The Lankavatara Sutra
Translated by Suzuki and Goddard
Then said Mahamati: Prey tell us, Blessed One, what constitutes Transcendental Intelligence?
The Blessed One replied: Transcendental Intelligence is the inner state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom. It is realized suddenly and intuitively as the "turning-about" takes place in the deepest seat of consciousness; it neither enters nor goes out - it is like the moon seen in water. Transcendental Intelligence is not subject to birth nor destruction; it has nothing to do with combination nor concordance; it is devoid of attachment and accumulation; it transcends all dualistic concepts.
When Transcendental Intelligence is considered, four things must be kept in mind: words, meanings, teachings and Noble Wisdom (Arya-prajna). Words are employed to express meanings but they are dependent upon discriminations and memory as cause, and upon the employment of sounds and letters by which a mutual transference of meaning is possible. Words are only symbols and may and may not clearly and fully express the meaning intended and, moreover, words may be understood quite differently from what was intended by the speaker. Words are neither different nor not different from meaning and meaning stands in the same relation to words.
If meaning is different from words it could not be made manifest by means of words; but meaning is illumined by words as things are by a lamp. Words are just like a man carrying a lamp to look for his property, by which he can say: this is my property. Just so, by means of words and speech originating in discrimination, the Bodhisattva can enter into the meaning of the teachings of the Tathagatas and through the meaning he can enter the exalted state of self-realization of Noble Wisdom, which, in itself, is free from word discrimination. But if a man becomes attached to the literal meaning of words and holds fast to the illusion that words and meaning are in agreement, especially such things as Nirvana which is un-born and un-dying, or as to distinctions of the Vehicles, the five Dharmas, the three self-natures, the he will fail to understand the true meaning and will become entangled in assertions and refutations. Just as varieties of objects are seen and discriminated in dreams and in visions, so ideas and statements are discriminated erroneously and error goes on multiplying.
The ignorant and simple-minded declare that meaning is not otherwise than words, that as words are, so is meaning. They think that as meaning has no body of its own that it cannot be different from words and, therefore, declare meaning to be identical to words. In this they are ignorant of the nature of words, which are subject to birth and death, where as meaning is not; words are dependent upon letters and meaning is not; meaning is apart from existence and non-existence, it has no substratum, it is un-born. The Tathagatas do not teach a Dharma that is dependent upon letters. Anyone who teaches a doctrine that is dependent upon letters and words is a mere prattler, because Truth is beyond letters and words and books.
This does not mean that letters and books never declare what is in conformity with meaning and truth, but it means that words and books are dependent upon discriminations, while meaning and truth are not; moreover, words and books are subject to the interpretation of individual minds, while meaning and truth are not. But if Truth is not expressed in words and books, the scriptures which contains the meaning of Truth would disappear, and when the scriptures there will be no more disciples and masters and Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, and there will be nothing to teach. But no one must become attached to the words of the scriptures because even the canonical texts sometimes deviate from their straightforward course owing to the imperfect functioning of sentient minds. Religious discourses are given by myself and other Tathagatas in response to the varying needs and faiths of all manner of being, in order to free them from dependence upon the thinking function of the mind-system, but they are not given to take the place of self-realization of Noble Wisdom. When there is recognition that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the mind itself, all dualistic discriminations will be discarded and the truth of imagelessness will be understood, and will be seen to be in conformity with the meaning rather than with words and letters.
The ignorant and simple-minded being fascinated with their self-imaginations and erroneous reasonings, keep on dancing and leap about, but are unable to understand the discourse by words about the truth of self-realization, much less are they able to understand the Truth itself. Clinging to the external world, they cling to the study of books which are a means only, and do not know properly how to ascertain the truth of self-realization, which is Truth unspoiled by the four propositions. Self-realization is an exalted state of inner attainment which transcends all dualistic thinking and which is above the mind-system with its logic, reasoning, theorizing, and illustrations. The Tathagatas discourse to the ignorant, but sustain Bodhisattvas as they seek self-realization of Noble Wisdom.
Therefore, let every disciple take good heed not to become attached to words as being in perfect conformity with meaning, because Truth is not in the letters. When a man with his finger-tip points to something to somebody, the finger-tip may be mistaken for the thing pointed at; in the like manner the ignorant and simple-minded, like children, are unable even to the day of their death to abandon the idea that the finger-tip of words where there is meaning itself. They cannot realize Ultimate Reality because of their intent clinging to words where intended to be no more than a pointing finger. Words and their discrimination bind one to the dreary round of rebirths into the world of birth-and-death.; meaning stands alone and is a guide to Nirvana. Meaning is attained by much learning, and much learning is attained by becoming conversant with the meaning and not with words; therefore, let seekers for truth reverently approach those who are wise and avoid the sticklers for particular words.
As for teachings: there are priests and popular preachers who are given to ritual and ceremony and who are skilled in the various incantations and in the art of eloquence; they should not be honored nor reverently attended upon, for what one gains from them is emotional excitement and worldly enjoyment; it is not the Dharma. Such preachers, by their clever manipulation of words and phrases and various reasonings and incantations, being the mere prattle of a child, as far as one can make out and not at all in accordance with truth nor in unison with meaning, only serves to awaken sentient and emotion, while it stupefies the mind. As he himself does not understand the meaning of all things, he only confuses the minds of his hearers with his dualistic views. Not understanding himself, that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind, and himself attached to the notion of self-nature in external things, and unable to know one path from another, he has no deliverance to offer others. Thus these priests and popular preachers who are clever in various incantations and skilled in the art of eloquence, themselves never being emancipated from such calamities as birth, old age, disease, sorrow, lamentation, pain and despair, lead the ignorant to bewilderment by means of their various words, phrases, examples, and conclusions.
Then there are the materialistic philosophers. No respect nor service is to be shown to them because their teaching, though they may be explained using hundred of thousands of words and phrases, do not go beyond the concerns of this world and this body and in the end they lead to suffering. As the materialistic recognize no truth existing by itself, they are split up into many schools, each which clings to its own way of reasoning.
But there is that which does not belong to materialism and which is not reached by the knowledge of the philosophers who cling to false-imaginations and erroneous reasonings because they fail to see that, fundamentally, there is no reality in external objects. When it is recognized that there is nothing beyond what is seen of the mind itself, the discrimination of being and non-being ceases and, as there is thus no external world of object of perception, nothing remains but the solitude of Reality. This does not belong to the materialistic philosophers, it is the domain of the Tathagatas. If such things are imagined as the coming and going of the mind-system, vanishing and appearing, solicitation, attachment, intenses affection, a philosophic hypothesis, a theory, an abode, a sense-concept, atomic attraction, organism, growth, thirst, grasping,- these things belong to materialism, they are not mine. These are things that are the object of worldly interest, to be sensed, handled and tasted; these are the things that appear in the elements that make up the aggregates of personality where, owing to the procreative force of lust, there arise all kinds of disaster, birth, sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, disease, old age, death. All these things concerns worldly interests and enjoyment; they lie along the path of the philosophers, which is not the path of the Dharma. When true egolessness of things and persons is understood, discrimination ceases to assert itself; the lower mind-system ceases to function; the various Bodhisattva stages are followed one after another; the Bodhisattva is able to utter his ten inexhaustible vows and is anointed by all the Buddhas. The Bodhisattva becomes master of himself and of all things by virtue of a life of spontaneous and radiant effortlessness. Thus the Dharma, which is Transcendental Intelligence, transcends all discriminations, all false-reasonings, all philosophical systems, all dualism.
Then Mahamati said to the Blessed One: In the Scriptures mention is made of the Womb of Tathagatahood and it is taught that that which is born of it is by nature bright and pure, originally unspotted and endowed with the thirty-two marks of excellence. As it is described it is a precious gem but wrapped in a dirty garment soiled by greed, anger, folly and false-imagination. We are taught that this Buddha-nature immanent in everyone is eternal, unchanging, auspicious. It is not this which is born of the Womb of Tathagatahood the same as the soul-substance that is taught by the philosophers? The Divine Atman as taught by them is also claimed to be eternal, inscrutable, unchanging, imperishable. It there, or is there not a difference?
The Blessed One replied: No, Mahamati, my Womb of Tathagatahood is not the same as the Divine Atman as taught by the philosophers. What I teach is Tathagatahood in the sense of Dharmakaya, Ultimate Oneness, Nirvana, emptiness, unbornness, unqualifiedness, devoid of will-effort. The reason why I teach the doctrine of Tathagatahood is to cause the ignorant and simple-minded to lay aside their fears as they listen to the teaching of egolessness and come to understand the state of non-discrimination and imagelessness. The religious teaching of the Tathagatas are just like a potter making various vessels by his own skill of hand with the aid of rob, water and thread, out of the one mass of clay, so the Tathagatas by their command of skillful means issuing from Noble Wisdom, by various terms, expressions, and symbols, preach the twofold egolessness in order to remove the last trace of discrimination that is preventing disciples from attaining a self-realization of Noble Wisdom. The doctrine of the Tathagata-womb is disclosed in order to awaken philosophers from their clinging to the notion of a Divine Atman as a transcendental personality, so that their minds that have become attached to the imaginary notion of a "soul" as being something self-existing, may be quickly awakened to a state of perfect enlightenment. All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements, that make up personality, personal soul, Supreme Spirit, Sovereign God, Creator, are all figments of the imagination and manifestations of mind. No, Mahamati, the Tathagata's doctrine of the Womb of Tathagatahood is not the same as the philosopher's Atman.
The Bodhisattva is said to have well grasped the teaching of the Tathagatas when, all alone in a lonely place, by means of his Transcendental Intelligence, he walks the path leading to Nirvana. Thereon his mind will unfold by perceiving, thinking, meditating, and, abiding in the practice of concentration until he attains the "turning-about" at the source of habit-energy, he will thereafter lead a life of excellent deeds. His mind concentrated on the state of Buddhahood, he will become thoroughly conversant with the noble truth of self-realization; he will become perfect master of his own mind; he will be like a gem radiating many colors; he will be able to assume bodies of transformation; he will be able to enter into the minds of all to help them; and; finally, by gradually ascending the stages he will become established in the perfect Transcendental Intelligence of the Tathagatas.
Nevertheless, Transcendental Intelligence (Arya-jnana) is not Noble Wisdom (Arya-prajna) itself; only an intuitive awareness of it. Noble Wisdom is a perfect state of imagelessness; it is the Womb of "Suchness"; it is the all-conserving Divine Mind (Alaya-vijnana) which in its pure Essence forever abides in perfect patience and undisturbed tranquility.