“Śāriputra! The Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi attained by the Tathagata teaches that all dharmas are neither arising nor ceasing, signless, and unconditioned. If people believe in and understand this, it is doubly rare. Why is this so? This Dharma, indescribable by terms, has no thought and no gain and does not cultivate. It is inconceivable and does not rely on the mind. It has no conceptual elaborations and cannot be relied upon by conceptual elaborations.”
Excerpts from A Discourse on the Buddha Treasury Sutra
Venerable Xiao Pingshi
The notion of thoughtlessness, unmindfulness, and “no thought” stated in the sutras refers to the “no thought” that has already been so since the beginningless eon and that currently has no thought and will remain so for the future uncountable eons. Only this can be defined as the true concept of “no thought.”
The concept of “no thought” (thoughtlessness) taught in the prajñā sutras is not a thoughtless mind attained through samadhi cultivation, but refers to a mind that we have realized is the “nameless Dharma,” a mind that eternally transcends all names and appearances. That is, the path of language cannot be associated with its state, which is therefore called “the state without language.”
The “nameless Dharma,” the wondrous treasury of all Buddhas, will never cease and has never brought forth a single thought since the beginningless eon. Only this denotes the true “no thought” mentioned in the prajñā sutras.
The “nameless Dharma,” the tathagatagarbha, co-exists with and jointly works alongside the deluded consciousness. The True Mind with no thought is eternally thoughtless while the deluded consciousness can continue to have thoughts. However, the deluded consciousness with thoughts can also sometimes enter the samadhi state and hence cannot have thoughts. The True Mind with no thought and the deluded consciousness do not interfere with each other. Only this denotes the real Buddha Dharma.
The truth is that the remainderless nirvana realized by arhats exists intrinsically and does not come about only after cultivation. The nirvanic state of no birth and no death has inherently existed, so there is no gain pertaining to nirvana. Therefore, such state does not come about through cultivation; it is intrinsically so. Hence, it is said that there is “no gain in the nameless Dharma.”
The real nirvana has always existed before or after a person’s birth or death. Moreover, it remains the same eternally and never changes; it is the only one that really denotes “non-cultivation.”
In Buddhism, anything obtained through cultivation does not belong to the “treasury of the Buddhas.” It must have inherently existed without being cultivated and is thus also said “not to cultivate.” On the other hand, if we do not cultivate, we also cannot realize the “nameless Dharma,” the tathagatagarbha. Once we realize the tathagatagarbha after Buddhist cultivation, we will discover that it has inherently existed. Thus, the tathagatagarbha mind is intrinsically non-arising and does not come about through cultivation.
A Discourse on the Buddha Treasury Sutra, Vol. 1, pp. 110-145