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for an understanding of the Mahayana tradition. Like the Lotus Sutra and the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, the Lankavatara is a voluminous work. It is complex in terms of both ideas and literary composition. Scholars have tended to date the written work to as late as the fourth century of the common era. Although this m ay be acceptable as far as the literary production of the text is concerned, a survey of the sutra reveals a number of germinal ideas that were systematized and elaborated on by Mahayana masters like Asanga and Vasubandhu. If we remember that both these mast ers lived in the fourth century C.E., we will have to place the formulation of the d octrines contained in the Lankavatara well before that time. This is in line with what I have said before about the origin and authenticity o f Mahayana literature in general. After all, we have seen that many of the germinal ideas o f the Mahayana tradition are found even in the Theravada canon (see Chapter 14). The Lankavatara is representative of the canonical literature that is the foundation of the Mahayana school variously known as the Yogachara (school affirming the unity of meditation and action), the Vijnanavada (school affirming consciousness), and th e Chittamatra (school affirming Mind Only). Just as the Perfection of Wisdom liter ature in general forms the canonical foundation of the Middle Way, or Madhyamaka, school, so the Lankavatara Sutra and a number of other discourses form the canonical founda tion of the Yogachara or Vijnanavada school, though obviously elements of one school can be found in the doctrine of the other, and vice versa. The doctrine for which the Lankavatara is famous is the doctrine of the primacy of consciousness. This is sometimes called the doctrine of Mind Only, or of the sol e reality of consciousness. The sutra states in unequivocal terms that the three worlds, o r spheres--the sphere of sense desire, the sphere of form, and the formless sphere --are just mind itself. In other words, all the manifold objects of the world, the names an d forms of experience, are merely manifestations of the mind. The Lankavatara says that our inability to free ourselves from the discrimination between the conceptions ubject and object is the cause of our rebirth in the cycle of birth and death. As long e are unable to free ourselves from discrimination, we continue to be reborn in samsara. s therefore the ability to free ourselves from the dualistic conceptions of subject and of s as w It i obje
The mind of which the sutra speaks both transcends and annihilate s the conceptions of the dualities of existence and nonexistence. then how is i t that this nondual reality of mind manifests itself in the manifold objects of the world? T he Lankavatara--and.. identity and difference. It even transcends the concept of causation. If the mind of which the Lankavatara speaks transcends the conceptions of the du alities of existence and nonexistence. These eight consciousnesse s form the basis of Yogachara or Vijnanavada philosophy. the storehouse consciousness is. But what is this 'Mind Only' of which the Lankavatara Sutra speaks? Is it the e mpirical mind. The afflicted mi nd is the go-between that mediates between the storehouse consciousness on the one hand an d the six empirical consciousnesses on the other hand. causing waves. which arises in conjuncti on with the faculty of the mind). and karma. In its depths the ocean is tranquil. the mind that participates in the activities of the six consciousnesses? I t is clearly not this mind. which are analogous to the functioning of the six empirical consciousnesses.ct that is the key to enlightenment. the Mind Only school--expounds a system of eight types of consciousness. The sutra uses an analogy to describe the process of schism that takes us from t he ultimate.e. Moved by the wind. The two additional types are the storehouse consciousness (alayavijnana) and the afflicted mind (klishtamanas). or discriminating thought (vikalpa). According to the sutra. just as. From this it is clear that the mind of which the Lankavatara speaks is precisely that emptiness (shuny ata) of which the Perfection of Wisdom literature speaks. wind. all these c oncepts are the products of false imagination. The analogy is that of the ocean. nondual condition of mind to the fragmented condition. The villain of the piece is the afflicted mind--the wind of discrimination--beca use it is by means of the afflicted mind that discrimination takes place. which roll on and on. The mind of which the sutra speaks does not participate in these dualistic conceptions. in its dep ths. that we experience in daily life. the five consciousnesses that arise in conjunction wit h the five physical sense faculties. the surface of the ocean is stir red into waves. We may call this afflicted mind . Similarly. identity and differe nce. permanence and impermanence. and so forth. and waves. These eight include the six with which we are familiar from the B uddhist tradition at large (i. characterized b y the six empirical consciousnesses. and the sixth consciousness. the tranquil depths of the storehouse consciousness are disturbed by the wind of discrimination. It transcends the concepts of self. indeed. substance.
literally. . You will be aware of the natural connection between the two fro m what I have just said about the nirvanic potential of the storehouse consciousness. of the nirvanic potential of the storehouse consciousn ess. It is significant that. which in turn supply the storehouse consciousness with the impr essions of actions. so. The storehouse consciousness plays a particularly important role because it not only exists as the tranquil depths of the ocean do but also functions as a repository . What is meant by the term 'pure'? A careful examination of the Lankavatara Sutra and other canonical and commentarial literature reveals that this means that the min d is empty. both the phenomenal world and enlightenm ent. for this whole phase of Mahayana Buddhism. th e storehouse consciousness becomes the seed of nirvana. Thus we have a cyclical process wherein the storehouse consciousness evolves through discrimination into six empirical consciousnesses. just as we pi cture the constituents of interdependent origination. In this sense we have an evolution f rom the storehouse consciousness in its own nondual nature. identity and difference. T he Lankavatara describes the mind. It is important to look closely at the relationship between the storehouse consc iousness and the notion of the Buddha nature (tathagatagarbha. and so forth. intri nsic nature. or discrimination. The storehouse consciousness is particularly important for the Lankavatara Sutra and. Therefore. the principle of individuation. This implies that it has within it the potential for both samsara and nirvana. we find the storehouse consciousness called the 'all-base conscious ness'-the consciousness that is the substratum of all. Therefore we can best understand the scheme of the eight consciousnesse s presented in the Lankavatara Sutra if we picture them in a circle. This purity. 'the womb of tathagatahood'). And just as it is through discrimination that the storehouse consciousness evolv es into the six empirical consciousnesses. through the elimination of discrimination. which in turn sow the seeds of future actions in the fertile soil of the storehouse co nsciousness.the ego principle. This is why it is called a storehouse--because it collects the seeds of sense impression s and actions. through the functioning of discrimination by means of the agency of the afflicted mind. or consciousness. indeed. or karma. is the very essence of Buddha nature. Its purity is equivalent to its emptiness. 'the original purity of the mind' means that the mind is intri nsically and originally pure of the dualities of existence and nonexistence. and on into the six empirical consciousnesses. as pure in its original. in th e Tibetan translation. or emptine ss.
The Buddha says that he has not taught the idea of this storehouse consciousness to fools. (dharmakaya) the celestial dimension. It may be likened to a stream because it is ever-changing. These three reflect. to which only the spiritually developed have access. intrinsic. of Buddhahood--the transcendent al dimension. Just as the brightness of gold. depe nding on causes and conditions. This concept is expanded and elaborated on in the Lankavatara Sutra and in the philosophy of the Yogachara school. appear in the form of a common living being. in general terms . in another famous sutra. or a Buddha. or dimensions. The Lankavatara Sutra suggests another important Mahayana doctrine in germinal f orm: the doctrine of the three bodies. moving like a stream with all its seeds of sense impressions. which can be shaped into a chamber pot. The Buddha nature is the empty and pure nature of the mind. all sentient beings have the potential to atta in Buddhahood. the Buddha says that the st orehouse consciousness is profound and subtle. Like a lump of bronze. It is not a static entity. which is beyond names and forms. for fear that they might mistake it for a self. empty and pure nature of the mind through cleansing oneself of the ha bit of discriminating between subject and object by application of the discipline of a Bodhisattva. the Sandhinirmochana. to a precious s tone. or a soiled garment i s revealed through refinement and through cleansing of impurities. (2) the celest ial dimension is an expression of the symbolic and archetypal dimension of Buddhahoo d. and (3) the terrestrial dimens ion is the dimension of Buddhahood to which all of us in our unenlightened condition have a . a precious stone. a vessel for offe ring water at a shrine. so one reveals the origi nal. (nirmanakaya). The Buddha nature is not a self or a soul. the empty nature of mind can. It is for t his reason that. (sambhogakaya) and the terrestr ial or transformational dimension. Because of the esse ntial emptiness and purity of the mind. It is in teresting to note that the storehouse consciousness is fundamentally similar to the Theravada concept. or a statue of the Buddha. of the factor of subconscious continuity (bhavanga) tha t carries the seeds of former actions. three levels of enlightened reality: (1) the transcendental dimension is synonymous wi th the ultimate level of enlightenment.It is in this context that the Buddha nature is likened to gold. or to a soiled garment. The intrinsic purity or emptiness of the mind finds the expressi on of its potential in the realization of Buddhahood when the impurities of discrimination are removed. a Bodhisattv a. found in the Abhidharma. infinitely manifold and dynamic.
Thus. nor by the examples of moral purity advocated in the conduct of a Bodhisattva. a Buddha or Bodhisattva will assume the form of one of that's persons company and. with whom we are all familiar but also the form of a drunkard. This is put very b eautifully by Shantideva in his book on the Practice of the Bodhisattva. through skillful means born of great compassion. It can assume not only a recognizable. . the terrestrial dimension of Buddhahood can assume any form and any number of forms. In addition to assu ming the form of animate beings. gambler o r the like. special form like Shakya muni Buddha. the Buddha and Bodhisattvas appear in countless unknown and unrecognizable forms. but also in diverse and coun tless forms of the terrestrial dimension of Buddhahood. and so forth. a road. It is this terrestrial dimension that appears in countless forms in order to nurture and emancipate sen tient beings. medicine for the ill. Bodhisattvas can also assume the form of inanimate thing s.ccess. and which participates in the world of mundane phenomena. through the exercise of sk illful means labor to bring about the emancipation of that person. working for t he emancipation of all sentient beings. or vehicles. each according to his or her individual nee ds and abilities. Here you may recall that the essence of the Mahayana tradition is great compassi on. a bridge. and shelter for the homeless. Bodhicharyavatara whe re he prays that he may become food for the hungry. According to the Lankavatara and ot her Mahayana texts. The skillful means that spring directly from great compassion manifest themselves no t only in the devising of various disciplines. If a particular drunkar d or gambler is not affected by the delivery of an exalted Dharma discourse. such as food. clothing. in order to benefit and liberate sentient beings. medicine.
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