From Buddha-Nature


chos mngon pa'i theg pa chen po'i mdo
Higher Knowledge Sūtra
This text is a lost Yogācāra sūtra. It is preserved only in a few quotes in other Yogācāra texts.
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Description from When the Clouds Part

This text is a lost Yogācāra sūtra, which is preserved only in a few quotes in other Yogācāra texts.[1] At least in those quotes, there is nothing specific about buddha nature. However, RGVV explicitly links the most famous verse from this sūtra to a quote from the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra and the notion of tathāgatagarbha:[2]

The dhātu of beginningless time
Is the foundation of all phenomena.
Since it exists, all forms of existence[3]
And also nirvāṇa are obtained.

      RGVV also comments on the four lines of this verse through four quotes from the Śrīmālādevīsūtra that likewise expand on tathāgatagarbha. In the context of denying that there are any sentient beings who lack the buddha disposition, RGVV quotes another verse as support for all beings’ being suitable to eventually become buddhas:[4]

Though beginningless, [saṃsāra] entails an end.
What is naturally pure and consists of permanent dharmas
Is not seen since it is externally obscured by a beginningless cocoon,
Just as a golden image that is concealed.

      According to Jamgön Kongtrul, this verse is also from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra.[5] In any case, it greatly resembles the ninth example for buddha nature’s being obscured by adventitious stains in the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra and the Uttaratantra. Brunnhölzl, K.. When the Clouds Part, pp. 45-46.

  1. There are six quotes or references in the Mahāyānasaṃgraha (which, according to its colophon in the three Chinese translations, is a chapter of the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra), two in Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā, one in the same author’s Triṃśikābhāṣya, one in his Pañcaskandhaprakaraṇavaibhāṣya, one in Guṇaprabha’s Pañcaskandhavivaraṇa, one in Asaṅga’s Abhidharmasamuccaya, one (or possibly two) in RGVV, three in the *Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi (Ch’eng wei-shih loon; Taishō 1585), and one in K’uei-ki’s Wei-shih erh-shih lun shu-chi (Taishō 1834). Except for the quote in the Abhidharmasamuccaya, all those in the other texts are among the six in the Mahāyānasaṃgraha (see Lamotte 1973). For translations, references, and a discussion of all these fragments from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra, see my forthcoming translation of the Mahāyānasaṃgraha and its Indian commentaries. See also R. Yūki, Shinshikiron yori mitaru yuishiki sishōshi (Tokyo: Tokyo Bunko, 1935), 234–35 and 240–50 and Keenan 1980, 142–47.
  2. J72–73.
  3. Skt. gati, Tib. ’gro ba.
  4. J37.
  5. The Third Karmapa’s Pointing Out the Tathāgata Heart opens with this verse, followed by the well-known verse from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra that is cited in RGVV (J72) and that is also frequently found in other Indian and Tibetan texts. According to Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé’s commentary on the Karmapa’s text (Kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas 1990, 133), both verses are from that same sūtra. CMW (423) mistakenly attributes this verse to the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, in which it is not found.

Text Metadata

Other Titles ~ abhidharma-mahāyāna-sūtra
~ Mahāyānābhidharmasūtra