Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

The "Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z19)

Senika said: "O Gautama! You speak of the "conjoining together of the inner and outer." Who is it that says: "I do", "I feel"?

The Buddha said: "O Senika! From the causal relations of the ignorance of craving comes about action, from it existence, from it the innumerable varieties of mental actions, and mental wakefulness in perception. This mental wakefulness in perception causes the wind to rise, and the wind, following the mind, touches the throat, tongue, teeth, and lips. The inverted voice of the image of the being comes out and says: "I do, I feel, I see, and I hear." O good man! The bell on top of a hanging ensign rings due to causal relations. If the wind is strong, the sound is strong; if the wind is weak, the sound is weak. And yet, no one does it. That is how matters stand. When a heated iron is put into water, this engenders various sounds. And yet, there is truly no one who does it [i.e. who makes those sounds]. The case is thus. O good man! The common mortal is unable to think or discriminate such things and says: "There is self, and what belongs to self; I do, I feel, etc."

Senika said: "O Gautama! You say that there is no self, and nothing that belongs to self. Then, why do you speak of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure?"

“The Buddha said: "Nobly-born One, I have never taught that the six inner and outer ayatanas [sense-spheres] and the six consciousnesses are Eternal, Blissful, the Self, or Pure; but I do declare that the cessation of the six inner and outer ayatanas and the six consciousnesses arising from them is termed the Eternal. Becasue that is Eternal, it is the Self. Because there is Eternity and the Self, it is termed Blissful. Because it is Eternal, the Self and Blissful, it is termed Pure. Nobly-born One, ordinary people abhor suffering and by eliminating the cause of suffering, they may freely/ spontaneously distance themselves from it. This is termed the Self. Therefore, I have spoken of the Eternal, the Self, the Blissful, and the Pure. [alternative rendering into English, by Samuel Beal, of this important passage can be found in the latter's “A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese”, “1871, pp.179-180

“Sena asked: "According to Gotama's opinion, then, that there is no 'I', let me ask what can be the meaning of that description he gives of Nirvana, that it is permanent, full of joy, personal, and pure?" Buddha says: "Illustrious youth, I do not say that the six external and internal organs, or the various species of knowledge, are permanent, etc; but what I say is that “that” is permanent, full of joy, personal, and pure, which is left after the six organs and the six objects of sense, and the various kinds of knowledge are all destroyed. Illustrious youth, when the world, weary of sorrow, turns away and separates itself from the cause of all this sorrow, then, by this voluntary rejection of it, there remains that which I call the True Self; and it is of this I plainly declare the formula, that it is permanent, full of joy, personal, and pure."].

“Senika said: "O World-Honoured One! Great Compassionate One! Explain to me, I pray, how I am to attain the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, about which you speak."

“The Buddha said: "Nobly-born One, the entire world possesses great pride [mana] from the very beginning, which augments pride and also functions as the cause of [further] pride and proud actions. Therefore, beings now experience the results of pride and are not able to eliminate all the klesas [mental/moral defilements] and attain the Eternal, Blissful, the Self, and the Pure. If beings wish to do away with all defilements, what they need to do is , first of all, to make away with pride." [Note: the Sanskrit word for pride, mana, has a different semantic range from the English "pride/ arrogance". It is derived from the verbal root, man (to think, believe, measure, conceive, deem, value, reagrd as) and also means "measure", "computation", "means of proof". The "pride" sense here implies the process of generating or projecting what are implicitly false mental constructs. It refers to the process described in the earlier chapter in the sutra on the four perverse views. - Stephen Hodge].

Senika said: "O World-Honoured One! It is thus, it is thus! All is as your holy teaching says. I had, from the very start, arrogance; I was grounded on the causal relations of this arrogance. That is why I addressed you by the family name of Gautama. I am now removed from such great arrogance. That is why, with the sincerest heart, I seek Dharma. How am I to arrive at the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure?"

The Buddha said: "Listen carefully to me, listen carefully! I shall now explain matters to you in detail.

"O good man! If all thoughts of your own self, of others and of beings are done away with, you will segregate yourself from such."

Senika said: "O World-Honoured” “One! I have now understood and gained the right Dharma-Eye."

The Buddha said: "In what way have you known, understood, and gained the right Dharma-Eye?"

"O World-Honoured One! The physical form [“rupa”] of which we speak is not our own, not another's, nor that of beings.” “So does it obtain with all [the skandhas] down to consciousness. Seeing things thus, I have arrived at the right Dharma-Eye. O World-Honoured One! I am now very eager to renounce the world and be admitted into the Order. Be good enough to admit me into the Order!"

The Buddha said: "Welcome, O bhiksu!" At once he was perfect in pure actions, and he attained arhatship.