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(Thirty Stanzas)

By Vasubandhu



Concepts of Atman and dharmas do not imply the existence of a real Atman and real dharmas, but are merely fictitious
constructions [produced by numerous causes].
Because of this, all varieties of phenomenal appearances and qualities arise.
The phenomena of Atman and dharmas are [all mental re-presentations] based on manifestation and transformation of consciousness.
Consciousnesses capable of unfolding or manifesting themselves may be grouped in three general categories:


(1) The consciousness whose fruits (retribution) mature at varying times (i.e., the eighth or 'Storehouse' consciousness or Alayavijnana);
(2) the consciousness that cogitates or de-liberates (i.e., the seventh or thought-centre consciousness of Manas) ;
And (3) the consciousness that perceives and discriminates between spheres of objects (i.e., the sixth or sense-centre consciousness or Manovijnana and five sense consciousnesses).
The first is the Alayavijnana (i.e., storehouse or repository consciousness).
It is also called Vipakavijnana (retributive consciousness) and Sarvabijakavijnana (the consciousness that carries within it all Bijas or seeds). [It brings to fruition all seeds (effects of good and evil deeds).]


It is impossible to comprehend completely (1) what it 'holds and receives' (upadi).
(2) Its 'place' or 'locality' (sthana), and (3) its power or perception and discrimination (vijnapti). It is at all times associated with five mental attributes (caittas), namely, mental contact (Sparsa), Attention (Manaskara), sensation (Vedana), conception (Samjna), and volition (Cetana).
But it is always associated only with the 'sensation of indifference' (Upeksa).


It belongs to the 'non-defiled-non-defined moral species'.
The same is true in the case of mental contact (Sparsa) and so forth.
It is perpetually manifesting itself like a torrent, and is renounced (i.e., it ceases to be called the Alaya) in the state of Arhatship (the state of the saint who enters Nirvana).


Next comes the second evolving consciousness.
This consciousness is called Manas.
It manifests itself, with the Alayavijnana as its basis and support, and takes that consciousness as its object.
It has the nature and character of cogitation or intellection.


It is always accompanied by four klesas or vexing passions (sources of affliction and delusion), namely, Self-delusion (atmamoha) and Self-belief (atmadrsti), together with Self-conceit (atmamana) and Self-love (atmasneha).
It is also accompanied by the other mental associates (caittas), namely mental contact (Sparsa) and so forth [attention, sensation, conception, and volition].


It belongs to the 'defiled-non-defined moral species' (neither good nor bad but defiled).
It is active in the dhatu or bhumi in which the sentient being is born and to which he is bound.
It ceases to exist at the stage of Arhatship, in the 'meditation of annihilation' (state of complete extinction of thought and other mental qualities), And on the supramundane path.


Next comes the third evolving consciousness, which is divided into six categories of discrimination.
Their nature and character consist of the perception and discrimination of spheres of objects.
They are good, bad, and neither good nor bad.


They are associated with the universal caittas, The special caittas, the good caittas, the klesas (vexing passions or mental qualities), The upaklesas (secondary vexing passions or mental qualities), and the Aniyatas (indeterminate mental associates).
They are all associated with the three sensations (Vedanas) [joy, sorrow, and indifference].


First, universal caittas, mental contact and so forth (attention, sensation, conception, volition).
Next, special caittas, that is, desire (Chanda). Resolve (Adhimoksa), memory (Smrti), meditation (Samadhi), and discernment (Prajna).
The objects perceived by the special caittas are particular and varied.


The good caittas refer to belief (Sraddha), sense of shame (Hri), sense of integrity (Apatrapa), The three roots of non-covetousness (Alobha) and so forth [non-anger (Advesa) and non-delusion (Amoha)], Zeal or diligence (Virya), composure of mind (Prasrabdhi), vigilance (Apramada), Equanimity (Upeksa), and harmlessness or non-injury (Avihimsa).


The klesas are covetousness (Raga), anger (Pratigha), Delusion (Moha), conceit (Mana), doubt (Vicikitsa), and false views (Kudrsti). The upaklesas (secondary vexing passions) are (1) fury (Krodha) (2) Enmity (Upanaha) ; (3) concealment or hypocrisy (Mraksa) (4) vexation (Pradasa) ; (5) envy (Irsyr) ; (6) parsimony (Matsarya) ;


(7) Deception (Sathya) ; (8) duplicity or fraudulence (Maya) ; (with) (9) harmfulness (Vihimsa) ; (10) pride (Mada) ; (11) Shamelessness (Ahri) ; (12) non-integrity (Atrapa or Anapatrapya) ; (13) Agitation or restlessness (Uddhava) ; (with) (14) torpid-mindedness (Styana) ; (15) Unbelief (Asraddha) ; (16) indolence (Kausidya) ;


(17) Idleness (Pramada) ; (18) forgetfulness (Musitasmrtita) ; (19) Distraction (Viksepa) ; and (20) non-discernment or thoughtlessness (Asamprajanya).
The indeterminate mental qualities refer to remorse (Kamkrtya), drowsiness (Middha), Reflection (Vitarka), and investigation (Vicara) ; these two Couples can be of two kinds.


In dependence upon the root consciousness (i.e., the eighth consciousness, Alayavijnana) The five consciousnesses (of the senses) manifest themselves in accordance with carious causes and conditions, Sometimes together, sometimes separately, Just as waves manifest themselves in dependence upon the conditions of the water.


But the sixth consciousness (Manovijnana) manifests itself at all times, Except for beings born into the 'heavenly world without thought' (among Asamjnidevas in whom thinking has entirely ceased), Except also for those in the two mindless Samapattis (two forms of meditation in which there is no more activity of thought) and Those who are in states of stupor or unconsciousness.


The various consciousnesses manifest themselves in what seem to be two divisions:
Perception (Darsanabhaga) and the object of perception (nimittabhaga).
Because of this, Atman and dharmas do not exist.
For this reason, all is mere consciousness.


From the consciousness which contains all Bijas (seeds) (the Alayavijnana) Such-and-such evolution or transformation takes place.
Through the force of the mutual co-operation of the actual Dharmas Such-and-such kinds of distinction are engendered.


Owing to the habit-energy (Bijas or vasana) of various previous deeds, Together with the habit-energy of the two 'Apprehensions' (Grahas), As previous retribution (karma of previous existences) is exhausted, Succeeding retribution (maturing in subsequent existences) is produced.


Because of such and such imaginations, Such and such things are imagined, [i.e., conceived by the Imagination].
What is conceived by this imagination (parikalpitasvabhava) Has no nature of its own.


The self-nature which results from dependence on others (paratantra) Consists of discriminations produced by causes and conditions.
The difference between the nature of Ultimate Reality (parinispanna) and the nature of dependence on others (paratantra) Is that the former is eternally free from the parikalpita-nature (conception by the imagination) of the latter, that is, the Paratantra (dependence on others for manifestation).


Thus, the nature of Ultimate Reality and the nature of dependence on others Are neither different nor non-different, Just as impermanence is neither different nor non-different from impermanent dharmas.
One does not perceive the nature of dependence on others as long one has not perceived that of Ultimate Reality.


On the basis of the three natures of existence Are established the three natures of non-existence (nihsvabhava).
For this reason the Buddha preached, with secret intention, That all dharmas have no nature of their own.


The first is non-existence as regards characteristics (laksananihsvabhava) [since they are but products of the imagination].
The second is non-existence as regards innate nature or origination (utpattinihsvabhava) [since it is the result of discrimination].
The last is [non-existence as regards the supreme truth about all dharmas (paramarthanihsvabhava)] which is far removed from the first 'nature of mere-imagination', In which things are believed to be a real Atman and real dharmas.


This supreme truth about all dharmas (dharmaparamartha) Is also Bhutatathata (chen-ju, genuine thusness, absolute reality), Because it is immutable, remaining constantly thus in its nature.
This is the true nature of Mere-consciousness (vijnaptimatrata).


As long as the consciousness (of wisdom) has not arisen To seek to abide in the state of Vijnaptrmatrata, The 'attachment' and 'drowsiness' (anusayas) arising from the two 'apprehensions' (grahas) Cannot, as yet, be suppressed and obliterated.


As long as one places something before himself and, taking it as an object, Declares that it is the nature of Mere-consciousness, He is really not residing in the state of Mere-consciousness, Because he is in possession of something.


If, in perceiving the sphere of objects, Wisdom (jnana) no longer conceives any idea of the object, Then that wisdom is in the state of Vijnaptimatrata, Because both the object to be appended and the act of apprehending by consciousness are absent.


Without perception, inconceivable and incomprehensible, This is transcendental suramundane wisdom (jnana).
Because of the abandonment of the crude dross of the two barriers (avarnas), Inner transformation (asrayaparavrtti) into perfect wisdom is achieved.


This is the Pure Dhatu (the undefiled storehouse realm) Which is inconceivable and incomprehensible, good and eternal, Where one is in a state of blissfulness with one's emancipated body (vimuktikaya) ;
This is the law of 'Great Silence' (mahamuni), the Dharmakaya, realized by the great Buddha, Sakyamuni.