Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z5)

Chapter Forty-One: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (b)

"O good man! Such matters of dispute are the things that belong to the world of the Buddha. They are not what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas can fathom. If a person can indeed gain a doubting mind, such a person can crush out innumerable defilements, as great in size as Mount Sumeru. When a man gains an immovable mind, this is what we call clinging."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honoured One! How do we cling?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! Such a person may well follow what others say or look into the sutras by himself. Or he may particularly teach others, but such a person is unable to abandon what the mind sticks to. This is clinging."

Kasyapa said: "O World-Honoured One! Is such clinging an act of good or one that is not good?"

"O good man! Such clinging is not an action that can be called good. Why not? Because such cannot break all the webs of doubt."

Kasyapa said: "O World-Honoured One! Such a person had no doubt from the very start. How can we say that he cannot break the webs of doubt?"

"O good man! One who has no doubt is one who has doubt."

"O World-Honoured One! There is a person who says that one at the stage of srotapanna does not fall into the three unfortunate realms. The situation of this person may well be called one of clinging and doubt."

"O good man! This may well be called what is fixed; we cannot call it doubt. Why not? O good man! For example, there is a man who first sees a man and a tree and, later, while out walking at night, may see a stub [tree-trunk] and gain doubt and wonder if this is a man or a tree. O good man! A person first sees a bhiksu and a Brahmacarin, and then might later see, far off, a bhiksu and gain doubt and wonder if this is a sramana or a Brahmacarin. O good man! A person may first see a cow and a buffalo and later may see, in the distance, a cow and gain a doubting mind and wonder whether this is a cow or a buffalo.

"O good man! All beings first see two things and then gain doubt. Why? Because the mind is not clear. I never say that a person of the srotapanna stage falls into the three unfortunate realms or that he does not fall into the three unfortunate realms. How can a person gain a doubting mind?"

Kasyapa said: "O World-Honoured One! You the Buddha say that one necessarily sees a thing before and that then a doubt arises. There is one who, not seeing two things, gains doubt. What is this? It is Nirvana. O World-Honoured One! For example, a person runs into muddy water along the way. Not having seen anything of this kind before, a doubt arises. The case is thus. Is such water deep or shallow? Why is it that this person, not having seen [such] before, gains such doubt?"

"O good man! Nirvana is nothing other than the segregation of suffering; non-Nirvana is suffering. All beings see two things, which are: suffering and non-suffering. The suffering and non-suffering are: hunger and thirst, cold and heat, anger and joy, illness and peace, old age and the prime of life, birth and death, bondage and emancipation, love and parting, and encountering hateful people. Beings, having met [with these things], gain doubt: "Could there be any way to do away with all such things or not?" Because of this, beings entertain doubt as to Nirvana. You say that this person has not seen any water before, and how, you ask, is it possible for him to gain doubt? Things are not thus. Why not? This person has seen water before in other places. That is why he gains doubt where he has not seen it before."

"O World-Honoured One! This person has seen deep and shallow places before and then he had no doubt. Why does he now gain doubt?"

The Buddha said: "As he did not do before, he gains a doubt. That is why I say: "A person doubts when there is what is not clear."

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Buddha says that a doubt is clinging and clinging a doubt. Who does such?"

"O good man! It is the icchantika, who has severed the root of good."

Kasyapa said: "O World-Honoured One! Who is the person who has severed the root of good?"

"O good man! Any person who is clever, cunning, sharp-witted, and who understands well but leaves a good friend. All people such as those who do not give ear to Wonderful Dharma, who do not think well, who do not live following Dharma are those who have severed the root of good. The mind parts from four things and the person thinks to himself: "There cannot be dana. Why not? Dana is parting with wealth. If there is any return to dana, the danapati [giver] will always be poor. Why? The seed and the fruit are alike. That is why we say that there is no cause and no result." If a person speaks thus and says that there are no cause and result, this is severing the root of good. Also, a person thinks: "The three elements of giver, recipient, and thing given do not abide eternally. If there is no abiding, how can one say that this is the giver, this the recipient, and this the thing given? If there is none who receives, how can there be any fruition [result]? For this reason, we say that there is no cause, and no result." Should a person say that there are no cause and no result, we can know that such a person has severed the root of good.

"Also, a person thinks: "When a person gives, there are five things in this giving. When he has received, the recipient may at times do good or non-good. And the giver of this giving also does not gain any result of good or non-good. This is as things go in the world, where the seed calls forth fruit and the fruit the seed. The cause is the giver and the result the recipient. And the recipient cannot make the good and non-good come into the hands of the giver. Because of this, there is no cause and no result." If a person should say that there is no cause and there is no result, know that this person truly severs the root of good.

"Also, a person thinks: "There is nothing that can truly be called dana. Why not? Dana is a thing which is indefinable. If indefinable, how can it call forth any good result? There is no result that is good or bad. This is what is called indefinable. If a thing is indefinable, know that there cannot be any good or bad result. For this reason, we say that there is no dana, no cause, and no result." Anyone who professes that there is no cause and also no result, such a person severs the root of good.

"Also, a person may think: "Dana is will. If will, there can be no seeing and no object seen. This is no matter [physical form]. If no matter, how can a person give? Because of this, I say that there is no dana, no cause, and no result." If a person speaks like this and says that there is no cause and no result, know that this person truly severs the root of good.

"Also, a person might think: "If the giver gives to an image of the Buddha, that of a deva, or for the good of his parents who have now gone, there cannot be anyone who can be said to receive. If no one receives, there cannot be any result to name. If there is no result to name this means that there is no cause. If there is no cause, this means that there is no result." If a person talks thus and says that there are no cause and result, such a person severs the root of good.

"Also, a person thinks: "There is no father and no mother. Should a person say that parents are the cause of a being, the ones who bring forth a being, logic will lead him to say that birth must be going on continuously and that there is no disruption [interruption]. Why? Because there is always the cause. But birth does not go on all the time. Because of this, know that there are no parents."

"Also, a person thinks: "There is no father and no mother. Why not? If a being comes about through parents, the being must possess the two sexual organs of male and female. But there are not such. Know that a man does not come about from parents."

"Also, a person thinks: "A being does not come from father and mother. Why not? One sees with one's eyes that one is not like one's parents in all such things as body and mind, deportment, one's goings and comings. Because of this, the parents are not the cause of the being."

"Also, a person thinks: "There are four nothingnesses. These are:  1) what has not appeared is what is not. This is like the horns of a hare or the hair of a tortoise [i.e. non-existent]. It is the same with the parents of a being. These four are what are equal to what is not. One may say that the parents are the cause of the being. But when the parents die, the children do not necessarily die. Because of this, the parents are not the cause of the being."

"Also, a person thinks: "If we say that the parents are the cause of the being, beings must always come about from parents. But there are such births as the transformed birth and birth from moisture. From this we can know that the being does not come about from parents."

"Also, a person thinks: "A person can grow up, not depending upon his parents. For example, the peacock gains its body by hearing the sound of thunder, and the blue sparrow gains its body by swallowing the tears of the male sparrow; the jivamjivaka gains its body by looking at a brave man who dances." When the person thinks thus and does not encounter a teacher of the Way, that person, we may know, truly severs the root of good.

"Also, a person thinks: "In all the world, there is no karmic result from the good or bad actions performed. Why not? There are beings who are perfect in the ten good things and are pleased to give and amass virtues. Even to such persons there also truly come illnesses of the body; they can die in mid-life, lose their wealth, and have many apprehensions and sufferings. There is a person who commits the ten evil deeds, is parsimonious, greedy, jealous, lazy, and indolent. Never amassing good, he is yet at peace, has no illnesses, enjoys a long life, is full of wealth, and suffers no apprehensions or sorrow. From this we may know that there do not exist any karmic consequences from good and evil actions."

"Also, a person thinks: "I also once heard a holy man speak, who said that there are cases where a person who has accumulated good falls into the three unfortunate realms when his life ends, and cases where the evil-doer gains life in heaven when his life comes to an end. From this we can know that there cannot be any talk of results from good or evil actions."

"Also, a person thinks: "All holy persons say two [contradictory] things. One says that harming life gains one a good result, and [another says] that killing earns one an evil result. From this we may know that what a holy person says is not definite. If there is nothing definite in what a holy person says, how can one be definitely fixed? For this reason, know that there is no result from good or evil."

"Also, a person thinks: "There are no holy persons in the world. Why not? Any holy person will have the Right Way. All beings, possessed of defilement, practise the Right Way. Know that this means that they walk the Right Way and that defilement accompanies them. If the two exist at the same time, this means that the Right Way is unable to destroy defilement. If a person practises the Way, possessing no defilement, what is the good of practising the right Way? This indicates that any person who has no defilement cannot make away with the Way. If a person does not possess defilement, there is no need of the Way. From this, know that there cannot be anyone in the world who can be called a holy person."

"Also, a person thinks: "Ignorance is causally related to action, down to birth, old age, and death. Beings are all equally related to the 12 links of interdependence. The nature of the Noble Eightfold Path is equal, which is also so related. If one person practises, all beings will also gain; when one person practises, all the sorrows [of others] will die out. Why? Because defilement is equal in nature. And yet, we do not get this. This shows that there is no Right Way."

"Also, a person thinks: "Holy persons depend on the law [i.e. depend on the same things as] of any common mortal, as in drink and food, walking, standing, sitting, and lying, drowsing, being happy, laughing, feeling hunger and thirst, cold and heat, apprehension and fear. If on the same level, holy persons cannot attain the Holy Way. On attaining the Way, all these things must be done away with. If such things are not yet done away with, we may know that there cannot be any such thing as the Way."

"Also, a person thinks: "A holy person's body is immersed in the pleasures of the five desires. Also, he speaks ill of [people], beats [them], and is jealous and arrogant. He has sorrow and joy, and does good and evil deeds. From this we can know that there is no such thing as a holy person. If there is the Way, there must be the cutting off of the Way. If it is not cut off, we may know that there is no such thing as the Way."

"Also, a person thinks: "A person who has much pity is a holy person. Why do we call him a holy person? Because of the Way. If the Way is pity, he must have pity for all beings. It is not something one gains through having practised. If there is no pity, how can a holy person gain it when he has accomplished the Way? From this we may know that there is no such thing in the world as the Holy Way."