The Ten Mara-States of the Skandha of Consciousness

"Ananda, as the disciples practice samadhi and the skandha of volition comes to an end, within the nature of all things in the world the subtle disturbance in this clear state that is the common life force shared by all living things suddenly breaks open. At this point, the fine fabric of samsara, together with the deep thread of the karma of transmigration and feeling and response are radically suspended. Now they have reached the threshold of the great enlightenment to nirvana, like the cock's crow that causes us to gaze to the east where brilliant rays already appear. The six senses are empty and still and no longer galloping abroad. Within and without are perfect clarity, and one enters a state where nothing stains our consciousness. Profoundly penetrating the origin of life of the twelve classes of living things in the ten directions, they can contemplate the source of attachment without feeling any attraction themselves. Now they have already achieved an identity with all things in the universe; daylight dawns and all secrets are revealed. This is called 'the realm of the skandha of consciousness.' In the midst of the world's attractions they are now able to maintain their identity with the world, for they have overcome the six senses, so that the senses are able to unite or function separately, and hearing and seeing are interchangeable in their purity. The world of the ten directions, together with his own body and mind are like glass, which is perfectly transparent within and without. This is called 'the end of the skandha of consciousness.' In this way, the practitioner can transcend the defilements of life and contemplate the source of its impurity, which arises from insubstantial imaginings and foolish thoughts.

1. "Ananda, you must know that as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they will revert to the source of the skandha of consciousness. Although they have wiped out the illusion of birth and death, they have not yet reached the perfection of nirvana. Nevertheless, they are able to unify the six senses or use them independently. The are also able to unify their consciousness with the consciousness of all living things and achieve a state of omniscience. However, if in reverting to this state of perfection they take it as the cause of true permanence and regard this as the superior interpretation, they will fall into the error of holding onto the notion of causality and become an adherent of the Kapila doctrine, that holds primordial obscurity as the origin of reality, and thus miss the true bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the first false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which holds that the consciousness attained produces the effects experienced. In this way one strays far from perfect enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of heresy.

2. "Ananda, progressing further, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, before realizing the wonder of nirvana, in reverting to this state of pure consciousness, they may survey the universe and regard it as their own body, insisting that the twelve classes of living things throughout boundless space all flow from it. In this way they will fall into the error of holding that they create what they do not in reality create, and thus become adherents of the deva Mahasvara, who appears in a limitless body. Thus they miss the true bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the second false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which holds that the mind is the ultimate creator and that this is the highest attainment. In this way, one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of arrogance for asserting the omnipresence of the self.

3. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, if before realizing the wonder of nirvana, they cling to the skandha of consciousness, they may take it that the body and mind both flow from this state and that boundless space in the ten directions also arises from this. Then they will insist that the realm from which all of this is expressed is the true permanent indestructible body. As a result of concluding that consciousness is permanent, they will be confused regarding both noncreation and also creation and destruction. For complacence in this deluded interpretation, they will fall into regarding what is not permanent as permanent and become adherents of Ishvaradeva, the divine creator of all things. Thus they miss the true bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the third false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which holds the causality of mind, and therefore produces an erroneous conclusion. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of false perfection.

4. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, before realizing the wonder of nirvana, they may believe that their understanding is perfect universal knowledge, and based on this knowledge, insist that even the plant kingdom is sentient, no different from mankind. Likewise, plants being the same as men, when men die they return as plants. For this indiscriminate application of the concept of universal knowledge, they fall into attributing knowledge where there is no knowledge and become adherents of the doctrine of Vasistha and Sani, who held that everything is sentient. Thus they miss the true bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This then is called the fourth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which incorrectly concludes that the omniscient mind is the ultimate attainment. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of false knowledge.

5. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, if before realizing the wonder of nirvana, they succeed in harmonizing the functioning of the six senses, they may find the source of creation in these harmonious transformations. In the midst of this they may be tempted to worship the brilliance of fire, the purity of water, the freedom of wind, or the creativity of the earth. They may take these elements as the fundamental causes of creation and insist that they are the permanent reality. For attributing creativity to that which has no power to create, they become followers of the doctrine of Kasyapa and the Brahmins, who devote themselves to the worship of fire and water and seek to escape the cycle of birth and death. Thus they miss the true bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the fifth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which engages in worship of the elements, losing one's mind in the pursuit of external objects, and thereby chasing false causes and effects. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of distorting the laws of transformation.

6. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, before realizing the wonder of nirvana, and in this state of perfect clarity, he may conclude that this state of consciousness is itself void and that all transformations end in annihilation. Taking refuge in eternal annihilation, and believing this to be the superior interpretation, these practitioners fall into relying on what is unreliable and become adherents of the dhyana of thoughtlessness. Thus they miss the bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the sixth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which posits perfect annihilation and mindlessness and leads to voidness and fruitlessness. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of
annihilation.

7. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, before realizing the wonder of nirvana, and in this state of perfect constancy, they may desire to attain immortality of the body and share in the perfection and everlasting deathlessness. For insisting on the superiority of this interpretation, they will fall into coveting the unattainable and become adherents of the immortality seekers. Thus they miss the bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the seventh false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which consists of clinging to the source of life, leading to foolish causes and bitter fruits. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of foolishly clinging to longevity.

8. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, if before realizing the wonder of nirvana, they may contemplate the fundamental unity of the source of life and come to fear the total annihilation of this material plane, thus using their mental powers to retire to a lotus palace, display the seven treasures, and surround themselves with beautiful women. For insisting on indulging in this fantasy, these practitioners will fall into regarding as real what is not real and become adherents of the heavenly demons. Thus they miss the bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the eighth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which generates the effects of heterodox thinking and reaps the bitter worldly fruit. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of Deva Mara.

9. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, if before realizing the wonder of nirvana, practitioners in the midst of this clear understanding of the source of life begin to make distinctions of fine and coarse, true and false, and seeking results from the law of cause and effect, they will turn their backs on the path of purity. By attempting to put an end to suffering, and taking pride in this achievement, they will make no further progress. Insisting on the superiority of this interpretation, they will fall into arrested sravaka stage practice and become adherents of the ignorant monks and uneducable devas of the four dhyana heavens. Thus they miss the bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the ninth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which takes perfection of consciousness as realization of the fruits of nirvana. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of fettered voidness.

10. "Continuing, as the disciples come to thoroughly comprehend the voidness of the skandha of volition, they are able to wipe out the concept of birth and death. However, before realizing the wonders of nirvana and in the midst of this perfect and pure consciousness, they may seek to probe more deeply into its marvels, take this as nirvana, and no longer strive for further progress. Believing this to be the superior interpretation, they will be arrested at the pratyeka-buddha stage and become adherents of selfish enlightenment. Thus they miss the bodhi of the Buddha-nature and lose correct knowledge and correct views.

This is called the tenth false condition of the skandha of consciousness, which consists of believing that pure consciousness bears clear fruit. In this way one strays far from enlightenment, turns one's back on nirvana, and sows the seeds of perfecting one's own consciousness without seeking to help other living things.

"Ananda, these are the ten states of dhyana in the midst of which you may lose your head and become complacent before reaching the ultimate goal. This is the result of the interaction of the skandha of consciousness with the practice of meditation. Living things are stubborn and deluded and unable to assess their own level of accomplishment. Encountering these experiences, they delight in old habits and delusions, and resting on their laurels, take these as their final refuge. They claim to be satisfied with this so-called supreme bodhi, and violating the Buddha's prohibition against lying, become contaminated with the evil karma of heretics and maras and finally fall into eternal hell. As to those sravakas and pratyeka-buddhas, whose minds become arrested at their respective levels of attainment, they are not able to make further progress. You disciples must uphold my teachings and proclaim them after my nirvana during the dharma-ending age in order to awaken all living things to this doctrine and not allow the maras of false perception to bring calamities upon yourselves. Strive always to protect yourselves and conquer heterodoxy. Teach them to enter body and mind into the wisdom of the Buddha and throughout the course of their practice never to stray onto deviant paths.

"Tathagatas as innumerable as particles of dust over kalpas as numberless as the sands of the Ganges have passed through this dharma-door to enlighten their minds and attain the highest Tao. When the skandha of consciousness is overcome, then all of your senses are coordinated, and you can enter the first stage of the indestructible wisdom of the bodhisattva, whose perfect and clear mind will be transformed into pure glass containing a precious moon within. In this way you will transcend the ten stages of bodhisattva faith, the ten stages of unfertilized wisdom, the ten necessary actions, the ten commitments, the four good roots of development, and all the ten stages of the bodhisattvas progress to Buddhahood, omniscience, and perfect clarity to enter the Tathagata's magnificent sea of perfect and complete bodhi and revert to the state to which nothing can be added. These are the subtle mara-states detected by past Buddhas, as they abided in vipasyana and practiced passionless samatha. If you are familiar with these mara-states, you will be able to keep your minds free of defilement. In this way you will not fall into unorthodox views, the maras of the five skandhas will be swept away, Deva Mara will be smashed, the powerful ghosts and spirits will lose their nerve and take flight, the spirits of the rivers and hills will no longer appear to you, and you will achieve complete bodhi without the slightest deficiency. Even beginning from the most unenlightened state, one can progress to nirvana and no longer suffer delusion and depression."

 



 



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