The following blog entry is from a post made in my forum on 9th October 2008. It is about seeing awareness as manifestation instead of a mirror reflecting, and seeing the inseparability of awareness and conditions. This is also related to a previous blog entry Dependent Arising of Consciousness which contains a related text by Arya Nagarjuna.
Passerby/Thusness saw some inadequateness in one of the Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma translations, and translated himself a certain passage and commented on my forum:
Original Chinese text from Bodhidharma's Bloodstream Sermon (血脉论): 若智慧明了，此心号名法性，亦名解脱。生死不拘，一切法拘它不得，是名大自在王如来；亦名不思议，亦名圣体，亦名长生不死，亦名大仙。名虽不同，体即是一。圣人种种分别，皆不离自心。心量广大，应用无穷，应眼见色，应耳闻声，应鼻嗅香，应舌知味，乃至施为运动，皆是自心。
(I myself translated certain parts to fill in the gap): With the illumination of wisdom (prajna), mind is known as Dharma Nature, mind is known as Liberation. Neither life nor death can restrain this mind, no dharmas (phenomenon) can. It’s also called the King of Great Freedom Tathagata, the Incomprehensible, the Holy Essence, the Immortality, the Great Immortal. Its names vary but its essence is one. Sages vary, but none are separate from his own mind. The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its conditional functions are inexhaustible. With the condition of eyes, forms are seen, With the condition of ears, sounds are heard, With the condition of nose, smells are smelled, With the condition of tongue, tastes are tasted, every movement or states are all one's Mind.
Comments by Passerby/Thusness:
A better way to translate this should be:
With the illumination of wisdom (prajna), mind is known as Dharma Nature, mind is known as Liberation.
Comments: It is important to know that mind is itself liberation. That is why knowing the nature of our mind is the way of liberation. If Liberation is not experienced, then the clarity is still not there. There is no true understanding of what mind is.
Liberation is this Pristine Awareness itself in its natural state. That is why understanding this Pristine Awareness is the direct path towards liberation. If we cannot see that the 5 aggregates are themselves our Buddha Nature, then we will not understand there is nothing to shunt from the transience. Thought liberates, sound liberates, tastes liberates. The transience liberates. If we do not see that, then we are taking a gradual path. It is also not advisable to speak too much about spontaneous arising or self liberation. It can be quite misleading.
A better way to translate should be:
With the condition of the eye, forms are seen, With the condition of ears, sounds are heard, With the condition of nose, smells are smelled, With the condition of tongue, tastes are tasted, every movement or states are all one's Mind.
Here there are 2 important points to take note. First is that Buddha Nature is the transience. Second it is more of '应'. Means with the condition of the eye, forms arise. With ears, sound arises.
Awareness is not like a mirror reflecting but rather a manifestation. Luminosity is an arising luminous manifestation rather than a mirror reflecting. The center here is being replaced with Dependent Origination, the experience however is non-dual.
One must learn how to see Appearances as Awareness and all others as conditions. Example, sound is awareness. The person, the stick, the bell, hitting, air, ears...are conditions. One should learn to see in this way. All problems arise because we cannot experience Awareness this way.
Conventionally we experience in the form of subject and object interaction taking place in a space-time continuum. This is just an assumption. Experientially it is not so. One should learn to experience awareness as the manifestation. There is no subject, there is only and always manifestation, all else are conditions of arising. All these are just provisional explanations for one to understand.
What's seen is Awareness. What's heard is Awareness. All experiences are non-dual in nature. However this non-dual luminosity cannot be understood apart from the ‘causes and conditions’ of arising. Therefore do not see ‘yin’ as Awareness interacting with external conditions. If you see it as so, then it still falls in the category of mirror-reflecting. Rather see it as an instantaneous manifestation where nothing is excluded. As if the universe is giving its very best for this moment to arise. A moment is complete and non-dual. Vividly manifest and thoroughly gone leaving no traces.
Phrase like “everything arises from Emptiness and subsides back to Emptiness” is equally misleading. By doing so, we have made ‘Emptiness’ into a metaphysical essence; similarly not to make the same mistake for “causes and conditions”, not to objectify it into a metaphysical essence. All are provisional terms to point to our insubstantial, essence-less and interdependent nature.