Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

"Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z24)


The Brahmacarin, Kasaya, then said: "O Gautama! You Gautama say that a person does what is good and not good innumerable times, and in the future gains bodies again that are good or not good. This is not so, because, just as you Gautama say, a person gains a body through defilement. If a person gains his body, does the body come first or the defilement come first? If defilement comes about first, who creates it and where does it stay? If the body comes about first, how can we say that the person gains it through defilement? Because of this, if it is said that defilement comes about first, this does not fit well. It is also not good to say that the body comes about first. If it is said that both come about at the same time, this also will not be right. Any such speaking as of "before" and "after", or of "at the same time", is not acceptable. So I say: "Everything has its own nature, not depending on causal relations."

"Also, next, O Gautama! Hardness is the nature of the earth; moisture is the nature of water; heat is that of fire; movement is that of the wind; and not being obstructed is that of space. These five natures are existences which do not depend on causal relations. If there is in the world but one thing that does not depend on causal relations, it must be thus with all other things, too. What is is the existence that is not grounded on causal relations. If it is said that all depend on the single law of causal relations, why is it that the nature of the five elements does not depend on the law of causal relations?

"O Gautama! Beings gain emancipation from this body of good and non-good based on their own nature, and not on causal relations. So I say: "Everything exists based on its own nature and not on causal relations."

"Also, next, O Gautama! Things of the world have their own places of use. For example one says: "Such and such kinds of wood are for making wheels, and such and such are for making doors and benches."

"Also, it is as with the goldsmith, who calls what is worn above the brow a hair adornment, what one puts around one's neck a necklace, what is worn on the arm a bracelet, and what is worn on the finger a ring. As the place of use is fixed, we say that the nature is fixed. So go things with beings, too. There are the natures of the five realms. So we have hell, hungry pretas, animals, humans, and heaven. If things are thus, how can we say that they depend on causal relations?

"Also, next, O Gautama! Each being has a nature different from that of others. That is why we say that all things have their own natures. The tortoise is born on land but can easily go into the water; the calf, soon after its birth, easily drinks milk; the fish sees the bait on the hook and spontaneously and greedily bites at it; the viper, as soon as it is born, feeds on the earth. Whoever teaches such things? When a thorn appears, its point is always sharp; the colours of flying birds differ from each other. So is it with the beings of the world. There are those who are sharp-witted and those who are dull, those who are rich and those who are poor; there are those who are good-looking and those who are ugly; there are those who attain emancipation and those who get born into a lowly status. From this we can know that there is a nature to each existence.

"Also, next, O Gautama! If you say that desire, ill-will, and ignorance arise out of causal relations and that these three poisons are based on causal relations and the five sense-fields, the situation is not so. Why not? When one sleeps, one is away from the five sense-fields. And yet there come about desire, ill-will, and ignorance. Even in the womb, the same is the case. When one first emerges from it, one cannot feel the good or non-good of the five sense-fields. And yet, there appear desire, ill-will, and ignorance. All rishis and sages live in quiet and silent places, and there exist no five sense-fields. But still there are desire, ill-will, and ignorance.

"Also, a person, through the five sense-fields, gains non-desire, non-anger, and non-ignorance. Hence, all things do not necessarily come about due to causal relations, but because of the nature of each thing.

"Also, next, O Gautama! We see people in the world who possess great wealth and much freedom, being yet imperfect in the five sense-organs, and those who are poor, mean, and not free, who serve other people, they themselves having perfect sense-organs. If things arise from causal relations, how could matters come about thus? So we say that all things have natures of their own and are not based on causal relations.

"Also, next, O Gautama! Children also are not clear as regards the five sense-organs, but they laugh and weep. When laughing, they feel joy, and when weeping sorrow. Because of this, we can know that all things have their own nature.