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SandhinirmocanaSutra

FRIDAY,OCTOBER15,2010

PROFOUNDSECRETS
TheSadhinirmocanaStraortheSutraoftheExplanationoftheProfoundSecrets
is a Buddhist scripture classified as belonging to the Yogcra or Consciousness
only school of Buddhist thought. This stra was translated from Sanskrit into
Chinesefourtimes,themostcompleteandreliableofwhichistypicallyconsideredto
bethatofXuanzang.
TheSadhinirmocanaStraisvariouslyromanizedas"SandhinirmocanaSutra"and
"SamdhinirmocanaSutra".
LikemanyearlyMahynascriptures,precisedatingfortheSadhinirmocanaStra
is difficult to achieve.Etienne Lamotte believed that the text was assembled from
earlier, independent fragments. Other scholars believe that the apparently
fragmentary nature of the early versions of the scripture may represent piecemeal
attemptsattranslation,ratherthanacompositeoriginforthetextitself.Theearliest
formsofthetextmaydatefromasearlyasthe1stor2ndCenturyCE.Thefinalform
ofthetextwasprobablyassemblednoearlierthanthe3rdCenturyCE,andbythe4th
Century significant commentaries on the text began to be composed by Buddhist
scholars, most notably Asaga. The stra was likely composed in Sanskrit in India,
butcurrentlyexistsonlyinChineseandTibetantranslations.
The Sadhinirmocana Stra is one of the most important texts of the Yogcra
tradition,andoneoftheearliesttextstoexpoundthephilosophyofConsciousness
only. Divided into ten sections, the stra presents itself as a series of dialogues
betweentheBuddha and various bodhisattvas.During thesedialogues, theBuddha
attempts to clarify disputed meanings present in scriptures of the early Mahyna
and the early Buddhist schools thus, the title of the stra, which promises to
expound a teaching that is "completely explicit" and requires no interpretation in
ordertobeunderstood.
Thefirstfourchaptersofthestradiscusstheconceptofultimatetruth.Thefifthand
sixth chapters discuss the concept of layavijna or "storehouse consciousness"
andthethreecharacteristicsofphenomena(trilakana),whichrefertotheincomplete
andabsolutetruthofvariousphenomena.Chaptersevenoutlinesatheoryoftextual
interpretationinlightoftheBuddha'svariousteachings,andchapterninediscusses
meditation.ThechapternineisdevotedtoadiscussionoftheBodhisattvaPath.
Withinthestra,theBuddhadescribestheteachingthatheispresentingaspartof
theThird Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. As such, the Stra is intended to clarify
confusingorcontradictoryelementsofearlierteachings,presentinganewteaching
thatresolvesearlierinconsistencies.TheStraaffirmsthattheearlierturningsofthe
wheelthe teachings of the rvaka Vehicle (rvakayna) and the emptiness
(nyat) doctrine adopted by the Mdhyamaka represented authentic teachings,
but indicates that they were flawed because they required interpretation. The
teachingsoftheSadhinirmocanaStra,ontheotherhand,requirenointerpretation

andcanbereadliterallyaccordingtothediscoursedeliveredbytheBuddhawithin
thetext.ThisreflectsanancientdivisioninBuddhisthermeneutics,atopictowhich
thestradevotesanentirechapter.
The Sadhinirmocana Stra was adopted by the Yogcra school as one of its
primaryscriptures.Inaddition,itinspiredagreatdealofadditionalwriting,including
discussions by Asaga, Vasubandhu, Xuanzang, Woncheuk, and a large body of
TibetanliteraturefoundedonJeTsongkhapa'swritingsconcerningthescripture
OceanofDefinitiveMeaning:ATeachingfortheMountainHermit(Richosngesdon
rgyamtsho), written in the first half of the 14th century, is considered the magnum
opusofDlpopaSherapGyaltsen(12921361).
TheOceanofDefinitiveMeaningisahermeneuticaltextontheissueofthedoctrine
of the three turnings of the Dharmacakra, which was first codified in the Sutra
UnravellingtheThought(SadhinirmocanaStra).
The Ocean of Definitive Meaning conveys a specific reading, understanding and
interpretationofnyatandTathgatagarbha, of the second and third turnings of
the wheel respectively. Both nyat and Tathgatagarbha are central and key
principles of Mahayana Buddhism. This specific reading of nyat and Tathgata
garbha and the philosophical view behind it, became known as Zhentong, the key
tenetoftheJonangpa.
DlpopasthoughtinthisworkisahermeneuticsoftheMahayanaBuddhisttextsand
develops teachings of Maitreya and Yogacara mastersAsanga (4th century) and his
brotherVasubandhu(4thcentury).
For 150 years prior to the sacking of the Jonang monasteries by the Gelugpa, the
OceanofDefinitiveMeaningwasbannedwithinthegroundsofGelugpamonasteries.
JeffreyHopkins(translator)andKevinVose(editor)renderedtheOceanofDefinitive
MeaningintoEnglishasMountainDoctrine,publishedbySnowLion,Ithacain2006.
A second English rendering of The Ocean of Definitive Meaning entitled Ocean of
DefinitiveMeaning:ATeachingfortheMountainHermitisnumberedvolumesevenof
TheLibraryofTibetanClassics,athirtytwovolumeseriescoveringTibetsclassical
literaryheritage,publishedbyWisdomPublications.
MindstreaminBuddhistphilosophyisthemomenttomoment"continuum"(Sanskrit:
satna) of awareness. There are a number of terms in the Buddhist literature that
maywellberendered"mindstream".
The mindstream doctrine, like most Buddhist doctrines, is not homogeneous and
showshistoricaldevelopment,differentapplicationsaccordingtocontextandvaried
definitionsemployedbydifferentBuddhisttraditions.
Most Buddhist schools are committed doctrinally to the doctrine of antman (Pali:
anatt), "nonself," the teaching that none of the things perceived by the senses
constitutea"self."AsThanissaroBhikkhuexplains,"...theBuddhawasaskedpoint
blankwhetherornottherewasaself,herefusedtoanswer.Whenlateraskedwhy,
he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into
extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible."
ScholarHerbertV.Guntherfurtherexplains,"anindividual,whichinothersystemsis
imaginedasacombinationofmatterandapermanentmentalprinciple(tman),isin
realityacontinuouslychangingstreamofthatwhichfromoneviewpointisbelieved

to be matter and from another a mind. However, what we call the mental and the
materialoccursinaunityoforganization.Organizationissomethingdynamic."
In discussing the continuity of mind or awareness in the absence of a self, various
words and concepts have been employed. "Mindstream" is often used both
colloquially and in more scholarly discourse, as when Dzogchen Rinpoche writes "
[t]he Buddhadharma is a process, one through which we train and tame our own
mindstreams.Oneapproachistogototherootofwhatwemeanby'I,'oursenseof
self or individual selfidentity." According to scholar Wiliam Waldron, "Indian
Buddhistsseethe'evolution'ofmindi[n]termsofthecontinuityofindividualmind
streams from one lifetime to the next, with karma as the basic causal mechanism
wherebytransformationsaretransmittedfromonelifetothenext."
ThisclearevocationofwhatlaterbecamecanonizedinBuddhistdiscourseasmiddle
way (Mdhyamaka) is key to tendering a description of the ineffable mysterium
magnum of the "great continuum" that is rendered in English as "mindstream": the
nondualinterpenetration of tman and antman. This 'interpenetration' or
'coalescence'(Wylie:zung'jugSanskrit:yuganaddha)isjustaconceptualformation.
Technically,themindstreamissubjecttoBuddha'sfourfoldreasoning,developedby
Nrgjuna and known as thecatukoti, though the mindstream secures its
nomenclaturefromthefourthpada:"neitheronenormany",asthishistoricallyisthe
preferredsubtlereification,butreificationnonetheless.
ScholarCarolineAugustaFoleyRhysDavids(1903:pp.587588)assessesLouisde
LaVallePoussin'sworkon"mindstream"inBuddhism:
Professor de la Vallee Poussin finds a very positive evolution of vijnana
theoryincertainSanskritBuddhisttexts.Thetermsamtanaisjoinedtoor
substituted for it a term which seems to approximate to our own
neopsychologicalconceptofmindasa'continuum'orflux.Andheinfers
from certain contexts that this vijnanasamtana was regarded, not as one
permanent, unchanging, transmigrating entity, as the soul was in the
atmantheory, but as an "essential series of individual and momentary
consciousnesses," forming a "procession vivace et autonome." By
autonomous he means independent of physical processes. According to
this view the upspringing of a new vijnana at conception, as the effect of
theprecedinglastvijnanaofsomeexpiringperson,representsnochange
in kind, but only, to put it so, of degree. The vijnana is but a recurring
series,notatransferredentityorprinciple.Henceitismorecorrect,ifless
convenient, to speak, not of vijnana, but of the samtana of pravrtti
vijnanani.
In Vajrayna (tantric Buddhism) "mindstream" may be understood as an upya
metaphor for the nonlocal, atemporal stream of moments or "quanta of
consciousness" (Sanskrit: bindu). It proceeds endlessly in a lifetime, in between
lifetimes(Tibetan:bardo),fromlifetimetolifetime,priortoengagementinthewheel
oflife,throughsamsara and beyond. It does so as an inclusive "continuum" rather
than an individuated, separate, or discrete perceptual, cognitive, or experiential
entity, as in the Buddhadharma conception of the tman which is diametrically
opposedtotheAtmanoftheUpanishads.
In the entwined Dzogchen traditions of Bnpo and Nyingmapa, the mindstream

constitutes a continuum of gankyil composed of the five pure lights of the five
wisdoms which unite the trikya. These tantric correlations (or "twilight language")
are evident in the iconographic representation of the five Jnas and the sapanna
krama of the gankyil and mandala in Dzogchen practice. The "supreme siddhi" or
"absolute bodhicitta" of the Dzogchenpa is when the stream of their bodymind
(namarupa)is"released"(innirvana)astherainbowbody.
BUDDHIST SCHOLAR ALEXANDER BERZIN USES THE TERM "MENTAL
CONTINUUM" IN TRANSLATION OF THE TIBETAN SEMSRGYUD AND SANSKRIT
SANTNA, WHICH HE DEFINES AS "THE STREAM OF CONTINUITY OF MENTAL
ACTIVITY (MIND, AWARENESS) OF AN INDIVIDUAL BEING, WHICH HAS NO
BEGINNING,WHICHCONTINUESEVENINTOBUDDHAHOOD,AND,ACCORDINGTO
MAHAYANA,HASNOEND.ACCORDINGTOTHEHINAYANATENETS,ITCOMESTO
AN END WHEN AN ARHAT OR BUDDHA DIES AT THE END OF THE LIFETIME IN
WHICHTHEPERSONATTAINSLIBERATIONORENLIGHTENMENT.ALSOCALLEDA
'MINDSTREAM.'"[11] THE DOCTRINAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE MINDSTREAM
CONCEPTINBUDDHISTTRADITIONSEVOLVEDOVERCENTURIESANDVARIESTO
SOMEEXTENTBYTRADITION.
CITTASATNA (SANSKRIT) HAS BEEN DEFINED AS "LITERALLY, 'THE STREAM
OF MIND,' A GENERAL TERM USED TO INDICATE THE CONTINUITY OF THE
PERSONALITY OF AN INDIVIDUAL IN THE ABSENCE OF THE PERMANENTLY
ABIDING"SELF"(TMAN)THATBUDDHISMDENIES."CITTAHOLDSTHESEMANTIC
FIELD OF "THAT WHICH IS CONSCIOUS", "THE ACT OF MENTAL APPREHENSION
KNOWN AS ORDINARY CONSCIOUSNESS", "THE CONVENTIONAL AND RELATIVE
MIND/HEART". CITTAHAS TWO ASPECTS: "...ITS TWO ASPECTS ARE ATTENDING
TO AND COLLECTING OF IMPRESSIONS OR TRACES (SANSKRIT: VSAN) CF.
VIJNA."[13] SATNA ORSANTNA (SANSKRIT) HOLDS THE SEMANTIC FIELD
OF "ETERNAL", "CONTINUUM", "A SERIES OF MOMENTARY EVENTS" OR "LIFE
STREAM".
CittaisoftenrenderedassemsinTibetanandsatnacorrespondstorgyud,which
holds the semantic field of "continuum", "stream", and "thread"Cittasatna is
therefore rendered sems rgyud. Interestingly, rgyud is the term that Tibetan
translatorsemployedtorendertheSanskritterm"tantra".
ThugsrgyudisasynonymforsemsrgyudThugsholdsthesemanticfield:"Buddha
mind", "(enlightened) mind", "mind", "soul", "spirit", "purpose", "intention",
"unbiased perspective", "spirituality", "responsiveness", "spiritual significance",
"awareness", "primordial (state, experience)", "enlightened mind", "heart", "breast",
"feelings" and is sometimes a homonym of "citta" (Sanskrit). Thugsrgyud holds
thesemantic field "wisdom", "transmission", "heartmind continuum", "mind", "
[continuum/streamofmind]"and"natureofmind."
Chinese,KoreanandJapanese
The Chinese equivalent of Sanskrit cittasatna and Tibetan semskyi rgyud
("mindstream")isxinxiangxu.AccordingtotheDigitalDictionaryofBuddhism, xn
xingxmeans "continuance of the mental stream" (from Sanskrit cittasatna or
cittasatati),contrastedwithwxingx"nocontinuityofthementalstream"(from
asatna or asadhi) and sh xingx "stream of consciousness" (from vijna
satna).
Thiscompoundcombinesxin"heartmindthoughtconsciencecore"andxiangxu
"succeedeachother",withxiangeach other one another mutual reciprocal" and

xu or "continue carry on succeed". Thus it means "thoughts succeeding each


other".
XinxiangxuispronouncedsimsangsokinKoreanandshinszokuinJapanese
MENTAL"STREAM"METAPHORS
The metaphorical use of "stream" to describe mentality is characteristic of but not
unique to the Buddhist literature and worldview. In English for example, "stream of
consciousness"ismorefamiliarthan"mindstream".
William James promoted the "stream of consciousness" with its particular
nomenclature, some state drawn from Bain (refer following), whilst immersed in
Buddhiststudiesandtheaccompanyingprotractedspiritualdisciplineofvipayan,
asrelatedbyWallace(2003):
BuddhologistRogerR.JacksonsimilarlyportraysBuddhistmeditationas
a type of ritual act (Jackson 1999:231). While such characterizations are
certainlyvalidforsometypesofBuddhistmeditation,theyareprofoundly
misleading for the practices of meditative quiescence (samatha) and
contemplative insight (vipasyana), which are the two core modes of
Buddhist meditative training. Techniques of meditative quiescence entail
the rigorous cultivation of attentional stability and vividness, methods
having a strong bearing on William Jamess psychological theories of
attention(Wallace1998,1999a).
There are two entwined mindstreams according to the two truths, the absolute and
relative, that are ultimately nondualaccording to Atiyoga. One is the divine
mindstream of "consciousness" which is engaged in the phowa practice, for
exampletheotherthemindstreamofthoughtand ideation(Tibetan:sem Sanskrit:
manas)(vtticitta).
Gyatso,JinpaandWallace(2003:p.97)identifytwokindsofconsciousnesscontinua
and associate the most subtle state of consciousness continuum, elsewhere
identifiedinthisarticleasthe"mindstreamsubstrate",withwhatisknowninTibetan
Buddhist,DzogchenandBonpodiscourseas"clearlight"(Tib:'odgsal):
In Vajrayna Buddhism the subtlest state of consciousness is known as
clear light. In terms of categories of consciousness, there is one type of
consciousness that consists of a permanent stream or an unending
continuity and there are other forms of consciousness whose continuum
comes to an end. Both these levels of consciousness one consisting of
an endless continuum and the other of a finite continuum have a
momentarynature.Thatistosay,theyarisefrommomenttomoment,and
theyareconstantlyinastateofflux.Sothepermanenceofthefirstkindis
only in terms of its continuum. The subtlest consciousness consists of
such an eternal continuum, while the streams of the grosser states of
consciousnessdoend.
Sogyal Rinpoche (1994: p. 73) frames the importance of the stream metaphor in
relationtomeditationandthenatureofmind,theobjectiveofameditativesdhana:
In the ancient meditation instructions, it is said that at the beginning

thoughts will arrive one on top of another, uninterrupted, like a steep


mountainwaterfall.Gradually,asyouperfectmeditation,thoughtsbecome
likethewaterinadeep,narrowgorge,thenagreatriverslowlywindingits
way down to the sea, and finally the mind becomes like a still and placid
ocean,ruffledbyonlytheoccasionalrippleorwave.
Bucknelletal.(1986:pp.112113) find numerous references to a stream of thought
andimagery:
InBuddhistliteraturethementalconditioninwhichsequencesofimagery
and verbalizing run on endlessly is often compared to a flowing stream.
We find in the oldest section of the Tipiaka the term "stream of
consciousness"(viasota).Thesamemetaphorisoftenfoundinthe
Tibetan literature. The guru Padma Karpo spoke of "thoughts...following
one after the other as if in a continuous stream"[24] Mipham Nampar
Gyalbaobserved,the"streamofimagesflowsunbroken"andintheVow
of Mahmudr, there is reference to 'the mind river'. This manner of
speakingisalsocommonatthepresentday.TarthangTlkurefersto"the
stream of mental images"[27] and 'the flow of thoughts and images' and
DavidNeel, in a discussion of the meditation practices she observed in
Tibet, speaks of "the continual, swift, flowing stream of thoughts and
mentalimages..."
Psychology
Theterm,"streamofconsciousness"wascoinedbythephilosopherAlexanderBain
in1855andlaterpopularizedbythepsychologist,WilliamJames.Bain(1855:p.380)
wrote,"TheconcurrenceofSensationsinonecommonstreamofconsciousness,
onthesamecerebralhighway,enablesthoseofdifferentsensestobeassociated
as readily as the sensations of the same sense." After originating in psychological
theory, the "stream of consciousness" metaphor became more common in English
usage, and was adapted into different contexts, for instance, the stream of
consciousness(narrativemode)inliterarycriticism.
James' classic 1890 Principles of Psychology used several "stream" metaphors .
Chapter 9, "The Stream of Thought" describes "the stream of consciousness" as
constantlychangingand"sensiblycontinuous":
Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such
wordsas"chain"or"train"donotdescribeitfitlyasitpresentsitselfinthe
firstinstance.Itisnothingjointeditflows.A"river"ora"stream"arethe
metaphorsbywhichitismostnaturallydescribed.Intalkingofithereafter,
letuscallitthestreamofthought,ofconsciousness,orofsubjectivelife.
"Mentalstream"occursinanothercontext:
Thecontinuousflowofthementalstreamissacrificed,andinitsplacean
atomism,abrickbatplanofconstruction,ispreached,fortheexistenceof
which no good introspective grounds can be brought forward, and out of
which presently grow all sorts of paradoxes and contradictions, the
heritageofwoeofstudentsofthemind.

The psychologist Edward B. Titchener (1909: p. 19) used "mindstream" to


differentiate"mind"from"consciousness":
Weshallthereforetakemindandconsciousnesstomeanthesamething.
Butaswehavethetwodifferentwords,anditisconvenienttomakesome
distinctionbetweenthem,weshallspeakofmindwhenwemeanthesum
totalofmentalprocessesoccurringinthelifetimeofanindividual,andwe
shall speak of consciousness when we mean the sumtotal of mental
processesoccurringnow,atanygiven"present"time.Consciousnesswill
thusbeasection,adivision,ofthemindstream.
HISTORICALDEVELOPMENTOFTHEMINDSTREAMDOCTRINE
Koslowski (2003: p. 67, note 1) states that a suite of worldviews of Indic origin,
including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, are known collectively as
'Sanatna traditions'. In the listing of seven notions that are common to the
"Sanatnatraditions"Koslowski(2003:p.74)identifiesoneofthesevenprinciplesas
"Santati or Pravhaekatva" where 'santati' (Sanskrit) denotes "continuum" and
'pravha' (Sanskrit) denotes "stream, river" and 'ekatva' (Sanskrit) denotes "one
truth":
Santati or Pravhaekatva (Continuity of life from the beginningless
situation to the end): Process from the beginningless state to the
liberationoflifeformshasacausalcontinuity.Thiscontinuityoflifeform
is terminated only on the attainment of its nature. Each lifeform is an
instanceofcontinuumandembodiesaunityofprocessitundergoes.Life
forms are condemned to be possessed with such a continuum except
perhaps in the state of liberation (if your theory demands that). On the
details of the nature of causal processes underlying continuity, different
subtraditions differ significantly, but reality of continuity of lifeform is
acceptabletoallthesubtraditions.Formalcontinuitybetweenonestateof
lifetotheotherstateoflifeisacceptedirrespectiveofthisorthatstate.All
lifeforms embody this continuity, but characterization of the continuum
anditsembodimentdiffersinthedifferentsubtraditions.
For an understanding of the Buddhist traditions emergent in India and the
developmentoftheirvariousviews,itisimportanttoaffirmthedialogicforumofthe
AbhidharmaasdoesKing:
Buddhist philosophical debate in India took place within an Abhidharmic
context.
AsChatterji(1931:pp.206207)states:
Now all the schools of Brahmanic philosophy have posited some
permanententity,i.e.soulasthecognizertowhichcognitionisvariously
related. The Buddhists have, however, denied the existence of any such
permanententity.Theaggregatesofrupa,samjna,samskara,vedanaand
vijnana,thefirstcorrespondingtowhatwecallmaterialelementsandall
theresttomentalelementsarethestuffofwhichanindividualismade.
Cognition which is not subservient to any intelligent being, is referred as

thesamjnaskandhaorthevijnanaskandhaaccordingasitisdeterminate
(savikalpa) or indeterminate (nirvikalpa). The place of the transcendental
atmanistakenbyvijnana.Itisthecontinuityofcognition(santana)which
holdstogether,unifiesandsynthesizesthefleetingmomentsofcognition
and seems to give us the notion, though erroneous, of a subject or a
knower acquiring knowledge both presentative (nirvikalpa or svalaksana)
and representative (savikalpa or samanyalaksana). This is in general the
Buddhist view on the nature of the pramatr or the subject. But there are
somenotablepointsofdifferenceamongthevariousschools.
EarlyBuddhistcontext
Karunadasa (1999, 2000) holds that early Buddhism and early Buddhist discourse
"oftenrefertothemutualoppositionbetweentwoviews":
"permanence" or "eternalism" (Pali: sassatavada) also sometimes referred to as
"thebeliefinbeing"(Pli:bhavaditti)and
"annihilation"or"nihilism"(Pli:ucchadevada)alsosometimesreferredtoas"the
beliefinnonbeing"(Pli:vibhavaditti).
AsBuddharelatestoKaccnagottaintheKaccnagottaSuttaasrenderedinEnglish
bytheMyanmarPiakaAssociationEditorialCommittee(1993:p.35):
Forthemostpart,Kaccna,sentientbeingsdependontwokindsofbelief
beliefthat"thereis"(thingsexist)andbeliefthat"thereisnot"(thingsdo
notexist).
Karunadasa(1999)states:
...it is within the framework of the Buddhist critique of sassatavada and
ucchadavada that the Buddhist doctrines seem to assume their
significance.Foritisthroughthedemolitionofthesetwoworldviewsthat
Buddhismseekstoconstructitsownworldview.Theconclusionisthatit
was as a critical response to the mutual opposition between these two
viewsthatBuddhismemergedasanewfaithamidstmanyotherfaiths.
InYogcra
MajurmitrastatesintheBodhicittabhavana,aseminalearlytextofAtiYoga:
The mentalcontinuum (cittasantana) is without boundaries or extension
itisnotonething,norsupportedbyanything.
Mindstream is a conflation subsuming "heartmind" (Sanskrit: bodhicitta) and
"wisdommind"(Sanskrit:jnadharmakyaTibetan:yesheschossku).
Lusthaus(n.d.)inmappingthedevelopmentanddoctrinalrelationshipsofthestore
consciousness (layavijna), Buddha nature(tathgatagarbha), Yogcra, the self
(tman), Abhidharma, primordial substrative nature (prakti) and the mindstream
states:
Several Yogcra notions basic to the Abhidharma wing [of Yogcra]
came under severe attack by other Buddhists, especially the notion of
layavijna, which was denounced as something akin to the Hindu

notions of tman (permanent, invariant self) and prakti (primordial


substrative nature from which all mental, emotional and physical things
evolve). Eventually the critiques became so entrenched that the
Abhidharma wing atrophied. By the end of the eighth century it was
ecliped by the logicoepistemic tradition [of Yogcra] and by a hybrid
school
that
combined
basic
Yogcra
doctrines
with
Tathgatagarbhathought. The logicoepistemological wing in part side
stepped the critique by using the term cittasantna, "mindstream",
instead of layavijna, for what amounted to roughly the same idea. It
waseasiertodenythata"stream"representedareifiedself.Ontheother
hand,theTathgatagarbhahybridschoolwasnostrangertothechargeof
smuggling notions of selfhood into its doctrines, since, for example, it
explicitly defined the tathgatagarbha as "permanent, pleasurable, self,
and pure (nitya,sukha, tman, uddha). Many Tathgatagarbha texts, in
fact, argue for the acceptance of selfhood (tman) as a sign of higher
accomplishment.Thehybridschoolattemptedtoconflatetathgatagarbha
withthelayavijna.
Capriles(2004:p.35)definestheconsciousnessofthebaseofall(Skt.:layavijna
Tib.: kunbzhi rnamshes) as congruent with the mindstream and mentions vsan,
bjas,andtathat:
Theconsciousnessofthebaseofallwasnotconceivedasanimmutable
absolute,whichishowtheAtmanofHinduismisdescribedinagreement
with the Hinayana idea of a succession of instants of knowledge, it was
explained as a continually changing stream of consciousness (Skt.,
santanaTib.,gy),andwassaidtobethevehiclethatcarriesthekarmic
imprints (vasanas or bijas) that go from one life to the next. In turn, from
the standpoint of experience, the consciousness of the baseofall is an
ample condition that yogis may find by absorption. Though the
consciousnessofthebaseofallisofthenatureofthatness(Skt.,tathata
Tib., dezhinnyi) the absolute nature that is the single constituent of all
entitiesthisconsciousnessisalsotherootofsamsara.
The word "atman" is used in tathagatagarbha literature after being defined or re
qualified in a new, idiosyncratic way. The BuddhaNature Treatise for example
defines"self"astheperfectionoftheantmanpramit.Thusonerealizeshisorher
"trueself"byperfectinghisorherunderstandingofthetruthofantman.
Dzogchen (2007: p. 84) asserts an unsourced paraphrase or pastiche of a view
attributedtoNagarjuna:
Nagarjuna says that the mindstream of every unenlightened being is
permeated by the heart essence of buddhahood. The fundamental nature
of our mindstreams is tathagatagarbha, or buddha nature, the seed and
heart essence of an enlightened being. It is this quality that gives us the
capacitytobecomebuddhas.
The view in the direct quotation above is generally attributed to the Yogcra. It is
clear that the first sentence in the above quotation holds the position attributed to

Ngrjuna.Itisunclearwhetherthelattertwosentencesinthequotationarealsothat
ofNgrjuna,oralternativelythepositionofDzogchenRinpoche.
Waldron (2003: p. 178) renders Vasubandhu's Yogacara account from the
Abhidharmakoabhyaofcycliccausality(bhavacakra), kleaand karma in relation
tothemindstream:
...the mind stream (santna) increases gradually by the mental afflictions
(klea) and by actions (karma), and goes again to the next world. In this
waythecircleofexistenceiswithoutbeginning."[44][45]
King(1998)holds:
Schmithausen offers a list of twenty uses which the concept of
alayavijnana provided (14 'philosophical' and 6 exegetical) for the early
Yogacarins. Most of these cluster around the explanation of personal
continuity given the absence of an abidingself, and providing a link
betweenkarmicactionandsubsequentfruition.TheSautrantikametaphor
of the seed (bija) became central in the case of the latter issue once the
Vaibhasika conception of the existence of dharmas in past, present and
future(thesarvastivadaposition)wasrejected.However,asSchmithausen
pointsout,althoughtheSautrantikapostulatedthenotionofakarmicseed
to establish causal continuity over time, the Yogacara seems to have felt
thatthisrequiredthefurtherpostulationofastore(alaya)consciousness
as the repository of these seeds. Nevertheless, it is important to note at
this point that the storeconsciousness is by no means considered to be
an ultimate reality in the works of either Vasubandhu the Yogacarin or
Asanga,ashassometimesbeensuggested.
Dharmakrti (fl. 7th century) wrote a treatise on the nature of the mindstream in his
Substantiation of Other Mindstreams(Satnntarasiddhi). Ratnakrti (fl. c78th
century), a disciple of Dharmakrti, wrote a work that further developed and refined
the
themes
therein,
entitled:
'Refutation
of
Other
mindstreams'
(Satnntaradusana). He did not refute the tenets of the Satnntarasiddhi but
leavened the nature of the issue from an empirical one, that is, where there are
manifoldmindscognizedbyone'sexperienceofothers'mentalprocessesattributed
throughtheperceivedactionsofothersentientbeingsthatariseinone'scontinuum
to an absolutist view, where there is only "one mindstream" (ekacitta). Ratnakrti's
argument is that the valid cognition (pramna) of another's mindstream is an
inference(anumna), not a direct perception (pratyaka). Moreover, Ratnakrti
introducedthetwotruthsdoctrineaskeytothenatureofthediscussionasinference
is trafficking with illusiory universals (samanya), the proof of the mindstreams of
others,whilstempiricallyvalidinrelativetruth(savtisatya),doesnotholdultimate
metaphysicalcertaintyinabsolutetruth(paramrthasatya).
Dharmakirti held to the doctrine of the mindstream as beginningless and yet also
discussed the mindstream as a temporal sequence, and that as there are no true
beginnings,therearenotrueendings,hence,the"beginninglesstime"motifthatis
imperativetounderstandthemindstream,asDunne(2004:p.1)relates:
"Buddhist philosophers often speak of beginninglessness. It is claimed
that the minds of living beings, for example, have no beginning, and that

our current [U]niverse is only one in a beginningless cycle of expansion


and decay. Some Buddhist thinkers would claim that even the most
mundanetaskcanhavenotruebeginning.Thatis,ifabeginningoccurs,
there must be some moment, some "now", in which it occurs. For the
present to exist, however, there must be a past and a future, for what
would"now"meaniftherewerenotimeotherthannow?Andofcourse,if
thereisapast,thenhowcouldnowbeabeginning?Nowshouldinstead
be the end of the past. Each beginning in short, must itself have a
beginning."
Though a conceptual mystery, mindstream may be conceived as nonlinear and
holistic.Themediumandconduitofmindstreamistherorspaceandisunbounded
bytemporalityorlocality.Welwood(2000)describesitinthisway:
Ifthecontentsofmindarelikepailsandbucketsfloatinginastream,and
themindstreamislikethedynamicflowingofthewater,pureawarenessis
like the water itself in its essential wetness. Sometimes the water is still,
sometimesitisturbulentyetitalwaysremainsasitiswet,fluid,watery.
Inthesameway,pureawarenessisneverconfined[n]ordisruptedbyany
mindstate.Therefore,itisthesourceofliberationandtrueequanimity.
Welwood(2000)introduces"pureawareness",theessencequalityofthemindstream,
synonymous with natural mind . This is the primordial and principal constitutional
consciousness of being. It is accessible by, and the point of origin of, all sentient
beings."Sentientbeings"isatechnicalterminVajraynadenotingthemindstreams
of all those consciousnesses not yet aware of the emptiness and fullness of
perfection.Welwood(2000)linksthemindstreamwiththethreebodies(trikya):
IntermsoftheBuddhistteachingofthethreekayas,wecouldsaythatthe
contents of consciousness belong to the nirmanakaya, the realm of
manifest form. The pulsation of the mindstream, with its alternation
betweenmovementandstillness,belongstothesambhogakaya,therealm
ofenergyflow.Andthelarger,opengroundofawareness,firstdiscovered
in moments of stillness, is the dharmakaya, the realm of pure being (the
thinginitself), eternally present, spontaneous, and free of entrapment in
anyformwhatsoever.
The Buddhist and Bn teachings of mindstream and heartmind inform one another,
asdoesbodymind.AsChodron(1991)states:
Justasthebodyisa'continuity'eventhoughithasparts,themindstream
orconsciousnessisalsoa'continuity',althoughithasparts.
Hawter(1995)succinctlyrelates:
All of our actions lay down imprints on our mindstream which have the
potentialtoripenatsometimeinthefuture.
Thisshouldnotimplythatthemindstreamislinearandonlyflowsoneway,butthe
mindstream is understood in the Himalayan tradition to flow all ways, always. For
Morrell(1999):

TheMahayanistsalsocontendthatthemindformsacontinuous,unending
and unbroken mindstream or flow of consciousness, from beginningless
time and indestructible. Thoughts and feelings in the mindstream are
regardedasofsupremeimportancetoBuddhistpractice.
KelzangGyatso(17081757CE),the7thDalaiLamaistranslatedasstating:
[A]llthingsintheworldandbeyond[a]resimplyprojectionsofnamesand
thoughts.Noteventhetiniestatomexistsbyitself,[i]ndependently[or]in
itsownright.
Therefore,theUniverseisthethoughtformofthecollectivemindstreamofallsentient
beings (and there is nothing which is nonsentient pansentience). This pansentient
totality is the great continuum, the "great perfection" or "total completion" of
Dzogchen and Ati Yoga where "shintu " holds the semantic field of "total",
"complete", "absolute" and "rnal'byor " holds the semantic field of "yoga"
Sanskrit:"Ati"holdsthesemanticfield"primordial","original","first""yoga"holds
thesemanticfield"communion","union").
tiennePaulMarieLamotte(19031983)wasaBelgianpriestandProfessorofGreek
attheCatholicUniversityofLouvain,butwasbetterknownasanIndologistandthe
greatestauthorityonBuddhismintheWestinhistime.Hestudiedunderhis
pioneeringcompatriotLouisdeLaVallePoussinandwasoneofthefewscholars
familiarwithallthemainBuddhistlanguages:Pali,Sanskrit,ChineseandTibetan.In
1953,hewasawardedtheFrancquiPrizeinHumanSciences.
HeisalsoknownforhisFrenchtranslationoftheDazhidulun,(Sanskrit:
Mahprajpramitstra),atextattributedtoNgrjuna.Lamottefeltthatthetext
wasmostlikelycomposedbyanIndianbhikkhufromtheSarvastivadatradition,who
laterbecameaconverttoMahayanaBuddhism.Lamotte'stranslationwaspublished
infivevolumesbutunfortunatelyremainsincomplete,sincehisdeathputanendto
hisefforts.InadditiontotheDazhidulun,Lamottealsocomposedseveralother
importanttranslationsfromMahayanasutras,includingtheSuramgamasamadhi
sutra,andtheVimalakirtisutra.
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