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Sutra 1, Chapter 8 - The Lankavatara Sutra - The Attainment of Self- Realisation


THEN SAID MAHAMATI to the Blessed One: Pray tell us more as to what constitutes the state of


The Blessed One replied: In the life of an earnest disciple there are two aspects that are to be

distinguished: namely, the state of attachment to the self-natures arising from discrimination of himself and

his field of consciousness to which he is related; and second, the excellent and exalted state of

self-realisation of Noble Wisdom. The state of attachment to the discriminations of the self-natures of

things, ideas and selfhood is accompanied by emotions of pleasure or aversion according to experience or as

laid down in books of logic. Conforming himself to the egolessness of things and holding back wrong views as

to his own egoness, he should abandon these thoughts and hold himself firmly to the continuously ascending

journey of the stages.

The exalted state of self-realisation as it relates to an earnest disciple is a state of mental

concentration in which he seeks to identify himself with Noble Wisdom. In that effort he must seek to

annihilate all vagrant thoughts and notions belonging to the externality of things, and all ideas of

individuality and generality, of suffering and impermanence, and cultivate the noblest ideas of egolessness

and emptiness and imagelessness; thus will he attain a realisation of truth that is free from passion and is

ever serene. When this


active effort at mental concentration is successful it is followed by a more passive, receptive state of

Samadhi in which the earnest disciple will enter into the blissful abode of Noble Wisdom and experience its

consummations in the transformations of Samapatti. This is an earnest disciple's first experience of the

exalted state of realisation, but as yet there is no discarding of habit-energy nor escaping from the

transformation of death.

Having attained this exalted and blissful state of realisation as far as it can be attained by disciples,

the Bodhisattva must not give himself up to the enjoyment of its bliss, for that would mean cessation, but

should think compassionately of other beings and keep ever fresh his original vows; he should never let

himself rest in nor exert himself in the bliss of the Samadhis.

But, Mahamati, as earnest disciples go on trying to advance on the path that leads to full realisation,

there is one danger against which they must be on their guard. Disciples may not appreciate that the

mind-system, because of its accumulated habit-energy, goes on functioning, more or less unconsciously, as

long as they live. They may sometimes think that they can expedite the attainment of their goal of

tranquillisation by entirely suppressing the activities of the mind-system. This is a mistake, for even if

the activities of the mind are suppressed, the mind will still go on functioning because the seeds of

habit-energy will still remain in it. What they think is extinction of mind, is really the non-functioning of

the mind's external world to which they are no longer attached. That is, the goal of tranquillisation is to

be reached


not by suppressing all mind activity but by getting rid of discriminations and attachments.

Then there are others who, afraid of the suffering incident to the discriminations of life and death,

unwisely seek Nirvana. They have come to see that all things subject to discrimination have no reality and so

imagine that Nirvana must consist in the annihilation of the senses and their fields of sensation; they do

not appreciate that birth-and-death and Nirvana are not separate one from the other. They do not know that

Nirvana is Universal Mind in its purity. Therefore, these stupid ones who cling to the notion that Nirvana is

a world by itself that is outside what is seen by the mind, ignoring all the teachings of the Tathagatas

concerning the external world, go on rolling themselves along the wheel of birth-and-death. But when they

experience the "turning-about" in their deepest consciousness which will bring with it the perfect

self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, then they will understand.

The true functioning of the mind is very subtle and difficult to be understood by young disciples, even

masters with all their powers of right-knowledge and Samadhis often find it baffling. It is only the

Tathagatas and the Bodhisattvas who are firmly established on the seventh stage who can fully understand its

workings. Those earnest disciples and masters who wish to fully understand all the aspects of the different

stages of Bodhisattvahood by the aid of their right-knowledge must do so by becoming thoroughly convinced

that objects of discrimination are only seen to be so by the mind and, thus, by keeping themselves


away from all discriminations and false reasonings which are also of the mind itself, by ever seeking to

see things truly (yathabhutam), and by planting roots of goodness in Buddha-lands that know no limits

made by differentiations.

To do all this the Bodhisattva should keep himself away from all turmoil, social excitements and

sleepiness; let him keep away from the treatises and writings of worldly philosophers, and from the ritual

and ceremonies of professional priestcraft. Let him retire to a secluded place in the forest and there devote

himself to the practise of the various spiritual disciplines, because it is only by so doing that he will

become capable of attaining in this world of multiplicities a true insight into the workings of Universal

Mind in its Essence. There surrounded by his good friends the Buddhas, earnest disciples will become capable

of understanding the significance of the mind-system and its place as a mediating agent between the external

world and Universal Mind and he will become capable of crossing the ocean of birth-and-death which rises from

ignorance, desire and deed.

Having gained a thorough understanding of the mind-system, the three self-natures, the twofold

egolessness, and established himself in the measure of self-realisation that goes with that attainment, all

of which may be gained by his right-knowledge, the way will be clear for the Bodhisattva's further advance

along the stages of Bodhisattvahood. The disciple should then abandon the understanding of mind which he has

gained by right-knowledge, which in comparison with Noble Wisdom is like a lame donkey,


and entering on the eighth stage of Bodhisattvahood, he should then discipline himself in Noble Wisdom

according to its three aspects.

These aspects are: First, imagelessness which comes forth when all things belonging to discipleship,

mastership, and philosophy are thoroughly mastered. Second, the power added by all the Buddhas by reason of

their original vows including the identification of their lives and the sharing of their merit with all

sentient lives. Third, the perfect self-realisation that thus far has only been realised in a measure. As the

Bodhisattva succeeds in detaching himself from viewing all things, including his own imagined egoness, in

their phenomenality, and realises the states of Samadhi and Samapatti whereby he surveys the world as a

vision and a dream, and being sustained by all the Buddhas, he will be able to pass on to the full attainment

of the Tathagata stage, which is Noble Wisdom itself. This is the triplicity of the noble life and being

furnished with this triplicity the perfect self-realisation of Noble Wisdom has been attained.

THEN MAHAMATI ASKED the Blessed One, saying: Blessed One, is the purification of the evil outflowings of

the mind which come from clinging to the notions of an objective world and an empirical soul, gradual or


The Blessed One replied: There are three characteristic out-flows of the mind, namely, the evil

outflowings that rise from thirst, grasping and attachment;


the evil out-flowings that arise from the illusions of the mind and the infatuations of egoism; and the

good non-outflowings that arise from Noble Wisdom. The evil out-flowings that take place from recognising an

external world, which in truth is only a manifestation of mind, and from becoming attached to it, are

gradually purified and not instantaneously. Good behavior can only come by the path of restraint and effort.

It is like a potter making pots that is done gradually and with attention and effort. It is like the mastery

of comedy, dancing, singing, lute-playing, writing, and any other art; it must be acquired gradually and

laboriously. Its reward will be a clearing insight into the emptiness and transiency of all things.

The evil out-flowings that arise from the illusions of the mind and the infatuations of egoism, concern

the mental life more directly and are such things as fear, anger, hatred and pride; these are purified by

study and meditation and that, too, must be attained gradually and not instantaneously. It is like the amra

fruit that ripens slowly; it is like grass, shrubs, herbs and trees that grow up from the earth gradually.

Each must follow the path of study and meditation by himself gradually and with effort, but because of the

original vows of the Bodhisattvas and all the Tathagatas who have devoted their merits and identified their

lives with all animate life that all may be emancipated, they are not without aid and encouragement; but even

with the aid of the Tathagatas, the purification of the evil out-flowings of the mind are at best slow and

gradual, requiring both zeal and patience. Its reward is the gradual understanding of the twofold egolessness



its patient acceptance, and the feet well set on the stages of Bodhisattvahood.

But the good non-outflowings that come with self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, is a purification that comes

instantaneously by the grace of the Tathagatas. It is like a mirror reflecting all forms and images

instantaneously and without discrimination; it is like the sun or the moon revealing all forms

instantaneously and illuminating them dispassionately with its light. In the same way the Tathagatas lead

earnest disciples to a state of imagelessness; all the accumulations of habit-energy and karma that had been

collecting since beginningless time because of attachment to erroneous views which have been entertained

regarding an ego-soul and its external world, are cleared away, revealing instantaneously the realm of

Transcendental Intelligence that belongs to Buddahood. Just as Universal Mind defiled by accumulations of

habit-energy and karma reveals multiplicities of ego-souls and their external worlds of false-imagination, so

Universal Mind cleared of its defilements through the gradual purifications of the evil out-flowings that

come by effort, study and meditation, and by the gradual self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, at the long last,

like the Dharmata Buddha shining forth spontaneously with the rays that issue from its pure Self-nature,

shines forth instantaneously. By it the mentality of all Bodhisattvas is matured instantaneously: they find

themselves in the palatial abodes of the Akanistha heavens, themselves spontaneously radiating the various

treasures of its spiritual abundance.

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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