Sunday, January 17, 2021

Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths - A Mahayana Sutra - 058

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Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths
Saṃvṛti­paramārtha­satya­nirdeśa

The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths”

Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2014
Current version v 2.24.6 (2020)
https://read.84000.co/translation/toh179.html 


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Summary

Acknowledgments

Introduction

The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra - Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths

The Translation

Colophon

Notes


Summary

In  “Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma]” the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī is summoned by Buddha Śākyamuni from a faraway buddha realm to teach in a way that demolishes all dualistic experience. As Mañjuśrī begins to teach, the main message of the sūtra unfolds as an explanation of the Two Truths. The general theme of Mañjuśrī’s discourse is centered on the particular circumstances in Ratnaketu’s buddha realm, but the message is equally applicable to the experiences of beings here in this world. 

(Résumé:

  • T1 - Relative / conventional truths: (i.e. conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances);

  • T2 - The ultimate truth: (i.e. emptiness of inherent existence, or the Ground);
    All phenomena are ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal (i.e. there are no real three stages of becoming -- origination, duration, cessation -- because everything is empty of inherent existence);
    Therefore, ultimately all phenomena are the same. (i.e. everything is not many, not one, not both together, not neither)
    The utterly unborn doesn’t have any divisions.
    Ultimately all phenomena are utter emptiness, utter signlessness,  utter wishlessness. (i.e. three doors of liberation)

  • U2T - Union of the Two Truths:
    Still, even though awakened beings perceive the unborn, unarisen, and unreal nature of all phenomena,
    they actively participate in the relative aspect of things. In relative terms, awakened beings carry out the trainings on the path, guide confused beings toward the liberated state, and perform a multitude of services to beings in general.

(i.e. Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas: Everything is like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen (co-dependent) relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth, relative level, conventional conceptual dualistic appearances) <==> and being empty of existing inherently / separately / independently / unequally / in opposition.
Everything is empty but still appearing & relatively functional; appearing, but still empty of inherent existence (2nd truth, ultimate level). One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>).
Everything is not really existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither.
So we can “use them without using them”.
Those Two Truths are not in opposition / contrary, but more like being inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, equal / non-dual / one -- in the non-dual sense of those terms … <==> thus, themselves, empty of inherent existence.)

  • so we can use them without using them

  • ex. Nevertheless, they train without training, they guide without guiding, and they serve without serving. 

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

  • )


Acknowledgments

Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the guidance of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. Miguel Sawaya and Andreas Doctor produced the translation and wrote the introduction. Catherine Dalton compared the draft translation with the original Tibetan and edited the text. The translators are grateful to Khenpo Trokpa Tulku, Lama Karma Oser, and Lama Tenzin Sangpo from Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery for their assistance in resolving several difficult passages.

This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.


Introduction

i.­1

“Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma]” is a sūtra significant in the canon of the Great Vehicle, concerned as it is with one of the key themes of Buddhist philosophy, the Two Truths. These two principles are 

  1. [T1] the relative truth (understanding the world as it appears) (i.e. conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances); and 

  2. [T2] the ultimate truth (understanding the world as it is). (i.e. emptiness of inherent existence, or the Ground)

(See “Two models of the Two Truths -- Douglas Duckworth”
https://www.gilehtblog.com/2020/10/two-models-of-two-truths.html

Since this bifurcation of reality is one of the frameworks underlying the entirety of Buddhist thought, the message of this sūtra is of importance for all Buddhist traditions, and for the Great Vehicle in particular.

i.­2

Some readers may be surprised that most of the teaching delivered in this sūtra is spoken not by the Buddha himself, but by his disciple Mañjuśrī. However, as readers familiar with the Great Vehicle sūtras will have noticed, in this literature the Buddha often encourages his students to teach, and subsequently endorses their lectures as bona fide “words of the Buddha” (buddhavacana). In this way Mañjuśrī’s teaching becomes authentic scripture through the awakened activity of the Buddha himself. Still, before Mañjuśrī can deliver his eloquent teaching, he must first arrive in this world, as it turns out that he has temporarily taken up residence in a distant buddha realm, known as Jewel World.

i.­3

The sūtra, which takes place on Vulture Peak Mountain — a hill just outside the ancient city of Rājagṛha, capital of what was then the state of Magadha — begins with a bodhisattva god named Lord of Peace and Calm asking the Buddha where Mañjuśrī might be found. The Buddha announces that Mañjuśrī has moved to a buddha realm many thousands of world systems away. There, the Buddha explains, Mañjuśrī lives in the assembly of another buddha, Ratnaketu. Lord of Peace and Calm politely requests the Buddha to send a signal to Mañjuśrī summoning him to this world, since Mañjuśrī is the only bodhisattva who is able to teach in a way that demolishes (i.e. transcends / purifies / transmutes) all dualistic experience or, as the text describes it, experience that involves “reference points.” 

(i.e. Directly realising the Union of the Two Truths about opposites: Conceptual opposites are empty of inherent existence (2nd truth - not really existent) <==> because inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended (1st truth - not completely non-existent), equal / non-dual / one -- in the non-dual sense of those terms: ex. not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither; meaning they are beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all extremes & middle. So, there is no absolute basis for any ‘objective’ discrimination.)

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

i.­4

The Buddha obliges and immediately sends forth a light from the magical hair between his eyebrows. The light inspires Mañjuśrī to return to this world, this time joined on his travels by an enormous assembly of bodhisattvas from the buddha realm of Ratnaketu. They arrive and, accompanied by much pomp and festivity, they offer proper worship to Buddha Śākyamuni. Once they have settled here in this world, Mañjuśrī is asked to give the assembly a teaching just like the instructions offered by Buddha Ratnaketu in his far-off buddha realm.

i.­5

As Mañjuśrī begins to teach, 

the main message of the sūtra unfolds in the form of an explanation of
the [Union / Harmony of the] Two Truths
[about opposites like good vs. bad, and the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --]. 

The general theme of Mañjuśrī’s discourse is centered on the particular circumstances in Ratnaketu’s buddha realm, but the message is equally applicable to the experiences of beings here in this world.

i.­6

There are Two Truths, Mañjuśrī teaches. 

  • [T1:] There is the relative truth in which all types of experiences unfold — good and bad, virtuous and non-virtuous, pleasant and painful, awakened and confused. This truth also includes all the spiritual trainings that take an ordinary being along the path to the state of awakening itself.
    (i.e. T1: conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances)

  • [T2:] And then there is the ultimate truth, in which it is realized that all the phenomena experienced on the relative level are, in their most fundamental state, in Mañjuśrī’s words, “unborn, unarisen, and unreal.” This is the truth that is experienced by awakened beings.
    (i.e. T2: emptiness of inherent existence, or the sel-arisen unalterable permanent pristine Ground)

  • [U2T - Union / Harmony of the Two Truths:]
    [T2:] Still, even though awakened beings perceive the unborn, unarisen, and unreal nature of all phenomena,
    [T1:] they actively participate in the relative aspect of things.
    In relative terms, awakened beings carry out the trainings on the path,
    guide confused beings toward the liberated state,
    and perform a multitude of services to beings in general.
    Nevertheless, as Mañjuśrī teaches again and again in this sūtra,
    they train without training, they guide without guiding, and they serve without serving. 

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

Through such paradoxical expressions, 

Mañjuśrī describes the experiences of those who have
direct understanding of [the Union / Harmony of] both the ultimate and relative truths.

i.­7

The teaching unfolds organically as Mañjuśrī responds to a series of questions put by several of the bodhisattvas in Buddha Śākyamuni’s retinue.
Although the recurring theme of the teaching remains the nature of the Two Truths,
Mañjuśrī covers a variety of topics specific to the questions asked.
In this way he describes the qualities of both the hearers and bodhisattvas in Buddha Ratnaketu’s circle and the moral trainings (vinaya) that they observe.

i.­8

Interestingly, Mañjuśrī teaches that the very same acts that the hearers in the assembly avoid, the bodhisattvas adopt as their core training, although with a twist. For example, while the hearers seek to avoid miserliness at all cost, the bodhisattvas engage precisely in “miserliness,” albeit with the understanding that it is the welfare of other beings that they refuse to relinquish, rather than any worldly mammon.

i.­9

Toward the latter half of the sūtra, the teaching takes on a more personal character as the bodhisattvas interview Mañjuśrī concerning his own personal attainments and practice. In this way we find Mañjuśrī describing his own insights and spiritual prowess, although in somewhat cryptic language. Accordingly, when Lord of Peace and Calm asks him whether he directly comprehends the unarisen nature of phenomena on the ultimate level, Mañjuśrī replies,
“Divine son, the utterly unarisen does not comprehend the utterly unarisen.
And why? Because, divine son,
all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal.”

i.­10

At the end of Mañjuśrī’s teaching, the Buddha praises and approves what he has taught. Here, the Buddha is asked by several bodhisattvas to elaborate on some of the themes raised by Mañjuśrī. In general, throughout the sūtra, it is clear that the teachings and trainings of the bodhisattvas are considered preferable, superior, and far vaster in scope than those of the hearers. This is here confirmed by the Buddha, using a series of analogies that illustrate the superiority of the bodhisattva vehicle. For example, the conceptual wisdom of the hearers is compared to a single drop of water, while the nonconceptual wisdom of the bodhisattvas is taught to be infinitely greater, like the great ocean. The reader is left in no doubt as to where the protagonists in this sūtra stand in terms of their devotional allegiance.

i.­11

Toward the end of the sūtra, in a final display of his superior spiritual abilities, Mañjuśrī enters an absorption that allows him to alter the perceptions of everyone present, so that they now perceive this world as the buddha realm of Ratnaketu. Encouraged by the Buddha, Mañjuśrī reveals his magically created illusion to everyone, before departing for that distant buddha realm from whence he first arrived.

i.­12

At the very end of the sūtra, we find the customary inquiry by Ānanda to the Buddha regarding the title of the sūtra, its benefits to potential devotees, and the right way to propagate it.

i.­13

The translation was made based on the Degé block print, with reference to other recensions of the sūtra as listed in the Pedurma (dpe bsdur ma) comparative edition of the Kangyur. Unfortunately, it appears that no Sanskrit manuscript remains extant.1




The Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra - Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths

The Translation

1.­1

[F.244.b] [B1] Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas!

1.­2

Thus have I heard at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in Rājagṛha, on Vulture Peak Mountain, together with a large monastic saṅgha of 8,000 monks and 72,000 bodhisattvas, as well as gods living in the desire and form realms. There, the Blessed One taught the Dharma, surrounded and honored by a retinue of many hundreds of thousands of beings.

1.­3

Present in the assembly was a god, called Lord of Peace and Calm. He prostrated at the feet of the Blessed One and, bowing with joined palms in the direction of the Blessed One, asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, where is [F.245.a] Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta now? Blessed One, I myself and everyone here would like that sublime being to teach the Dharma.”

1.­4

The Blessed One replied, “Divine son, if one travels east of this buddha realm and passes beyond 18,000 other buddha realms, there is a buddha realm called Jewel World. There, the Thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu at present lives and teaches the Dharma; and Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta is there now.”

1.­5

The god Lord of Peace and Calm said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, it would be wonderful if a sign were made such that Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, upon seeing it, would wish to return here. The reason is, Blessed One, that Dharma teachings such as those of Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta (Mahayana teachings) are not to be heard from any of the hearers, solitary buddhas, or those bodhisattvas who rely on reference points. Except for the Thus-gone One, no one else at all is capable of teaching the Dharma in that manner. Blessed One, when Mañjuśrī teaches the (Mahayana) Dharma, all the dwellings of the demons lose their luster. Moreover, all demons become unable to inflict any harm. All opposition is utterly defeated. Those with reference points are left without reference. The sacred Dharma also remains for a long time. The Thus-gone One will also rejoice in this and approve of it.”

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­6

The Blessed One knew that the god Lord of Peace and Calm would make this request, and sent out a beam of light from the ūrṇā hair on his brow. That ray of light illuminated the great trichiliocosm with its intense luminescence [F.245.b] and, passing through those 18,000 other buddha realms, its intense radiance spread throughout the Jewel World, the buddha realm of the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu.

1.­7

Witnessing this radiance, some bodhisattva great beings asked the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu who resided there, “Blessed One, there was such a bright light just now; who caused that sign?”

“Son of noble family,” replied the Blessed Ratnaketu, “to the west of this buddha realm, past 18,000 buddha realms, is the Sahā world. There, the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni currently lives and teaches the Dharma. The Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni sent out a beam of light from the ūrṇā hair on his brow, and the luminescence of that beam of light passed through 18,000 buddha realms and illuminated this world with its intense radiance.”

1.­8

“Blessed One,” asked those bodhisattva great beings, “why did that blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect buddha emit this beam of light?”

The Blessed Ratnaketu replied, “He did so in order to summon Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta. And why? To make him return there. In that buddha’s retinue there are numerous bodhisattva great beings as well as many gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, and so forth. They all want to behold Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta and [F.246.a] hear him teach the (Mahayana) Dharma.”

1.­9

The Thus-gone Ratnaketu then said to Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, “Mañjuśrī, since the Blessed, Thus-gone Śākyamuni and all those in his retinue would like to see you, you should go to that Sahā world.”

“Yes, Blessed One,” replied Mañjuśrī. “I had also noticed that sign.”

1.­10

So Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, along with ten thousand bodhisattvas, bowed at the feet of the Thus-gone Ratnaketu. They circumambulated the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu three times, and then instantaneously traveled to this Sahā world, arriving as quickly as it takes a strong person to extend and retract his arm. Remaining in midair with their bodies invisible, they sent down a great shower of fragrant, colorful, and delightful flowers, such as had never been seen or heard of before, in order to honor the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni. This great shower of flowers filled the whole great trichiliocosm to knee height.

1.­11

Seeing these flowers, everyone assembled there was amazed and asked, “Blessed One, who caused this great shower of blossoms, so pleasant to behold, to fall?”

The Blessed One replied, “Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, accompanied by ten thousand bodhisattvas, has come from the Jewel World to this Sahā world. With their bodies invisible, [F.246.b] they all sent down this great shower of flowers to honor the Thus-gone One.”

1.­12

Those in the retinue said, “Blessed One, we would like to see Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta and those bodhisattva great beings.”

At that point, Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta and the ten thousand bodhisattvas descended from the sky. Having prostrated at the Blessed One’s feet, Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta and the bodhisattva great beings each sat down on their own miraculously emanated seat.

1.­13

Then the god Lord of Peace and Calm bowed to the Blessed One and said, with joined palms,
“Blessed One, all of us would like to listen, so please ask Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta to teach (the Mahayana Dharma).”

The Blessed One replied, “Divine son, you yourself should make that request.”

1.­14

So the god said, “Mañjuśrī, it would be wonderful if you could give us a (Mahayana) Dharma teaching similar to what is taught in the buddha realm of the Blessed, Thus-gone Ratnaketu.”

Mañjuśrī replied, (i.e. First, the Mahayana Dharma is not about accepting this and/or rejecting that … It is not dualistic.)
“Ultimately, the Dharma is not about generating attachment (nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add);
nor is it about bringing attachment to an end (nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract).
Ultimately, it is not about generating anger (nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add);
nor is it about bringing anger to an end (nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract).
Ultimately, it is not about generating delusion (nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add);
nor is it about bringing delusion to an end (nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract).
Ultimately, it is not about generating wisdom (nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add);
nor is it about bringing wisdom to an end (nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract).”

(i.e. The Mahayana dharma is not dualistic; it is not about accepting this while rejecting that -- ex. the three poisons, ignorance or wisdom. It is about the Middle Way free of all extremes & Middle: nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if this helps someone to get closer to the liberating Truth.
Why? Because, in emptiness, there are no real three stages of becoming -- arising / beginning / coming / birth (things to accept), lasting, or ceasing / ending / going / death (thing to reject) -- for anything.)

1.­15

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how is that?”

Mañjuśrī replied, “Divine son, in the unborn, there is no birth (origination) or ending (cessation) whatsoever.
Ultimately, divine son, the bodhisattva [F.247.a] great beings have no thoughts at all, none that have arisen, none that are arising, and none that will arise.
And why is that?
Because ultimately all phenomena are inherently unborn (i.e. appearances like thoughts, pure of impure, are empty of inherent arising, existence & cessation; so there is nothing to generate / accept or abandon / reject).”

(i.e. Madhyamaka Logic: Because everything is dependently co-arisen <==> then everything is empty of inherent existence <==> then there is no real three stages of becoming -- origination / beginning / coming / birth, duration / middle / lasting / life, cessation / ending / going / death -- for anything. So, there is nothing to accept / seek or reject / abandon in absolute terms.)

1.­16

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī,
so what does that Thus-gone One wish to see abandoned through his teaching the (Mahayana) Dharma?”

Mañjuśrī said,
“That Thus-gone One teaches the Dharma
because ultimately things are neither inherently born,
nor do they inherently end.

And why?
Because bodhisattva great beings apply themselves assiduously to the ultimate truth.
However, they do not apply themselves diligently to the relative truth.”

(i.e. The Buddha teaches that everything, all dharmas, are empty of inherent origination, existence and cessation <==> but are still conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances. One aspect implies the other (<==>). He teaches how to directly perceive / realise the true nature & dynamic of reality as it is here & now / Suchness / the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas. Because perceiving / realising only one aspect / truth is not enough. So, grasping at dependent-origination-only is not enough, grasping at emptiness-only is not enough, grasping at both together is still not ‘it’, grasping at neither / something else is also not ‘it’. One needs to realise the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths to obtain complete liberation from all conditioning / karma.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas should apply themselves / act in accord with the true nature of Reality as it is here & now, with the Union / Harmony of the Two Truths, with both relative & ultimate tuths together; not just in accord with just one of them, not grasping one of them, or both together, or something else.
Why? Because, although everything is empty of inherent existence (2nd truth - not real existence) <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth - not completely non-existent). One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Those two aspects / truths are in harmony. So it is not about accepting or rejecting anything & everything, samsara; but about directly perceiving / realising its true nature & dynamic.)

1.­17

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is the Ultimate Truth [ / Ground] ?” (i.e The Union of the Two truths)

Mañjuśrī said,
“Divine son, if, on the ultimate level, ultimate truth becomes an object of body, speech, or mind, that is not ‘ultimate truth’ but relative truth itself. (i.e. it is not something to grasp)
Rather, divine son, on the ultimate level, ultimate truth transcends all conventions.
It is without specific instances; it does not arise, does not cease, and is free from something to be expressed, an expression, something to be known, and knowledge (inconceivable).
Divine son, the ultimate truth transcends everything up through the domain of omniscient wisdom that is endowed with the supreme of all aspects.
Divine son, it has no engagement with (accept), nor any turning back of (reject), concepts and thoughts.
Ultimately, there is no ‘far shore,’ there is no ‘this shore,’ nor is there a middle.
Divine son, although one indeed makes the exaggerated claim, ‘This is ultimate truth,’ that is not the same as saying, ‘Ultimate truth is like this.’
Divine son, ultimately, reality is unborn (i.e. empty of inherent arising, existence & cessation); thus, no conventions apply to it. That to which, on the ultimate level, no conventions apply, divine son, is ultimate truth. Thus, that is not like saying, ‘Ultimate truth is like this.’ [F.247.b]
Divine son, the Thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha also says that ultimately all phenomena and all terms are false and deceptive phenomena.”

(i.e. The ultimate truth / Ground / Suchness / Genuine Emptiness / Reality is indescribable / inconceivable for our flawed conditioned conceptual dualistic mental. It is beyond all conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-discrimination, causality & spontaneity, form & non-form, matter-energy, space & no-space, time & timelessness. It is beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conditioning / karma (physical, conceptual, mental; individual, collective, cosmic). It is beyond all dualities like: good & bad, pure & impure, true & false, coming & going, origination & cessation, action & non-action, acceptation & rejection, existence & non-existent, identity & difference, relative & absolute … So, we call this the inconceivable Harmony / Union of the Two Truths. But this is just a finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.)

(See “Two models of the Two Truths -- Douglas Duckworth”
https://www.gilehtblog.com/2020/10/two-models-of-two-truths.html )

1.­18

The god said, “How is it then, Mañjuśrī, that the (Mahayana) Dharma taught by the Thus-gone One is not false?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, on the ultimate level, the Thus-gone One does not speak falsely. Nor does he speak truly. And why is that? Ultimately, divine son, the Thus-gone One has not arisen. And so, ultimately he speaks neither falsely nor truly. Divine son, what do you think? Are explanations given by magical creations of the Thus-gone One true or false?”

1.­19

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, explanations given by magical creations of the Thus-gone One are not true, nor are they false. Why is that? Mañjuśrī, ultimately there is nothing truly established in that which is emanated by the Thus-gone One.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, so it is. The Thus-gone One knows that all phenomena are unestablished in the ultimate sense. Whatever is unestablished in the ultimate sense should not be called true nor should it be called false in the context of the ultimate. Why is that?
Because ultimately all phenomena are unborn (i.e. empty of inherent arising, existence & cessation).”

(i.e. Ultimately, the ultimate truth / Ground / Suchness / Genuine Emptiness / Reality is beyond all conceptual proliferations, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all concepts / dualities like: true, false, both together, neither.
Why? Because, ultimately, everything is empty of inherent existence, with no real origination, duration & cessation.
Conceptual dualities like true vs. false exist only conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively (1st truth) as co-dependent conceptual opposites, merely labelled / imputed / conceptualised by the mind <==> but not do not exist ultimately (2nd truth -- emptiness of inherent existence). Those two aspects / truths are not really in opposition, but are more like in harmony: one implies the other (<==>). So the Mahayana Dharma is not false, not true, not both together, not neither. It is composed of various adapted skillful means that could be used as simple tools / antidotes without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slaves to them, without ever thinking its truths methods & goals are inherent / independent / universal / absolute.) 

1.­20

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how does the Thus-gone One teach the Ultimate Truth (or the Union of the Two Truths)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “The ultimate truth, divine son, cannot be taught. And why?
Because the topic, the teacher, the method of teaching, the student, and the reason for teaching [i.e. the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --] are all ultimately utterly unborn (i.e. empty of inherent arising, existence & cessation).
Phenomena (subject) that are utterly unborn cannot themselves express (action) utterly unborn phenomena (object).”

(i.e. Teaching without teaching: Empty subject <==> empty objects ==> empty relation / action; one implies the others. They are all not really existent & functional (2nd truth), not completely non-existent & non-functional (1st truth) = that is the meaning of ‘acting without acting’, or the Union of the Two truths about the three spheres.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

1.­21

When Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta had given this teaching on the ultimate truth without teaching, the minds of five hundred monks were freed from defilements without further clinging. [F.248.a] Countless bodhisattva great beings developed, without developing it, the acceptance that phenomena are unborn (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).

1.­22

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, it is difficult to feel conviction in the ultimate truth.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, it is difficult for anyone who relies on reference points to feel conviction in the ultimate truth (or Union of the Two Truths).”

1.­23

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, it is difficult to understand the ultimate truth.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, it is difficult for those who do not exert themselves to understand the ultimate truth (or Union of the Two Truths).”

1.­24

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how do monks exert themselves?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately, when they are without exertion that aims to understand, relinquish, cultivate, or actualize, that is how monks exert themselves without exerting themselves. And why? Because one might think, ‘Ultimately, this is to be understood, this is to be relinquished, this is to be cultivated, and this is to be actualized.’ However, such thinking involves conceptual marks and elaborations. It involves reference points and disturbing emotions. It involves tumult and fear. It involves illness and suffering. It involves pain and poison. Thus, engagement of that type is not authentic.”

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­25

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is authentic engagement?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son,
whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also the same as the five acts with immediate consequence on the ultimate level.

(Note: Acts with immediate consequence: Describing the result of committing one of five particularly heinous crimes: (1) killing one’s father, (2) killing one’s mother, (3) killing an arhat, (4) maliciously drawing blood from a buddha, and (5) causing a schism in the sangha. In this sūtra, Mañjuśrī describes a corresponding set of five acts with immediate consequences that bodhisattvas should, in fact, perform.)


1.­26

  1. “Whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as views. [F.248.b]

  2. “Whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as the dharmas of ordinary beings.

  3. “Whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as the dharmas of those who are training.

  4. “Whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as the dharmas of those who are no longer training.

  5. “Whatever is the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as the dharmas of the completely perfect Buddha.

1.­27

  • “Whatever is the same as the dharmas of the completely perfect Buddha on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as suchness, the sphere of reality, and the utterly unborn.

  • “Whatever is the same as the dharmas of the completely perfect Buddha on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as nirvāṇa.

  • “Whatever is the same as nirvāṇa on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as saṃsāra.

  • “Whatever is the same as saṃsāra on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as affliction.

  • “Whatever is the same as affliction on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as purification.

  • “Whatever is the same as purification on the ultimate level is also ultimately the same as all phenomena.

  • “A monk who genuinely engages in the equality of all phenomena on the ultimate level in this way, divine son, is called one with authentic engagement on the ultimate level. 

However, it is not like the way it is expressed.”

(i.e. The Path / authentic engagement is acting more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / Suchness / Ground, more and more in accord with the inconceivable Harmony / Union of the Two Truths. Thus using more and more subtle adapted skillful means, conventional truths, virtuous views methods & goals <==> with more & more wisdom / emptiness; as much as possible, without any grasping, without any attachment, without becoming slaves to them, without any di-dision between the three spheres, without ignorance of their true nature & dynamic. Using them as simple tools while being aware of their inconceivable true nature & dynamic. Thus not accepting / affirming / seeking / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / no-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the liberating Truths. That is the Middle Way free of all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free of all extremes & middle. Because, ultimately, everything is equal / pure / perfect / divine here & now, beyond all dualities. Nirvana is samsara transcended / transmuted / purified by the wisdom of directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now. Union samsara <==> nirvana.)

(Note: Reference points / Focus: conceptual mind.)

1.­28

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is the Sameness ( / Equality / Non-duality / Oneness) by which everything up to purification is said to be ultimately the same, and also to be ultimately the same as all phenomena?

Mañjuśrī said, 

  • “Ultimately, all phenomena are the same in that (because) they are unarisen. [F.249.a] 

  • Ultimately, all phenomena are the same in that (because) they are unborn. 

  • Ultimately, all phenomena are the same in that (because) they are unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation). 

  • Therefore, divine son, ultimately all phenomena are the Same (One / Non-dual / Equal). (i.e. in the non-dual sense of those terms: not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. But we insist on the first point as an antidote to our usual position.)

And why is that? 

  • Since ultimately, divine son, all phenomena are unarisen, they cannot be distinguished.

(i.e. In emptiness, there is no absolute basis for any discimination, so we say everything is already equal / pure / perfect / divine / one … -- in the non-dual sense of those terms: ex. not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / multiple / different, not equal / pure / perfect / divine / one / identical, not both together, not neither. But we insist on the first point as an antidote to our usual position.
So there is nothing to accept nothing to reject in absolute terms ...)

1.­29

“Divine son, it is like this analogy. The space within a clay vessel and the space within a precious vessel are both the element of space; ultimately, not the slightest distinction can be made between them. 

Divine son, in the very same way, 

  • disturbing emotions are themselves unarisen on the ultimate level. 

  • Purification itself is also unarisen on the ultimate level. 

  • Ultimately, saṃsāra itself is also unarisen

  • Ultimately, all phenomena up through nirvāṇa itself are unarisen

  • Ultimately, not even a slight distinction can be made with respect to these. 

And why? 

  • Because ultimately all phenomena are unarisen (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

(i.e. The Madhyamaka logic is like this:

Because everything is 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗰𝗼-𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻 (co-dependent with something else, ex, with its parts, with its causes & conditions, with its conceptual opposite(s), and 𝗰𝗼-𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 subject / 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 / 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 / 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁 in dependence of its past / conditioning / karma)

<==> then everything is 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗶𝗻𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲;

<==> then there is 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 -- origination / birth, duration / life, cessation / death -- for anything;

<==> then there is 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 / 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 / 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 either for anything;

<==> then 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗻𝗼𝗻-𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗼𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗻𝗲𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿;

𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 / 𝘀𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 / 𝗺𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝗽𝗹𝗲 / 𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 / 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 / 𝗼𝗻𝗲 / 𝗻𝗼𝗻-𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗼𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗻𝗲𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿;

not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither;

not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary, not equal / pure / perfect / divine, not both together, not neither;

not this, non-this, not both together, not neither;

meaning 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗶𝘃𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 , 𝗯𝗲𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀, 𝗯𝗲𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗲𝘅𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝘀 & 𝗺𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗲;

<==> then there is 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 / 𝘀𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 / 𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝘀𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 / 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝗻𝗼𝗻-𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 / 𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 / 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 either;

<==> then 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀;

<==> so 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁 / 𝗮𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗿𝗺 / 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗸 / 𝗱𝗼 / 𝗮𝗱𝗱 in absolute terms, 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 / 𝗻𝗲𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗲 / 𝗮𝗯𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗼𝗻 / 𝗻𝗼t-𝗱𝗼 / 𝘀𝘂𝗯𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁 in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / intersubjectively;

<==> so, we say that 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗹 / 𝗼𝗻𝗲, 𝗽𝘂𝗿𝗲, 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁, 𝗱𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗲, 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 & 𝗻𝗼𝘄.)

1.­30

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how should bodhisattva great beings exert themselves with respect to the [Harmony / Union of the Two] Truths of the noble ones?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, if bodhisattva great beings did not apply themselves to the truths of the noble ones, how could they teach, without teaching, the Dharma to the hearers?
Yet, divine son, although indeed that is the case, the bodhisattva great beings’ meditation on the truths involves consideration, while the hearers’ meditation on the truths does not involve consideration. Why is that?
Divine son, on the relative level the bodhisattva great beings consider all sentient beings.
Although they do meditate on the truths without meditating, they do not actualize the limit of reality by focusing on lack of substance (i.e. emptiness of inherent existence of all dharmas).
On the relative level, in order to acquire skill in means, the bodhisattva great beings [F.249.b] meditate on the truths without meditating.
On the relative level they do not discard (reject) the [conventional] truths of saṃsāra, nor of nirvāṇa.
On the relative level, in order to individually discriminate the wisdoms of the buddhas, the bodhisattva great beings meditate on the truths without meditating. 

[Comments from above:]
(i.e. The Mahayana dharma is not dualistic; it is not about accepting this while rejecting that -- ex. the three poisons, ignorance or wisdom. It is about the Middle Way free of all extremes & Middle: nothing to accept / affirm / seek / do / add in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if this helps someone to get closer to the liberating Truth.
Why? Because, in emptiness, there are no real three stages of becoming -- arising / beginning / coming / birth (things to accept), lasting, or ceasing / ending / going / death (thing to reject) -- for anything.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas should apply themselves / act in accord with the true nature of Reality as it is here & now, with the Union / Harmony of the Two Truths, with both relative & ultimate tuths together; not just in accord with just one of them, not grasping one of them, or both together, or something else.
Why? Because, although everything is empty of inherent existence (2nd truth - not real existence) <==> everything is still conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth - not completely non-existent). One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Those two aspects / truths are in harmony. So it is not about accepting or rejecting anything & everything, samsara; but about directly perceiving / realising its true nature & dynamic.)

(i.e. The Path / authentic engagement is acting more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / Suchness / Ground, more and more in accord with the inconceivable Harmony / Union of the Two Truths. Thus using more and more subtle adapted skillful means, conventional truths, virtuous views methods & goals <==> with more & more wisdom / emptiness; as much as possible, without any grasping, without any attachment, without becoming slaves to them, without any di-dision between the three spheres, without ignorance of their true nature & dynamic. Using them as simple tools while being aware of their inconceivable true nature & dynamic. Thus not accepting / affirming / seeking / doing anything in absolute terms, not rejecting / negating / abandoning / no-doing anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the liberating Truths. That is the Middle Way free of all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free of all extremes & middle. Because, ultimately, everything is equal / pure / perfect / divine here & now, beyond all dualities. Nirvana is samsara transcended / transmuted / purified by the wisdom of directly realising its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now. Union samsara <==> nirvana.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

1.­31

“Divine son, it is as in the following analogy. A person who had been caught by many strangers 2 flees. He escapes from among those many strangers and enters a jungle. But he becomes frightened, panics, and leaves the jungle, never to return. Divine son, in the same way the hearers are frightened of saṃsāra and flee in panic. They do not return to this world but meditate one-pointedly on the truths in solitude. Thus, since they lack the intelligence of various methods, they do not consider all sentient beings, and so forth up to not considering the wisdom of omniscience.

1.­32

“Divine son, it is like the following analogy. A leader acquires many servants and all necessary provisions. Thinking that he should set out to gather many goods, he rounds up many people and, without fear or panic, he leaves the wild forest. Similarly, divine son, the bodhisattva great beings resemble that great leader as they engage in worldly conduct on the relative level. Thereby, they provide for all sentient beings and engage with great compassion, which can be likened to the many servants. They acquire all the roots of virtue, which are the provisions. They possess the great profit that is comprised of the six perfections, the means of attracting disciples, and unsurpassed merit and wisdom. They act for the welfare of all realms of sentient beings and proceed from buddha realm to buddha realm. Thus, they provide for sentient beings and meditate on the truths through being skilled in means.

1.­33

“Divine son, consider this analogy. If one infuses a hempen cloth with campaka and vārṣika flowers, their scent fades quickly. [F.250.a] Divine son, similarly, the hearers’ meditation on the truths is observed for just a short period of time. Passing quickly into nirvāṇa, they do not bring forth the fragrance of the buddhas’ discipline, hearing, absorption, knowledge, and wisdom. Furthermore, they are unable to relinquish the disturbing emotions that are conjoined with the habitual tendencies.

1.­34

“Divine son, now consider another analogy. If one were to infuse a cloth of precious Benares silk for hundreds of thousands of great aeons with the scent of perfume and flowers from the human and divine realms, its divine fragrance would be experienced in perpetuity, and that pure aroma would overwhelm both gods and men. Divine son, similarly, the bodhisattva great beings without meditating meditate on the truths for incalculably many hundreds of thousands of eons. They do not relinquish doing so until they have attained omniscient wisdom endowed with the supreme of all aspects and pass into complete nirvāṇa. And so, without reference points, they become exceedingly fragrant with the scent of omniscient wisdom endowed with the supreme of all aspects. In terms of worldly conventions, they abandon all their habitual tendencies toward the disturbing emotions and attract the worlds of gods, men, and demigods.”

1.­35

Then the god Lord of Peace and Calm asked Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, “Mañjuśrī,
how is the spiritual community of hearers that belong to the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu?”

Mañjuśrī replied, “Ultimately, they are not devoted followers, but they are also not devotedly turning to someone else.
Ultimately, they are not followers of the family, but neither do they ultimately abandon the family of the Thus-gone One.
Ultimately, they are not following the Dharma; indeed, ultimately they do not observe any Dharma at all.
Ultimately, they do not possess the eight mistaken dharmas, but neither are they relatively free from them. [F.250.b]

1.­36

“Ultimately they are not stream-enterers, yet in terms of the conventional truth of the world, they are beyond all the lower realms.
Ultimately they are not once-returners, yet relatively they do return in order to ripen beings.
Ultimately they are not non-returners, yet relatively from all phenomena there is no return.
Ultimately they are not worthy ones, yet according to worldly conventions they are supremely worthy of veneration by the world along with its gods.
Ultimately they are not hearers, yet, without conceptually apprehending them, they do listen to all the blessed buddhas.

1.­37

“Ultimately they are not without attachment, yet relatively they are unharmed by the torments of attachment.
Ultimately they are not without anger, yet relatively they are unharmed by the torments of anger.
Ultimately they are not without delusion, yet relatively all phenomena are free from darkness.
Ultimately they are not without disturbing emotions, yet relatively they endeavor to tame the disturbing emotions of all beings.
Ultimately they have abided definitively in non-origination from the very beginning, yet relatively they consciously take up existence.
Relatively they embrace cyclic existence, yet ultimately there is no grasping to or abandoning of any phenomenon.

1.­38

“Ultimately, without intense mindfulness regarding all phenomena, they see without seeing.
Relatively, however, they train in the foundations of mindfulness.
Ultimately, without knowing, they know that all phenomena are unborn and unceasing. In terms of worldly experience, however, they train in the thorough relinquishments.
Ultimately, they have neither body nor mind yet, in the relative truth of the world, they have accomplished the bases of miraculous power. [F.251.a]
Ultimately they are without any faculties, yet relatively they have accomplished all the faculties.
Ultimately, without seeing, they see that all phenomena are unreal. However, in order to eradicate the conceit and conceptual apprehension of everyone who is conceited and engages in conceptual apprehension, they train, without training, in the powers.
Ultimately, in order to make it understood that all phenomena are unreal, they train, without training, in the branches of awakening.
Although ultimately utterly unreal, relatively they train in the path by means of not training.
Ultimately, they accomplish tranquillity within the limit of reality.
Ultimately, by not training, they see insight to be utterly unarisen.
Ultimately, their knowledge is born through not apprehending ignorance as something to be exhausted.
Ultimately, neither exhaustion nor arising is observed.

1.­39

“Although they see all beings and all buddha realms with their physical eye, ultimately they see nothing whatsoever.
Although they see all the deaths, transmigrations, and rebirths of all beings so clearly with their divine eye, ultimately they see nothing whatsoever.
Although they know all the experiences and movements of the minds of all beings with their eye of wisdom, ultimately they know nothing whatsoever.
Although they see all dharmas with their dharma eye, ultimately they see nothing whatsoever.
Although they perform all the acts of a buddha with their buddha eye, ultimately they perform nothing whatsoever.
Although with their divine ear they hear the teachings of all the blessed buddhas, ultimately they hear nothing whatsoever.
Although with their single mind they view the minds of all beings, ultimately they view nothing whatsoever.
Although with their wisdom of recollection they surely recollect the very dawn of time, ultimately they recollect nothing whatsoever.
Although they visit the inconceivable buddha realms by means of their miraculous powers, ultimately there is no coming or going.
Although their defilements are exhausted, [F.251.b] ultimately there is nothing to be exhausted.

1.­40

“Although they appear as beings, ultimately their bodies are devoid of true existence.
Although they speak, ultimately their speech is not pronounced in the form of syllables.
Although they think, ultimately thought is not something that can be expressed as mind or mental phenomena.
Ultimately they do not appear as form, but relatively they are adorned with the thirty-two marks and ornamented with the excellent signs of great beings.
They are adorned with the accumulations of merit and wisdom.
Their splendor is dazzling.
Their speech resounds.
They have been anointed with the unguent of discipline.
Words spoken with ill intent cause them no disturbing emotions.
They sport in clairvoyant powers.
Their learning sets them free. 3
With their eloquence they make declarations.

1.­41

“Relatively, they produce emanations by means of wisdom; with the light of wisdom they dispel all darkness; with knowledge they illuminate; their teaching knows no limit, and is assimilated as realization.
Relatively, for all beings they are the refuge, and because of their awakening they constantly consider beings — who are continuously beheld by the blessed buddhas, but who are not considered by the hearers, solitary buddhas, and the extremists with reference points — so that, relatively, their teaching knows no exhaustion, their mindfulness is like the ocean, their absorption is comparable to the central mountain, and their patience is like the earth.

1.­42

“Relatively, they are courageous when it comes to clearing away all thoughts; they shine like the sun to dispel the deep darkness of ignorance; they shine like the moon in order to illuminate the world.
Relatively, they are like a ruler in order to attract others.
Relatively, they are like Brahmā in order to master the mind.
Relatively, they are incomparable in order to master space.
Relatively they have followed, but ultimately there is no one who goes (cessation), comes (origination), or remains (duration). Why is that?
Because ultimately all phenomena are utterly unarisen (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).

1.­43

“Divine son, such is the spiritual community of hearers belonging to the Blessed, thus-gone, [F.252.a] worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu. Moreover, the dharma that they possess is even more inconceivable than that.”

1.­44

When Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta delivered this teaching in a manner beyond reference points, five hundred monks, five hundred laypeople, and five thousand gods who held reference points all made this supplication:
.
“Blessed One, may we also become hearers belonging to the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy (i.e. limited scope aspiration), perfect Buddha Ratnaketu.”

1.­45

Mañjuśrī replied, “Well, my friends, in that buddha realm no-one with reference points is born! My friends,
only bodhisattva great beings who are free from reference points are born there without being born. 

My friends, if you aspire to that realm,
you must strive in the perfection of knowledge in a manner free from reference points. 

(i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma)

My friends, when you strive in the perfection of knowledge in a manner that is free from reference points, then, my friends, it will not be difficult to discover omniscient wisdom that is endowed with the supreme of all aspects.
So what need is there to mention that you will also be born in the pure buddha realms!”

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­46

The god Lord of Peace and Calm then asked Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, “Mañjuśrī,
what is the vinaya (moral discipline) of the hearers like?
And how is the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings?”

Mañjuśrī replied, “Divine son, the vinaya that is well known in the three worlds is the vinaya of the hearers.
However, on the relative level, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings gathers all accumulations of roots of virtue, comforts all beings, and tames them by taking birth in the three realms (not just trying to escape samsara).

1.­47

“The vinaya of the hearers opposes all disturbing emotions. [F.252.b]
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings goes further in order to eliminate the disturbing emotions of all beings (not just their’s).

1.­48

“The vinaya of the hearers is aware of just one place.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings is aware of all the limitless and boundless worlds in the ten directions (not of just one place).

1.­49

“The vinaya of the hearers maintains equanimity with regard to all demons.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings disturbs all classes of demons in all the limitless and boundless worlds in the ten directions, and conquers all hostile forces.

1.­50

“The vinaya of the hearers clarifies one’s own mind stream.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings clarifies the mind streams of all beings (not just their own), causes the wisdom of omniscience to manifest, and causes the vision of stainless wisdom with regard to all phenomena to manifest.

1.­51

“The vinaya of the hearers is contemplated by individual minds.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings is the intent of all the buddhas in the past, the present, and the future.

1.­52

“The vinaya of the hearers is like a stone that cannot be repaired when broken.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings is like gold and silver, which can be mended when broken (i.e. more adaptable).

1.­53

“The vinaya of the hearers does not contain all the teachings of the Buddha, and it also lacks skillful means.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings has great skillful means and comprises all the teachings of the Buddha (i.e. more complete).

1.­54

“The vinaya of the hearers does not embody the ten strengths, the various types of fearlessness, the unique qualities, or omniscient wisdom.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings contains the ten powers, the various types of fearlessness, the unique qualities, and omniscient wisdom. [F.253.a]

1.­55

“The vinaya of the hearers is like escaping from being burned by a fire.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings is to be delighted by the joy of Dharma, just as one would enjoy a park or a palace.

1.­56

“The vinaya of the hearers does not interrupt the stream of habitual patterns.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings overcomes all habitual patterns.

1.­57

“Divine son, in short, the vinaya of the hearers is derived from a Dharma that is limited and confined.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings follows a Dharma that is limitless and beyond measure (i.e. immeasurable).

1.­58

“The vinaya of the hearers brings the attainment of limited discipline, learning, absorption, knowledge, liberation, and vision of the wisdom of liberation.
However, relatively, the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings knows no bounds, possesses limitless qualities, and makes one attain limitless discipline, learning, absorption, knowledge, liberation, and vision of the wisdom of liberation.”

1.­59

At this point, the Blessed One expressed his approval of Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta:
“Well said, Mañjuśrī! You have explained the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings well on the relative level.
Well done, well done.
Now, Mañjuśrī, in order to illustrate the meaning of this, I will give you some examples. 

Mañjuśrī, imagine two men: one of them praises the hoofprints of an ox, while the other man praises the ocean.
Mañjuśrī, what do you think? How extensively would the first man be able to praise the hoofprints of an ox?”

1.­60

Mañjuśrī replied, “Blessed One, since all ox hoofprints are so small, what is even the use of praising them?”

The Blessed One said, “Just as the ox hoofprints [F.253.b] are small, so you should view the vinaya of the hearers.
Now, Mañjuśrī, what do you think? Would the other man be able to express a fitting praise of the ocean?”

1.­61

Mañjuśrī replied, “Blessed One, the praises of the ocean could be incredibly numerous, limitless, and inconceivable.”

The Blessed One said, “Mañjuśrī, just as the praises of the ocean are boundless, so you should view the vinaya of the bodhisattvas on the relative level.”

1.­62

As he delivered this teaching without teaching, 12,000 gods, without ultimately forming anything, formed the wish for unexcelled and completely perfect awakening. They all declared, “Blessed One, without training, we will practice the trainings of the bodhisattvas.” (i.e. extended scope aspiration) 

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )


1.­63

The god Lord of Peace and Calm asked Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta,
“Mañjuśrī, do you train in the vinaya of the hearers or in the vinaya of the bodhisattvas?”

Mañjuśrī answered, “Divine son, what do you think? Is there any water that cannot be contained in the ocean?”

The god replied, “No, Mañjuśrī, there is no water anywhere that cannot be contained in the ocean.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, in the same way the vinaya of the bodhisattva great beings is like the ocean.”

1.­64

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī, that word vinaya, what does that mean?”

Mañjuśrī answered, 

“Divine son, on the relative level 

  • vinaya refers to taming the disturbing emotions. 

  • Vinaya also means understanding disturbing emotions.”

1.­65

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how does one tame the disturbing emotions (A)?
How does one understand disturbing emotions (B)?” [F.254.a]

Mañjuśrī said, “Ultimately, all phenomena are unborn, unarisen, and unreal.
Yet this absence is misunderstood on the relative level.
Misunderstanding this absence produces concepts and thoughts.
Out of concept and thought appears mistaken conceptual activity.
Mistaken conceptual activity then gives rise to the superimposition of a self.
From the superimposition of a self comes the manifestation of views.
Based on the manifestation of views,
[due to ignorance of the true nature & dynamic of Reality] disturbing emotions appear.

1.­66 (i.e. Taming disturbing emotions: Through knowing without knowing that all phenomena are empty of inherent arising, existence & cessation, then they are automatically pacified.)

[A] “Divine son, whoever knows, without knowing, 
that ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal,
is unmistaken in terms of the ultimate.
Whoever is unmistaken in terms of the ultimate does not form concepts or thoughts.
Whoever does not form concepts or thoughts is applying himself correctly.
Whoever applies himself correctly does not ultimately form superimpositions of a self.
When superimpositions of a self do not ultimately arise, manifest views also do not arise,
and ultimately even the views related to passing beyond suffering do not arise.
In that way one comes to experience the unborn,
and PACIFIES DISTURBING EMOTIONS in a manner free from views.
Divine son, this is what is meant by taming disturbing emotions [A - Pacification].

1.­67 

[B] “Divine son, disturbing emotions are ultimately utterly empty, utterly signless and utterly wishless
due to the insight and wisdom to which no disturbing emotions ever appear.
When one has the insight that ultimately they are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation),
then, divine son, one knows disturbing emotions in a manner free from knowing [B].

1.­68

“Divine son, consider this analogy. If you chant an incantation against a viper’s venom, it is possible to neutralize the snake’s poison. Divine son, in the same way, whoever understands the types of disturbing emotions [F.254.b] will neutralize his disturbing emotions in a manner that is beyond reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma).”

1.­69

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what are the types of disturbing emotions?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).
Any conceptualization of that state is a form of disturbing emotion.
Ultimately, there are no conceptualizations,
so therefore [ultimately] there are also no disturbing emotions whatsoever (i.e. they are not really existent, but also not completely non-existent).
Divine son, because there are no disturbing emotions, there is no all-ground. 4
Because there is no all-ground, there is ultimately no abiding.
Because there is no abiding, there is ultimately no scorching.
Because there is ultimately no scorching, there is said to be peace.
On the ultimate level, things are not as they are expressed in words.
Still, divine son, relatively this is how disturbing emotions are tamed [A - Pacification].”

1.­70

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how are disturbing emotions tamed?
Are they (disturbing emotions) something (existent)? Or nothing (non-existent)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, this is how it is. Imagine a man who has a nightmare in which he is bitten by a venomous viper. Although he is suffering, he is treated with an antidote and recovers. As the poison is neutralized, his pain disappears. Divine son, what do you think? Was this man actually bitten or not?”

1.­71

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, ultimately it did not truly happen.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, how was the poison neutralized?”

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, just as the bite was not truly real, the neutralization of the poison was also not truly real.”

1.­72

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, in the same way the noble ones view, without viewing, all disturbing emotions on the ultimate level.
Divine son, you ask how disturbing emotions are tamed [A - Pacification].
Well, divine son, just as the ego ultimately is egoless, so, divine son,
disturbing emotions are not ultimately disturbing emotions.
Divine son, ultimately this self is suchness.
Therefore, divine son, disturbing emotions also ultimately become suchness.
Divine son, in this way, the self is not ultimately the self. [F.255.a]
Therefore, divine son, disturbing emotions are also not ultimately disturbing emotions.
Divine son, whoever focuses on taming disturbing emotions on the ultimate level is not ultimately focusing on anything.
Why?
Divine son, because on the ultimate level nothing manifests,
and therefore all phenomena are pacified. [A - Pacification]
Divine son, on the ultimate level, there is no grasping,
and therefore all phenomena are fully pacified. [A - Pacification]
Divine son, on the ultimate level, all phenomena are free from superimposition,
and therefore all phenomena are completely pacified. [A - Pacification]
Divine son, on the ultimate level, all phenomena are utterly unborn,
and therefore they are also beyond ceasing.
Divine son, the ultimate level is utterly unreal and therefore all phenomena are utterly unborn (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

1.­73

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is the gateway to (the cause for) (cause & effect of) all dharmas?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son,

  • the relative truth, which employs all forms of statements, speech, cognition, objects of cognition, activities, conventions, and acts, is a gateway to (a cause for) all dharmas.

  • The ultimate truth, which is so because it is the opposite of all forms of speech, statements, cognition, objects of cognition, activities, conventions, and acts, is a gateway to (a cause for) all dharmas.

1.­74

“Moreover, divine son, on the relative level, the incorrect conceptual workings of the mind are a gateway to (a cause for) saṃsāra. 

On the relative level, the correct conceptual workings of the mind are a gateway to (a cause for) nirvāṇa.

“On the relative level, doubt is a gateway to (a cause for) obscuration.
On the relative level, liberation is a gateway to (a cause for) the absence of obscuration.

1.­75

“On the relative level, conceptuality is a gateway to (a cause for) disturbing emotions.
On the relative level, non-conceptuality is a gateway to (a cause for) the absence of disturbing emotions.

“On the relative level, distraction is a gateway to (a cause for) thought.
On the relative level, tranquility is a gateway to (a cause for) peace.

1.­76

“On the relative level, holding views is a gateway to (a cause for) pride.
On the relative level, emptiness is a gateway to (a cause for) the absence of pride.

“On the relative level, relying on evil company is a gateway to (a cause for) all roots of non-virtue.
On the relative level, relying on a virtuous spiritual friend is the gateway to (the cause for) all roots of virtue.

1.­77

“On the relative level, wrong view is a gateway to (a cause for) all suffering. [F.255.b]
On the relative level, correct view is a gateway to (a cause for) all happiness.

“On the relative level, miserliness is a gateway to (a cause for) poverty.
On the relative level, generosity is a gateway to (a cause for) great wealth. -- (The six paramitas)

1.­78

“On the relative level, a bad character is a gateway to (a cause for) all lower realms.
On the relative level, discipline is a gateway to (a cause for) all human and divine births.

“On the relative level, ill will is a gateway to (a cause for) an ugly appearance.
On the relative level, patience is a gateway to (a cause for) a beautiful appearance.

1.­79

“On the relative level, laziness is a gateway to (a cause for) a lack of realization.
On the relative level, diligence is a gateway to (a cause for) realization.

“On the relative level, thought is a gateway to (a cause for) agitation.
On the relative level, concentration is a gateway to (a cause for) pliability of mind.

1.­80

“On the relative level, faulty knowledge is a gateway to (a cause for) a lack of understanding.
On the relative level, knowledge is a gateway to (a cause for) the thirty-seven factors of awakening.

“On the relative level, love is a gateway to (a cause for) not becoming angry. -- (The four immeasurables)
On the relative level, great compassion is a gateway to (a cause for) an altruistic mind.
On the relative level, an altruistic mind is a gateway to (a cause for) the absence of deceit.
On the relative level, joy is a gateway to (a cause for) conviction in the Dharma.
On the relative level, equanimity is a gateway to (a cause for) being free from all faults.

1.­81

“On the relative level, the applications of mindfulness are a gateway to (a cause for) not letting any roots of virtue diminish. 

On the relative level, the thorough relinquishments are a gateway to (a cause for) genuine perseverance.
On the relative level, the bases of miraculous power are a gateway to (a cause for) pliancy of body and mind.
On the relative level, the faculties are a gateway to (a cause for) attaining faith.
On the relative level, the powers are a gateway to (a cause for) conquering all disturbing emotions.
On the relative level, the branches of awakening are a gateway to (a cause for) realizing omniscience.
On the relative level, the eightfold path of the noble ones is a gateway to (a cause for) transcending all unwholesome paths.

1.­82

“Moreover, divine son, on the relative level, the mind set on awakening is a gateway to (a cause for) all buddha qualities.
On the relative level, upholding the sacred Dharma is a gateway to (a cause for) becoming a lord of all dharmas.
On the relative level, ripening beings is a gateway to (a cause for) upholding the sacred Dharma.
On the relative level, method is a gateway to (a cause for) becoming learned regarding the correct and the incorrect. [F.256.a]
On the relative level, the perfection of knowledge is a gateway to (a cause for) nirvāṇa.

“On the ultimate level, the unarisen is a gateway to (a cause for) all dharmas.” [B2]

1.­83

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is the gateway to (the cause for) the utterly unborn?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, on the ultimate level, the utterly unarisen is a gateway in every way.”

1.­84

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what is the nature of the utterly unarisen?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, on the ultimate level, the utterly unreal is the nature of the utterly unarisen.”

1.­85

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, does the utterly unarisen have any divisions?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, what do you think? Does the sky have any divisions?”

The god answered, “No, Mañjuśrī, it does not.”

1.­86

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, in the same way, just as the sky does not have any divisions, so, divine son, does the utterly unborn also not have any divisions.”

1.­87

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, do you comprehend the utterly unarisen on the ultimate level?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, the utterly unarisen does not comprehend the utterly unarisen.
And why?
Because, divine son, all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

1.­88

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī, are you this eloquent because you know and understand any phenomenon whatsoever?

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, what do you think? Does an echo make a sound because it knows phenomena?”

The god replied, “Mañjuśrī, of course an echo does not know any phenomena. (i.e.)
Instead, on the relative level, the sound appears from circumstances.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, in the same way, based on the circumstance of observing all beings,
on the relative level a bodhisattva [F.256.b] great being speaks without speaking.” 

(i.e. There is no inherent / universal / absolute view, method, goal … just possible conventional adapted skillful means, antidotes, depending on each situation.)

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )


1.­89

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī, on what basis do you teach?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, on what type of emanation does the Thus-gone One base himself as he teaches?”

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, the Thus-gone One does not ultimately base himself on any emanation whatsoever.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, in the same way, on the ultimate level, without basing myself on any phenomena, I teach without teaching.” 

(i.e. There is no inherent / universal / absolute basis for all teachings, methods, paths … just possible conventional adapted skillful means, antidotes, depending on each situation.)

1.­90

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, if, on the ultimate level, without basing yourself on any phenomena, you teach without teaching, on what basis do you awaken to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, I base myself on the acts with immediate consequence and, without awakening to completely perfect buddhahood, I awaken to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood.”

(i.e. In emptiness, enlightenment is not caused / produced by specific causes & conditions; it is beyond causality / production, matter-energy, space & time. But, still, this doesn’t mean we should reject causality / dependent origination / karma. One truth doesn’t contradict the other.)

(i.e. They awaken relatively speaking, but not ultimately since everything is empty of inherent existence, without any beginning, middle, ending.)

1.­91

The god said, “How do you base yourself on the acts with immediate consequence (empty but still relatively efficient cause & effect, ex. karma)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately the acts with immediate consequence do not truly exist and do not have any substance. It is on them that I base myself without basing myself.”

1.­92

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, the Thus-gone One has explained that beings are born in hell because of committing the acts with immediate consequence.”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, the Thus-gone One has explained that beings are born in hell because of committing the acts with immediate consequence. In the same way, divine son, the Thus-gone One teaches, without teaching, how to quickly awaken to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood when basing oneself on the acts with immediate consequence, without basing oneself on the acts with immediate consequence.”

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

1.­93

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what are the acts with immediate consequence (empty but still relatively efficient cause & effect, ex. karma)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, the acts with immediate consequence are those by which the bodhisattva great beings quickly, without awakening to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood, perfectly awaken. Such are the acts with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings. [F.257.a]

1.­94

“Divine son, you may wonder what the five acts with immediate consequence are. Well, divine son, the first act with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings is as follows. When a bodhisattva great being with pure motivation, without developing, has developed the mind set on unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood, he does not develop the mind-set that aims for the levels of the hearers, solitary buddhas, anyone with reference points, or the extremists.

1.­95

“Moreover, divine son, the second act with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings is as follows. Divine son, when a bodhisattva great being, without producing, has produced the mind set on giving up all possessions, he will not entertain any feelings of miserliness until he reaches the essence of enlightenment.

1.­96

“Moreover, divine son, the third act with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings is as follows. Divine son, when a bodhisattva great being, without producing, has produced the mind-set that thinks, ‘I will protect all beings in any possible way,’ he will not yield from that.

1.­97

“Moreover, divine son, the fourth act with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings is as follows. Divine son, when a bodhisattva great being, without attaining forbearance, has attained the forbearance that understands that ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal, he will not engender any clinging to substance, essence, or actuality.

1.­98

“Moreover, divine son, the fifth act with immediate consequence of the bodhisattva great beings is as follows. Divine son, when a bodhisattva great being, without engendering, has engendered the mind-set that thinks, ‘I will fully understand all phenomena by means of momentary knowledge,’ he will not rest under any circumstances until he has obtained, without obtaining, the wisdom of omniscience that is endowed with all supreme features.

“By abiding in this way, without abiding, the bodhisattva great being quickly and perfectly awakens, without ultimately awakening, to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood.” [F.257.b]

(i.e. They awaken relatively speaking, but not ultimately since everything is empty of inherent existence, without any beginning, middle, ending.)

1.­99

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, those acts of immediate consequence that cause ordinary childish beings to be born in hell are the very acts that cause a bodhisattva great being to awaken to unexcelled and completely perfect buddhahood without perfectly awakening. Is that correct?”

1.­100 

Mañjuśrī said, “Yes, divine son, it is. And why? (i.e. I would have said: Yes & no! And this is why:)
Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utter emptiness.
Divine son, understanding this utter emptiness is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­101

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utter signlessness.
Divine son, understanding this utter signlessness is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­102

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utter wishlessness.
Divine son, understanding this utter wishlessness is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­103

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena do not exist as something that can be apprehended whatsoever.
Divine son, understanding this state of being beyond something to apprehend whatsoever is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­104

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly beyond formation.
Divine son, understanding this state where phenomena are utterly beyond formation is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­105

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unconditioned.
Divine son, understanding this utterly unconditioned state is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­106

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unseen.
Divine son, understanding this state of being utterly unseen is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­107

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn. [F.258.a]
Divine son, understanding this utterly unborn state is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­108

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unarisen.
Divine son, understanding this utterly unarisen state is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.

1.­109

“Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unreal.
Divine son, understanding this state of being utterly unreal is awakening.
Yet, ultimately, awakening is not the way that it is expressed through words.”

(i.e. Enlightenment is directly realising the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, as pointed by concepts like the Ground, the Union of the Two Truths ... But that is just a finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself. The Reality of all of this is inconceivable for our flawed conditioned conceptual dualistic mental. Adapted skillful means -- truth / views, techniques / methods, goals -- are mere antidotes to extreme positions; they do not cause / produce enlightenment. They just clear the way for a possible personal non-conceptual non-dualistic direct perception / realisation of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now.)

1.­110

The god then asked, “Mañjuśrī, who will have faith in this Dharma teaching?”

Mañjuśrī replied, “Divine son, since ultimately even the Thus-gone One does not have faith,
forget about the hearers, solitary buddhas, and all the extremists who rely on reference points.”

1.­111

The god asked him, “Who will gain conviction in it?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Those who ultimately are not attached to any phenomenon will gain conviction.”

1.­112

The god asked him, “Who will apply it earnestly?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Those who ultimately do not earnestly apply themselves to any phenomenon.”

1.­113

The god asked him, “Who will become realized?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Those who ultimately do not realize any phenomenon.”

1.­114

The god asked him, “Mañjuśrī, who are those who ultimately do not realize any phenomenon?”

Mañjuśrī answered, “Divine son, those who, on the relative level, realize the omniscient wisdom that is endowed with the supreme of all aspects.”

1.­115

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what kind of nature do they have?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately they have the utterly unborn nature.”

1.­116

The god asked him, “Mañjuśrī, in whose hands will a sūtra such as this end up?

Mañjuśrī replied, “Divine son, relatively, in the hands of those who offer the sacred Dharma to all beings.”[F.258.b]

1.­117

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how will they abide?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately they will abide in the utterly unborn, the utterly unarisen, and the utterly unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

1.­118

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī, in what way will they proceed?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately they will proceed within the utterly unborn, the utterly unarisen, and the utterly unreal (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

1.­119

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how will the irreversible bodhisattva great being attain awakening?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, whoever is an irreversible bodhisattva great being has no chance and no opportunity not to attain awakening.”

1.­120

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what do the bodhisattva great beings turn back from?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, ultimately, bodhisattva great beings turn back from thoughts.
They turn back from the levels of all the hearers, solitary buddhas, and the extremists who rely on reference points.”

1.­121

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, what does a bodhisattva great being not turn back from?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, bodhisattva great beings do not turn back from all phenomena being the same in being utterly unarisen.
If you wonder why, it is because ultimately all phenomena are the same in being utterly unarisen (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation), and the bodhisattva great beings are the same. (ultimately, in emptiness everything is not different / separate / many / dual, not identical / the-same / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither) That is why they do not turn back.”

1.­122

The god asked, “When one speaks of the sameness of all phenomena in being utterly unarisen, Mañjuśrī, what phenomenon is that a designation for?”

Mañjuśrī said, “The sameness of all phenomena in being utterly unarisen (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation) designates that ultimately there is no diversity.” (ultimately, in emptiness everything is not different / separate / many / dual, not identical / the-same / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither)

1.­123

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, how does the sameness of all phenomena in being utterly unarisen manifest as diversity?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, [F.259.a] whoever conceptualizes the sameness of all phenomena in being utterly unarisen as ultimately having substance, materiality, and essence will ultimately experience diversity.
As for ultimately experiencing diversity, it develops into many views involving reference points.
Those who hold these many views that involve reference points wander helplessly in all the various forms of existence.
Divine son, whoever does not conceptualize the sameness of all phenomena in not occurring as ultimately having substance, materiality, and essence, does ultimately not experience diversity.
Since he ultimately does not experience diversity, he ultimately understands the utterly unreal.
In this way he comes to understand that all phenomena ultimately are the same (ultimately, in emptiness everything is not different / separate / many / dual, not identical / the-same / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither) in being characterized as utterly unborn (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation).”

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­124

The god asked, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method that can AWAKEN a bodhisattva great being with disturbing emotions, but not someone without disturbing emotions?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, there is. Divine son, relatively, all phenomena continuously emerge and disappear (1st truth). In this way, the awakening of bodhisattva great beings also appears, relatively.
And why? Divine son, ultimately, all phenomena are without disturbing emotions, unborn and unceasing.
Any phenomenon that is ultimately unborn and unceasing is also ultimately beyond being realized (2nd truth).
It will never be realized, nor was it ever realized.
And why? Divine son, because ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn.
Therefore, divine son, through such a method a bodhisattva great being with disturbing emotions can awaken (1st truth), yet someone who is devoid of disturbing emotions cannot (2nd truth).” 

(i.e. Bodhisattvas awaken relatively speaking, but not ultimately since everything is empty of inherent existence, without any beginning, middle, ending. Relatively, using a path composed of virtuous methods (ex. the first five paramitas), more and more subtle adapted skillful means, antidotes <==> and more and more wisdom / emptiness (the sixth paramita). They practice the six paramitas as much as possible without any grasping, without any attachment, without becoming slaves to any view method or result, without any fixation, without any di-vision between the three spheres, as much as possible while being fully aware of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres.

But this path doesn’t cause / produce awakening. It just clears the way for a possible personal non-conceptual non-dualistic direct perception / realisation of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now. 

Bodhisattvas gradually perfect each of the six paramitas relatively speaking, but not ultimately since everything is empty of inherent existence, without any beginning, middle, ending.

That is why we say bodhisattvas awaken / perfect the paramitas without awakening / without perfecting anything.
The three spheres -- subject / cause, relation / action / causality, object / effect  --- are all empty of inherent existence on the ultimate level <==> and conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances on the relative level.)

1.­125

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method by which a bodhisattva great being who is miserly can complete the perfection of GENEROSITY, yet those who are generous cannot (1st paramita - generosity)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Yes, divine son, there is a method by which a miserly bodhisattva great being [F.259.b] can complete the perfection of generosity, yet those who are generous cannot. And why? Because to never let go of, or cast away, any sentient being, or any of the buddha qualities, on the relative level, is the miserliness of the bodhisattva great beings.”

1.­126

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method by which a bodhisattva great being who is ill behaved can complete the perfection of DISCIPLINE, yet those who are disciplined cannot (2th paramita - moral discipline)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “There is. Divine son, when a bodhisattva great being avoids superficial discipline in order to ripen beings, that is the perfection of discipline of a bodhisattva great being on the relative level.”

1.­127

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method of PATIENCE for a bodhisattva great being who has forsaken patience (3th paramita - patience)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, there is. Any bodhisattva great being who ultimately has no patience with any phenomena having substance, actuality, or essence is in fact, in an ineffable manner, in possession of the supreme patience. Divine son, in a manner free from reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma), that is the supreme patience of a bodhisattva great being.”

1.­128

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method by which a lazy bodhisattva great being can be DILIGENT (4th paramita - effort)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, there is. A lazy bodhisattva great being is unlike those diligent hearers, solitary buddhas, and extremists who employ an easy form of diligence that involves focus.”

1.­129

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method by which a bodhisattva great being who is forgetful can REST IN EQUIPOISE (5th paramita - concentration)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, there is. A bodhisattva great being, who, even in his sleep, does not give rise to thoughts of substance, essence, or actuality on the ultimate level, is resting in equipoise in a manner devoid of reference points.” [F.260.a]

1.­130

The god said, “Mañjuśrī, is there a method by which a bodhisattva great being who has no knowledge can come to possess GREAT KNOWLEDGE (6th paramita - wisdom)?”

Mañjuśrī said, “Divine son, there is. And why? Divine son, ultimately all phenomena are discerned by knowledge. However, when one searches for phenomena, they disappear and cannot be observed. Knowledge is also like that; ultimately it also does not exist and cannot be observed. Therefore, relatively, one speaks of ‘possessing knowledge,’ even though that knowledge is ultimately utterly unborn. Divine son, according to that method, a bodhisattva great being who has no knowledge is called one who possesses great knowledge, or one who possesses especially exalted knowledge, or one who possesses sacred knowledge, or one who lays hold of knowledge, or one who possesses knowledge devoid of a focus. Ultimately, things are not as they are described.”

1.­131

The Blessed One now addressed Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta. “Excellent!” he said. “Excellent, excellent! Mañjuśrī, you have spoken well and explained, without explaining, the acts and non-acts of bodhisattva great beings. Mañjuśrī, for a starving person, feeble and thin, it is better to suffer, and thus not to unknowingly eat poisonous food. In the same way, Mañjuśrī, it is better for bodhisattva great beings to engage in nonconceptual miserliness, bad behavior, ill will, laziness, forgetfulness, and lack of knowledge, and thus not engage in the conceptual applications of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and knowledge of the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points. Why? Because the latter give rise to the faults of poisonous reference points, and this must therefore be understood to be a danger on the relative level.”

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­132

At this point the god Excellent Rule [F.260.b] asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, are bodhisattva great beings not afraid of disturbing emotions?”

The Blessed One replied, “Divine son, RELATIVELY, bodhisattva great beings do fear disturbing emotions.
But far more, they fear the mind-set of the hearers and solitary buddhas, who rely on reference points;
their fear of the disturbing emotions is not comparable.”

1.­133

The god asked, “Blessed One, why is that?”

The Blessed One answered, “Divine son, that is something you should ask yourself! Why not explain it yourself, as best you can? Divine son, what do you think? If a person wishes to survive, would that person’s greatest fear be having his limbs severed, or having his head cut off?”

The god replied, “Blessed One, someone who loses his limbs could still survive. Thus, if he wanted to acquire merit, he could still take up and follow a meritorious path, which in turn would become a cause for taking birth in the higher realms. However, Blessed One, someone who had his head cut off would be unable to survive. In this way, even if he strove for merit, he would be unable to genuinely follow a meritorious path.”

1.­134

The Blessed One said, “Divine son, similarly, for bodhisattva great beings
it is better to conduct themselves without reference points, even if it involves transgression, and thus not have the qualities and trainings of those who fall into the views of the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points.
It is better to be a miserly bodhisattva, and thus not abandon all sentient beings, or even cast away all the qualities of a buddha.
It is better to be an ill-behaved bodhisattva great being rather than someone who fails to ripen others.
It is better to be a bodhisattva great being who faithfully practices on the level of action with conviction in the absence of focus, yet has disturbing emotions, than to be a hearer or solitary buddha who relies on reference points, who attains certainty and is free from disturbing emotions.” [F.261.a]

1.­135

The god said, “Blessed One, the acts of the bodhisattva great beings, which are non-acts, are at odds with the entire world. Blessed One, when the poisonous faults of reference points have formed, the discipline of the hearers and solitary buddhas, who rely on reference points, becomes an unwholesome state for bodhisattva great beings. No matter how diligent the hearers and solitary buddhas, who rely on reference points, are, the poisonous faults of reference points have been formed, and thus their diligence is inferior to the laziness of bodhisattva great beings.”

1.­136

The Blessed One said, “Divine son, just as the food of a destitute man is poison for a universal monarch, likewise, divine son, are the discipline and diligence of the hearers and solitary buddhas, who rely on reference points, for ill-behaved and lazy bodhisattva great beings. And why? Because of involving the poisonous faults of reference points.

1.­137

“Divine son, just as the wealth of a person who is only concerned with his personal achievements is not sufficient to ensure the wellbeing of a whole city, likewise, divine son, the diligence of those who have the impoverished, inferior, and conceptual attitude of the hearers and solitary buddhas is unable to liberate even the beings here in Jambudvīpa, let alone liberate all beings.

1.­138

“Divine son, just as a leader who lovingly and compassionately grants great wealth and enjoyment to others may use his wealth to accomplish the happiness of limitless beings in order to give all beings unsurpassed happiness, so likewise, divine son, whoever develops the superior attitude of the bodhisattva great beings and inspires all beings with knowledge, means, great love, and compassion [F.261.b] will ripen limitless beings through his diligence beyond focus and the great wealth of the accumulations of merit and wisdom, gathered over limitless trillions of great eons. Without settling them, he will even settle all beings in omniscience.” 

(i.e. Bodhisattvas act / exist conventionally without really acting / existing ultimately = acting / existing / using adapted skillful means conventionally without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to appearances, while being fully aware of the true nature of the three spheres -- subject, relation / action, object --: the Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres: that they are like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth) <==> and being empty of inherent existence (2nd truth). Conventionally appearing & relatively functioning <==> but empty of inherent existence, empty of inherent existence <==> but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth doesn't oppose / contradict the other. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Not really existent / functional, not completely non-existent / non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. Unborn, unarisen, unreal, empty, signless, wishless. )


1.­139

Venerable Mahākāśyapa now addressed the Blessed One. “Blessed One,” he said, “the hearers actualize all unconditioned phenomena while, Blessed One, bodhisattva great beings are classified under conditioned phenomena. How can that outshine all the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points, who are included under the unconditioned?”

The Blessed One answered him, “Kāśyapa, I will give you an analogy that illustrates this. Some people need an analogy to understand the meaning expressed by a skilled being. It is like this: imagine that the four great oceans were filled with butter. Then, imagine that someone were to extract a drop of butter from the oceans using the very tip of a hair split into one hundredths. Do you think, Kāśyapa, that the drop of butter extracted with that very tip of a hair split into one hundredths would be able to outshine the four great oceans filled with butter?”

1.­140

Kāśyapa replied, “No, Blessed One, they would not. Blissful One, they would not.”

The Blessed One asked, “Moreover, Kāśyapa, which one among the two would be largest, best, foremost, and most valuable?”

Kāśyapa replied, “Blessed One, even one trillionth of a single ocean would be, Blessed One, much larger, better, exalted, and valuable than the single drop. Blessed One, the drop that was extracted using that very tip of a hair split into one hundredths could not compare to that, let alone all four great oceans.”

1.­141

The Blessed One said, “In the same way as in this analogy, [F.262.a] the unconditioned wisdom of the hearers and solitary buddhas, who rely on reference points, is as insignificant as the drop of butter that was extracted from that very tip of a hair split into one hundredths, since it involves reference points.

“Kāśyapa, the bodhisattva great beings are similar to the four great oceans filled with butter in this analogy. They are free from reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma). They are endowed with all supreme features of engaging, without engaging, the level of faithful practice. They embody all the accumulations of merit and wisdom. Without viewing, they view conditioned wisdom. Moreover, through the blazing fire of the ultimate, they ripen beings and thereby transform them, without relying on reference points, into the omniscient wisdom that is endowed with all supreme aspects.

“Kāśyapa, this is how the bodhisattva great beings, without relying on reference points, outshine the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points and who have attained the unconditioned.

1.­142

“Kāśyapa, as another analogy, imagine a city that contains hundreds of thousands of semiprecious trinkets. At the same time, there is a boat on the ocean that easily and effortlessly brings to land precious and valuable gemstones of beryl. Now, what do you think: could the semiprecious stones found in the city outshine the precious gemstones of beryl?”

Kāśyapa replied, “Blessed One, it could not. Blissful One, it could not.”

The Blessed One said, “Kāśyapa, just like the semiprecious trinkets found in the city, so should you view the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points and their attainment of the unconditioned. Kāśyapa, just like the most valuable gemstones of beryl, which are first discovered in the ocean, then boarded on to the ship, and easily and effortlessly arrive at the trading house, so, Kāśyapa, should you view the bodhisattva great beings who arrive at the trading houses in the city of cyclic existence and, without establishing anyone, establish all beings in unsurpassed and [F.262.b] perfectly complete awakening.

1.­143

“Kāśyapa, consider a further analogy. During the third month of spring, the entire land is filled with crops. If, at that time, a small insect should carry off a single grain to eat, which would be larger, that single grain or all the grains found on the entire land?”

Kāśyapa answered, “Blessed One, the entire world filled with crops would have an infinitely greater pile of grains, which would be able to nourish uncountable, limitless beings. At the same time, Blessed One, the single grain that the small insect carried off to eat could not even sustain a single being.”

The Blessed One said, “Kāśyapa, you should see the result that is the undefiled liberation of all hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points as being just like the single grain that the small insect carried off to eat. On the other hand, Kāśyapa, it is as being like the entire earth filled with crops that you should see, Kāśyapa, the crops of the bodhisattva great beings’ roots of virtue; they are the accumulations of merit and wisdom that in an unsurpassed manner embody the entire buddhadharma, such as the six perfections, by means of abiding, without abiding, within the relative and ultimate truths. When they have ripened, the bliss of the unsurpassed wisdom that is endowed with the supreme of all aspects becomes, in a manner that is beyond reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma), the sustenance of all beings.”

1.­144

Venerable Mahākāśyapa exclaimed to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, that is amazing! Blissful One, that is amazing! It is exactly as the Blessed One has explained, without explaining. Blessed One, that is how the bodhisattva great beings, by means of the unsurpassed wisdom beyond focus, which is endowed with the supreme of all aspects, engage in, without engaging in, the level of faithful practice — and thereby outshine the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points.” [F.263.a]

1.­145

The bodhisattva great beings from the buddha realm of the Blessed Thus-gone Ratnaketu, who had arrived here in the Sahā world together with noble Mañjuśrī, now addressed the Blessed One. “Blessed One, it is like this. The instructions of the hearers and solitary buddhas who rely on reference points, such as the way to abandon disturbing emotions and determine downfalls, are all conceptual and specific instructions that involve reference points.

“In the buddha realm of the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu, there are no such instructions that involve reference points. Such instructions that involve focus do not exist there. Instead, Blessed One, the beings there listen, without listening, to the pure instructions of the bodhisattva great beings. They listen, without listening, to the irreversible instructions. They listen, without listening, to the instructions beyond reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma). They listen, without listening, to the instructions on how all phenomena are ultimately utterly unborn. They listen, without listening, to the instructions on how all phenomena are ultimately utterly unarisen.

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­146

“The Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni underwent great hardship. Having patience with so much suffering, and understanding that ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, he taught the higher, middling, and lower Dharma.

“It is like this: ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal. However, from this single identity that all phenomena share on the ultimate level, the Blessed One teaches the Dharma, without teaching, in many ways in order to accommodate the reference points of beings.”

The bodhisattva great beings then began to venerate the Blessed, Thus-gone, Worthy, Perfect Buddha Śākyamuni with exquisite offerings, such as divine flowers, fragrant herbs, incense, [F.263.b] flower garlands, unguents, powders, robes, parasols, standards, banners, and canopies with victory banners.

1.­147

They addressed Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta.“Mañjuśrī,” they said, “we will now proceed to Jewel World.”

Mañjuśrī told them, “Children of noble family, if you know that the time has come to leave, then do so.”

The bodhisattva great beings asked him, “Mañjuśrī, are you not coming with us?”

Mañjuśrī replied,
“Children of noble family, all buddha realms are a single buddha realm.
Likewise, all buddhas are a single buddha.
Likewise, all dharmas are a single dharma.
Likewise, all beings are a single being.
Since there are no differences between these, children of noble family, I will also go there.”

1.­148

The bodhisattva great beings asked,
“Mañjuśrī, in what way are all of the buddha realms a single buddha realm?
Mañjuśrī, in what way are all buddhas a single buddha?
Mañjuśrī, in what way are all dharmas are a single dharma?
Mañjuśrī, in what way are all beings a single being?

Mañjuśrī answered,
“Children of noble family, none of the buddha realms are realms. Why?
Because ultimately they are utterly unborn.
Children of noble family, none of the buddhas are buddhas. Why?
Because ultimately they are utterly unarisen.
Children of noble family, none of the dharmas are dharmas. Why?
Because ultimately they are utterly unreal.
(ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation)
Children of noble family, no beings are beings. Why?
Because ultimately they are all utterly and entirely unarisen.”
(ultimately, in emptiness everything is not different / separate / many / dual, not identical / the-same / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither)

1.­149

With these words, Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta [F.264.a] caused this trichiliocosm to appear precisely, without any difference, like the Jewel World of the Blessed, Thus-gone Ratnaketu. As he had thus fulfilled his intention, he rested evenly in absorption. Then the bodhisattva great beings also saw the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Ratnaketu and the Jewel World. In fact the bodhisattva great beings all thought that they had arrived in the Jewel World. Looking at the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni, they saw him in the precise colors and shape of the Blessed, Thus-gone Ratnaketu. Even the great hearers thought that they had become bodhisattva great beings.

1.­150

The bodhisattva great beings, who thought that they were beholding Ratnaketu, asked the Blessed, Thus-gone Śākyamuni, “Blessed One, who has brought us to this Jewel World?”

The Blessed Śākyamuni asked them, “Children of noble family, who has led you?”

The bodhisattva great beings replied, “Blessed One, Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta led us.”

The Blessed Śākyamuni said, “Children of noble family, Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta has brought you here without coming and going.”

Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta told the bodhisattva great beings. “Children of noble family, to find out where you are being led to, and from where you are being led, look with your equipoise!”

1.­151

When the bodhisattva great beings each looked through their meditative absorption, [F.264.b] they saw that they had never moved from this Sahā world. Amazed, they were full of astonishment and exclaimed, “Although we never got up from our seats, we thought that we had traveled to the Jewel World. But it was Mañjuśrī who caused it all by means of his inconceivable blessing without blessing!” They then added, “Blessed One, may all beings also attain this blessing in a manner beyond reference point!”

1.­152

Then the Blessed Śākyamuni spoke to the bodhisattva great beings.“Children of noble family, consider this analogy. Space contains the earth, and also wood, zinc, copper, silver, gold, as well gems, pearls, beryl, conch, crystal, coral, 5 cat’s eye, conch shells that coil to the right, and red pearls, so that all these are contained within space. Yet at the same time, children of noble family, 

although relatively there are of course different items contained,
space itself remains undifferentiated.
And why? Because ultimately space is utterly unreal.
(ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation)
(ultimately, in emptiness everything is not different / separate / many / dual, not identical / the-same / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither)

1.­153

“Likewise, children of noble family, [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma:]
ULTIMATELY all phenomena are surely utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal.
And yet, through the RELATIVE conventions of the world, they are imputed and designated in a conventional manner: 

(i.e. Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas: Everything is like a Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen (co-dependent) relatively functional impermanent appearances (1st truth, relative level, conventional conceptual dualistic appearances) <==> and being empty of existing inherently / separately / independently / unequally / in opposition.
Everything is empty but still appearing & relatively functional; appearing, but still empty of inherent existence (2nd truth, ultimate level). One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>).
Everything is not really existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither.
So we can “use them without using them”.
Those Two Truths are not in opposition / contrary, but more like being inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, equal / non-dual / one -- in the non-dual sense of those terms … <==> thus, themselves, empty of inherent existence.)

‘This is form, this is feeling, this is perception, this is formation, this is consciousness. These are the sense fields. These are the elements. This is the Jewel of the Buddha. This is the Jewel of the Dharma. This is the Jewel of the Saṅgha. This is the vehicle of the hearers. This is the vehicle of the solitary buddhas. This is the unexcelled vehicle (Mahayana). These are the paths of the ten virtuous actions. These are the paths of the ten non-virtuous actions. These are hell beings. These are the animal existences. These are the abodes of the hungry spirits. [F.265.a] These are demigods. These are humans. These are gods. These are gods who experience desire. These are gods who experience form. These are gods who experience the formless. This is the desire realm. This is the form realm. This is the formless realm. These are good physical actions. These are good verbal actions. These are good mental actions. This is the perfection of generosity. This is the perfection of discipline. This is the perfection of patience. This is the perfection of diligence. This is the perfection of concentration. This is the perfection of knowledge. This is the perfection of skillful means. This is the perfection of aspirations. This is the perfection of strength. This is the perfection of wisdom. These are the ten levels, the ten powers, the ten strengths of the bodhisattvas, the ten strengths of the thus-gone ones, the fourfold fearlessness, the four genuine discriminations, the five faculties, the five powers, the eighteen unique qualities of a buddha, the omniscient wisdom that is endowed with the supreme of all aspects, the awakening of a buddha, suchness, the limit of reality, emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, the unconditioned, all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena, saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, all speech and objects of speech, consciousness and objects of consciousness.’

1.­154

[The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma:]
“In this way, as conventions are designated and connected, the RELATIVE conventions of the world are applied. ULTIMATELY, however, all experiences are nonexistent.
And why? Children of noble family, ultimately all phenomena are utterly unborn, utterly unarisen, and utterly unreal. (ultimately, everything is empty of inherent arising / origination, existence / duration, cessation)

1.­155

The bodhisattva great beings were amazed. They rose from their seats and performed a very elaborate and unique worship of the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect [F.265.b] Buddha Śākyamuni. They bowed down their heads to the feet of the Blessed One and said, “Blessed One, in a manner beyond reference point, please emit your sound to all beings: a lion’s roar, an especially exalted sound, the sound of the supreme leader, the sound of a great being, a sound of the genuine, the sound of thatness, a sound beyond reference point, the sound of the ultimate. [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma]”

1.­156

Those bodhisattva great beings happily and joyfully circumambulated the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni several hundred thousand times before finally departing from the presence of the Blessed One. Proceeding into the ten directions, they donned, in the manner of having no armor, the great armor of diligence beyond reference point. In this way they taught, without teaching, this Dharma teaching, which abides within both the ultimate and the relative truths [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma]. They taught this very Dharma-vinaya to tame all beings and, without establishing, they established these beings in the teaching.

1.­157

Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta did not get up, but remained on his seat, resting evenly in absorption. By means of his absorption, a light known as eradicating the reference points and ignorance of all beings shone forth above his head from his crown protuberance. As the light appeared, it illuminated all the infinite buddha realms within all the worlds in the ten directions. The light rays caused the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni to teach the Dharma so that the teaching on relying on both the relative and ultimate truth [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma] was heard, without being heard. 

1.­158

In order to pay homage to all the buddhas and the bodhisattva great beings in all the infinite and limitless worlds in the ten directions, the light produced clouds that rained down divine flowers, clouds that rained down divine fragrant herbs, clouds that rained down divine incense, [F.266.a] clouds that rained down divine garlands, clouds that rained down divine unguents, clouds that rained down divine powders, clouds that rained down divine garments, clouds that rained down divine parasols, clouds that rained down divine standards, clouds that rained down divine banners, clouds that rained down divine victory banners, clouds that rained down divine canopies. There were clouds that rained down divine flowers, fragrant herbs, incense, garlands, unguents, powders, garments, parasols, standards, banners, victory banners, and canopies. Thus they sent forth clouds that rained down divine flowers, fragrant herbs, incense, garlands, unguents, powders, garments, parasols, standards, banners, victory banners, and canopies that were all of the finest quality and produced all forms of unexcelled exuberance.

1.­159

Now Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta emerged from his absorption. In a manner beyond reference points (i.e. The Middle Way free from all conceptual dualistic elaborations, free from all extremes & middle, free from all conditioning / karma), he circumambulated the Blessed, thus-gone, worthy, perfect Buddha Śākyamuni several hundred thousand times before he departed from this Sahā world.

1.­160

The Blessed One now told Venerable Ānanda, “Ānanda, you should uphold and propagate this Dharma teaching, which is the source of all buddhas and bodhisattva great beings.”

Venerable Ānanda answered the Blessed One, “Blessed One, I can indeed uphold this teaching, but I would be unable to propagate it. The reason, Blessed One, is that ultimately there are so many beings who cling to reference points; they also cling to physical matter, and they cling to substance, and it is extremely difficult to break them away from this mistaken grasping.” [F.266.b]

The Blessed One said to Venerable Ānanda, “Ānanda, all the blessed buddhas in the past, present, and future have blessed, without blessing, this Dharma teaching. Ānanda, you only need to act as a mere circumstance.”

1.­161

Venerable Ānanda asked him, “Blessed One, what happens if a son or daughter of noble family should hear just a little of this teaching?”

The Blessed One replied, “Ānanda, it is based on this Dharma teaching that the Thus-gone One genuinely teaches, shows reality, shows the absence of reference points, shows the ultimate, and teaches without teaching. This teaching is inconceivable and limitless. Ānanda, whoever hears, without hearing, a little of this Dharma teaching, even if it is just a single syllable, will encounter all the inconceivable and limitless teachings of the Buddha.”

(Important note about ’Reference points / Focus’: The big bad wolf of this sutra. It is the grasping / attachment / being slave to appearances -- physical, conceptual, mental --. It is implicitly assuming that appearances, their properties / characteristics / qualities, and their inter-relations or oppositions, are existing inherently / independently / separately / universally / absolutely.
So, here, ‘reference points’ / ‘Focus’ is related to the imperfect basic implicit assumptions for the normal working of our conventional conceptual dualistic mind -- on the relative level --. It is implicitly assuming that the three spheres of any activity -- subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena -- are inherently existing and in real opposition.
So, the problem is not our 5 aggregates, or our body & speech & mind (ex. the normal functioning of our conventional mind), or our physical & conceptual & mental fabrications. The problem is ignoring their true nature & dynamic while normally using them; the problem is to have forgotten that we have imagined / created them all.
So, the problem is not our thoughts, concepts, dualities, normal activities, tools & objects ..., no more than our nose; because, ultimately, they are all empty of inherent existence, and thus not bad, not good, not both together, not neither (we say that they are all equal / already pure / perfect / divine here & now). The problem is ignorance of their true nature & dynamic, and the consequential grasping & attachment. So, the solution is not to reject / negate / abandon / not-do / subtract them from our lives but to directly realise their true nature & dynamic. So "being free from reference points" means being able to use our tools (body, speech & mind) without any grasping / attachment, without becoming slave to them, without assuming they are inherently existing and in real opposition / duality. That is the goal of meditation: Union samatha <==> vipashyana.)

1.­162

Then Venerable Ānanda asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, what is the name of this Dharma teaching? How should one apprehend it?”

The Blessed One said, “Ānanda, you should know this Dharma teaching as Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma].”

1.­163

When the Blessed One had spoken, the bodhisattva great beings, the great hearers, Venerable Ānanda, and the entire retinue, as well as the world with all its gods, humans, demigods, and gandharvas, rejoiced and praised the Blessed One’s teachings.

1.­164

This completes the Noble Great Vehicle Sūtra, “Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths [The inconceivable Union of the Two truths beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all conditioning / karma].”


Colophon

It was translated, proofed, and finalized by the Indian scholars Śākyaprabha and Jinamitra, together with the translator-editor Bandé Dharmatāśīla and others.


Notes

  1. A brief passage from this text in Sanskrit (part of 1.­17) has, however, survived in Prajñākaramati’s Bodhi­caryāvatāra­pañjikā. See Vose (2009), 214 n8.

  2. Tib. ’dron pa.

  3. Tib. rnam par shigs.

  4. The Tibetan does not include the word “no” in connection with the disturbing emotions. Given the context, however, this appears to be a scribal error.

  5. The list also includes one type of stone (Tib. a mra gar ba) that we have been unable to identify.


Quotes

Answer to a post about: "... In Chinese philosophy this state of flow is often called wu wei [ “without exertion” or “actionless action”] and I thought it would be a good thread topic. ..."

https://www.facebook.com/groups/235753311441861 

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In the Mahayana Sutra Saṃvṛti­paramārtha­satya­nirdeśa

(Teaching the Relative and Ultimate Truths)

(https://read.84000.co/translation/toh179.html )

there is the repetitive formula 'acting without acting" for all sort of activities:

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ex. training without training, serving without serving, teaching without teaching, developing without developing, exerting without exerting, meditating without meditating, knowing without knowing, being born without being born, forming without forming, practicing without practicing, view without viewing, speaking without speaking, awakening without awakening, developing without developing, producing without producing, attaining without attaining, engendering without engendering, obtaining without obtaining, abiding without abiding, knowing without knowing, explaining without explaining, settling without settling, engaging without engaging, listening without listening, coming & going without coming and going, blessing without blessing, ...

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All this to show that it is related to the core message of this Mahayana Sutra, and may have influenced Chan / Zen without influencing it.

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It always means acting from a relative point of view (1st truth -- dependent origination & relative functionality) but not really acting on the ultimate point of view (2nd truth -- emptiness of inherent existence).

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𝗜𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝘂𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗲 𝗻𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝘀 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗧𝘄𝗼 𝗧𝗿𝘂𝘁𝗵𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝘀𝗽𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀 -- 𝘀𝘂𝗯𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁, 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 / 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, 𝗼𝗯𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 -- 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴.

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That means being as much as possible in perfect accord with the true nature of Reality as it is here & now while acting. This way we are free from false conditioning / karma and thus much more efficient, creating less and less mistakes due to illusions.

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It also means 'being fully present here & now' while shooting the arrow.

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