Here, the Buddha is teaching his cousin Ananda about what the Buddha Nature is like – and that it is the perceiver – the One Who Knows (the Buddho). It is NOT objects which you perceive. So perceptions are just perceptions and are not self. Perceptions are not the perceiver – no matter how hard you try to find the perceiver in the world of perceived objects – they remain all perceived objects – not the perceiver.
“Ananda, you have not yet understood that the objects we perceive are unreal and illusory. They are subject to change, appearing here and there and disappearing here and there.
“Yet these illusions, each with its conventional designation, are in fact within the essential, wondrous enlightenment.
“The same is true of the five aggregates, the six faculties, the twelve sites, and the eighteen constituent elements.
“It is an illusion that they come into being when both their causes and their conditions are present, and it is an illusion that they cease to be when either their causes or their conditions are absent.
“You simply have not yet understood that, fundamentally, everything that comes and goes, that comes into being and ceases to be, is within the true nature of the Matrix of the Thus-Come One, which is the wondrous, everlasting understanding — the unmoving, all-pervading, wondrous suchness of reality.
“But, though you may seek within the everlasting reality of the Matrix of the Thus-Come One for what comes and goes, for confusion and awakening, and for coming into being and ceasing to be, you will not find them there.
Commentary by Master Hsuan Hua:
Each and every perceived object looks to you like it actually exists, but in reality it is entirely illusory and transitory….
- The coming into being of the objects we perceive is an illusion, and
- Their ceasing to be is an illusion….
Nevertheless their nature is in truth the luminous essence of wondrous enlightenment. They come forth from our true mind.
When delusion arises, there is a division into:
- What observes and
- What is observed.
Both arise from the pure nature and luminous essence of wondrous enlightenment, which is the everlasting true mind. They do not come from elsewhere….
- When you do not understand, there is coming and going, there is confusion and enlightenment, there is death and rebirth.
- But if you understand the everlasting true mind, if you recognize your own fundamental nature, the pure nature and luminous essence of the everlasting true mind, you put an end to all the illusory coming into being and ceasing to be.
Then if you look for such characteristics as coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, and death and rebirth, you won’t find them. (III, 1– 3)
A New Translation Buddhist Text Translation Society. The Śūraṅgama Sūtra With Excerpts from the Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua (Kindle Locations 2037-2054).
What’s this like? It’s like the reflections on a mirror – each and every reflection looks real – but it’s not the real thing – reflections are just illusions. But reflections are just reflections (illusions) and are not the mirror itself (reality).