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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

This dhyana is called tathatalambana


1: _La@nkavatarasutra_, p. 80.


The Bodhisattvas may attain their highest by the fourfold knowledge of (1) _svacittad@rs'hyabhavana_, (2) _utpadasthitibha@ngavivarjjanata_, (3) _bahyabhavabhavopalak@sa@nata_ and (4) _svapratyaryyajnanadhigamabhinnalak@sa@nata_. The first means that all things are but creations of the imagination of one's mind. The second means that as things have no essence there is no origination, existence or destruction. The third means that one should know the distinctive sense in which all external things are said either to be existent or non-existent, for their existence is merely like the mirage which is produced by the beginningless desire (_vasana_) of creating and perceiving the manifold. This brings us to the fourth one, which means the right comprehension of the nature of all things.

The four dhyanas spoken of in the _Lankavatara_ seem to be different from those which have been described in connection with the Theravada Buddhism. These dhyanas are called (1) _balopacarika_, (2) _arthapravichaya_, (3) _tathatalambana_ and (4) _tathagata_. The first one is said to be that practised by the s'ravakas and the pratyekabuddhas. It consists in concentrating upon the doctrine that there is no soul (_pudgalanairatmya_), and that everything is transitory, miserable and impure. When considering all things in this way from beginning to end the sage advances

on till all conceptual knowing ceases (_asa@mjnanirodhat_); we have what is called the valopacarika dhyana (the meditation for beginners).

The second is the advanced state where not only there is full consciousness that there is no self, but there is also the comprehension that neither these nor the doctrines of other heretics may be said to exist, and that there is none of the dharmas that appears. This is called the _arthapravicayadhyana_, for the sage concentrates here on the subject of thoroughly seeking out (_pravichaya_) the nature of all things (_artha_).

The third dhyana, that in which the mind realizes that the thought that there is no self nor that there are the appearances, is itself the result of imagination and thus lapses into the thatness (_tathata_). This dhyana is called _tathatalambana_, because it has for its object tathata or thatness.

The last or the fourth dhyana is that in which the lapse of the mind into the state of thatness is such that the nothingness and incomprehensibility of all phenomena is perfectly realized;


and nirvana is that in which all root desires (_vasana_) manifesting themselves in knowledge are destroyed and the mind with knowledge and perceptions, making false creations, ceases to work. This cannot be called death, for it will not have any rebirth and it cannot be called destruction, for only compounded things (_sa@msk@rta_) suffer destruction, so that it is different from either death or destruction. This nirvana is different from that of the s'ravakas and the pratyekabuddhas for they are satisfied to call that state nirva@na, in which by the knowledge of the general characteristics of all things (transitoriness and misery) they are not attached to things and cease to make erroneous judgments [Footnote ref 1].

Thus we see that there is no cause (in the sense of ground) of all these phenomena as other heretics maintain. When it is said that the world is maya or illusion, what is meant to be emphasized is this, that there is no cause, no ground. The phenomena that seem to originate, stay, and be destroyed are mere constructions of tainted imagination, and the tathata or thatness is nothing but the turning away of this constructive activity or nature of the imagination (_vikalpa_) tainted with the associations of beginningless root desires (_vasana_) [Footnote ref 2]. The tathata has no separate reality from illusion, but it is illusion itself when the course of the construction of illusion has ceased. It is therefore also spoken of as that which is cut off or detached from the mind (_cittavimukta_), for here there is no construction of imagination (_sarvakalpanavirahitam_) [Footnote ref 3].

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