Birth and Death and the Unmoving Mind

(T25.117c18-118a7 [fasc. 8])

(In the Sutra proper, it has just been described how the
Buddha's manifestation of various supernatural phenomena caused certain
beings in the lower realms to gain rebirth in the heavens.)
The five aggregates are impermanent, empty and devoid of a self.
Why [were these beings] led to gain rebirth in the heavens? So just who
is it that dies and who is it that is born?
This matter has already been extensively treated in the chapter
"In Praise of the Bodhisattvas." Now, we shall [merely] offer a summary
reply. As for your claim that the five aggregates are "empty,
impermanent, and devoid of a self," in this Praj~naapaaramitaa, the five
aggregates are devoid of permanence, impermanence, emptiness, non -
emptiness, self and non - self. If, like the non - buddhist, one seeks
to find an actual self, this cannot be found. It is only on account of
false names and the coming together of all manner of causes and
conditions that it is [perceived as] existent. There are [only] these names.
This is analogous to [a pair of] magically - conjured men who
proceed to kill each other. And so people see them die. By the power
of the magical conjuration they are caused to rise up again. And so
people see them come to life. Although the names "birth" and "death" do
exist, they are devoid of any reality. In the realm of worldly dharmas,
there truly do exist birth and death. But in the dharma of the reality
mark, there is no birth and there is no death.
Then again, one may say that those people who are subject to
birth and death [are the ones who] do have birth and death whereas those
people who are not subject to birth and death [are the ones who] have no
birth and death. How is this so? The person who is not born and does
not die, by employing the great wisdom, is able to put to an end the
feature of being subject to birth. This is as described in a verse
which says:

In the Dharma of the Buddha, though marks are empty,
Still, they're not cut off and annihilated.
Although there is production, still, this is not eternalism.
Actions and their karma are not lost.

All dharmas are like [the stalk of] the plantain.
Everything arises from the mind.
If one is aware that dharmas are devoid of reality,
This mind itself is also [seen as] empty.

If there is a man who [is fixed on] mindfulness of emptiness,
This then is a practice contrary to the Way,
Dharmas are neither produced nor destroyed.
Because of the existence of thought one mistakes their [actual]

If one is possessed of thought one falls into the demon's net.
Through the absence of thought one makes his escape.
Through movement of the mind one contravenes the Way.
Not moving,- this is the imprint of Dharma.

Copyright © 2000. Bhikshu Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.