Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z15)

Chapter Forty-Five: On Kaundinya (a)

Then the World-Honoured One spoke to Kaundinya: "Material form is non-eternal. By doing away with this form, one arrives at the Eternal form of Emancipation. So does it obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness, too. By doing away with consciousness, one arrives at the Eternal form of Emancipation and Peace. This also pertains to feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is Void. By doing away with the form that is All-Void, one arrives at the Non-Void form of Emancipation. So does it obtain also with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

“"O Kaundinya! Material form [“rupa”] is non-Self. By doing away with such form, one arrives at the form of the True Self of Emancipation. Feeling is non-Self. By doing away with such feeling, one arrives at the feeling of the True Self of Emancipation. Perception is non-Self. By doing away with such perception, one arrives at the perception of the True Self of Emancipation. Volition is non-Self. By doing away with such volition, one arrives at the volition of the True Self of Emancipation. Consciousness is non-Self. By doing away with such consciousness, one arrives at the consciousness of the True Self of Emancipation." 

"O Kaundinya! Form is the non-Pure. By doing away with this form, one arrives at the Pure Form of Emancipation. So does it obtain also with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is what represents birth, old age, illness, and death. By doing away with such form, one arrives at the form of the non-birth, non-old-age, non-illness, and non-death form of Emancipation. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is the cause of ignorance. By doing away with such form, one arrives at the form of the non-cause of ignorance [characteristic] of Emancipation. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Or form is the cause of birth even. By doing away with such form, one arrives at the form of the non-birth cause of Emancipation. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is the cause of the four inversions. By doing away with inverted form, one arrives at the form of the four non-inverted causes of Emancipation. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Physical form is the cause of innumerable evil things. It is the carnal body of the male, etc. It is the love of the food of lust. It is greed, anger, and jealousy. It is an evil and a grudging mind. It is ordinary food [i.e. food that has flavour, taste, and touch, and which can be cut and eaten], consciousness food [i.e. consciousness serving as food. For example, the mental power that at times checks one's sense of hunger], thought food [i.e. the power of thinking, or the volitional power], and touch food [i.e. the emotional sense that at times serves to check one's sense of hunger]. There is egg-birth, embryo-birth, and transformed birth. There are the five desires and the five overshadowings. All of these are grounded on material form.

"By doing away with form, one arrives at the form of Emancipation, which does not contain any such evil things. It is the same with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is bondage. By doing away with the form of bondage, one arrives at the form of Emancipation, which is no bondage. It is the same with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is a stream. By doing away with the form which is a stream, one arrives at the form of Emancipation, which is not a stream. So is it also with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is non-taking-of-refuge. By doing away with form, one arrives at the form of Emancipation, which is the taking of refuge. The same also applies to feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! Form is the pox and warts. By doing away with form, one arrives at Emancipation, which is not the pox or warts. The same applies to feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness, too.

"O Kaundinya! Form is non-quietude. By doing away with this form, one arrives at the form of quietude of Nirvana, which is quiet. So does it also obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.

"O Kaundinya! If there is any person who can so know things, such a person is a sramana or a Brahmin, and such a one is perfect in the Dharma of the sramana or Brahmin. O Kaundinya! If one parts from Buddha-Dharma, then one is no sramana or Brahmin; nor is there any Dharma of the sramana or Brahmin. All tirthikas speak falsely and cheat. And there is no action that is true [with them]. Also, they pretend to say that there are such two. But this is not true. Why not? If there is no Dharma of the sramana or Brahmin, how can one say that here is a sramana or Brahmin? I always give a lion's roar amidst the congregation. You, too, should do the same amidst this congregation."

At that time, many tirthikas were present, who, on hearing this, became angry and said: "Gautama now says that there are no sramanas and Brahmins among us, and that there exists no Dharma of the sramana or Brahmin. What means shall we extensively adopt and address Gautama, to tell him that we too have sramanas and the Dharma of sramanas, and Brahmins and the Dharma of Brahmins?"