Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Vimalakirti Sutra Part I - 201

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201 - VIMALAKIRTI NIRDESA SUTRA
- PART I : chapters 1-4 -

translated by Robert A. F. Thurman

"Ananda, this exposition of the Dharma is called 'The Teaching of Vimalakirti' (about Reality as it is),
or 'The Reconciliation of Dichotomies' (about Non-duality / Union of opposites, Union of the Two Truths),
or even 'Section of the Inconceivable Liberation' (about using inconceivable miracle-like demonstrations).
Remember it thus!" .

First edition of the text - 1973-4: https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/book/vimalakirti-nirdesa-sutra,
https://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Reln260/Vimalakirti.htm
Latest edition of the text - 2016-7: https://read.84000.co/translation/UT22084-060-005.html
https://84000.co/doc/vimalakirti/Vimalakirti%20Book_E_screen-170724.pdf 

Translator’s comments on few sections:
Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Videos 1-11:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1bmhhIaFos&list=PLhT7rDLRNgFsvmfGMQSWI4hM3KpZTVr3Y
What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY1UXFNM7YY


[See chapters 1-4 in Part I]
[See chapters 5-8 in Part II]
[See chapters 9 in part III]
[See chapters 10-12 & Epilogue in Part IV]
[See Global Résumé of the Sutra in Part I, after the Table of Content]

TABLE OF CONTENT OF PART I (chapters 1-4)

  • TABLE OF CONTENT OF PART I (chapters 1-4)

  • RÉSUMÉ OF THE SUTRA – It is about perceiving / knowing / acting more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U3S / Uopp / Non-duality]:

  • 1. PURIFICATION OF THE BUDDHA-FIELD

    • 1.1 - A great gathering

    • 1.2 - The Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnakara's hymn to the Buddha

    • 1.3 - The explanation of the bodhisattvas' purification of the buddha-field

    • 1.4 - Why a buddha-field might appear impure

    • 1.5 - This buddha-field is always thus pure

  • 2. INCONCEIVABLE SKILL IN LIBERATIVE TECHNIQUE

    • 2.1 - Vimalakirti

    • 2.2 - The actuality of the four main elements

  • 3. THE DISCIPLES' RELUCTANCE TO VISIT VIMALAKIRTI

    • 3.1 - Contemplation

    • 3.2 - Teaching the Dharma to the householders

    • 3.3 - Begging for food

    • 3.4 - Virtues and non-virtues

    • 3.5 - Teach the Mahayana to those inclined for it

    • 3.6 - Teaching the meaning of impermanence, suffering, selflessness, peace

    • 3.7 - The nature of the divine eye

    • 3.8 - The nature of the mind – and of its fabrications

    • 3.9 - Renunciation

    • 3.10 - The need of a Buddha form-body

  • 4. THE RELUCTANCE OF THE BODHISATTVAS

    • 4.1 - Enlightenment

    • 4.2 - The seat of enlightenment

    • 4.3 - The joy in the pleasures of the Dharma

    • 4.4 - The Inexhaustible Lamp

    • 4.5 - Dharma Sacrifice


A. Purification of the Buddha-Field (Résumé: A field is purified with the merit & wisdom of the perceivers. Without enough merit & wisdom the field may appear to be impure & dualistic, but it is primordially equal & pure. The ultimate Buddha-field is Reality as it is here & now which is perceived as it is only by a Buddha.)

  1. The great gathering (Résumé: Mahayana, the Bodhisattva path:  upholding the true doctrine, a non-absolutist non-dualistic path consisting of the accumulation / Union of merit and wisdom, of the Union of various gradual virtuous methods / adapted skillful means <==> with more and more wisdom; one supporting the other; thus more and more in accord with the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].)

  2. The Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnakara's hymn to the Buddha (Résumé: The ultimate goal of the Mahayana: Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] as realised by a Buddha, and acting in accord with it, as if performing miracles or magical tricks, for the benefits of all sentient beings still stuck in samsara.
    Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing everything as the Union of interdependence / limitless relativity [T1] <==> and emptiness [T2] [U2T].
    Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing everything as primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya; not accepting not rejecting anything in absolute terms.
    Helping / teaching without helping / teaching all sentient beings still slaves to their illusions / conditioning / karma / self-conditioning or karmic cycle / samsara.
    Praise to the superior qualities of a Buddha who is able to inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]; and inconceivably act accordingly / non-dualistically / non-absolutistically (having transcended inherent existence & opposition / duality, without rejecting them completely).)

  3. The explanation of the bodhisattvas' purification of the buddha-field (Résumé: Relative purification through wisdom: One ‘purifies’ his perceived environment / world, and transmutes it into a purer field, simply by gradually inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now, the Union of the Two truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S]; and thus being able to act more and more in accord with it.
    In that sense, the world / reality is already pure, it is just a matter of gradually realising this; and thus becoming free from all illusions / conditioning / karma.
    Meanwhile, ordinary beings, even in a Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field, or in the Buddha’s Buddha-field / Reality as it is, perceive reality according to their limitations / conditioning / karma, according to their level of merit & wisdom.
    A Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field is adapted to the level of a particular group of sentient beings, and created to help them to mature toward enlightenment, toward inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma], and to act more and more in accord with it.
    There may be sentient beings at different levels of maturity in a Bodhisattva’s Buddha field, like on our earth.
    There are multiple Bodhisattva’s Buddha-fields because sentient beings are different and continue to evolve / mature.
    Bodhisattva’s Buddha-fields are like an environment of various adapted skillful means tuned to the development of particular levels of sentient beings. They are defined by their particular views, methods / techniques, and goals; but they all share the common Mahayana perspective.
    There are requirements to be reborn into a particular Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field because they are adapted to a particular level of beings; going there before our time may be less useful / counter-productive.)

  4. Why a buddha-field might appear impure (Résumé: Relativity of pure & impure: The ultimate Buddha-field is ‘Reality as it is here & now’; it is beyond all opposites / dualities, so we say it is ‘primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya’ as an antidote to our usual positions.
    Meanwhile the perception of purity of a Bodhisattva’s buddha-field depends on the level of purity / wisdom of the mind(s) perceiving it.
    The purity of the perceived reality of ordinary sentient beings depends on the purity or impurity of their minds, on his accumulation of merit & wisdom, on his level of understanding / perception / realisation / experience of the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].
    It is not Reality as it is – or the Bodhisattvas’ buddha-fields – that are pure or impure; it is not the perceived three spheres – subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena – that are good / pure or bad / impure; it is the perceivers’ conditioned minds because of their ignorance and accumulated conditioning / karma.
    Ultimately, even these impure minds … can be seen as ‘primordially pure’; they are the normal pure Reality as it is playing an impure tune, performing a dualistic dance.
    Reality as it is is beyond pure & impure; everything is manifestation of this unique pure Reality / Ground; we just need to inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience this.)

  5. This buddha-field is always thus pure (Résumé: "This buddha-field is always thus pure, but the Tathagata makes it appear to be spoiled by many faults, in order to bring about the maturity of the inferior living beings.’ It is adapted to their level of maturity. But sentient beings always perceive Reality as it is, or the Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field, according to the purity or impurity of their minds, to their accumulation of merit & wisdom, to their level of understanding / perception / realisation / experience of the true nature & dynamic of reality as it is here & now [U2T].
    Meanwhile, perceived as impure or worse, the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] [Reality] is always present in everything and ready to help / teach all sentient beings its liberating true nature & dynamic … They just need to be present, to have an open mind, and to listen to the feedback / teachings of Reality as it is, instead of playing again and again the film of their imagined virtual reality.)

2. Inconceivable Skill in Liberative Technique (Teachings that are less absolutist and dualistic: There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing views, methods / paths, goals, teachings, only possible adapted skillful means. Before teaching somebody, the teacher needs to understand the capacities of his students and choose the appropriate teachings, otherwise there might be rejection. The teacher needs to have enough merit & wisdom so he would not grasp at his tools / teachings.)

  1. Vimalakirti (Qualities of Vimalakirti: a superior layman Mahayana Bodhisattva, not stuck in absolutes & dualities, having great virtues & wisdom, endowed with an infinite knowledge of skill in liberative techniques / adapted skillful means. Teaching all kinds of people using various adapted skillful means combined with more and more wisdom. Teaching the Dharma appropriately to each.)

  2. The actuality of the four main elements (The ultimate remedy for all sickness / suffering – seeing through it –: To transcend all sickness / suffering of the body, speech & mind – including origination / birth, duration / growing old, cessation / death – we should turn the mind away from the conditioned / impermanent / unreliable / illusory / unreal – ex. the misery of our illusory body, speech & mind – and turn the mind to the inseparable pure body, speech & mind of a Buddha (trikaya); turn the mind to the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] – by taking refuge in the three Jewels, developing the four immeasurable attitudes, bodhicitta, the six paramitas, the three liberations, using various Madhyamaka reasonings, accumulating merit & wisdom together, etc.)

3. The Disciples' Reluctance to Visit Vimalakirti (Résumé: Some disciples are intimidated by Vimalakirti’s subtle explanations: The disciples’ world is purified by Vimalakirti’s explanations of the True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, proposing views, methods, goals that are less absolutist & dualistic, free from all extremes & middle. But can the disciples understand this, or are they grasping too tight to their tools, views, methods, goals?)

  1. Contemplation (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Meditating without meditating: the Middle Way about meditation, free from all extremes & middle; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object, rest & movement, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

  2. Teaching the Dharma to the householders (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Teaching without teaching the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

  3. Begging for food (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Acting / begging for food / accepting / eating without acting / begging for food / accepting / eating, with equanimity / free from partiality, while being aware of the true nature of the three spheres – subject, relation / action / begging-for, object / food – [U2T / U3S / Uopp], with a mind of compassion, free from all extremes & middle; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

  4. Virtues and non-virtues (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Reality as it is - Buddha-field –: everything – physical, conceptual, mental – is like an illusion, empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen / interdependent [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], and vice versa. There is no basis for any discrimination / partiality in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively. Everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. There is there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T].)

  5. Teaching the Mahayana to those inclined for it (Résumé: Vimalakirti on the Importance of knowing the inclinations / capabilities of the students and to adapt the teaching accordingly, or to use the proper adapted skillful means. There is no unique independent universal absolute teachings – views, paths / methods, results –.)

  6. Teaching the meaning of impermanence, suffering, selflessness, peace (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Reinterpretating those concepts in terms of Madhyamaka concepts like: “Union of the Two Truths [U2T]”, “Union of the three spheres [U3S]”, “Union of opposites [Uopp] / Non-duality”, the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle. ex. Transcending the three stages of becoming: -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –. Transcending the opposition samsara vs. nirvana.)

  7. The nature of the divine eye (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Perceiving / knowing without perceiving / knowing all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it is: free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all limits, free from all conditioning / karma; without any di-vision between the subject / actor / perceiver / knower, the relation / action / perception / cognition, and the object / result / perceived / known; with full awareness of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, action & non-action, causality & acausality, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths. Only a Buddha has perfected this inconceivable personal very-subtle spontaneous non-dualistical non-conceptual direct perception / realisation / experience of the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]. So, ultimately, it is the Ground / Reality as it is that is directly self-recognising itself in all of its inseparable manifestations. Everything is the inseparable three pure kayas of the Buddha: pure body, pure speech, pure mind.)

  8. The nature of the mind (Résumé: Vimalakirti on The true nature of the mind (subject) and of its fabrications (objects) (ex. sins): Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres – subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena / mental fabrications –; they are all empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind in co-dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S]; and vice versa (<==>). So there is no real origination, duration, cessation for anything. So there is no basis of any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively. And there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T]. In that sense everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. Everything is like the pristine display of the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T].)

  9. Renunciation (Résumé: Vimalakirti on Renouncing without renouncing: In Reality as it is [U2T], there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T]. It is renunciation free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all limits, free from all conditioning / karma; without any di-vision between the subject / actor / renouncer, the relation / action / renunciation, and the object / result / renounced; with full awareness of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres; transcending all opposites, even transcending the two truths. Enlightenment is not about renouncing samsara and seeking nirvana. It is inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of samsara; it is the Union of apparent opposites like samsara & nirvana.)

  10. The need of a Buddha's body (Conclusion about sickness: So the Buddha form-body is ultimately beyond all conditioning / sickness / suffering; it is subject to those only conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.)

4. The Reluctance of the Bodhisattvas (Résumé: Some Bodhisattvas are also intimidated by Vimalakirti’s very subtle explanations.)

  1. Enlightenment (Enlightenment without enlightenment: Enlightenment is not caused / produced through efforts & better discriminations – accepting this while rejecting that –; nobody attains enlightenment.
    Enlightenment is inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].
    It is beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time.)

  2. The seat of enlightenment (Résumé: Reality as it is is already present in everything: Where do enlightenment and all Buddha’s qualities come from? Enlightenment / Buddha-nature / Buddha’s Omniscient Awareness / all Buddha’s Qualities are not caused / produced through efforts & better discriminations – accepting this while rejecting that –; they are primordially present in everything, they are the true nature & dynamic of everything.
    The Seat of Enlightenment, the Ground / Basis / Source of everything that is good, is the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].
    It manifests as the already present pure Buddha’s body, speech & mind.
    In a figurative sense, the expression bodhimaṇḍa simply means the complete spiritual presence of the dharma or dharmakāya of the Buddhas.
    Everything is the inseparable Buddha’s pure body, speech & mind (trikaya) for one with enough merit and wisdom.
    We just need to directly realise this.)

  3. The joy in the pleasures of the Dharma (Résumé: Where does a Bodhisattva find joy? The bodhisattva admires and finds joy in the delights of the Mahayana Dharma, the Middle Way / Madhyamaka in everything – not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T].)

  4. The Inexhaustible Lamp (Résumé: Bringing the result into the path, teaching by the example: How should one live in the abode of the Maras? There is a door of the Dharma called "The Inexhaustible Lamp.": ‘The more you teach and demonstrate virtuous qualities to others, the more you grow with respect to these virtuous qualities’.)

  5. Giving / Dharma Sacrifice (Résumé: The best sacrifice is the Dharma-sacrifice: 'A Dharma-sacrifice is that which develops living beings without beginning or end, giving gifts to them all simultaneously.’ Ex. practicing without practicing the Mahayana Dharma for the benefits of all sentient beings: taking refuge in Reality as it is [U2T], understanding the self-conditioning / karmic cycle, developing the four immeasurable attitudes, bodhicitta, the six paramitas, the three liberations, using various Madhyamaka reasonings, accumulating merit and wisdom together, etc. Ex. It is giving without any partiality / discrimination / differentiation, without any di-vision between the three spheres, with full awareness of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres [U2T-3S], etc.)

[See chapters 5-8 in Part II]
[See chapter 9 in Part III]
[See chapter 10-12 & epilogue in Part IV]




RÉSUMÉ OF THE SUTRA – It is about perceiving / knowing / acting more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T / U3S / Uopp / Non-duality]:

(i.e. This text is a ‘Non-absolutist Non-dualistic Mahayana Madhyamaka Sutra’ teaching-without-teaching the Mahayana VIEW (the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]), the Mahayana PATH – acting more and more in accord with the view –, and the Mahayana FRUIT / GOAL: Complete Buddhahood, using concept-pointers like:

  • THE PURIFICATION OF A BUDDHA-FIELD: The perceived world is purified through the purification of the perceivers’ minds & actions (and vice versa since subject & object are inseparable, interdependent, co-evolving [U3S]) using an accumulation of both merit / virtues & wisdom / emptiness together (and living in a Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field also help), thus by gradually realising the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is as pointed by concepts like the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. It is not a real change / purification of something real since everything is primordially equal / pure / perfect because infinitely relative & empty of inherent existence [U2T]. It is just a matter of directly perceiving / realising / experiencing this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T]. It is like spontaneously transmuting our binding ignorance into a liberating wisdom; an awakening. We need to accumulate both merit & wisdom together, one supporting the other, because realising mere-emptiness [T2] alone is not enough, it leads to the extreme of nihilism. The ultimate realisation is not mere-emptiness [T2 alone]; we cannot reduce everything to mere-emptiness [T2], and drop / negate all appearances [T1] – physical, conceptual, mental – as if completely / objectively / universally / absolutely / inherently ‘bad’ / ‘impure’ / ‘non-existent’ / ‘meaningless’ / ‘useless’. The ultimate realisation is the inconceivable inseparability, interdependence, harmony of conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S], not complete non-existence <==> and emptiness of inherent existence [T2], not real existence: i.e. It is the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle. Directly realising this, with total certainty, is the liberating factor. It is the purification of our whole apparent world. It is living in a Buddha’s Buddha-field / Reality as it is.

  • INCONCEIVABILITY: Reality as it is is inconceivable for our flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual mind(s). It is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limits, beyond all conditioning / karma, beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time. Why is this Reality ‘inconceivable’ for most of us? Because our ordinary minds are based on two erroneous assumptions: the inherent existence of things - with inherently existing characteristics / properties / qualities -,  and their inherently existing relations / oppositions. Our ordinary mind is so entangled in his illusions / conditioning / karma based on those two erroneous postulates that it is totally blind to the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, even if this Reality is always present in front of us, urgently waving at us to wake-up here & now. Our ordinary mind is so submerged / conditioned by this, that even if a compassionate being (Buddha) would tell us about the liberating true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, it would be like water off a duck's back; it would be totally incomprehensible / unacceptable / offensive. Our mind(s) reinterpret everything non-dual in terms of dualistic concepts and theories, in terms of its illusions / conditioning / karma; being unconscious of this process / karmic cycle, it cannot escape it. That is why it may take a very long time (aeons) to merely understand, and then much more to ultimately directly perceive, notions like: dependent co-origination / relativity / karma [T1], emptiness of inherent existence [T2], the Union of those Two Truths [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S / U2T-3S], the Union of opposites (non-duality) [Uopp / U2T-opp], the Tetralemma, the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle where there is nothing to accept nothing to reject in absolute terms; the primordial spontaneity, timelessness, limitlessness, equality, purity, perfection, divinity, completeness, freedom, beauty, enlightenment, trikaya of everything.

  • MIRACLE-LIKE / MAGIC-LIKE / INCONCEIVABLE PERFORMANCES -- using the method of inconceivable transformations that defies our usual limited conditioned absolutist dualistic conceptual understanding of the laws of the Universe, of causality, matter-energy, space & time --: Because Bodhisattvas & Buddhas act more in accord with this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is, and because this Reality and those activities are incomprehensible / inconceivable for the flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned minds of ordinary beings and disciples, then, for them, those activities look like extra-ordinary miracles, unbelievable magical-tricks, or even deceptions. But they are just more truly natural / realistic than our usual virtual reality, more in accord with Reality as it is. Because everything is limitless, infinitely relative and empty of inherent existence [U2T], then everything is possible. In a sense, it is directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] that gives Bodhisattvas and Buddhas their apparent immeasurable powers. But they are just more free from their limiting illusions / conditioning / karma.

  • NO ABSOLUTE, ONLY POSSIBLE ADAPTED SKILLFUL MEANS: On the path, it is usually necessary to use various adapted skillful means / virtuous methods [T1] <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness [T2]. Why? Because there are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing subjects, objects, concepts, relations / causality, theories, paths / methods, techniques, results, goals [T2], just conventional / relative / inter-subjective ones [T1] [U2T]. On the other hand, this means that everything can be used to teach the Dharma depending on the present situation. Indeed, because everything is Reality as it is, then everything is actually the omnipresent Buddha teaching us the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now. We just need to be fully present here & now, with an open mind, to benefit from those lessons. Ex. of Mahayana adapted skillful means: taking refuge in the three Jewels, generating bodhicitta, developing the four immeasurable attitudes, perfecting the six paramitas, the three liberations, using various Madhyamaka reasonings, always accumulating merit & wisdom together, always combining more and more subtle virtuous methods with more and more wisdom / genuine-emptiness [U2T], thus being more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T]. That is the only way for a path to be more and more efficient.

  • ADOPTING THE MIDDLE WAY IN EVERYTHING, in all motivation & activity of our body, speech & mind. It is a Middle way free from all extremes & middle. It is called ‘acting without acting’ because it is without any di-vision between apparent opposites like the three spheres – subject, relation / action, object –; it is acting while being fully aware of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres [U2T-3S], transcending them. It is realising that there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth. In this context ‘transcending / going beyond’ something does not mean to reject / negate / abandon / extinguish / subtract / not-do something. Transcending / going beyond’ means ‘to be free from, not free of. It means not being fooled by appearances, not grasping them, not getting attached to them, not fearing them, not being too passionate about them, not being slave to them, not thinking they are existing on their own / independently / absolutely / objectively / inherently, with inherently existing properties / characteristics / qualities, and in inherently existing relation / opposition with other things / appearances. It means being able to use them as simple useful tools, with no overwhelming emotions about them. Ex. Transcending speech / thinking / conceptualisation / discrimination does not mean to reject them completely, but to be able to use them while being fully aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T]; that is enough to be liberated from them.)

  • UNION OF THE TWO TRUTHS [U2T] about all dharmas: Reality as it is here & now: All dharmas of both samsara & nirvana – physical, conceptual, mental; subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena; individual, collective, universal; past, present, future; pure or impure – are like an inconceivable Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances (T1), like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind in co-dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional / meaningless / useless <==> and being empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent (also not both existent and non-existent together, not neither). One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). These dharmas / things are co-dependent / interdependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always). They are not inherently 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; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither; etc.

  • NON-DUALITY / UNION OF APPARENT OPPOSITES [Uopp / U2T-opp] in any duality / triad / quads / etc.: Reality as it is here & now: Apparent opposites in general  – ex.  good & evil, male & female, movement / action & rest / non-action, subject / mind & object / phenomena, the three spheres, the Two Truths, the three times, three vajras, the three kayas, existence & non-existence, bondage / samsara & freedom / nirvana, causality/laws & matter-energy & space & time – are empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent <==> because inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional / meaningless / useless (also not both existent and non-existent together, not neither).  And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). These dharmas / things are co-dependent / interdependent are co-dependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always). They are not inherently 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; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither; etc.

  • UNION OF THE THREE SPHERES [3S / U2T-3S]: Reality as it is here & now: Apparent opposites like the three spheres -- ex. i. subject / actor / perceiver / knower / cause / owner-me / mind, ii. relation / action / perception / cognition / causality / ownership, iii. object / result / perceived / known / effect / possession-mine / phenomena – are empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent <==> because inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional / meaningless / useless (also not both existent and non-existent together, not neither).  And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). These dharmas / things are co-dependent / interdependent are co-dependent with their parts (when applicable), with their causes & conditions (when applicable), with their conceptual opposites (always), and with the mind merely labeling / imputing them (always). They are not inherently 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; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither; etc.

  • UNION OF THE TWO TRUTHS ABOUT THE TWO TRUTHS [U2T-2T]: Reality as it is here & now: Apparent opposites like the two truths themselves – conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances and emptiness of inherent existence – are themselves empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent <==> because inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional / meaningless / useless (also not both existent and non-existent together, not neither).  And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). So there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing dependent-origination / causality [T1] or emptiness [T2] to grasp as the ‘ultimate’, or to reject as utterly meaningless / useless. It is not about accepting one and rejecting the other, not about accepting both together, not about rejecting both together. It is about directly realising the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths beyond all extremes & middle. … They are not inherently 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; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither; etc.

  • UNION OF THE THREE STAGES OF BECOMING / THREE TIMES [U3T / U2T-3T]: Reality as it is here & now: Apparent opposites like the three stages of becoming / three times  -- i. ex. origination / beginning / birth / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / after / future – are empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent <==> because inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, because conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], not completely non-existent / non-functional / meaningless / useless (also not both existent and non-existent together, not neither).  And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). … They are not inherently 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; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither; etc.
    Another way to present this: the i. birtlessness / productionlessness, ii. occurencelessness / changelessness, iii. deathlessness / destructionlessness of everything – physical, conceptual, mental; subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena; individual, collective, universal; past, present, future; pure or impure –. Things – physical, conceptual, mental – are not really dependently originated / caused / produced, existent, and then ceasing; but still they are not independently appearing / uncaused / unproduced, non-existent, completely non-ceasing. The Middle Way free from  all extremes & middle.

  • Reality as it is here & now: All dharmas – ex. apparent opposites, the three spheres, the three stages of becoming, even the two truths themselves, etc. – ARE LIKE DREAMS / MAGICAL ILLUSIONS / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: ’There but not there’ [U2T]. They are 'like them in some aspect(s)' but not exactly the same; all metaphors have their limits.

  • TETRALEMMA: ex. Reality as it is here & now: All dharmas, apparent opposites, the three spheres, the three stages of becoming, the two truths, etc. are:
    -- not inherently existent, not completely non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated,  not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not purely objective / physical / body, not purely subjective / mental / mind, not purely relational / process / conceptual / speech, not two or three of them together, not none of them, and there is no other possibility;
    -- not dependent / caused / produced / functional, not independent / uncaused/spontaneous / unproduced / non-functional, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not composite / contextual / conditioned, not non-composite / non-contextual / unconditioned, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not merely labeled / imputed / conceptualised by the mind, not not-merely labeled / imputed / conceptualised by the mind, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not self-caused, not other-caused, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not changing / evolving, not completely non-changing / non-evolving, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not empty, not non-empty, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not conventional / relative / false, not absolute / universal / true, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not dependently co-arisen / interdependent / mere-interdependence [T1], not empty of inherent existence / mere-emptiness [T2], not both together [2T], not neither [1T], and there is no fifth;
    -- not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / incomplete / bounded / bad, not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / free / good, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not unreal / identical to illusions / dreams / mirage / magic tricks, not real / different from illusions / dreams / mirage / magic tricks, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not describable / conceivable / meaningful, not indescribable / inconceivable / meaningless, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
    -- not this, not non-this, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth -- for any dualistic concept like ‘this’ –.

  • Meaning the true nature & dynamic of  all dharmas – apparent opposites, the three spheres, the three stages of becoming, the two truths themselves, etc. – is INDESCRIBABLE / INCONCEIVABLE (in absolute terms) for our flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual mind(s), beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all limits, beyond all conditioning / karma; beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time. Still, we have tons of books talking about this. It is the Middle Way free from extremes like describability / conceivability and indescribability / inconceivability. We can talk about it, but never think our descriptions are independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing truths, just conventional / relative / inter-subjective; like a finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.

  • Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventional / relative / inter-subjective basis.

  • Meaning there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T].

  • Meaning that everything is more like primordially spontaneous, timeless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms (see the tetralemma).
    Everything is like the inseparable pure body, speech & mind of the Buddha (trikaya).

  • Everything is like the inseparable pristine display of the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].

.

["Ananda, this exposition of the Dharma is called 'The Teaching of Vimalakirti' (about Reality as it is),
or 'The Reconciliation of Dichotomies' (about Non-duality / Union of opposites, Union of the Two Truths),
or even 'Section of the Inconceivable Liberation' (about using inconceivable miracle-like demonstrations).
Remember it thus!"]

(From Bob Thurman’s Introduction: In keeping with an alternative title of the sūtra (Inconceivable Liberation), Vimalakīrti lays great emphasis on the theme of inconceivability, that is, the ultimate incomprehensibility of all things, relative or absolute. He thus spells out the furthest implication of the application of voidness: that the finite, ego-centered mind cannot even conceive of the ultimate nature of things and, hence, as far as such minds are concerned, their ultimate reality is itself inconceivability. This accords with the degree of attainment of the bodhisattva, so frequently reached by Vimalakīrti’s audiences, called “the tolerance of the birthlessness of all things” (anutpattika­dharma­kṣānti). It is extremely significant that the term “tolerance” (kṣānti) is used here, rather than “conviction,” “understanding,” or “realization”; it emphasizes the fact that where the ultimate is concerned, the mind is unable to grasp anything in the pattern of dualistic knowledge, for there is no finite object in this case and only relative objects can be grasped with relative certainty in the mundane sense. Yet that is not to say that the student’s task is to simply put a label of “inconceivability” on all things and rest complacent with a sense of having reached a high state. Indeed, there are three stages of this tolerance: the verbal (ghoṣānugā), conforming (anulomikī), and true tolerance of the birthlessness of things. This indicates the difficulty of attainment of true tolerance, which occurs only at the eighth stage of bodhisattvahood. Inconceivability as a verbal concept is only a principle to be applied to the mind, just like the verbal concept of voidness, or even of infinity.

When we reflect intensively on any of these concepts, our minds open gradually in an ever widening sphere whose limits proceed from preconceived limitation to preconceived limitation. We discover to our surprise that there is always something further, and we logically discard the possibility of any limit being ultimate because any limit serves as the near boundary of the next larger space or dimension or time. If we adhere rigorously to this process, we soon find ourselves lost in the stars, as it were, with less and less security about ever having started from anywhere.

The Buddha gave this type of deepest teaching only to disciples able to deal with it. Nāgārjuna himself rarely spelled it out explicitly, restricting himself to providing the means whereby the disciplined intellect can strip away its own conceptualizations and habitual notions. But Vimalakīrti felt that such a message should be available to a much larger circle of people, for he expressed himself definitively on all occasions, as recorded in this sūtra.

The main technique Vimalakīrti uses that is of interest here‍—dichotomy‍—is found in his discourse, which relates to another alternative title of the sūtra, “Reconciliation of Dichotomies” (Yamaka­puṭa­vyatyasta­nihāra). This is in keeping with the traditional method of the Middle Way masters, who had great skill in pitting polar opposites against each other to eliminate the fixedness of each and to free the mind of the student who applies himself to the polarities to open into a middle ground of reality beyond concepts. The mahāsiddhas of first-millennium India refined this art to a consummate degree in their songs and extraordinary deeds, and the Great Ch’an and Zen Masters wielded the same “double-edged sword” in their earthshaking statements and their illuminating activities. The singular quality of such teachers’ use of dichotomies lies in the fact that they relate them to the actual practice of the hearers, forcing them to integrate them in their minds and actions. Thus, they expect them to be liberated inconceivably, while being totally engaged in the work of helping other living beings. They recommend their full cultivation of great love and great compassion [T1] while maintaining total awareness of the total absence (emptiness of inherent existence [T2]) of any such thing as a living being [U2T - Union of the Two Truths beyond all extremes & middle like: existence, compete non-existence / total absence, both together, neither], a suffering being, a being in bondage. In short, they show the way to the full nonduality [Union] of wisdom and great compassion [U2T], the latter being expressed as skill in liberative art‍—the integrated approach acknowledged by all the masters as the essence of the Mahāyāna.

Vimalakīrti’s reconciliation of dichotomies is so thoroughgoing that he shocks the disciples by his advocacy of the most horrible things as being part of the bodhisattva’s path. The bodhisattva may commit the five deadly sins, follow the false outsider teachings, entertain the sixty-two false views, consort with all the passions, and so on. Even the māras, or devils, that plague the various universes are said to be bodhisattvas dwelling in inconceivable liberation‍—playing the devil, as it were, in order to develop living beings.)




1. PURIFICATION OF THE BUDDHA-FIELD

(From the Introduction: Among Buddhist sūtras, The Teaching of Vimalakīrti stands out like a masterfully faceted diamond, so located between the heaps of gold, silver, and pearls of the Transcendent ‌Wisdom (Prajñā­pāramitā) Sūtras and the array of sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and other gems of the ‌Buddha Garland (Buddhāvataṃsaka), or Inconceivable Liberation (Acintyavimokṣa) Sūtras as to refract the radiances of all, beaming them forth to the beholder in a concentrated rainbow-beam of diamond light.

I elaborate upon this traditional metaphor here to convey a sense of how the Vimalakīrti is truly unique among Buddhist sūtras. Unmatched in its content‍—a quintessence of Mahāyāna doctrines, both of the profound and of the extensive categories‍—its aesthetic virtue, too, makes it an object of the connoisseur’s delight. This helps us understand how a hundred generations of Mahāyāna Buddhists in India, Central Asia, China, Japan, and South East Asia were disposed to study, revere, and enjoy this sūtra, finding enlightenment, inspiration, and the grace of pleasant humor.

The sūtra starts with the Buddha, in the presence of a large assembly of monks and bodhisattvas gathered before him in Āmrapālī’s grove outside Vaiśālī, receiving offerings from five hundred youths from the city, headed by the Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnākara, and in response revealing the entire universe as a vast buddhafield in a miraculous display, seen by all present. After pronouncing a notable praise to the Buddha in verse, Ratnakāra asks him to explain what is meant by a bodhisattva purifying his buddhafield. The Buddha’s response to this request, together with further descriptions in the fifth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters, constitute one of the most complete and profound teachings on the subject of buddhafields to be found in the canonical literature.)

1.1 - A great gathering

(Résumé: Mahayana, the Bodhisattva path:  upholding the true doctrine, a non-absolutist non-dualistic path consisting of the accumulation / Union of merit and wisdom, of the Union of various gradual virtuous methods / adapted skillful means <==> with more and more wisdom; one supporting the other; thus more and more in accord with the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma].
.
A miraculous / inconceivable gathering -- using the method of inconceivable transformations that defies our usual limited conditioned absolutist dualistic conceptual understanding of the laws of the Universe, of causality, matter-energy, space & time --, for those who are inspired by such miracles, pointing out that the true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] is ‘inconceivable’ for those with not enough non-dualistic non-conceptual direct wisdom. In Reality as it is [U2T] there are no fixed / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing rules / laws / causality, nor total absence of them. In Reality as it is [U2T] everything is limitlessly relative / open / limitless / timeless / free; everything is possible. And when what happens doesn't fit our prefered conditioned frame of reference, we call it 'magical / miraculous / inconceivable'. Meaning it is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma; beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time.
Because Bodhisattvas & Buddhas act more in accord with this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is, and because this Reality and those activities are incomprehensible / inconceivable for the flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned minds of ordinary beings and disciples, then, for them, those activities look like extra-ordinary miracles, unbelievable magical-tricks, or even deceptions. But they are just more truly natural / realistic than our usual virtual reality, more in accord with Reality as it is. Because everything is limitless, infinitely relative and empty of inherent existence [U2T], then everything is possible. In a sense, it is directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] that gives Bodhisattvas and Buddhas their apparent immeasurable powers. But they are just more free from their limiting illusions / conditioning / karma.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=2839

Reverence to all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Aryasravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas, in the past, the present, and the future.

[i.e. This performance of a miracle, is here to  emphasize the ‘inconceivability’ and ‘interdependence / limitless relativity’ of Reality as it is, and of the actions of those who have directly perceived its true nature & dynamic. Showing here how a Buddha, or high level Bodhisattva, perceives Reality and is able to act accordingly as if working a  miracle / magic.]
Thus have I heard: At one time the Lord Buddha was in residence in the garden of Amrapali, in the city of Vaisali, attended by a great gathering.

Of bhikshus there were eight thousand, all saints.

They were free from impurities and afflictions, and all had attained self-mastery.

Their minds were entirely liberated by perfect knowledge.

They were calm and dignified, like royal elephants.

They had accomplished their work, done what they had to do,

cast off their burdens, attained their goals,

and totally destroyed the bonds of existence.

They all had attained the utmost perfection of every form of mind control.

(Note: There is a more recent edition of Robert A.F. Thurman’s translation of this Sutra – But there seems to be very little change. – ex. “Thus did I hear on a single occasion. The Lord Buddha was in residence in the garden of Āmrapālī, in the city of Vaiśālī, attended by a great gathering. Of bhikṣus there were eight thousand, all arhats. They were free from impurities and afflictions, and all had attained self-mastery. Their minds were entirely liberated by perfect knowledge. They were calm and dignified, like royal elephants. They had accomplished their work, done what they had to do, cast off their burdens, attained their goals, and totally destroyed the bonds of existence. Their true knowledge had made their minds entirely free. They all had attained the utmost perfection of every form of control over their minds. …”
From: https://read.84000.co/translation/UT22084-060-005.html, or
https://84000.co/doc/vimalakirti/Vimalakirti%20Book_E_screen-170724.pdf )

Of bodhisattvas there were thirty-two thousand, great spiritual heroes who were universally acclaimed.

They were dedicated through the penetrating activity of their great super-knowledges
and were sustained by the grace of the Buddha.
Guardians of the city of Dharma, they upheld the true doctrine,
and their great teachings resounded like the lion's roar throughout the ten directions.

Without having to be asked, they were the natural spiritual benefactors of all living beings.
They maintained unbroken the succession of the Three Jewels, conquering devils and foes and overwhelming all critics.

Their mindfulness, intelligence, realization, meditation, incantation, and eloquence all were perfected.
They had attained the intuitive tolerance of the ultimate incomprehensibility of all things (inconceivability or Reality as it is).
(Other edition: They had attained the intuitive tolerance of the ultimate incomprehensibility and unborn nature of all things.)

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)

They turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma.
They were stamped with the insignia of signlessness. (i.e. one of the three doors of liberation; or one of the three marks of existence)

They were experts in knowing the spiritual faculties of all living beings.
They were brave with the confidence that overawes all assemblies.
They had gathered the great stores of merit and of wisdom,

(i.e. Mahayana: A non-absolutist non-dualistic Path, for self and others, composed of the Union of gradual adapted skillful means / virtuous methods / accumulation of merit <==> with more and more wisdom; thus more and more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is: the Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle: Union of conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S], not complete non-existence or non-causality <==> and emptiness of inherent existence [T2], not real existence / causality. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>) [U2T].)

and their bodies, beautiful without ornaments, were adorned with all the auspicious signs and marks.
They were exalted in fame and glory, like the lofty summit of Mount Sumeru.
Their high resolve as hard as diamond, unbreakable in their faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they showered forth the rain of ambrosia that is released by the light rays of the jewel of the Dharma, which shines everywhere.

Their voices were perfect in diction and resonance, and versatile in speaking all languages.
They had penetrated the profound principle of relativity
and had destroyed the persistence of the instinctual mental habits underlying all convictions concerning (dualities like) finitude and infinitude.
They spoke fearlessly, like lions, sounding the thunder of the magnificent teaching.
Unequaled, they surpassed all measures.
They were the best captains for the voyage of discovery of the treasures of the Dharma, the stores of merit and wisdom.

They were experts in the way of the Dharma, which is straight, peaceful, subtle, gentle, hard to see, and difficult to realize.

They were endowed with the wisdom that is able to understand the thoughts of living beings, as well as their comings and goings.
They had been consecrated with the anointment of the peerless gnosis of the Buddha.
With their high resolve, they approached the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, and the eighteen special qualities of the Buddha.

They had crossed the terrifying abyss of the bad migrations,
and yet they assumed reincarnation voluntarily in all migrations for the sake of disciplining living beings.
Great Kings of medicine, understanding all the sicknesses of passions, they could apply the medicine of the Dharma appropriately.

They were inexhaustible mines of limitless virtues, and they glorified innumerable buddha-fields with the splendor of these virtues.
They conferred great benefit when seen, heard, or even approached.
Were one to extol them for innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of aeons, one still could not exhaust their mighty flood of virtues.

These bodhisattvas were named: Samadarsana, Asamadarsana, Samadhivikurvitaraja, Dharmesvara, Dharmaketu, Prabhaketu, Prabhavyuha, Ratnavyuha, Mahavyuha, Pratibhanakuta, Ratnakuta, Ratnapani, Ratnamudrahasta, Nityapralambahasta, Nityotksipthasta, Nityatapta, Nityamuditendriya, Pramodyaraja, Devaraja, Pranidhanapravesaprapta, Prasiddhapratisamvitprapta, Gaganaganja, Ratnolkaparigrhita, Ratnasura, Ratnapriya, Ratnasri, Indrajala, Jaliniprabha, Niralambanadhyana, Prajnakuta, Ratnadatta, Marapramardaka, Vidyuddeva, Vikurvanaraja, Kutanimittasamatikranta, Simhanadanadin, Giryagrapramardiraja, Gandhahastin, Gandhakunjaranaga, Nityodyukta, Aniksiptadhura, Pramati, Sujata, Padmasrigarbha, Padmavyuha, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, Brahmajala, Ratnadandin, Marakarmavijeta, Ksetrasamalamkara, Maniratnacchattra, Suvarnacuda, Manicuda, Maitreya, Manjusrikumarabhuta, and so forth, with the remainder of the thirty-two thousand.

The Lord Buddha, thus surrounded and venerated by these multitudes of many hundreds of thousands of living beings, sat upon a majestic lion-throne and began to teach the Dharma (i.e. the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is). Dominating all the multitudes, just as Sumeru, the king of mountains, looms high over the oceans, the Lord Buddha shone, radiated, and glittered as he sat upon his magnificent lion-throne.


1.2 - The Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnakara's hymn to the Buddha  

(Résumé: The ultimate goal of the Mahayana: Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] as realised by a Buddha, and acting in accord with it, as if performing miracles or magical tricks, for the benefits of all sentient beings still stuck in samsara.
Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing everything as the Union of interdependence / limitless relativity [T1] <==> and emptiness [T2] [U2T].
Inconceivably very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing everything as primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya; not accepting not rejecting anything in absolute terms.
Helping / teaching without helping / teaching all sentient beings still slaves to their illusions / conditioning / karma / self-conditioning or karmic cycle / samsara.
Praise to the superior qualities of a Buddha who is able to inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]; and inconceivably act accordingly / non-dualistically / non-absolutistically (having transcended inherent existence & opposition / duality, without rejecting them completely).
.
Another miracle -- using the method of inconceivable transformations that defies our usual limited conditioned absolutist dualistic conceptual understanding of the laws of the Universe, of causality, matter-energy, space & time –, for those who are inspired by such miracles, pointing out that the true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] is ‘inconceivable’ for those with not enough non-dualistic non-conceptual direct wisdom. In Reality as it is [U2T] there are no fixed / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing rules / laws / causality, nor total absence of them. In Reality as it is [U2T] everything is limitlessly relative / open / limitless / timeless / free; everything is possible. And when what happens doesn't fit our prefered conditioned frame of reference, we call it 'magical / miraculous / inconceivable'. Meaning it is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma; beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time.
Because Bodhisattvas & Buddhas act more in accord with this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is, and because this Reality and those activities are incomprehensible / inconceivable for the flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned minds of ordinary beings and disciples, then, for them, those activities look like extra-ordinary miracles, unbelievable magical-tricks, or even deceptions. But they are just more truly natural / realistic than our usual virtual reality, more in accord with Reality as it is. Because everything is limitless, infinitely relative and empty of inherent existence [U2T], then everything is possible. In a sense, it is directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] that gives Bodhisattvas and Buddhas their apparent immeasurable powers. But they are just more free from their limiting illusions / conditioning / karma.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1bmhhIaFos
Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=3235

Thereupon, the Licchavi bodhisattva Ratnakara, with five hundred Licchavi youths, each holding a precious parasol made of seven different kinds of jewels, came forth from the city of Vaisali and presented himself at the grove of Amrapali. Each approached the Buddha, bowed at his feet, circumambulated him clockwise seven times, laid down his precious parasol in offering, and withdrew to one side.

[i.e. This performance of a miracle, is here to  emphasize the ‘inconceivability’ and ‘interdependence / limitless relativity’ of Reality as it is, and of the actions of those who have directly perceived its true nature & dynamic. Showing here how a Buddha, or high level Bodhisattva, perceives Reality and is able to act accordingly as if working a  miracle / magic.]
As soon as all these precious parasols had been laid down, suddenly, by the miraculous power of the Lord, they were transformed into a single precious canopy so great that it formed a covering for this entire billion-world galaxy. The surface of the entire billion-world galaxy was reflected in the interior of the great precious canopy, where the total content of this galaxy could be seen: limitless mansions of suns, moons, and stellar bodies; the realms of the devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas, as well as the realms of the four Maharajas; the king of mountains, Mound Sumeru; Mount Himadri, Mount Mucilinda, Mount Mahamucilinda, Mount Gandhamadana, Mount Ratnaparvata, Mount Kalaparvata, Mount Cakravada, Mount Mahacakravada; all the great oceans, rivers, bays torrents, streams, brooks, and springs; finally, all the villages, suburbs, cities, capitals, provinces, and wildernesses. All this could be clearly seen by everyone. And the voices of all the Buddhas of the ten directions could be heard proclaiming their teachings of the Dharma in all the worlds, the sounds reverberating in the space beneath the great precious canopy.

(i.e. A global vision: A miracle-like / magical-like presentation – special effect – pointing out the interconnectedness of everything in the universe, of all worlds, of all Buddha-fields. Showing that everything everywhere anytime is a teaching of the Buddha / Reality as it is.)

At this vision of the magnificent miracle effected by the supernatural power of the Lord Buddha, the entire host was ecstatic, enraptured, astonished, delighted, satisfied, and filled with awe and pleasure. They all bowed down to the Tathagata, withdrew to one side with palms pressed together, and gazed upon him with fixed attention.

The young Licchavi Ratnakara knelt with his right knee on the ground, raised his hands, palms pressed together in salute of the Buddha, and praised him with the following hymn.

Pure are your eyes (pure inconceivable view), broad and beautiful, like the petals of a blue lotus.
Pure is your thought (pure motivation), having discovered the supreme transcendence of all trances.
Immeasurable is the ocean of your virtues, the accumulation of your good deeds.
You affirm the path of peace (equanimity beyond all opposition / dualities).
Oh, Great Ascetic, obeisance to you!

Leader, bull of men, we behold the revelation of your miracle (i.e. pure inconceivable actions in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now).
The superb and radiant fields of the Sugatas appear before us, (i.e. a pure buddha-field: a limited projection of Reality as perceived by the Buddha)
And your extensive spiritual teachings, that lead to immortality (i.e. Leading to the transcendence – without rejection – of the three stages of becoming: -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –.)
Make themselves heard throughout the whole reach of space.

[i.e. The Buddha is fully aware of the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now as pointed out by concepts like the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T], etc. That is what gives him his quasi miraculous powers and motivation.]

Dharma-King, you rule with the Dharma your supreme Dharma-kingdom,
And thereby bestow the treasures of the Dharma upon all living beings.
Expert in the deep analysis of things, you teach their ultimate meaning.
Sovereign Lord of Dharma, obeisance to you.

(i.e. Expert in the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is – as pointed by concepts like : Union of the Two Truths [U2T], Union of the three sĥeres [U3S], Non-duality / Union of opposites [Uopp], the Middle Way – free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all limits, free from all conditioning / karma  …)

[Inseparability / interdependence / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] about all dharmas. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>):]

All these things arise dependently, from causes [T1],

(i.e. 1st truth: conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1].)

Yet they are neither existent [T2] nor non-existent [T1] [U2T].

(i.e. 2nd truth: emptiness of inherent existence [T2] free from all extremes & middle like: existence / appearance / first truth only [T1], non-existence / mere-emptiness / second truth only [T2], both existence & non-existence together / both truths together [2T], neither existence nor non-existence / neither truth [1T]; and there is no fifth. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). These two truths are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. We call this the inseparability / interdependence / Union of the Two Truths.)

[Union of the three spheres [U3S], or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S] – subject / actor, relation / action, object / result; they are all empty of inherent existence [T2] because interdependent / dependently co-arisen / co-relative / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-transcended [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind; and vice versa. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>).]

Therein is neither ego, nor experiencer, nor doer [T2],

[Union of apparent opposites [Uopp / Non-duality], or Union of the Two Truths about apparent opposites [U2T-opp] like good & bad; they are all empty of inherent existence [T2] because interdependent / dependently co-arisen / co-relative / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-transcended [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind; and vice versa. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). These two apparent opposites are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither. We call this the inseparability / interdependence / Union of opposites.]

Yet no action, good or evil, loses its effects [T1] [U2T].
Such is your teaching.

[Middle Way: So there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.

And there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth: the Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S / U2T-3S], the Union of apparent opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp], the Middle Way in everything, the tetralemma, primordial spontaneity, timelessness, limitlessness, equality, purity, perfection, divinity, completeness, freedom, beauty, enlightenment, trikaya of all dharmas.

In that sense everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. Everything is like the pristine display of the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T].]

O Sakyamuni, conquering the powerful host of Mara,
You found peace, immortality, and the happiness of that supreme enlightenment,
Which is not realized by any among the heterodox,
Though they arrest their feelings, thoughts and mental processes.

O Wonderful King of Dharma,
You turned the wheel of Dharma before men and gods,
With its threefold revolution, its manifold aspects,
Its purity of nature, and its extreme peace;
And thereby the Three Jewels were revealed.

Those who are well disciplined by your precious Dharma
Are free of vain imaginings and always deeply peaceful.
Supreme doctor, you put an end to birth, decay, sickness, and death. (i.e. transcending the 12 links of dependent origination)
Immeasurable ocean of virtue, obeisance to you!

Like Mount Sumeru, you are unmoved by honor or scorn.
You love moral beings and immoral beings equally.
Poised in equanimity, your mind is like the sky.
Who would not honor such a precious jewel of a being?

Great Sage, in all these multitudes gathered here,
Who look upon your countenance with hearts sincere in faith,
Each being beholds the Victor, as if just before him.
This is a special quality of the Buddha.

Although the Lord speaks with but one voice,
Those present perceive that same voice differently,
And each understands in his own language according to his own needs.
This is a special quality of the Buddha.

From the Leader's act of speaking in a single voice,
Some merely develop an instinct for the teaching, some gain realization,
Some find pacification of all their doubts.
This is a special quality of the Buddha.

Obeisance to you who command the force of leadership and the ten powers!
Obeisance to you who are dauntless, knowing no fear!
Obeisance to you, leader of all living beings,
Who fully manifests the special qualities!

Obeisance to you who have cut the bondage of all fetters!
Obeisance to you who, having gone beyond, stand on firm ground!
Obeisance to you who save the suffering beings!
Obeisance to you who do not remain in the migrations!

You associate with living beings by frequenting their migrations.
Yet your mind is liberated from all migrations.
Just as the lotus, born of mud, is not tainted thereby,
So the lotus of the Buddha preserves the realization of voidness.

You nullify all signs in all things everywhere.
You are not subject to any wish for anything at all.
The miraculous power of the Buddhas is inconceivable.
I bow to you [T1], who stand nowhere [T2] [U2T], like infinite space.


1.3 - The explanation of the bodhisattvas' purification of the buddha-field

(Résumé: Relative purification: One ‘purifies’ his perceived environment / world, and transmutes it into a purer field, simply by gradually perceiving / realising / experiencing its true nature & dynamic as it is here & now, the Union of the Two truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S]; and thus being able to act more and more in accord with it. In that sense, the world / reality is already pure, it is just a matter of gradually realising this; and thus becoming free from all illusions / conditioning / karma. Meanwhile, ordinary beings, even in a Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field, or in the Buddha’s Buddha-field / Reality as it is, perceive reality according to their limitations / conditioning / karma, according to their level of merit & wisdom. A Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field is adapted to the level of a particular group of sentient beings, and created to help them to mature toward enlightenment, toward inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma], and to act more and more in accord with it. There may be sentient beings at different levels of maturity in a Bodhisattva’s Buddha field, like on our earth. There are multiple Bodhisattva’s Buddha-fields because sentient beings are different and continue to evolve / mature. Bodhisattva’s Buddha-fields are like an environment of various adapted skillful means tuned to the development of particular levels of sentient beings. They are defined by their particular views, methods / techniques, and goals; but they all share the common Mahayana perspective. There are requirements to be reborn into a particular Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field because they are adapted to a particular level of beings; going there before our time may be less useful / counter-productive.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAE8JK7lTZw
Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=3633

Then, the young Licchavi Ratnakara, having celebrated the Buddha with these verses, further addressed him:

"Lord, these five hundred young Licchavis are truly on their way to unexcelled, perfect enlightenment,
and they have asked what is the bodhisattvas' purification of the buddha-field.
Please, Lord, explain to them the bodhisattvas' purification of the buddha-field (or Buddha-verse)!"
(i.e. How to change the field? Or perceive it as primordially equal / pure / perfect …?)

Upon this request, the Buddha gave his approval to the young Licchavi Ratnakara:

"Good, good, young man! Your question to the Tathagata about the purification of the buddha-field is indeed good. Therefore, young man, listen well and remember!
I will explain to you the purification of the buddha-field of the bodhisattvas."


"Very good, Lord," replied Ratnakara and the five hundred young Licchavis, and they set themselves to listen.

The Buddha said,

"Noble sons, a buddha-field of bodhisattvas is a field of [interdependent] living beings. Why so?
A bodhisattva embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that he causes the development of living beings.
He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that living beings become disciplined.
He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that,
through entrance into a buddha-field, living beings are introduced to the buddha-gnosis (i.e. introduced to Reality as it is as perceived by a Buddha).
He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that, through entrance into that buddha-field, living beings increase their holy spiritual faculties. Why so?
Noble son, a buddha-field of bodhisattvas springs from the aims of living beings.

"For example, Ratnakara, should one wish to build in empty space, one might go ahead in spite of the fact that it is not possible to build or to adorn anything in empty space. In just the same way, should a bodhisattva, who knows full well that all things are like empty space, wish to build a buddha-field in order to develop living beings, he might go ahead, in spite of the fact that it is not possible to build or to adorn a buddha-field in empty space.

"Yet, Ratnakara, a bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of positive thought.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings free of hypocrisy and deceit
will be born in his buddha-field.

"Noble son, a bodhisattva's buddha-field isa field of high resolve.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who have harvested the two stores (two accumulations: merit & wisdom) and have planted the roots of virtue
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of virtuous application.
When he attains enlightenment living beings who live by all virtuous principles
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is the magnificence of the conception of the spirit of enlightenment.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who are actually participating in the Mahayana
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of generosity. When he attains enlightenment, living beings who give away all their possessions
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of tolerance.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings with the transcendences of tolerance, discipline, and the superior trance - hence beautiful with the thirty-two auspicious signs -
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of meditation.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who are evenly balanced through mindfulness and awareness
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is a field of wisdom.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who are destined for the ultimate
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field consists of the four immeasurables.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who live by love, compassion, joy, and impartiality
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field consists of the four means of unification.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who are held together by all the liberations
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is skill in liberative technique.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings skilled in all liberative techniques and activities
will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field consists of the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment.
Living beings who devote their efforts to

  • the four foci of mindfulness,

  • the four right efforts,

  • the four bases of magical power,

  • the five spiritual faculties,

  • the five strengths,

  • the seven factors of enlightenment,

  • and the eight branches of the holy path

will be born in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is his mind of total dedication.
When he attains enlightenment, the ornaments of all virtues will appear in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is the doctrine that eradicates the eight adversities.
When he attains enlightenment, the three bad migrations will cease, and there will be no such thing as the eight adversities in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field consists of his personal observance of the basic precepts and his restraint in blaming others for their transgressions.
When he attains enlightenment, even the word 'crime' will never be mentioned in his buddha-field.

"A bodhisattva's buddha-field is the purity of the path of the ten virtues.
When he attains enlightenment, living beings who are secure in long life, great in wealth, chaste in conduct, enhanced by true speech, soft-spoken, free of divisive intrigues and adroit in reconciling factions, enlightening in their conversations, free of envy, free of malice, and endowed with perfect views
will be born in his buddha-field.

"Thus, noble son, just as is the bodhisattva's production of the spirit of enlightenment, so is his positive thought.
And just as is his positive thought, so is his virtuous application.

"His virtuous application is tantamount to his high resolve,
his high resolve is tantamount to his determination,
his determination is tantamount to his practice,
his practice is tantamount to his total dedication,
his total dedication is tantamount to his liberative technique,
his liberative technique is tantamount to his development of living beings,
and his development of living beings is tantamount to the purity of his buddha-field.

"The purity of his buddha-field reflects the purity of living beings;
the purity of the living beings reflects the purity of his gnosis;
the purity of his gnosis reflects the purity of his doctrine;
the purity of his doctrine reflects the purity of his transcendental practice;
and the purity of his transcendental practice reflects the purity of his own mind."


1.4 - Why a buddha-field might appear impure

(Résumé: Relativity of pure & impure: The ultimate Buddha-field is ‘Reality as it is here & now’; it is beyond all opposites / dualities, so we say it is ‘primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya’ as an antidote to our usual positions. Meanwhile the perception of purity of a Bodhisattva’s buddha-field depends on the level of purity / wisdom of the mind(s) perceiving it. The purity of the perceived reality of ordinary sentient beings depends on the purity or impurity of their minds, on his accumulation of merit & wisdom, on his level of understanding / perception / realisation / experience of the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]. It is not Reality as it is – or the Bodhisattvas’ buddha-fields – that are pure or impure; it is not the perceived three spheres – subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena – that are good / pure or bad / impure; it is the perceivers’ conditioned minds because of their ignorance and accumulated conditioning / karma. Ultimately, even these impure minds … can be seen as ‘primordially pure’; they are the normal pure Reality as it is playing an impure tune, performing a dualistic dance. Reality as it is is beyond pure & impure; everything is manifestation of this unique pure Reality / Ground; we just need to directly realise this.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7PIyNArTy8
Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=4651

Thereupon, magically influenced by the Buddha, the venerable Sariputra had this thought:

"If the buddha-field is pure only to the extent that the mind of the bodhisattva is pure,
then, when Sakyamuni Buddha was engaged in the career of the bodhisattva, his mind must have been impure.
Otherwise, how could this buddha-field appear to be so impure?"

(i.e. How come we may perceive this Buddha-field, the environment of this earth, as impure? Is is an intrinsic impurity of the object / Buddha-field, an impurity caused by the impurity of the Bodhisattva’s mind while creating this Buddha-field (he was not a Buddha yet), or an apparent impurity dependent on the subjects / clients / ordinary being’s ignorance and conditioned perception / cognition, … or both, or neither? Note: The three spheres – ex. subject / perceiver / knower / mind, relation / action / perception / cognition, object / perceived / known / phenomena – are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended [T1], in harmony, merely labeled by the mind [U3S] <==> thus all empty of inherent existence [T2]. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). Thus they cannot be pure or impure, this or non-this … whatever ‘this’ is.)

The Buddha, knowing telepathically the thought of venerable Sariputra, said to him,

"What do you think, Sariputra?
Is it because the sun and moon (objects) are impure that those blind from birth (subjects) do not see them?"

Sariputra replied,

"No, Lord. It is not so. The fault lies with those blind from birth (subjects), and not with the sun and moon (objects)."

The Buddha declared,

"In the same way, Sariputra, the fact that some living beings do not behold the splendid display of virtues of the buddha-field of the Tathagata is due to their own ignorance. It is not the fault of the Tathagata. Sariputra, the buddha-field of the Tathagata is pure, but you do not see it."

(i.e. It is not an intrinsic purity of the object / Buddha’s Buddha-field (Reality as it is) / Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field (a introductory version of Reality as it is). This apparent impurity resides more on the subject / perceiver’s side. It is caused by his ignorance of the true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T], and by his accumulated conditioning / karma – individual, collective, cosmic / universal –. Even the possible apparent impurity / imperfection of a Bodhisattava’s Buddha-field is tuned to the limitation / impurity / imperfection of its clients – it is adapted to their level, otherwise it would not be efficient and would be rejected. Most ordinary sentient beings cannot be introduced directly to the ultimate view, the ultimate Buddha-field, the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T], its ‘primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya’. They have to be introduced to it gradually though various Bodhisattvas’ Buddha fields / views, / methods / goals. What we call ‘impurity’ is ignorance and acting with ignorance of the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T]. It is impure because it is a mistake necessarily consequently creating more conditioning / karma and suffering for self & others. The ultimate solution of accumulating merit and wisdom together.)

"Reverend Sariputra, do not say that the buddha-field of the Tathagata is impure.
Reverend Sariputra, the buddha-field of the Tathagata (Reality as it is) is [primordially] pure.
I see the splendid expanse of the buddha-field of the Lord Sakyamuni as equal to the splendor of, for example, the abodes of the highest deities."

Then the venerable Sariputra said to the Brahma Sikhin,

"As for me, O Brahma, I see this great earth, with its highs and lows, its thorns, its precipices, its peaks, and its abysses, as if it were entirely filled with ordure." (i.e. the dualistic view of the disciples)

Brahma Sikhin replied,

"The fact that you see such a buddha-field as this as if it were so impure, reverend Sariputra, is a sure sign that there are highs and lows in your mind and that your positive thought in regard to the buddha-gnosis is not pure either. Reverend Sariputra, those whose minds are impartial toward all living beings and whose positive thoughts toward the buddha-gnosis are pure see this buddha-field as perfectly pure." (i.e. the non-dualistic view of the Bodhisattvas)


1.5 - This buddha-field is always thus pure

(Résumé: "This buddha-field is always thus pure, but the Tathagata makes it appear to be spoiled by many faults, in order to bring about the maturity of the inferior living beings.’ It is adapted to their level of maturity. But sentient beings always perceive Reality, or the Bodhisattva’s Buddha-field, according to the purity or impurity of their minds, to their accumulation of merit & wisdom, to their level of understanding / perception / realisation / experience of the true nature & dynamic of reality as it is here & now [U2T]. Meanwhile, perceived as impure or worse, the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] is always present in everything and ready to help / teach all sentient beings its liberating true nature & dynamic … They just need to be present, to have an open mind, and to listen to the feedback / teachings of Reality as it is, instead of playing again and again the film of their imagined virtual reality.
.
Another miracle -- using the method of inconceivable transformations that defies our usual limited conditioned absolutist dualistic conceptual understanding of the laws of the Universe, of causality, matter-energy, space & time --, for those who are inspired by such miracles, pointing out that the true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] is ‘inconceivable’ for those with not enough non-dualistic non-conceptual direct wisdom. In Reality as it is [U2T] there are no fixed / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing rules / laws / causality, nor total absence of them. In Reality as it is [U2T] everything is limitlessly relative / open / limitless / timeless / free; everything is possible. And when what happens doesn't fit our prefered conditioned frame of reference, we call it 'magical / miraculous / inconceivable'. Meaning it is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma; beyond all description / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time.
Because Bodhisattvas & Buddhas act more in accord with this true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is, and because this Reality and those activities are incomprehensible / inconceivable for the flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned minds of ordinary beings and disciples, then, for them, those activities look like extra-ordinary miracles, unbelievable magical-tricks, or even deceptions. But they are just more truly natural / realistic than our usual virtual reality, more in accord with Reality as it is. Because everything is limitless, infinitely relative and empty of inherent existence [U2T], then everything is possible. In a sense, it is directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] that gives Bodhisattvas and Buddhas their apparent immeasurable powers. But they are just more free from their limiting illusions / conditioning / karma.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZfG1gPXtcw
Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=4830

[i.e. This performance of a miracle, is here to  emphasize the ‘inconceivability’ and ‘interdependence / limitless relativity’ of Reality as it is, and of the actions of those who have directly perceived its true nature & dynamic. Showing here how a Buddha, or high level Bodhisattva, perceives Reality and is able to act accordingly as if working a  miracle / magic.]
[To help Sariputra see his point:] Thereupon the Lord touched the ground of this billion-world-galactic universe with his big toe, and suddenly it was transformed into a huge mass of precious jewels, a magnificent array of many hundreds of thousands of clusters of precious gems, until it resembled the universe of the Tathagata Ratnavyuha, called Anantagunaratnavyuha. (i.e. Giving Sariputra & others a temporary taste of it. Making them which to get it permanently?)  Everyone in the entire assembly was filled with wonder, each perceiving himself seated on a throne of jeweled lotuses. (i.e. A metaphor for something really precious and fabulous, for the primordial interconnected / equal / purity / perfection / blissfulness of everything as it is here & now. Everything is the non-dual Buddha / Bliss-awareness: not many, not one, not both together, not neither.)

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Sariputra,

"Sariputra, do you see this splendor of the virtues of the buddha-field?"

Sariputra replied,

"I see it, Lord! Here before me is a display of splendor such as I never before heard of or beheld!"

The Buddha said,

"Sariputra, this buddha-field is always thus pure, but the Tathagata makes it appear to be spoiled by many faults (impure), in order to bring about the maturity of the inferior living beings (i.e. it is adapted to their level).

For example, Sariputra, the gods of the Trayastrimsa heaven all take their food from a single precious vessel, yet the nectar which nourishes each one differs according to the differences of the merits each has accumulated.

Just so, Sariputra, living beings born in the same buddha-field see the splendor of the virtues of the buddha-fields of the Buddhas according to their own degrees of purity."

When this splendor of the beauty of the virtues of the buddha-field shone forth, eighty-four thousand beings conceived the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment (i.e. which for it), and the five hundred Licchavi youths who had accompanied the young Licchavi Ratnakara all attained the conformative tolerance of ultimate birthlessness.

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWySPpdiQIw

Then, the Lord withdrew his miraculous power and at once the buddha-field was restored to its usual appearance.

Then, both men and gods who subscribed to the disciple-vehicle thought, "Alas! All constructed things are impermanent."

Thereby, thirty-two thousand living beings purified their immaculate, undistorted Dharma-eye in regard to all things.
The eight thousand bhikshus were liberated from their mental defilements, attaining the state of non-grasping.
And the eighty-four thousand living beings who were devoted to the grandeur of the buddha-field, having understood that all things are by nature but magical creations, all conceived in their own minds the spirit of unexcelled, totally perfect enlightenment.





2. INCONCEIVABLE SKILL IN LIBERATIVE TECHNIQUE

(From the Introduction: The second chapter introduces the great Licchavi bodhisattva Vimalakīrti, master of the liberative art (adapted skillful means), who lives as a layman but transcends all categorization. Manifesting himself as if sick, he teaches all the notables and citizens of Vaiśālī, as they come to inquire about his health, on the insubstantial and unsatisfactory nature of the ordinary body, and compares it to the body of a tathāgata (Dharmakaya).)

Comments: Robert Thurman: Vimalakirti Video #9: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs6JWiM57WI

2.1 - Vimalakirti

(Résumé: Qualities of Vimalakirti: a superior layman Mahayana Bodhisattva, not stuck in absolutes & dualities, having great virtues & wisdom, endowed with an infinite knowledge of skill in liberative techniques / adapted skillful means. Teaching all kinds of people using various adapted skillful means combined with more and more wisdom. Teaching the Dharma appropriately to each.)

[Go to TOC]

At that time, there lived in the great city of Vaisali a certain Licchavi, Vimalakirti by name.

(AN ACCOMPLISHED BEING -- living among people - no need to be a monk)
Having served the ancient Buddhas, he had generated the roots of virtue by honoring them and making offerings to them.

He had attained tolerance as well as eloquence. (i.e. not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms)

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)

He played with the great super-knowledges.

He had attained the power of incantations and the fearlessnesses.

He had conquered all demons and opponents.

He had penetrated the profound way of the Dharma.

He was liberated through the transcendence of wisdom. (i.e. Union of methods / merit <==> and wisdom)

Having integrated his realization with skill in liberative technique (methods),
he was expert in knowing the thoughts and actions of living beings.

Knowing the strength or weakness of their faculties, and being gifted with unrivaled eloquence,
he taught the Dharma appropriately to each. (i.e. Teaching using adapted skillful means with more and more wisdom)

Having applied himself energetically to the Mahayana, he understood it and accomplished his tasks with great finesse.

He lived with the deportment of a Buddha, and his superior intelligence was as wide as an ocean.

He was praised, honored, and commended by all the Buddhas and was respected by Indra, Brahma, and all the Lokapalas.

In order to develop living beings with his skill in liberative technique, he lived in the great city of Vaisali.

.

(PRACTICING / TEACHING THE SIX PARAMITAS - giving the good example)
His wealth was inexhaustible for the purpose of sustaining the poor and the helpless.

He observed a pure morality in order to protect the immoral.

He maintained tolerance and self-control in order to reconcile beings who were angry, cruel, violent, and brutal.

He blazed with energy in order to inspire people who were lazy.

He maintained concentration, mindfulness, and meditation in order to sustain the mentally troubled.

He attained decisive wisdom in order to sustain the foolish.

.

(LIVING HARMONIOUSLY THE LIFE OF A LAYMAN - adopting the Middle Way while being involved in the ordinary life)
He wore the white clothes of the layman, yet lived impeccably like a religious devotee.

He lived at home, but remained aloof from the realm of desire, the realm of pure matter, and the immaterial realm.

He had a son, a wife, and female attendants, yet always maintained continence.

He appeared to be surrounded by servants, yet lived in solitude.

He appeared to be adorned with ornaments, yet always was endowed with the auspicious signs and marks.

He seemed to eat and drink, yet always took nourishment from the taste of meditation.

He made his appearance at the fields of sports and in the casinos, but his aim was always to mature those people who were attached to games and gambling.

He visited the fashionable heterodox teachers, yet always kept unswerving loyalty to the Buddha.

He understood the mundane and transcendental sciences and esoteric practices, yet always took pleasure in the delights of the Dharma.

He mixed in all crowds, yet was respected as foremost of all.

.

(MIXING WITH ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE – to facilitate communication and reduce ego resistance)

In order to be in harmony with people, he associated with elders, with those of middle age, and with the young, yet always spoke in harmony with the Dharma.

He engaged in all sorts of businesses, yet had no interest in profit or possessions.

To train living beings, he would appear at crossroads and on street corners, and to protect them he participated in government.

To turn people away from the Hinayana and to engage them in the Mahayana, he appeared among listeners and teachers of the Dharma.

To develop children, he visited all the schools.

To demonstrate the evils of desire, he even entered the brothels.

To establish drunkards in correct mindfulness, he entered all the cabarets.

.

(EMBODYING AND TEACHING THE VIRTUES OF ALL KINDS - showing the benefits of this way by his example)
He was honored as the businessman among businessmen because he demonstrated the priority of the Dharma.

He was honored as the landlord among landlords because he renounced the aggressiveness of ownership.

He was honored as the warrior among warriors because he cultivated endurance, determination, and fortitude.

He was honored as the aristocrat among aristocrats because he suppressed pride, vanity, and arrogance.

He was honored as the official among officials because he regulated the functions of government according to the Dharma.

He was honored as the prince of princes because he reversed their attachment to royal pleasures and sovereign power.

He was honored as a eunuch in the royal harem because he taught the young ladies according to the Dharma.

.

He was compatible with ordinary people because he appreciated the excellence of ordinary merits.

He was honored as the Indra among Indras because he showed them the temporality of their lordship.

He was honored as the Brahma among Brahmas because he showed them the special excellence of gnosis.

He was honored as the Lokapala among Lokapalas because he fostered the development of all living beings.

Thus lived the Licchavi Vimalakirti in the great city of Vaisali, endowed with an infinite knowledge of skill in liberative techniques.  (i.e. Teaching all kinds of people using various adapted skillful means combined with more and more wisdom.)


2.2 - The actuality of the four main elements

(Résumé: The ultimate remedy for all sickness / suffering – seeing through it –: To transcend all sickness / suffering of the body, speech & mind – including origination / birth, duration / growing old, cessation / death –, we should turn the mind away from the conditioned / impermanent / unreliable / illusory / unreal – ex. the misery of our illusory body, speech & mind – and turn the mind to the inseparable pure body, speech & mind of a Buddha (trikaya); turn the mind to the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma] – by taking refuge in the three Jewels, developing the four immeasurable attitudes, bodhicitta, the six paramitas, the three liberations, using various Madhyamaka reasonings, accumulating merit & wisdom together, etc.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=5594

At that time, out of this very skill in liberative technique (adapted skillful means),
Vimalakirti manifested himself as if sick. (i.e. not ultimately sick, but maybe conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively sick – in order to give a lesson about being sick)

To inquire after his health, the king, the officials, the lords, the youths, the aristocrats, the householders, the businessmen, the townfolk, the countryfolk, and thousands of other living beings came forth from the great city of Vaisali and called on the invalid.

When they arrived, Vimalakirti taught them the Dharma, beginning his discourse from the actuality of the four main elements :

(Note from 4.3: “It is the joy of renunciation of the whole world, of not being fixed in objects, of considering the five aggregates to be like murderers, of considering the elements to be like venomous serpents, and of considering the sense-media to be like an empty town.”)

(Note from 6.1: "Reverend Sariputra, he who is interested in the Dharma is not interested even in his own body,
much less in a chair.
Reverend Sariputra, he who is interested in the Dharma
has no interest in matter, sensation, intellect, motivation, or consciousness.
He has no interest in these aggregates, or in the elements, or in the sense-media.
Interested in the Dharma, he has no interest in the realm of desire, the realm of matter, or the immaterial realm.
Interested in the Dharma, he is not interested in attachment to the Buddha,
attachment to the Dharma, or attachment to the Sangha. …”)

"Friends, this body is so impermanent, fragile, unworthy of confidence, and feeble.

It is so insubstantial, perishable, short-lived, painful, filled with diseases, and subject to changes.
Thus, my friends, as this body is only a vessel of many sicknesses, wise men do not rely on it.

This body is like a ball of foam, unable to bear any pressure.
It is like a water bubble, not remaining very long.
It is like a mirage, born from the appetites of the passions.
It is like the trunk of the plantain tree, having no core.
Alas! This body is like a machine, a nexus of bones and tendons.
It is like a magical illusion, consisting of falsifications.
It is like a dream, being an unreal vision.
It is like a reflection, being the image of former actions.
It is like an echo, being dependent on conditioning.
It is like a cloud, being characterized by turbulence and dissolution.
It is like a flash of lightning, being unstable, and decaying every moment.
The body is ownerless, being the product of a variety of conditions.

"This body is inert, like the earth;
selfless, like water;
lifeless, like fire;
impersonal, like the wind;
and non-substantial, like space.

This body is unreal, being a collocation of the four main elements.
It is void, not existing as self or as self-possessed.
It is inanimate, being like grass, trees, walls, clods of earth, and hallucinations.
It is insensate, being driven like a windmill.
It is filthy, being an agglomeration of pus and excrement.
It is false, being fated to be broken and destroyed, in spite of being anointed and massaged.
It is afflicted by the four hundred and four diseases.
It is like an ancient well, constantly overwhelmed by old age.
Its duration is never certain - certain only is its end in death.
This body is a combination of aggregates, elements, and sense-media,
which are comparable to murderers, poisonous snakes, and an empty town, respectively.

Therefore, you should be revulsed by such a body.
You should despair of it and should arouse your admiration for the body of the Tathagata.

"Friends, the body of a Tathagata is the body of Dharma, born of gnosis.

The body of a Tathagata is born of the stores of merit and wisdom. (two accumulations)
It is born of morality, of meditation, of wisdom (three superior trainings),
of the liberations, and of the knowledge and vision of liberation.
It is born of love, compassion, joy, and impartiality. (Four immeasurables)

It is born of charity, discipline, and self-control. (paramitas)
It is born of the path of ten virtues.
It is born of patience and gentleness.
It is born of the roots of virtue planted by solid efforts.
It is born of the concentrations, the liberations, the meditations, and the absorptions.
It is born of learning, wisdom, and liberative technique (adapted skillful means).
It is born of the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment. (the same as The seven sets of the Wings of Awakening)

It is born of mental quiescence and transcendental analysis.
It is born of the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, and the eighteen special qualities. (i.e 32 distinctive qualities)
It is born of transcendences. (the six transcendences / paramitas)
It is born from sciences and super-knowledges.
It is born of the abandonment of all evil qualities, and of the collection of all good qualities.
It is born of truth.
It is born of reality.
It is born of conscious awareness.

"Friends, the body of a Tathagata is born of innumerable good works.

Toward such a body you should turn your aspirations,
and, in order to eliminate the sicknesses of the passions of all living beings,
you should conceive the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment."

While the Licchavi Vimalakirti thus taught the Dharma to those who had come to inquire about his sickness, many hundreds of thousands of living beings conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.





3. THE DISCIPLES' RELUCTANCE TO VISIT VIMALAKIRTI

(From the Introduction: In the third (& fourth) chapter, the Buddha asks his principal disciples, one by one, to visit Vimalakīrti on his sickbed. All of them in turn, however‍—first the great disciples, and then the bodhisattvas‍—feel reluctant to do so and decline on the grounds that previous encounters with him (recounted in detail) have left them astonished and somewhat discomfited by the profundity and transcendent nature of his views, often on topics or practices of which they had themselves hitherto been considered peerless masters.)

Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=5652

3.1 - Contemplation

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Meditating without meditating: the Middle Way about meditation, free from all extremes & middle; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object, rest & movement, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti thought to himself,

"I am sick, lying on my bed in pain, yet the Tathagata, the saint, the perfectly accomplished Buddha, does not consider or take pity upon me, and sends no one to inquire after my illness."

The Lord knew this thought in the mind of Vimalakirti and said to the venerable Sariputra,

"Sariputra, go to inquire after the illness of the Licchavi Vimalakirti."

Thus having been addressed, the venerable Sariputra answered the Buddha,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to ask the Licchavi Vimalakirti about his illness. Why? I remember one day, when I was sitting at the foot of a tree in the forest, absorbed in contemplation, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came to the foot of that tree and said to me,

'Reverend Sariputra, this is not the way to absorb yourself in contemplation.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation so that neither body (object) nor mind (subject) appear anywhere in the triple world.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest all ordinary behavior without forsaking cessation.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest the nature of an ordinary person without abandoning your cultivated spiritual nature.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation so that the mind neither settles within nor moves without toward external forms.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment (the same as The seven sets of the Wings of Awakening) are manifest without deviation toward any convictions.

You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you are released in liberation without abandoning the passions that are the province of the world.

"'Reverend Sariputra, those who absorb themselves in contemplation in such a way are declared by the Lord to be truly absorbed in contemplation.'

"Lord, when I heard this teaching, I was unable to reply and remained silent. Therefore, I am reluctant to go to ask that good man about his sickness."


3.2 - Teaching the Dharma to the householders

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Teaching without teaching the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Mahamaudgalyayana,

"Maudgalyayana, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Maudgalyayana replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness. Why? I remember one day when I was teaching the Dharma to the householders in a square in the great city of Vaisali, and the Licchavi Vimalakirti came along and said to me,

'Reverend Maudgalyayana, that is not the way to teach the Dharma to the householders in their white clothes.

The Dharma must be taught according to reality.

.

"'Reverend Maudgalyayana, the Dharma is without living beings, because it is free of the dust of living beings.

It is selfless, because it is free of the dust of desire.

It is lifeless, because it is free of birth and death.

It is without personalities, because it dispenses with past origins and future destinies.

.

"'The Dharma is peace and pacification, because it is free from desire.

It does not become an object, because it is free of words and letters;
it is inexpressible, and it transcends all movement of mind.

.

"'The Dharma is omnipresent, because it is like infinite space.

It is without color, mark, or shape, because it is free of all processes.

It is without the concept of "mine," because it is free of the habitual notion of possession.

It is without ideation, because it is free of mind, thought, or consciousness.

It is incomparable, because it has no antitheses.

It is without presumption of conditionality, because it does not conform to causes.

.

"'It permeates evenly all things, because all are included in the ultimate realm.

It conforms to reality by means of the process of nonconformity.

It abides at the reality-limit, for it is utterly without fluctuation.

It is immovable, because it is independent of the six objects of sense.

It is without coming and going, for it never stands still.

It is comprised by voidness, is remarkable through signlessness, and is free of presumption and repudiation, because of wishlessness.

It is without establishment and rejection, without birth or destruction.

It is without any fundamental consciousness, transcending the range of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and thought.

It is without highness and lowness.

It abides without movement or activity.

.

"'Reverend Mahamaudgalyayana, how could there be a teaching in regard to such a Dharma? Reverend Mahamaudgalyayana, even the expression "to teach the Dharma" is presumptuous, and those who listen to it listen to presumption. Reverend Maudgalyayana, where there are no presumptuous words, there is no teacher of the Dharma, no one to listen, and no one to understand. It is as if an illusory person were to teach the Dharma to illusory people.


"'Therefore, you should teach the Dharma by keeping your mind on this. You should be adept in regard to the spiritual faculties of living beings. By means of the correct vision of the wisdom-eye, manifesting the great compassion, acknowledging the benevolent activity of the Buddha, purifying your intentions, understanding the definitive expressions of the Dharma, you should teach the Dharma in order that the continuity of the Three Jewels may never be interrupted.'

"Lord, when Vimalakirti had discoursed thus, eight hundred householders in the crowd conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment, and I myself was speechless. Therefore, Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to this good man to inquire about his illness."


3.3 - Begging for food

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Acting / begging for food / accepting / eating without acting / begging for food / accepting / eating, with equanimity / free from partiality, while being aware of the true nature of the three spheres – subject, relation / action / begging-for, object / food – [U2T / U3S / Uopp], with a mind of compassion, free from all extremes & middle; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Mahakasyapa,

"Mahakasyapa, you go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness. Why? I remember one day, when I was in the street of the poor begging for my food, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came along and said to me,

'Reverend Mahakasyapa, to avoid the houses of the wealthy, and to favor the houses of the poor - this is partiality in benevolence.

Reverend Mahakasyapa, you should dwell on the fact of the equality of things,

and you should seek alms with consideration for all living beings at all times.

You should beg your food in awareness of the ultimate non-existence of food.

You should seek alms for the sake of eliminating the materialism of others.

When you enter a town, you should keep in mind its actual voidness,

yet you should proceed through it in order to develop men and women.

You should enter homes as if entering the family of the Buddha.

You should accept alms by not taking anything.

.

You should see form like a man blind from birth, hear sounds as if they were echoes, smell scents as if they were winds, experience tastes without any discrimination, touch tangibles in awareness of the ultimate lack of contact in gnosis, and know things with the consciousness of an illusory creature.

.

That which is without intrinsic substance and without imparted substance does not burn.
And what does not burn will not be extinguished.

.

"'Elder Mahakasyapa, if, equipoised in the eight liberations without transcending the eight perversions,

you can enter the equanimity of reality by means of the equanimity of perversion,

and if you can make a gift to all living beings and an offering to all the saints and Buddhas out of even a single measure of alms,

.

then you yourself may eat.

Thus, when you eat, after offering, you should be

neither affected by passions nor free of passions,

neither involved in concentration nor free from concentration,

neither living in the world nor abiding in liberation.


Furthermore, those who give such alms, reverend, have neither great merit nor small merit, neither gain nor loss.
They should follow the way of the Buddhas, not the way of the disciples.
Only in this way, Elder Mahakasyapa, is the practice of eating by alms meaningful.'

"Lord, when I heard this teaching, I was astonished and thought:

'Reverence to all bodhisattvas! If a lay bodhisattva may be endowed with such eloquence, who is there who would not conceive the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment? From that time forth, I no longer recommend the vehicles of the disciples and of the solitary sages but recommend the Mahayana. And thus, Lord, I am reluctant to go to this good man to inquire about his illness."


3.4 - Virtues and non-virtues

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Reality as it is - Buddha-field –: everything – physical, conceptual, mental – is like an illusion, empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen / interdependent [T1], merely labelled / imputed by the mind [U3S], and vice versa. There is no basis for any discrimination / partiality in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively. Everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. There is there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T].)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Subhuti,

"Subhuti, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Subhuti replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to this good man to inquire about his illness. Why? My Lord, I remember one day, when I went to beg my food at the house of the Licchavi Vimalakirti in the great city of Vaisali, he took my bowl and filled it with some excellent food and said to me,

'Reverend Subhuti, take this food

if you understand the equality of all things, by means of the equality of material objects,

and if you understand the equality of all the attributes of the Buddha, by means of the equality of all things.

.

Take this food if, without abandoning desire, hatred, and folly, you can avoid association with them;

if you can follow the path of the single way without ever disturbing the egoistic views;

if you can produce the knowledges and liberations without conquering ignorance and the craving for existence;

if, by the equality of the five deadly sins, you reach the equality of liberation;

if you are neither liberated nor bound;

if you do not see the Four Holy Truths, yet are not the one who "has not seen the truth";

if you have not attained any fruit, yet are not the one who "has not attained";

if you are an ordinary person, yet have not the qualities of an ordinary person;

if you are not holy, yet are not unholy;

if you are responsible for all things, yet are free of any notion concerning anything.

.

"'Take this food, reverend Subhuti,

if, without seeing the Buddha, hearing the Dharma, or serving the Sangha, you undertake the religious life under the six heterodox masters; namely, Purana Kasyapa, Maskarin Gosaliputra, Samjayin Vairatiputra, Kakuda Katyayana, Ajita Kesakambala, and Nirgrantha Jnaniputra, and follow the ways they prescribe.

.

"'Take this food, reverend Subhuti,

if, entertaining all false views, you find neither extremes nor middle;

if, bound up in the eight adversities, you do not obtain favorable conditions;

if, assimilating the passions, you do not attain purification;

if the dispassion of all living beings is your dispassion, reverend;

if those who make offerings to you are not thereby purified;

if those who offer you food, reverend, still fall into the three bad migrations;

if you associate with all Maras;

if you entertain all passions;

if the nature of passions is the nature of a reverend;

if you have hostile feelings toward all living beings;

if you despise all the Buddhas;

if you criticize all the teachings of the Buddha;

if you do not rely on the Sangha;

and finally, if you never enter ultimate liberation.'

"Lord, when I heard these words of the Licchavi Vimalakirti, I wondered what I should say and what I should do, but I was totally in the dark. Leaving the bowl, I was about to leave the house when the Licchavi Vimalakirti said to me,

'Reverend Subhuti, do not fear these words, and pick up your bowl.
What do you think, reverend Subhuti?
If it were an incarnation created by the Tathagata who spoke thus to you, would you be afraid?'

"I answered, 'No indeed, noble sir!'
He then said,

'Reverend Subhuti, the nature of all things is like illusion, like a magical incarnation. So you should not fear them.
Why? All words also have that nature, and thus the wise are not attached to words, nor do they fear them.
Why? All language does not ultimately exist, except as liberation. The nature of all things is liberation.'

"When Vimalakirti had discoursed in this way, two hundred gods obtained the pure doctrinal vision in regard to all things, without obscurity or defilement, and five hundred gods obtained the conformative tolerance. As for me, I was speechless and unable to respond to him. Therefore, Lord, I am reluctant to go to this good man to inquire about his illness."

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)


3.5 - Teach the Mahayana to those inclined for it

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on the Importance of knowing the inclinations / capabilities of the students and to adapt the teaching accordingly, or to use the proper adapted skillful means. There is no unique independent universal absolute teachings – views, paths / methods, results –.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Purnamaitrayaniputra,

"Purna, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Purna replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to this good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember one day, when I was teaching the Dharma to some young monks in the great forest, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and said to me,

'Reverend Purna, first concentrate yourself, regard the minds of these young bhikshus, and then teach them the Dharma!
Do not put rotten food into a jeweled bowl!
First understand the inclinations of these monks, and do not confuse priceless sapphires with glass beads!

.

"'Reverend Purna, without examining the spiritual faculties of living beings,

do not presume upon the one-sidedness of their faculties;

do not wound those who are without wounds;

do not impose a narrow path upon those who aspire to a great path;

do not try to pour the great ocean into the hoof-print of an ox;

do not try to put Mount Sumeru into a grain of mustard;

do not confuse the brilliance of the sun with the light of a glowworm;

and do not expose those who admire the roar of a lion to the howl of a jackal!

.

"'Reverend Purna, all these monks were formerly engaged in the Mahayana but have forgotten the spirit of enlightenment.

So do not instruct them in the disciple-vehicle.

The disciple-vehicle is not ultimately valid, and you disciples are like men blind from birth, in regard to recognition of the degrees of the spiritual faculties of living beings.'

"At that moment, the Licchavi Vimalakirti entered into such a concentration that those monks were caused to remember their various former existences, in which they had produced the roots of virtue by serving five hundred Buddhas for the sake of perfect enlightenment. As soon as their own spirits of enlightenment had become clear to them, they bowed at the feet of that good man and pressed their palms together in reverence. He taught them the Dharma, and they all attained the stage of irreversibility from the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. It occurred to me then, 'The disciples, who do not know the thoughts or the inclinations of others, are not able to teach the Dharma to anyone. Why? These disciples are not expert in discerning the superiority and inferiority of the spiritual faculties of living beings, and they are not always in a state of concentration like the Tathagata, the Saint, the perfectly accomplished Buddha.'

"Therefore, Lord, I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his health."


3.6 - Teaching the meaning of impermanence, suffering, selflessness, peace

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Reinterpretating those concepts in terms of Madhyamaka concepts like: “Union of the Two Truths [U2T]”, “Union of the three spheres [U3S]”, “Union of opposites [Uopp] / Non-duality”, the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle. ex. Transcending the three stages of becoming: -- i. dependent origination / beginning / birth / before / past, ii. duration / middle / life / change / during / present, iii. cessation / ending / death / after / future - or nirvana extinction of the five aggregates –. Transcending the opposition samsara vs. nirvana.)

[Go to TOC]

The Buddha then said to the venerable Mahakatyayana,

"Katyayana, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Katyayana replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember one day when, after the Lord had given some brief instruction to the monks, I was defining the expressions of that discourse by teaching the meaning of impermanence, suffering, selflessness, and peace; the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and said to me,

'Reverend Mahakatyayana, do not teach an ultimate reality endowed with activity, production, and destruction!

Reverend Mahakatyayana, nothing was ever destroyed, is destroyed, or will ever be destroyed. Such is the meaning of "impermanence." (emptiness in the first place, no birth ==> no death)

The meaning of the realization of birthlessness, through the realization of the voidness of the five aggregates, is the meaning of "suffering."(no birth ==> no mistreatment of the ego, no suffering)

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.))

The fact of the non-duality of self and selflessness is the meaning of "selflessness." (no independence / absolute distinction between the self and the rest - the world, others ...)

That which has no intrinsic substance and no other sort of substance does not burn, and what does not burn is not extinguished; such lack of extinction is the meaning of "peace."' (no need for fear about the ego)

"When he had discoursed thus, the minds of the monks were liberated from their defilements and entered a state of non-grasping.

Therefore, Lord, I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."


3.7 - The nature of the divine eye

(Perceiving / knowing without perceiving / knowing all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it is: free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all limits, free from all conditioning / karma; without any di-vision between the subject / actor / perceiver / knower, the relation / action / perception / cognition, and the object / result / perceived / known; with full awareness of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres; transcending all opposites; not accepting, not rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively. Extremes like: existence & non-existence, subject & object & action, rest & movement, action & non-action, causality & acausality, cause & effect, birth / coming & death / going, samsara & nirvana, the two truths. Only a Buddha has perfected this inconceivable personal very-subtle spontaneous non-dualistical non-conceptual direct perception / realisation / experience of the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]. So, ultimately, it is the Ground / Reality as it is that is directly self-recognising itself in all of its inseparable manifestations. Everything is the inseparable three pure kayas of the Buddha: pure body, pure speech, pure mind.)

[Go to TOC]

[i.e. RIGHT VIEW: HOW TO PERCEIVE EVERYTHING, all dharmas, the three spheres – all subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things –, all apparent opposites in any duality / triad / quads / etc., even the two truths themselves, even the three Jewels? Answer: Like illusions – ‘there but not there’ –; like the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T] free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma: Union of being conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind in co-dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S] <==> and emptiness of inherent existence [T2]; with no real three stages of becoming – origination / birth, duration / life / rebirth, cessation / death / extincting / liberation; with nothing to accept, nothing to reject in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively; like primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya.]

The Buddha then said to the venerable Aniruddha,

"Aniruddha, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

"My Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? I remember, Lord, one day when I was taking a walk, the great Brahma named Subhavyuha and the ten thousand other Brahmas who accompanied him illuminated the place with their radiance and, having bowed their heads at my feet, withdrew to one side and asked me,

'Reverend Aniruddha, you have been proclaimed by the Buddha to be the foremost among those who possess the divine eye. To what distance does the divine vision of the venerable Aniruddha extend?'

I answered,

'Friends, I see the entire billion-world-galactic universe of the Lord Sakyamuni just as plainly as a man of ordinary vision sees a myrobalan nut on the palm of his hand.'

When I had said these words, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and, having bowed his head at my feet, said to me,

'Reverend Aniruddha, is your divine eye compounded in nature?

Or is it uncompounded in nature?

If it is compounded in nature, it is the same as the super-knowledges of the heterodox.
If it is uncompounded in nature, then it is not constructed and, as such, is incapable of seeing.
Then, how do you see, O elder?'

"At these words, I became speechless, and Brahma also was amazed to hear this teaching from that good man. Having bowed to him, he said,

'Who then, in the world, possesses the divine eye?'

"Vimalakirti answered,

'In the world, it is the Buddhas who have the divine eye.
They see all the buddha-fields without even leaving their state of concentration and without being affected by duality.'

"Having heard these words, the ten thousand Brahmas were inspired with high resolve and conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. Having paid homage and respect both to me and to that good man, they disappeared. As for me, I remained speechless, and therefore I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."


3.8 - The nature of the mind – and of its fabrications

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on The true nature of the mind (subject) and of its fabrications (objects) (ex. sins): Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres – subject / mind, relation / action, object / phenomena / mental fabrications –; they are all empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen [T1], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind in co-dependence of its conditioning / karma [U3S]; and vice versa (<==>). So there is no real origination, duration, cessation for anything. So there is no basis of any discrimination / differentiation in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively. And there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T]. In that sense everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. Everything is like the pristine display of the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T].)

[Go to TOC]

The Buddha then said to the venerable Upali,

"Upali, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Upali replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember that one day there were two monks who had committed some infraction and were too ashamed to appear before the Lord, so they came to me and said,

'Reverend Upali, we have both committed an infraction but are too ashamed to appear before the Buddha. Venerable Upali, kindly remove our anxieties by absolving us of these infractions.'

"Lord, while I was giving those two monks some religious discourse, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and said to me,

'Reverend Upali, do not aggravate further the sins of these two monks.
Without perplexing them, relieve their remorse.
Reverend Upali, sin is not to be apprehended within, or without, or between the two. Why?
The Buddha has said, "Living beings are afflicted by the passions of thought, and they are purified by the purification of thought."

.

"'Reverend Upali, the mind is neither within nor without, nor is it to be apprehended between the two.
Sin is just the same as the mind, and all things are just the same as sin.
They do not escape this same reality.

.

"'Reverend Upali, this nature of the mind, by virtue of which your mind, reverend, is liberated - does it ever become afflicted?'

"'Never,' I replied.

"'Reverend Upali, the minds of all living beings have that very nature.
Reverend Upali, passions consist of conceptualizations. The ultimate non-existence of these conceptualizations and imaginary fabrications - that is the purity that is the intrinsic nature of the mind.
Misapprehensions are passions. The ultimate absence of misapprehensions is the intrinsic nature of the mind.
The presumption of self is passion. The absence of self is the intrinsic nature of the mind.

.

Reverend Upali,

all things are without production, destruction, and duration,

like magical illusions, clouds, and lightning;

all things are evanescent, not remaining even for an instant;

all things are like dreams, hallucinations, and unreal visions;

all things are like the reflection of the moon in water and like a mirror-image;

they are born of mental construction.

Those who know this are called the true upholders of the discipline, and those disciplined in that way are indeed well disciplined.'"

"Then the two monks said, 'This householder is extremely well endowed with wisdom. The reverend Upali, who was proclaimed by the Lord as the foremost of the upholders of the discipline, is not his equal.'

"I then said to the two monks, 'Do not entertain the notion that he is a mere householder! Why? With the exception of the Tathagata himself, there is no disciple or bodhisattva capable of competing with his eloquence or rivaling the brilliance of his wisdom.'

"Thereupon, the two monks, delivered from their anxieties and inspired with a high resolve, conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. Bowing down to that good man, they made the wish: 'May all living beings attain eloquence such as this!' Therefore, I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."


3.9 - Renunciation

(Résumé: Vimalakirti on Renouncing without renouncing: In Reality as it is [U2T], there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth [U2T]. It is renunciation free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all limits, free from all conditioning / karma; without any di-vision between the subject / actor / renouncer, the relation / action / renunciation, and the object / result / renounced; with full awareness of the true nature & dynamic of the three spheres; transcending all opposites, even transcending the two truths. Enlightenment is not about renouncing samsara and seeking nirvana. It is inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of samsara; it is the Union of apparent opposites like samsara & nirvana.)

[Go to TOC]

The Buddha then said to the venerable Rahula,

"Rahula, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Rahula replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember that one day many young Licchavi gentlemen came to the place where I was and said to me,

'Reverend Rahula, you are the son of the Lord, and, having renounced a kingdom of a universal monarch, you have left the world. What are the virtues and benefits you saw in leaving the world?'

"As I was teaching them properly the benefits and virtues of renouncing the world, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and, having greeted me, said,

'Reverend Rahula, you should not teach the benefits and virtues of renunciation in the way that you do. Why?

Renunciation is itself the very absence of virtues and benefits.

.

Reverend Rahula, one may speak of benefits and virtues in regard to compounded things, but renunciation is uncompounded, and there can be no question of benefits and virtues in regard to the uncompounded.

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Reverend Rahula, renunciation is not material but is free of matter.

It is free of the extreme views of beginning and end.

It is the path of liberation.

It is praised by the wise, embraced by the saints, and causes the defeat of all Maras.

It liberates from the five states of existence, purifies the five eyes, cultivates the five powers, and supports the five spiritual faculties.

Renunciation is totally harmless to others and is not adulterated with evil things.

It disciplines the heterodox, transcending all denominations.

It is the bridge over the swamp of desire, without grasping, and free of the habits of "I" and "mine."

It is without attachment and without disturbance, eliminating all commotion.

It disciplines one's own mind and protects the minds of others.

It favors mental quiescence and stimulates transcendental analysis.

It is irreproachable in all respects and so is called renunciation.

.

Those who leave the mundane in this way are called "truly renunciant."

Young men, renounce the world in the light of this clear teaching!

The appearance of the Buddha is extremely rare.

Human life endowed with leisure and opportunity is very hard to obtain.

To be a human being is very precious.'

"The young men complained:

'But, householder, we have heard the Tathagata declare that one should not renounce the world without the permission of one's parents.'

"Vimalakirti answered:

'Young men, you should cultivate yourselves intensively to conceive the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.

That in itself will be your renunciation and high ordination!'

"Thereupon, thirty-two of the Licchavi youths conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. Therefore, Lord, I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."


3.10 - The need of a Buddha form-body

(Résumé: Conclusion about sickness: So the Buddha form-body is ultimately beyond all conditioning / sickness / suffering; it is subject to those only conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.)

[Go to TOC]

The Buddha then said to the venerable Ananda,

"Ananda, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Ananda replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember one day when the body of the Lord manifested some indisposition and he required some milk; I took the bowl and went to the door of the mansion of a great Brahman family.

The Licchavi Vimalakirti came there, and, having saluted me, said,

'Reverend Ananda, what are you doing on the threshold of this house with your bowl in your hand so early in the morning?'

"I replied:

 'The body of the Lord manifests some indisposition, and he needs some milk. Therefore, I have come to fetch some.'

"Vimalakirti then said to me,

'Reverend Ananda, do not say such a thing! Reverend Ananda, the body of the Tathagata is tough as a diamond, having eliminated all the instinctual traces of evil and being endowed with all goodness. How could disease or discomfort affect such a body?

.

"'Reverend Ananda, go in silence, and do not belittle the Lord. Do not say such things to others. It would not be good for the powerful gods or for the bodhisattvas coming from the various buddha-fields to hear such words.

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"'Reverend Ananda, a universal monarch, who is endowed only with a small root of virtue, is free of diseases. How then could the Lord, who has an infinite root of virtue, have any disease? It is impossible.

.

"'Reverend Ananda, do not bring shame upon us, but go in silence, lest the heterodox sectarians should hear your words. They would say, "For shame! The teacher of these people cannot even cure his own sicknesses. How then can he cure the sicknesses of others?" Reverend Ananda, go then discreetly so that no one observes you.

.

"'Reverend Ananda, the Tathagatas have the body of the Dharma - not a body that is sustained by material food.

The Tathagatas have a transcendental body that has transcended all mundane qualities.

There is no injury to the body of a Tathagata, as it is rid of all defilements.

The body of a Tathagata is uncompounded and free of all formative activity.

Reverend Ananda, to believe there can be illness in such a body is irrational and unseemly!'

"When I had heard these words, I wondered if I had previously misheard and misunderstood the Buddha, and I was very much ashamed. Then I heard a voice from the sky:

'Ananda! The householder speaks to you truly. Nevertheless, since the Buddha has appeared during the time of the five corruptions, he disciplines living beings by acting lowly and humble. Therefore, Ananda, do not be ashamed, and go and get the milk!'

"Lord, such was my conversation with the Licchavi Vimalakirti, and therefore I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."

In the same way, the rest of the five hundred disciples were reluctant to go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti, and each told the Buddha his own adventure, recounting all his conversations with the Licchavi Vimalakirti.




4. THE RELUCTANCE OF THE BODHISATTVAS

4.1 - Enlightenment

(Résumé: Enlightenment without enlightenment: Enlightenment is not caused / produced through efforts & better discriminations – accepting this while rejecting that –; nobody attains enlightenment. Enlightenment is inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]. It is beyond all descriptiopn / conceptualisation, discrimination / differentiation, causality / production, matter-energy, space & time.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the Buddha said to the bodhisattva Maitreya,

"Maitreya, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Maitreya replied,

"Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember that one day I was engaged in a conversation with the gods of the Tusita heaven, the god Samtusita and his retinue, about the stage of non-regression of the great bodhisattvas. At that time, the Licchavi Vimalakirti came there and addressed me as follows:

"'Maitreya, the Buddha has prophesied that only one more birth stands between you and unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. What kind of birth does this prophecy concern, Maitreya? Is it past? Is it future? Or is it present? If it is a past birth, it is already finished. If it is a future birth, it will never arrive. If it is a present birth, it does not abide. For the Buddha has declared, "Bhikshus, in a single moment, you are born, you age, you die, you transmigrate, and you are reborn."

.

"'Then might the prophecy concern birthlessness? But birthlessness applies to the stage of destiny for the ultimate, in which there is neither prophecy nor attainment of perfect enlightenment.

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness-- of things (of the three spheres: subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)

.

"'Therefore, Maitreya, is your reality from birth? Or is it from cessation? Your reality as prophesied is not born and does not cease, nor will it be born nor will it cease. Furthermore, your reality is just the same as the reality of all living beings, the reality of all things, and the reality of all the holy ones. If your enlightenment can be prophesied in such a way, so can that of all living beings. Why? Because reality does not consist of duality or of diversity.
Maitreya, whenever you attain Buddhahood, which is the perfection of enlightenment, at the same time all living beings will also attain ultimate liberation. Why? The Tathagatas do not enter ultimate liberation until all living beings have entered ultimate liberation. For, since all living beings are utterly liberated, the Tathagatas see them as having the nature of ultimate liberation.

.

"'Therefore, Maitreya, do not fool and delude these deities! No one abides in, or regresses from, enlightenment. Maitreya, you should introduce these deities to the repudiation of all discriminative constructions concerning enlightenment.

.

"'Enlightenment is perfectly realized neither by the body nor by the mind.
Enlightenment is the eradication of all marks.
Enlightenment is free of presumptions concerning all objects.
Enlightenment is free of the functioning of all intentional thoughts.
Enlightenment is the annihilation of all convictions.
Enlightenment is free from all discriminative constructions.
Enlightenment is free from all vacillation, mentation, and agitation.
Enlightenment is not involved in any commitments.
Enlightenment is the arrival at detachment, through freedom from all habitual attitudes.
The ground of enlightenment is the ultimate realm.
Enlightenment is realization of reality.
Enlightenment abides at the limit of reality.
Enlightenment is without duality, since therein are no minds (subjects) and no things (objects).
Enlightenment is equality, since it is equal to infinite space.
.

"'Enlightenment is unconstructed, because it is neither born nor destroyed, neither abides nor undergoes any transformation.
Enlightenment is the complete knowledge of the thoughts, deeds, and inclinations of all living beings.
Enlightenment is not a door for the six media of sense.
Enlightenment is unadulterated, since it is free of the passions of the instinctually driven succession of lives.
Enlightenment is neither somewhere nor nowhere, abiding in no location or dimension.
Enlightenment, not being contained in anything, does not stand in reality.
Enlightenment is merely a name and even that name is unmoving.
Enlightenment, free of abstention and undertaking, is energyless.
There is no agitation in enlightenment, as it is utterly pure by nature.
Enlightenment is radiance, pure in essence.
Enlightenment is without subjectivity and completely without object.
Enlightenment, which penetrates the equality of all things, is undifferentiated.
Enlightenment, which is not shown by any example, is incomparable.
Enlightenment is subtle, since it is extremely difficult to realize.
Enlightenment is all-pervasive, as it has the nature of infinite space.
Enlightenment cannot be realized, either physically or mentally.
Why? The body is like grass, trees, walls, paths, and hallucinations. And the mind is immaterial, invisible, baseless, and unconscious.'

"Lord, when Vimalakirti had discoursed thus, two hundred of the deities in that assembly attained the tolerance of birthlessness.

(i.e. Tolerance of non reality (emptiness, not existence), and non complete irreality (not complete non-existence, dependently co-arisen relatively functional appearances), of the three stages of becoming; tolerance of the beginninglessness / birthlessness / productionlessness, occurencelessness / lifelessness, changelessness / rebirthlessness, and endinglessness / deathlessness / destructionlessness / extinctionlessness – of all things (subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / things) x (physical, conceptual, mental) x (individual, collective, universal) x (past, present, future) x (pure, impure) –. So we should not accept those three stages of becoming of any thing as they appear to be, nor reject them as if completely non-existent / meaningless / useless. ‘They are there but not there’: they are conventional / interdependent / limitlessly relative <==> but still ultimately empty of inherent existence; and vice versa.)

As for me, Lord, I was rendered speechless. Therefore, I am reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness."


4.2 - The seat of enlightenment

(Résumé: ‘Reality as it is’ is already present in everything: Where do enlightenment and all Buddha’s qualities come from? Enlightenment / Buddha-nature / Buddha’s Omniscient Awareness / all Buddha’s Qualities are not caused / produced through efforts & better discriminations – accepting this while rejecting that –; they are primordially present in everything, they are the true nature & dynamic of everything. The Seat of Enlightenment, the Ground / Basis / Source of everything that is good, is the liberating inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / Basis / Source / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T] / Union of the three spheres (U3S / U2T-3S] / Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] -- free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma]. It manifests as the already present Buddha’s pure body, speech & mind. In a figurative sense, the expression bodhimaṇḍa simply means the complete spiritual presence of the dharma or dharmakāya of the Buddhas. Everything is the inseparable Buddha’s pure body, speech & mind (trikaya) for one with enough merit and wisdom. We just need to directly realise this.)

[Go to TOC]

The Buddha then said to the young Licchavi Prabhavyuha,

"Prabhavyuha, go to the Licchavi Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness."

Prabhavyuha replied, "Lord, I am indeed reluctant to go to that good man to inquire about his illness. Why? Lord, I remember one day, when I was going out of the great city of Vaisali, I met the Licchavi Vimalakirti coming in. He greeted me, and I then addressed him:

'Householder, where do you come from?'

He replied,

'I come from the seat of enlightenment.'

I then inquired, 'What is meant by "seat of enlightenment"?'

He then spoke the following words to me,

'Noble son, the seat of enlightenment is the seat of positive thought because it is without artificiality.
It is the seat of effort, because it releases energetic activities.
It is the seat of high resolve, because its insight is superior.
It is the seat of the great spirit of enlightenment, because it does not neglect anything.

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"'It is the seat of generosity, because it has no expectation of reward.
It is the seat of morality, because it fulfills all commitments.
It is the seat of tolerance, because it is free of anger toward any living being.
It is the seat of effort, because it does not turn back.
It is the seat of meditation, because it generates fitness of mind.
It is the seat of wisdom, because it sees everything directly.
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"'It is the seat of love, because it is equal to all living beings.
It is the seat of compassion, because it tolerates all injuries.
It is the seat of joy, because it is joyfully devoted to the bliss of the Dharma.
It is the seat of equanimity, because it abandons affection and aversion.

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"'It is the seat of paranormal perception, because it has the six super-knowledges.
It is the seat of liberation, because it does not intellectualize.
It is the seat of liberative technique, because it develops living beings.
It is the seat of the means of unification, because it brings together living beings.
It is the seat of learning, because it makes practice of the essence.
It is the seat of decisiveness, because of its precise discrimination.
It is the seat of the aids to enlightenment (the same as The seven sets of the Wings of Awakening), because it eliminates the duality of the compounded and the uncompounded.
It is the seat of truth, because it does not deceive anyone.

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"'It is the seat of interdependent origination, because it proceeds from the exhaustion of ignorance to the exhaustion of old age and death.
It is the seat of eradication of all passions, because it is perfectly enlightened about the nature of reality.
It is the seat of all living beings, because all living beings are without intrinsic identity.
It is the seat of all things, because it is perfectly enlightened with regard to voidness.

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"'It is the seat of the conquest of all devils, because it never flinches.
It is the seat of the triple world, because it is free of involvement.
It is the seat of the heroism that sounds the lion's roar, because it is free of fear and trembling.
It is the seat of the strengths