Commentary on the Uttaratantra Shastra by Asanga (Excerpt)

Those whose minds stray from emptiness are those bodhisattvas who have newly entered the [great] vehicle. They deviate from the princi­ple of what emptiness means in terms of the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones (tathagatagarbha). [Among them,] there are those who assert the door to liberation that is emptiness due to the destruction of [real] entities, saying, "The subsequent extinction and destruction of an existing phenomenon is perfect nirvana." Or, there are also those who rely on emptiness by mentally focusing on emptiness [as some real entity], saying, "In a way that is distinct from form and so on, what is called 'emptiness' exists as some entity which is to be realized and meditated on." So, how is the principle of what emptiness means in terms of the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones expressed here?

There is nothing to be removed from it
And not the slightest to be added.
Actual reality is to be seen as it really is—
Who sees actual reality is released.

The basic element is empty of what is adventitious,
Which has the characteristic of being separable.
It is not empty of the unsurpassable dharmas,
Which have the characteristic of being inseparable.

What is elucidated by this? There is nothing to be removed from this basic element of the Thus-Gone Ones that is naturally completely pure, since the emptiness of [all] expressions of afflicted phenomena (the adventitious stains) is its nature. Nor is the slightest to be added to it, since the expressions of purified phenomena (the fact of insepa­rable dharmas) are its nature. Hence, it is said [in The Sutra of the Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala] that the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones (tathagatagarbha) is empty of all the cocoons of afflictions, which are separable [from it] and realized as being relinquished. It is not empty of the inconceivable Buddhadharmas, which are inseparable [from it], realized as not being relinquished, and greater in number than the sands of the river Ganga.

Thus, one clearly sees that when something does not exist somewhere, the [latter] is empty of that [former]. In accordance with reality, one understands that what remains there always exists. These two verses unmistakenly elucidate the defining characteristic of emptiness, since it [thus] is free from the extremes of superimposition and denial. Here, those whose minds stray away and are distracted from this principle of emptiness, do not rest [in it] in meditative concentration, and are not one-pointed [with regard to it] are therefore called "those whose minds stray from emptiness." Without the wisdom of ultimate emptiness, it is impossible to realize and reveal the nonconceptual expanse.