1. Introduction The present text Trisvabhavanirdesac (Rang bzhin gsum nges par bstan pa) is one of Vasubandhu's short treatises (the others being the Treatise in Twenty Stanzas [Vimsatika] and the Treatise in Thirty Stanzas [Trimsatika]) expounding his cittamatra, or mind-only philosophy. Vasubandhu and his older brother Asanga are regarded as the Fourth or Fifth century CE as the major philosophical rival within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition to the older Madhyamaka tradition. The latter school, founded by Nagarjuna, urges the emptiness -- the lack of essence or substantial, independent reality -- of all things, including both external phenomena and mind.(2) Vasubandhu, however, reinterprets the emptiness of the object as being its lack of external reality, and its purely mind-dependent, or ideal status.(3) At the same time, however, he argues that the foundational mind is non-empty since it truly exists as the substratum of the apparent reality represented in our experience. The position is hence akin to the idealisms defended by such Western philosophers as Berkeley, Kant and Schopenhauer.(4) While Trisvabhavanirdesa is arguably the most philosophically detailed and comprehensive of the three short works on this topic composed by Vasubandhu, as well as the clearest, it is almost never read or taught in contemporary traditional Buddhist cultures or centres of learning. The reason for this is simple: this is the only one of Vasubandhu's root texts for which no auto-commentary exists.(5) For this reason, none of Vasubandhu's students composed commentaries on the text and there is hence no recognized lineage of transmission for the text. So nobody within the Tibetan tradition (the only extant Mahayana monastic scholarly tradition) could consider him/herself authorized to teach the text. So it is simply not studied. This is a great pity. It is a beautiful and deep philosophical essay and an unparalleled introduction to the cittamatra system. The text introduces the fundamental doctrine of Buddhist idealism, and clarifies in remarkably short compass its relations to the other principal doctrines of that school -- that all external appearances are merely ideal and originate from potentials for experience carried in the mind. The central topic of the text is the exposition of how this view entails the cittamatra theory of the three natures -- the view that every object of experience is characterized by three distinct but interdependent natures. Vasubandhu's idealism is distinctive in its insistence that a coherent idealism requires the positing of these three natures, and in its subtle analysis of the complex relations between the natures themselves, involving the thesis of their surface diversity but deep unity.(6) This text also presents a creative union of ontology and phenomenology. Vasubandhu's characterization of the status of the objects of experience is at the same time self-consciously a characterization of the character of subjectivity itself. Not only will Vasubandhu argue that we can only make sense of objects if we ascribe to them these three triune natures, but he will argue that a complete account of experience -- especially of the experience of a sophisticated and accomplished philosopher or meditator -- requires an account of three distinct kinds of subjectivity, which are related to one another as are the three natures themselves. This phenomenology is crucial to the soteriological purport of the system. For this is not speculative philosophy for its own sake, but a philosophical system designed to guide a practitioner to buddhahood in order that s/he can work to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings. Trisvabhavanirdesa is unique in its exposition of idealism as involving the doctrine of the three natures, in its detailed analysis of the natures themselves and in its exploration of their relations to one another. In Vimsatika-karika Vasubandhu clearly defends idealism against a series of objections, but does not explicitly articulate the roles of the three natures in his idealistic theory or expound its structure. In Trimsika-karika Vasubandhu explores the relation between the three natures and the three naturelessnesses (naturelessness with respect to characteristic [laksana-nihsvabhavata, mtshan nyid ngo bo nyid med], naturelessness with respect to production [utpatti-nihsvabhavata, skye ba ngo bo niyd med] and ultimate naturelessness [paramartha-nihsvabhavata, don dam pa'i ngo bo nyid med]) adumbrated in the Samdhinirmocana-sutra, but does not explore their relation to idealism, per se, or their relations to one another. It is only in the present text that he explicitly analyses idealism as implicating the three natures, and explains in detail how they are interconnected. Sthiramati, in his commentary on Trimsika-karika, argues that the three natures and three naturelessnesses are equivalent. His understanding of the three natures as equivalent to the three naturelessnessess of the Samdhinirmocana-sutra is adopted uncritically by such Tibetan doxographers as Tsong Khapa(7) and mKhas grub.(8) The adoption of this commentarial tradition, which emphasises the homogeneity of the Samdhinirmocana-sutra with Vasubandhu's and Asanga's thought, along with the exposition of the three natures as presented in Trimsatika and Vimsatika reinforces the elision of this more mature and explicit articulation of Vasubandhu's theory from subsequent developments of Yogacara. The emphasis of the dominant Madhyamaka school on naturelessness as a fundamental metaphysical tenet, and its need to see Yogacara as the penultimate step to its own standpoint lends further impetus to this tendency to assimilate these two doctrines. Of all of the Madhyamika, only Candrakirti really takes the trisvabhava doctrine itself seriously as a target for critique (dBu ma la jugs pa/Madhyamakavatara).(10) The thirty-eight verses of the text divide neatly into six sections. In the first six verses Vasubandhu introduces the three natures and provides a preliminary characterization of each. In verses 7-9 he sketches two schemata for thinking about the character of mind from the standpoint of three nature theory. Verses 10-21 develop a dialectically complex and elegant discussion of how to view the polar pairs of existence/non-existence, duality/unity and affliction/non-affliction in relation to each of the three natures, culminating in a discussion of the senses in which the natures are identical to one another and the senses in which they are different. Verses 22-25 present the natures hierarchically from the standpoint of pedagogy and soteriology. Vasubandhu presents the famous simile of the hallucinatory elephant conjured by the stage magician in verses 26-34. This is probably the most famous and oft-cited moment in this text. In a vivid and simple image Vasubandhu presents a way of understanding the three natures, their relation to one another, to idealism, and of the phenomenology they suggest to Buddhist soteriology. The concluding four verses are devoted to the soteriological implications of the text. Trisvabhavanirdesa is not only a philosophically subtle text. It is also a considerable literary and poetic achievement. (Much of the elegance of Vasubandhu's Sanskrit is preserved in the Tibetan translation. I have found it difficult to produce a translation that does proper justice to the poetic value of the text while remaining faithful to the philosophical ideas and rhetorical structure.) The doctrine it expounds is packed with dynamic tension born of constantly impending paradox and of the need
continuously to balance several levels of discourse. The poetic text that develops this doctrine mirrors that tension in its constant shifting of level; in its frequent double entendre allowing claims to be made at two or more levels simultaneously; and in its multi-leveled discourse in which claims that appear contradictory are reconcile, albeit often in startling and revealing ways. The poem is full of unexpected rhetorical and philosophical turns, and is structured so as to reflect the ontological and phenomenological theory it articulates. The language is as spare and vibrant as the radiant mind-only ontology it presents. 2. The Text of Trisvabhavanirdesa(11) 1. The imagined, the other-dependent and The consummate. These are the three natures Which should be deeply understood. 2. Arising through dependence on conditions and Existing through being imagined, It is therefore called other-dependent And is said to be merely imaginary. 3. The external non-existence Of what appears in the way it appears, Since it is never otherwise, Is known as the nature of the consummate. 4. If anything appears, it is imagined. The way it appears is as duality. What is the consequence of its non-existence? The fact of non-duality! 5. What is the imagination of the non-existent? Since what is imagined absolutely never Exists in the way it is imagined, It is mind that constructs that illusion. 6. Because it is a cause and an effect, The mind has two aspects. As the foundation consciousness it creates thought; Known as the emerged consciousness it has seven aspects. 7. The first, because it collects the seeds Of suffering is called `mind'. The second, because of the constant emergence Of the various aspects of things is so called. 8. One should think of the illusory non-existent As threefold: Completely ripened, grasped as other, And as appearance. 9. The first, because it itself ripens, Is the root consciousness. The others are emergent consciousness, Having emerged from the conceptualization of seer and seen. 10. Existence and non-existence, duality and unity; Freedom from affliction and afflicted; Through characteristics, and through distinctions, These natures are known to be profound. 11. Since it appears as existent Though it is non-existent, The imagined nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. 12. Since it exists as an illusory entity And is non-existent in the way it appears The other-dependent nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. 13. Since it is the non-existence of duality And exists as non-duality The consummate nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. 14. Moreover, since as imagined there are two aspects, But existence and non-existence are unitary, The nature imagined by the ignorant Is said to be both dual and unitary. 15. Since as an object of thought it is dual, But as a mere appearance it is unitary, The other-dependent nature Is said to be both dual and unitary. 16. Since it is the essence of dual entities And is a unitary non-duality, The consummate nature Is said to be both dual and unitary. 17. The imagined and the other-dependent Are said to be characterized by misery (due to ignorant craving). The consummate is free of The characteristic of desire. 18. Since the former has the nature of a false duality And the latter is the non-existence of that nature, The imagined and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. 19. Since the former has the nature of non-duality, And the latter has the nature of non-existent duality, The consummate and the imagined Are said not to be different in characteristic. 20. Since the former is deceptive in the way it appears, And the latter has the nature of its not being that way, The other-dependent and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. 21. Since the former has the nature of a non-existent duality, And the latter is its non-existence in the way it appears, The other-dependent and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. 22. But conventionally, The natures are explained in order and Based on that one enters them In a particular order, it is said. 23. The imagined is entirely conventional. The other-dependent is attached to convention. The consummate, cutting convention, Is said to be of a different nature. 24. Having first entered into the non-existence of duality Which is the dependent, one understands The non-existent duality Which is the imagined. 25. Then one enters the consummate. Its nature is the non-existence of duality. Therefore it is explained To be both existent and non-existent. 26. These three natures Have the characteristics of being non-cognizable and non-dual. One is completely non-existent; the second is therefore non-existent. The third has the nature of that non-existence. 27. Like an elephant that appears Through the power of a magician's mantra -- Only the percept appears, The elephant is completely non-existent. 28. The imagined nature is the elephant; The other-dependent nature is the visual percept; The non-existence of the elephant therein Is explained to be the consummate. 29. Through the root consciousness The nonexistent duality appears. But since the duality is completely non-existent, There is only a percept. 30. The root consciousness is like the mantra. Reality can be compared to the wood. Imagination is like the perception of the elephant. Duality can be seen as the elephant. 31. When one understands how things are, Perfect knowledge, abandonment, And accomplishment -- These three characteristics are simultaneously achieved. 32. Knowledge is non-perception; Abandonment is non-appearance; Attainment is accomplished through non-dual perception. That is direct manifestation. 33. Through the non-perception of the elephant, The vanishing of its percept occurs; And so does the perception of the piece of wood. This is how it is in the magic show. 34. In the same way through the non-perception of duality There is the vanishing of duality. When it vanishes completely, Non-dual awareness arises. 35. Through perceiving correctly, Through seeing the non-referentiality of mental states, Through following the three wisdoms, One will effortlessly attain liberation. 36. Through the perception of mind-only One achieves the non-perception of objects; Through the non-perception of objects There is also the non-perception of mind. 37. Through the non-duality of perception, Arises the perception of the fundamental nature of reality. Through the perception of the fundamental nature of reality Arises the perception of the radiant. 38. Through the perception of the radiant, And through achieving the three supreme Buddha-bodies, And through possessing bodhi: Having achieved this, the sage will benefit him/herself and others. 3. The Text With Commentary 1. The imagined, the other-dependent and The consummate. These are the three natures. Which should be deeply understood. Every phenomenon, according to cittamatra metaphysics has all three of these natures -- three ways of being. It is not the case that some have one nature and some have others; nor that phenomena appear to have one or another of the three, but in fact have another. The three are necessarily copresent in every phenomenon, and are, though distinct, mutually implicative. Let us pause for a moment over the three terms themselves, whose translation into English is no straightforward matter. Each is a nature (Tib: rang bzhin, Skt: svabhava). So each is part of what it is to be a thing -- not an accidental attribute that a thing might have. But each of the three qualifiers added to this term to denote one of the three natures creates a subtly ambiguous compound, and plays on this ambiguity form part of the structure of Vasubandhu's ingenious verse treatise. On the one hand, each characterizes the nature itself -- part of what it is to be a phenomenon. On the other hand, each characterizes the relation of the subject to the phenomenon, or the character of the subjectivity that constitutes the representation of the phenomenon. This duality is not surprising, for this is an idealistic treatise. As far as Vasubandhu is concerned, what it is to be a phenomenon is to be an object of a mind, and this treatise is an exploration of what it is to be an object so
conceived. So questions about subjectivity and questions concerning the ontology of the object are closely intertwined. "Imagined" translates the Tibetan brtags or Sanskrit parikalpita. The terms connote construction by the mind, more than they do non-existence -- more akin to hallucination than fiction. But this simile can be misleading. To be imagined in this senses is not to be hallucinatory as opposed to being real -- it is to be constructed as the object that it is by the operation of the mind. "Other-dependent" translates gzhan gyi dbang or paratantra. Something that is other-dependent in this sense exists only in and through dependence on another thing. In this case, the emphasis will be that phenomena exist in dependence upon the mind and its process.(12) I use "consummate" to translate yongs su grub pa or parinispanna. This is the most difficult of these three terms to translate. Others have used "perfect", "perfected", "thoroughly established", "thoroughly existent", "completed" and "ultimate".(13) Each of these choices has merit, and the variety of options illustrates the range of associations the term has in Tibetan or Sanskrit. When affixed to "nature" it connotes on the objective side the nature an object has when it is thoroughly
understood. On the subjective side, it connotes the nature apparent to one who is fully
accomplished intellectually and meditatively. It represents the highest and most complete understanding of a phenomenon. It is important, however, not to misinterpret this term to connote the real nature as opposed to the unreal natures denoted by the terms "imaginary" and "other-dependent", or the ultimate, as opposed to the conventional nature of things. Ultimately, all phenomena have all three natures. Each is real; each must be understood in order to understand the nature of things; each subjective relation to things is present in a full understanding of a phenomenon.(14) 2. Arising through dependence on conditions and Existing through being imagined, It is therefore called other-dependent And is said to be merely imaginary. Vasubandhu begins by sketching in the second and third verses the outlines of the relation between the three natures. In the second verse he focuses on the relation between the first two. Any phenomenon comes into existence in dependence upon various causes and conditions. But Vasubandhu here calls attention to a special dimension of this dependence. For anything to exist as an object, its objective existence is dependent upon mental causes and conditions. This is a straightforwardly Kantian point -- that there are conditions on the side of the subject that make it possible for anything to exist as an object. But whatever is so dependent, and hence, when seen from this standpoint, the content of a mental act, is nonetheless represented as an independent existent. Let us consider for example my perceptual representation of the screen on which these words appear as I type. I see it not as my representation, but rather as something that exists independent of, external to, and standing against my mind and perceptual faculties. No matter how thoroughgoing an idealist I may be in my philosophical moods, ordinary perception delivers me not imaginary objects seen as imaginary, but rather objects seen as external. But they do not, from this philosophical standpoint, exist in that way. In fact they are merely dependent on and, transcendentally, internal to, my mind. For this reason we can say that the content of my mental acts, seen as content, is other-dependent, in virtue of its dependence on my mind, but seen as it is experienced, it is imaginary, since considered in the way it appears to exist, it is in fact non-existent. 3. The external non-existence Of what appears in the way it appears, Since it is never otherwise, Is know as the nature of the consummate. The third verse emphasizes this last point and uses it to connect these first two natures to the consummate nature: things appear to us as independently existent. They do so in virtue of their dependence upon other such things and upon our minds (which -- in an important sense to be discussed later -- do share these three natures). But the fact is that given their actual mind-dependent status, of which we can be aware through careful philosophical reflection or through extensive meditative accomplishment, we can say that these apparent things -- independently existent computers, camels and coffee cups -- are always non-existent. What exists in their place are states of mind masquerading as independent phenomena. That non-existence -- the non existence of the apparent reality -- is the consummate nature that all phenomena have. The next two verses examine two consequences of this negative characterisation of the consummate nature: the co-existence of subject-object duality in the first two natures with non-duality in the consummate, and the mind-dependence of the imagined nature: 4. If anything appears, it is imagined. The way it appears is as duality. What is the consequence of its non-existence? The fact of non-duality! Whatever appears to us as an object, we have seen, does so in its imagined nature. In any such appearance, the fact that the object is presented to us as independent entails the fact that it is presented as wholly other than the mind that apprehends it. This is the point that Kant makes against Berkeley when he urges in the Refutation of Idealism that even though in a transcendental sense all appearances are in us, in an empirical sense, for anything to appear to us in space, it appears to us as outside us.(15) Schopenhauer hones this point and wields it against Kant himself when he points out that any account of the genesis of representation that harmonizes with a coherent transcendental idealist account of the ontology of representation must grant phenomena a genuine independent empirical reality in order to account for their causal impact upon us that is responsible for our cognitive apprehension of them.(16) But, he argues, such an idealism must also grant them a status as mere representations when we consider them as they appear to us. Interestingly, this point is made on the way to an account of a third nature of which Schopenhauer(17) charges Kant of being unaware -- their status as noumena, or will, in which all subject-object duality disappears.(18) 5. What is the imagination of the non-existent? Since what is imagined absolutely never Exists in the way it is imagined, It is mind that constructs that illusion. Vasubandhu here simply repeats the tight connection between the account offered of the status of phenomena as imagined and their mind-dependence. Since the imagined nature is in fact totally imaginary, it does not arise from the side of the thing which appears. Rather it is an artifact of the operation of the mind. The next four verses sketch two alternative ways of presenting the nature of mind in Vasubandhu's idealistic system. In verses 6 and 7 he presents a division that distinguishes the mind in its role as subject from the mind in its role as object: 6. Because it is a cause and an effect, The mind has two aspects. As the foundation consciousness it creates thought; Known as the emerged consciousness it has seven aspects. Vasubandhu, in another move prescient of Kant,(19) distinguishes the mind in its role as transcendental subject from its role as object, as it appears to itself. In the first aspect, to which Vasubandhu refers as the "foundation consciousness", (Tib: kun gzhi, Skt: alaya-vijnana) the mind functions as the condition of the appearance of phenomena, and hence as the ground of the possibility of the imagined and other-dependent natures. But in its second aspect -- the "emerged consciousness" (Tib: `jug pa, Skt: pavrttivijnana) -- the mind exists as the object of introspection, and is conditioned both by external phenomena that appear in perception and by its own phenomena. Hence it constantly evolves, and emerges in new states as a consequence of experience. The "seven aspects" to which Vasubandhu alludes are the five sensory consciousnesses, the introspective consciousness apprehending the self as object, and the reflective consciousness of the transcendental subject of experience. These aspects are hence distinguished by their proper objects or spheres of operation. 7. The first, because it collects the seeds Of suffering is called "mind". The second, because of the constant emergence Of the various aspects of things is so called. Vasubandhu is making a tendentious etymological claim about the Sanskrit term translated here as "mind", citta. On one etymology, he claims, the term is derived from cita, which means piled up or accumulated. Hence, he argues, "mind" can be thought of as indicating a storehouse of seeds of experience or mental potentials. In this sense the mind can be thought of as the location of the seeds of future experiences. The second etymology, Vasubandhu contends, connects citta to the Sanskrit term citra meaning various or manifold. This suggests the role of mind as a constantly emerging developing phenomenon. Hence, Vasubandhu suggests, the very etymology of the term connotes its two parallel roles.(20) The next two verses develop a three-fold account of the aspectual character of mind. These are not intended as competitors to one another, but rather as alternate, compossible, ways to understand the multiple roles played by mind in
experience. 8. One should think of the illusory non-existent As threefold: Completely ripened, grasped as other, And as appearance. Here Vasubandhu notes three prima facie characteristics of the mind in our experience, all on the side of its role as object of inner sense. First, insofar as mind is an object, and hence an empirical phenomenon, it is a ripened potential -- the fruit of a seed of experience heretofore dormant in the foundation consciousness. Secondly, and perhaps most paradoxically, since it appears as an object, it appears as other than the self to which it appears. Here Vasubandhu is calling attention to the fact that even in apperception there is a duality between subject and object; a self that appears to us appears as distinct from the ego to which it appears. Finally, the self is an appearance -- not a continuing, stable or independent phenomenon, but rather as a series of moments of awareness, each an evanescent ripening of a potential for consciousness, and so like all external objects, its apparent unity is a matter of construction, not of discovery in some independently given noumenon.(21) 9. The first, because it itself ripens, Is the root consciousness. The others are emergent consciousness, Having emerged from the conceptualization of seer and seen. Nonetheless, Vasubandhu argues, the first of these three aspects has a particular connection to the subject side of the self, as per the first division, while the second and third aspects of this threefold division are better aligned with the second side of the first division. The root (Tib: rtsa ba, Skt: mula), consciousness (the same as the foundation consciousness) is not only the subject of all experience, it is also the repository of all of the latencies, or potentials -- more often called the "seeds" -- which, when actualized, or "ripened" become actual phenomena -- objects of experience. On the other hand, when the self is represented as an object of experience in introspection, it stands over and against the root consciousness of which it is an object. It is hence in this sense emergent from the root consciousness and is "grasped as other than the self". Finally in being so grasped, it is grasped as a series of evanescent moments of experience. These latter two aspects hence emerge as aspects of the self considered as object; the first as an aspect of self considered as subject, or as storehouse of latencies. The next eleven verses develop a delicate and logically acrobatic dialectic concerning the interplay of three pairs of contradictories and their relation to the three natures: existence and non-existence; duality and unity; freedom from afflictions and affliction. Vasubandhu will argue that each of the three natures is characterised by both members of each of these contraries. He then argues that these natures are each both identical to and distinct from one another. While it might be tempting and facile to think that here Vasubandhu is simply trading in paradox or irony this would be a mistake. This important section of the treatise is centrally concerned with the alternation in voices and perspectives represented by the three natures. They have a phenomenological side to them, representing not only the tripartite ontological dimension Vasubandhu sees in all phenomena, but also the three phenomenological perspectives that together constitute the complex subjectivity Vasubandhu envisions. 10. Existence and non-existence, duality and unity; Freedom from affliction and afflicted; Through characteristics, and through distinctions, These natures are known to be profound. "Existence" and "non-existence" are understood here in a perfectly ordinary sense, though of course a sense ordinary within the framework of idealism generally. Given this context, of course, it will always be possible to ask about the standpoint from which an assertion regarding existence is made. Is it from the standpoint of subjectivity -- that is, an empirical, objective claim? Or is it from a transcendental standpoint? Moreover, we can always ask whether when a thing is asserted to exist we mean that it exists in the way in which it is apprehended, or whether it exists simpliciter. So, for instance, if I ask whether the "water" I see on a hot highway on a December day exists, one must be careful: the mirage exists, no water does. The percept to which I refer as "water" exists, but not in the manner in which it is apprehended. (And, of course, if I am an idealist, from a transcendental perspective neither the water nor the mirage can be said to exist at all. Both are merely appearances.) The duality/unity pair concerns subject/object duality. To assert that there is, from a specific standpoint, a duality in this sense is to assert that from that standpoint there is a real distinction between subject and object. To assert a unity or a non-duality is to deny such a duality. The important thing to bear in mind regarding this pair as one approaches Vasubandhu is that questions about duality and non-duality can always be posed in both a metaphysical and a phenomenological voice. So, we can ask of each of the natures in what sense it implicates such a duality as part of the structure of the object of experience. But we can also ask the question regarding the nature of the corresponding aspect of subjectivity itself. So in each case we can ask whether, or in what sense, in a subject considering things as other-dependent, etc. there is such a duality, as well as asking whether, or in what sense, each nature implicates such a duality in the structure of the object. The third pair -- affliction/freedom from affliction -- introduces specifically Buddhist soteriological concerns. Again, the concerns in play are both ontological and phenomenological. The afflictions are those associated with the suffering of samsara or cyclic existence. Those include not only physical and psychological suffering themselves but also the craving and grasping which are their proximal causes and, most importantly in this context, the primal ignorance regarding the nature of things that takes the phenomena of experience and the self to be inherently, or substantially existent, as opposed to being empty of substance. So we can say either that a mind apprehending an object is afflicted in virtue of regarding that object as inherently existent or that the object as perceived is an afflicted object. In the latter case we are saying that the object itself in virtue of one or more of its natures is constituted in a manner essentially implicating the afflictions. (22) Vasubandhu begins by arguing that the imagined nature involves both existence and non-existence. 11. Since it appears as existent Though it is non-existent, The imagined nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. Let us work through these verses with an ordinary example in mind. Let us consider a teacup on your desk. Consider its imagined nature. As imagined, it is an existent -- indeed independently, substantially existent -- teacup entirely distinct from and independent from your mind and mental processes. It endures through time, and has a nature all its own. Hence existence, in a very strong sense, is part of its imagined nature. On the other hand, when we move up one level in the dialectic, and see that this is merely an imagined nature -- merely the way the cup appears to a consciousness, we see that the cup that so appears -- the imagined cup itself -- does not exist at all, just as no water exists in the mirage. In this sense, the very fact that the cup-as-imagined is only imagined means that though it is imagined as existent, in fact it is
non-existent. Insofar as we simply imagine the cup, we imagine an existent cup. Insofar as we become reflexively aware of that act of imagination, the cup we imagine disappears. 12. Since it exists as an illusory entity And is non-existent in the way it appears The other-dependent nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. Now, consider the same teacup from the standpoint of its other-dependent nature: from this standpoint, the cup exists as an entity dependent upon the mind. The cup so-considered certainly exists: it exists as a mental phenomenon -- as a representation. On the other hand, we can ask what the objective character(23) of that representation is. Then the answer is simple, and takes us back to the imagined nature: the cup considered objectively is the old, real, independent cup, which, when we understand it from the standpoint of the dependent nature, does not exist at all, just in virtue of the fact that from this standpoint it is dependent. So, from the perspective of the dependent nature, the cup -- the dependent mental phenomenon we mistake for a real cup -- like the refraction pattern we mistake for water -- exists. But that putative real cup which is the content of that mental episode does not. 13. Since it is the non-existence of duality And exists as non-duality The consummate nature Is said to have the characteristics of existence and non-existence. Now we come to the consummate nature of our cup. The cup we have been considering all along whether from the standpoint of the imagined or the dependent nature, is, in an important and common sense, dual in nature. In its imagined nature it is an independent object of mind, and so is distinct from the subject which apprehends it. But in its dependent nature, as an episode of mind, it is still, as a mere episode or mental act, distinct from the mind which is its agent or subject. In the consummate nature, this duality vanishes. For the consummate nature of the cup is the very fact of its illusory status -- that it is nothing other than aspect of mind. Hence the apparent, dual, cup is, in its consummate nature (or, equivalently -- from the point of view of one of consummate attainment) utterly non-existence. But that non-duality really exists That is the final nature of the cup.(24) And in this sense, the consummate nature embraces both existence and non-existence -- the non-existence of the cup as dual is its true existence as non-dually related to the mind apprehending it. This consideration of duality and non-duality as the mediators of existence and non-existence in the consummate forms the bridge to the consideration of duality and non-duality per se in the three natures. 14. Moreover, since as imagined there are two aspects, But existence and non-existence are unitary, The nature imagined by the ignorant Is said to the both dual and unitary. For a thing to exist as imagined, and for it not to exist in the way it appears, are both diametrically opposed and identical, depending on how one conceives them. For on the one hand, they represent existence and non-existence, the most opposed of properties. In that sense, the imagined nature is thoroughly dual, encompassing both of these in virtue of the more fundamental subject-object duality it represents. That more fundamental duality gives rise both to the imagined existence of the object experience, and, when seen for what it is -- a mere illusion, the non-existence of that object in the way that it appears. On the other hand, to exist as imagined just is not to exist in the way a thing appears. In this sense the mode of existence and the mode of non-existence of the imagined nature -- of a thing as it is imagined -- are the same, and are non-dually related. And this non-duality is rooted in the more fundamental non-duality that emerges when we see from a higher standpoint that a thing as imagined is merely mental, and hence not distinct from mind. Hence the imagined nature is both dual and unitary, depending on how it is conceived. And the object as imagined is experienced dually in a non-reflective consciousness, but non-dually by more accomplished consciousness reflecting on that experience. 15. Since as an object of thought it is dual, But as a mere appearance it is unitary, The other-dependent nature Is said to be both dual unitary. We can say pretty much the same thing about the other-dependent nature. A phenomenon understood as other-dependent is both dependent upon the mind that represents it and is also a mere appearance of, an content of, that consciousness In that sense the object is no different from that consciousness. Hence this nature, too, is both dual and unitary, depending on how it is conceived. 16. Since it is the essence of dual entities And is unitary non-duality, The consummate nature Is said to be both dual and unitary. The unity of duality and non-duality is perhaps a bit less compelling in the consummate nature, For the consummate nature is virtually defined by its non-duality and by the fact that from its perspective all duality is erased. But Vasubandhu is concerned to argue that it, too, in a sense, participates in duality, and this for two reasons. The first, and least interesting, is his obvious drive for poetic symmetry in the exposition. The second reason is a bit more philosophically interesting: the pair duality/unity is itself a duality and so should, from the standpoint of the consummate, be overcome. So to say that the consummate nature is non-dual, or unitary as opposed to being dual would be self defeating. So Vasubandhu needs to achieve a kind of sublation of duality and non duality in the consummate. And he achieves this by noting that while the consummate nature itself may be non-dual, it is nonetheless the nature of dual entities -- entities that appear in their imagined nature, in virtue of their other-dependent nature. Inasmuch as it is nature of dual entities, then, the consummate nature can be said to be dual. 17. The imagined and the other-dependent Are said to be characterized by misery (due to ignorant carving). The consummate is free of The characteristic of desire. This verse introduces the discussion in 17-21 of the sense in which the three natures are identical to one another despite their apparent differences in characteristic. Vasubandhu begins by emphasizing the prima facie ontological and ontological and soteriological gulf separating the imagined and the other-dependent from the consummate: the former are on the side of samsara; the latter is on the side of nirvana. The former two represent the aspects of phenomena apparent to a mind beset by primal ignorance, and hence by the suffering it engenders; therefore also the aspects responsible for the perpetuation of that ignorance and craving on the vicious circle of ignorance, grasping and suffering that constitutes cylic existence. The third, on the other hand, represents that aspect of phenomena apparent to a mind that has transcended all of that, and the aspect that conduces to the alleviation of suffering.(25) But, as we shall see, this prima facie ontological, epistemological gulf will be obliterated in the final union of the three natures. 18. Since the former has the nature of a false duality And the latter is the non-existence of that nature, The imagined and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. Vasubandhu now begins the task of unifying the three natures as three mutually implicative aspects of a single reality. He begins with the relation between the imagined and the consummate: the imagined nature is essentially dualistic, in that it involves an ontic distinction between subject and object; but seen as imagined that duality is in fact seen to be non-existent. But the non-existence of that duality is exactly what the consummate nature is. The imagined nature and the consummate nature are hence, from an ontological perspective, not different from one another. The difference is only apparent, representing a difference in perspective, rather than one of reality. The next verse makes the same point in the converse direction. 19. Since the former has the nature of non-duality, And the latter has the nature of non-existent duality, The consummate and the imagined Are said not to be different in characteristic. 20. Since the former is deceptive in the way it appears, And the latter has the nature of its not being that way, The other-dependent and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. Verses 20 and 21 are devoted to establishing the identity of the consummate and the other-dependent natures. The point in verse 20 is parallel to that made with respect to the imagined nature. The dependent nature is deceptive, in that phenomena that are so dependent appear to be distinct from -- although dependent upon -- the subject. But when that natures is seen, from a higher perspective, to be only dependent, but to be the fact of being merely mental, and hence non-different from the mind on which the phenomena depend. that understanding is the understanding of the consummate nature of things. Again, the difference between the natures is revealed to be not ontological in character, but merely perspectival. 21. Since the former has the nature of a non-existent duality, And the latter is its non-existence in the way it appears, The other-dependent and the consummate Are said not to be different in characteristic. The parallel to the relation between the imagined and the consummate natures is emphasized in verse 21. The other-dependent, like the imagined, is dualistic in character. But when things experienced in their other-dependent nature are seen to be so experienced, the duality vanishes, and the non-existence of that duality is the consummate nature itself. The apparent difference between the natures is hence, for Vasubandhu, a difference not in the object -- in the ontological character of phenomena, but rather in the subject -- and hence not a difference in nature, but a difference in experience of a single triune nature. 22. But conventionally, The natures are explained in order and Based on that one enters them In a particular order, it is said. Nonetheless, though the three natures are at a deeper level a unity,
pedagogically they from a hierarchy. There is an order in which they must be presented for the sake of clarity and soteriological efficacy. This is the topic of verse 22-25. 23. The imagined is entirely conventional. The other-dependent is attached to convention. The consummate, cutting convention, Is said to be a different nature. The imagined nature is the easiest to present first. Is is the way that ordinary, unreflective persons represent things. The other-dependent, while constituting a more sophisticated view of things, remain at a conventional level. It, however, has real soteriological use, starting the process of freeing the mind the tyranny of convention and fundamental ignorance, and providing a bridge to a more transcendent view. Finally, awareness of the consummate nature allows the move to a fully awakened view of reality. 24. Having first entered into the non-existence of duality Which is the dependent, one understands The non-existent duality Which is the imagined. On the other hand, Vasubandhu claims, the order of understanding the non-dual characters of the two conventional natures is reversed. It is easier to see that the dependent nature is non-dual. For once one has ascended to an awareness of this nature, and hence of the multiplicity of the natures of phenomena and of their mind-dependence, it is possible to see phenomena as non-dually related to mind. One can then reflect on the imagined nature -- initially experienced as a dualistic relation to appearances -- and see it, too, as non-dual in character in virtue of the identity in ontic status between subject and object in that nature. One must bear in mind that the point being made in this and the surrounding verses is a pedagogical point: as long as one only experiences the imagined nature, it is hard to see things non-dualistically. That ability is made possible by the understanding represented by awareness of the other-dependent nature, and then reflectively applies to the other-dependent. 25. Then one enters the consummate. Its nature is the non-existence of duality. Therefore it is explained To be both existent and non-existent. Finally, once one has thoroughly understood both of the merely conventional natures, including their apparent dualities, but the unreality of each duality, one sees that all phenomena are both apparently dual, and ultimately non-dual. That is their consummate nature. Realizing this nature is the consequence of a complete understanding of the other two. 26. These three natures. Have the characteristics of being non-cognizable and non-dual. One is completely non-existent; the second is therefore non-existent. The third has the nature of that non-existence. This verse sums up the result of the previous two discussions. Going "from top to bottom", the consummate nature is non-cognizable because all cognition, as discursive, is inescapably dualistic; the other two natures are non-dual when seen from that perspective, despite the duality engendered from within the perspective from any higher perspective. Therefore, the other-dependent nature, being the dependence of a non-existent entity on the mind, is also non-existent when seen from the standpoint of the consummate. And the consummate is just the fact of the non-existence of the first two. Thus, Vasubandhu concludes, despite the vast difference in the phenomenological character of the three perspectives from which phenomena have these three natures, the natures themselves are identical, joined in the object in virtue of its ideality. The next section of the text develops the famous simile of the illusory elephant conjured by the stage magician. This is in fact the only portion of this text regularly cited in later polemical and hermeneutic discussions of cittamatra philosophy by Tibetan commentators:(26) 27. Like an elephant that appears Through the power of magician's mantra -- Only the percept appears, The elephant is completely non-existent. The magician, allegedly using a mantra, caused the astonished audience to see an apparition of an elephant. But, we are assured, there really is no elephant. The illusion is engendered purely by the skill of the magician and the gullibility of the audience. 28. The imagined nature is the elephant; The other-dependent nature is the visual percept; The non-existence of the elephant therein Is explained to be the consummate. Now we can see the diverse aspects of subjectivity marked by the three natures as well as the ontological unity of the natures in the object (or putative object) they characterize. The non-existent elephant -- the apparent object of perception -- is the elephant. The deluded audience believes it to exist, in virtue of decidedly non-pachidermic causes and their own deluded ignorance. But nothing in fact exists in the way the elephant appears. But there is indeed a percept -- not a living, breathing elephant -- but a psychological episode brought into an sustained in existence in dependence on numerous conditions. This corresponds to the dependent nature. And the fact that there is no elephant in this percept -- that the elephant is completely non-existent and the percept is purely mental -- is the consummate nature. Note that this is a simile, and not a literal model of perception. What is crucial here is that to a naive observer, the hallucinated elephant appears as real and independent. To one "in the know" there is a real percept, but one which is decidedly not an independent elephant, and whose existence is entirely dependent on the state of mind of the member of the audience. And finally, the full story is that there simply is no elephant at all -- not even one in perception -- only hallucination which is purely mental and entirely in the mind of the audience member. Just as the imagined nature of my teacup is that it is an independent object; the dependent nature is that is is my mental representation and not an independent external object; and its consummate nature is its complete non-existence from a transcendent point of view. 29. Through the root consciousness The nonexistent duality appears. But since the duality is completely non-existent, There is only a percept. Just a through the force of the magician's incantations and manipulations the illusory elephant appears, through the force of our own mental predispoditions the percept appears. But just as the elephant is purely hallucinatory, the percept is purely mental. 30. The root consciousness is like the mantra. Reality can be compared to the wood. Imagination is like the perception of the elephant. Duality can be seen as the elephant. The psychological basis of appearances, for Vasubandhu and his cittamatra followers, is the root consciousness, and the potentials it contains for experiences. The mantra -- the magician, in this analogy, has a prop -- a piece of wood. (How this trick is actually performed is utterly mysterious at this point.) So, what appears to be an elephant is actually a piece of wood, transformed by the magician into an apparitional elephant. Likewise, in experience, what appears to be an independent object is in fact a merely mental episode, caused by the actualization of latencies in the root
consciousness to appear as independent nature, since that nature gives us the perceived object as a mere percept as opposed to as the object it appears to be. The imagined nature, on the other hand, is analogous to the hallucinated elephant, and the non-existent duality is like the intentional object of that hallucination -- the non-existent elephant. The concluding verses of the text are devoted to its soteriological implications. For cittamatra philosophy, like any Buddhist system, is soteriological in intent. The point of the system is to gain liberation from the delusions, attachments and suffering of samsara in order to be able to assist other sentient beings in accomplishing the same. From the cittamatra point of view, the root delusion is the taking the imagined nature of things to be their reality, and to fail to appreciate the other two natures, the identity of the three natures, and hence to fail to achieve the viewpoint represented by the consummate which reveals the world as it is. 31. When one understand how things are, Perfect knowledge, abandonment, And accomplishment -- These three characteristics are simultaneously achieved. To understand how things are is to understand all three natures simultaneously and in their correct relations to one another. This amounts to perfect knowledge of the ontology of the world and of the character of one's own subjectivity. That is to abandon attachment to the imagined phenomena craved by one who believes them to be real as they appear in imagination, and that is to accomplish the goal of perfect insight into the nature of things and consequent freedom from the craving which is the necessary condition of ignorance and afflicted action. 32. Knowledge is non-perception; Abandonment is non-appearance; Attainment is accomplished through non-dual perception. That is direct manifestation. Perfect knowledge of this kind is non-perception in the sense that it is objectless, for the objects of ordinary perception are seen to be illusory, and the duality of perceiver and perceived that structures perception is transcended. Abandonment of commitment and attachment to imagined phenomena is achieved through the transcendence of instinctive assent to the imagined nature. The attainment of freedom is accomplished through the direct, immediate understanding of the unity of the three natures, and hence the non-dual awareness of all phenomena in their consummate nature. For one who has attained this kind of knowledge, Vasubandhu claims, this cognitive relation to things is direct, intuitive, and immediate -- not the consequence of constant philosophical analysis -- but the primary way of taking up with the world, albeit achieved through long analysis and practice. 33. Through the non-perception of the elephant, The vanishing of its percept occurs; And so does the perception of the piece of wood. This is how it is in the magic show. Here Vasubandhu returns to the analogy in order to explain the structure of this accomplishment. When one sees through the trick -- when one stops being taken in by the show -- one stops seeing the elephant, and the percept vanishes. One no longer sees the piece of wood as an elephant at all. All of the illusion ceases.
34. In the same way through the non-perception of duality There is the vanishing of duality. When it vanishes completely, Non-dual awareness arises. Similarly, through an accomplished perception of things in accord with the three-nature theory one stops seeing the dualistically represented phenomena. Those things, as they are seen by an ordinary, deluded consciousness, completely disappear. One sees through the show of ordinary experience, and the illusion ceases. One sees things simply as they are, without duality, without ascribing them independent reality, as having the triune three natures, each understood fully from the standpoint of the consummate. 35. Through perceiving correctly, Through seeing the non-referentiality of mental states, Through following the three wisdoms, One will effortlessly attain liberation. This understanding has, Vasubandhu here announces, soteriological consequences. In virtue of coming to understand that one's mental states do not represent an independent reality, and through understanding fully the three natures and their relations to one another, attachment to objects as genuinely real, and as legitimate objects of craving, ceases. The are only dream-objects, nothing to take seriously, including both objects perceived as external, and one's self as it appears to oneself. The attendant cessation of grasping and of attachment is precisely the cessation denominated by the term "nirvana". 36. Through the perception of mind-only One achieves the non-perception of objects; Through the non-perception of objects There is also the non-perception of mind. This verse emphasizes the connection between the release from attachment to external objects and the release from attachment of self. One begins the cittamatra analysis by seeing all phenomena as purely mental. This dissipates the view that external phenomena are real. But with this realization comes the realization that the mind we experience -- the self we cherish -- is every bit as much an object for us (albeit of inner and not outer sense) and so is every bit as unreal as the outer objects to which it is so easy to become attached. Our self-attachment is hence revealed by this analysis to be every bit as much the product of ontological delusion as is out attachment to external phenomena. 37. Through the non-duality of perception, Arises the perception of the fundamental nature of reality. Through the perception of the fundamental nature of reality Arises the perception of the radiant. This realization is the full understanding of the three nature theory and its implications. The fundamental nature of reality is its threefold character, and the unity of this threefold character in the ultimate non-duality of all that appears as dual. The experience of the world in this way is, Vasubandhu claims, a radiant, or totally illuminating gnosis. 38. Through the perception of the radiant, And through achieving the three supreme Buddha-bodies, And through possessing bodhi: Having achieved this, the sage will benefit him/herself and others. The deep insight embodied in this gnosis, coupled with the altruistic aspiration to attain liberation for the sake of other sentient beings enables the practitioner, through physical acts (the use of the form-body), through the blissful detachment from suffering that enables one to take the welfare of others fully into account (the fruits of the enjoyment-body) and through thorough understanding (the truth-body) to be maximally efficacious on behalf of others. This brief text hence articulates all of the principal features of cittamatra philosophy: its thoroughgoing idealism; the three nature theory of the ontology of representation and of the phenomenology entailed by that idealism; the understanding of non-duality and emptiness in which that theory issues; and the soteriological consequences both of the three nature ontology and of the full understanding of the theory itself.(27) There certainly are briefer expositions, more detailed expositions of this system in the classical literature, but perhaps none so elegant and perspicuous. NOTES (1) My reading of this text has developed as a result of many conversation with and instruction from teachers, students and colleagues. I thank in particular Janet Gyatso for extended discussion of cittamatra philosophy in general and this text in particular, the Ven. Geshe Yeshes Thap-khas for several teaching sessions, the Ven. Gen Lobsang Gyatso for several useful conversations and Ms Karen Meyers for a number of spirited discussions of this text and of cittamatra philosophy in general. Dr Moira Nicholls read an earlier version and made a number of useful suggestions. Mr Jens Schleiter has made many very helpful suggestions regarding both the translation and commentary. Both are much improved as a consequence. I also an anonymous reviewer for Asian Philosophy for pointing out lacunae in an earlier version. Thanks also to Sri Yeshi Tashi Shastri and Mr Jamyang Norbu Gurung for research assistance. (2) See, e.g. Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamikakarika [Garfield, J. (1995) Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (New York, Oxford University Press) or Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatara [Huntington, C. & Wangchen, Geshe N. (1989) The Emptiness of Emptiness: Candrakirti's Madhyamakavatara]. (3) See also Vasubandhu's Madhyanta-vibhaga-bhasya and Trimsikakarika in Kochumuttom, T. (1982) A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience: A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu the Yogacarin (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidaas), and Anacker, S. (1984) Seven Works of Vasubandhu: The Buddhist Psychological Doctor (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass) for further expositions of this view. (4) While such comparisons will prove useful, and while the affinities are real, one must be very careful not to push the comparisons too far. There is a specifically Buddhist context to Vasubandhu's idealism, and the different philosophical milieus of medieval India and modern Europe generate distinct philosophical positions and moves. It is well beyond the scope of this commentary to address all of the relevant similarities and differences, or even to spell out all of Vasubandhu's arguments or system. See Garfield, J. (forthcoming) Western idealism through Indian eyes: Reading Berkeley, Kant and Schopenhauer through Vasubandhu, Sophia, for more on comparison between Vasubandhu's idealism and Western versions of that doctrine. (5) This may be due to the fact that this text was written when Vasubandhu was quite advanced in years. It was probably composed at Ayodhya during the last year or two of his life. (6) Compare, for instance, the presentation of the three natures in the Samdhinirmocana-sutra in which these ontological claims are completely absent. (7) See Legs bshad snyings po, translated in Thurman, R. (1984) Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold in the Essence of True Eloquence (Princeton, Princeton University Press), esp. pp. 223-230. (8) See sTong thun chen mo, translated in Cabezon, J. (1992) A Dose of Emptiness (Albany, State University of New York Press), esp. pp. 39-43. (9) See Garfield, J. (1997) Three natures and three naturelessnesses: comments on cittamatra conceptual categories, Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion, for more on Cittamatra doxography and on the relations between the three natures and three naturelessnesses. (10) Translated in Huntingdon (1989), see esp. pp. 162-168. (11) The present translation is from the Tibetan text. The principal version used is that in the Peking edition of the Tibetan canon (Si 12a-14a). The Sde dge edition was used for comparison, and is in complete concordance. Anacker, op. cit., and Wood (1991) Mind Only: A Philosophical and Doctrinal Analysis of the Vijnanavada (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press), each reprint the original Sanskrit text. (12) Again, it is interesting to contrast this presentation with that of the Samdhinirmocana-sutra where this dependence is explicitly characterized as dependence on other non-mental causes and conditions. Vasubandhu is clearly developing an idealistic position that contrasts with the strikingly non-idealistic ontology of the Samdhinirmocana-sutra. It is in large part due to doxographic imperatives to unify the Yogacara corpus theoretically that so many Tibetans read the Samdhinirmocana-sutra as idealistic and that so many contemporary Western scholars have lately argued that Vasubandhu is not an idealist. (See Garfield [forthcoming], op. cit., for more on this.) Both imperatives should be resisted, as the tradition is internally quite diverse. (13) Kochumuttom, op. cit., Thurman, op. cit., Wood, op. cit., Powers, J. (1995) Wisdom of the Buddha: The Samdhinirmocana Mahayana Sotra (Berkeley, Dharma Press), Anacker, op. cit., Nagao, G. (1991) Madhyamaka and Yogacara (Albany, State University of New York Press) and Cabezon, op. cit., respectively. (14) Contrast this with the standard presentation of cittamatra metaphysics in Geluk-pa doxography, following Sthiramati, according to which the second and third are real, but the first -- the imagined nature -- is completely unreal. See Tsong Khapa in Thurman, op. cit., pp. 223-230 and mKhas grub in Cabezon, op. cit., pp. 47-61. See also Meyers, K. (1995) Empty talk: Tsong Khapa's elucidation of the Buddha's intention as a matter of semantics, Amherst, Hampshire College Division III thesis, ch. 2. (15) See Kant, I. (1965) Critique of Pure Reason, N. Kemp-Smith (transl.) (New York, St Martin's Press), b275-276 and Berkeley, G. (1954) Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, C. Turbayne (Ed.) (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill). (16) Schopenhauer, A. (1974) The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, E. F. J. Payne (Transl.) (LaSalle, Open Court), pp. 273, ff, Schopenhauer, A. (1969) The World as Will and Representation, E. F. J. Payne (Transl.) (New York, Dover), Section 4. See also "Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy". (17) Schopenhauer, (1969) Sections 19, 23-24. (18) This is not to say that Schopenhauer charges Kant with the failure to postulate a nouemenon -- only that he charges Kant with the failure to see that this noumenal character is a third nature of the object, one which is knowable immediately, without subject-object duality. Again, in this respect Vasubandhu's idealism is far closer to Schopenhauer's than it is to Kant's. I thank Dr Moira Nicholls for pointing out the need for clarity on this point. (19) See the analysis of time as the form of inner sense and hence of the empirical character of self-knowledge in the transcendental Aesthetic, Critique of Pure Reason, b155-159. (20) It is not, however -- to put it mildly -- at all obvious that these etymological claims are at all accurate. (21) Again, the anticipation of Kant's account o empirical self-knowledge is striking. (22) This gets complex and leads to an analysis of samsara itself, and the sense in which everything in samsara can be said to be afflicted -- to be caused by and to be a cause of suffering, and in a deeper sense to have suffering and primal ignorance as part of its very ontological structure; and then to an analysis of a specifically Yogacara understanding of samsara. But that is beyond the scope of this commentary. (23) In the scholastic or Cartesian sense -- the character of the mental object itself. (24) Note how this account of the ultimate nature of a phenomenon contrasts with that given by Madhyamika philosophers such as Nagarjuna or Candrakirti, according to whom not even the emptiness of the cup can be said to exist in this sense. It is at this crucial point in ontology that Cittamatra and Madhyamaka are utterly discontinuous. See SIDERITS, M. (1996) On the continuity thesis, Australia-New Zealand Joint Religious Studies Conference, Christchurch, Garfield, op. cit., note 2, but see Nagao, op. cit., note 13, for a contrary view. (25) This contrasts once again with the standard Geluk-pa view according to which the important ontological divide is between the imagined nature and the other two. On this view, the imagined nature is wholly false, while the other-dependent and consummate natures are both truly existent. (26) See, for instance, mKhas grub in Cabezon, op. cit., note 13, p. 50. (27) The one significant ontological doctrine associated with cittamatra philosophy that does not make an appearance here is the theory of the three naturelessnesses (trinihsvabhava/ngo bo nyid med gsum) that takes centre stage in the Samdhinirmocana-sutra. In Trimsika-karika Vasubandhu connects this doctrine to trisvabhava theory, arguing that each nature is natureless in one of these senses. Sthiramati, in his commentary on this text, argues that in fact the three natures and the three naturelessnesses are the same -- a view adopted by such Tibetan exegetes as Tsong Khapa and mKhas grub. This is not a view that Vasubandhu ever articulates, however, and while he makes use of the trinihsvabhava in explicating emptiness in Madhyanta-vibhaga-bhasya it is not, on his view, a doctrine specifically connected to idealism, and so has no role in the present text. See Garfield, op. cit., note 9, for more on the relation between the three natures and the three naturelessnesses.