24 July 2015

Form is Emptiness. Part II: Commentary

~~Continued from Form is Emptiness. Part I: Establishing the Text (17 Jul 2015)~~

Traditional Commentaries

We have, available in translation, two very early Chinese commentaries by Xuánzàng's top students Kuījī 窺基 (Shih & Lusthaus 2006) and Woncheuk 원측 (Choo 2006). These date from the 7th century, close to the composition of the text, with a strong suggestion that Woncheuk had a Sanskrit text to consult. (Lusthaus 2003). Kūkai's commentary from the early 9th century is perhaps the first Tantric commentary, and gives us insights into Kūkai's thought (Hakeda 1972). We also have eight Indian commentaries from the 8th-12th centuries preserved in Tibetan, translated and studied by Donald Lopez (1988, 1996). However, as almost every scholar who has ever studied these commentaries has complained, they are resolutely sectarian.
"One feature of these commentaries on the Heart Sūtra struck me quite forcibly: each commentary seemed so different from the others, and yet they seemed all to show in greater or less degree the influence of the Mādhyamika School of Buddhist philosophy. The writers seemed to be experiencing some difficulty in exposition, as though they were not writing through having inherited a tradition about the scripture going back to its original composition, but rather were simply arranging their particular learning in Buddhism to the terminology of the sūtra." (Wayman 1984: 309)
Each commentator takes the Heart Sutra to epitomise their views on Buddhism, whatever their views happen to be. There is no commentarial tradition which ties the Heart Sutra into the early Prajñāpāramitā tradition where it arguably belongs, since, especially with the words of this passage we are dealing with here, the ideas come from the early centuries of the Common Era at the latest. As Malcolm David Eckel says:
"... to approach the Indian commentaries in the hope that they will somehow yield the 'original' meaning of the text is to invite disappointment... what they thought it meant was shaped as much by the preoccupations of their own time as it was by the words of the sūtra itself. (Eckel 1987: 69-70)
The traditional commentaries are, in short, a major disappointment. The Chinese commentaries, for example, are couched in thick and impenetrable Yogācāra jargon. Without their own commentary, the commentaries don't really make sense. The language of the translations in both cases is classic Buddhist Hybrid English, but worse, Kuījī constantly contradicts himself, alternating between telling us that dharmas exist and do not exist, perhaps as a result of a commitment to the Two Truths. It means that his argument on this passage is, on face value, incoherent. The Indian commentaries preserved in Tibetan have much the same problems, though looking at the Heart Sutra from different sectarian points of view. None take the text as their starting point. All take their belief system as a starting point and try to shoehorn the Heart Sutra into it. In other words, no commentator is trying to explain the text; they are using the text as a cipher to expound their existing views. Which means that, though they might be interesting historical documents in their own right, they are next to useless in the quest to understand the text on its own terms.

There is one source which is not a commentary on the passage but which may help reveal something about the text. As we know, this part of the Heart Sutra is an extract from the Pañca-viṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā, but the Pañcaviṃśati, itself, is an extrapolation from the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā. One way to approach understanding this passage, then, is to attempt to locate the original passage in Aṣṭa from which is descends and see what it says. I believe I can point to the passage in question and that it sheds previously unseen light on this famous rebus. Before we get there, however, we need to consider modern commentary

Modern Commentary

Unfortunately, all the remarks that apply to traditional commentaries can also be applied to modern ones -- with one exception that I am aware of, which is in Jones (2012). Jones is a relative outsider in that he does not seem to hold either an academic or ecclesiastical post, but he does have appropriate qualifications and is well versed in Prajñāpāramitā and Madhyamaka literature. And although his approach to translating the Heart Sutra is a sectarian one (based, I think, on the Yogācāra inspired exposition of Alex Wayman, though he neglects to say), in his book of Prajñāpāramitā translations there is a short essay on just the passage we are considering (2012: 224-226). Jones initially expresses considerable misgivings about "form is emptiness, emptiness only form". "In fact," he says, "the claim is odd." 

The first problem is that the text appears to make śūnyatā into "an ontological source of some kind... rather than simply the absence of self-existence." Jones cites Thích Nhất Hạnh as a populariser of this view when he says: "form is the wave, and emptiness is the water". But this is completely out of keeping with Prajñāpāramitā and with Madhyamaka thinking about śūnyatā. There is nothing that emptiness "is" because conceptually and semantically it denotes an absence! If in Nhất Hạnh's metaphor emptiness is the water, then it is a presence of something from which waves are made, not the absence that helps us to see the wave is insubstantial.

A related problem is that form is, in the Two Truths view, ultimately "unreal" whereas śūnyatā is not. I take issue with Jones here on the basis of Kātyāyana: real and unreal are not qualities that can be imputed to experience. What he means, I think, is that dharmas arise and pass away, whereas śūnyatā is always the characteristic of all dharmas. Form is contingent, but all forms lack svabhāva. To try to equate the two, as the Heart Sutra seems to, is to make a category error. My own view is that equating a substantive (rūpa) with an abstract (śūnyatā) is as best linguistically awkward, at worst nonsense. Jones briefly notes the alternate reading in some sources, i.e., "form is empty" (rupam śūnyam). Which is fine until we try to turn it around and discover that nouns and adjectives play different roles in language and can't be interchanged. The irony here, as we will see below, is that in a sutra largely devoted to negations, this positive assertion is the most problematic passage in the text. 

However by the end of his short treatise, Jones seems to have convinced himself that the passage does make sense. 
"...'form is emptiness' appears to mean that emptiness does not exist apart from the bodily aggregates and the other factors of the experienced world. Emptiness is not an ontological source or some transcendental reality to be attained by abolishing the phenomenal realm." (226)
Thus Jones manages to convince himself, through invoking "a Gestalt-like shift", that the text that seemed so problematic to begin with in fact confirms his understanding of Perfection of Wisdom according to Nāgārjuna. The problems in Buddhist texts have to be rationalised and normalised. When one's hermeneutic disallows nonsense, then finding it, one will simply re-interpret it as a new kind of sense that requires a special counter-intuitive perspective. At least Jones does not look down on his audience for their not having that special perspective, in the way that Conze did.

My approach is different. In my hermeneutic, "nonsense" is not just a possible reading, it is expected. Reading a text as trying to express something about experience is a productive approach, but it cannot solve all the problems encountered, precisely because the author was frequently trying to make an ontological point. All ontologies that are based on the raw phenomenology of experience hold the possibility of error, of confusion, and of nonsense. Nonsense is a likely outcome when generalising about reality from individual experience. And this is not simply my opinion. The early Buddhists knew this, at least in principle, when they spelled out the kinds of wrong views that one could come to by generalising on the basis of recollecting one's former lives through psychic powers developed in the fourth jhāna, see the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1; i.12-16).Thus, we can expect to find nonsense as Buddhists embrace speculations about ontology and, by the time of the Heart Sutra, this embrace was already locked in. 

Thus primed, we can now move on to considering what the Aṣṭa can tell us about the Heart Sutra.

Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā

The first thing to say by way of commentary is that remarks about form (rūpa) and emptiness apply just as much to the other skandhas, individually and collectively. We usually give extra weight to form because it is used as the example for this analysis, but this skews the view. Yes, form is empty of svabhāva, but so are sensation (vedanā), apperception (saṃjñā), volition (saṃskāra) and cognition (vijñāna); or all five together, since they only ever operate collectively. We could just as well conduct the whole discussion in terms of vedanā or saṃjñā. And that would give the discussion a very different feel, because the temptation to make an ontology out of vedanā or saṃjñā must be considerably less. If anything, such a discussion would tend to Idealism. So any conclusions we come to must be applicable to the entire apparatus of experience, not just to the locus or object of experience (rūpa).

Another preliminary comment is that talk of śūnyatā is, at least in part, an invocation of the three liberations (P. vimokkha) the signless (animitta); desireless (apaṇihita) and emptiness (suññatā). These refer to profound states of absorption in which sense experience does not impinge on the mind at all. It's entirely possible that some of these passages in the Prajñāpāramitā, in which the bodhisatva 'grasps at nothing', etc., relate to śūnyatā-vimokṣa. Compare the two suññatā suttas (MN 121, 122) and the Mahāvedalla Sutta (MN 43). More on these at a later date.

The Heart Sutra passage is in the third chapter of Pañcaviṃśāti, so we expect to find any corresponding passages early on in Aṣṭa, probably in the first chapter. Where possible, I will try to supply parallels from the first century CE Gāndhārī Aṣṭa (Falk & Karashima 2012). The Aṣṭa is full of references to śūnyatā, but not in the first chapter. However, there are two passages in Chapter One which shed light on the Heart Sutra. The first is:
That said, Elder Subhuti said to Elder Śāriputra... "Form, Elder Śāriputra, is free from self-existent form; just so for sensation, names, volition; discernment, Elder Śāriputra, is free of self-existent discernment. Perfect-wisdom, Elder Śāriputra, is free of self-existent perfect-wisdom. Omniscience is free of self-existent omniscience. Perfect-wisdom is also free of the characteristic of perfect-wisdom. A characteristic is free of self-existent characteristics. The signified is free of self-existent. The self-existent is also free of a characteristic of self-existent signification. (Aṣṭa 1.12; Vaidya p.6)
The highlighted sentence takes the form: rūpam eva virahitaṃ rūpasvabhāvena. This is fairly standard Buddhist metaphysics, and quite similar to the kind of argument we see in the Vajracchedikā-prajñāpāramitā also (See The use of Negation in Vajracchedikā). Although we experience form, or experience ourselves as having form, there is no self-existent form. "Form" arises because sense object meets sense faculty in the presence of sense cognition, because the apparatus of experience is functioning. There is no 'essence of form' to give being to form. This places a strict limit on epistemology, on what we can know. Knowing the dependently arisen form does not give us knowledge of the object, only the experience. From a modern perspective this is too restrictive (I'll discuss this in a forthcoming essay), but for now we need to accept that early Mainstream Buddhists accepted this limit on knowledge and seem to have passed it on to some early Mahāyāna Buddhists. Additionally, as per Nāgārjuna's argument, if a form were to be endowed with self-existent form, then that form would either never exist, or always exist. Because experience is constantly arising and passing away, we know that it cannot have svabhāva in the sense of self-existence. (See also Emptiness for Beginners) Which also ties into the rejection of the terms "existence" and "non-existence" in discussing experience. And this is what we take "form is emptiness" to mean, though why the abstract noun śūnyatā is used in the Heart Sutra is, as I say, unclear.

We surmise that the problem that passages like this are addressing is the incipient Realism of the Abhidharma project. It used to be thought that this kind of language was a direct dig at the Sarvāstivādins. In fact, it seems to be a generalised critique with nothing specific to the Sarvāstivāda. The authors of the Abhidharma started out using the word svabhāba to mean something like a characteristic quality. At first it defined categories into which dharmas could be slotted. Gradually, the dharmas themselves came to be seen as having these qualities. And, before long, the defining characteristic took on a separate life, that did not arise and pass away. The early Prajñāpāramitā texts were, in part, a general critique of this kind of erroneous thinking.

So this first passage from Aṣṭa critiques Realism with respect to dharmas. But what we are ideally looking for is a discussion of the emptiness of dharmas. The second passage which sheds light is the only part of Chapter One that uses the word śūnya.
Furthermore, Elder Subhūti, having begun [describing?], the bodhisatva mahāsatva thus said: if he practises with respect to form, he practices with respect to a sign (nimitta). If he practises with respect to an external characteristic of form, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘this is a feature of form’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the arising of form, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the cessation of form, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the destruction of form, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘form is empty’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘I am practising’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘I am a bodhisatva’, he practices with respect to a sign. Just perceiving ‘I am a bodhisatva’ he practices.
Thus with respect to sensation, designation, volitions.
If he practises with respect to discernment, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to an external characteristic of discernment, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘this is a feature of discernment’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the arising of discernment, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the cessation of discernment, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to the destruction of discernment, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘discernment is empty’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘I am practising’, he practices with respect to a sign. If he practises with respect to ‘I am a bodhisatva’, he practices with respect to a sign. Just perceiving ‘I am a bodhisattva’ he practices. If, moreover, there is [the thought] ‘he practices with respect to the perfection of wisdom who thus practises, creating the perfection of wisdom’ he practices only [with] external features. This bodhisatva is called ‘not skilled in the good’ (Aṣṭa 1.14)
The passage is, in fact, one long paragraph, but I have broken it up and added some highlighting to make the structure of it more clear. For the Gāndhārī manuscript and notes on Chinese counterparts compare Falk & Karashima (2012: 57 & n.52). The first section critiques the idea of practising with respect to form. If one's orientation is to experience, then even if one is practising for the end of experience, it is still practising relative to experience. The form that impacts on the sense, causing an experience to arise and then cease, is of no interest to the bodhisatva. It's all just sense experience and being caught up in sense experience is what traps us in saṃsāra. So the idea is to unhook from sense experience completely. And one of the ways of expressing this is the almost familiar phrase:
saced rūpaṃ śūnyamiti carati, nimitte carati | (Aṣṭa 1.14.7)
If he practises with respect to ‘form is empty’, he practices with respect to a sign.
The part in quotes is our familiar line rūpaṃ śūnyam 'form is empty'. In the Pañcaviṃśati and, therefore, in the Heart Sutra, the statement has become decontextualised and abstracted: śūnyatā is an abstract noun from śūnya as 'emptiness' is an abstraction from 'empty'. Aṣṭa is saying that if one practices with the idea that 'form is empty', then one is still getting it wrong, because one is still practising with respect to sense experience. And yet, this is a common interpretation. Buddhists go around quoting "form is emptiness" as though it is profound, as though it is the whole point, when Aṣṭa more or less says that it is a delusion. And this is so because, as the first passage says, form is free of self-existent form.

Now, as we know, liberation (temporary or permanent) is signless (animitta). And this description of the bodhisatva's practice reads very like descriptions of the experience of vimokṣa described in the Pāli suññata suttas (MN 121,122). I just want to flag up this connection and will explore it in another essay.

In a later chapter the Aṣṭa expands on the emptiness of dharmas in a familiar way:
Here, Subhūti, the bodhisatvas mahāsatvas, being fully enlightened Buddhas, teach the dharma that form has the [same] condition of space in the world. So also sensation, apperception, and volition. In the same way, Subhūti, all dharmas have the condition of space, not coming, not going, just like space. Just as space does not come or go; it is not made or unmade or shaped, it does not last, remain, or endure, it does not arise or cease, so also all dharmas do not come or go; they are is not made or unmade or shaped, they do not last, remain, or endure, they do not arise or cease. Why is that? Subhuti, the emptiness of form does not come or go. So also with sensations, apperception, and volition. The emptiness of cognitions does not come or go. In the same way, Subhūti, the emptiness of all dharmas does not come or go. The reason is that all dharmas are in a state of emptiness. They cannot escape that state. (Aṣṭa 15.2 Vaidya 148)
The important point here seems to be that the bodhisatva must not identify with the world of experience. And this is where we might think of the bodhisatva as in the state of śūnyatāvimokṣa, in which the world of experience has effectively ceased. In the terminology of the Spiral Path they become fed up (nibbidā) with sense experience and lose their fascination with it (virāga) and are thus liberated from saṃsāra (vimukti), which, in turn produces, the knowledge that they are liberated (vimuktijñāṇa). It is the last that is communicated to disciples in order to cause the arising of faith in the Tathāgata. Note that Aṣṭa says "all dharmas are in a state of emptiness" (śūnyatāgatikā sarvadharmāḥ) which echoes the Heart Sutra's phrase "all dharmas are characterised by emptiness" (sarvadharmāḥ śūnyatālakṣanāḥ).

So far, this is all pretty standard Prajñāpāramitā, even if the emphasis is somewhat different from the usual Heart Sutra commentary. The Aṣṭa has interesting things to say about the Heart Sutra, particularly that practising with respect to "form is empty" is still not what the bodhisatva does. This is still a concept and the bodhisatva, perhaps in the meditative state known as śūnyatā-vimokṣa, does not pay attention to any such concepts. To emphasise this phrase is not necessarily the same as being wise. 

Next week, however, we will be going off piste. It turns out that the phrase that everyone knows and loves was significantly altered when it moved from Aṣṭa to Pañcaviṃśati. The version of the phrase in Aṣṭa opens up a whole new vista for thinking about the Heart Sutra and what it might mean.


Chinese Texts from the CBETA version of the Taishō. http://www.cbeta.org
Sanskrit texts from Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages (Gretil) http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/ 
  • Vajracchedikā-prajñāpāramitā from Harrison & Watanabe, as simplified on Bibliotecha Polyglota.
  • Prajñāpāramitā-ratnaguṇasaṃcaya-gāthā from Yuyama, Akira. (1976) 

Attwood, Jayarava (2014) Escaping the Inescapable: Changes in Buddhist Karma. Journal of Buddhist Ethics. 21: 503-535.
Attwood, Jayarava (2015). Heart Murmurs: Some Problems with Conze’s Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 8: 28-48.
Conze, Edward. (1967) ‘The Prajñāpāramitā-Hṛdaya Sūtra’ in Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies: Selected Essays, Bruno Cassirer, pp. 147-167. [revised version of Conze (1948).]
Eckel, Malcolm David. (1987) Indian Commentaries on the Heart Sūtra: The Politics of Interpretation. The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 10(2): 69-79
Falk, Harry & Karashima, Seishi. (2012) A first‐century Prajñāpāramitā manuscript from Gandhāra - parivarta 1 (Texts from the Split Collection 1). ARIRIAB XV, 19-61. Online: https://www.academia.edu/3561115/prajnaparamita-5  
Hakeda, Yoshito (1972). The Secret Key to the Heart Sutra in Kūkai: Major Works. Columbia University Press.
Hamilton, Sue. (2000) Early Buddhism: A New Approach. London: Routledge.
Choo, B. Hyun (2006) 'An English Translation of the Banya paramilda simgyeong chan: Wonch'uk's Commentary on the Heart Sūtra (Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra)' International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture. February 2006, Vol.6, pp.121-205.
Jones, Richard H. (2012) The Heart of Wisdom. Jackson Square Books. 
KIMURA Takayasu (2010). Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā. Vol. I-1, Tokyo: Sankibo Busshorin 2007. http://fiindolo.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/4_rellit/buddh/psp_1u.htm [Input by Klaus Wille, Göttingen, April 2010].
Lopez, Donald S. (1988) The Heart Sūtra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries. State University of New York Press.
Lopez, Donald S. (1996) Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. Princeton University Press.
Lusthaus, Dan. (2003) The Heart Sūtra in Chinese Yogācāra: Some Comparative Comments on the Heart Sūtra Commentaries of Wŏnch’ŭk and K’uei-chi. International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture. September, Vol. 3: 59-103. 
Huifeng [aka Orsborn, M. B.] (2008) A Survey Of Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra Translations In Chinese. Online: http://prajnacara.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/survey-of-prajnaparamita-sutra.html.
Nattier, Jan (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?' Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 15 (2) 153-223. Online: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/jiabs/article/view/8800/2707  
Shih, Heng-Ching & Lusthaus, Dan. (2006) A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita-hyrdaya-sutra). Numata Center for Buddhist Translation & Research.
Sperber, Dan. (2010) The Guru Effect. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 1:583–592 DOI 10.1007/s13164-010-0025-0
Tanahashi, Kazuki. (2014). The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism. Shambala.  
Wayman, Alex. (1984) Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. 
Yuyama, Akira. (1976) Prajñā-pāramitā-ratna-guṇa-saṃcaya-gāthā (Sanskrit Recension A). Cambridge University Press.  
Zacchetti, Stefano. (2005) In Praise of the Light: A Critical Synoptic Edition with an Annotated Translation of Chapters 1-3 of Dharmarakṣa's Guang zan jing, Being the Earliest Chinese Translation of the Larger Prajñāpāramitā, Tokyo. (Bibliotheca Philologica et Philosophica Buddhica, 8). IRIAB. Sanskrit text also available from Gretil.

Although I don't cite it directly, the material on śūnyatāvimokṣa is inspired by an essay privately circulated by my colleague Satyadhāna. It popped up rather late in the process of constructing this essay (which is already about 12,000 words long over three parts). I'm hoping it might be made more widely available, because it seems to me to provide further keys for understanding the early Perfection of Wisdom. I plan to survey the relevant Pāḷi texts and their Chinese counterparts as soon as is practical. My sense is that there is considerable continuity between them and Aṣṭa.


Sanskrit Aṣṭasāhasrikā Passages
Numbers in square brackets are pages in Vaidya's Edition. 
1.12 [6] evamukte āyuṣmān subhūtir āyuṣmantaṃ śāriputram etad avocat – etam etad āyuṣman śāriputra evam etat | rūpam evāyuṣman śāriputra virahitaṃ rūpasvabhāvena | evaṃ vedanaiva saṃjñaiva saṃskārā eva | vijñānam evāyuṣman śāriputra virahitaṃ vijñānasvabhāvena | prajñāpāramitaiva āyuṣman śāriputra virahitā prajñāpāramitāsvabhāvena | sarvajñataiva āyuṣman śāriputra virahitā sarvajñatāsvabhāvena | prajñāpāramitālakṣaṇenāpi prajñāpāramitā virahitā | lakṣaṇa-svabhāvenāpi lakṣaṇaṃ virahitam | lakṣya-svabhāvenāpi lakṣyaṃ virahitam | svabhāva-lakṣaṇenāpi svabhāvo virahitaḥ ||

1.14. punaraparamāyuṣmān subhūtir bodhisattvaṃ mahāsattvam ārabhyaivam āha – saced rūpe carati, nimitte carati | saced rūpanimitte carati, nimitte carati | saced ‘rūpaṃ nimittam’ iti carati, nimitte carati | sa ced rūpasyotpāde carati, nimitte carati | saced rūpasya nirodhe carati, nimitte carati | saced rūpasya vināśe carati, nimitte carati | saced rūpaṃ śūnyamiti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ carāmīti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ bodhisattva iti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ bodhisattva iti hy upalambha eva sa carati | evaṃ saced vidanāyāṃ saṃjñāyāṃ saṃskāreṣu | saced vijñāne carati, nimitte carati | saced vijñānanimitte carati, nimitte carati sacedvijñānaṃ nimittamiti carati, nimitte carati | saced vijñānasyotpāde carati, nimitte carati | saced vijñānasya nirodhe carati, nimitte carati | saced vijñānasya vināśe carati, nimitte carati | saced vijñānaṃ śūnyamiti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ carāmīti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ bodhisattva iti carati, nimitte carati | ahaṃ bodhisattva iti hy upalambha eva sa carati| sacet punarasyaivaṃ bhavati - ya evaṃ carati, sa prajñāpāramitāyāṃ carati, sa prajñāpāramitāṃ bhāvayatīti, nimitta eva sa carati | ayaṃ bodhisattvo 'nupāyakuśalo veditavyaḥ ||

1.22 atha khalvāyuṣmān subhūtir bhagavantam etada vocat - yo bhagavan evaṃ paripṛcchet - kimayaṃ māyāpuruṣāḥ sarvajñatāyāṃ śikṣiṣyate, sarvajñatāyā āsannībhaviṣyati, sarvajñatāyāṃ niryāsyatīti? tasya bhagavan evaṃ paripṛcchataḥ kathaṃ nirdeṣṭavyaṃ syāt? evamukte bhagavānāyuṣmantaṃ subhūtimetadavocat - tena hi subhūte tvāmevātra pratiprakṣyāmi / yathā te kṣamate, tathā vyākuryāḥ / sādhu bhagavannityāyuṣmān subhūtirbhagavataḥ pratyaśrauṣīt / bhagavānetadavocat - tatkiṃ manyase subhūte anyā sā māyā, anyattadrūpam, anyā sā māyā, anyā sā vedanā / anyā sā saṃjñā, anye te saṃskārāḥ / anyā sā māyā, anyattadvijñānam? subhūtirāha - na hyetadbhagavan / na hi bhagavan anyā sā māyā anyattadrūpam / rūpameva bhagavan māyā, māyaiva rūpam / na hi bhagavan anyā sā māyā anyā sā vedanā, anyā sā saṃjñā anye te saṃskārāḥ / vedanā saṃjñā [9] saṃskārā eva bhagavan māyā, māyaiva vedanāsaṃjñāsaṃskārāḥ / na bhagavan anyā sā māyā anyattadvijñānam / vijñānameva bhagavan māyā, māyaiva vijñānam //

15.2 iha subhūte bodhisattvā mahāsattvā anuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhimabhisaṃbuddhāḥ santo lokasya ākāśagatikaṃ rupamiti dharmaṃ deśayanti / evaṃ vedanā saṃjñā saṃskārāḥ / evameva subhūte sarvadharmā ākāśagatikā anāgatikā agatikā ākāśasamāḥ / yathā ākāśam anāgatam agatam akṛtam avikṛtam anabhisaṃskṛtam, asthitam asaṃsthitam avyavasthitam , anutpannam aniruddham, evameva subhūte sarvadharmā anāgatā āgatā ākṛtā avikṛtā anabhisaṃskṛtā asthitā asaṃsthitā avyavasthitā anutpannā aniruddhā ākāśakalpatvādavikalpāḥ / tatkasya hetoḥ? yā subhūte rūpasya śūnyatā, na sā āgacchati vā gacchati vā / evaṃ vedanāyāḥ saṃjñāyāḥ saṃskārāṇām / yā subhūte vijñānasya śūnyatā, na sā āgacchati vā gacchati vā / evameva subhūte yā sarvadharmāṇāṃ śūnyatā, na sā āgacchati vā gacchati vā / tatkasya hetoḥ? śūnyatāgatikā hi subhūte sarvadharmāḥ / te tāṃ gatiṃ na vyativartante /[148]

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