Chapter XVI — Suchness (RiBa)

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Chapter XVI

~SUCHNESS ~

Tathagata-Suchness

Subhuti: As non-observation of all dharmas, to be sure, is this dharma set forth. Nowhere is this dharma obstructed. Identical with space this dharma is, beyond even ultimacy marked with non-obstruction, as no trace can be purely cognized of such prior to, during, or after, any dharma which is indicated only by, what's best described as objective observation and appearance. When purely cognized unconditionally, dharma (as all phenomena whatsoever) comes to be revealed as some 'thing' which can only seem to be what it is, yet neither is nor can be what it seems. No-dharma exists as such yet all dharmas are. At what seems the very least, perception will vouch for such. Yet, perception 'itself' is identical with this mysterious dharma. These are 'all' identical. So now, any dharmas -as- such, cognized -in- such cannot be purely cognized as other -than- such. So, here is no counterpart, as pure emptiness without any second, nor even a first from which a second might be determined Such is incalculable, beyond number, immeasureable, truly infinite...purely no-thing whatsoever. Here is no opponent, as such is beyond all opposites. Such as this is appears without a trace. Here can be no cause, indeed, here is no cause to become as such. This is non-produced (as, by some other acting as producer, or doing something to produce), as here is no occasion such as rebirth from some thing other than what this simply is. Here can be no path, as in truth no path exists which can be cognized.

Sakra and the Gods: Born as this image of the Lord is Disciple holy Subhuti, this Elder. Whichever dharma Subhuti demonstrates is merely indicated, truly an emanation of emptiness. [307]

Subhuti: As he is not born is Subhuti the Elder born as this image of Tathagata. He is born as this reflection of Tathagatas Suchness. As neither coming nor going, so Subhuti, of Suchness neither comes nor goes. With nothing whatsoever to establish any beginning, Subhuti the Elder simply is this Tathagatas Suchness. Suchness as Tathagata and Suchness as all dharmas is this same thing...these are 'both' Suchness and same as Subhuti this Elder. This image as Subhuti the Elder is Suchness; hence this same manner of Tathagatas.

Yet, Suchness is also empty of anything as Suchness, so as this non-image of Suchness Subhuti emanates. It is in this sense Elder Subhuti is emanated as this image of Tathagatas as a result of the non-establishable order of Suchness of Tathagata. Subhuti's Suchness is immutable and unchangeable, undiscriminated and undifferentiated Suchness of Tathagatas. Thusly Subhuti this Elder, immutable, unchangeable, undiscriminated, undifferentiated, through this Suchness, is this very image of any and all Tathagata.

So again, just as this Suchness of Tathagatas, immutable and undifferentiated, is nowhere obstructed, so also Suchness of all dharmas is immutable and undifferentiated. Suchness of Tathagatas, and this Suchness of all dharmas, are infinite and unlimited Suchness, neither two, nor any division of any one is possible. A non-dual Suchness, however, is nowhere, is 'from' nowhere, 'belongs to' nowhere. It is as it is Suchness belonging nowhere it is non-dual. Here through non-producible Suchness this Elder Subhuti is emanated even as non-image of all Tathagatas. Non-producible Suchness, however, is no time not Suchness [308] and non-dual. It is in this non-sense [be careful with this!] Elder Subhuti emanates as any and all imagery of 'the race' of Tathagatas beyond any and all phenomena. As Suchness of Tathagata is undiscriminated and undifferentiated, at all times and in all dharmas, so Suchness of the Emanant Subhuti.

For this reason, although this seems a duality in which Subhuti has been conjured up from Suchness of Tathagatas, nevertheless nothing is lopped off 'from' any Suchness, which as unbound infinity devoid even of any center or direction, remains perfect and unbroken, as one cannot apprehend any real OR imagined outside agent which could break such apart. In this sense is the Emanant Subhuti the Elder [as other than Eminent] emanated as this image of any Tathagata.

As Suchness of Tathagata cannot be other than, or outside Suchness of any and all dharmas, so also Suchness of Subhuti. So also, whatever is, or appears as outside Suchness of dharmas, this is nothing which is not also Suchness. Suchness of Subhuti is here just the same as Suchness of all dharmas, Suchness of all Tathagatas. Subhuti the Elder undergoes this experience of Suchness of all dharmas. As such an emanated image of Suchness is Subhuti called "emanated such as Tathagatas." It is also by and as Suchness of Tathagatas [and not only his own] he conforms to Suchness. It is just through Suchness of Tathagatas he conforms to any 'past' Suchness, as it is also through any 'past' Suchness he conforms to Suchness of Tathagatas. Likewise with future and present dharmas as Suchness. It is through Suchness of Tathagatas he conforms to any such 'thing' as past, future and present Suchness, and it is through any past, future and present Suchness he conforms to Suchness of Tathagatas. In this sameness of elucidation, Suchness of Subhuti, and any past, future and present Suchness, and Suchness of the Tathagatas, are not two, nor any division such as any past, future, or present. Suchness of any and all dharmas and Suchness of Subhuti are anywhere or as anyway not two, nor any division. [309] And also, Suchness of the Lord as he is a Bodhisattva is Suchness of the Lord as he realizes full enlightenment. And this is same Suchness through which any Bodhisattva, as one definitely realizes full enlightenment, comes to be called a 'Tathagata'.

The Earth Shakes and Many Are Saved

As this disquisition of Suchness of the Tathagatas takes place, the great earth shakes in six ways, stirs, quakes, is agitating, resounding and tumbling, as Tathagata remove any obstruction to full enlightenment.

Subhuti: It is thus, O Gods, Subhuti the Elder is emanates as this formless form of Tathagata. But he is not emanated as an image of form, nor any fruits of a holy life, from the fruit of a Streamwinner to Buddhahood. As any dharmas which may appear to be born after the image of anything, or in any image of which these may appear to be born, do not exist, still are these not got at, thusly Subhuti the Elder emanates in the image of Tathagata.

Sariputra: Suchness, O Lord, courses beyond even depth!

The Lord: So it is, Sariputra.

Yet as this disquisition of Suchness is expounded, the minds of three hundred monks are freed from the outflows, without any further clinging. Five hundred nuns obtain the pure, dispassionate and unstained dharma-eye. [310] Five thousand Gods, who in the past had made the necessary preparations, acquire this patient acceptance of dharmas which fail to be produced. And the minds of six thousand Bodhisattvas are freed from the outflows, without any further clinging.

Perfect Wisdom and Skill in Means

Sariputra knows the thoughts of these Bodhisattvas are free from the outflows, without any further clinging, and asks the Lord for the reason, or cause, of such.

The Lord: These Bodhisattvas honor five hundred Buddhas, and during all this time are generous, disciplined, perfecting patience, exercise diligence, and concentration. But these are not upheld by perfect wisdom and lack in skill in means. And so, although these gain this path of emptiness, course in Signlessness, put their minds to work on Wishlessness, yet still wanting skill in means these realize the reality limit, and come forth on the level of Sravaka Disciple or Pratyekabuddha, still not coming forth toward the level of a Buddha. Suppose here is a very huge bird, one hundred, or up to five hundred miles large, but without any wings, or with crippled or damaged wings. This bird now wants to fly down to Jambudvipa from the Heaven of the Gods of Thirty-three. In intermediate space, the middle of its journey [311] to Jambudvipa, it wants to return to the Gods of Thirty-three, is it able to do so?

Sariputra: No, Lord.

The Lord: And can it hope to come down on Jambudvipa without damage or injury?

Sariputra: No, Lord. It is bound to get damaged and injured, and as it drops down on Jambudvipa it incurrs death or deadly pain. Just the fact that, whereas its body is huge, the strength of its wings is insufficient, so it just drops down from above.

The Lord: So it is, Sariputra. Even as a Bodhisattva, after one raises one's mind to full enlightenment, for countless aeons, gives gifts, shows discipline, perfects patience, exercises diligence, and has excellent concentration, how ever great this setting forth and this thought raised to full enlightenment, -as one is not upheld by perfect wisdom and lacks skill in means, one is bound to fall on the level of Sravaka Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. Furthermore, Sariputra, it may be as this Bodhisattva brings to mind, and retains in one's mind, [312] of the Buddhas and Lords, past, future and present, the self-discipline, the concentration, the wisdom, the emancipation, the vision and cognition of emancipation, -but all this after the manner of a sign, this sign being an object of attention, a basis of recognition, or some such occasion for entrancement. This one now neither knows nor sees self-discipline of Tathagatas, nor their concentration, or wisdom, or emancipation, nor their vision and cognition of emancipation. Ignorant of these, blind to these, one hears this word 'emptiness', treats this as a sign, and wishes to covert [this (imagined) mass of merit] over into full enlightenment [which one regards as emptiness]. As consequence such a one as this remains on the level of a Sravaka Disciple or Pratyekabuddha, -as the fact is, this one is not upheld by perfect wisdom, and as well does this one lack in skill in means, both more silent than a whisper, and a gentle wind from space providing innate guidance.

Sariputra: As I understand the meaning of the Lord's teaching, although a Bodhisattva is joined to a huge carriage of merit, as long as this one is not upheld by perfect wisdom and is without skill in means, such a one lacks the good friend, and this one's attainment of full enlightenment is uncertain. A Bodhisattva aspiring to reveal full enlightenment for others and self, in this develops this perfection of wisdom, even as skillful means.

The Lord: So it is, Sariputra. [313]

Sakra and the Gods: Unfathomable, O Lord, is perfect wisdom! Difficult to win, exceedingly hard to win is full enlightenment!

The Lord: So it is, O Gods. Deep is this perfection of wisdom. Difficult to win, exceedingly hard to win is full enlightenment, as one is weak in wisdom, below the mark in diligence and resolve, unskilled in means, and as one serves friends who have less than good intent and action.

Enlightenment and Emptiness

Subhuti: How is it the Lord says full enlightenment is difficult to know , exceedingly difficult to acknowledge, as here is no one who can get at enlightenment? As emanations of emptiness are all dharmas, no dharma exists which is able to win enlightenment. All dharmas are empty. This dharma for the forsaking of which dharma is demonstrated, this dharma does not exist. As well is this dharma which [314] might have been enlightened in full enlightenment, and this which could have been enlightened, and this which might have cognized [the enlightenment], and this which could have cognized such, -all these dharmas are empty. In this manner I am inclined to think that full enlightenment is easy to win, not hard to win.

The Lord: As this cannot possibly come about is full enlightenment difficult to obtain, attain, or get at, as in reality this enlightenment is not here, for this can neither be discriminated nor figured as any base or ultimacy whatsoever, as this is not fabricated [in either reality or false appearences].

Sariputra: As this is empty is this hard to win, O Subhuti. Such does not occur to space as winning full enlightenment. As such...for instance, as without own-being...any and all dharmas are [already] known in enlightenment. All dharmas are space. And, Subhuti, if full enlightenment were easy to win, then countless Bodhisattvas would not turn away from this. As countless Bodhisattvas do turn away from this, here one can discern [315] full enlightenment is hard to win, exceedingly hard to win.

Subhuti: But, Sariputra, does form, feeling, perception, impulse, or consciousness, turn away from full enlightenment?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Is this dharma which turns away from full enlightenment other than form, etc.?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does Suchness of form, etc., turn away?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti. [316]

Subhuti: Is this dharma which turns away from full enlightenment other than the Suchness of form, etc.?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does form, etc., know full enlightenment?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Is the dharma which knows full enlightenment other than form, etc.?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does Suchness of form, etc., know full enlightenment?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti. [317]

Subhuti: Is the dharma which knows full enlightenment other than the Suchness of form, etc.?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Should form, etc., be known in full enlightenment, or any dharma other than form, etc. [318] or the Suchness of form, etc., or a dharma other than the Suchness of form, etc.?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does Suchness turn away from full enlightenment?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Is some dharma which turns away from full enlightenment in Suchness?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti. [319]

Subhuti: What, Sariputra, is this dharma which turns away from full enlightenment, as we consider this as standing in this nature of dharmas, which is just emptiness, as so to is this manner of taking no stand in any dharma? Or what dharma is this Suchness? Is it perhaps Suchness is turned away?

Sariputra: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: As thus in ultimate truth and as things stand, no dharma is apprehended as real, what is this dharma which is turned away from full enlightenment?

Sariputra: As one adopts this method of considering dharmas as ultimate reality, which Subhuti the Elder uses in this exposition, indeed here is no dharma which turns away from full enlightenment. But now, Venerable Subhuti, here is no longer any ground for the distinction of these who set their hearts on enlightenment into three kinds of persons, who differ with respect to the vehicle which these have chosen, as described by the Tathagata. According to this exposition of the Venerable Subhuti, here is only one vehicle [for those whose hearts are set on enlightenment], this being the Buddha-vehicle, the Bodhisattva-vehicle, the great vehicle.

Purna: First of all the Venerable Sariputra must ask the Venerable Subhuti the Elder whether he admits even one single kind of being whose heart is set on enlightenment, and who uses either the vehicle of the Sravaka Disciples, or that of the Pratyekabuddhas, or the great vehicle.

Sariputra: Subhuti, do you admit even one single kind of being whose heart is set on enlightenment, and who uses either the vehicle of the Disciples, or that of the Bodhisattvas, or the great vehicle? [320]

Subhuti: Sariputra, do you see as Suchness of Suchness even one single being whose heart is set on enlightenment [i.e. as a real entity], be this one who uses the vehicle of the Sravaka Disciples, or that of the Pratyekabuddhas, or the great vehicle?

Sariputra: No so, Subhuti. Suchness, first of all, is not apprehended as of three kinds, how much less any being whose heart is set on enlightenment.

Subhuti: Is now Suchness apprehended as of one kind even?

Sariputra: Not so, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Do you now perhaps see in Suchness even one single dharma which would constitute a being whose heart is set on enlightenment?

Sariputra: Not so, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Thus in ultimate truth and as things stand, such a dharma which constitutes any being whose heart is set on enlightenment cannot be apprehended, where do you get the idea "this one belongs to the vehicle of the Disciples, that one to the vehicle of the Pratyekabuddhas, that one to the great vehicle?" Any Bodhisattva which hears this absence of difference, distinction or differentiation between the three kinds of persons who set their hearts on enlightenment, in so far as we are each and all 'encompassed' as Suchness, and do not become cowed or stolid in mind, do not turn back, now any of these one's know such as these go forth to enlightenment. [321]

The Lord: Well said, Subhuti. Through this might and sustaining power of Tathagata you are inspired to say this.

Sariputra: To which enlightenment, O Lord, will these Bodhisattvas go forth?

The Lord: To this full and supreme enlightenment, so difficult to win.

Requisites of Going Forth To Enlightenment

Subhuti: How does a Bodhisattva behave, how does one train, as one wants to go forth in realization to this full enlightenment?

The Lord: The Bodhisattva adopts the same attitude towards all beings, one's mind is even, equanimous towards all beings, one does not handle others with an uneven mind, but with a mind which is friendly, well disposed, helpful, free from aversion, avoiding harm and hurt, and handles others as if these were one's mother, father, son or daughter. [322] As a refuge and one able to benefit any and all beings does any Bodhisattva behave towards all beings, does one train oneself, as one wants to know full enlightenment. A Bodhisattva stands in abstention from all evil, as also one gives gifts, guards discipline, perfects patience, exerts diligence, enters into mental stabilization, achieves mastery through perfection of wisdom, surveys conditioned co-production, both in direct and in reverse order; and also one instigates, incites and encourages others to do the same. One takes the same stance in everything from the meditation on these truths, to such a stage as one reaches certainty. As a Bodhisattva this one is liberated from defilements and samsaric bondage, and as one matures any and all beings, instigates these to do the same, and incites and encourages these. As one longs eagerly for all this and trains oneself in it, so everything is uncovered to ones such as these, from form to the established order of dharma.


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