The Golden Coin

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Chapter Four: The Benediction of Self-Enlightenment, con’t

Apratisthia Bodhisattva said, “The Tathagata has explained that the sacred power of the One-Enlightenment [where] the four wisdoms (mentioned in the last paragraph) [are perfected] are in fact the self-enlightened nature of all sentient beings. Why? Because these are fully replete within the bodies of all sentient beings basically.”

The Buddha agreed, “So it is. Why? All sentient beings are basically free from outflows with all wholesome Self-Benediction innate in them. Now they are being pricked by the thorns of desire, which they have yet to overcome.”

Self-Benediction Self-actualizes the four-winged flame of Noble Wisdom. As such the former outflows are quelled, although there are still the lingering seeds of passion and desire latent within the alaya-receptacle that are like prickly thorns—splinters that continually induce laborious agitations within the mind.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “If sentient beings have yet to awaken to the Self-Enlightenment continues to [have the desire to] gather and accumulate [mundane things and experiences], how can they overcome that which is difficult to overcome?”

The Buddha replied, “Whether [sentient beings are within] a group or an individual, when discriminations and taints occur, [or even] with consciousness abiding within a cave of emptiness (leading to a state of mental cessation), they can overcome that which is difficult to overcome and be liberated from the bonds of demonic forces. Get them to sit transcendentally on the open ground (without abidance), where the consciousnesses and the aggregates can be transformed to [the Absolute] parinirvana [where all the aggregates dissolve].”

Wŏnhyo:

Through relying on the Buddhist sūtras, one turns around one’s mind and spirit, dispels the characteristics of both persons and dharmas, and abides in the principle of the two voidnesses [of persons and dharmas]; therefore, it says, “His spirit reverts to abide in the cave of voidness.” Then and only then will this mind be generated in conformity with the principles of the path; therefore, it has superior ability. Because those delusions have oppugned Owing to this counteractive path, one enters the stage of the path of eradication, which gradually plucks out the seeds [of the defilements] until they are gone forever. Once they are gone forever, one leaves far behind the four Māras; therefore, it says, “Liberated from the bonds of Māra.”

There are two superior benefits: the fruition of bodhi and the fruition of the fruition. “The fruition of bodhi” means that, transcending that place where one accumulates the five skandhas that are associated with the contaminants, one sits at the bodhimaṇḍa and gains unsurpassed enlightenment; therefore, it says, “He will sit supernally on the open ground.” “The fruition of the fruition” means that he realizes great nirvāṇa through this unsurpassed enlightenment. His cognition will then be free from any semblance of perception, and all the consciousnesses will gain access [to nirvāṇa]; therefore, it says “the consciousness aggregate [will be in a state of] parinirvāṇa.” (ibid, pgs. 153-154)

Sitting in the bodhimaṇḍa (the motionless [Original Seat] of the Unborn Buddha Mind) of unsurpassed enlightenment brings the bodhiseeds to fruition. One now sits (without abidance in any created thing/notion) as the defiled aggregates themselves transmute (re-originate) on the golden shores of parinirvāṇa.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva remarked, “The mind that attains Nirvana is aloof without companionship, abiding perpetually in Nirvana. [Such a mind] must be liberated.”

The Buddha responded, “Abiding perpetually in Nirvana is the bondage of Nirvana. Why? Nirvana is the benediction of the Self-Enlightenment. This benediction is the primordial Nirvana. The enlightened aspects of Nirvana are in fact the aspects of Self-Enlightenment. [As these aspects are void in nature,] the nature of enlightenment is nondiscriminatory and Nirvana is undifferentiated. [Accordingly,] enlightenment is basically unborn and Nirvana is [also] unborn. [Thus] enlightenment is basically free from extinction and Nirvana is free from extinction. Since the enlightened aspect of Nirvana is beyond differentiation, there is no attainment of Nirvana. Since Nirvana is beyond attainment, how can one abide in it?

“Good man, enlightened beings do not abide in Nirvana. Why? Enlightenment basically is unborn; it is detached from the defilements of sentient beings. Enlightenment is basically free from calmness. For one who is attached to Nirvana, his mind is agitated the moment he is detached from Nirvana. [On the other hand], the mind of one who abides by the ground of thusness (suchness), has no abidance. Free from both egress and access, it accesses the amala-consciousness.”

Superior instruction in the Buddhadharma: wanting to be perpetually in Nirvana is itself a bondage; hence, do not cling even to Nirvana. Whereas, primordial Nirvana is the “benediction of Self-Enlightenment.” This benediction is unborn and thus free from creation and extinction. Do you see the vital significance of this passage? Many still claim that Nirvana=Extinction. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nirvana is beyond all differentiation—no-thing attained, no-thing lost. It is also unattainable, thus there is “no abiding” in it. This goes the same for even lingering in the Unborn–being IN the unborn means being UN-bounded. IN=no lingering but being of the same Single Taste.

Free from both egress and access, it accesses the amala-consciousness: no perception of existence or voidness.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “If the amala-consciousness has somewhere to be accessed, it ought to be something attainable, therefore, an attained Dharma?”

The Buddha replied, “No, it is not. Why? It is like the example of a deluded son with gold coins in his hands, not knowing that he has them. Roaming about the ten directions, he spent fifty years in poverty, destitution, hardship and suffering. Though devoted to seeking out a living, he was unable to support himself adequately. [Finally,] when the father saw his son in such a state, he told him, “The gold coins you are carrying around, why not make use of them? [Then you can be] free to satisfy all the needs.” The son awakened and found the gold coins. His mind greatly joyous, he shouted that he found the gold coins. His father replied, “Deluded son! You need not be elated. The gold coins have always been yours, not something you have discovered. What is there to be happy about?”

“Good man, it is the same with the amala-consciousness. [Since] basically it has never left [you], it is not something to be acquired now. Being unaware of it in the past, it does not mean that it is not nonexistent. Now that you have awakened to it, it is not that you have accessed it.”

“If the amala-consciousness has somewhere to be accessed, it ought to be something attainable, therefore, an attained Dharma?”: the bodhisattva is still clinging to a literal interpretation and thus falsely assumes that the Amala is some-thing to be accessed and eventually attained.

The Buddha responds to his false assumption with this wonderful parable.

he spent fifty years in poverty, destitution, hardship and suffering: alluding to the false states of aggregated consciousness and the fifty-types of evil that befall one.

he was unable to support himself adequately: being unable to navigate the samsaric maelstrom, he descends into the depths of self-depravity and degeneration of mind.

The gold coins you are carrying around, why not make use of them?: a simile for the pure Clear-Light of the Unborn Mind.

he shouted that he found the gold coins: not so fast, son. He is still grasping, thinking that he has “attained something.”

Wŏnhyo:

“ ‘the gold coins you’ve found have always been in your possession’ ” reveals that the inspiration of original enlightenment that you realize originally belongs to you; it is not something you have only now obtained. “‘They are not something you’ve “found.” So how can you be happy?’ ”: since these have originally belonged to you and are not something you have only now obtained, it is incorrect to give rise to thoughts that grasp at your attainments. “ ‘So how can you be happy?’ ” neutralizes his discrimination: this means that, in presuming he has attainment, he is happy, even though he has actually become attached. (ibid, pg. 159)

Good man, it is the same with the amala-consciousness: THAT which originally shines is not separate from Mind and thus cannot be accessed or attained. IT is only Self-realizable as THAT which one already has.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “Since the father knew that his son was deluded, why did he let [the son] spend fifty years roaming about the ten directions in poverty, destitution, hardship and suffering, before he told him about the gold coins he was carrying?”

The Buddha replied, “The [example of] passage of fifty years is but the movement of a single thought. Roaming about the ten directions is the fantasy of distant travel [exemplifying unending delusions blocking the return to Absolute Enlightenment].”

The [example of] passage of fifty years is but the movement of a single thought: An endless string of thought agitations. Thus traveling across the endless highway of phantasmagorical impressions.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “What is ‘the movement of a single thought?'”

The Buddha replied, “Within the movement of a single thought, all the five aggregates arise. And all fifty evils [arising from the five aggregates as mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra] are contained within the five aggregates.”

Apratisthia Bodhisattva asked, “Since the fantasy of distant travel and roaming about the ten directions is the arising of a single thought comprising all the fifty evils, how can sentient beings be guided not to give rise to a single thought [so that the evils do not arise]?”

The Buddha replied, “One should guide sentient beings to calm their mind by abiding in the diamond-base [of undistracted awareness], with no arising of thoughts. The mind being thus calmed will always be calm and at peace, without a single thought.”

Remaining motionless in the Diamond-mind of Bhutatathata assures a tranquil spirit, one devoid of any arising or cessating. Thus the Holy Vajra (irresistible Diamond-point) shatters the fifty mind states of evil as relayed in the Suranagama sutra.

Apratisthia Bodhisattva said, “It is inconceivable that in enlightenment thoughts do not arise, and one’s mind is calm and at peace. A calm and peaceful mind itself is the benediction of Self-Enlightenment. The benediction is motionless; it exists perpetually and is not without. It is beyond both existence and nonexistence. There is nothing that it does not [have the capacity to] enlighten. It is ever aware without one having [to set up the mind] to be aware. Self-Benediction [itself] is Self-Enlightenment. One awakened to it is beyond defilement and is non-abiding. This is because the nature [of enlightenment] is the unchanging and immutable Absolute. It is inconceivable!”

The Buddha replied, “It is so.”

Wŏnhyo:

(Speaking on the inspiration of Original Enlightenment) this expresses comprehension of the meaning that there is no distinction between acquired enlightenment and original enlightenment. As a treatise [Awakening of Faith] states:

If a person gains no-thought, he then comes to know the characteristics of mind—production, maturation, decay, and extinction—because these are equivalent to no-thought. Nevertheless, in actuality, there are no such differences in acquired enlightenment, because the four characteristics exist simultaneously and are not independently established; they are originally impartial and are identical to the one enlightenment. (Hakeda, Awakening of Faith, pg.40)

After hearing these words Apratisthia Bodhisattva attained what he never had before and recited the stanza:

The Lord is the Lord of Great Enlightenment.
He explains the Dharma on non-creation
of thoughts.
A thought-free
mind is non-creating.
That mind is in perpetuity, never extinct.
The Single-awakening
of Self-Enlightenment,
Guides all [beings] who are self-endowed.
It is like [the example of] one who [recovered] gold coins,
But what he recovered [being his own] was not a discovery.

After the assembly heard these words, all awakened to the Self-Benediction of the prajnaparamita. 

all awakened to the Self-Benediction of the prajnaparamita: awakening to the prajñāpāramitā is a Self-Benediction, wherein the undifferentiated mindset is perfected in the unobstructed wisdom of Self exclusively for Self.

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