Original Edition Published in London in Based upon the Sanskrit edition of Bunyu Nanjo Note: This version of The Lankavatara Sutra have stripped diacritical marks completely for easy text search and Internet friendliness. To view this text with full diacritics go to the non-stripped version here. Revision Log: Rev. Non-diacritical version.
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Original Edition Published in London in Based upon the Sanskrit edition of Bunyu Nanjo Note: This version of The Lankavatara Sutra have stripped diacritical marks completely for easy text search and Internet friendliness.
To view this text with full diacritics go to the non-stripped version here. Revision Log: Rev. Non-diacritical version. My friends in different fields of life have been kind and generous in various ways, and I now send out to the perusal of the English-reading public this humble work of mine.
There are yet many difficult and obscure passages in the Sutra, which I have been unable to unravel to my own satisfaction. All such imperfections are to be corrected by competent scholars. I shall be fully content if I have made the understanding of this significant Mahayana text easier than before, even though this may be only to a very slight degree.
In China Buddhist scholars profoundly learned and endowed with spiritual insights made three or four attempts extending over a period of about two hundred and fifty years to give an intelligible rendering of the Lankavatara.
It goes without saying that these have helped immensely the present translator. May his also prove a stepping board however feeble towards a fuller interpretation of the Sutra! To Assist me in this way was indeed part of the object of his third visit to this side of the Pacific. Says Confucius, "Is it not delightful to have a friend come from afar?
It was fortunate for the writer that he could secure the support and help of the Keimeikwai, a corporation organised to help research work of scholars in various fields of culture; for without it his work might have dragged on yet for some time to come. There is so much to be accomplished before he has to appear at the court of Emma Daiwo, to whom he could say, "Here is my work; humble though it is, I have tried to do my part to the full extent of my power.
Whatever literary work the present author is able to put before the reader, he cannot pass on without mentioning in it the name of his good, unselfish, public-minded Buddhist friend, Yakichi Ataka, who is always willing to help him in every possible way. If not for him, the author could never have carried out his plans to the extent he has so far accomplished.
Materially, no visible results can be expected of this kind of undertaking, and yet a scholar has his worldly needs to meet. Unless we create one of these fine days an ideal community in which every member of it can put forth all his or her natural endowments and moral energies in the direction best fitted to develop them and in the way most useful to all other members generally and individually, many obstacles are sure to bar the passage of those who would attempt things of no commercial value.
Until then, Bodhisattvas of all kinds are sorely needed everywhere. And is this not the teaching of the Lankavatara Sutra, which in its English garb now lies before his friend as well as all other readers? But to those who are not yet quite familiar with the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism an expository introduction to the principal theses of the Lanka may be welcome. Without something of preliminary knowledge as to what the Sutra proposes to teach, it will be difficult to comprehend the text intelligently.
For thoughts of deep signification are presented in a most unsystematic manner. As I said in my Studies, the Lanka is a memorandum kept by a Mahayana master, in which he put down perhaps all the teachings of importance accepted by the Mahayana followers of his day.
He apparently did not try to give them any order, and it is possible that the later redactors were not very careful in keeping faithfully whatever order there was in the beginning, thus giving the text a still more disorderly appearance. The introduction that follows may also serve as one to Mahayana Buddhism generally. I The Classification of Beings From the Mahayana point of view, beings are divisible into two heads: those that are enlightened and those that are ignorant. The former are called Buddhas including also Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Pratyekabuddhas while the latter comprise all the rest of beings under the general designation of bala or balaprithagjana—bala meaning "undeveloped", "puerile", or "ignorant", and prithagjana "people different" from the enlightened, that is, the multitudes, or people of ordinary type, whose minds are found engrossed in the pursuit of egotistic pleasures and unawakened to the meaning of life.
This class is also known as Sarvasattva, "all beings" or sentient beings. The Buddha wants to help the ignorant, hence the Buddhist teaching and discipline. The Buddha All the Buddhist teachings unfold themselves around the conception of Buddhahood.
When this is adequately grasped, Buddhist philosophy with all its complications and superadditions will become luminous. What is the Buddha? According to Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is the interlocutor of the Buddha in the Lanka, the Buddha is endowed with transcendental knowledge prajna and a great compassionate heart karuna. With the former he realises that this world of particulars has no reality, is devoid of an ego-substance anatman and that in this sense it resembles Maya or a visionary flower in the air.
As thus it is above the category of being and non-being, it is declared to be pure visuddha and absolute vivikta and free from conditions animitta. Nirvana is not the ultimate abode of Buddhahood, nor is enlightenment. Love and compassion is what essentially constitutes the self-nature of the All-knowing One sarvajna. It is a will-force which desires and acts in the realm of twofold egolessness, it is above the dualism of being and non-being, it rises from a heart of non-discrimination, it manifests itself in the conduct of purposelessness anabhogacarya.
The Tathagata is indeed the one who, endowed with a heart of all-embracing love and compassion, regards all beings as if they were his only child.
If he himself enters into Nirvana, no work will be done in the world where discrimination vtkalpa goes on and multitudinousness vicitrata prevails. For this reason, he refuses to leave this world of relativity, all his thoughts are directed towards the ignorant and suffering masses of beings, for whom he is willing to sacrifice his enjoyment of absolute reality and self-absorption samadhi-sukhabhutakotya vinivarya. He is ever devising for the enlightenment and emancipation of all sentient beings.
This is technically known as the working of Skilful Means upayakausalya. Upaya is the outcome of Prajna and Karuna. When Love worries itself over the destiny of the ignorant, Wisdom, so to speak, weaves a net of Skilful Means whereby to catch them up from the depths of the ocean called Birth-and-Death samsara.
There is a gem known as Mani which is perfectly transparent and colourless in itself, and just because of this characteristic it reflects in it varieties of colours vicitra-rupa. In the same way the Buddha is conceived by beings; in the same way his teaching is interpreted by them; that is, each one recognises the Buddha and his teaching according to his disposition asaya , understanding citta , prejudice anusaya , propensity adhimukti , and circumstance gati.
Again, the Buddha treats his fellow-beings as an expert physician treats his patients suffering from various forms of illness. The ultimate aim is to cure them, but as ailments differ medicines and treatments cannot be the same.
For this reason it is said that the Buddha speaks one language of enlightenment, which reverberates in the ears of his hearers in all possible sounds. Upaya may thus be considered in a way due to the infinite differentiation of individual characters rather than to the deliberate contrivance of transcendental wisdom on the part of the Buddha. One Buddha with Many Names All the Buddhas are of one essence, they are the same as far as their inner enlightenment, their Dharmakaya, and their being furnished with the thirty-two major and the eighty minor marks of excellence are concerned.
But when they wish to train beings according to their characters, they assume varieties of forms appearing differently to different beings, and thus there are many titles and appellations of the Buddha as to be beyond calculation asamkhyeya. The Buddha is thus personal as well as metaphysical. The Lanka here does not forget to add that though the Buddha is known by so many different names, he is thereby neither fattened nor emaciated, as he is like the moon in water neither immersed nor emerging.
This simile is generally regarded as best describing the relation of unity and multiplicity, of one absolute reality and this world of names and forms. Transformation-bodies of the Buddha While the Trikaya dogma is not yet fully developed in the Lanka, each member of the trinity is treaceable in such ideas as Dharmata-buddha, Vipaka-buddha, and Nirmana-buddha. As they are not clear-sighted, something is to be devised to lead them to the right path, and this something must be in accord with their mentalities.
If not, they are sure to go astray farther and farther. If they are not capable of grasping Buddhata as it is, let them have something of it and gradually be developed. The theory of Upaya skilful means is also the theory of Manomayakaya, will-body. As the incarnation of a great compassionate heart, the Buddha ought to be able to take any form he wishes when he sees the sufferings of sentient beings.
This is one of the reasons why Buddhism is often regarded as polytheistic and at the same time pantheistic. While he is able to transform himself into as many forms as are required by sentient beings, he is also assisted by his followers or "sons" putra, suta, or aurasa as they are called in the Mahayana sutras. Bodhisattvas are thus the sons of the Buddha and apply themselves most arduously and most assiduously to the cause of Buddhism.
In fact, the actual work of world-salvation, we can say, is carried on by these spiritual soldiers under the leadership of the Buddha. The latter is sometimes felt to be too remote, too serene, too superhuman, and his sight is often lost in the midst of our worldly struggles.
But the Bodhisattva is always with us, and ever ready to be our confidant, for he is felt by us to share the same passions, impulses, and aspirations which are such great disturbing, though ennobling too, forces of our human life.
To state the truth, sentient beings are all Bodhisattvas, however ignorant and ready to err they may be. They are all Jinaputras, the sons of the Victorious, and harbour in themselves every possibility of attaining enlightenment. The Bodhisattvas who have gone up successively all the rungs of the Bhumi ladder, and who are thus capable of extending their help over us, are really our own brethren. Therefore, Mahamati of the Lanka opens his questions generally with this: "I and other Bodhisattvas, etc.
Thus is not the place to consider historically how the conception evolved in Buddhism whose primitive object seems to have consisted in the realisation of Arhatship. But we can state this that the essence of Bodhisattvahood is an unequivocal affirmation of the social, altruistic nature of humankind.
This idea is classically expressed in the Mahayana by the so-called "Ten Vows of Samantabhadra". Without these he is not himself. To save the world, to bring all his fellow-beings up to the same level of thought and feeling where he himself is, and not to rest, not to enter into Nirvana until this is accomplished, how infinitely long and how inexpressively arduous the task may be. This is the Bodhisattva. Vowing to save all beings, which is technically known as Purva-pranidhana in Mahayana terminology, cannot even for a moment be separated from the life of the Bodhisattva.
The Buddha being surrounded by these noble-minded sons cannot fail finally to release all beings from the bondage of karma and ignorance and thirst for life. With this in view, he is always inspiring the Bodhisattvas with his sovereign power prabhava and sustaining adhishthana them in their efforts to bring enlightenment in the whole triple world. The Ignorant Life as it is lived by most of us is a painful business, for we have to endure much in various ways.
Our desires are thwarted, our wishes are crushed, and the worst is that we do not know how to get out of this whirlpool of greed, anger, and infatuation. We are at the extreme end of existence opposed to that of the Buddha.
How can we leap over the abyss and reach the other shore? The Mahayana diagnosis of the conditions in which all sentient beings are placed is that they are all nursed by desire trishna as mother who is Accompanied by pleasure nandi and anger raga , while ignorance avidya is father.
To be cured of the disease, therefore, they must put an end to the continuous activities of this dualistic poisoning.
When this is done, there is a state called emancipation vimoksha which is full of bliss. The Buddhist question is thus: "How is emancipation possible?
The Turning back paravritti To this philosophy, a special paragraph is devoted below. I wish here to say a few words concerning the important psychological event known as Paravritti in the Lanka and other Mahayana literature.
Paravritti literally means "turning up" or "turning back" or "change"; technically, it is a spiritual change or transformation which takes place in the mind, especially suddenly, and I have called it "revulsion" in my Studies in the Lankavatara, which, it will be seen, somewhat corresponds to what is known as "conversion" among the psychological students of religion.
It is significant that the Mahayana has been insistent to urge its followers to experience this psychological transformation in their practical life. A mere intellectual understanding of the truth is not enough in the life of a Buddhist; the truth must be directly grasped, personally experienced, intuitively penetrated into; for then it will be distilled into life and determine its course.
This Paravritti, according to the Lanka, takes place in the Alaya-vijnana or All-conserving Mind, which is assumed to exist behind our individual empirical consciousnesses.
Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra
Malaya in the midst of the great Ocean. A great many Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas had miraculously assembled from all the Buddha-lands, and a large number of Bhikshus were gathered there. All that is seen in the world is devoid of effort and action because all things in the world are like a dream, or like an image miraculously projected. This is not comprehended by the philosophers and the ignorant, but those who thus see things see them truthfully.
The Lankavatara Sutra
There are two little sections of talks which mention it, and another leading disciple, Padmavajra talks about it in a section of one of his talks. Searching the texts of seminars of Sangharakshita, it is not mentioned except in passing, in the one seminar I looked through that was 1 amongst those searched. It is an intense chapter. I am however very curious about the vegetarian chapter, because that is an important issue to me. The darani chapter is supposedly full of slogans that might be out of step with the rest of the sutra, though I do like slogan teachings, like the 7 and 8 fold mind training slogans, which is more part of the tantric tradition, the Vajrayana, than the Mahayana. The following paragraph is repeated in slightly different forms about a hundred times.
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