Sutra 1, Chapter 7 - The Lankavatara Sutra - Self-Realisation
THEN SAID MAHAMATI: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what is the nature of self-realisation by reason of which
we shall be able to attain Transcendental Intelligence?
The Blessed One replied: Transcendental Intelligence rises when the intellectual-mind reaches its limit
and, if things are to be realised in their true and essence nature, its processes of mentation, which are
based on particularised ideas, discriminations and judgments, must be transcended by an appeal to some higher
faculty of cognition, if there be such a higher faculty. There is such a faculty in the intuitive-mind
(Manas), which as we have seen is the link between the intellectual-mind and Universal Mind. While it is not
an individualised organ like the intellectual-mind, it has that which is much better,--direct dependence upon
Universal Mind. While intuition does not give information that can be analysed and discriminated, it gives
that which is far superior,--self-realisation through identification.
MAHAMATI THEN ASKED the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell us, Blessed One, what clear understandings an
earnest disciple should have if he is to be successful in the discipline that leads to self-realisation?
The Blessed One replied: There are four things by
the fulfilling of which an earnest disciple may gain self-realisation of Noble Wisdom and become a
Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: First, he must have a clear understanding that all things are only manifestations of
the mind itself; second, he must discard the notion of birth, abiding and disappearance; third, he must
clearly understand the egolessness of both things and persons; and fourth, he must have a true conception of
what constitutes self-realisation of Noble Wisdom. Provided with these four understandings, earnest disciples
may become Bodhisattvas and attain Transcendental Intelligence.
As to the first; he must recognise and be fully convinced that this triple world is nothing but a complex
manifestation of one's mental activities; that it is devoid of selfness and its belongings; that there are no
strivings, no comings, no goings. He must recognise and accept the fact that this triple world is manifested
and imagined as real only under the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulated since the beginning
less past by reason of memory, false-imagination, false-reasoning, and attachments to the multiplicities of
objects and reactions in close relationship and in conformity to ideas of body-property-and-abode.
As to the second; he must recognise and be convinced that all things are to be regarded as forms seen in a
vision and a dream, empty of substance, un-born and without self-nature; that all things exist only by reason
of a complicated network of causation which owes its rise to discrimination and attachment and which
eventuates in the rise of the mind-system and its belongings and evolvements.
As to the third; he must recognise and patiently accept the fact that his own mind and personality is also
mind-constructed, that it is empty of substance, unborn and egoless. With these three things clearly in mind,
the Bodhisattva will be able to enter into the truth of imagelessness.
As to the fourth; he must have a true conception of what constitutes self-realisation of Noble Wisdom.
First, it is not comparable to the perceptions attained by the sense-mind, neither is it comparable to the
cognition of the discriminating and intellectual-mind. Both of these presuppose a difference between self and
not-self and the knowledge so attained is characterised by individuality and generality. Self-realisation is
based on identity and oneness; there is nothing to be discriminated nor predicated concerning it. But to
enter into it the Bodhisattva must be free from all presuppositions and attachments to things, ideas and
THEN SAID MAHAMATI to the Blessed One: Pray tell us, Blessed One, concerning the characteristics of deep
attachments to existence and as to how we may become detached from existence?
The Blessed One replied: When one tries to understand the significance of things by means of words and
discriminations, there follow immeasurably deep-seated attachments to existence. For instance: there are the
deep-seated attachments to signs of individuality, to causation, to the notion of being and non-being,
to the discrimination of birth and death, of doing and not-doing, to the habit of discrimination itself
upon which the philosophers are so dependent.
There are three attachments that are especially deep-seated in the minds of all: greed, anger and
infatuation, which are based on lust, fear and pride. Back of these lies discrimination and desire which is
procreative and is accompanied with excitement and avariciousness and love of comfort and desire for eternal
life; and, following, is a succession of rebirths on the five paths of existence and a continuation of
attachments. But if these attachments are broken off, no signs of attachment nor of detachment will remain
because they are based on things that are non-existent; when this truth is clearly understood the net of
attachment is cleared away.
But depending upon and attaching itself to the triple combination which works in unison there is the
rising and the continuation of the mind-system incessantly functioning, and because of it there is the
deeply-felt and continuous assertion of the will-to-live. When the triple combination that causes the
functioning of the mind-system ceases to exist, there is the triple emancipation and there is no further
rising of any combination. When the existence and the non-existence of the external world are recognised as
rising from the mind itself, then the Bodhisattva is prepared to enter into the state of imagelessness and
therein to see into the emptiness which characterises all discrimination and all the deep-seated attachments
resulting therefrom. Therein he will see no signs of deep-rooted attachment nor detachment; therein he
will see no one in bondage and no one in emancipation, except those who themselves cherish bondage and
emancipation, because in all things there is no "substance" to be taken hold of.
But so long as these discriminations are cherished by the ignorant and simple-minded they go on attaching
themselves to them and, like the silkworm, go on spinning their thread of discrimination and enwrapping
themselves and others, and are charmed with their prison. But to the wise there are no signs of attachment
nor of detachment; all things are seen as abiding in solitude where there is no evolving of discrimination.
Mahamati, you and all the Bodhisattvas should have your abode where you can see all things from the
view-point of solitude.
Mahamati, when you and other Bodhisattvas understand well the distinction between attachment and
detachment, you will be in possession of skillful means for avoiding becoming attached to words according to
which one proceeds to grasp meanings. Free from the domination of words you will be able to establish
yourselves where there will be a "turning about" in the deepest seat of consciousness by means of which you
will attain self-realisation of Noble Wisdom and be able to enter into all the Buddha-lands and assemblies.
There you will be stamped with the stamp of the powers, self-command, the psychic faculties, and will be
endowed with the wisdom and the power of the ten inexhaustible vows, and will become radiant with the
variegated rays of the Transformation Bodies. Therewith you will shine without effort like the moon, the sun,
the magic wishing-jewel, and at every stage
will view things as being of perfect oneness with yourself, uncontaminated by any self-consciousness.
Seeing that all things are like a dream, you will be able to enter into the stage of the Tathagatas and be
able to deliver discourses on the Dharma to the world of beings in accordance with their needs and be able to
free them from all dualistic notions and false discriminations.
Mahamati, there are two ways of considering self-realisation: namely, the teachings about it, and the
realisation itself. The teachings as variously given in the nine divisions of the doctrinal works, for the
instructions of those who are inclined toward it, by making use of skillful means and expedients, are
intended to awaken in all beings a true perception of the Dharma. The teachings are designed to keep one away
from all the dualistic notions of being and non-being and oneness and otherness.
Realisation itself is within the inner consciousness. It is an inner experience that has no connection
with the lower mind-system and its discriminations of words, ideas and philosophical speculations. It shines
out with its own clear light to reveal the error and foolishness of mind-constructed teachings, to render
impotent evil influences from without, and to guide one unerringly to the realm of the good non-outflowings.
Mahamati, when the earnest disciple and Bodhisattva is provided with these requirements, the way is open to
his perfect attainment of self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, and to the full enjoyment of the fruits that
THEN MAHAMATI ASKED the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell us, Blessed One, about the One Vehicle which the
Blessed One has said characterises the attainment of the inner self-realisation of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: In order to discard more easily discriminations and erroneous reasonings, the
Bodhisattva should retire by himself to a quiet, secluded place where he may reflect within himself without
relying on anyone else, and there let him exert himself to make successive advances along the stages; this
solitude is the characteristic feature of the inner attainment of self-realisation of Noble Wisdom.
I call this the One Vehicle, not because it is the One Vehicle, but because it is only in solitude that
one is able to recognise and realise the path of the One Vehicle. So long as the mind is distracted and is
making conscious effort, there can be no culmination as regards the various vehicles; it is only when the
mind is alone and quiet that it is able to forsake the discriminations of the external world and seek
realisation of an inner realm where there is neither vehicle nor one who rides in it. I speak of the three
vehicles in order to carry the ignorant. I do not speak much about the One Vehicle because there is no way by
which earnest disciples and masters can realise Nirvana, unaided. According to the discourses of the
Tathagatas earnest disciples should be segregated and disciplined and trained in meditation and dhyana
whereby they are aided by many devices and expedients to realise emancipation. It is because earnest
disciples and masters have not fully destroyed the habit-energy of karma and
the hindrances of discriminative knowledge and human passion that they are often unable to accept the
twofold egolessness and the inconceivable transformation death, that I preach the triple vehicle and not the
One Vehicle. When earnest disciples have gotten rid of all their evil habit-energy and been able to realise
the twofold egolessness, then they will not be intoxicated by the bliss of the Samadhis and will be awakened
into the super-realm of the good non-outflowings. Being awakened into the realm of the good non-outflowings,
they will be able to gather up all the requisites for the attainment of Noble Wisdom which is beyond
conception and is of sovereign power. But really, Mahamati, there are no vehicles, and so I speak of the One
Vehicle. Mahamati, the full recognition of the One Vehicle has never been attained by either earnest
disciples, masters, or even by the great Brahma; it has been attained only by the Tathagatas themselves. That
is the reason that it is known as the One Vehicle. I do not, speak much about it because there is no way by
which earnest disciples can realise Nirvana unaided.
THEN MAHAMATI ASKED the Blessed One, saying: What are the steps that will lead an awakened disciple toward
the self-realisation of Noble Wisdom?
The Blessed One replied: The beginning lies in the recognition that the external world is only a
manifestation of the activities of the mind itself, and that the mind grasps it as an external world simply
of its habit of discrimination and false-reasoning. The disciple must get into the habit of looking at
things truthfully. He must recognise the fact that the world has no self-nature, that it is un-born, that it
is like a passing cloud, like an imaginary wheel made by a revolving firebrand, like the castle of the
Gandharvas, like the moon reflected in the ocean, like a vision, a mirage, a dream. He must come to
understand that mind in its essence-nature has nothing to do with discrimination nor causation; he must not
listen to discourses based on the imaginary terms of qualifications; he must understand that Universal Mind
in its pure essence is a state of imagelessness, that it is only because of the accumulated defilements on
its face that body-property-and-abode appear to be its manifestations, that in its own pure nature it is
unaffected and unaffecting by such changes as rising, abiding and destruction; he must fully understand that
all these things come with the awakening of the notion of an ego-soul and its conscious mind. Therefore,
Mahamati, let those disciples who wish to realise Noble Wisdom by following the Tathagata Vehicle desist from
all discrimination and erroneous reasoning about such notions as the elements that make up the aggregates of
personality and its sense-world or about such ideas as causation, rising, abiding and destruction, and
exercise themselves in the discipline of dhyana that leads to the realisation of Noble Wisdom.
To practice dhyana, the earnest disciple should retire to a quiet and solitary place, remembering that
life-long habits of discriminative thinking cannot be broken off easily nor quickly. There are four kinds
concentrative meditation (dhyana): The dhyana practised by the ignorant; the dhyana devoted to the
examination of meaning; the dhyana with "suchness" (tathata) for its object; and the dhyana of the
The dhyana practised by the ignorant is the one resorted to by those who are following the example of the
disciples and masters but who do not understand its purpose and, therefore, it becomes "still-sitting" with
vacant minds. This dhyana is practised, also, by those who, despising the body, see it as a shadow and a
skeleton full of suffering and impurity, and yet who cling to the notion of an ego, seek to attain
emancipation by the mere cessation of thought.
The dhyana devoted to the examination of meaning, is the one practised by those who, perceiving the
untenability of such ideas as self, other and both, which are held by the philosophers, and who have passed
beyond the twofold-egolessness, devote dhyana to an examination of the significance of egolessness and the'
differentiations of the Bodhisattva stages.
The dhyana with Tathata, or "Suchness," or Oneness, or the Divine Name, for its object is practised by
those earnest disciples and masters who, while fully recognising the twofold egolessness and the
imagelessness of Tathata, yet cling to the notion of an ultimate Tathata.
The dhyana of the Tathagatas is the dhyana of those who are entering upon the stage of Tathagatahood and
who, abiding in the triple bliss which characterises the self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, are devoting
themselves for the sake of all beings to the accomplishment
of incomprehensible works for their emancipation. This is the pure dhyana of the Tathagatas. When all
lesser things and ideas are transcended and forgotten, and there remains only a perfect state of
imagelessness where Tathagata and Tathata are merged into perfect Oneness, then the Buddhas will come
together from all their Buddha-lands and with shining hands resting on his forehead will welcome a new
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