The Inquiry of Aryanairatma Mahayana Sutra

In Sanskrit: Aryanairātmaparipriccha-nāmamahayāna-sūtra
In Tibetan: ‘Phags pa bdag med pa dris pa shes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo
In English: The Inquiry of Aryanairātma Mahāyāna Sūtra

Homage to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Then, with folded palms, saying "May all those with a referential view possessing concepts and discerning non-Buddhists enter Mahāyāna", Nairātma [Selfless] finished making his request.

[The Buddha]:
"Child of a good family, the omniscient say ‘A self does not exist in the body.’"

[Nairātma asked:]
"If a true self does not exist in the body, how do love, laughter, crying, playing, anger, pride, jealousy, calumny, etc., all arise from it? Does a true self exist or not exist in the body? Your reasoning shall remove our doubts."

[The Buddha replies]:
The Mahāyānists say: "Friends, it is not to be said that a true self exists or does not exist in the body. If it really exists, saying ‘it does not exist’ would be speaking incorrectly. If it is exists, where? If one investigates inside and outside of the whole body a true self does not appear in the hair, nails, skin, the head, the flesh, bone, marrow, fat, entrails, liver, hands, feet, limbs, the heart, etc.’"

The non-Buddhists say: "It is seen with someone who possesses a divine eye. But how can the true self be seen with our fleshy eye?"

The Mahāyānists say: "It also cannot be seen with the divine eye. How can that which has no color, no form and no shape be seen anywhere?"

The non-Buddhists say: "Does it not exist as all?"

The Mahāyanists say: "If one says ‘it does not exist’, saying "it exists’ would be speaking incorrectly. If it does not exist, how will the directly perceived love, laughter, crying, playing, anger, pride, jealousy, calumny, etc., all arise? Therefore, saying ‘it does not exist’ is not appropriate. Do not say whether it exists or does not exist. Because this is fault, do not say it exists or does not exist."

The non-Buddhists say: "Nevertheless, something is here to be perceived."

The Mahāyanists: "There is nothing at all to be perceived."

The non-Buddhists: "How is it empty, like space?"

The Mahāyanists: "Friends, it is like that. It is empty like space."

The non-Buddhists: "If that is so how, can love, laughter, crying, playing, anger, pride, jealousy, calumny, etc., be seen?"

The Mahāyanists: "It is similar with an illusion, a dream or a optical illusion."

The non-Buddhists: "How is like an illusion, and how is it like a dream or an optical illusion?"

The Mahāyanists: "Illusion is merely a symbol, a dream is merely one’s personal vision, nothing to which to adhere, empty by nature, an essence which does not exist. An optical illusion is necessarily only an artifice. Friends, those are like that. However many things there may be, understand them to resemble illusions, dreams and optical illusions.

Furthermore, to demonstrate the relative and ultimate, that called the ‘relative’; this is the self, this is "other", life force, one who is born, person, creator, a feeler, possessions, children, spouse, friends, kin, etc.; those concepts are all relative. Where ever there is no self, no other, no life force, no one who is born, no person, no creator, no feeler, no wealth, no children, no spouse, no friends, no kin, etc., that is called "ultimate".

When all things are fully investigated by their nature, the result of virtue and non-virtue, arising and ceasing is relative. No result of virtue and non-virtue, no-arising and no ceasing is the essence of suchness; that is without universal afflictions and purification. Such is the practice of the phenomena of the middle way."

For that are these verses:

The relative and ultimate
are correctly explained in two categories.
The relative are mundane phenomena.
The ultimate surpass the mundane.

Sentient beings entering into
the relative fall under the power of affliction;
revolving in samsara for a long time
because the ultimate is completely misunderstood.

The unwise create concepts about
relative mundane phenomena;
that conceptuality
becomes the experience of suffering.

Just as naïve ordinary people
do not understand the path of liberation,
will actually experience
much ceaseless suffering.

Since the pure ultimate which will stop
becoming anywhere is not understood,
there will be arising and ceasing,
the non arising will come and go.

Fools living in the world,
revolve again and again
here in samsara, the abode of suffering,
spinning like a wheel.

Just like the sun and moon
come and go again
likewise when one migrates to a new existence,
one comes and goes again.

All of samsara is impermanent,
unstable, momentary and perishable;
therefore, give up dwelling in relative truth by
understanding the ultimate.

The heavens in the higher realms,
the gandharvas and titans too,
all are migrations,
all too are relative results.

Siddhas, vidyādharas, yakshas
gandharvas, nāgās
again can go to the hells;
all too are relative results.

Someone of intense efforts
can fall from the higher realms,
a place that is a heaven and a source of qualities;
everything too is relative result.

Someone who has obtained that sublime abode
of that Cakravartin, Indra,
can again be born as an animal;
everything too is relative result.

Therefore, give up all the excellent truths
of the gods of the higher realms;
awakening is the luminous clarity
upon which yogins always meditate.

The characteristic of a bodhisattva
is not a thing, imperceptible,
everything is empty and non-abiding,
truly free from all proliferation.

The characteristic of a bodhisattva
isn’t rough, isn’t smooth,
isn’twarm, isn’t cold,
that cannot not be touched and cannot be held.

The characteristic of a bodhisattva
is not long, is not short,
is not round, is not triangular,
is not subtle, also is not coarse.

The characteristic of a bodhisattva
is beyond objects of meditation,
is not within the experiential range of non-Buddhists,
the practice of the perfection of wisdom.

The characteristic of a bodhisattva
is without example, is not a meditation,
cannot be seen, is the supreme object,
utterly pure by nature.

Everything is like foam,
a water bubble, without essence,
is impermanent, without self,
equivalent with an illusion, or an optical illusion,

Gathering up like a sphere,
totally filled with proliferation,
likewise, desire and anger, etc.,
are only equivalent with illusions.

Just as the inside of a bindu
cannot be seen in that instant,
if the perfection of wisdom is seen,
likewise, the mind is unconditioned.

This laughter, love,
speaking, singing, music,
the ground, etc.,
is always equivalent with a dream.

Whatever is constructed by all beings,
this is equivalent with dreams;
dreams are concepts of the mind;
the mind also like space.

Someone who always meditates in this way
[is meditating] in the way of the perfection of wisdom;
someone who always meditates in this way,
having become liberated from all things,
will obtain the supreme stage.

Whatever is supreme awakening,
is meditated by all the Buddhas,
if this is grasped with meditation,
one will obtain the result of Mahāyāna.

The Inquiry of Aryanairātma Mahāyāna Sūtra is complete.

Translated into Tibetan and edited by the Indian abbot, Kamalagupta and Translator of Shuchen, bhikshu Rinchen Zangpo.

This English translations was prepared by the upāsaka Kunga Namdrol.

© Kunga Namdrol 2003

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