Monday, January 25, 2010

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XXXVIII

I'm using the translation I always do for this sutra. This bit has Mahāmati asking the question, "What is meant by this term Nirvana?"

Replied the Blessed One: When the self-nature and the habit-energy of all the Vijñānas [the product of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and attitude-formation], including the Ālaya["dwelling" or "storehouse" consciousness], Manas [mind], and Manovijñāna["sixth sense" consciousness], from which issues the habit-energy of wrong speculations—when all these go through a revulsion, I and all the Buddhas declare that there is Nirvana, and the way and the self-nature of this Nirvana is emptiness, which is the state of reality.

Further, Mahāmati, Nirvana is the realm of self-realization attained by noble wisdom, which is free from the discrimination of eternality and annihilation, existence and non-existence. How is it not eternality? Because it has cast off the discrimination of individuality and generality, it is not eternality. How about its not being annihilation? It is because all the wise men of the past, present, and future have attained realisation. Therefore, it is not annihilation.

The text goes on to describe Parinirvana as "neither destruction nor death...neither abandonment nor attainment, neither is it of one meaning nor of no-meaning; this is said to be Nirvana." It is not a death, because then there will follow a birth and continuation and it is not destruction, for then it has the character of an effect-producing deed.

We of the Zen school, especially in the Rinzai school claim this is achievable in this life, and it is not some magical special state; it is not the province of some elite elect, but is everyone's birthright in a rather deep sense.

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