Nirvana Is Nameless
(A Translation of an Early Chinese Buddhistic Treatise)
By Chang Chung-Yuan

The Journal of Chinese Philosophy
V. 1 (1974)
pp. 247-274

Copyright 1974 by D. Reidel Publishing Company



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Nirvana Is Nameless is one of the four important essays of Buddhist philosophy which comprise Chao Lun, or The Treatises of Seng-chao. The other three treatises are: Prajna Is Not-Knowledge, Things Are Immutable, and Void Is Not Real. These three essays were translated by Richard H. Robinson in his Early Madhyamika in India and China, but not the treatise on Nirvana Is Nameless. However, Walter Liebenthal did translate all four essays in his Chao Lun, of which the second revised edition was published by the Hong Kong University Press in 1968.

    The author, Seng-chao (374-414), was originally a lover of Taoism, and well-versed in the Tao-te Ching and The Works of Chuang Tzu. Later, he converted to Buddhism, and went to northwest China to become a disciple of the famous Indian Buddhist, Kumarajiva. In 401, Seng-chao accompanied his teacher to Ch'ang-an, then the capital of the Kingdom of Chin in northern China, to establish a leading center of Buddhist study and translation in the north. Although Kumarajiva came from India, he thoroughly mastered classical Chinese thought and language. In addition to his translations of many important Buddhist sutras and sastras, he wrote commentaries on the Tao-te Ching and also on The Works of Chuang Tzu. Under his guidance, Seng-chao wrote his first treatise, Prajna Is Not-Knowledge, which was highly praised by the Indian teacher. In 408, Tao-sheng, a famous Buddhist scholar from the south, took this essay back with him when he returned to Lu-shan, the southern center of Buddhist studies in China. Seng-chao's essay was highly esteemed by the Buddhist leaders in the south. Therefore, the meaning of Prajna expounded by Seng-chao in his essay played an important role in the development of Chinese Buddhist thought in the early fifth century. When we study this essay, we will find that the meaning of Prajna maintained by Seng-chao identifies with the meaning of Tao in



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Taoist philosophy. Thus, we may say that this essay shows the synthesis of the basic thoughts of Buddhism and Taoism.

    In the essay Nirvana Is Nameless, submitted to the King of Chin in northern China, Seng-chao identifies Nirvana with the One. That is, when the self and others are both diminished, then subjectivity and objectivity disappear into the One. This is called Nirvana. In addition to this idea of the identity of opposites, Seng-chao refers to the mutual relationship of opposites as follows:

Existence is derived from non-existence and non-existence is derived from existence. Apart from existence there is no non-existence. Apart from non-existence there is no existence. The truth of mutual creation between existence and non-existence is similar to the mutual contrast of high and low. If there is high, there must be low. If there is low, there must be high.

This is the relative truth which is stated in the second chapter of the Tao-te Ching and is adapted by Seng-chao.

    Seng-chao further maintains that the identity of opposites is also freedom from opposites. This idea of freedom from opposites is also stated in the second chapter of the Tao-te Ching. As Lao Tzu says: "The sage deals with things through non-interference, and teaches without words." Non-interference may be illustrated as letting the crane's legs remain long, and letting the duck's legs remain short, as mentioned by both Chuang Tzu and Seng-chao. To teach without words is what Seng-chao calls 'mystic Tao', which rests upon subtle awakening. Subtle awakening rests upon immediate identification with the reality of things. When one achieves immediate identification with the reality of things, one sees opposites as one, and one realizes that one's self and others are not two. Thus, Seng-chao says: "Heaven and earth and I derive from the same root, and ten thousand things and I are one." This is exactly the idea of the second chapter in The Works of Chuang Tzu. Thus, the One is Nirvana, Nirvana is the One. This is the achievement of subtle awakening to the 'mystic Tao'.

    The process of achieving subtle awakening maintained in Seng-chao's essay is similar to the process of subtle awakening found in the Tao-te Ching. In Seng-chao's essay we read:

Do we not have the saying from the classics: 'The student of knowledge learns day by day; the student of Tao loses day by day'? To seek for Tao is to act through non-action. The action of non-action is called decreasing day by day.



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This is the process for achieving Nirvana according to Seng-chao. It is no different from the Taoist process for achieving the One, or Tao, as stated in Chapter 48 of the Tao-te Ching. That is, "the student of knowledge learns day by day; the student of Tao loses day by day." Through losing, one reaches non-action.

    Furthermore, the attainment of Buddhist cultivation according to Seng-chao follows the same theories of attainment maintained in Chapter 38 of the Tao-te Ching. As we read:

    Seng-chao elaborates on the attainment of non-attainment, referring to the following statement in the Fang-kuang Sutra:

The highest attainment is non-attainment. Therefore, we have attainment. The lowest attainment never loses attainment. Therefore, we cannot reach attainment. Is Bodhi attained from existence? The answer is no. Is it attained from non-existence? The answer is no. Is it attained from both existence and non-existence? The answer is no. Is it attained from neither existence nor non-existence? The answer is no. Then is it attained nowhere? The answer is no. What does this mean? The answer is that because nothing is attained, that is attainment. Therefore, it is the attainment of non-attainment.

Thus, Seng-chao further concludes that "the great image is concealed within the formless. Therefore, see it through not-seeing. The great sound is hidden within the soundless. Therefore, hear it through not-hearing." This mystic attainment is the true attainment in both Seng-chao's Buddhism and Lao Tzu's Taoism.

    What is this attainment of non-attainment? The answers from Taoists and Seng-chao also seem to be one and the same. As Seng-chao says:

When the Perfect Man (Chih-jan, originally used by Chuang Tzu) is in squareness, he follows the squareness. When he is in roundness, he follows the roundness. When he is in heaven, he follows the nature of heaven. When he is with man, he follows the nature of man. The reason that he can adapt so well to heaven and to man is that he is not limited to either heaven or man.... When he governs the country, he responds without actions, and follows without imposing. Because he responds without actions, his influence is limitless. Because he follows without imposing, nothing is greater than his achievement. Because his achievement is so great, it returns to the small. Because his influence is limitless, it returns to the Nameless.

The achievement of the Perfect Man is hsiao cheng, or the region where Tao abides. Hsiao cheng is a term originally coined by Chuang Tzu. Therefore, the Perfect Man in Buddhism reaches the Tao, as well as the Perfect Man in Taoism. In the passage quoted above, we see that Seng-chao indeed bring about the synthesis of Buddhist and Taoist philosophies. As he says:



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The Tao of Bodhi cannot be intentionally planned.
It is high with nothing beyond it.
It is vast with no boundaries.
It is deep with nothing below it.
Profound, it cannot be measured.
Great, it embraces heaven and earth.
Small, it enters where there is no space.
This is called Tao.

We may not be unfamiliar with this, as it is also mentioned in Taoist texts. Because Seng-chao's essay illustrates a synthesis of world thoughts this new translation is made.



Chao has heard that "achieving the One, heaven became pure; achieving the One, earth became tranquil;" [1] achieving the One, the ruler governed the world. Humbly I esteem your highness' profound wisdom and respected brilliance. The way that you govern conforms with the divine. You subtly identify with the tranquillity of the Void. All affairs are under your control. Skillfully and with ease you deal with ten thousand things, yet you advance the Tao from morning until night. Your awesome influence spreads over all men, and your words are laid down for the people to follow. Therefore, we have: 'There are four greatnesses within the nation, and the king is one of hem." [2]

    Nirvana is the goal of the three vehicles of Buddhism, [3] and the profound source to which all the Mahayana sutras point. It is vast and unlimited, invisible and inaudible. It is where the sense of seeing and the sense of hearing cease. The subtle and profound attainment of the Void and wonder cannot be measured by the ordinary man. I, an unimportant man, by the favor of the government have been able to study in the Academy under Kumarajiva for more than ten years. Although all of the sutras vary in their approaches, and their profound and interesting topics are many, I always study first the meaning of Nirvana. My talent and understanding are dull and limited; although I was repeatedly taught by my master, I still have doubts and am unclear. But I try my best unceasingly, as if I have some understanding. However, before the explanation given by the one who is better than myself, I dared not be sure that my understanding was correct. Unfortunately, Kumarajiva has passed



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away. I have no one to consult with, and this is my eternal grief. Your highness' holy virtue is not alone, because you made a spiritual friend in Kumarajiva. As soon as you saw him, you knew that he was a man of Tao. You found joy in your exchange of understanding with him. Therefore, you are able to advance the spirit of Buddhism in order to awaken life in a period of decay.

    One day, I was privileged to read your letter to Yiao Sung, Duke of An-ch'eng, answering his question concerning the unchanging and unconditional ultimate reality. Your answer was that all sentient beings suffer in the torrent of life and death because they are not free from passions. If the passions in their minds would cease, they would be free from life and death. Being free from life and death, they would be deeply absorbed in silence and their attainment would be no different from the Void. This is called Nirvana. Being Nirvana, how can there be a name for it? Your explanation is indeed the finest that we can find, and is beyond ordinary language. Your cultivation is as high as that of Manjusri [4], and identifies with that of Maitreya. [5] Thus, you are able to expound the profound and subtle philosophy and to protect the school of Buddhism. Furthermore, you can reveal again the great teachings of Buddha and make their hidden meaning clear once more.

    I enjoyed reading your letter again and again. I could hardly stop and put it down. Both joy and awakening took place within me, and I expressed them by waving my hands without stopping. Your teachings will not only serve as the model for the present day, but will be the ferry and the bridge for infinite time to come.

    Your teachings are deep and profound; your ideas are subtle and your words are essential. Thus, you are able to train advanced devotees and to awaken unusual learners. Those who can only understand your words will not be able to thoroughly grasp your meaning. Following the example of the 'Ten Wings' written by Confucius in the I Ching, [6] I have written the treatise on Nirvana Is Nameless. It was not my intention to write a long essay, but to reveal the profound meaning of Nirvana. This treatise contains nine arguments and ten expositions. I have collected examples and illustrations from the sutras in order to humbly expound your idea of the Nameless. I do not claim that I have reached the depths of your divine mind, or that my discussion is the most perfect. I simply expound the beginning of the Buddhist studies and inform my disciples.



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    In the last section of your letter you mentioned that those who understand the truth of the First Principle all agree that it is void, vast, and silent, with no sage as knower. I often feel that these sayings contradict the truth and deviate from common sense. If there were no sage as knower, who would realize the Void? Just as you say in your letter, it is indeed true, it is indeed true.

    That which is Tao is evasive and illusive, yet latent in it is the essence. [7] If there were no sage as knower, who would interfuse with the Tao? Recently, our disciples were all puzzled at the entrance of Tao. They were not happy about the problem and carried doubts all day, without anyone to correct them. We were fortunate enough to have your noble advise to clear their doubts. Those who formerly questioned at the door, now enter together the House of Tao.

    We may say that the teachings of Buddha again take place in the Buddhist world, and that the illumination of the truth once more reflects upon us, even after a thousand years.

    My treatise is to reveal the reality of the nameless Nirvana, [8] and to correct the interpretations of the Void given by the heretics. I humbly present to you what I have analyzed as follows. If my understanding participates a little in your divine ideas, I hope that you will order to preserve it as a reference for Buddhist studies. If there is a mistake, I humbly beg you to point it out to me.



3.1.    Exposition of the Essentials (of 'Nirvana')

The Nameless [9] said: What the Sutra means by incomplete Nirvana and complete Nirvana is what the Chinese call mieh-tu and wu-wei. That which is wu-wei is void and silent, and the extreme wonder of its subtlety is revealed through yu-wei (that is, non-being is revealed through being). That which is mieh-tu is the absolute vanishing of suffering through transcendence of greed, existence, illusion, and ignorance. It is the original source from which all images are reflected, and the invisible dwelling of the absolute Nameless. Yet Nirvana is called incomplete and complete. These names are given to it according to its emergences. They are not real, but simply refer to its different manifestations. Let me try to explain this.



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    That which is Nirvana is silent, quiescent, empty, and limitless. It is impossible to attain through the description of names. The intentional mind cannot be aware of its invisible subtlety and formlessness. Nirvana transcends all dwellings of being; [10] it identifies with the unlimited Void, and abides in timelessness. Follow it, and no trace can be found; meet it and no face can be seen. [11]

    Six Realms [12] cannot nurture its growth. Great power [13] cannot change its reality. Vast and unlimited, elusive and evasive, it seems to abide in you and yet to leave you. No appearance can be seen by the various kinds of eyes. [14] No sound can be heard by the different kinds of ears. [15] Dark and dim, no one can see it or comprehend it. It embraces everything everywhere and yet transcends being and non-being.

    Therefore, those who talk about it deviate from its truth. Those who know it return to ignorance. Those who take it as existence distort its nature. Those who take it as non-existence neglect its concrete appearance. Hence, Buddha taught through speechlessness at Magadha; [16] Vimalakirti remained silent at Vaisali; [17] Subhuti taught the doctrine of no-words; and Sakra, the King of the Gods, heard nothing, and flowers dropped from heaven like rain. [18] All this indicates that truth is guided by spiritual reality. Therefore, no words are necessary. How can you say that they do not preach? They preach through non-verbal expression.

    A sutra says: "The man who is really liberated is free from verbal expressions and is in the state of extreme quiescence and infinite peace, without beginning or ending, dark or light, cold or heat. His mind is transparent like the absolute Void, nameless, speechless."

    In the Sastra we have: "Nirvana is neither existent nor non-existent. It is where the process of expression ceases and mental activity itself is cut off." Since this is from the sutras and sastras, how can we say that it is not true? If Nirvana is that which is non-existent, we cannot conceive it as existent. If it is that which is existent, we cannot conceive it as non-existent.

    Why is this so? When we trace Nirvana to the source of existence, we find that the five skandhas [19] are eternally annihilated. When we trace it to the realm of non-existence, we find that invisible spiritual reality is never wanting. Because invisible spiritual reality is never wanting, the One is clearly and vividly obtained. When five skandhas are eternally annihilated, all the afflictions of life vanish. Thus, Nirvana unifies with



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Tao. When the One is clearly and vividly obtained, the achievement is mysterious, and no credit is claimed. Because the achievement is mysterious and no credit is claimed, perfect credit remains. When Nirvana unifies with Tao, it is empty and never-changing. Empty and never-changing, one cannot take it as existent. Because perfect credit always remains, one cannot take it as non-existent. Thus, inwardly, one is free from existence and non-existence. Outwardly, names and expressions cease. This state of mind is where seeing and hearing cannot reach. The four kinds of dhyana [20] cannot be identified with it. Quiescently tranquil, silently peaceful! When such a state is reached, the beings from all the nine realms [21] want to come to it, and all the wise mysteriously meet there. This is indeed the world beyond hearing and seeing [22] and the country of supreme wonders. If we try to label it the region of being and non-being, and gossip about this spiritual Tao, are we not far off from it?


3.2.    Inquiry into the Truth of 'Nirvana'

The Named [23] said: A name must represent that to which it refers, as the designation cannot arise by itself. What the Sutra calls incomplete and complete Nirvana are real names reflecting their origin, subtle expressions of Tao. Let me explain this.

    The meaning of incomplete Nirvana is this: when Buddha first achieved enlightenment and discovered the reality of things, he had purified himself through eight stages of freedom [24] and attained the seven aspects of awakening. [25] Through the accumulation of all virtues in the infinite past, he cleansed himself of his endless defilement. Thus, inwardly he clearly saw the three worlds (past, present, and future); outwardly, his illumination radiated to all things.

    First he took the great oath, and then, with great compassion, he went to save all sentient beings from suffering. Above, he grasped the fundamentals of Tao; below, he rescued the wanderers who had lost their spiritual home. He transcended the world of desire, form, and formlessness, and proceeded alone into limitlessness. He established the Eightfold Noble Truth [26] and paved the way for the salvation of the common people, avoiding their transmigration from one to another. He practiced the six supernatural powers [27] and spread the teachings of the five vehicles [28] in all directions. He was free from living and dying, and he dealt with things according to things. His way was to harmonize with



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everything; his virtue was to benefit everything. He did his best to give birth to things, as did Mother Nature, and he fulfilled to the utmost the wonder of the essence of Tao. He extended the Void to the limitless. Through the wisdom of non-differentiation, he illumined the darkness. He freed himself from all the levels of dwelling of beings, and disappeared into the great Void; yet something remained which was not exhausted, a trace which was not extinguished. What karma had created was still active, and his divine wisdom still existed. This is called incomplete Nirvana. Thus, the Sutra says: "The dross may be washed away, as if the genuine gold is smelted. Ten thousand burdens are eliminated, but spiritual awareness is still there."

    Complete Nirvana means that when the words and conditions of the teaching of the Perfect Man are exhausted, and his spiritual illumination is forever extinguished, he is empty selflessness. [29] Thus, it is called complete Nirvana. Why? Because no suffering is worse than having a self. Hence, one should destroy the self and return to nothing. To labor to be free from illusion and rid of false thoughts is nothing other than to have intelligence. Therefore, one should eliminate intelligence in order to lose one's self in the Void. Hence, because of the self, one's intelligence is exhausted; because of intelligence, one's self becomes restless. Thus, intelligence and the self alternate on an endless path, and are unceasing, even though exhausted. The Sutra says: "Intelligence is the mixed poison of greed, ignorance, and hatred, and the self is a binding yoke." Because of intelligence and the self, deep quiescence remains at a far distance, and suffering arises. Therefore, the Perfect Man destroys his self and extinguishes his intelligence, gets rid of his body and stops his thoughts. Inwardly, he is free from potentiality and reflection; outwardly, he cuts out the roots of great suffering. Transcendentally, he separates himself forever from all levels of being. Undifferentiated, he identifies with supreme emptiness. Silent, nothing is heard; still, nothing appears. Invisibly he departs forever to the unknown, like a lamp when the oil and the flame are both exhausted. This is called complete Nirvana. A sutra says: "Five skandhas are eternally extinguished, like a lamp that has gone out." Hence, incomplete Nirvana can be called existence; complete Nirvana can be called the Nameless. When the term Nameless is given, the devotee of emptiness is pleased to advocate absolute silence. When existence remains, the devotee is inspired by the virtuous achieve-



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ments of the sage. These are the words left from the sacred writings and the rules followed by the early sages. Yet you say that inwardly, Nirvana is neither existence nor non-existence; outwardly, it is nameless. It is invisible and inaudible, and cannot be understood by the four dhyana. This simply makes the devotee of virtue give up his search for the truth, and gives the devotee of the Void nothing on which to rely. It is just like cutting off a man's hearing and seeing by putting him inside the chamber of the womb, and shutting out the light of the sun and the moon in the sky, yet blaming him for being unable to distinguish among various musical tones, or the difference between black and white. This shows that you merely understand how to push a perfect man far away into that which is beyond existence and non-existence, and how to let him expound loftily and alone on that which is free from forms and names. Your point of view leads nowhere. You have proceeded on the dark path where truth is hidden and unrevealed. Even though you think quietly and search for the subtlety, you clarify nothing. Is this what you claim is having great illumination within the chamber of darkness and playing the music of wonder in the realm of the unheard?


3.3.    Determination of the Truth of 'Nirvana'

The Nameless answered: Incomplete and complete are terms of appearance given to Nirvana according to its different manifestations; they are not real names. Those who insist on names will be limited to names. Those who insist on the images of things will be trapped by forms. This is because names are limited to titles, and forms are limited to either squareness or roundness. There is something which the forms of squareness and roundness cannot represent; there is something which titles cannot convey. How can you say that names can describe the Nameless, and that forms can represent the Formless?

    As you say in your argument on incomplete and complete Nirvana, it is true that it fulfills the teachings through expediency as well as silence, and that it also reveals the real traces of both the concealment and unconcealment of the Buddha. However, it is not the profound achievement of the inexpressible wonder of silence; nor is it the subtle wonder of the Void achieved by the Perfect Man. Have you never heard the teaching of correct seeing? In the Vimalakirti Sutra [30] we have: "This is what I see: Buddha, who is free from beginning and free from ending. He is beyond



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the six senses [31] and transcends the threefold World. [32] He has no dwelling place, yet he dwells everywhere; he is neither created nor not-created. He cannot be recognized through consciousness, nor understood through the intellect. He is free from words and expressions, and is where the action of the mind ceases. To see him in this way is correct seeing; other seeing cannot see Buddha."

    The Fang-kuang Sutra [33] says: "Buddha is similar to the Void, in which nothing departs, and nothing comes. He manifests himself according to conditions, without being determined by any particular place." Thus, the wise in the world remains in quiescence and emptiness, clinging to nothing, and emulating nothing. He leads, but not prior to the demand. He responds, but not until conditions require. It is just like an echo sounding in a deep valley, or an image reflected in a bright mirror. When you face an echo or an image you do not know where it comes from; when you follow an echo or an image, you do not know where it goes. Evasively, it exists; elusively, it non-exists. The more it acts, the more it becomes quiescent. The more it hides, the more it is revealed. It emerges from profundity and diminishes into invisibility. It transforms itself without permanence. To give it names is simply to reflect the emergence of things. The unconcealment of its traces is life; the concealment of its traces is death. To live means that something remains; to die means that nothing remains. Hence, the terms existence and non-existence originate from the Nameless, and the way of the Nameless can name everything. Thus, when the Perfect Man is in squareness, he follows the squareness. When he is in roundness, he follows the roundness. When he is in heaven, he follows the nature of heaven. When he is with man, he follows the nature of man. The reason that he can fulfill so well the nature of heaven and the nature of man is that he is not limited to the capacities of either heaven or man. In fact, he is free from both heaven and man, and thus, he is able to fulfill the nature of heaven and the nature of man. When he governs the country, he responds without forced actions, and follows without imposing. Because he follows without imposing, his influence is limitless. Because he responds without forced actions, nothing is greater than his actions. Because his actions are so great, they reverse to the minute without trace. Because his influence is limitless, it returns to the Nameless. A sutra says: "The Tao of Bodhi cannot be intentionally planned. It is high with nothing beyond it. It is vast with no boundaries. It is deep



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with nothing below it. Profound, it cannot be measured; great, it embraces heaven and earth; minute, it enters where there is no space. This is called Tao." If this is true, it is clear that the way of Nirvana cannot be obtained through existence and non-existence. However, those who are confused see his spiritual transformation and call it existence; they see his vanishment and call it non-existence. This is to say that existence and non-existence are simply the region of illusory imagination. How can you describe the profundity of Tao and talk about the mind of the wise? I think that the Perfect Man, silent and still, without manifestations, indicates that concealment and unconcealment share the same source. To remain does not mean existence. To vanish does not mean non-existence. Why? Because Buddha says: "No life is not my life. Although it is life, it is lifeless. No form is not my form. Although it is form, it is formless." Because of this I know that to remain does not mean existence. A sutra says: "When the bodhisattva obtained infinite samadhi, he met all the buddhas who had previously obtained Nirvana." The sutra also says: "Buddha entered Nirvana as if he did not enter it." Thus, I know that to vanish does not mean non-existence. Because to vanish does not mean non-existence, although it does not exist, yet it exists. Because to remain does not mean existence, although it is existence, yet it does not exist. Because it is existence, and yet it does not exist, it is called non-existence. Because it is non-existence, and yet it does not exist, it is called not not non-existence. Henceforth, that that which is Nirvana transcends the realm between existence and non-existence and cuts off the process of verbal expression, is sure enough. You have said that the suffering of the wise is having a self. Therefore, destroy the self in order to return to Nothing. To be trapped by greed, ignorance, and hatred is nothing other than to have intelligence. Therefore, eliminate intelligence in order to drown in emptiness. Would this not be deviating from spiritual reality, and misinterpreting the profound meaning of Buddhism? A sutra says: "The essence of things is formless, but it takes on forms according to things. Prajna is not knowledge, but merely reflects conditions as they come." The wise encounters myriad happenings all at once, yet his spirit is undisturbed. A thousand questions demand his various answers, yet they do not interfere with his thoughts. When he moves, he is as free as the moving clouds; when he remains, he is as unbound as the spirit of the Void. How can he set his mind to this and that, and attach his emo-



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tions to action and non-action? Since his mind is free from action and non-action, his bodily image is also free from departing and coming. Because his bodily image is free from departing and coming, there is nothing that is without his form. Because his mind is free from action and non-action, there is no penetration without response. Henceforth, when the mind is created from the illusory mind, then the bodily image is also produced from the illusory image. Since the bodily image is not produced from the self, even heat that can melt gold and rocks cannot burn it. [34] Since the mind is not produced from the self, it can be drawn on every day, yet it is never moved. What is busy and tormented is from others. It has nothing to do with my self. The mind of the wise embraces ten thousand things, yet it is not exhausted. His body penetrates to the extreme limits of the eight directions, yet it is not obstructed. Add to it, and nothing is increased; reduce it, and nothing is lessened. How can you conceive of Nirvana as when Buddha was halfway to Kushinagara, [35] became ill, and died in the Sala Grove? [36] His soul was exhausted in the coffin, his body burned to ashes in oil. Yet those who are confused look from the standpoint of physical sensations, search for the traces of various happenings, insist on rules and forms, and try to identify them with the great truth. This is their attempt to torture the Perfect Man with intellection, and to exhaust the great sage with common forms. Yet they say that to banish existence and to enter into non-existence is called complete Nirvana. How can you say that this is the way to obtain the subtle truth beyond hearing and to uncover the roots of profundity from the ground of the Void?


3.4.    Critique of 'Nirvana' as Beyond Being and Non-Being

The Named said: Since the original chaos was differentiated, ten thousand things have varied from each other. Since existence is existence, it cannot be not non-existence. Non-existence itself cannot be non-existence, but must be derived from existence. That is why we have: high and low mutually complement each other, and existence and non-existence mutually produce each other. [37] This is a natural result, and the result ends here. From this point of view, what is cultivated by the creative Mother [38] does not differentiate between visible and invisible, even though what is vast, everchanging, wily, and uncanny [39] is not non-existence. When existence is transformed into non-existence, then non-existence is not non-existence.



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This being so, the realms of existence and non-existence are both included. A Sutra says: "Both existence and non-existence absorb all things." It further says: "The three ways of reaching the eternal, unchanging, and pure are through the Void, through complete extinction of anxiety by counting numbers, and through extinction achieved by not counting numbers. Extinguishing anxiety through counting numbers is Nirvana." However, in your treatise you say that beyond existence and non-existence there lies the wonder of Tao, and that this wonder lies right in existence and non-existence and is called Nirvana. Let us consider carefully the origin of the wonder of Tao. If there is existence, even though it is wonder, it cannot be non-existence. Since it is wonder and cannot be non-existence, it must enter into the realm of existence. If there is non-existence, this means that there is non-differentiation. Since non-existence means that there is non-differentiation, then it must enter into the realm of non-existence. In short, examining it directly, not existence is different from existence and yet it is not non-existence. Not existence is different from non-existence and yet it is not existence. This is clear enough. Yet you say that beyond existence and non-existence there is the wonder of Tao. Thus, not existence and not non-existence are called Nirvana. I can listen to you with my ears, but I cannot agree with you with my heart.


3.5.    'Nirvana ' as the Sphere Beyond Being and Non-Being

The Nameless said: What is called existence and non-existence indeed includes all things and all principles. However, what they include is the common truth. In the Sutra we have: "What is the real truth? It is the way of Nirvana. What is the common truth? It is the things of existence and non-existence." Why is this so? That which is existence exists in non-existence. That which is non-existence non-exists in existence. Therefore, non-existence is called existence. Not existence is called non-existence. Thus, existence is derived from non-existence and non-existence is derived from existence. Apart from existence, there is no non-existence. Apart from non-existence, there is no existence. The truth of the mutual creation of existence and non-existence is similar to the mutual contrast of high and low. If there is high, there must be low. If there is low, there must be high. Hence, existence and non-existence, although different from each other, both exist. It is from this that words and images are formulated, and assertion and negation are produced. How can you say that this



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synthesizes the invisible ultimate and symbolizes the spiritual Tao? Therefore, what I maintain to be free from existence and non-existence is so because the fate of existence and non-existence is limited to the six senses, and the six senses cannot be said to be the realm of Nirvana. Hence, through the transcendence of existence and non-existence, one is free from one's attachments. Thus, the devotee of Tao may realize the subtle path and abide in the absolute ultimate. Obtain ideas and forget words: thus, there will be an awareness of not existence and not non-existence. How can we say that beyond existence and non-existence there is another that can be called existence? What the Sutra means by the threefold wu-wei [40] is this: anxiety in the life of man is produced by great suffering. The cause of the most extreme great suffering is nothing worse than existence. To be free from existence is nothing better than non-existence. Therefore, use non-existence to illustrate not existence. To illustrate not existence does not mean non-existence.


3.6.    Search for the Wonder

The Names said: According to your theory, Nirvana is neither beyond existence and non-existence, nor is it within existence and non-existence. If it is not within existence and non-existence, then it is impossible to obtain it from existence and non-existence. If it is not beyond existence and non-existence, then it cannot be searched for apart from existence and non-existence. If there is nowhere that you can search for it, then it must be nothing at all. However, there must be a way to search for it. If there is a way to search for it, then there must be a subtle way that can be followed. That is why a thousand wise men proceeded on this same path, and never failed. This way exists, and yet you say that Nirvana is neither beyond nor within existence and non-existence. You must have an unusual point of view. May I hear it?


3.7.    The Wondrous Abiding of Non-Abiding.

The Nameless said: Speech emerges from names. Names are produced by forms. Forms are produced by that which is able to be formed. Without forms, there would be no names. Without names, there would be no speech. Without speech, there would be no hearing. The Sutra says: "Nirvana is not dharma, nor is it not dharma. It cannot be heard, nor



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can it be spoken of." It is that which the mind cannot know. How can I dare to speak of it? Yet you want to learn it. Nevertheless, Subhuti says: "If man can grasp without mind, and listen without listening, then I will speak without words. If I speak what Buddha has spoken, then I also can speak." Vimalakirti says: "Within passion, Nirvana is achieved." The Heavenly Maiden says: "Without leaving passions, one enters the world of Buddha." Thus, the subtle Tao rests upon the wonder of awakening. The wonder of awakening rests upon identity with reality. Identity with reality means identity of being and non-being. When being and non-being are identified, then the self and others are non-differentiated. Therefore, "Heaven and earth and I derive from the same root, and ten thousand things and I are one." [41] To identify ten thousand things and the self means that there is no longer any difference between existence and non-existence. To contrast ten thousand things with the self makes mutual penetration difficult. Thus, neither beyond nor within existence and non-existence, therein is Tao. Why? Because the mind of the Perfect Man is empty and silently illuminated. No principle is excluded from it. The Perfect Man embraces the entire universe within, and yet his supreme awareness is abundant. He reflects ten thousand things with his mind, yet his spiritual reality is always free. This enables him to draw on the mysterious roots from before the beginning and to deal with worldly activities with his mind of quiescence. His mind is tranquil, pure, profound, and silent. Subtly, he unifies with nature. Therefore, when he abides in existence he is free from existence. When he abides in non-existence he is free from non-existence. When he abides in non-existence and yet is free from non-existence, he does not negate non-existence. When he abides in existence and yet is free from existence, he does not assert existence. Therefore, he is able to be neither beyond existence and non-existence, nor within existence and non-existence. Hence, things are free from the forms of existence and non-existence, and the wise is free from knowing existence and non-existence. When the wise is free from knowing existence and non-existence, inwardly, he has no mind. When things are free from the forms of existence and non-existence, outwardly, they are free from limitation. Since things are free from limitation outwardly, and the wise is free from mind inwardly, this and that become silent and extinct, and things and the self invisibly identify as one. Silently, there is no self. This is called Nirvana. When Nirvana is like this, one's intention diminishes. How can you in-



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sist that it is within existence and non-existence and yet search outside of existence and non-existence?


3.8.    Critique of the Differences Among the Three Vehicles

The Named said: Since Nirvana is free from the realm of intention, it transcends the six senses, and is neither beyond nor within existence and non-existence. Yet the wonder of Tao solitarily remains. Thus, in the inexhaustible search for reality to fully reveal one's nature, the ultimate Tao is the subtle One, free from differentiation. Logically, this may be so. However, the Fang-kuang Sutra says: "The discipline of the three vehicles is through wu-wei, and yet there is differentiation." On another occasion, Buddha says: "When I was a bodhisattva, called Sumedha, during the rule of Buddha Dipamkara, I entered into Nirvana. In my achievement of the seventh stage [42] I obtained the state of no-birth, and then I cultivated the three further stages." [43]

    If Nirvana is non-differentiated, how can there be three further stages? If there are three further stages, then Nirvana is not the ultimate. Thus, the ultimate Tao is divided into different levels. In this respect, all the sutras differ from each other. What is the correct answer?


3.9.    Clarification of the Differences Among the Three Vehicles

The Nameless said: However, the ultimate Tao is, in truth, non-differentiated. The Fa-hua Sutra [44] says: "The primordial great Tao has no two truths. I (Buddha) apply upaya in my teaching in order to help those who are idle, and I preach the one vehicle by proceeding through the three vehicles." This may be illustrated by three carriages being pulled from a burning house, one by a goat, one by a deer, and one by a cow. Because all of the carriages are free from life and death, they are all called wu-wei. Because the carriages are not the same, they have three different names. However, what they all return to is simply one and the same.

    Your challenge is that the disciplines of the three vehicles are all due to wu-wei, or Nirvana, yet therein is a difference. This is because there are three different learners. All three aim at Nirvana. It is not that Nirvana is three. The Fang-kuang Sutra says: "Is there any differentiation in Nirvana?" The answer is: "No, there is no differentiation." However, Buddha is completely free from habitual, accumulated ignorance and passion, while the hearer is not yet completely free from all this. Let me use a simple



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illustration from near at hand to demonstrate the profound meaning of this. When someone is chopping wood, and he cuts off one foot, he loses one foot. When he cuts off one inch, he loses one inch. The length of the wood is measured in feet and inches, and not by that which cannot be measured in feet and inches.

    All sentient beings vary from each other in numerous ways. The roots of their inner awareness are not the same, because some are deep and some are shallow in their insight. Their powers of attainment are either heavy or thin, yet all reach the yonder shore, arriving at different levels, either high or low. The yonder shore is one and the same. What makes the difference is one's self. Thus, we see that all the sutras maintain different theories, but that their goals are one and the same.


3.10.    Further Critique of the Differences

The Named said: When all come out of the burning house they are all free from danger. They are all free from life and death, thus, their attainments of Nirvana are one and the same. Yet you say that the yonder shore is the same, and that it is the attainments of the men that differ. The yonder shore is the shore of Nirvana. The men are those who experience Nirvana. May I ask: are the men and Nirvana one and the same, or are they different? If the men are identified with Nirvana, and Nirvana is identified with the men, then you cannot say that Nirvana is without difference and that the difference is in the men. If the men and Nirvana are not the same, then the men are not Nirvana. Thus, Nirvana is Nirvana itself, and the men will always remain in the state of life and death. Therefore, the attainment of the identity of Nirvana and life and death is obstructed and cannot be fulfilled. Hence, when the men and Nirvana are identified, their unity cannot be three. When the men and Nirvana differ, they also cannot be three. Where does the name 'three vehicles' come from?


3.11.    Identity of the Differences

The Nameless said: To remain on this side is to not be free from this side. To reach the yonder shore is to be on the yonder shore. To identify with attainment is to have attainment identify with you. To identify with non-attainment is to have non-attainment identify with you. When men reach Nirvana, men are Nirvana. Although Nirvana is one and the same, what is the harm of the men being different?



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    This is just like three birds all escaping from a net and together reaching freedom from danger. The freedom from danger is one and the same, yet each of the birds varies. We cannot say that the difference among the birds implies that the freedom from danger is also different. Also, we cannot say that the oneness of freedom from danger implies that the various birds are the same. Thus, the birds identify with freedom from danger, and freedom from danger identities with the birds. The freedom from danger is not different, but the birds vary from each other.

    Thus, all beings in the three vehicles are free from the net of illusion, and all reach the same state of Nirvana. Although Nirvana is one and the same, the three vehicles vary among themselves. It is impossible to say that the variation among the vehicles means that Nirvana also varies. Furthermore, we cannot say that because Nirvana is one and the same, this means that the three vehicles are the same. Hence, men identify with Nirvana, and Nirvana identifies with men. How can Nirvana be different? The difference is among the men.

    Therefore, although freedom from danger is one and the same, the heights reached by the birds vary in distance. Although Nirvana is one and the same, the inner awareness of men varies in its depth or shallowness. Nirvana is identified with the vehicles, and the vehicles are identified with Nirvana. This does not mean that men are different from Nirvana, but that because their attainments do not completely reveal Nirvana, the vehicles are three.


3.12.    Critique of Gradual Awakening

The Named said: The growth and occurrence of all sufferings are due to false thoughts. When false thoughts diminish, all sufferings also cease. Those in the second vehicle achieve wisdom that is completely free from passion. Bodhisattva obtains wisdom that is free from all birth and death. At the moment when false thoughts completely diminish, all bondage of illusions is eternally released. When all bondage of illusions is eternally released, the mind reaches Nirvana. Since the mind is Nirvana, there is no cloud covering it. Thus, the Sutra says: "The wisdom of all holy men does not vary. It is neither within nor beyond existence and non-existence. In reality it is empty." The Sutra further says: "The great way of Nirvana is identity without differentiation." Since you say that wisdom is free from differentiation, the mind cannot be differentiated. If the mind does not



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act, there is no problem. If the mind acts, it reaches the ultimate and invisible. Yet you say that what this mind reaches is incomplete. This is hard for me to understand.


3.13    Clarification of Gradual Awakening

The Nameless said: Nirvana is non-differentiated. This is already understood. However, the bondage of illusions is repeatedly accumulated. How it can be diminished instantaneously is hard to understand. In the Sutra we have: "Three arrows hit the target. Three animals swim across the river. There is no difference in the hitting of the arrows and the crossing of the animals, but the depths of the hittings and the crossings vary in degree." This is because the strength of each is different. This is similar to the sentient beings of the three vehicles all crossing the river of relational conditions. All come to see the goal of the fourfold truth. [45] Once they are free from falsehood, they immediately identify with the truth and together ascend to Nirvana. However, the vehicles that they ride are not the same. This is because their mental capacities are different. Although all that exists is numerous, their mental capacities are limited. Even if those whose wisdom is like that of Sariputra [46] and whose intelligence is like that of Purna Maitrayaniputra [47] exhaust their talents and thoughts they cannot see the fringe of the truth. How much less can they see if they wish to reach the subtlety of the Void, and the wonder of the double mystery which is limitless, and to achieve them instantaneously. Did not the Canon [48] once say: "Those who engage in learning increase day by day. Those who engage in Tao lose day by day?" Those who engage in Tao act through non-action. To act through non-action is called decreasing day by day. It cannot be obtained through sudden enlightenment, but must be approached through decreasing and further decreasing, until the state is reached where nothing can be decreased. In the Sutra we have a parable of the light of fireflies and the radiation of the sun, which clearly illustrates the difference between the action of the mind of the hearer and that of the Bodhisattva.


3.14.    Critique of the Motion of the Mind

The Named said: The Sutra says: "The absolute nature of Buddha's mind [49] enters into the realm of Nirvana. His mind cannot be known by our intelligence. His body cannot be measured by ordinary forms. His



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self is completely free from both the five aggregates and the six senses, and his mind's action is totally diminished". Yet the Sutra still says to cultivate three further stages and to accumulate more deeds. Cultivation derives from the will. Accumulation of deeds emerges from intention. Because of the will, the conditions of acceptance and refusal take place. Because of intention, gain and loss occur, one after the other. Since the mind is occupied with acceptance and refusal, and gain and loss are actualized, and yet the Sutra says: "His self is completely free from both the five aggregates and the six senses, and his mind's action is totally diminished," this means that conflicting words and opposing achievements occur together in the same man. This is the same as guiding a lost man to the north by pointing to the south.


3.15.    The Motion of Motionlessness

The Nameless said: In the Sutra we have: "Although the wise is in non-action, he is acting on everything." When non-action takes place, although it is in motion, yet it is constantly motionless. When acting on everything takes place, although it is motionless, yet it is constantly in motion. Although it is motionless, yet it is constantly in motion, therefore, things can never be identified. Although it is in motion, yet it is constantly motionless, therefore, things can never be differentiated. Because things can never be differentiated, the more they are in motion, the more they are motionless. Because things can never be identified, the more they are motionless, the more they are in motion. Therefore, action is non-action, non-action is action. Although motion and motionlessness vary, yet nothing can differentiate them. In the Tao-hsing Sutra [50] we have: "The mind is neither being nor non-being." To say that the mind is not being means that it is different from the being of the mind of existence. To say that it is not non-being means that it is different from the non-being of the mind of non-existence. Why is this so? The mind of existence is that which exists in the common man. The mind of non-existence is absolute vacuity. The mind that exists in the common man is limited to illusion. The mind that is absolute vacuity is no longer spiritual and illuminating. How can the mind that is limited to illusion and that ceases to be spiritual and illuminating, symbolize the way of the divine and represent the mind of the wise? Therefore, when the mind of the wise is not existent, it cannot be said to be non-existent. When the mind of the wise is non-existent, it



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cannot be said to be existent. Not existent, all intention of the mind diminishes. Not non-existent, the mind identifies with all reality. When the mind identifies with all reality, ten thousand virtues spread widely everywhere. When all intention of the mind diminishes, the wise claims no credit for his accomplishments. Therefore, he freely deals with worldwide affairs and yet he is not in action. He remains silent without motion, and yet he is not in non-action. Thus, the Sutra says: "Mind does not act, yet nowhere is without action." This is true, indeed!

    Sumedha says: "Formerly, in the infinite past, I spent my wealth and my life benefiting numerous beings. But these alms were through the mind of illusion. Therefore, they were not real alms. Now, through the mind of no-birth, I present five blossoms to Buddha. These are real alms." Further, when the Bodhisattva of Emptiness in Action entered the gate of freedom through emptiness, he said: "This is the moment of action, not the mere realization of the Void." Thus, the more empty the mind, the wider-spread the action. When one is in action all day, one does not deviate from non-action. Therefore, the Hsieh-chieh Sutra [51] says that alms are free from alms-giving. The Ch'eng-chu Sutra [52] glorifies the action of non-action. The Dhyana Sutra [53] recommends compassion which is free from relational conditions. The Szu-i Sutra [54] expounds the knowing of not knowing. The teachings of the wise are an unfathomable mystery, yet their meaning is the same even in different scripts. How can we conceive that action is mere action, and that non-action is mere non-action? The Bodhisattva abides in the identity of conditioned activity and unconditioned non-activity. He never limits himself to conditioned activity, nor does he dwell in unconditioned non-activity. This serves as an illustration. Hence, the parable of directing a man to the north by pointing to the south proves the misunderstanding of the wise.


3.16.    Search for the Origin

The Named said: Without sentient beings there would be no one to proceed with the study of the three vehicles. Without the study of the three vehicles it would be impossible to attain Nirvana. However, there must be sentient beings first, then Nirvana, Thus, Nirvana has the beginning, and it must be followed by the ending. Nevertheless, the Sutra says: "Nirvana has neither beginning nor ending. It is transparent, as if it were the absolute



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Void." According to this. Nirvana exists first and is no longer what can be accomplished through learning.


3.17.    Identity with the Past

The Nameless said: (The mind of the) Perfect Man is void and completely free from representation, yet ten thousand things are created by him. Thus, only the wise can achieve his self through identity with ten thousand things. Why? Because without the realization of reality, wisdom is impossible to achieve. Without the achievement of wisdom, reality cannot be realized. Thus, reality identifies with wisdom, and wisdom is not different from reality.

    Therefore, the King of Heaven said: "Where can prajna be found?" Subhuti replied: "Prajna cannot be found in material existence, nor apart from material existence." Further, it is said: "To see relational conditions is to see things. To see things is to see Buddha." This illustrates that things and the self are no different.

    Therefore, the Perfect Man ceases thoughts before their emergence, and conceals their invisible motion within the identity of the operations of nature. Unify the universe in order to tranquillize the mind. Identify the past and the future in order to realize reality. Thus, ancient and modern mutually interpenetrate. The beginning and the ending are one. Tracing back to the origin and searching for the final end are no different. Boundless is the great non-duality. This is called Nirvana. Further, the Sutra says: "Without leaving all dharmas, Nirvana is achieved." It further says: "All things are limitless." Therefore, bodhi is limitless. Thus, we know that the way of reaching Nirvana rests upon subtle identity. The attainment of subtle identity is based upon the invisible unity of opposites. Hence, things are no different from the self, and the self is no different from things. Things and the self identify and return to the Ultimateless. If you push it forward, it will not be first. If you detain it, it will not lag behind. How can you find the beginning and the ending in it? Thus, the Heavenly Maiden [55] said: "Even achieving liberation in old age cannot be conceived as taking a long time."


3.18.    Questioning Attainment

The Named said: The Sutra says: "The nature of all sentient beings reaches its limit within the five aggregates." It also says: "For those who



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have achieved Nirvana, the five aggregates are completely diminished, just like the flame of a lamp being put out." Hence, the nature of all sentient beings completely diminishes within the five aggregates and the way of Nirvana is founded separately, beyond the three worlds. Nirvana and sentient beings are far apart in different realms. It is no longer that sentient beings attain Nirvana. If there is any attainment, then the nature of sentient beings cannot be limited within the five aggregates. If the nature of sentient beings is limited within the five aggregates, then the five aggregates cannot all be diminished. If the five aggregates are all diminished, then who will achieve Nirvana?


3.19.    Subtle Attainment

The Nameless said: Reality emerges from freedom. Illusion emerges from attachment. Because of attachment there is attainment. Because of freedom there is the Nameless. Thus, to follow reality is to identify with reality. To follow illusion is to identify with illusion. You conceive of attainment as that which is able to be attained. Therefore, you are seeking attainment. However, I consider attainment as nothing to be attained. Therefore, attainment is achieved through non-attainment. To pursue our discourse, we must determine what is most fundamental. Since we are discussing Nirvana, we cannot be apart from Nirvana, and then discuss Nirvana. If we issue our argument right in Nirvana, then who is not in Nirvana? Yet we want to achieve Nirvana. Why is this? Because the way of Nirvana is the extreme wonder of ordinary events, in which heaven and earth are harmonized, ten thousand things are purified, nature and man are identified, and unity and diversity are the same. Looking inward, there is no seer. Reversing your hearing, there is no hearer. There is never anything that you can attain. There is never anything that you cannot attain. The Sutra says: "Nirvana is neither sentient beings, nor is it different from sentient beings." Vimalakirti said: "If Maitreya attains Nirvana, then all sentient beings attain Nirvana. Why? Because the original nature of all sentient beings is always extinct. Thus, there is no need for further extinction." This means that extinction rests upon non-extinction. Thus, all sentient beings are no longer sentient beings. Then who is the man who attains Nirvana? Nirvana is not Nirvana. Therefore, what is to be attained? The Fang-kuang Sutra says: "Is Bodhi attained from existence? The answer is no. Is it attained from non-existence ? The answer is no. Is it attained



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from both existence and non-existence? The answer is no. Is it attained from neither existence nor non-existence? The answer is no. Then is it attained nowhere? The answer is no. What does this mean? The answer is that nothing can be attained: that is attainment." Therefore, it is the attainment of non-attainment. [56] The attainment of non-attainment is true for everyone. Hence, the subtlety of the mystic Tao is free from any realm. Thus, attain it through non-attainment. The subtle wisdom lies beyond things. Therefore, know it through not-knowing. The great image [57] is concealed within the formless. Therefore, see it through not-seeing. The great sound [58] is hidden within the soundless. Therefore, hear it through not-hearing. [59] Thus, it is able to embrace the past and the present and to lead to all nine realms, widely cultivating all creatures, neglecting none. Vast and great indeed, everything is derived from it. Thus, a Brahmacarin said: "I have heard the teaching of the Buddha, and its meaning is profound, deep, and ocean-like, vast and without boundaries. Everything is completed by it, and everything is saved by it." Thus, the great way of the three vehicles is wide open, and the paths of truth and falsehood are distinguished. The teachings of the wise and the worthy remain, and the achievement of the Nameless is manifested.

University of Hawaii



1.    Lao Tzu. Tao-Te Ching, Chapter 39.

2.    ibid.. Chapter 25.

3.    The three vehicles of Mahayana Buddhism are: (1) Hinayana, in which one grasps the Four Noble Truths and becomes an arhat, (2) Pratyekabuddha-yana, in which one grasps the twelve links of causation and becomes a pratyekabuddha; and (3) Bodhisattva-yana, or Mahayana, in which one becomes a bodhisattva after many years of religious practice.

4.    Manjusri is regarded as the idealization and personification of the wisdom of Buddha.

5.    Maitreya (250-350) was the founder of the Yogacara School of Indian Mahayana Buddhism. He established the doctrine of vijnanavada, based on the concepts of prajna-sunyata and yoga.

6.    The I Ching, or Book of Change, is one of the basic Confucian classics. It consists of sixty-four hexagrams and the judgments on them. The 'Ten Wings' consist of (1) the tuan-chuan, or commentary on the kua-tzu, the explanation of the whole text of the hexagrams, (2) hsiang, or abstract meaning of the kua-tzu and the yao-tzu, or explanation of the component lines of the hexagrams, (3) the hsi-tzu, or appended remarks, (4) the wen-yen, or commentary on the first two texts, stressing their philo-



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sophical or ethical meaning, (5) remarks on certain trigrams, (6) remarks on the order of the trigrams, and (7) random remarks on the hexagrams. (l)-(3) are in two parts each, and together with (4)-(7) constitute the 'Ten Wings'.

7.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 21.

8.    Ni-yueh, ni-huan, and ni-p'an are three transliterations of Nirvana which differ simply because their pronunciations vary according to the colloquial of different regions. But the correct pronunciation of Nirvana is ni-p'an.

9.    The Nameless refers to the author, Seng-chao, himself, who tries to expound the meaning of Nirvana and answer his opponent.

10.    The nine dwellings of beings are: (1) the Brahma-parisada Heaven, (2) the Abhasvara Heaven, (3) the Subha-krtsna Heaven, (4) Avrha Heaven, (5) the world of men, and (6) through (9) the four heavens in the arupa-dhatu, or formless world.

11.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 14.

12.    The Six Realms in which the souls of living beings transmigrate from one to another are hell, the worlds of hungry spirits, animals, asuras, and men, and heaven.

13.    Chuang Tzu. The Works of Chuang Tzu, Chapter 2, 'Identity of Contraries'.

14.    The five kinds of eyes are (1) the eye of those who have material body, (2) the divine eye of celestial beings in the world of form, (3) the eye of wisdom by which the two vehicles (sravakas, and pratyekabuddhas) observe the thought of non-substantiality, or sunyata, (4) the eye of law by which the bodhisattvas preserve all teachings in order to lead human beings to enlightenment, and (5) the Buddha eye, the four kinds of eyes listed above which exist in the Buddha's body.

15.    The human ear and the divine ear.

16.    Subhuti meditated silently in a cave. The Heavenly Emperor spread an offering of flowers to him, saying that Subhuti knew how to expound prajna. It is also said that Subhuti preached through no-words and that the Emperor listened through no-hearing.

17.    Vimalakirti did not answer Manjusri's question on the way to non-differentiation.

18.    This refers to the traditional belief that Buddha did not preach for thirty-five days after he attained enlightenment.

19.    The five skandhas are (1) form, (2) perception, (3) volition, (4) conception, and (5) consciousness.

20.    The four dhyana are (1) the mind becomes void and vast like space, (2) the powers of perception and understanding are limited. (3) the discriminative powers of the mind are subdued, and (4) the realm of consciousness, or knowledge, without thought is reached, i.e., intuitive wisdom.

21.    The nine dwellings of beings footnoted above.

22.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 14: "Listen to it, yet you cannot hear it, that is shi; look at it, yet you cannot hear it, that is yi".

23.    The Named is the assumed opponent of the author.

24.    The eight stages of freedom are (1) seeing all things as impure and thus reducing feelings of desire, (2) reducing attachments to external phenomena, (3) not giving rise to illusion even though external phenomena might seem undefiled, (4) contemplating boundless space, transcending all form, (5) contemplating boundless consciousness, (6) contemplating non-substantiality, (7) contemplating the state which is beyond thought, and (8) attaining cessation -- samadhi, the state in which all mental activity ceases.

25.    The seven aspects of enlightenment are: (1) mindfulness, (2) investigation of the law, (3) energy, or exertion, (4) rapture, (5) repose, (6) concentration, and (7) equanimity.



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26.    The Eightfold Noble Truth leading to Nirvana is: (1) correct viewing, (2) correct thinking, (3) correct speech, (4) correct action, (5) correct livelihood, (6) correct endeavor, (7) correct memory, and (8) correct meditation.

27.    The six supernatural powers, or powers of free activity, are: (1) eyes capable of seeing everything, (2) ears capable of hearing everything, (3) insight into others, (4) thinking, (5) remembrance of the former state of existence, and (6) perfect freedom.

28.    The five vehicles are: (1) Sravaka-yana, or Hinayana, (2) Pratyekabuddha-yana, (3) Bodhisattva-yana, or Mahayana, (4) man's vehicle, and (5) the heavenly vehicle.

29.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 13.

30.    The Vimalakirti-nirdesa Sutra, an account of conversations between the Buddha and some residents of Vaisali, translated by Kumarajiva.

31.    The six senses of vision, audition, smell, taste, touch, and intellect.

32.    The three worlds of desire, form, and formlessness.

33.    The Fang-kuang Sutra, an abbreviation of the Fang-kuang Prajna-paramita Sutra, in twenty volumes.

34.    Chuang Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 1.

35.    Kushinagara was the capital of Malla, one of the sixteen largest countries in India during Buddha's time. Buddha died in the Sala Grove north of the city.

36.    It is said that Sala trees with two trunks each were located to the north, south, east, and west of Buddha's place of death, and that one of each of the two trunks on each tree withered when he died.

37.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 2.

38.    Ibid., Chapter 20.

39.    Chuang Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 2.

40.    The threefold wu-wei, according to Hinayana is (1) wu-wei, the uncreated, achieved through the extinction of suffering by means of the wisdom of discrimination; this is called Nirvana, (2) wu-wei, the uncreated, achieved through the extinction of suffering by means of the wisdom of non-discrimination. The nature of the common people is relational conditions, but the wise is free from this. Thus, when the relational conditions are extinguished, reality is immediately revealed. (3) wu-wei, the uncreated, achieved through the Void, which is free from obstruction by other things, and also free from obstructing other things. This wu-wei is beyond the first two categories of wu-wei.

41.    Chuang Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 2.

42.    The seventh stage of the ten stages of developing the Buddha wisdom, which include: (1) pramudita (joy in benefiting others), (2) vimala (freedom from all possible defilements), (3) prabhakarin (emission of the light of wisdom), (4) arcismati (glowing wisdom), (5) sudurjaya (overcoming utmost difficulties), (6) abhimukhin (realization of wisdom), (7) duramgama (proceeding far), (8) acala (attainment of immobility), (9) sadhumati (attainment of expedient wisdom), (10) dharmamegha (ability to spread the teachings over the dharma-dhatu as clouds spread over the sky).

43.    The last three of the above ten stages.

44.    Miao-fa lien-hua ching in Chinese; the Saddharma pundarika Sutra in Sanskrit.

45.    The Fourfold Truth taught by the Buddha: (1) Duhkha-satya, all existence is suffering; (2) Samudaya-satya, the cause of suffering is illusion and desire; (3) Nirodha-satya, Nirvana is the realm that is free from suffering; and (4) Marga-satya, the means for the attainment of Nirvana is the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path.

46.    Sariputra was one of the ten major disciples of Buddha. He was regarded as the most brilliant of the disciples.

47.    Purna Maitrayaniputra was also one of the ten major disciples of Buddha. He



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was the same age as Buddha, and was noted as the most eloquent of his disciples.

48.    Lao-tzu, op. cit., Chapter 48.

49.    Dharma-kaya means the absolute nature of the Buddha mind and also the body of the highest aspect of the threefold body of Buddha.

50.    Tao-hsing Sutra, or Tao-hsing-pan-jo-ching. A ten fascicle version of the Pan-jo-ching, translated into Chinese by Lokaraksa. This is the oldest surviving translation of the Pan-jo-ching in Chinese.

51.    Hsieh-chieh Sutra in Chinese; Bhadrakalpika Sutra in Sanskrit.

52.    Ch'eng-chu Sutra, or Ch'eng-chu kuang-ming ting-i ching.

53.    Dhyana Sutra in Sanskrit; Tso-ch'an san-mei ching in Chinese.

54.    Szu-i Sutra, or Szu-i fan-t'ien so-wen ching.

55.    See the Vimalakirti Sutra.

56.    Lao Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 38.

57.    Ibid., Chapter 41.

58.    Ibid.. Chapter 41.

59.    Chuang Tzu, op. cit., Chapter 12.