Legacy YM

Sutra 1, Chapter 1 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Discrimination


THUS HAVE I HEARD. The Blessed One once appeared in the Castle of Lanka which is on the summit of Mt.

Malaya in the midst of the great Ocean. A great many Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas had miraculously assembled from

all the Buddha-lands, and a large number of bhikshus were gathered there. The Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas with

Mahamati at their head were all perfect masters of the various Samadhis, the tenfold Self-mastery, the ten

Powers, and the six Psychic Faculties. Having been anointed by the Buddha's own hands, they all well

understood the significance of the objective world; they all knew how to apply the various means, teachings

and disciplinary measures according to the various mentalities and behaviors of beings; they were all

thoroughly versed in the five Dharmas, the three Svabhavas, the eight Vijnanas, and the twofold


The Blessed One, knowing of the mental agitations going on in the minds of those assembled (like the

surface of the ocean stirred into waves by the passing winds), and his great heart moved by compassion,

smiled and said: In the days of old the Tathagatas of the past who were Arhats and fully-enlightened Ones

came to the Castle of Lanka on Mount Malaya and discoursed on the Truth of Noble Wisdom that is beyond the

reasoning knowledge of the philosophers as well as being beyond the understanding of ordinary disciples and

masters; and which is realisable only within the inmost


consciousness; for your sakes, I too, would discourse on the same Truth. All that is seen in the world is

devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously

projected. This is not comprehended by the philosophers and the ignorant, but those who thus see things see

them truthfully. Those who see things otherwise walk in discrimination and, as they depend upon

discrimination, they cling to dualism. The world as seen by discrimination is like seeing one's own image

reflected in a mirror, or one's shadow, or the moon reflected in water, or an echo heard in the valley.

People grasping their own shadows of discrimination become attached to this thing and that thing and failing

to abandon dualism they go on forever discriminating and thus never attain tranquillity. By tranquillity is

meant Oneness, and Oneness gives birth to the highest Samadhi which is gained by entering into the realm of

Noble Wisdom that is realisable only within one's inmost consciousness.

Then all the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas rose from their seats and respectfully paid him homage and Mahamati

the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva sustained by the power of the Buddhas drew his upper garment over one shoulder,

knelt and pressing his hands together, praised him in the following verses:

As thou reviewest the world with thy perfect intelligence and compassion, it must seem to thee like an

ethereal flower of which one cannot say: it is born, it is destroyed, for the terms being and non-being do

not apply to it.


As thou reviewest the world with thy perfect intelligence and compassion, it must seem to thee like a

dream of which it cannot be said: it is permanent or it is destructible, for being and non-being do not apply

to it.

As thou reviewest all things by thy perfect intelligence and compassion, they must seem to thee like

visions beyond the reach of the human mind, as being and non-being do not apply to them.

With thy perfect intelligence and compassion which are beyond all limit, thou comprehendest the

egolessness of things and persons, and art free and clear from the hindrances of passion and learning and


Thou dost not vanish into Nirvana. nor does Nirvana abide in thee, for Nirvana transcends all duality

of knowing and known, of being and non-being.

Those who see thee thus, serene and beyond conception, will be emancipated from attachment, will be

cleansed of all defilement, both in this world and in the spiritual world beyond.

In this world whose nature is like a dream, there is place for praise and blame, but in the ultimate

Reality of Dharmakaya which is far beyond the senses and the discriminating mind, what is there to

praise? O thou most Wise!


THEN SAID MAHAMATI the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: O blessed One, Sugata, Arhat and Fully-enlightened One,

pray tell us about the realisation of Noble Wisdom which is beyond the path and usage of the



which is devoid of all predicates such as being and non-being, oneness and otherness, bothness and

not-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity; which has nothing to do with

individuality and generality, nor false-imagination, nor any illusions arising from the mind itself; but

which manifests itself as the Truth of Highest Reality. By which, going up continuously by the stages of

purification, one enters at last upon the stage of Tathagatahood, whereby, by the power of his original vows

unattended by any striving, one will radiate its influence to infinite worlds, like a gem reflecting its

variegated colors, whereby I and other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, will be enabled to bring all beings to the

same perfection of virtue.

Said the Blessed One: Well done, well done, Mahamati! And again, well done, indeed! It is because of your

compassion for the world, because of the benefit it will bring to many people both human kind and celestial,

that you have presented yourself before us to make this request. Therefore, Mahamati, listen well and truly

reflect upon what I shall say, for I will instruct you.

Then Mahamati and the other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas gave devout attention to the teaching of the Blessed


Mahamati, since the ignorant and simple-minded, not knowing that the world is only something seen of the

mind itself, cling to the multitudinousness of external objects, cling to the notions of being and nonbeing,

oneness and otherness, bothness and not-bothness, existence and non-existence, eternity and non-eternity,


and think that they have a self-nature of their own, all of which rises from the discriminations of the

mind and is perpetuated by habit-energy, and from which they are given over to false imagination. It is all

like a mirage in which springs of water are seen as if they were real. They are thus imagined by animals who,

made thirsty by the heat of the season, run after them. Animals, not knowing that the springs are an

hallucination of their own minds, do not realise that there are no such springs. In the same way, Mahamati,

the ignorant and simple-minded, their minds burning with the fires of greed, anger and folly, finding delight

in a world of multitudinous forms, their thoughts obsessed with ideas of birth, growth and destruction, not

well understanding what is meant by existent and non-existent, and being impressed by the erroneous

discriminations and speculations since beginningless time, fall into the habit of grasping this and that and

thereby becoming attached to them.

It is like the city of the Gandharvas which the unwitting take to be a real city though it is not so in

fact. The city appears as in a vision owing to their attachment to the memory of a city preserved in the mind

as a seed; the city can thus be said to be both existent and non-existent. In the same way, clinging to the

memory of erroneous speculations and doctrines accumulated since beginningless time, they hold fast to such

ideas as oneness and otherness, being and nonbeing, and their thoughts are not at all clear as to what after

all is only seen of the mind. It is like a man dreaming in his sleep of a country that seems to be filled

with various men, women, elephants, horses,


cars, pedestrians, villages, towns, hamlets, cows, buffalos, mansions, woods, mountains, rivers and lakes,

and who moves about in that city until he is awakened. As he lies half awake, he recalls the city of his

dreams and reviews his experiences there; what do you think, Mahamati, is this dreamer who is letting his

mind dwell upon the various unrealities he has seen in his dream,--is he to be considered wise or foolish? In

the same way, the ignorant and simple-minded who are favorably influenced by the erroneous views of the

philosophers do not recognise that the views that are influencing them are only dream-like ideas originating

in the mind itself, and consequently they are held fast by their notions of oneness and otherness, of being

and non-being. It is like a painter's canvas on which the ignorant imagine they see the elevations and

depressions of mountains and valleys.

In the same way there are people today being brought up under the influence of similar erroneous views of

oneness and otherness, of bothness and not-bothness, whose mentality is being conditioned by the habit-energy

of these false-imaginings and who later on will declare those who hold the true doctrine of no-birth which is

free from the alternatives of being and non-being, to be nihilists and by so doing will bring themselves and

others to ruin. By the natural law of cause and effect these followers of pernicious views uproot meritorious

causes that otherwise would lead to unstained purity. They are to be shunned by those whose desires are for

more excellent things.

It is like the dim-eyed ones who seeing a hairnet exclaim to one another: "It is wonderful! Look,



[paragraph continues] Sirs, it is wonderful!" But the hairnet has

never existed; in fact, it is neither an entity, nor a nonentity, for it has both been seen and has not been

seen. in the same manner those whose minds have been addicted to the discriminations of the erroneous views

cherished by the philosophers which are given over to the realistic views of being and non-being, will

contradict the good Dharma and will end in the destruction of themselves and others.

It is like a wheel of fire made by a revolving firebrand which is no wheel but which is imagined to be one

by the ignorant. Nor is it not-a-wheel because it has not been seen by some. By the same reasoning, those who

are in the habit of listening to the discriminations and views of the philosophers will regard things born as

non-existent and those destroyed by causation as existent. It is like a mirror reflecting colors and images

as determined by conditions but without any partiality. It is like the echo of the wind that gives the sound

of a human voice. It is like a mirage of moving water seen in a desert. In the same way the discriminating

mind of the ignorant which has been heated by false-imaginations and speculations is stirred into mirage-like

waves by the winds of birth, growth and destruction. It is like the magician Pisaca, who by means of his

spells makes a wooden image or a dead body to throb with life, though it has no power of its own. In the same

way the ignorant and the simpleminded, committing themselves to erroneous philosophical views become

thoroughly devoted to the ideas of oneness and otherness, but their confidence is not Well grounded. For this

reason, Mahamati, you and


other Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas should cast off all discriminations leading to the notions of birth, abiding

and destructions, of oneness and otherness, of bothness and not-bothness, of being and non-being and thus

getting free of the bondage of habit-energy become able to attain the reality realisable within yourselves of

Noble Wisdom.


THEN SAID MAHAMATI to the Blessed One: Why is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the

wise are not?

The Blessed One replied: It is because the ignorant cling to names, signs and ideas; as their minds move

along these channels they feed on multiplicities of objects and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what

belongs to it; they make discriminations of good and bad among appearances and cling to the agreeable. As

they thus cling there is a reversion to ignorance, and karma born of greed, anger and folly, is accumulated.

As the accumulation of karma goes on they become imprisoned in a cocoon of discrimination and are thenceforth

unable to free themselves from the round of birth and death.

Because of folly they do not understand that all things are like maya, like the reflection of the moon in

water, that there is no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings, and that all their

definitive ideas rise from their false discriminations of what exists only as it is seen of the mind itself.

They do not realise that things have nothing to do with qualified


and qualifying, nor with the course of birth, abiding and destruction, and instead they assert that they

are born of a creator, of time, of atoms, of some celestial spirit. It is because the ignorant are given up

to discrimination that they move along with the stream of appearances, but it is not so with the wise.

Sutra1 Chapter1 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Discrimination
Sutra1 Chapter2 - The Lankavatara Sutra - False-Imagination and Knowledge of Appearances
Sutra1 Chapter3 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Right Knowledge or Knowledge of Relations
Sutra1 Chapter4 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Perfect Knowledge, or Knowledge of Reality
Sutra1 Chapter5 - The Lankavatara Sutra - The Mind System
Sutra1 Chapter6 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Transcendental Intelligence
Sutra1 Chapter7 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Self-Realisation
Sutra1 Chapter8 - The Lankavatara Sutra - The Attainment of Self- Realisation
Sutra1 Chapter9 - The Lankavatara Sutra - The Fruit of Self- Realisation
Sutra1 Chapter10 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Discipleship: Lineage of the Arhats
Sutra1 Chapter11 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Bodhisattvahood and Its Stages
Sutra1 Chapter12 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Tathagatahood Which Is Noble Wisdom
Sutra1 Chapter13 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Nirvana
Sutra2 Chapter1 - The Diamond Sutra - The Diamond Scripture
Sutra3 Chapter1 - Sutra of Transcendental Wisdom - Sutra of Transcendental Wisdom
Sutra4 Chapter1 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Autobiography of Hui-Neng
Sutra4 Chapter2 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Discourse on Prajna
Sutra4 Chapter3 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Discourse on Dhyana and Samadhi
Sutra4 Chapter4 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Discourse on Repentance
Sutra4 Chapter5 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Discourse on the Three-Bodies of Buddha
Sutra4 Chapter6 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Dialogues Suggested by Various Temperaments and Circumstances
Sutra4 Chapter7 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Attainment
Sutra4 Chapter8 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Royal Patronage
Sutra4 Chapter9 - Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch - Final Words and Death of the Patriarch

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