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Donor challenge: Your generous donation will be matched 2-to-1 right now. Your $5 becomes $15! Dear Internet Archive Supporter,. I ask only. The Lankavatara Sutra has 90 ratings and 6 reviews. Thomas said: Suzuki said that there were parts of the Lankavatara that he still didn’t understand, ev. Lankavatara Sutra, a Mahayana Text. Transl. by D. T. Suzuki ().pdf – Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.

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The Lankavatara Sutra

It is more than seven years now since I began the study of the Lankavatara Sutra quite seriously, but owing to various interruptions I have not been able to carry out lsnkavatara plan as speedily as I wished. My friends in different fields of life have been kind and generous in various ways, and I now send out to the perusal of the English-reading public this humble work of mine. There are yet many difficult and obscure passages in the Sutra, which I have been unable to unravel to my own satisfaction.

All such imperfections are to be corrected by competent scholars. I shall be fully content if I have made the understanding of this significant Mahayana text easier than before, even though this may be only to a very slight degree.

In China Buddhist scholars profoundly learned and endowed with spiritual insights made three or four attempts extending over a period of about two hundred and fifty years to give an intelligible rendering of the Lankavatara.

It goes skzuki saying that these have helped immensely the present translator. May his also prove a stepping board however feeble towards a fuller interpretation of the Sutra! To Assist me in this way was indeed part of the object of his third visit to this side of the Pacific.

Says Confucius, “Is it not delightful to have a friend come from afar? It was fortunate for the writer that he could secure the support and help of the Keimeikwai, a corporation organised to help research work of scholars in various fields of culture; for without it his work might have dragged on yet for some time to come.

There is so much to be accomplished before he has to appear at the court of Emma Daiwo, to whom he could say, “Here is my work; humble though it is, I have tried to do my part to the full extent of my power. Whatever literary work the present author is able to put before the reader, he cannot pass on without mentioning in it the name of his good, unselfish, public-minded Buddhist friend, Yakichi Ataka, who is always willing to help him in every possible way.

If not for him, the author could never have carried out sitra plans to the extent he has so far accomplished. Materially, no visible results can be expected of this kind of undertaking, and yet a scholar has his worldly needs to meet.

Unless we create one of these fine days an lankavatra community in which every member of it can put forth all his or her natural endowments and moral energies in the direction best fitted to develop them and in the way most useful to all other members generally and individually, many obstacles are sure to bar the passage of those who would attempt things of no commercial value. Until then, Bodhisattvas of all kinds are sorely needed everywhere. And is this not the teaching of the Lankavatara Sutrawhich in its English garb now lies before his friend as well as all other readers?

Thanks are also due to the writer’s wife who went over the whole manuscript to give it whatever literary improvement it possesses, to Mr Hokei Idzumi who gave helpful suggestions in the reading of the original text, and to Professor Yenga Teramoto for his ungrudging cooperation along the line of Tibetan knowledge. For those who have already read my Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra 1no special words are needed here.

But to those who are not yet quite familiar with the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism an expository introduction to the principal theses of the Lanka may be welcome. Without something of preliminary knowledge as to what the Sutra sutraa to teach, it will be difficult to comprehend the text intelligently. For thoughts of deep signification are presented in a most unsystematic manner.

As I said in my Studiesthe Lanka is a memorandum kept by a Mahayana master, in which he put down perhaps all suzzuki teachings of importance accepted by the Mahayana followers of his day. He apparently did not try stra give them any order, and it is possible that the later redactors were not very careful in keeping faithfully whatever order there was in the beginning, thus giving the text a still more disorderly appearance.

The introduction that follows may also serve as one to Mahayana Buddhism generally.

From lankavatqra Mahayana point of view, beings are divisible into two heads: The former are called Buddhas including also Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Pratyekabuddhas while the latter comprise all the rest of beings under the general designation of bala or balaprithagjana— bala meaning “undeveloped”, “puerile”, or “ignorant”, and prithagjana “people different” from the enlightened, that is, the multitudes, or people of ordinary type, whose minds are found engrossed in the pursuit of egotistic pleasures and unawakened to the meaning of life.

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This class is also known as Sarvasattva, “all beings” or sentient beings. The Buddha suzkui to help the ignorant, hence the Buddhist teaching and discipline. All the Buddhist teachings unfold themselves around the conception of Buddhahood.

When this is adequately grasped, Buddhist philosophy with all its complications and superadditions will become luminous. What is the Buddha? According to Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is the interlocutor of the Buddha in the Lankathe Buddha is endowed with transcendental knowledge prajna and a great compassionate heart karuna.

With the former he realises that this world of particulars has no reality, is devoid of an ego-substance anatman and that in this sense it resembles Maya or a visionary flower in the air. As thus it is above the category of being and non-being, it is declared to be pure visuddha and absolute vivikta and free from conditions animitta.

But the Buddha’s transcendental wisdom is not always abiding in this high altitude, because being instigated by an irresistible power which innerly pushes him back into a region of birth and death, he comes down among us and lives with us, who are ignorant and lost in the darkness of the passions klesa.

Nirvana is not the ultimate abode of Buddhahood, nor is enlightenment. Love and compassion is what suhra constitutes the self-nature of the All-knowing One sarvajna. The Buddha’s love is not something ego-centered. It is a will-force which desires and acts in the realm of twofold egolessness, it is above the dualism of being and non-being, it rises from a heart of non-discrimination, it manifests itself in the conduct of purposelessness anabhogacarya.

It is the Tathagata’s great love mahakaruna of all beings, which never ceases until everyone of them is happily led to the final asylum of Nirvana; for he refuses as long as there is a single unsaved soul to enjoy the bliss of Samadhi to which he is entitled by his long spiritual discipline. The Tathagata is indeed the one who, endowed with a heart of all-embracing love and compassion, regards all beings as if they were his only child.

If he himself enters into Nirvana, no work will lankavstara done in the world where discrimination vtkalpa goes on and multitudinousness vicitrata prevails. For this reason, he refuses to leave this world of relativity, all his thoughts are directed towards the ignorant and suffering masses of beings, for whom he is willing to sacrifice his enjoyment of absolute reality and self-absorption samadhi-sukhabhutakotya vinivarya.

The essential nature of love is to devise, to lanavatara, to accommodate itself to varying changing circumstances, and to this the Buddha’s love is no exception. He is ever devising for the enlightenment and emancipation of all sentient beings. This is technically known as the working of Skilful Means upayakausalya.

Upaya is the outcome of Prajna and Karuna. When Love worries itself over the destiny of the ignorant, Wisdom, so to lankavxtara, weaves a net of Skilful Means whereby to catch them up from the depths of the ocean called Birth-and-Death samsara. By Upaya thus the oneness of reality wherein the Buddha’s enlightened mind abides transforms itself into the manifoldness of particular existences.

There is a gem known as Mani which is perfectly transparent and colourless in itself, and just because of this characteristic it reflects in it varieties of lankavwtara vicitra-rupa. In the same way the Buddha is conceived by beings; in the same way his teaching is interpreted by them; that is, each one recognises the Buddha and his teaching according to his disposition asayaunderstanding cittaprejudice anusayapropensity adhimuktiand circumstance gati.

The Lankavatara Sutra by D.T. Suzuki

Again, the Buddha treats his fellow-beings as an expert physician treats his patients suffering from various forms of illness. The ultimate aim is to cure them, but as ailments differ medicines and treatments cannot be the same. For this reason it is said that the Buddha speaks one language of enlightenment, which reverberates in the ears of his hearers in all possible sounds. Upaya may thus be considered in a way due to the infinite differentiation of individual characters rather than to the deliberate contrivance of transcendental wisdom on the part of the Buddha.

All the Buddhas are of one essence, they are the same as far as their inner enlightenment, their Dharmakaya, and their being furnished with the thirty-two major and the eighty minor marks of excellence are concerned. But when they wish to train beings according to their sutr, they assume varieties of forms appearing differently to different beings, and thus there are many titles and appellations of the Buddha as to be beyond calculation asamkhyeya.

One noteworthy fact about this—the Buddha’s assuming so many names, is that he is not only known in various personal names but also given a number of abstract titles such as No-birth, Emptiness, Suchness, Reality, Nirvana, Eternity, Sameness, Trueness, Cessation, etc. The Buddha is thus personal as well as metaphysical. The Lanka here does not forget to add that though the Buddha is known by so many different names, he is thereby neither fattened nor emaciated, as he is like the moon in water neither immersed nor emerging.


This simile laankavatara generally regarded as best describing the relation of unity and lankavtaara, of one absolute reality and this world of names and forms. While the Trikaya dogma is not yet fully developed in the Lankaeach member of the trinity is treaceable in such ideas as Dharmata-buddha, Vipaka-buddha, and Nirmana-buddha.

The notion of the transformation-body inevitably follows from the Buddha’s desire to save the ignorant whose minds are not enlightened enough to see straightway into the essence of Buddhahood.

Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra – Wikipedia

As they are not clear-sighted, something is to be devised to lead them to the right path, and this something must be in accord with their mentalities. If not, they are sure to go astray farther and farther.

If they are not capable of grasping Buddhata as it is, let them have something of it and gradually be developed. The theory of Upaya skilful means is also the theory of Manomayakaya, will-body. As the incarnation of a great compassionate heart, the Buddha ought to be able to take any form he wishes when he sees the sufferings of sentient beings.

The will-body is a part of the Buddha’s plan of world-salvation. This is one of the reasons why Buddhism is often regarded as polytheistic and at the same time pantheistic. In Mahayana Buddhism the Buddha is not the only agent who is engaged in the work of enlightening or saving the world. While he is able to transform himself into as many forms as are required by sentient beings, he is also assisted by his followers or “sons” putra, sutaor aurasa as they are called in the Mahayana sutras.

Bodhisattvas are thus the sons of the Buddha and apply themselves most arduously and most assiduously to the cause of Buddhism. In fact, the actual work of world-salvation, we can say, is carried on by these spiritual soldiers under the leadership of the Buddha.

The latter is sometimes felt to be too remote, too serene, too superhuman, and his sight is often lost in the midst of our worldly struggles. But the Bodhisattva is always with us, and ever ready to be our confidant, for he is felt by us to share the same passions, impulses, and aspirations which are such great disturbing, though ennobling too, forces of our human life. To state the truth, sentient beings are all Bodhisattvas, however ignorant and ready to err they may be.

They are all Jinaputras, the sons of the Victorious, and harbour in themselves every possibility of attaining enlightenment. The Bodhisattvas who have gone up successively all the rungs of the Bhumi ladder, and who are thus capable of extending their help over us, are really our own brethren. Therefore, Mahamati of the Lanka opens his questions generally with this: Thus is not the place to consider historically how the conception evolved in Buddhism whose primitive object seems to have consisted in the realisation of Arhatship.

But we can state this that the essence of Bodhisattvahood is an unequivocal affirmation of the social, altruistic nature of humankind. Whatever enlightenment one gains, it must be shared by one’s fellow-beings.

The Lankavatara sutra [microform] ; a Mahayana text

This idea is classically expressed in the Mahayana by the so-called “Ten Vows of Samantabhadra”. The Bodhisattva is a man of “inexhaustible vows” dasanishthapada. Without these he is not himself.

To save the world, to bring all his fellow-beings up to the same level of thought and feeling where he himself is, and not to rest, not to enter into Nirvana until this is accomplished, how infinitely long and how inexpressively arduous the task may be. This is the Bodhisattva. Vowing to save all beings, which is technically known as Purva-pranidhana in Mahayana terminology, cannot even for a moment be separated from the life of the Bodhisattva.

The Buddha being surrounded by these noble-minded sons cannot fail finally to release all beings from the bondage of karma and ignorance and thirst for life.

With this in view, he is always inspiring the Bodhisattvas with his sovereign power prabhava and sustaining adhishthana them sutar their efforts to bring enlightenment in the whole triple world.

Life as it is lived by most of us is a painful business, for we suzukl to endure much in various ways. Our desires are thwarted, our wishes are crushed, and the worst is that we do not know how to get out of this whirlpool of greed, anger, and infatuation. We are at the extreme end of existence opposed to that of the Buddha. How sutr we leap over the abyss and reach the other shore?

The Mahayana diagnosis of the conditions in which all sentient beings are placed is that they are all nursed by desire trishna as mother who lankavxtara Accompanied by pleasure nandi and anger ragalnakavatara ignorance avidya is father.

To be cured of the disease, therefore, they must put an end to the continuous activities of this dualistic poisoning.