering not only the query, but also the resident state of MrN´s spiritual state.

      Remember, no being can every show true compassion. That is a most woeful illusion. True Compassion is ponted at, and adviced by skillful bodhisattvas and supreme Buddhas to be faced directly as the latter contains the singular ability to illuminate and liberate the perceiving and saturated mind.

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