Darkness at Noon


“If, Śāriputra, there are bhikṣus or bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas or upāsikās, who entertain one or the other view, the buddhas and tathāgatas are not their teachers, and such people are not my disciples.

Even those who claim to be monks and scribes of the Buddha’s path, if they carry the banner of divisive principles such as the two mistaken views, then they are not upholding the sacred and undivided teachings of the (Buddhadharma); hence, they are not disciples of the Blessed One, nor do they enjoy the sacrosanct tutelage of the Tathāgatas.

“Because these people, Śāriputra, entertain these two views, from gloom they enter gloom, from darkness they enter darkness. I speak of these terming them ‘icchantika.’ 

A most apt description of those who turn a blind-eye from the Buddhadharma and instead uphold all discriminatory notions, as portrayed through the mistaken views of [increase or decrease]. They are likened unto the icchantikas—those who relish in their ignorance and in so doing forfeit the inheritance of their own Buddha-nature. Yea, they are those with “little Light in their eyes” and instead harbor an emptiness of spirit that keeps them perpetually bound to the gloomy marketplace of fear and loathing—a Darkness at Noon that never subsides.

“Therefore, Śāriputra, you now should study this teaching and convert those beings, causing them to give up the two views and dwell in the correct path. You too, Śāriputra, should study teachings such as this, give up those two views and dwell in the correct path.” 

Even though Śāriputra has matured in Buddha-gnosis, the Tathāgata informs him that this sutra is still meant for him, too—perhaps during those unforeseen occurrences when he is tempted to backslide into false teachings that detract from his hard won path. In this sense, Śāriputra becomes a simile for us all—in particular when we, too, are tempted to fall away from the Right View of the Buddhadharma, not only in this given sutra, but for others as well.

The Buddha having expounded this sūtra, the venerable Śāriputra, bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas and upāsikās, bodhisattva-mahāsattvas, and the gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahorāgas, men, non-men, and so on—the whole assembly—were all greatly delighted, in faith accepted and honored (the teaching), and bore it in mind. 

Thus ends the Scripture on the Absence of Increase and the Absence of Decrease [in the Realm of Beings].


The Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśaparivarta is an exercise in pointing out the discrepancies between Right View and false views as exhibited by the correspondence between increase/decrease. By “increase” one attempts to add something to the Buddhadharma that is in stark contrast to Right Principles. By the same token, through “decrease” one detracts from the Buddhadharma all that was unequivocally revealed by the Blessed One. Within the general metaphor of the sutra, “beings” neither increase nor decrease— they are inherently in union with the Unborn, through partaking IN that self-same essence: ekadhātu. To reiterate, in essence there are no beings nor non-beings, only Beingness; as the sutra revealed, when IT is awakened, IT is nirvana (Dharmakayic Reality); when obstructed IT is samsara (adventitious defilements). One can clearly discern from this series that there is never any contradiction in similar inviolable terms such as tathāgatagarbha, dharmakāya, and the sattvadhātu; only in how they are (un)realized.

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