Again the quintessence and the attributes of suchness (bhûtatathatâ) know no diminution or addition, but remain the same in common people (prthagjana), Çrâvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. It was not created in the past, nor is it to be annihilated in the future; it is eternal, permanent, absolute; and from all eternity it sufficingly embraces in its essence all possible merits (punya).
That is to say, suchness has such characteristics as follows: the effulgence of great wisdom; the universal illumination of the dharmadhâtu [universe]; the true and adequate knowledge; the mind pure and
clean in its self-nature; the eternal, the blessed, the self-regulating and the pure; 1 the tranquil, the immutable, and the free. And there is no heterogeneity in all those Buddha-dharmas which, outnumbering the sands of the Ganges, can be neither identical (ekârtha) nor not-identical (nânârtha) [with the essence of suchness], and which therefore are out of the range of our comprehension. Accordingly suchness is called the Tathâgata's womb (tathâgatagarbha) or the Dharmakâya. 2
It may be questioned: While it was stated before that suchness is devoid of all characteristics (lakshana), how can it now be said without contradiction that it embraces in full all such merits?
In reply it would be said that though suchness in truth abundantly embraces all merits, yet it is free in its nature from all forms of distinction; because all objects in the world are of one and the same taste, are of one reality, have nothing to do with the modes of particularisation, and are not of dualistic character. Depending on the principle of birth-and-death, such as the activity-consciousness (karmavijñâna?), etc., however, all signs of difference and individuation appear.
How are those qualifications to be assigned to suchness?
Though all things in their [metaphysical] origin come from the soul alone and in truth free from particularisation, yet on account of non-enlightenment there originates a subjective mind [i.e., âlaya-vijñâna] that becomes conscious of an external world (vishaya). This we call ignorance (avidya). Nevertheless the essence of the mind [or the soul] is perfectly pure, and there is no awakening of ignorance in it. Thence we assign to suchness this quality, the effulgence of great wisdom.
If the mind being awakened perceive an external world, then there will be something that cannot be perceived by it. But the essence of the mind has nothing to do with perception [which presupposes the dual existence of a perceiving subject and an object perceived]; so there is nothing that cannot be perceived by it, [that is, the world of relativity is submerged in the oneness of suchness]. Thence we assign to suchness this quality, the universal illumination of the universe (dharmadhâtu).
When the mind is disturbed, it fails to be a true and adequate knowledge; it fails to be a pure, clean essence; it fails to be eternal, blissful, self-regulating, and pure; it fails to be tranquil, etc. On the contrary, it will become transient, changeable, unfree, and therefore the source of falsity and defilement, while its modifications outnumber the sands of the
[paragraph continues] Ganges. But when there is no disturbance in the essence of the mind, we speak of suchness as being the true, adequate knowledge, etc., and as possessing pure and clean merits that outnumber the sands of the Ganges.
When the mind is disturbed it will strive to become conscious of the existence of an external world and will thus betray the imperfection of its inner condition. But as all infinite merits in fact constitute the one mind which, perfect in itself, has no need of seeking after any external things other than itself, so suchness never fails to actualise all those Buddha-dharmas, that, outnumbering the sands of the Ganges, can be said to be neither identical nor non-identical with the essence of the mind, and that therefore are utterly out of the range of our comprehension. On that account suchness is designated the Tathâgata's womb (tathâgatagarbha) or the Tathâgata's Dharmakâya.
What is meant by the activity of suchness is this: all Buddhas, while at the stage of discipline, feel a deep compassion (mahâkarunâ) [for all beings], practise all pâramitâs, the four methods of entertainment (catvâri-sangrahavastûni), and many other meritorious deeds-treat others as their own self, wish to work out a universal salvation of mankind in ages to come, through limitless numbers of kalpas; recognise truthfully and adequately the principle of equality (samatâ)
among people; and do not cling to the individual existence of a sentient being. 1
By virtue of such a great wisdom that works means of emancipation (upâyâjñâ?), 2 they annihilate ignorance that knows no beginning; recognise the Dharmakâya in its original purity; spontaneously perform incomprehensible karma 3 as well as various unfettered moral activities; manifest themselves throughout the universe (dharmadhâtu), identify themselves with suchness, and leave no traces of compulsion. 4
And how is this?
Because all Tathâgatas are the Dharmakâya itself, 5 are the highest truth (paramârthasatya) itself,
and have nothing to do with conditionality (samvrittisatya) and compulsory actions; whereas the seeing, hearing, etc. [i.e., the particularising senses] of the sentient being diversify [on its own account] the activity of Tathâgatas.
Now this activity [in another word, the Dharmakâya] has a twofold aspect. The first one depends on the phenomena-particularising-consciousness, by means of which the activity is conceived by the minds of common people (prthagjana), Çrâvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas. This aspect is called the Body of Transformation (nirmânakâya).
But as the beings of this class do not know that the Body of Transformation is merely the shadow [or reflection] of their own evolving-consciousness (pravrtti-vijñâna), they imagine that it comes from some external sources, and so they give it a corporeal limitation. But the Body of Transformation [or what amounts to the same thing, the Dharmakâya] has nothing to do with limitation and measurement. 1
The second aspect [of the Dharmakâya] depends on the activity-consciousness (karmavijñâna) by means of which the activity is conceived by the minds of
[paragraph continues] Bodhisattvas while passing from their first aspiration (cittotpâda) stage up to the height of Bodhisattvahood. This is called the Body of Bliss (sambhogakâya).
The body has infinite forms. The form has infinite attributes. The attribute has infinite excellencies. And the accompanying rewards 1 of Bodhisattvas, that is, the region where they are predestined to be born [by their previous karma], also has infinite merits and ornamentations. Manifesting itself everywhere, the Body of Bliss is infinite, boundless, limitless, unintermittent [in its action], directly coming forth from the mind. 2
All these merits being actualised through the perfuming of such spotless deeds as the pâramitâs 3, etc., as well as through the incomprehensible perfuming power [of enlightenment a priori], the Sambhogakâya
embraces infinite attributes of bliss and merit. Therefore it is also called the Body of Reward.
What is recognised by common people (prthagjana), etc., is the coarsest form of the activity of the Dharmakâya. There is a variety of it according to the six different states of creation. 1 It has no attributes of infinite merits and blessings.
What is recognised by Bodhisattvas at the first stage is a finer form of the activity of the Dharmakâya. As they firmly believe in suchness, they can have a partial insight into it, and understand that the Body of the Tathâgata is not departing, is not coming, is free from arrest 2 [i.e., the Tathâgata's work is eternal and constant], that every thing is but a reflected shadow of the mind, not independent of suchness. But these Bodhisattvas have not yet freed themselves from the finest form of particularisation, because they have not yet entered into the order of the Dharmakâya.
Bodhisattvas at the stage of pure-heartedness are able to recognise the finer form of the activity [of the Dharmakâya]. Their insight is more penetrating than the former. When they reach the height of Bodhisattvahood their insight becomes perfect.
By the finer form of the activity we understand
the Body of Bliss (sambhogakâya). As long as they are possessed by the activity-consciousness, they would conceive the Body of Bliss. 1 But when they are liberated from it, all traces of individuation would become obliterated. Because all Tathâgatas come from [one and the same] Dharmakâya, have no distinction of this-ness and that-ness, have no corporeal forms that are characterised by reciprocal limitation.
A question arises here: If the Dharmakâya of Buddhas is devoid of variously differentiated corporeal forms, how is it that it can manifest itself in various corporeal forms at all?
In reply we say: The Dharmakâya can manifest itself in various corporeal forms just because it is the real essence of them. Matter (rûpa) and mind (citta) from the very beginning are not a duality. So we speak of [the universe as] a system of rationality (prajñakâya), seeing that the real nature of matter just constitutes the norm of mind. Again we speak of [the universe as] a system of materiality (dharmakâya), seeing that the true nature of mind just constitutes the norm of matter. 2
Now depending on the Dharmakâya, all Tathâgatas manifest themselves in bodily forms and are incessantly
present at all points of space. 1 And Bodhisattvas in the ten quarters, according to their capabilities and wishes, are able to manifest infinite Bodies of Bliss and infinite lands of ornamentation, each one of which, though stamped with the marks of individuality, does not hinder the others from being fused into it, and this [mutual fusion] has no interruption.
But the manifestation of the Dharmakâya in [infinite] bodily forms is not comprehensible to the thought and understanding of common-people; because it is the free and subtlest activity of suchness. 2
Again, in order that all beings might be induced to step forward from the gate of birth-and-death to that of suchness, we endeavor to let them understand that those modes of existence such as matter (rûpa), etc. [i.e., the five skandhas] 3 are imperfect.
Why are they imperfect?
When we divide some gross [or composite] matter, we can reduce it to atoms (anu). But as the atom will also be subject to further division, all forms of material existence, whether gross or fine, are nothing but the shadow of particularisation produced by a subjective mind, and we cannot ascribe any degree of [absolute, or independent] reality to them.
Let us next go over to and examine the other skandhas [that have temporal existence]. We find there too that we can gradually reduce them to kshanas [i.e., infinitesimal divisions of time], whose nature, however closely scrutinised, does not give any sign of [indivisible] oneness.
It is even the same with the objects of non-aggregate (asamskrta-dharma). 1 They cannot have their own existence independent of the universe (dharmadhâtu). Be it therefore understood that the same may be said in regard to all objects without exception in the ten quarters of space. 2
As a lost man who takes the east for the west,
while the quarter is not changed on account of his confusion, so all beings, because of their misleading ignorance, imagine that the mind is being disturbed, while in reality it is not.
But when they understand that the disturbance of the mind [i.e., birth-and-death] is [at the same time] immortality [viz., suchness], they would then enter into the gate of suchness.
96:1 These four qualities are usually considered by Mahâyânists to be those of Nirvâna as well.
96:2 Observe here again that Dharmakâya is used in a sense quite different from its ordinary interpretation as the "Body of the Law."
99:1 The older translation reads: "For they consider all sentient beings as their own self and do not cling to their individual forms. How is this? Because they know truthfully that all sentient beings as well as their own self come from one and the same suchness, and no distinction can be established among them."
99:2 Cf. the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh chapter of the Saddharma-pundarîka Sûtra, in which Buddha preaches about the means of salvation.
99:3 That is, "action in inaction and inaction in action."
99:4 Açvaghosha's conception of religious life as identical in its essence with poetry or fine art, I think, closely resembles that of Kant who says in his Critique of judgment that the production of fine art should appear as if the work of nature. To quote his own words: "Als Natur aber erscheint ein Produkt der Kunst dadurch, dass zwar alle Pünktlichkeit in der Uebereinkunft mit Regeln, nach denen allein das Produkt das werden kann, was es sein soll, angetroffen wird, aber ohne Peinlichkeit, d. i., ohne eine Spur zu zeigen, dass die Regel dem Künstler vor Augen geschwebt und seinen Gemüthskräften Fesseln angelegt habe." (Kritik der Urtheilskraft, Kirchmann's edition, p. 169.)
99:5 Cf. Vajracchedikâ, Chap. XVII: "And why, O Subhûti, the p. 100 name of Tathâgata? It expresses true suchness (bhûtatathatâ). . . . It expresses that he had no origin. . . . It expresses the destruction of all qualities (dharma). . . . It expresses one who had no origin whatever. . . . Because, O Subhûti, no-origin is the highest goal,"
100:1 The older translation reads simply: "They cannot thoroughly understand it [i.e., the true nature of the Nirmânakâya.]"
101:1 Buddhists distinguish two kinds of the retribution which we receive as the fruit of karma previously accumulated by ourselves: the first one called "principal" is our bodily existence; the second called "accompanying" is the region where we are destined to be born.
101:2 The older translation has: "It is boundless, cannot be exhausted, is free from the signs of limitation. Manifesting itself wherever it should manifest itself, it always exists by itself and is never destroyed or lost."
101:3 The six Pâramitâs are commonly enumerated: (1) charity (dâna); (2) morality (çîla); (3) patience (ksânti); (4) energy (vîrya); (5) meditation (dhyâna); (6) wisdom (prajñâ). When we speak of the ten Pâramitâs, the following four are to be added: expediency (upâya); prayer or vow (pranidhâna); strength (bala); knowledge (jñâna). An explanation of the six Pâramitâs is given below.
102:1 The six states of creation (gati) are: (1) Deva (gods); (2) Manushya (men); (3) Asura (demons); (4) Preta (ghosts); (5) Tiryagryoni (animals); (6) Nâraka (inhabitants of hell).
102:2 Cf. the Vajracchedikâ Sûtra, Chap. XXIX (Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XLIX., p. 142).
103:1 The last two sentences are missing in the older translation.
103:2 Cf. the following passages from the Prajñâ-pâramitâ-hrdaya Sûtra: "Form (rûpa) is emptiness (çûnyatâ), and emptiness is indeed form. Emptiness is not different from form, form is not different from emptiness. What is form that is emptiness, what is emptiness that is form."
104:1 The older translation: "Therefore it is preached that the Dharmakâya is omnipresent. The corporeal forms by which it manifests itself have no limitation."
104:2 This passage is missing in the older translation.
104:3 They are matter (rûpa); sensation (vedanâ); idea (samjñâ); action (samskâra); and consciousness (vijñâna).
105:1 All phenomena in the world, physical as well as mental, are divided into two great classes: (1) Samskrtadharma, i.e., that which consists of parts temporal or spatial; (2) Asamskrtadharma, i.e., that which does not consist of parts. The first class is subdivided into four principal departments which are also subject to a further subdivision, seventy-two in the Hînayâna system (according to the Abhidharmakoça-çâstra), and ninety-four in the Mahâyâna (according to the Vijñânamâtrasiddhi-çâstra). The four principal departments are: (1) Rûpa (physical phenomena); (2) Citta (thought or understanding); (3) Caittadharma or Cittasamprayuktasamskâra (mental phenomena); (4) Cittaviprayuktasamskâra (that which does not belong to the former, namely, relation that obtains among things). As for the second class, Asamskrtadharma, Mahâyânists subdivide it into six while Hînayânists subdivide it into three. For details see the two Çâstras above mentioned.
105:2 The last five paragraphs are missing in the older translation which has simply this instead: "The external world which consists in the six objects of sense does not exist independently of our mind, and the mind having no forms and attributes cannot be grasped even if we search for it throughout the ten quarters."