EYE, EAR, NOSE, TONGUE, BODY OR MIND; NO FORM,
SOUND, SMELL, TASTE, TOUCH OR MIND OBJECT; NO REALM OF THE EYE,
UNTIL WE COME TO NO REALM OF CONSCIOUSNESS."
of the Sutra is the Teaching on Emptiness in connection with the
eighteen worldly dharmas, or the eighteen realms; the uninstructed
lack understanding of the Dharma, of Emptiness and repeatedly yield
to the play of delusion as permanence and as independent existence.
Ultimate Emptiness is not the obstinate void of the worldlings nor
the annihilation view of those on the heterodox path; it is not
the analysis of the Void as practiced by Theravadins, nor the Void
of the present moment as perceived by the bodhisattva.
Emptiness of True Existence is not possessed by buddhas alone: All
of us are endowed with the same truth and would come to know it,
if only we relinquished our discriminating mind; that is the supramundane
Void of True Existence. In order to have correct practice it is
not necessary to apply the method of Theravada, the Middle Vehicle
or the Mahayana. Anyone can become buddha spontaneously by deeply
comprehending that "all existence is Void." The Arhat
of Theravada is equal to a worldly person of great potential.
of superior potential can sharpen his/her wisdom and receive the
radiant Dharma at any time. People of mundane concerns wear themselves
out in the realm of the eighteen mundane dharmas that lead to confusion
and craving; for them there can be no salvation. The six organs,
i.e., eye, car, nose, tongue, body and mind, and the corresponding
six sense- data or dust, i.e., form, sound, smell, taste, touch
and mental formations generate the six kinds of consciousness, i.e.,
eye consciousness, ear consciousness, nose consciousness, tongue
consciousness, body consciousness and mind consciousness. The group
is referred to as the eighteen realms or the eighteen mundane dharmas.
To be conscious means to be conscious of something, to distinguish
or to discriminate.
person works to make a living, eats and drinks every day always
bound by the eighteen realms. He/she always sees with his/her eyes,
hears with his/her ears, smells with his/her nose, tastes with his/her
tongue, touches with his/her body and knows mental objects with
his/her mind. The cognitive objects are discerned, produce sense
data and from the six kinds of consciousness arise all the other
the reality of subject and object behind the process, unaware as
they are of it being a mere assumption unverifiable by experience.
To understand this doctrine means liberation, but getting confused
about it means falling into the ocean of suffering. Six kinds of
consciousness arise from the six organs and the six data. The six
organs are useless to a dead body. How could the six kinds of consciousness
receive the six data and act upon receiving them? Since Emptiness
is the substance of the six organs and, consequently, of the six
kinds of data, what do the six kinds of consciousness depend on
for their existence? The sutra says: "No realm of the eye all
the way up to no realm of consciousness," meaning no realm
of eye consciousness, no realm of ear consciousness, no realm of
nose consciousness, no realm of tongue consciousness, no realm of
body consciousness and no realm of mind consciousness.
Dharma of eighteen realms and their range is clear: Each of them
has a character of its own. As a matter of fact, just as one hundred
rivers merge into one ocean, all dharmas are contained in one teaching,
the teaching of Emptiness. To attain enlightenment instantly, all
one needs is to comprehensively understand the Dharma of Emptiness
as the essence of reality. The uninformed majority submerge their
True Nature in confusion resulting from misconception regarding
the eighteen realms, a concept that has no counterpart in reality.
Whenever mind touches a point, there is feeling; it may itch, hurt,
feel numb, burn, or produce any of the countless sensations, and
the knowing consciousness is alerted. When the taste buds are stimulated,
there is the knowing of tasting. There is sweet, bitter, sour, etc.
and the tasting nature becomes confused by the variety and the complexity.
Similarly, the moment the eye makes contact, the eye consciousness
engages in making distinctions in terms of light/dark, and the pristine
seeing nature gets covered over by them. When the ear catches a
sound, the hearing nature gets lost in judgments regarding it. These
cognitive patterns are so deep it is difficult to trace and abandon
them. And yet, it manifests complete misunderstanding of the original
nature of consciousness. Looking at the city at night, we see the
brilliant lights of ten-thousand households: Such is the form of
light. During blackout we are able to observe the form of darkness.
Light and darkness both have birth and death, yet the nature of
seeing is free of cyclic existence. It is in the nature of seeing
to perceive darkness in the absence of light and light in the absence
of darkness. This should help us to understand the timeless nature
of seeing. Our tendency to crave and grasp the object of seeing
is a major obstacle to an understanding of the true nature of reality.
from pleasurable eye contact, once established, is exceedingly difficult
to relinquish. Most people do not have any understanding of the
subject of seeing. The organ of the eye does not have the ability
to see - only the nature of seeing does. The one who can enlighten
himself/herself as to the subject of the nature of seeing can understand
his/her own mind and see his/her own nature immediately. Whether
a person is holy or worldly depends entirely on his/her ability
(or the lack of it) to see his own Original Nature. This holds true
for the nature of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and for the
nature of knowing. The Surangama Sutra says: "When one organ
has returned to its source all six of them are liberated."
Our study and practice should begin by looking inward in order to
free ourselves from the effect of light and dark. It is truly important
to turn our attention completely onto our nature of seeing. When
it is accomplished it means a true awakening to the supreme Tao.
At first we should learn the BuddhaDharma and try to understand
the doctrine. When we start to practice we should apply what we
have learned: Without practice there is no learning.
The World Honored
One is said to have attained Buddhahood in the previous asamkhiya
kalpa; nevertheless, he appeared in the world in order to save all
sentient beings, manifesting himself as a worldling and a prince.
The son of king Suddhodana of the Sakya clan, he renounced his regal
status at the age of twenty-nine so he could dedicate himself wholeheartedly
to the quest for liberation from suffering. He practiced ascetic
meditation in the Himalayas, and at the age of thirty-five the former
prince attained perfect and complete enlightenment while meditating
beneath a Bodhi tree. Noticing a bright star in the eastern sky,
the Buddha observed that the nature of seeing is boundless. He commented
that all sentient beings have the same wisdom and virtue as the
Tathagata, but since it is covered over with delusion, attachment
and aversion, sentient beings do not attain enlightenment. All evidence
affirms that the Buddha attained the Original Nature, but most people
are confused regarding their own, mistaking the four elements for
their bodies and the reflections of their six conditioned sense
data for their minds. That is delusion and grasping, and these are
major hindrances to attaining the Tao.
explanation dealt with the eighteen realms consisting of six sense
organs, six sense data and six kinds of consciousness. Now I would
like to sum up, using the eye organ for illustration:
There are two
aspects to the eye: There is the organ of sensation and the faculty
of sensation; the eye is the organ; the faculty of sensation has
two parts - seeing and form. The capacity of the eye to see, or
the subject of seeing, is called the nature of seeing. The form
of seeing is related to the object of seeing: It is always connected
to an object, and therefore the eye is always seeing something,
whether a thing, a shape, a color or a size. The object of seeing
is most confusing, and the uninstructed can easily fall into self-deception
as to the independent existence of whatever they are looking at.
The process of experience gets twisted so it suits the volition
to grasp and to possess, thus changing into a source of suffering.
The Buddha's teaching is the path to liberation and whoever understands
this, understands all the Mahayana sutras as well.
We return once
more to the example of the mirror and the reflection. The mirror
was made to reflect whatever it faces, including mountains, rivers,
even the great earth; the problem arises when the reflection is
mistaken for the object and when it is no longer realized that it
may vanish at any time, it being part of the birth/death cycle.
The susceptibility to reflect is the real self, the timeless characteristic
of the mirror we are talking about, yet it is very seldom realized.
There was a Ch'an master who said: "Always facing it, yet not
knowing what it is!", meaning that worldlings do not recognize
the nature of seeing for what it is: Ignoring the clarity of the
mirror they hold on to the reflection.
very quickly; even if we live for one-hundred years, it still is
a very brief period of time. Those who inhabit heavens still worry
about death although their lives last much longer. Things seen during
one's life are completely useless after one has died. The nature
of seeing, however, is not amenable to birth or death, it is not
dependent on the organ of the eye. To have eyes does not necessarily
mean having seeing awareness. The nature of seeing is like the capacity
of the mirror to reflect images, shapes or actions; after the images,
shapes or actions vanish, the nature of seeing remains, unmovable
and unchangeable. The same applies to the nature of hearing, smelling,
tasting, touching and knowing.
people should not hold reflections as permanent, clinging to them
and grasping them. To perceive the reflectivity of the mirror as
the True Self means quick release from defilement and an expeditious
liberation. The remaining five sense doors can be inferred from
the example of the eye organ; the six sense-organs with their corresponding
six data and six kinds of consciousness collectively generate the
eighteen realms or the eighteen worldly Dharmas: All of these are
reflections, impermanent, subject to birth and death. Only the nature
of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and knowing, like
the nature of the mirror, remains unchanged. Furthermore, that which
reflects is the also reflection, and the reflection becomes that
which reflects it: They complement one another.
Thus there is
"no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind: No form, sound,
smell, taste, touch and no mind object. No eye realm until no realm
of consciousness." According to the phrase "all five skandhas
are empty" the five skandhas are the true Void of the supramundane
existence and the Dharma of the Five Skandhas is the fundamental
Dharma. In the true Void of supramundane existence, when there are
no more skandhas, there is nothing to be attained. The eighteen
realms are void at this very moment. Without the mirror, how can
there be reflection?