Below is the first English translation of the Tiantai Patriarch Zhanran’s essay the ‘ten Non-duality Gates’ (十不二門) that I am aware of.  The translation was done as a collaboration between myself and Li Jinyi.

TEN NON-DUALITY GATES  (See Appendix One for Chinese version.)

  1. Appearance and essence are not two gates
  2. Inside and outside are not two gates
  3. Cultivation, or affirmation are not two gates
  4. Cause and effect are not two gates
  5. Stains and purity are not two gates
  6. Circumstantial and direct are not two gates
  7. Oneself and others are not two gates
  8. The three karmac activities are not two gates
  9. Truth and expediency are not two gates
  10. Suffering and happiness are not two gates

In other words, form is emptiness, emptiness is form, or ‘sec shim bul ee mun (色心不二門)’, or emptiness is not different from form and form is not different from emptiness; or appearance and essence are not two gates.

A fuller explaination based on the Chinese Buddhist Dictionary (see Appendix Two) is as follows.

 1. Form (Body) mind. What has appearances and subject to growth and decay and not ascribed with consciousness, this is named form. The formless phenomena which result in consciousness, this is named mind. This is the first non duality gate to investigate. That is the body and mind are distinct yet non dual.. (not Separable? Self existing? Self contained?) 

 2. Internal and External. Sentient beings and Buddhas are named external. The phenomena occurring without our mind are termed internal. This is the second non duality gate.

3. Cultivation and affirmation – the Labors required in our practice is named cultivation. The truth that is unchanging is named affirmation. This is the third non duality gate.

4. Cause and effect, formations that can arise are named causes. Resulting fruits are named effects. This is the fourth non duality gate.

5 Taint and Purity – Actions taken in ignorance are named tainted. Actions taken in line with the nature of the Dharma are named pure. This is the fifth duality gate.

6. Circumstantial and Direct – Karmic rewards/retribution are of two types, circumstantial and direct. The realm and necessities of sentient beings are named circumstantial retribution. The mind and body of beings are direct retribution. This is the sixth non duality gate.

7. Oneself and others. From the perspective of the Three Dharma, the dharmas of the Buddha and the dharmas of sentient beings are named others. The dharmas of one own mind are named oneself. This is the seventh non duality gate.

8. Three Karmic Activities – Deeds undertaken by the body is named body karma. Deeds undertaken in speech is named speech karma. Deeds undertaken in the mind is named mental karma. This is the eight non duality gate.

9. Expediency and Truth. In the nine realms (6 in Samsara, 3 Savakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas), the seven Skilful Means dharmas (need more research to identify what they are) are named expediency. The Buddhas complete true dharmas are named truths. This is the ninth non duality gate.

10. Received moisture. Received feelings and experiences, metaphorically speaking, are like the three herbs and two trees (in the Lotus Sutra, practicing the Dharma, leads to rebirth in the Heavenly realm is like a small herb, attaining the dharma without outflows, Nirvana,and six psychic powers, three knowledge, leaving the world, practicing meditative concentration, and realizing dependent origination are like the middle herb, striving to attain buddhahood, cultivating the buddha path is the great herb, those sons of Buddha who concentrate on the path of the Buddha, always practicing love and compassion, self realizing as Buddhas, decisive and without doubt are the small trees. Those living in divine powers, turning the non returning wheels of Dharma, liberating uncountable hundred thousand million sentient beings are the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas of great trees) of the Five Vehicles are named received experiences. The moisture, all that were taught by the Tathagata in the four times and three teachings of law are such as the rain of clouds, they are the nourishing moisture of all the herbs and trees. This is the tenth non duality gate.

This is to say, in my view, the received/attained experiences/realization of the forests of gods, Arahants, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas while in diversity are ultimately in line with the single taste of freedom Rain clouds Dharma! Although there is but one taste of Nirvana, but the attainments of beings differ due to the differing conditions of the beings.



In the Tiantai versions, it is said that ‘appearance’ and ‘form’ are not two gates (是故空中無色). They go on to list another nine things that people commonly see as dualistic but are in reality non-dual.

‘不二門’ Literally, means ‘not two gates’ or ‘these are not two gates’.

不 (Korean: ‘bul’ English ‘not’);

二 (‘ee’ ‘two’);

門 ( ‘mun’ ‘gate’).

色心 means appearance, essence; 色心不二門 means appearance and essence are not two gates

內外 means inside and outside (ie, inside and outside are not two gates)

修性 – cultivation, or affirmation (are not two gates)

因果 – cause and effect (are not two gates)

染淨 – stains and purity (are not two gates)

依正 – circumstantial and direct (are not two gates)

自他 – oneself and others (are not two gates)

三業 – the three karmac activities (are not two gates)

權實 – truth and expediency (are not two gates)

受潤 – suffering and happiness (are not two gates)




。無色 聲香味觸法








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