3. Q: Where does the Unborn Mind dwell?
A: Dwelling in imageless non-abiding is Its True Abode.
Q: What is this imageless non-abiding?
A: Imagelessness means abiding in no-thing, whether good or evil, being or non-being, neither within nor without, nor somewhere in-between. This is the meaning of being beyond the void of voidness, since there is really nothing to settle-in nor avoid. In this fashion one IS within the motionless-Unborn Mind that dwells neither here nor there, but everywhere for those who behold IT with imageless-eyes.
Q: So, then, what is this imageless-mind really like?
A: IT has neither form nor formlessness, no substrata of sense or thought, volition or mortal consciousness. IT is colorless, such as being devoid of yellow or green, blue or white. Unborn and deathless, IT is perfect quiescent stillness. Such then, is the Imageless Mind—the unadulterated Buddhakaya.
Observe Huangbo’s similar formulation of his beloved Master:
The Master said to me: All the Buddhas and all sentient Beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists. This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible. It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old. It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measures, names, traces and comparisons. It is that which you see before you–begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error. It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured. The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind.
Q: How does this Buddhakaya perceive? Is it through the five senses, or through mentally constructed sensations?
A: No tactile impressions are engaged.
Q: If this is true, then what are the origins of perception?
A: Self-nature is perpetually clear and void of defiled garbha. The field of perception comes into play when mind becomes the agent of its faculty-mode.
Q: Again, if this Original Source cannot be located, how does this perception-mode become active?
A: For example, even though a brilliant mirror actually has no images within it, it still reflects the shadows of passing phenomena. If diligent students of the Way have minds that are unsoiled from the act of grasping after these passing phantoms, then their Bright-Pure-Mind will simply shine through. The Dharmapada Sutra expounds on the virtue of becoming mindful of perfect voidness of images; to be able to do so in a single flash of this imageless recognition is true Wisdom indeed!
4. Q: The Vajrakaya (Diamond Body) chapter of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra states that perceiving no-thing is the best and only clear-perception—please explain.
A: Imageless is the Real Nature of the Buddhakaya and therefore cannot be known through any worldly venue of constructed imagery. Such a vision of the Imageless Source is an intangible one and thus represents Unbounded Suchness. IT cannot move but neither is IT separate from the flowing worldly stream yet simultaneously is never dependent upon it. IT is never “the knower” since IT does not discriminate as Its own Stature is an Imageless One and thus does not produce anything conceivable nor perceivable—hence no-knower and no-thing known. As it is written in a Prajna Gatha: Unknowing, prajna knows all; Prajna, unseeing, sees all.
A recent blog, A Docetic Assessment, highlighted a verse from the aforementioned Vajrakaya (Diamond Body) chapter of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra that reinforces this passage:
The tathāgata body is a body and is not a body. It was not born and it will not cease to exist. It does not learn and it does not practice. It is immeasurable and boundless. It leaves no footprints. It does not discern things and has no forms to discern. It is utterly pure. It has no movement. It is neither passive nor active. It is nonabiding and nonbecoming. It is unflavored and unmixed. It was not created (saṃskṛta). It has no karma and no karmic fruit. It does not move.
It does not disappear. It is not a thought, nor is it a number. It is inconceivable and it will always be inconceivable. It has no consciousness in the usual sense.
Its thoughts are impartial, neither separate nor not separate. It is not and it is.
It has neither coming nor going, and yet it does come and go. It cannot be destroyed, damaged, removed, or cut off. It does not come into existence and it does not go out of existence. It does not dominate and yet it is dominant. It is not being and it is not nonbeing. It is not realized and it is not observed. It cannot be put into words and yet it is not nonlinguistic.
It is neither definite nor indefinite. It cannot be seen yet it is clearly visible. It is without any location and yet it is located. It is without any residence and yet it resides. It is without darkness and without light. It has no quiescence and yet it is quiescent. It possesses nothing. (translation by Mark L Blum)
5. Q: There is a sutra which states: “Real Liberation consists in perceiving neither existence nor non-existence.” What is its meaning?
A: When the perfect clarity of the Clear Mind breaks through, this is known as seeing the Real and no-thing else. Within this Self-perfected Mindstream, no conceptual framework of existence/non-existence comes into being. Minus conceptuality, seeing neither nonbeing nor nonexistence is normative. The Surangama Sutra says when mind acts as “the knower”, this opens the door to all manner of defiled perceptions within the continuum of birth and death. Whereas perceiving that there is nothing to perceive leads to the liberation of Nirvana.
6. Q: What is the aim of the view of “not perceiving anything anywhere?”
A: To observe all sentient beings while concurrently remaining free from the chains of attachment and aversion; hence, not seeing any-thing anywhere.
Q: When we are confronted by formal-realities, this is known as the activation of the perceptional apparatus. By the same token, can we say that this activation occurs when there are no known formal-agents present?
A: The same principle of activation occurs in both instances.
Q: This is puzzling. If we are confronted by actual formal entities, how can it be said that the same is true if these formal agents are not actually present?
A: True perception, or authentic-seeing, is not dependent on the existence or non-existence of formal objectifications. It all has to do with the timeless nature of awareness. Awareness is always seeing Reality AS IT IS, regardless of the coming or going of objective phenomena within the awareness-field—as the field itself is unmoving, neither coming nor going.
Q: If I observe an objective reality before me, is there something real that exists within my field of perception?
A: No, there is nothing real that exists within that field of perception.
Q: If I should suddenly turn-around and nothing enters my field of perception, is there some form of objective absence that is perceivable?
A: No, there is no-thing there, nor not there, within that field of perception.
As one clearly observes, the adept here is profoundly concerned with the nature of perception. In his responses, Dazhu Huihai is preparing the mindground for the True Nature of perception, which is a supernal one. The Vajrasamādhi Sutra series succinctly parallels this transcendent theme:
“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.”
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.
In a similar manner, Huihai is preparing the adept’s mindground not to be dependent on any form or perception that is separate from and quite lesser-than the Bodhimind. As the Vajrasamādhi Sutra teaches, “Keeping the One means keeping the suchness of the one mind.” In the Realm of the Singular Vehicle, there is nothing apart from THAT single taste. The intent is that “when the skandhic-overflows (endless flow of perceptions) subside, the Dharma-Door to Noble Wisdom opens-wide for those who acquire the Buddha-gnosis of the Uncomposed and Uncreated.” (from the Vajrasamādhi Sutra series)