400 verses | Āryadeva | 12

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400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century

Part 12 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations
for Refuting (Attraction to Distorted) Views

(1) A listener who is upright and unbiased, has common sense (discrimination) and takes keen interest is described as being a proper vessel (for these voidness teachings.

To the mind of such a suitable disciple,) the good qualities of the propounder (of the teachings) will not change into a different aspect (and appear as faults).

Nor will (this change of good qualities into faults) happen with respect to the listener either.

(2) (Buddha) spoke of compulsive Saṁsāra existence (as true suffering) and the method of (entering) compulsive existence (as the true origin of suffering), also the method of pacifying (both as the true pathway mind), and likewise their pacification (as a true stopping).

But worldly ones, who (are improper vessels and therefore) cannot comprehend this at all, will attribute (the fault of their inability to understand) as if it were that of the Able Sage (Buddha).

(3) (You Sānkhyas and Vaiśeṣikas) are really amazing – you wish to pass beyond sorrow (to nirvāṇa) by giving up all (and yet you still cling to your belief in truly established existence).

What reason is there (for you) not to be happy at these (teachings of voidness, since it’s the understanding of them that) will extricate all (your disturbing emotions and suffering)?

(4) How can those who do not know the methods for giving up (suffering actually) come to give it up?

Therefore, it is said that except (through the teachings on voidness given) by the Able Sage (Buddha), there definitely can be no state of peace.

(5) Anyone who comes to develop indecisive wavering about the obscure phenomena spoken of by Buddha (can resolve his doubts by relying on the fact that his) teachings on voidness (are verifiably true.

In this way,) he can develop confidence solely in this very (Sage also concerning phenomena extremely obscure).

(6) Any (non-Buddhist teachers asserting a static creator) who have difficulty seeing (correctly the actual facts about the gross) world are (surely) charlatans with respect to other (more subtle matters, such as the nature of reality).

Whoever would follow them will be deceived for a very long while.

(7) It is extremely difficult for those who would go themselves to a state beyond sorrow to do that (if they still assert true existence.

Although Buddha taught voidness) for the purpose of leading (others to this state), those unfit (as vessels for it become frightened of voidness and) are unhappy to take it to mind.

(8) Those who do not see (the advantages of meditation on voidness or the disadvantages of not so doing) do not (even) begin to fear (voidness), while those who do see (voidness) will in all ways turn away from (fearing it).

Therefore, it is said that fear (of voidness) arises for sure (only) in those who know (only) a little (about it).

(9) What is completely certain about immature ones is that they are habituated to the (very) thing that causes them to enter (recurring Saṁsāra existence, namely grasping for true existence);

whereas, because they are not habituated (to voidness), they become frightened at that (very) thing that can turn them away (from Saṁsāra existence).

(10) Anyone, obscured simply by naivety, who would prevent (teachings being given on) voidness will not even go to (a better rebirth of) positive qualities and goodness, so what need to mention Liberation?

(11) Although degeneration from ethical discipline is a simple (matter), it’s not at all (the same with degeneration) from the (correct) view (of voidness.

This is because) with ethical discipline you can progress (only as far as) to a higher status rebirth, but with a (correct) view, you can achieve the supreme states (of Liberation or enlightenment).

(12) (So,) to those who are unfit (vessels for the voidness teachings), it’s best (to teach in accord with their) grasping for an impossible “self” and not to teach (them) the lack of an impossible “self.”

For (such a) one, (these teachings would cause him to) go to a worse rebirth state (by his misunderstanding); whereas for those who are out of the ordinary, (they will lead) to a state of peace.

(13) There’s no second gateway to (any state of) peace (other than through the realization of voidness), as it causes all wrong views to fall apart.

Thus, what becomes the object of cognition for all Buddhist (Āryas) is said to be the lack of an impossible “self.”

(14) Those that are unfit (vessels) generate fear even from the name of this teaching, (namely “voidness”). Whereas it can be seen that powerful ones who (understand voidness) do not generate fear at inferior (views).

(15) This teaching (of voidness) was not spoken by the Thusly Gone (Buddhas) for the sake of debate; but be this as it may, it burns off (the wrong views of) the proponents of (all) other (teachings), like fuel by fire.

(16) Anyone who comes to know this teaching (of voidness) will not be happy with other (views claiming truly established existence).

Therefore, this teaching seems to me like a threshold at which (all wrong views) fall apart.

(17) In reality, there is no (truly existent) “self.” So what (ārya), abiding in what (Buddha) intended, thinking like that, would become excited about the (conventionally) existent (self)?

And what (ārya) would become frightened by the (totally) non-existent (impossible “self”)?

(18) After seeing so many (Tīrthika) holders of incorrect salvationist views, which will become the seed for their meaningless (suffering in Saṁsāra existence),

who wouldn’t develop compassion for (these) beings who wish the teachings (for Liberation)?

(19) (The followers of these) 3 – the Śākya (Sage), the naked (Jains), and the Brahmins – uphold their Dharma teachings (respectively) through their minds, their eyes and their ears.

Because of that, the tradition of the classical texts of the Able Sage (Buddha) is the subtlest.

(20) Just as concerning the Brahmins, most of their Dharma teachings can be said to be external hypocritical (rituals), likewise concerning the naked (Jains), most of their Dharma can be said to be ridiculous.

(21) Just as (some) develop respect for the Brahmins’ (tradition), because (they need only) have taken on (the recitation of) the Vedas,

likewise (some) become kindly toward the naked (Jains’ tradition), because (they need only) take on deluded (actions such as exposing themselves to the elements).

(22) Because the suffering (of the Jains’ asceticism) is the ripening of karma, how could it come to be (considered) a Dharma (practice)? It isn’t.

And because birth (as a Brahmin) is the ripening of karma, it’s not a Dharma (practice either).

(23) The Thusly Gone (Buddhas) have said that the (practice of) Dharma is, in short,

-  doing no harm (in order to attain a higher status rebirth) and

-  (realizing) voidness, the (natural) state beyond sorrow (in order to attain Liberation or Enlightenment).

In this (Buddha Dharma), there are only these two.

(24) But for all worldly ones, their own positions become as attractive as their own places of birth.

For what (reason) should the causes for reversing this (attachment, namely not harming and realizing voidness), be attractive (to them)?

(25) But those with sense will most graciously accept topics of knowledge (useful for Liberation) even from other (traditions). Isn’t the sun universally the same for everyone on this earth (in bringing light) to those who have eyes?