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Introduction:  Importance of the Sutra   *   Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma

Chapter 4

Then Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat in the midst of the Great Assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, put his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “The most virtuous and awe-inspiring World Honored One has for the sake of living beings expounded the primary truth of the Thus Come One with remarkable eloquence. 4:1

”The World Honored One often singles me out as the foremost among speakers of dharma. But now when I hear the wonderful and subtle expression of the dharma, I am like a deaf person who at a distance of more than a hundred paces tries to hear a mosquito, which in fact cannot be seen, let alone heard. 4:3

”World Honored One, although Ananda and those like him have become enlightened, they have not yet cast out their habits and outflows. 4:5

”We in the assembly have reached the level of no outflows. Yet, although we have no outflows, we still have doubts about the dharma we have now heard the Thus Come One speak. 4:7

”World Honored One, if all the sense organs, sense objects, skandhas, places, and realms in all the world are the Treasury of the Thus Come One, originally pure, why do all conditioned appearances such as the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise? 4:7

”Moreover, the Thus Come One said that earth, water, fire, and wind are by nature perfectly fused, are all-pervasive in the Dharma Realm, and are all tranquil and everlasting. 4:8

”World Honored One, if the nature of earth is pervasive, how can it contain water? If the nature of water is pervasive, then fire does not arise. Further, how do you explain that the natures of fire and water can each pervade empty space with out displacing one another? World Honored One, the nature of earth is solid; the nature of emptiness is penetrating. How can they both pervade the Dharma Realm? I don’t know where this doctrine is leading. 4:8

”I only hope the Thus Come One will compassionately explain in order to rend the clouds of confusion in me and among the Great Assembly.” After saying this, he made a full prostration and respectfully and expectantly awaited the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed compassionate instruction. 4:10

The World Honored One then told Purna and all the Arhats in the assembly who had extinguished their outflows and had reached the level of no study, “Today the Thus Come One will explain in depth the true, supreme meaning within the supreme meaning in order to cause all of you in the assembly who are fixed-nature Sound-Hearers and those arhats who have not realized the two kinds of emptiness, but are dedicated to the superior vehicle, as well as the others, to obtain the place of still extinction, the one vehicle, the true aranya, the proper place of cultivation. Listen attentively and I will explain it for you.” 4:11

Purna and the others, revering the Buddha’s expression of Dharma, listened silently. 4:11

The Buddha said, “Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise. 4:14

”Have you not often heard the Thus Come One expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment.” 4:14

Purna said, “Yes, World Honored One, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon this subject.” 4:14

The Buddha said, “You speak of the light of enlightenment; is it that the natural light is called enlightenment? Or are you saying that enlightenment is initially without light and that then there is a socalled brightening of the enlightenment?” 4:15

Purna said, “If the absence of light is called enlightenment, then there is no light whatever.” 4:16

The Buddha said, “If there is no bright enlightenment without light added to it, then it is not enlightenment with it; and it is not light without it. The absence of light is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment, either. 4:16

”The nature of enlightenment is essentially bright. It is false for you to make it bright enlightenment. 4:17

”Enlightenment is not something that needs to be made bright, for once that is done, an object is established because of this light. Once an object is falsely set up, you as a false subject come into being. 4:17

”In the midst of what is neither the same nor different, difference blazes forth. And what is different from that difference becomes sameness, because of the difference. Once sameness and difference are created then due to them what is neither the same nor different is further established. 4:19

”This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. The combination of these in a murky turbidity creates affliction with respect to wearisome defilement. 4:20

”Arisal is the world; stillness is emptiness. Emptiness is sameness; the world is difference. What is neither sameness nor difference is the actual conditioned dharmas. 4:22

”The interaction of bright enlightenment and dark emptiness sets them in a perpetual rotation; thus there is the pervasiveness of wind which supports the world. 4:23

”Because emptiness produces movement, hardened light sets up a solidity which is the store of metal. Bright enlightenment makes this hardness; thus there is the pervasiveness of metal which secures the lands. 4:24

”Obstinate attachment to unenlightened awareness results in the formation of metals, while the vibration of illusory awareness causes wind to rise up. The wind and metal rub together; thus there is the light of fire which is changeable by nature. 4:24

”The brightness of the metal produces moisture, and from the light of fire steam arises; thus there is the pervasiveness of water which encompasses realms in the ten directions. 4:25

”Fire rises and water falls, and the combination sets up a solidity. What is wet becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands. 4:25

”Because of this, fire often rises up in the oceans, and on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow. 4:26

”When the power of water is less than that of fire, high mountains result. So it is that mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted. 4:26

”When the power of earth is less than that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. So it is that groves and meadows turn to ashes when burned and ooze water when twisted. 4:26

”A falseness is produced with interaction as the seeds, and from these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world. 4:27

”Moreover, Purna, the false brightness is none other than the mistake of adding light to enlightenment. 4:27

”After the falseness of an object is established, the faculty of understanding cannot transcend it. Due to this cause and condition, hearing does not go beyond sound, and seeing does not surpass form. 4:28

”Forms, smells, tastes, and objects of touch . six falsenesses are realized. Because of them there is division into seeing, sensation, hearing, and knowing. 4:28

”Similar karma binds together: union and separation bring about transformation. 4:29

”One sees that a bright spot is generated. At the sight of the bright spot conception comes into being. Differing views produce hatred; similar views create love. The flow of love becomes a seed, and the conception is drawn into the womb. Intercourse happens with a mutual attraction of similar karma. And so there are the causes and conditions that create the kalala, the arbuda, and the rest. 4:29

”The womb-born, egg-born, moisture-born, and transformation- born come about in response: the egg-born come from thought, the womb-born are due to emotion, the moisture-born arise from union, and transformations occur through separation. 4:36

”Emotion, thought, union, and separation go through further changes, and from all the karma received one either rises or sinks. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of living beings. 4:38

”Purna, thought and love become bound together so that people love each other and cannot bear to be apart. As a result, the world has seen an endless succession of births of parents, children, and grandchildren. And the basis for all of this is desire and greed. 4:39

”Greed and love feed on one another until greed becomes insatiable. As a result, in the world all the sentient beings born of eggs, wombs, moisture, and by transformation tend to devour one another for the nourishment of their bodies to the extent that their strength permits. And the basis for all of this is killing and greed. 4:39

A person eats a sheep. The sheep dies and becomes a person. The person dies and becomes a sheep, and it goes on that way through ten births and more. Through death after death and birth after birth, they come back to eat one another. The evil karma becomes innate and exhausts the bounds of the future. And the basis for all of this is stealing and greed. 4:41

”’You owe me a life; I have to repay my debt to you.’ From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained cycle of birth and death. 4:43

”’You love my mind; I adore your form.’ From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained mutual entanglement. 4:44

”Killing, stealing, and lust are themselves the basic roots. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of karmic retribution. 4:44

”Therefore, Purna, the three kinds of upside down continuity come from the light which is added to enlightenment. With this false enlightening of the knowing-nature, subjective awareness gives rise to objective appearances. Both are born of false views, and from this falseness the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned appearances unfold themselves in a succession that recurs in endless cycles.” 4:45

Purna said, “If this wonderful enlightenment, this basic miraculous enlightened brightness which is neither greater than nor less than the mind of the Thus Come One, abruptly brings forth the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth, and all conditioned appearances, then now that the Thus Come One has attained the wonderful empty bright enlightenment, will the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned habitual outflows arise again?” 4:50

The Buddha said to Purna, “Consider for example a person who has become confused in a village, mistaking south for north. Is this confusion the result of confusion or of awareness?” 4:52

Purna said, “This person’s confusion is the result neither of confusion nor of awareness. Why? Confusion is fundamentally baseless, so how could it arise because of confusion? Awareness does not produce confusion, so how could it arise because of awareness?” 4:52

The Buddha said, “If a person who is aware points out the way to the person who is in the midst of confusion, and makes him aware, then do you suppose, Purna, that once the person is over his confusion he could lose his sense of direction again in that village?” 4:54

”No, World Honored One.” 4:54

”Purna, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are the same way. Confusion is groundless and ultimately empty in nature. There had basically been no confusion: it merely seemed as if there were confusion and enlightenment. When the delusion about confusion and enlightenment is ended, enlightenment does not give rise to confusion. 4:55

”It is also like a person with an eye-ailment who sees flowers in space. If he gets rid of his eye-ailment, the flowers in space will disappear. If he were so stupid as to quickly return to the spot where the flowers disappeared and wait for them to reappear, would you consider that person to be stupid or smart?” 4:57

Purna said, “Originally there weren’t any flowers in space. It was through a falseness in the seeing that they were produced and extinguished. To see the disappearance of the flowers in space is already upside down. To wait for them to reappear is sheer madness. Why bother to determine further if such a person is stupid or smart?” 4:57

The Buddha said, “Since you explain it that way, why do you ask if the wonderful enlightened bright emptiness can once again give rise to the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth? 4:58

”It is like a piece of ore containing gold and a mixture of other metals. Once the pure gold is extracted, it will not become an ore again. It is like wood that has been burned to ashes; it will not become wood again. 4:60

”The Bodhi and Nirvana of all Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, are the same way. 4:61

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