Ascertaining the True Reality of Existence, pp. 97–99

Excerpts from Ascertaining the True Reality of Existence

Venerable Xiao Pingshi


 Any state or a certain kind of mind that exists dependently is inseparable from the dependently arising nature of mental consciousness (the sixth consciousness) and the imputative nature of the manas (the seventh consciousness is pervasively attached to discernment). Practitioners can exit transmigration within the three realms only by departing from the sixth and seventh consciousnesses and their natures. Those who think otherwise have entirely mistaken the heresy of non-Buddhists for the Buddha Dharma.


 To exit the cycle of birth and death, one ought to abandon the self (the sixth and seventh consciousnesses) and leave the ālaya-consciousness alone by itself, that which will not give rise to the sixth and seventh consciousnesses anew; thus, henceforward, the bardo (the state of existence between death and rebirth) will no longer appear.


 Ālaya-consciousness is devoid of subjective and objective discernment and neither clings to nor grasps any conditions or objects. It is non-perceptive, stateless, thoughtless, and without sensations; it will never have any arising thoughts, and it denotes nirvana.


 However, the attainment pertaining to realization of nirvana is, in fact, a non-attainment as nirvana is only an expedient teaching established for ordinary people. Entering nirvana is also an expedient teaching set for ordinary people. Nirvana is stateless, with no entry. Nirvana exists independently and is the emptiness nature, with nothing to be attained.


 To realize nirvana, one must completely extirpate ordinary ignorance in a single thought (C:Yiniàn wúmíng; 一念無明). Without the complete extirpation of ignorance in a single thought, it is impossible to enter nirvana, while there is still the sixth or seventh consciousness present. If the discerning mind of the sixth or seventh consciousness is not extirpated, then all states will not perish, as all the supportive conditions will not perish because there is a “self.” The “self” cannot attain nirvana. Practitioners can attain nirvana only by abandoning the “self”; therefore, attaining nirvana is called non-attainment.


 People who are unwilling to relinquish the perceptive decision-making mind yet talk nonsense about ending the cycle of birth and death by seeking the dependently arising mind are still holding on to the views of the “self” and “self-belonging.” Furthermore, they still have the view of others, the view of living beings, or the view of life (longevity), and these views belong to ordinary people. These people will commit the grievous sin of false speech by claiming that they have eliminated all craving entrenchments in the three realms (desire realm, form realm, and formless realm)[1] and can transcend the cyclic birth and death, as they have yet to eliminate the entrenchment of mistaken views[2].


 Such people do not know the cultivational difference between samādhi and prajñā and presumptuously place the attainment of the samādhi state above the prajñā, then overthrow the “non-attainment” dharma pertaining to prajñā, which all run counter to the teachings of the World-Honored One. By falsely assuming that the attained phenomenal states as dharmas superior to that of prajñā (Chan), they have slandered the Buddha’s teachings and have gone astray without knowing it. They are also leading others astray and trapping others and themselves in the cycle of birth and death. The unwise Buddhist followers who are fond of dharmas with “states” to obtain will gladly accept and follow them.


 Chan patriarchs often say, “To interpret the scriptures literally is to do injustice to the Buddhas of the past, present, and future; to deviate from the sūtras by a single word is to speak as Māra the Evil One.”[3] All wise Buddhists should delve into the scriptures and contemplate them carefully instead of following non-Buddhists in the Buddhist communities who still cling to the self-views yet claim to be enlightened and rely on the dependently arising mind to practice the “obtainable” worldly dharma with states.


[1] 欲愛、色愛、有愛住地; Yù ài, sè ài, yǒu ài zhùdì

[2] 見一處住地; Jiàn yī chù zhùdì

[3] 諸祖常云: 「依經解義,三世佛冤;離經一字,即同魔說。」