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卷第六 十喻釋論(續)
Excerpts from the Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom

龍樹菩薩 著 Written by Bodhisattva Nagarjuna
姚秦三藏法師 鳩摩羅什 中譯 Translated into Chinese by Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva of the Yaoqin dynasty
法友 英譯 Translated into English by Dharmamitra














As for [the simile] "like a shadow," a shadow is something which can only be seen but cannot be grasped. All dharmas are also just like this. The eye and the other faculties are able to see, hear, be aware of and cognize them, but they still cannot actually be attained. This is as explained in a verse:

This wisdom which is actual,
Cannot be grasped from four sides.
It's like an enormous conflagration
Which itself cannot be touched.
The dharmas cannot be accepted
And neither should they be accepted.

Moreover, just as with a shadow which manifests when one shines a light, but is nonexistent when one does not shine it, when the fetters and afflictions block the light of correct views, there manifests the shadow of the mark of a self and of the mark of dharmas. Additionally, just as with a shadow which, when a person goes, [the shadow] goes, when a person moves, the [shadow] moves, and when a person stops, the [shadow] stops, so too it is with the shadows of wholesome and unwholesome karmic actions: when one moves on to a future life, [the karmic shadows] also move along too, and when one abides in the present life, [the karmic shadows] abide as well. Because the retribution is not cut off, when offenses or merit ripen, then the karmic shadows come forth. This is as explained in a verse:

Even in space it will chase along after.
And deep into mountains midst boulders pursues.
To the depths of the earth it will follow behind us.
And will plunge into ocean's [deep] waters as well.
It everywhere constantly follows, pursuing.
The shadow of actions will not go away.

It is on account of this that it says that all dharmas are like a shadow. Furthermore, just as a shadow is empty and nonexistent, such that if one seeks for something actual in it one cannot succeed, so too it is with all dharmas, for they are empty and devoid of anything which is actual.  

Question: This matter of a shadow being empty and devoid of anything which exists is not the case. How so? In the Abhidharma, it says, "What is meant by the sense field of form? [It refers to] blue, yellow, red, white, black, azure, purple, light, shadows, and so forth, as well as the three kinds of created form associated with physical actions." This is what is meant by the sense field of visible form. How then can you say that [shadows] are nonexistent? Moreover, it is the case that shadows actually exist because they are possessed of causes and conditions. [For example], the cause may be a tree and the condition may be brightness. When these two factors come together, there is the creation of a shadow. How can you say that they are nonexistent? If there are no shadows, then it ought to be the case that all other dharmas possessed of [corresponding] causes and conditions are nonexistent as well.

Additionally, the form of these shadows can be seen. [This is true of] their length, their size, their relative coarseness, and their contours. When the shape itself moves, the shadow also moves. These matters can all be seen. For these reasons, they should be [admitted as being] existent.

Reply: Shadows are truly empty and nonexistent. As for your citation of explanations from the Abhidharma, these exegeses of the meaning of the Abhidharma are explanations created by people. There are particular dharmic access methods whose intent people misapprehend, thus becoming attached to these as being actual. Take for instance the explanation of the Vibhasa which holds that infinitesimally minute fine particles cannot be broken up nor burned up. If this were the case, then they would be eternally existent.  

Additionally, with regard to dharmas of the three periods of time, [it claims that] they reside in the future and come forth into the present and that they move on from the present and go on into the past and that so doing, nothing whatsoever is lost. If this were the case, then that would be a case of eternalism.  

Moreover, it says that all conditioned dharmas undergo a [constant] process     of [instantaneous] re-production and re-extinction and do not abide at all. If this were the case then it would be a sign of annihilationism. How so? Because they previously existed and now do not exist. All manner of unorthodox explanations such as these contradict the Buddha's words. One may not employ these as corroboration for [the view that] shadows [actually exist].

Now these [shadows] are different from form dharmas. When form dharmas are produced, they must possess fragrance or flavor or tangibility or some other [such characteristic]. Shadows then are not like this and on this account are nonexistent. For instance, a vase is cognizable through two of the faculties, namely the eye's [visual] faculty and the body's [tactile] faculty. If a shadow is existent then it too should be cognized by two faculties. But there is no such case. For these reasons, it is not the case that there exists any actual phenomenon in shadows. They are only a dharma which deceives the eye. They are unreal in just the same way as the "wheel" which one produces by picking up a firebrand and whirling it rapidly around in a circle. Shadows are nonexistent entities. If shadows were existent entities, it ought to be that they could be broken or destroyed. [However], as long as the form [which casts the shadow] remains undestroyed, the shadow is never damaged. For this reason, [shadows] are empty.  

Additionally, because shadows are directly associated with their forms they are not inherently existent. They are therefore empty. Although they are empty, the mind nonetheless generates an [associated] visual perception. For these reasons, it says that all dharmas are like shadows.


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