The Dharma of Absolute Thusness


Chapter Five: Accessing the Edge of Reality, con’t

Bodhisattva, the Dharma which thus accesses is not devoid of characteristics; and the Dharma itself is not void. That Dharma is [in fact] all-pervading. Why? The Dharmas (the Buddha’s definitive teachings) which are not nonexistent are replete with merits. They are beyond [the creations of] the mind and its shadows. They are naturally pure (please see the Buddha’s explanation later).”

Mahabala Bodhisattva asked, “How is it that the Dharma that is beyond [the creations of] the mind and its shadows is serene and pure?”

The Buddha explained, “The void, thusly Dharma, is not a dharma created by the consciousness of the mind. It is [also] not fabricated by the mind [itself]. This Dharma is not marked by any characteristics of the void, nor does it have any characteristics of corporeality (form). This Dharma does not belong to the mind. Therefore, it is not a dharma generated through co-origination. 

“[However,] being not something [created] by the mind, yet [being the result of] nondoing, it is [therefore, also] not devoid of co-origination. It is neither a shadow nor a projection from any of the sense objects. It has neither independent nature nor any differences thereof. It has neither name, characteristics, nor definitions (differences). Why? Because the Absolute [Dharma] does not [even] have thusness.

“Those dharmas that are not in accord with thusness are not lacking in thusness. Those [dharmas] that have no existence do not lack thusness. It is not that they are lacking in thusness. Why? The Dharma with basic principle is beyond [any] principle or base. It is beyond all controversies and characteristics.

The Holy Dharma is free from both egress and access, leaving behind subject and object and thus all shadow-making activities. Wŏnhyo:

The distinction between mind and shadows can briefly be elucidated in six dyads. First is the dyad of mind (citta) and mental concomitants (caitta). Second is the dyad of space and materiality. Third is the dyad of dissociated forces ([citta]viprayuktasaṃskāra) and uncompounded [elements; asaṃskṛtadharma]. Fourth is the dyad of shadowy forms and fundamental matter. Fifth is the dyad of own-nature and differentiations. Sixth is the dyad of word and meaning. Of these six dyads, the first dyad is the type that involves the mind that is the subject of the objective supports; the latter five dyads are the type that involve the “shadows” that are the objective supports themselves. Apart from these six dyads, there is therefore neither mind nor its shadows. Thus, he systematically provides a statement describing each of these six dyads. “It is not one of the dharmas of mind and consciousness” because it remains far removed from the mind of the eight consciousnesses. “It is not one of the dharmas that drive the mind” because it remains far removed from the six categories of mental concomitants (caitta). “It is not a dharma that is marked by space” because it remains far removed from the [uncompounded] dharma of space (ākāśa), which is free from all characteristics of materiality. “It is not a dharma marked by materiality” because it remains far removed from the three varieties of materiality: manifested [sense-bases], forms [sense-objects], and unmanifested (avijñaptirūpa).238 “It is not one of the dharmas dissociated [from mind]” because it remains far removed from the twenty-four dissociated forces (cittaviprayuktasaṃskāra). “It is not a dharma that is associated with the unconditioned characteristics of the mind” because it remains far removed from the seven remaining varieties of uncompounded dharmas (asañskṛtadharma). Because they manifest in reliance on the mind, they are called “unconditioned characteristics of the mind.” Because they are dharmas associated with the three types of unconditioned characteristics, they are called an “associated . . . dharma.” Furthermore, the fact that they leave behind the three types of dharmas of true thusness means that, in the approach of the access of realization, there are no distinctions between these three.

“It is not shadows that are cast” means that they leave behind the fundamental forms that are revealed through the expedient contemplations. “It is not that which is projected” means that it also remains far removed from such basic material features as a skeleton, and so on, which are manifestations of these shadows.

It has no nature of its own” means that it remains far removed from the own-nature of materiality and mentality, and so forth. “It is not differentiated” means that it remains far removed from all differentiated characteristics, such as impermanence, and so on [viz. suffering, and non-self]. 

“It is not name” because it remains far removed from the descriptive signs of words (nāmakāya), phrases (padakāya), and syllables (vyañjanakāya).240 “It is neither characteristic nor object” because it remains far removed from the characteristics of the description and the described. Why so? Because one who remains far removed from the characteristics of these six dyads will be impartial toward and will make no distinctions between subject and object; therefore, it says, “Because [that dharma] is thus.”

From the passage “those dharmas that are not thus” onward is the second, a clarification that the dharmas of mind and shadows are not devoid of the principle of thusness. “Those dharmas that are not thus” refers to the negation of the characteristics of the dharmas listed in the preceding six dyads. “Also do not lack thusness” means that the principle of thusness is all-pervasive. “There is nothing existent that lacks thusness” means that there is not a single dharma involving an existent characteristic that lacks the principle of thusness. “But it is not the case that there exists [any dharma] that lacks thusness”: despite the fact that the existence of a dharma that lacks thusness may [from one standpoint] be presumed to exist, it is still not the case that dharmas that are not thus cannot be considered to exist. [ibid, pgs, 185-186]

“Bodhisattva, the pure Dharma of thusness cannot be created through creation [as its essence is unborn]; nor can it be extinguished by extinction [as its essence, being void, is beyond extinction].”

Mahabala Bodhisattva exclaimed, “Inconceivable! The characteristics of the Dharma of thusness exist neither in combination (produced in association with other causes) nor independently [as they have no independent self-nature]. They are neither bridled (being neither form nor object) nor bound (by the senses) [since they are self-liberating]. [Being ultimately void as well as unborn,] they are neither assembled nor scattered. They are beyond creation and extinction. They are also free from any characteristics of arrival or departure from abidance. This is inconceivable!” 

The Buddha said, “So it is. It is inconceivable! The inconceivable mind! The mind [of sentient beings] is also thus. Why? Thusness is not different from the mind. The mind is basically thus.

The Dharma of Absolute Thusness is not a mind-creation since Its Nature is one with the Unborn Mind. Thus being beyond both creation and extinction and not bridled by any secondary characteristics [of the six dyads] IT is unbounded in scope. The Unborn Mind IS thusness and is nestled in the radiant cradle of luminosity.

“The buddhanature of all sentient beings [and that of the buddhas] is neither one nor different. The nature of all sentient beings is originally free from both creation and extinction. This nature of creation and extinction originally is the nature of Nirvana. The nature of the characteristics [of creation and extinction] are originally thus (void of independent existence), for thusness is motionless. “The characteristics of all dharmas are not generated by co-origination.

[Because] the nature of the characteristics of creation is thusness, but thusness is motionless. The characteristics of all the factors of co-origination are basically void and nonexistent. As all such factors are [ultimately] void, and co-origination itself is also void [of existence], there is no co-origination. All dharmas generated through co-origination are the illusory visions of the deluded mind. The appearance [of such visions] is basically uncreated, as the co-originating factors [supposedly responsible for their creation] are basically nonexistent. The mind and its thusness are like the principle of dharmas, being devoid of selfnature. It is like the [non-abiding] ‘King of Space’ which is without any abode. The mind of ordinary people misperceives and differentiates [everything].

“The characteristics of thusness are basically beyond existence and nonexistence. The characteristics of existence and nonexistence are perceptions by the mind and [its] consciousness. 

“Bodhisattva, so it is with the nature of the mind. It is not devoid of self-nature, but its self-nature is [also] nonexistent. It is beyond existence and nonexistence.

“Bodhisattva, nonexistence is not without characteristics. They (the characteristics of both existence and nonexistence) are beyond speech and language. Why? The Dharma of the Absolute thusness is void, all-pervading and devoid of characteristics. It is not something that can be fathomed by [followers of the] dualistic vehicles.

“The realm of the [Absolute] void cannot be fathomed from within [by the mind and related consciousness being void in nature it is beyond grasp,] or from without [through the sense-realms]. Only masters of the six practices know them.”


The preceding has been an explanation of the dharma; below, this will  be referenced in a simile. Regarding the term “King Space”: “space” is of two  types. One, it refers to the “realm of empty space” (ākāśadhātu), which refers  to the absence of materiality. Two, “King Space” refers to the dharma of space (ākāśa), which is the support of all materiality in the same way that a  king is the support of all his subjects; therefore, space is said to be  “King Space.” In this wise, while King Space originally has no abiding place,   the minds of ordinary people wrongly discriminate between space here and   space there. But these are merely deceptive visions; there is no here and no there. You should know that all the causal and fruition dharmas are also just  the same: they are perceived objects of the deluded mind; there is actually  no cause and no fruition. This simile is made from the standpoint of the cause and fruition that are the objects of grasping when one perceives the seeming as real; they are the locus of deceptive vision. [ibid, pg. 190]

The Dharma of Absolute Thusness can only be discerned by disciples of the One-Vehicle. IT cannot be fathomed from within or without but only by one who alights on the single-taste of the Deathless Dharma without disturbing Its Unborn Essence—yea, a Self-Awakening of the Tathāgatakāya ITself.

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One Response to The Dharma of Absolute Thusness

  1. n. yeti says:

    “The Unborn Mind IS thusness and is nestled in the radiant cradle of luminosity.”


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