Alaya vijnana seems empty in this material world, yet, it possesses its emptiness-nature

© Anonymous comments to “True wisdom of Buddism from posts of ShalomTzeng (Ver.2)”, July 27, 2011

The Hinayana saints observe and realize the “emptiness-appearance” of all dharmas, but they do not know the ultimate truth; they trusted the Buddha’s teachings completely that their Buddha nature will be in the state of remainderless nirvana after death. In fact, they will never know the state themselves, because there is no worldly dharma whatsoever in the state of remainderless nirvana. To be really straight and strict, an arhat does not enter the remainderless nirvana after death; he just perishes from this world, only his Buddha nature remains.

The Alaya vijnana does not belong to any of the mundane phenomena; it is without any form or appearance. If we try with our limited words to describe the nature of ultimate reality, it sounds much too philosophical. That is exactly what the Buddha tried to depict the mental entity or the nature characteristic of the Alaya vijnana to all Buddhists in the “Heart Sutra” - “Neither arising nor ceasing, and neither increasing nor decreasing; form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.” Because the Buddha nature is not created, it will never cease to exist; it does not fit in our usual daily two extremes.

Most importantly, the Alaya vijnana does have its own functional distinctions beyond the three realms. It seems empty in this material world, yet, it possesses its emptiness-nature. The Liberation-Way (Hinayana) saints do not comprehend or realize the emptiness-nature of true reality in all dharmas. On the other hand,the Buddhahood-Way practitioners not only realize the emptiness of person by cultivating and realizing the emptiness-appearance of all dharmas, they further cultivate the true reality of prajna and aim to realize the eighth vijnana so that their prajna wisdom can arise.


  1. In the “Diamond Sutra,” one of the most well known Mahayana sutras, the Buddha reiterated the formless and no-appearance nature of the ultimate truth (the Alaya vijnana) from many different aspects. Since the sutra is entitled “Diamond Sutra,” that certainly refers to the eternal nature of the subject – the Alaya vijnana. Nevertheless, most Buddhists misinterpret the concept between the emptiness-appearance of all dharmas and the emptiness-nature of true reality in all dharmas. Hence the “Diamond Sutra” is often erroneously considered to be a sutra of emptiness, and to such an extent that many would say Buddhism is all but emptiness.

  2. When the Buddha attained his unsurpassed perfect Buddhahood in this world, he realized that it’s much too tough for the sentient beings of this Desire Realm to cultivate the Buddhahood-Way, so the Buddha had arranged for the three rounds of the dharma transmission in order to gradually uplift the disciples’ level of cultivation. The first round of the dharma transmission, the Liberation-Way, during which the Buddha expounded the Four Agama Sutras; the second round of the dharma transmission, during which the Buddha expounded the Prajna Paramita Sutras (the Diamond Sutra, the Heart Sutra, etc.); and the third round of the dharma transmission, during which the Buddha expounded all the sutras of Vijnana-Only (Vijnanavada).
    Once an individual is truly enlightened, he or she will be able to understand the true meaning of the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra with his or her prajna wisdom. This fact corroborates that true Buddhist cultivation cannot be successfully achieved through induction, imagination, or visualization by one’s conscious mind, instead, it is a matter of actual realization thereby the prajna wisdom will be initiated.
    With this prajna wisdom, an enlightened individual will also be able to distinguish a genuine dharma transmission from rhetorical phrases --- this is called the wisdom eye in Buddhism.

  3. During the first round of the dharma transmission, the Buddha expounded in extensive detail regarding the five aggregates (skandhas), twelve sense-fields (ayatanas), and eighteen sense-realms (dhatavahs), which are the fundamental knowledge of the Buddha dharma. Through constant observation and contemplation in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, the Buddhist practitioners would then be able to realize the emptiness manifestation of the mundane world and gradually detach themselves from worldly desires and sensations to obtain a pure and tranquil mind in order to proceed to further attainment. This is the root practice of Buddhism; so in what way is the lamas’ couple-practice of copulation fit for Buddhism?

  4. The second round of the dharma transmission was meant for the Buddhahood-Way cultivators. They were determined to attain Buddhahood. And the Buddha’s teachings were about the general wisdom of the Buddhahood-Way, i.e., the knowledge, the characteristics, and actual realization on the fundamental natures and functions of Tathagatagarbha. The representative sutras are The Prajna Sutras (the Diamond Sutra, the Heart Sutra, etc.). It is definitely important for all Buddhists to foster correct comprehension of the middle-way view prajna. Otherwise, how could anyone get “enlightened” if one doesn’t even know the characteristic of Buddha-nature? Since true buddha-dharma is very profound and wide, the Buddha patiently and extensively elaborated on the natures and functions of Tathagatagarbha from every possible aspect. Seeing that words and languages are very limited when they come to the terms of explaining the Ultimate Truth, for most readers, the Prajna Sutras sound extremely philosophical, words are recognizable but the essence is not comprehensible. That is also the main reason that Tibetan Tantric Buddhism could infiltrate Buddhism and replace the true Buddha dharma with their promiscuous and desire-driven non-Buddhist dharma.
    If you are really in for true Buddhism, try your best to piece all the knowledge you have received on the postings in a proper order, compile them in your own way and try to understand them. This is part of the progress we all had before, dedicate your mind to this subject, and it will certainly facilitate your Buddhist path.

  5. Q: Do you think there is good evidence for transmigration into unceasing births-and-deaths?

    A: Are you exactly the same person (in every way) as five minutes ago? Before you read my reply, you didn’t know what I am going to say, right? Meanwhile you might gasp at the content, your metabolic systems function without your notice. Your thoughts keep changing every instant. This is an unceasing births-and-deaths happening within the small scope of your own perception, you are never the same one when you observe deeply and subtly. Another example, have you ever got a certain experience of déjà-vu? A certain place, a smell of fragrance, a certain coloring, a piece of music…, it brought forth an indescribable tone of something, though, not knowing what it was. This is the result of your past experiences which was brought forth by your seventh vijnana from the Buddha nature (the Alaya vijnana) beyond your control (the third round of the dharma transmission by the Buddha).
    Even now, you have the interest and made an effort to read the articles and ask question, this deed was also influenced by your past life experiences that you must have got involved with Buddhism before. The most obvious case of the talented Mozart, he must have been a musician in his many past lives as well. This is all because everyone’s Buddha nature (the Alaya vijnana) serves as a storage space for all our deeds, and the Alaya vijnana is eternity; it never ceases to function and keeps our past experiences of every lives and brings forth some of them in our current life repeatedly. This fact also substantiate our enduring cultivation to Buddhahood.

  6. I got it. It is an excellent statement. Thank you.

  7. The Buddha did assure us that every sentient being has the potential to cultivate to see the Truth, and He did pass down the dharma-gates (practice methods); the rest is left to us, if we are indeed the blessed ones.

    The essential teachings here are of Chan School (禪宗). The chart to the Treasure Island is never the treasure itself, so all the spoken words and explanations cannot be the Truth itself, but they lead to the Truth.

    In a way, we have been used to the daily routine of going-on living, so an actual Buddhist cultivation is a sort of swim against the life enjoyment. In Buddhism, we have to use terms to express certain meanings or conditions to simplify the process, because all terms will be repeatedly coming into use in the future.

    Just like we have the windscreen wiper to remove the rain in order to see the view clearer, the Buddhist cultivation methods have the same of that to tranquil our mind first, thereby our mind would be able to function as a zoom lens to sensitively observe within ourselves through our conscious mind, with the Buddha’s help can a Buddha’s follower then connect, in sudden enlightenment, with the prajna [transmundane wisdom] and realize the True Reality – Alaya vijnana, provided that we ought to have the right view regarding Alaya vijnana.

  8. The doctrin of tantric Buddhism (Lamaism) is far away from the teachings of orthodox Buddhism which Buddha Shakyamuni teach us. The lamas and followers even don't know what is the essence of Buddhist teachings. They stay in wordly desires and tell others these will help them get enlightenment. How sad! Buddha Shakyuamni never teachs his followers so such thing!

  9. Indeed sad.
    Even with all the concrete evidence around to show the people, they still said "It's bad apples!"
    The worst part is the severe retributions in the future, because the lamas can no longer be human beings any more (only after they have finished their eons punishment).
    Poor people, they did not know better when they first entered Tantrism..., but later on they even misled so many followers. Really sad things for mankind.

  10. Q: How do you decide what is the core essence of Tibetan Buddhism? And are you sure that sex can never be integrated into a spiritual path?

    A: Now that you did request, I have to be more explicit in details.
    When Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet around 770 AD, he taught Buddhism to the local Tibetans, in fact, its doctrines were already under influences of the later period Hindu Tantrism, all practices are of mundane sexuality. Padmasambhava was named the founder of Tibetan “Buddhism.”

    The final goal of Tibetan Tantric “Buddhism” is to attain the realization level of the Union of Bliss and Emptiness -- the Dual Operations of Bliss and Emptiness experienced during the practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra—which consists of remaining concentrated during sexual orgasm with no thoughts arising for a long period of time, which is the highest achievement in the Highest Yoga Tantra. Tibetan “Buddhism” claims such a state is to achieve the ultimate Buddhahood.

    Tibetan “Buddhism” has the so-called couple-body “Buddha” invented by its patriarchs. This couple-body “Buddha,” who appears to hug a female and enjoy the sensual pleasure, is worshipped by the Tibetan Tantric followers as the reward-body buddha [sambhogakaya buddha].

    As the Tibetan Tantric practitioners have been unable to find the Alaya vijnana, the key to initiate the prajna wisdom, they have deviated from the right path. In order to match up with the Sutras, they use the visualized bright drop [bindu, an imagined light spot in the body] in the central channel [an imagined channel in the body] to counterfeit the Alaya vijnana found in the Buddha’s teachings. They also deliberately conceal their practices so that orthodox Buddhists are unable to see through their deception. As such, they fool orthodox Buddhists, home-leaving and home-staying alike, and the beginners of Tibetan “Buddhism,” fueling their unconditional devotion and worship.

    From ancient Tantric patriarchs Padmasambhava, Naropa, Tsongkhapa, etc., the main focuses are on practicing the bright drop, Channel-Chi, Vase-Chi and inner heat (through visualization) during the “generation stage,” which are all preparing for the “completion stage”—the Highest Yoga Tantra. They aim to enhance their sexual potential in order to attain Buddhahood.

    The purpose of the lamas’ diligent practice of channel-chi is to increase their sexual ability so that they can maintain the sexual intercourse for a longer time, avoiding premature ejaculation.

    Can you call these sorts of practice “spiritual”?
    In true Buddhist practice, it needs prajna wisdom certainly not sex.
    Any spiritual path should not get sex involved, otherwise it is purely worldly pleasure.

  11. Now we will describe the four kinds of nirvana states. “Nirvana” refers to the sole state of Alayavijnana (Tathagatagarbha). When Hinayana practitioners have successfully eliminated both self-view and self-attachment, they then becomes arhats (阿羅漢), who will not take the next rebirth after the end of their current life. Before death, they will still give Buddhist teachings to others; in daily life, they would also confront heat, ache, hunger, sick, etc., but these matters will no longer get them into any state of vexation, they are in the state of “the nirvana with remainder.” When they die, they abandon their eighteen sense-realms (six sense-roots, six sense-objects, and six vijnanas) and enter “the remainderless nirvana.”

    These are the two kinds of nirvana realized by the Hinayana saints.

    Apart from these two kinds of nirvana, the practitioners of the Buddhahood-Way can attain another two sorts of nirvana. While the Mahayana practitioners personally experience and recognize the properties of Tathagatagarbha (get enlightened), they personally realize the True Suchness真如 (bhuta-tathata) as described in sutras that it is inherently pure and undefiled, not through any worldly cultivation; the Alayavijnana is inherently there and is not acquired from outside; yet without the prajna (trans-mundane wisdom) cultivation, observation and Chan contemplation, one is not able to realize and recognize it. That is to say, “the inherent, pure nirvana with intrinsic natures” is not obtained via cultivation, nor is it without cultivation. This is the middle way nature of the Alayanan vijnana. The Mahayana practitioners can see that the arhats also possess the inherent, pure nirvana with intrinsic natures, but the latter cannot realize it.

    All Buddhas have realized the aforementioned three kinds of nirvana, further eliminated all habitual seeds of vexation-hindrances, permanently eliminate the ignorance that leads to the changing subtle births-and-deaths, sever all latent cognition-hindrances, and fully possess the All-Seed-Prajna. Since then Buddhas dwell in neither samsara nor nirvana, it is called the non-dwelling nirvana.


    Nirvana: The sole state of Tathagatagarbha. There are four kinds of nirvana: the inherent, pure nirvana with intrinsic natures, the nirvana with remainder, the remainderless nirvana, and the non-dwelling nirvana.