The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra



(211) At that time again Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One: Pray tell me, Blessed One, about the state of perfect tranquillisation (nirodha) and its further development as attained by all the Bodhisattvas, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas; for when this further development is thoroughly understood by myself and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas all may be saved from being confounded by the happiness which comes from the attainment of perfect tranquillisation and also from falling into the confused state of mind of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers.

Said the Blessed One: Then listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One, said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Those Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who have reached the sixth stage as well as all the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas attain perfect tranquillisation. At the seventh stage, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, giving up the view of self-nature as subsisting in all things, attain perfect tranquillisation in every minute of their mental lives, which is not however the case with the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas; for with them there is something effect-producing, and in their attainment of perfect tranquillisation there is a trace [of dualism], of grasped and grasping. Therefore, they do not attain perfect tranquillisation in every minute of their mental lives which is possible at the seventh stage. They cannot attain to [the clear conviction of] an undifferentiated state of all things (212) and the cessation of [all] multiplicities. Their attainment is due to understanding the aspect of all things in which their self-nature is discriminated as good and as not-good. Therefore, until the seventh stage there is not a well-established attainment of tranquillisation in every minute of their mental lives.

Mahāmati, at the eighth stage the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas cease cherishing discriminative ideas that arise from the Citta, Mana and Manovijñāna. From the first stage up to the sixth, they perceive that the triple world is no more than the Citta. Manas, and Manovijñāna, that as it is born of a discriminating mind there is no ego-soul and what belongs to it, and that there is no falling into the multitudinousness of external objects except through [the discrimination of] the Mind itself. The ignorant turning their self-knowledge (svajñāna) towards the dualism of grasped and grasping fail to understand, for there is the working of habit-energy which has "been accumulating since beginningless time owing to false reasoning and discrimination.

Mahāmati, at the eighth stage there is Nirvana for the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas; but the Bodhisattvas are kept away by the power of all the Buddhas1 from [being intoxicated by] the bliss of the Samādhi, and thereby they will not enter into Nirvana. When the stage of Tathagatahood is not fulfilled there would be the cessation of all doings, and if [the Bodhisattvas] were not supported [by the Buddhas] the Tathagata-family would become extinct. Therefore, the Buddhas, the Blessed Ones, point out the virtues of Buddhahood which are beyond conception. (213) Therefore, [the Bodhisattvas] do not enter into Nirvana, but the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas, engrossed in the bliss of the Samādhis, therein cherish the thought of Nirvana.

1 Read according to T'ang.

At the seventh stage, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva properly examines into the nature of the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna; he examines into [such subjects as] ego-soul and what belongs1 to it, grasped and grasping, the egolessness of persons and things, rising and disappearing, individuality and generality; he skilfully ascertains the fourfold logical analysis; he enjoys the bliss of self-mastery; he enters successively upon the stages; he knows the differences obtaining in the various elements of enlightenment. The grading of the stages is arranged by me lest the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, not knowing what is meant by individuality and generality and failing to understand the continuous development of the successive stages, should fall into the philosophers' wrong way of viewing things. But, Mahāmati, there is really nothing rising, nothing disappearing, all is nothing except what is seen of the Mind itself; that is, the continuous development of the successive stages and all the multiple doings of the triple world [—they are all of Mind itself]. This is not understood by the ignorant. I and all the Buddhas1 establish the doctrine of the stages which develop successively as do all the doings of the triple world.

1 The Chinese reading is here adopted.

Further, Mahāmati, the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas at the eighth stage of Bodhisattvahood are so intoxicated with the happiness that comes from the attainment of perfect tranquillisation, and, failing to understand fully that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, they are thus unable to overcome the hindrances and habit-energy growing out of their notions of generality and individuality; and adhering to the egolessness of persons and things and (214) cherishing views arising therefrom, they have the discriminating idea and knowledge of Nirvana, which is not that of the truth of absolute solitude. Mahāmati, when the Bodhisattvas face and perceive the happiness of the Samādhi of perfect tranquillisation, they are moved with the feeling of love and sympathy owing to their original vows, and they become aware of the part they are to perform as regards the [ten] inexhaustible vows. Thus, they do not enter Nirvana. But the fact is that they are already in Nirvana because in them there is no rising of discrimination. With them the discrimination of grasped and grasping no more takes place; as they [now] recognise that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, they have done away with the thought of discrimination concerning all things. They have abandoned adhering to and discriminating about such notions as the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna, and external objects, and self-nature; however, they have not given up the things promoting the cause of Buddhism; because of their attainment of the inner insight which belongs to the stage of Tathagatahood; whatever they do all issues from their transcendental knowledge.

It is like a man crossing a stream in a dream. For instance, Mahāmati, suppose that while sleeping a man dreams that he is in the midst of a great river which he earnestly endeavours with all his might to cross by himself; but before he succeeds in crossing the stream, he is awakened from the dream, and being awakened he thinks: "Is this real or unreal?" He thinks again: "No, it is neither real nor unreal. By reason of the habit-energy of discrimination which has been accumulated by experience ever since beginningless time, as multiplicities of forms and conditions are seen, heard, thought, and recognised, there is the perception and discrimination of all things as existent and nonexistent; and for this reason my Manovijñāna experiences even in a dream all that has been seen by myself."

In the same way, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas of the eighth stage of Bodhisattvahood, (215) after passing through the first up to the seventh stage, observe that "there is no more rising in them of discrimination since all things are seen as like Māyā, etc., when they have an intuitive understanding of the [true] nature of all things, and [further] observing that, therefore, there is the cessation of all things as to grasped and grasping which rise from one's ardent desire for things, and also observing how the mind and what belongs to it carry on their discrimination, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas never relax their efforts to practise the teachings of the Buddhas. Mahāmati, they will exercise themselves to make those who have not yet attained the truth attain it. For the Bodhisattvas, Nirvana does not mean extinction; as they have abandoned thoughts of discrimination evolving from the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna, there is for them the attainment of the recognition that all things are unborn. And, Mahāmati, in ultimate reality there is neither gradation nor continuous succession; [only] the truth of absolute solitude (viviktadharma) is taught here in which the discrimination of all the images is quieted. So it is said:

1. The abodes and the stages of Buddhahood are established in1 the Mind-only which is imageless—this was told, is told, and will be told by the Buddhas.

2. The [first] seven stages are [still] of the mind, but here the eighth is imageless; the two stages, [the ninth and the tenth,] have [still] something to rest themselves on; the [highest] stage that is left belongs to me.

3. Self-realisation and absolute purity—this stage is my own; it is the highest station of Maheśvara, the Akanishtha [heaven] shining brilliantly.

4. Its rays of light move forward like a mass of fire; they who are bright-coloured, charming, and auspicious transform the triple world.

5. Some worlds are being transformed, while others have already been transformed;2 there I preach the various vehicles which belong to my own stage.

(216) 6. But [from the absolute point of view] the tenth is the first, and the first is the eighth; and the ninth is the seventh, and the seventh is the eighth.

7. And the second is the third, and the fourth is the fifth, and the third is the sixth; what gradation is there where imagelessness prevails?

The Fourth Chapter, "On Intuitive Understanding."

1 The Sagāthakam, V. 105, has cittamātraṁ nirābhāsam...... instead of cittamātre nirābhāse......, as it stands here.

2 According to T'ang.



(217) At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One: Is the Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully-Enlightened One, permanent or impermanent?

Said the Blessed One: Mahāmati, the Tathagata is neither permanent nor impermanent. Why? Because either way there is a fault connected with it. Mahāmati, what fault is connected with either assertion?1 If the Tathagata is permanent, he will be connected with the creating agencies. For, Mahāmati, according to all the philosophers the creating agencies are something uncreated and permanent. But the Tathagata is not permanent [in the same sense] as the uncreated are permanent. If he is impermanent, he will be connected with things created. Because the Skandhas which are predicable as qualified and qualifying are nonexistent, and because the Skandhas are subject to annihilation, destructibility is their nature. Mahāmati, all that is created is impermanent as is a jug, a garment, straw, a piece of wood, a brick, etc., which are all connected with impermanency. Thus all the preparations for the knowledge of the All-Knowing One will become useless as they are things created. On account of no distinction being made, the Tathagata, indeed, would be something created. For this reason, the Tathagata is neither permanent nor impermanent.

1 Following T'ang.

Again, Mahāmati, the Tathagata is not permanent for the reason that [if he were] he would be like space, and the preparations one makes for Tathagatahood would be useless. That is to say, Mahāmati, space is neither permanent nor impermanent as it excludes [the idea of] permanence and impermanence, (218) and it is improper to speak of it as characterised with the faults of oneness and otherness, of bothness and not-bothness, of permanence and impermanence. Further, Mahāmati, it is like the horns of a hare, or a horse, or an ass, or a camel, or a frog, or a snake, or a fly, or a fish; [with the Tathagata] as with them here is the permanency of no-birth. Because of this fault of the permanency of no-birth, the Tathagata cannot be permanent.

However, Mahāmati, there is another sense in which the Tathagata can be said to be permanent. How? Because the knowledge arising from the attainment of enlightenment [ = an intuitive understanding] is of a permanent nature, the Tathagata is permanent. Mahāmati, this knowledge, as it is attained intuitively by the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones, is, indeed, permanent. Whether the Tathagatas are born or not, this Dharmatā, which is the regulative and sustaining principle to be discoverable in the enlightenment of all the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers, abides, and this sustaining principle of existence is not like the emptiness of space, which, however, is not understood by the ignorant and simple-minded. Mahāmati, this knowledge of enlightenment belonging to the Tathagatas comes forth from transcendental knowledge (prajñājñāna); Mahāmati, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones do not come forth from the habit-energy of ignorance which is concerned with the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna, and the Skandhas, Dhātus, and Āyatanas. The triple world originates from the discriminating of unrealities, but the Tathagatas do not originate from the discriminating of unrealities. Where duality obtains, Mahāmati, there is permanency and impermanency because of its not being one. Mahāmati, [the truth of] absolute solitude is, indeed, non-dualistic1 because all things are characterised with non-duality and no-birth. For this reason, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones are neither permanent nor impermanent. Mahāmati, as long as there is word-discrimination, (219) there follows the faulty notion of permanency and impermanency. The destruction of the notion of permanency and impermanency as held by the ignorant, Mahāmati, comes from the getting rid of the knowledge that is based on discrimination, and not from the getting rid of the knowledge that is based on the insight of solitude. So it is said:

1. By keeping away permanency and impermanency, [and yet] by keeping permanency and impermanency in sight, those who always see the Buddhas will not expose themselves to the power of the philosophical doctrines.

2. When permanency and impermanency are adhered to all the accumulation [one makes for the attainment of reality] will be of no avail; by destroying the knowledge that is based on discrimination, [the idea of] permanency and impermanency is kept back.

3. As soon as an assertion is made, all is in confusion; when it is understood that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, disputes never arise.

Here Ends the Fifth Chapter, "On the Deduction of the Permanency and Impermanency of Tathagatahood."

1 Read advayam, not dvayam.



(220) At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva made a request of the Blessed One, saying: Blessed One, tell me; Sugata, tell me about the rising and disappearing of the Skandhas, Dhātus, and Āyatanas. In case there is no ego-soul, what is it that comes to exist and to disappear? The ignorant who are attached to the notion of rising and disappearing, fail to understand the extinction of pain, and thus they know not what Nirvana is.

Said the Blessed One: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said: Certainly, Blessed One; and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, the Tathāgata-garbha holds within it the cause for both good and evil, and by it all the forms of existence are produced. Like an actor it takes on a variety of forms, and [in itself] is devoid of an ego-soul and what belongs to it. As this is not understood, there is the functioning together of the triple combination from which effects take place. But the philosophers not knowing this are tenaciously attached to the idea of a cause [or a creating agency]. Because of the influence of habit-energy that has been accumulating variously by false reasoning since beginningless time, what here goes under the name of Ālayavijñāna is accompanied by the seven Vijñānas which give birth to a state known as the abode of ignorance. It is like a great ocean in which the waves roll on permanently but the [deeps remain unmoved; that is, the Alaya-] body itself subsists uninterruptedly, quite free from fault of impermanence, unconcerned with the doctrine of ego-substance, and (221) thoroughly pure in its essential nature.

As to the other seven Vijñānas beginning with the Manas and Manovijñāna, they have their rise and complete ending from moment to moment; they are born with false discrimination as cause, and with forms and appearances and objectivity as conditions which are intimately linked together; adhering to names and forms, they do not realise that objective individual forms are no1 more than what is seen of the Mind itself; they do not give exact information regarding pleasure and pain; they are not the cause of emancipation; by setting up names and forms which originate from greed, greed is begotten in turn, thus mutually conditioned and conditioning. When the sense-organs which seize [upon the objective world] are destroyed and annihilated, the other things immediately cease to function, and there is no recognition of pleasure and pain which are the self-discrimination of knowledge; thus there is the attainment of perfect tranquillisation in which thoughts and sensations are quieted, or there is the realisation of the four Dhyānas, in which truths of emancipation are well understood; whereupon the Yogins are led to cherish herein the notion of [true] emancipation, because of the not-rising [of the Vijñānas].

1 According to T'ang and Sung.

[But] when a revulsion [or turning-back] has not taken place in the Ālayavijñāna known under the name of Tathāgata-garbha, there is no cessation of the seven evolving Vijñānas. Why? Because the evolution of the Vijñānas is depending on this cause; but this does not belong to the realm of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and those who are disciplining themselves in the exercises of the philosophers. As they [only] know the egolessness of the self-soul, as they [only] accept the individuality and generality of the Skandhas, Dhātus, and Āyatanas, there is the evolving of the Tathāgata-garbha. When an insight into the five Dharmas, the three Svabhāvas, and the egolessness of all things is obtained, the Tathāgata-garbha becomes quiescent. By causing a revulsion in the continuous development of the graded stages, [the Bodhisattva] may not be led astray in the path [of enlightenment] by those philosophers who hold different views. Thus establishing himself at the Bodhisattva stage of Acalā (immovable), (222) he obtains the paths leading to the happiness of the ten Samādhis. Supported by the Buddhas in Samādhi, observing the truths of the Buddha which go beyond thought and his own original vows, not entering into the happiness of the Samādhi which is the limit of reality, but by means of the self-realisation which is not generally gained by the paths of discipline belonging to the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers, he obtains the ten paths of discipline which belong to the noble family [of the Tathagatas], and [also obtains] the knowledge-body created by the will which is removed from the [premeditated] workings of Samādhi. For this reason, Mahāmati, let those Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who are seeking after the exalted truth effect the purification of the Tathāgata-garbha which is known as Ālayavijñāna.

Mahāmati, if you say that there is no Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna, there will be neither the rising nor the disappearing [of an external world of multiplicities] in the absence of the Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna. But, Mahāmati, there is the rising and disappearing of the ignorant as well as the holy ones. [Therefore], the Yogins, while walking in the noble path of self-realisation and abiding in the enjoyment of things as they are, do not abandon working hard and are never frustrated [in their undertakings]. Mahāmati, this realm of the Tathāgata-garbha is primarily undefiled and is beyond all the speculative theories of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers; but it appears to them devoid of purity, as it is soiled by these external defilements. This is not the case with the Tathagatas, Mahāmati; with the Tathagatas it is an intuitive experience as if it were an Āmalaka fruit held in the palm of the hand.

This, Mahāmati, was told by me in the canonical text relating to Queen Śrīmālā, (223) and in another where the Bodhisattvas, endowed with subtle, fine, pure knowledge, are supported [by my spiritual powers] —that the Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna evolves together with the seven Vijñānas. This is meant for the Śrāvakas who are not free from attachment, to make them see into the egolessness of things; and for Queen Śrīmālā to whom the Buddha's spiritual power was added, the [pure] realm of Tathagatahood was expounded. This does not belong to the realm of speculation as it is carried on by the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and other philosophers, except, Mahāmati, that this realm of Tathagatahood which is the realm of the Tathāgata-garbha-ālayavijñāna is meant for those Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who like you are endowed with subtle, fine, penetrating thought-power and whose understanding is in accordance with the meaning; and it is not for others, such as philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, who are attached to the letters of the canonical texts. For this reason, Mahāmati, let you and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas discipline yourselves in the realm of Tathagatahood, in the understanding of this Tathāgata-garbha-ālayavijñāna, so that you may not rest contented with mere learning. So it is said:

1. The Garbha of the Tathagatas is indeed united with the seven Vijñānas; when this is adhered to, there arises duality, but when rightly understood, duality ceases.

2. The mind, which is the product of intellection since beginningless time, is seen like a mere image; when things are viewed as they are in themselves, there is neither objectivity nor its appearance.

3. As the ignorant grasp the finger-tip and not the moon, (224) so those who cling to the letter, know not my truth.

4. The Citta dances like a dancer; the Manas resembles a jester; the [Mano-] vijñāna together with the five [Vijñānas] creates an objective world which is like a stage.1

1 Sung and T'ang seem to be incorrect in their reading of this


At that time, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva made a request of the Blessed One, saying: Pray tell me, Blessed One; pray tell me, Sugata, concerning the distinguishing aspects of the five Dharmas, the [three] Svabhāvas, the [eight] Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness. By [recognising] the distinguishing aspects of the twofold egolessness, I and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas will be able to establish those truths while effecting a continuous development through the various stages of Bodhisattvahood. It is said that by these truths we can enter into all the Buddha-truths, and that by entering into all the Buddha-truths we can enter even into the ground of the Tathagata's inner realisation.

Said the Blessed One: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One, said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, I will tell you about the distinguishing aspects of the five Dharmas, the [three] Svabhāvas, the [eight] Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness. The five Dharmas are: name, form, discrimination, right knowledge, and suchness. [When these are thoroughly comprehended] by the Yogins, they enter into the course of the Tathagata's inner realisation, where they are kept away from such views as eternalism and nihilism, realism and negativism, and (225) where they come face to face with the abode of happiness belonging to the present existence as well as to the Samāpatti (tranquillisation). But, Mahāmati, as the ignorant do not understand that the five Dharmas, the [three] Svabhāvas, the [eight] Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness, together with the external objects which are regarded as existent and nonexistent— [all these are no more than] what is seen of the Mind itself—they are given to discrimination, but it is otherwise with the wise.

Said Mahāmati: How is it that the ignorant are given up to discrimination and the wise are not?

Said the Blessed One: Mahāmati, the ignorant cling to names, ideas, and signs; their minds move along [these channels]. As thus they move along, they feed on multiplicities of objects, and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it, and cling to salutary appearances. As thus they cling, there is a reversion to ignorance, and they become tainted, karma born of greed, anger, and folly is accumulated. As karma is accumulated again and again, their minds become swathed in the cocoon of discrimination as the silk-worm; and, transmigrating in the ocean of birth-and-death (gati), they are unable, like the water-drawing wheel, to move forward. And because of folly, they do not understand that all things are like Māyā, a mirage, the moon in water, and have no self-substance to be imagined as an ego-soul and its belongings; that things rise from their false discrimination; that they are devoid of qualified and qualifying; and have nothing to do with the course of birth, abiding, and destruction; that they are born of the discrimination of what is only seen of the Mind itself; and assert1 that they are born of Iśvara, time, atoms, or a supreme spirit, for they follow names and appearances. Mahāmati, the ignorant move along with appearances.

Further, Mahāmati, by "appearance" is meant that which reveals itself to the visual sense (226) and is perceived as form, and in like manner that which, appearing to the sense of hearing, smelling, tasting, the body, and the Manovijñāna, is perceived as sound, odour, taste, tactility, and idea, —all this I call "appearance."

Further, Mahāmati, by "discrimination" is meant that by which names are declared, and there is thus the indicating of [various] appearances. Saying that this is such and no other, for instance, saying that this is an elephant, a horse, a wheel, a pedestrian, a woman, or a man, each idea thus discriminated is so determined.

1 According to T'ang and Wei.

Further, Mahāmati, by "right knowledge" is meant this: when names and appearances are seen as unobtainable owing to their mutual conditioning, there is no more rising of the Vijñānas, for nothing comes to annihilation, nothing abides everlastingly; and when there is thus no falling back into the stage of the philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, it is said that there is right knowledge. Further, Mahāmati, by reason of this right knowledge, the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva does not regard name as reality and appearance as non-reality.

When erroneous views based on the dualistic notion of assertion and negation are gotten rid of, and when the Vijñānas cease to rise as regards the objective world of names and appearances, this I call "suchness." Mahāmati, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who is established on suchness attains the state of imagelessness and thereby attains the Bodhisattva-stage of Joy (pramuditā).

When [the Bodhisattva] attains the stage of Joy, he is kept away from all the evil courses belonging to the philosophers and enters upon the path of supra-worldly truths. When [all] the conditions [of truth] are brought to consummation, he discerns that the course of all things starts with the notion of Māyā, etc.; and after the attainment of the noble truth of self-realisation, he earnestly desires to put a stop to speculative theorisation; (227) and going up in succession through the stages of Bodhisattvahood he finally reaches the stage of Dharma-Cloud (dharmameghā). After being at the stage of Dharma-Cloud, he reaches as far as the stage of Tathagatahood where the flowers of the Samādhis, powers, self-control, and psychic faculties are in bloom. After reaching here, in order to bring all beings to maturity, he shines like the moon in water, with varieties of rays of transformation. Perfectly fulfilling1 the [ten] inexhaustible vows, he preaches the Dharma to all beings according to their various understandings. As the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, Mahāmati, have entered into suchness, they attain the body which is free from the will and thought-constructions.2

Again, Mahāmati said: Are the three Svabhāvas to be regarded as included in the five Dharmas, or as having their own characteristics complete in themselves?

1 According to Sung and T'ang.

2 T'ang and Wei have citta-mano-manovijñānarahitam.

The Blessed One said: The three Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness—they are all included [in the five Dharmas]. Of these, name and appearance are known as the Parikalpita [false imagination]. Then, Mahāmati, discrimination which rises depending upon them, is the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it, —the notion and the discrimination are of simultaneous occurrence, like the rising of the sun and its rays. Mahāmati, the discrimination thus supporting the notion of self-nature which subsists in the multiplicities of objects, is called the Paratantra [dependence on another]. Right knowledge and suchness, Mahāmati, are indestructible, and thus they are known as Parinishpanna [perfect knowledge].

Further, Mahāmati, by adhering to what is seen of the Mind itself there is an eightfold discrimination. This comes from imagining unreal individual appearances [as real]. (228) When the twofold clinging to an ego-soul and what belongs to it is stopped, there is the birth of the twofold egolessness. Mahāmati, in these five Dharmas are included all the Buddha-truths and also the differentiation and succession of the [Bodhisattva-] stages, and the entrance of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tathagatas into the state of self-realisation by means of their noble wisdom.


Further, Mahāmati, of the five Dharmas—name, appearance, discrimination, right knowledge, and suchness— appearance is that which is seen as having such characteristics as form, shape, distinctive features, images, colours, etc. —this is "appearance." Out of this appearance ideas are formed such as a jar, etc., by which one can say, this is such and such, and no other; this is "name." When names are thus pronounced, appearances are determined1 and there is "discrimination, " saying this is mind and this is what belongs to it. That these names and appearances are after all unobtainable because when intellection is put away the aspect of mutuality [in which all things are determined] ceases to be perceived and imagined—this is called the "suchness" of things. And this suchness may be characterised as truth, reality, exact knowledge, limit, source, self-substance, the unattainable. This has been realised by myself and the Tathagatas, truthfully pointed out, recognised, made public, and widely shown. When, in agreement with this, [the truth] is rightly understood as neither negative nor affirmative, discrimination ceases to rise, and there is a state conformable to self-realisation by means of noble wisdom, which is not the course of controversy pertaining to the philosophers, Śrāvakas, and Pratyekabuddhas; this is "right knowledge."

1 Samadharmeti vā that follows here is probably to be dropped on the strength of the Chinese versions.

(229) These are, Mahāmati, the five Dharmas, and in them are included the three Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, the twofold egolessness, and all the Buddha-truths. In this, Mahāmati, reflect well with your own wisdom and let others do [the same] and do not allow yourself to be led by another. So it is said:

5. The five Dharmas, the Svabhāvas, the eight Vijñānas, and the twofold egolessness—they are all embraced in the Mahāyāna.

6. Name, appearance, and discrimination [correspond to] the first two Svabhāvas, while right knowledge and suchness are the Parinishpanna.


At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One: It is told by the Blessed One in the canonical text the Tathagatas of the past, present, and future are like the sands of the river Gangā. Blessed One, is this to be accepted literally? or is there another distinct meaning? Pray tell me, Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: Mahāmati, do not take it in its literal sense; for, Mahāmati, the Buddhas of the three divisions of time are not measurable by the measurement of the sands of the Gangā. Why? Because an analogy which is superior to anything of the world and surpasses it cannot be called an analogy, since there is in it something resembling and something not resembling. (230) The Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones do not give out such an analogy that has in it something resembling and something not resembling and that is superior to the world and surpasses it. But this comparison is only given out, Mahāmati, by myself and the Tathagatas, in which the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā; the idea is to terrify those ignorant and simple-minded ones who, tenaciously clinging to the idea of permanency and impermanency, and giving themselves up to the ways of thinking and the erroneous views of the philosophers, follow up the wheel of transmigration. To those who, anxious to escape the intricacies of the wheel of existence, seek after the excellent state, thinking how this could be realised, it is told them that the appearance of the Tathagatas is not like the blooming of the Udumbara flower, because they will thereby see that the attainment of Buddhahood is not a difficult undertaking and will pu1 forward their energy. But it is told in the canonical text that the Tathagatas appear as rarely as the Udumbara flower, and this is in consideration of those people who are to be led by me. Mahāmati, however, no one has ever seen the Udumbara flower blooming, nor will anyone; while, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas are at present in the world, they were seen and are to be seen. To say that the Tathagatas appear as rarely as the Udumbara flower has [really] no reference to the establishment of the truth itself. When, Mahāmati, the establishment of the truth itself is pointed out, it surpasses beyond measure anything in the world that can be offered as an analogy to it, because [the ignorant] are incapable of believing. And thus there is an unbelief on the part of the ignorant and simple-minded. (231) There is indeed no room for analogies to enter in the realm of self-realisation which is effected by means of noble wisdom. The truth transcends all the notions that are characteristic of the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna. The truth is the Tathagatas, and, therefore, in them there is nothing describable by analogy.

But, Mahāmati, [sometimes] a comparison is made use of; that is to say, the Tathagatas are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā, because they are the same and impartial [to all things], because they are free from imagination and discrimination. For example, Mahāmati, the sands of the river Gangā are tossed about by the fishes, tortoises, porpoises, crocodiles, buffalos, lions, elephants, etc., but they are free from imagination and discrimination; for they do not resent, saying."We are down-trodden," or "We are not." They are non-discriminative, pure in themselves, separated from defilement. In the same way, Mahāmati, the self-realisation of noble wisdom which has been attained by the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones, is like the river Gangā, and their powers, psychic faculties, and self-control are like the sands; and however much they are tossed about by the fishes of the philosophers, by the ignorant who belong to other schools, they are not troubled by imaginations and discriminations. Because of their original vows, the Tathagatas [whose hearts are] filled with all the happiness of the Samāpatti are not troubled by imaginations and discriminations with regard to beings. Therefore, the Tathagatas, like the sands of the river Gangā, are free from partiality because of their being devoid of likes and dislikes.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: as the sands of the river Gangā partake of the character of the earth, the conflagration that will break out at the end of the Kalpa may burn the earth but does not destroy its self-nature. Mahāmati, the earth is not consumed because of its being inseparably connected with the element of fire, (232) and it is only the ignorant and simple-minded that on account of their falling into false ideas imagine the earth being consumed by fire. But as it supplies the material cause to the element fire, it is never consumed. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Dharmakāya of the Tathagatas, like the sands of the river Gangā, is never destroyed.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are immeasurable. In the same way, Mahāmati, the rays of light of the Tathagatas are beyond measure, which arc-emitted by them in all the Buddha-assemblies in order to bring beings to maturity and arouse them [to the knowledge of the truth].

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā do not assume another nature than itself remaining forever the same. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones are neither evolving nor disappearing in transmigration because in them the cause of making them come into existence is destroyed.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are unconcerned whether they are carried away or whether more is added into them. In the same way, Mahāmati, the knowledge of the Tathagatas which is exercised for the maturing of beings is neither exhausted nor augmented, because the Dharma is without a physical body. Mahāmati, that which has a physical body is subject to annihilation, but not that which has no physical body; and the Dharma is not a physical body.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā, however much they are compressed for the sake of the ghee and oil, are destitute of them. In the same way, (233) Mahāmati, the Tathagatas never abandon their deep concerns1 and original vows and happiness as regards the Dharmadhātu, however hard they are oppressed with pain for the sake of beings, as long as all beings have not yet been led into Nirvana by the Tathagatas, who are endowed with a great compassionate heart.

To illustrate, Mahāmati: the sands of the river Gangā are drawn along with the flow of the stream, but not where there is no water. In the same way, Mahāmati, the Tathagata's teaching in regard to all the Buddha-truths takes place along the flow of the Nirvana-stream; and for this reason the Tathagatas are said to be like the sands of the river Gangā.

1 After T'ang.

Mahāmati, in tathāgata ("thus come") there is no sense of "going away"; Mahāmati, "going away" means destruction. Mahāmati, the primary limit of transmigration is unknown. Not being known, how can I talk of the sense of "gong away"? The sense of "going away," Mahāmati, is annihilation, and this is not known by the ignorant and simple-minded.

Mahāmati said: If, Blessed One, the primary limit of transmigration of all beings is unknowable, how is the emancipation of beings knowable?

The Blessed One said: Mahāmati, when it is understood that the objective world is nothing but what is seen of the Mind itself, the habit-energy of false speculations and erroneous discriminations which have been going on since beginningless time is removed, and there is a revulsion [or turning-back] at the basis of discrimination—this is emancipation, Mahāmati, and not annihilation. Therefore, Mahāmati, there cannot be any talk about endlessness. To be endless in limit, Mahāmati, is another name for discrimination. Apart from discriminations (234) there are no other beings. When all things external or internal are examined with intelligence, Mahāmati, knowing and known are found to be quiescent. But when it is not recognised that all things rise from the discrimination of the Mind itself, discrimination asserts itself. When this is understood discrimination ceases. So it is said:

7. Those who regard the removers of obstruction [i. e., Buddhas] as neither destroyed nor departed for ever, like the sands of the Gangā, see the Tathagata.

8. Like the sands of the Gangā they are devoid of all error: they flow along the stream and are permanent, and so is the essence [or nature] of Buddhahood.


At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One; Tell me, Blessed One; tell me, Sugata, Tathagata, Arhat, Fully-Enlightened One, regarding the momentary destruction of all things and their distinctive signs. Blessed One, what is meant by all things being momentary?

The Blessed One replied: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One; said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: Mahāmati, all things, all things we speak of, and they are good or bad, effect-producing or not effect-producing, of this world (235) or of super-world, faulty or faultless, of evil flowings or the non-flowings, receptive or non-receptive. In short, Mahāmati, the five appropriating1 Skandhas have their rise from the habit-energy of the Citta, Manas, and Manovijñāna, they are imagined good or bad. Mahāmati, the happiness of the Samādhi and the attainments [resulting therefrom], which belong to the wise by reason of their abiding in the happiness of the existing world, are called the non-outflowing goods.

1 All the Skandhas are self-appropriating, or self-grasping, as long as there is attachment to the notion of an ego-soul. When that is got rid of, the Skandhas are anāsrava, i. e. not tainted with evil outflows.

Again, Mahāmati, by good and bad are meant the eight Vijñānas. What are the eight? They are the Tathāgata-garbha known as the Ālayavijñāna, Manas, Manovijñāna, and the system of the five Vijñānas as described by the philosophers. Now, Mahāmati, the system of the five Vijñānas is together with the Manovijñāna, and there is an undivided succession and differentiation of good and bad, and the entire body moves on continuously and closely bound together; moving on, it comes to an end; but as it fails to understand that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of Mind-only, there is the rising of another Vijñāna [-system] following the cessation of the first; and the Manovijñāna in union with the system of the five Vijñānas, perceiving the difference of forms and figures, is set in motion, not remaining still even for a moment—this I call momentariness. Mahāmati, momentary is the Ālayavijñāna known as the Tathāgata-garbha, which is together with the Manas and with the habit-energy of the evolving Vijñānas— this is momentary. But [the Ālayavijñāna which is together] with the habit-energy of the non-outflows (anāsrava) (236) is not momentary. This is not understood by the ignorant and simple-minded who are addicted to the doctrine of momentariness. Not understanding the momentariness and non-momentariness of all things, they cherish nihilism whereby they even try to destroy the unmade (asaṁskṛita). Mahāmati, the system itself of the five Vijñānas is not subject to transmigration, nor does it suffer pleasure and pain, nor is it conducive to Nirvana. But, Mahāmati, the Tathāgata-garbha is together with the cause that suffers pleasure and pain; it is this that is set in motion and ceases to work; it is stupefied by the fourfold habit-energy. But the ignorant do not understand it, as their thoughts are infused with the habit-energy of discrimination which cherishes the view of momentariness.

Further, Mahāmati, gold, vajra, and the relics of the Buddha, owing to their specific character, are never destroyed but remain the same until the end of time. If, Mahāmati, the nature of enlightenment is momentary, the wise would lose their wiseness (āryatva), but they have never lost it. Mahāmati, gold and vajra remain the same until the end of time; remaining the same they are neither diminished nor increased. How is it that the ignorant, failing to recognise the hidden meaning of all things internal and external, discriminate in the sense of momentariness?


Further, Mahāmati said: It is again said by the Blessed One that by fulfilling the six Pāramitās Buddhahood is realised. What are the six (237) Pāramitās? And how are they fulfilled?

The Blessed One replied: Mahāmati, there are three kinds of Pāramitās. What are the three? They are the worldly, the super-worldly, and the highest super-wordly. Of these, Mahāmati, the worldly Pāramitās [are practised thus]: Adhering tenaciously to the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it and holding fast to dualism, those who are desirous for this world of form, etc., will practise the Pāramitā of charity in order to obtain the various realms of existence. In the same way, Mahāmati, the ignorant will practise the Pāramitās of morality, patience, energy, Dhyāna, and Prajñā. Attaining the psychic powers they will be born in Brahma's heaven.

As to the super-worldly Pāramitās, they are practised by the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas whose thoughts are possessed by the notion of Nirvana; the Pāramitās of charity, etc. are thus performed by them, who, like the ignorant, are desirous of enjoying Nirvana for themselves.

Again, Mahāmati, as to the highest super-worldly Pāramitās, [they are practised] by the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who are the practisers of the highest form of spiritual discipline; that is, perceiving that there is nothing in the world but what is only seen of the Mind itself, on account of discrimination, and understanding that duality is of the Mind itself, they see that discrimination ceases to function; and, that seizing and holding is non-existent; and, free from all thoughts of attachment to individual objects which are of the Mind itself, and in order to benefit and give happiness to all sentient beings, [the Bodhisattvas] practise the Pāramitā of charity. While dealing with an objective world there is no rising in them of discrimination; they just practise morality and this is the Pāramitā [of morality]. To practise patience with no thought of discrimination rising in them (238) and yet with full knowledge of grasped and grasping —this is the Pāramitā of patience. To exert oneself with energy from the first part of the night to its end and in conformity with the disciplinary measures and not to give rise to discrimination—this is the Pāramitā of energy. Not to cherish discrimination, not to fall into the philosopher's notion of Nirvana—this is the Pāramitā of Dhyāna. As to the Pāramitā of Prajñā: when the discrimination of the Mind itself ceases, when things are thoroughly examined by means of intelligence, there is no falling into dualism, and a revulsion takes place at the basis, while previous karma is not destroyed; when [transcendental knowledge] is exercised for the accomplishment of self-realisation, then there is the Pāramitā of Prajñā. These, Mahāmati, are the Pāramitās and their meanings.


So it is said:

9. The created (Samskrita) are empty, impermanent, momentary—so the ignorant discriminate; the meaning of momentariness is discriminated by means of the analogies of a river, a lamp, and seeds.

10. All things are non-existent, they are not-momentary, quiescent, not subject to destruction, and unborn— this, I say, is the meaning of momentariness.

11. Birth and death succeed without interruption— this I do not point out for the ignorant. Owing to the uninterrupted succession of existence, discrimination moves on in the [six] paths.

12. Ignorance is the cause and there is the general rising of -minds, when form is not yet born, where is the abode of the middle existence?

13. If another mind is set in motion in an uninterrupted succession of deaths, (239) where does it find its dependence as form is not established in time?

14. If mind is set in motion, somewhere, somehow, the cause is an unreal one; it is not complete; how can one know of its momentary disappearances?

15. The attainment of the Yogins, gold, the Buddha-relics, and the heavenly palace of Abhāsvara are indestructible by any worldly agencies.

16. Ever abiding are the truths attained by the Buddhas and their perfect knowledge; the nature of Buddhahood as realised [by them]—how can there be momentariness in them?

17. The city of the Gandharvas, Māyā-like forms—how can they be otherwise than momentary? Realities are characterised with unreality, and how can they be causal agencies?

Here Ends the Sixth Chapter "On Momentariness."

1 The proper place for this section is after the section on "Momentary" and before the "Pāramitā," or what is the same thing the latter is wrongly inserted where it is found in in the text.



(240) At that time again, Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said this to the Blessed One: [How was it that] the Arhats were given assurance by the Blessed One of their attainment of supreme enlightenment? [How can] all beings attain Tathagatahood without realising the truths of Parinirvana? [What does it mean that] from the night when the Tathagata was awakened to supreme enlightenment until the night when he entered into Parinirvana, between these times the Tathagata has not uttered, has not pronounced, a word. [What is the meaning of this] that being always in Samādhi the Tathagatas neither deliberate nor contemplate? [How do] Buddhas of transformation, being in the state of transformation, execute the works of the Tathagatas? How is the succession of momentary decomposition explained which takes place in the Vijñānas?

[Further, what do these statements mean] that Vajrapāṇi is constantly with [the Tathagata] as his personal guard; that the primary limit is unknown and yet cessation is knowable; that there are evil ones, their activities, and left-over karma? Blessed One, [facts of] karma-hindrance are said to be shown [by the Tathagata in the incident of] Cañcā the daughter of a Brahmin, of Sundarī the daughter of a mendicant, an empty bowl, etc.; how can the Blessed One with these unexhausted evils attain all-knowledge?

The Blessed One replied: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One; (241) said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: The realm of Nirvana where no substratum is left behind is according to the hidden meaning and for the sake of the practisers who are thereby inspired to exert themselves in the work of the Bodhisattvas. Mahāmati, there are Bodhisattvas practising the work of the Bodhisattva here and in other Buddha-lands, who, however, are desirous of attaining the Nirvana of the Śrāvakayāna. In order to turn their inclination away from the Śrāvakayāna and to make them exert themselves in the course of the Mahāyāna, the Śrāvakas in transformation are given assurance [as to their future Buddhahood] by the Body of Transformation; but this is not done by the Dharmatā-Buddha. This giving assurance to the Śrāvakas, Mahāmati, is declared according to the hidden meaning. Mahāmati, that the abandonment of passion-hindrance by the Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas is not different [from that by the Tathagatas] is due to the sameness of the taste of emancipation, but this does not apply to the abandonment of knowledge-hindrance. Knowledge-hindrance, Mahāmati, is purified when the egolessness of things is distinctly perceived; but passion-hindrance is destroyed when first the egolessness of persons is perceived and acted upon, for [then] the Manovijñāna ceases to function. Further, dharma-hindrance is given up because of the disappearance of the habit-energy [accumulated in] the Ālayavijñāna, it is now thoroughly purified.

There is an eternally-abiding reality [which is to be understood] according to the hidden meaning, because it is something that has neither antecedents nor consequents. The Tathagata points out the Dharma without deliberation, without contemplation, and by means of such words that are original and independent. Because of his right thinking and because of his unfailing memory, he neither deliberates nor contemplates, he is no more at the stage of the fourfold habit-energy, (242) he is free from the twofold death, he has relinquished the twofold hindrance of passion and knowledge.

Mahāmati, the seven Vijñānas, that is, Manas, Manovijñāna,, eye-vijñāna, etc., are characterised with momentariness because they originate from habit-energy, they are destitute of the good non-flowing factors, and are not transmigratory. What transmigrates, Mahāmati, is the Tathāgata-garbha which is the cause of Nirvana as well as that of pleasure and pain. This is not understood by the ignorant whose minds are torn asunder by the notion of emptiness.

Mahāmati, the Tathagatas who are accompanied by Vajrapāṇi are the Tathagatas transformed in transformation and are not the original Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones. The original Tathagatas, Mahāmati, are indeed beyond all sense and measurement, beyond the reach of all ignorant ones, Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and philosophers. [These Tathagatas] are abiding in the joy of existence as it is, as they have reached the truth of intuitive knowledge by means of Jñānakshānti. Thus Vajrapāṇi is not attached to them. All the Buddhas of Transformation do not owe their existence to karma; in them there is no Tathagatahood, but apart from them there is no Tathagatahood either. Like the potter who is dependent on various combinations, [the Buddha of Transformation] does his work for sentient beings; he teaches the doctrine meeting conditions, but not the doctrine that will establish the truth as it is, which belongs to the noble realm of self-realisation.

Further, Mahāmati, on account of the cessation of the six Vijñānas the ignorant and simple-minded look for nihilism, and on account of their not understanding the Ālayavijñāna they have eternalism. The primary limit of the discrimination of their own minds (243) is unknown, Mahāmati. Emancipation is obtained when this discrimination of Mind itself ceases. With the abandonment of the fourfold habit-energy the abandonment of all faults takes place.

So it is said:1

1. The three vehicles are no-vehicle; there is no Nirvana with the Buddhas; it is pointed out that the assurance of Buddhahood is given to all that are freed from faults.

2. Ultimate intuitive knowledge, Nirvana that leaves no remnant, —this is told according to the hidden meaning in order to give encouragement to the timid.

1The following gāthās do not seem to have any specific relation to the prose section.

3. Knowledge is produced by the Buddhas, and the path is pointed out by them: they move in it and not in anything else, therefore there is no Nirvana with them.

4. Existence, desire, form (rūpa), theorising—this is the fourfold habit-energy; this is where the Manovijñāna takes its rise and the Ālaya and Manas abide.

5. Nihilism and the idea of impermanency rise because of the Manovijñāna, the eye-vijñāna, etc.; eternalism rises from [the thought that] there is no beginning in Nirvana, intelligence, and theorisation.

Here Ends the Seventh Chapter, "On Transformation."


(244) At that time Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Blessed One in verse and again made a request, saying: Pray tell me, Blessed One, Tathagata, Arhat, Fully-Enlightened One regarding the merit and vice of meat-eating; thereby I and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas of the present and future may teach the Dharma to make those beings abandon their greed for meat, who, under the influence of the habit-energy belonging to the carnivorous existence, strongly crave meat-food. These meat-eaters thus abandoning their desire for [its] taste will seek the Dharma for their food and enjoyment, and, regarding all beings with love as if they were an only child, will cherish great compassion towards them. Cherishing [great compassion], they will discipline themselves at the stages of Bodhisattvahood and will quickly be awakened in supreme enlightenment; or staying a while at the stage of Śrāvakahood and Pratyekabuddhahood, they will finally reach the highest stage of Tathagatahood.

1 This chapter on meat-eating is another later addition to the text, which was probably done earlier than the Rāvaṇa chapter. It already appears in the Sung, but of the three Chinese versions it appears here in its shortest form, the proportion being S = 1, T = 2, W = 3. It is quite likely that meat-eating was practised more or less among the earlier Buddhists, which was made a subject of severe criticism by their opponents. The Buddhists at the time of the Laṅkāvatāra did not like it, hence this addition in which an apologetic tone is noticeable.

Blessed One, even those philosophers who hold erroneous doctrines and are addicted to the views of the Lokāyata such as the dualism of being and non-being, nihilism, and eternalism, will prohibit meat-eating and will themselves refrain from eating it. How much more, O World Leader, he who promotes one taste for mercy and is the Fully-Enlightened One; (245) why not prohibit in his teachings the eating of flesh not only by himself but by others? Indeed, let the Blessed One who at heart is filled with pity for the entire world, who regards all beings as his only child, and who possesses great compassion in compliance with his sympathetic feelings, teach us as to the merit and vice of meat-eating, so that I and other Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas may teach the Dharma.

Said the Blessed One: Then, Mahāmati, listen well and reflect well within yourself; I will tell you.

Certainly, Blessed One; said Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and gave ear to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said this to him: For innumerable reasons, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva, whose nature is compassion, is not to eat any meat; I will explain them: Mahāmati, in this long course of transmigration here, there is not one living being that, having assumed the form of a living being, has not been your mother, or father, or brother, or sister, or son, or daughter, or the one or the other, in various degrees of kinship; and when acquiring another form of life may live as a beast, as a domestic animal, as a bird, or as a womb-born, or as something standing in some relationship to you; [this being so] how can the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who desires to approach all living beings as if they were himself and to practise the Buddha-truths, eat the flesh of any living being that is of the same nature as himself? Even, Mahāmati, the Rakshasa, listening to the Tathagata's discourse on the highest essence of the Dharma, attained the notion of protecting [Buddhism], and, feeling pity, (246) refrains from eating flesh; how much more those who love the Dharma! Thus, Mahāmati, wherever there is the evolution of living beings, let people cherish the thought of kinship with them, and, thinking that all beings are [to be loved as if they were] an only child, let them refrain from eating meat. So with Bodhisattvas whose nature is compassion, [the eating of] meat is to be avoided by him. Even in exceptional cases, it is not [compassionate] of a Bodhisattva of good standing to eat meat. The flesh of a dog, an ass, a buffalo, a horse, a bull, or man, or any other [being], Mahāmati, that is not generally eaten by people, is sold on the roadside as mutton for the sake of money; and therefore, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva should not eat meat.

For the sake of love of purity, Mahāmati, the Bodhisattva should refrain from eating flesh which is born of semen, blood, etc. For fear of causing terror to living beings, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh. To illustrate, Mahāmati: When a dog sees, even from a distance, a hunter, a pariah, a fisherman, etc., whose desires are for meat-eating, he is terrified with fear, thinking, "They are death-dealers, they will even kill me." In the same way, Mahāmati, even those minute animals that are living in the air, on earth, and in water, seeing meat-eaters at a distance, will perceive in them, by their keen sense of smell, (247) the odour of the Rakshasa and will run away from such people as quickly as possible; for they are to them the threat of death. For this reason, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva, who is disciplining himself, to abide in great compassion, because of its terrifying living beings, refrain from eating meat. Mahāmati, meat which is liked by unwise people is full of bad smell and its eating gives one a bad reputation which turns wise people away; let the Bodhisattva refrain from eating meat. The food of the wise, Mahāmati, is what is eaten by the Rishis; it does not consist of meat and blood. Therefore, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva refrain from eating meat.

In order to guard the minds of all people, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva whose nature is holy and who is desirous of avoiding censure on the teaching of the Buddha, refrain from eating meat. For instance, Mahāmati, there are some in the world who speak ill of the teaching of the Buddha; [they would say,] "Why are those who are living the life of a Śramaṇa or a Brahmin reject such food as was enjoyed by the ancient Rishis, and like the carnivorous animals, living in the air, on earth, or in the water? Why do they go wandering about in the world thoroughly terrifying living beings, disregarding the life of a Śramaṇa and destroying the vow of a Brahmin? There is no Dharma, no discipline in them." There are many such adverse-minded people who thus speak ill of the teaching of the Buddha. For this reason, Mahāmati, in order to guard the minds of all people, (248) let the Bodhisattva whose nature is full of pity and who is desirous of avoiding censure on the teaching of the Buddha, refrain from eating meat.

Mahāmati, there is generally an offensive odour to a corpse, which goes against nature; therefore, let the Bodhisattva refrain from eating meat. Mahāmati, when flesh is burned, whether it be that of a dead man or of some other living creature, there is no distinction in the odour. When flesh of either kind is burned, the odour emitted is equally noxious. Therefore, Mahāmati, let the Bodhisattva, who is ever desirous of purity in his discipline, wholly refrain from eating meat.

Mahāmati, when sons or daughters of good family, wishing to exercise themselves in various disciplines such as the attainment of a compassionate heart, the holding a magical formula, or the perfecting of magical knowledge, or starting on a pilgrimage to the Mahāyāna, retire into a cemetery, or to a wilderness, or a forest, where demons gather or frequently approach; or when they attempt to sit on a couch or a seat for the exercise; they are hindered [because of their meat-eating] from gaining magical powers or from obtaining emancipation. Mahāmati, seeing that thus there are obstacles to the accomplishing of all the practices, let the Bodhisattva, who is desirous of benefiting himself as well as others, wholly refrain from eating meat.

As even the sight of objective forms gives rise to the desire for tasting their delicious flavour, let the Bodhisattva, whose nature is pity and who regards all beings as his only child, wholly refrain from eating meat. (249) Recognising that his mouth smells most obnoxiously, even while living this life, let the Bodhisattva whose nature is pity, wholly refrain from eating meat.

[The meat-eater] sleeps uneasily and when awakened is distressed. He dreams of dreadful events, which makes his hair rise on end. He is left alone in an empty hut; he leads a solitary life; and his spirit is seized by demons. Frequently he is struck with terror, he trembles without knowing why, there is no regularity in his eating, he is never satisfied. In his eating1 he never knows what is meant by proper taste, digestion, and nourishment. His visceras are filled with worms and other impure creatures and harbour the cause of leprosy. He ceases to entertain any thoughts of aversion towards all diseases. When I teach to regard food as if it were eating the flesh of one's own child, or taking a drug, how can I permit my disciples, Mahāmati, to eat food consisting of flesh and blood, which is gratifying to the unwise but is abhorred by the wise, which brings many evils and keeps away many merits; and which was not offered to the Rishis and is altogether unsuitable?

1 Delete pītakhāditā (line 7).

Now, Mahāmati, the food I have permitted [my disciples to take] is gratifying to all wise people but is avoided by the unwise; it is productive of many merits, it keeps away many evils; and it has been prescribed by the ancient Rishis. (250) It comprises rice, barley, wheat, kidney beans, beans, lentils, etc., clarified butter, oil, honey, molasses, treacle, sugar cane, coarse sugar, etc.; food prepared with these is proper food. Mahāmati, there may be some irrational people in the future who will discriminate and establish new rules of moral discipline, and who, under the influence of the habit-energy belonging to the carnivorous races, will greedily desire the taste [of meat]: it is not for these people that the above food is prescribed. Mahāmati, this is the food I urge for the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who have made offerings to the previous Buddhas, who have planted roots of goodness, who are possessed of faith, devoid of discrimination, who are all men and women belonging to the Śākya family, who are sons and daughters of good family, who have no attachment to body, life, and property, who do not covet delicacies, are not at all greedy, who being compassionate desire to embrace all living beings as their own person, and who regard all beings with affection as if they were an only child.

Long ago in the past, Mahāmati, there lived a king whose name was Siṁhasaudāsa. His excessive fondness for meat, his greed to be served with it, (251) stimulated his taste for it to the highest degree so that he [even] ate human flesh. In consequence of this he was alienated from the society of his friends, counsellors, kinsmen, relatives, not to speak of his townsmen and countrymen. In consequence he had to renounce his throne and dominion and to suffer great calamities because of his passion for meat.

Mahāmati, even Indra who obtained sovereignty over the gods had once to assume the form of a hawk owing to his habit-energy of eating meat for food in a previous existence; he then chased Viśvakarma appearing in the guise of a pigeon, who had thus to place himself on the scale. King Śivi feeling pity for the innocent [pigeon had to sacrifice himself to the hawk and thus] to suffer great pain. Even a god who became Indra the Powerful, after going through many a birth, Mahāmati, is liable to bring misfortune both upon himself and others; how much more those who are not Indra!

Mahāmati, there was another king1 who was carried away by his horse into a forest. After wandering about in it, he committed evil deeds with a lioness out of fear for his life, and children were born to her. Because of their descending from the union with a lioness, (252) the royal children were called the Spotted-Feet, etc. On account of their evil habit-energy in the past when their food had been flesh, they ate meat even [after becoming] king, and, Mahāmati, in this life they lived in a village called Kuṭīraka ("seven huts"), and because they were excessively attached and devoted to meat-eating they gave birth to Dākās and Dākinīs who were terrible eaters of human flesh. In the life of transmigration, Mahāmati, such ones will fall into the wombs of such excessive flesh-devouring creatures as the lion, tiger, panther, wolf, hyena, wild-cat, jackal, owl, etc.; they will fall into the wombs of still more greedily flesh-devouring and still more terrible Rākshasas. Falling into such, it will be with difficulty that they can ever obtain a human womb; how much more [difficult] attaining Nirvana!

1 The text has all this in the plural.

Such as these, Mahāmati, are the evils of meat-eating; how much more numerous [evil] qualities that are born of the perverted minds of those devoted to [meat-eating]1. And, Mahāmati, the ignorant and simple-minded are not aware of all this and other evils and merits [in connection with meat-eating]. I tell you, Mahāmati, that seeing these evils and merits the Bodhisattva whose nature is pity should eat no meat.

If, Mahāmati, meat is not eaten by anybody for any reason, there will be no destroyer of life. Mahāmati, in the majority of cases (253) the slaughtering of innocent living beings is done for pride and very rarely for other causes. Though nothing special may be said of eating the flesh of living creatures such as animals and birds, alas, Mahāmati, that one addicted to the love of [meat-] taste should eat human flesh! Mahāmati, in most cases nets and other devices are prepared in various places by people who have lost their sense on account of their appetite for meat-taste, and thereby many innocent victims are destroyed for the sake of the price [they bring in]—such as birds, Kaurabhraka, Kaivarta, etc., that are moving about in the air, on land, and in water. There are even some, Mahāmati, who are like Rākshasas hard-hearted and used to practising cruelties, 2 who, being so devoid of compassion, would now and then look at living beings as meant for food and destruction— no compassion is awakened in them.

1 Both T'ang and Wei have here a sentence to the following effect: "Those who do not eat meat acquire a large sum of merit."

2 According to T'ang.

It is not true, Mahāmati, that meat is proper food and permissible for the Śrāvaka when [the victim] was not killed by himself, when he did not order others to kill it, when it was not specially meant for him. Again, Mahāmati, there may be some unwitted people in the future time, who, beginning to lead the homeless life according to my teaching, are acknowledged as sons of the Śākya, and carry the Kāshāya robe about them as a badge, but who are in thought evilly affected by erroneous reasonings. They may talk about various discriminations which they make in their moral discipline, being addicted to the view of a personal soul. Being under the influence of the thirst for [meat-] taste, they will string together in various ways (254) some sophistic arguments to defend meat-eating. They think they are giving me an unprecedented calumny when they discriminate and talk about facts that are capable of various interpretations. Imagining that this fact allows this interpretation, [they conclude that] the Blessed One permits meat as proper food, and that it is mentioned among permitted foods and that probably the Tathagata himself partook of it. But, Mahāmati, nowhere in the sutras is meat permitted as something enjoyable, nor it is referred to as proper among the foods prescribed [for the Buddha's followers].

If however, Mahāmati, I had the mind to permit [meat-eating], or if I said it was proper for the Śrāvakas [to eat meat], I would not have forbidden, I would not forbid, ail meat-eating for these Yogins, the sons and daughters of good family, who, wishing to cherish the idea that all beings are to them like an only child, are possessed of compassion, practise contemplation, mortification, and are on their way to the Mahāyāna. And, Mahāmati, the interdiction not to eat any kind of meat is here given to all sons and daughters of good family, whether they are cemetery-ascetics of forest-ascetics, or Yogins who are practising the exercises, if they wish the Dharma and are on the way to the mastery of any vehicle, and being possessed of compassion, conceive the idea of regarding all beings as an only child, in order to accomplish the end of their discipline.

(255) In the canonical texts here and there the process of discipline is developed in orderly sequence like a ladder going up step by step, and one joined to another in a regular and methodical manner; after explaining each point meat obtained in these specific circumstances is not interdicted.1 Further, a tenfold prohibition is given as regards the flesh of animals found dead by themselves. But in the present sutra all [meat-eating] in any form, in any manner, and in any place, is unconditionally and once for all, prohibited for all. Thus, Mahāmati, meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit. Meat-eating, I tell you, Mahāmati, is not proper for homeless monks. There may be some, Mahāmati, who would say that meat was eaten by the Tathagata thinking this would calumniate him. Such unwitted people as these, Mahāmati, will follow the evil course of their own karma-hindrance, and will fall into such regions where long nights are passed without profit and without happiness. Mahāmati, the noble Śrāvakas do not eat the food taken properly by [ordinary] men, how much less the food of flesh and blood, which is altogether improper. Mahāmati, the food for my Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas is the Dharma and not flesh2-food; how much more the Tathagata! The Tathagata is the Dharmakāya, Mahāmati; he abides in the Dharma as food; his is not a body feeding on flesh; he does not abide in any flesh-food. He has ejected the habit-energy of thirst and desire which sustain all existence; he keeps away the habit-energy of all evil passions; he is thoroughly emancipated in mind and knowledge; he is the All-knower; (256) he is All-seer; he regards all beings impartially as an only child; he is a great compassionate heart. Mahāmati, having the thought of an only child for all beings, how can I, such as I am, permit the Śrāvakas to eat the flesh of their own child? How much less my eating it! That I have permitted the Śrāvakas as well as myself to partake of [meat-eating], Mahāmati, has no foundation whatever.

So it is said:

1. Liquor, meat, and onions are to be avoided, Mahāmati, by the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas and those who are Victor-heroes.

1 The text as it stands requires fuller explanation.

2 Amiśra (mixed) in T'ang.

2. Meat is not agreeable to the wise: it has a nauseating odour, it causes a bad reputation, it is food for the carnivorous; I say1 this, Mahāmati, it is not to be eaten.

3. To those who eat [meat] there are detrimental effects, to those who do not, merits; Mahāmati, you should know that meat-eaters bring detrimental effects upon themselves.

4. Let the Yogin refrain from eating flesh as it is born of himself, as [the eating] involves transgression, as [flesh] is produced of semen and blood, and as [the killing of animals] causes terror to living beings.

5. Let the Yogin always refrain from meat, onions, various kinds of liquor, allium, and garlic.

6. Do not anoint the body with sesamum oil; do not sleep on a bed, perforated with spikes; (257) for the living beings who find their shelter in the cavities and in places where there are no cavities may be terribly frightened.2

7. From eating [meat] arrogance is born, from arrogance erroneous imaginations issue, and from imagination is born greed; and for this reason refrain from eating [meat].

8. From imagination, greed is born, and by greed the mind it stupefied; there is attachment to stupefaction, and there is no emancipation from birth [and death].

9. For profit sentient beings are destroyed, for flesh money is paid out, they are both evil-doers and [the deed] matures in the hells called Raurava (screaming), etc.

10. One who eats flesh, trespassing against the words of the Muni, is evil-minded; he is pointed out in the teachings of the Śākya as the destroyer of the welfare of the two worlds.

11. Those evil-doers go to the most horrifying hell; meat-eaters are matured in the terrific hells such as Raurava, etc.

12. There is no meat to be regarded as pure in three ways: not premeditated, not asked for, and not impelled; therefore, refrain from eating meat.

1 Brūmi, instead of brūhi as in the text.

2 Unintelligible as far as the translator can see.

13. Let not the Yogin eat meat, it is forbidden by myself as well as by the Buddhas; those sentient beings who feed on one another will be reborn among the carnivorous animals.

14. [The meat-eater] is ill-smelling, contemptuous, and born deprived of intelligence; (258) he will be born again and again among the families of the Caṇḍāla, the Pukkasa, and the Domba.

15. From the womb of Dākinī he will be born in the meat-eaters' family, and then into the womb of a Rākshasī and a cat; he belongs to the lowest class of men.

16. Meat-eating is rejected by me in such sutras as the Hastikakshya, the Mahāmegha, the Nirvāna, the Aṅglimālika, and the Laṅkāvatāra.

17. [Meat-eating] is condemned by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Śrāvakas; if one devours [meat] out of shamelessness he will always be devoid of sense.

18. One who avoids meat, etc., will be born, because of this fact, in the family of the Brahmins or of the Yogins, endowed with knowledge and wealth.

19. Let one avoid all meat-eating [whatever they may say about] witnessing, hearing, and suspecting; these theorisers born in a carnivorous family understand this not.

20. As greed is the hindrance to emancipation, so are meat-eating, liquor, etc., hindrances.

21. There may be in time to come people who make foolish remarks about meat-eating, saying, "Meat is proper to eat, unobjectionable, and permitted by the Buddha."

22. Meat-eating is a medicine; again, it is like a child's flesh; (259) follow the proper measure and be averse [to meat, and thus] let the Yogin go about begging.

23. [Meat-eating] is forbidden by me everywhere and all the time for those who are abiding in compassion; [he who eats meat] will be born in the same place as the lion, tiger, wolf, etc.

24. Therefore, do not eat meat which will cause terror among people, because it hinders the truth of emancipation; [not to eat meat—] this is the mark of the wise.

Here Ends the Eighth Chapter, "On Meat-eating," from the Laṅkāvatāra, the Essence of the Teaching of All the Buddhas.1

1 For the phrase "The essence of the teaching of the Buddhas (sarvabuddhapravacanahṛidaya)," see pp. 39-40.


(260) At that time the Blessed One addressed Mahāmati the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva: Mahāmati, you should hold forth these magical phrases of the Laṅkāvatāra, which were recited, are recited, and will be recited by the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. I will recite them here for the benefit of the proclaimers of the Dharma, who will retain them in memory. They are:

Tuṭṭe, tuṭṭe—vuṭṭe, vuṭṭe—paṭṭe, paṭṭe—kaṭṭe, kaṭṭe—amale, amale—vimale, vimale—nime, nime—hime, hime—vame, vame—kale, kale, kale, kale—aṭṭe, maṭṭe—vaṭṭe, tuṭṭe—jñeṭṭe, spuṭṭe—kaṭṭe, kaṭṭe—laṭṭe, paṭṭe—dime dime—cale, cale—pace, pace—badhe, bandhe—añce, mañce—dutāre, dutāre—patāre, patāre—arkke, arkke—sarkke, sarkke—cakre, cakre—dime, dime—hime, hime—ṭu ṭu ṭu ṭu (4)—ḍu ḍu ḍu ḍu (4)—ru ru ru ru (4)—phu phu phu phu (4)—svāhā.

1 Another later addition probably when Dhāraṇī was extensively taken into the body of Buddhist literature just before its disappearance from the land of its birth. Dhāraṇī is a study by itself. In India where all kinds of what may be termed abnormalities in religious symbology are profusely thriving, Dhāraṇī has also attained a high degree of development as in the case of Mudrā (holding the fingers), Āsana (sitting), and Kalpa (mystic rite). When a religious symbolism takes a start in a certain direction, it pursues its own course regardless of its original meaning, and the symbolism itself begins to gain a new signification which has never been thought of before in connection with the original idea. The mystery of an articulate sound which infinitely fascinated the imagination of the primitive man has come to create a string of meaningless sounds in the form of a Dhāraṇī. Its recitation is now considered by its followers to produce mysterious effects in various ways in life.

(261) These, Mahāmati, are the magical phrases of the Laṅkāvatāra Mahāyāna Sūtra: If sons and daughters of good family should hold forth, retain, proclaim, realise these magical phrases, no one should ever be able to effect his descent upon them. Whether it be a god, or a goddess, or a Nāga, or a Nāgī, or a Yaksha, or a Yakshī, or an Asura, or an Asurī, or a Garuḍa, or a Garuḍī, or a Kinnara, or a Kannarī, or a Mahoraga, or a Mahoragī, or a Gandharva, or a Gandharvī, or a Bhūta, or a Bhutī, or a Kumbhāṇḍa, or a Kumbhāṇḍī, or a Piśāra, or a Piśācī, or an Austāraka, or an Austārakī, or a Apasmāra, or an Apasmārī, or a Rākshasa, or a Rākshasī, or a Dāka, or a Dākinī, or an Aujohāra, or an Aujohārī, or a Kaṭapūtana, or a Katapūtanī, or an Amanushya, or an Amanushyī, —no one of these will be able to effect his or her descent [upon the holder of these magical phrases]. If any misfortune should befall, let him recite the magical phrases for one hundred and eight times, and [the evil ones] will, wailing and crying, turn away and go in another direction.

I will tell you, Mahāmati, other magical phrases. They are:

Padme, padmadeve—hine, hini, hine—cu, cule, culu, cule (262)—phale, phula, phule—yule, ghule, yula, yule—ghule, ghula, ghule—pale, pala, pale—muñce, muñce, muñce—cchinde, bhinde, bhañje, marde, pramarde, dinakare—svāhā.

If, Mahāmati, any son or daughter of good family should hold forth, retain, proclaim, and realise these magical phrases, on him or her no [evil beings] should be able to make their descent. Whether it be a god, or a goddess, or a Nāga, or a Nāgī, or a Yaksha, or a Yakshī, or an Asura, or an Asurī, a Garuḍa, or a Garuḍī, or a Kinnara, or a Kinnarī, or a Mahoraga, or a Mahoragī, or a Gandharva, or a Gandharvī, or a Bhūta, or a Bhūtī, or a Kumbhāṇḍa, or a Kumbhāṇḍī, or a Piśāca, or a Piśācī, or an Austāraka, or an Austāraki, or an Apasmāra, or an Apasmārī, or a Rākshasa, or a Rākshasī, or a Dāka, or a Dākinī, or an Aujohara, or an Aujoharī, or a Kaṭapūtana, or a Kaṭapūtanī, or an Amanushya, or an Amanushyī—no one of these will be able to effect his or her descent upon [the holder of these magical phrases]. By him who will recite these magic phrases, the [whole] Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra will be recited. (263) These magic phrases are given by the Blessed One to guard against the interference of the Rākshasas.

Here Ends the Ninth Chapter Called "Dhāraṇī" in the Laṅkāvatāra.

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