Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Vimalakirti Sutra Part IV - 204

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204 - Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra
- PART IV : chapters 10-12 & Epiloque –

translated by Robert A. F. Thurman


[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 IV (chapters 10-12 & epilogue)

  • TABLE OF CONTENT OF PART IV (chapters 10-12 & epilogue)

  • 10. THE FEAST BROUGHT BY THE EMANATED INCARNATION

    • 10.1 - A universe without the lower vehicle

    • 10.2 - Our universe

    • 10.3 - Description of the lower vehicle method

    • 10.4 - Description of the Mahayana vehicle

  • 11. LESSON OF THE DESTRUCTIBLE AND THE INDESTRUCTIBLE

    • 11.1 - Visit to the lower vehicle school

    • 11.2 - The diversity of the adapted skillful means

    • 11.3 - The same perfection of the Buddhas-qualities in all Buddha-fields

    • 11.4 - The lower vehicle declares forfeit

    • 11.5 - The liberation of bodhisattvas called 'destructible and indestructible'

  • 12. VISION OF THE UNIVERSE ABHIRATI AND THE TATHAGATAS AKSOBHYA

    • 12.1 - The Tathagata

    • 12.2 - Nothing dies or is reborn -- origin of Vimalakirti

    • 12.3 - Show them the Universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya

    • 12.4 - May all living beings come to live in such a buddha-field and be like Vimalakirti

  • EPILOGUE

    • 1 - …

    • 2 - The Dharma Worship

    • 3 - The two levels: beginner, veteran


10. The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation

  1. A universe without the lower vehicle (Résumé: Using a more direct, less conceptual, less absolutist & dualistic approach: The perfume approach / adopted skillful means: In another universe / Buddha-field, even the names "disciple" and "solitary sage" do not exist, and the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teaches the Dharma to a gathering of bodhisattvas only. Sarvagandhasugandha, where the Tathagata Sugandhakuta does not teach the Dharma by means of sound and language. He disciplines the bodhisattvas only by means of perfumes. (a different medium of communication, but can still be dualistic & conceptual; so there is still the need for the Dharma to point out the non-dualistic non-conceptual nature of Reality as it is)
    -
    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.)

  2. Our universe (Résumé: Using both more absolutist & dualistic approaches and less absolutist & dualistic approach: The two different approaches – dualistic & non-dualistic – of our Buddha-field: In this Saha universe / Buddha-field, tainted with five corruptions, the Tathagata Sakyamuni teaches the Dharma to living beings who aspire to the inferior ways (using a dualistic approach). And the bodhisattva Vimalakirti, who lives in the inconceivable liberation, teaches the Dharma to the bodhisattvas (using a non-dualistic approach). A buddha-field is a field of pure space, but the Lord Buddhas, in order to develop living beings, do not reveal all at once the pure realm of the Buddha. Most sentient beings need a gradual approach: because the true nature of Reality as it is is too different from their imagined reality / illusions / conditioning / karma, they need to use a gradual approach consisting of using more and more subtle virtuous adapted skillful means [T1] <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness [T2]. One wing supporting the other (<==>) [U2T]. So, most people need to start with a more dualistic approach, and are introduced to non-duality very gradually – otherwise they would reject everything as absurd / meaningless / even offensive.)

  3. Description of the lower vehicle method of Buddha Shakyamuni (Résumé: Using an introductory more absolutist & dualistic approach – ex. strict laws, good vs. evil – adapted for ordinary beings and disciples: There, in this Saha universe, Buddha Sakyamuni teaches the Dharma to them with discourses appropriate for the disciplining of the wild and uncivilized: teaching mostly in terms of absolutes and opposition / dualities: virtues vs. non-virtues, the four Noble Truths, the inescapable laws of karma, the cycle of rebirth in the six realms, the 12 links of dependent origination, the three marks, renunciation, vow of personal liberation, mundane vs. transcendental, compounded vs. uncompounded, passions vs. purification, samsara vs. nirvana … And he conceals what would be unacceptable / inconceivable for ordinary beings and disciples: ex. his magic-like powers; the primordial spontaneity, timelessness, limitlessness, equality, purity, perfection, divinity / completeness / freedom / beauty / enlightenment / trikaya of all dharmas; the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S / U2T-3S], the Union of opposites / Non-duality [Uopp / U2T-opp], the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, etc.)

  4. Description of the Mahayana vehicle of the bodhisattva Vimalakirti (Résumé: Using a less absolutist & dualistic approach – ex. with more relativity & emptiness – adapted for the higher intelligence of the Bodhisattvas – an approach that is even more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T]. There, in this Saha universe, the Bodhisattva Vimalakirti teaches via ten virtuous practices – the 10 Mahayana Paramitas, Bodhicitta, Non-duality – which do not exist in any other buddha-field. Ex. Using less and less ‘absolutes & opposition / dualities’. Using the Union of more and more subtle virtuous methods (virtuous adapted skillful means) <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness (one supporting the other, one implying the other (<==>)), the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], Union of the three spheres [3S / U2T-3S], Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] / Non-duality, Madhyamaka / Middle Way in everything, the tetralemma, divinities / miracles / apparently magical demonstrations, etc.)

11. Lesson of the Destructible and the Indestructible

  1. Visit to the lower vehicle school (Résumé: 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.)

  2. The diversity of the adapted skillful means / Buddha-fields (Résumé: There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing views, methods / paths, goals, causality, adapted skillful means / Buddha-field … for teaching all living beings, only possible conventional / relative adapted skillful means to choose from. There are various adapted skillful means in the various Buddha-fields – ex. using concepts / images / perfumes / lights / bodhisattvas / using speech words & language or not using them / using or not Maras & passions  –. In a sense, everything – apparently good or bad or neutral – could be used as a lesson to ultimately 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], because everything is this Reality as it is. As for using something or another as possible adapted skillful means to teach the dharma, because everything is essentially Reality as it 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]. Everything is like the pristine display of the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. In that sense everything is more like primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. We just need to open our eyes.)

  3. The same Buddhas' perfection in all Buddha-fields (Résumé: There are no best views / methods / paths / goals / adapted skillful means / buddha-fields: Because everything – good, bad, or neutral – is exactly this inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / U2T], then everything can teach us the liberating inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] – if only we can bypass our usual dualistic conceptual proliferations, our limitations, our conditioning / karma, for just an instant. This inconceivable non-dual pure perfect divine complete free Reality as it is that is present in everything, that is everything, is what we call ‘Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Ground / Basis / Source’. So, whichever path / adapted skillful mean / door / Buddha-field we adopt, ultimately, we all converge to the same 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]. Ultimately we all inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience that everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms; 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 [U2T]. – Note: the same Buddha-qualities in all Buddhas means the same Reality as it is in everything, in all Buddha-fields,  all paths.)

  4. The lower vehicle declares forfeit (Résumé: All of these more direct, less absolutist, less dualistic teachings & demonstrations are perceived as totally inconceivable for the disciples – their minds cannot assimilate them –: For ordinary beings – like the disciples who are accustomed to more absolutist dualistic positions & methods about everything –, this is hard to digest. All of this seems ‘inconceivable’ for our limited flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual ordinary mind(s) based on two erroneous assumptions: inherent existence / absolutes and opposition / dualities. It all looks like unbelievable theories and magic; but it is just based on a better experiential understanding of the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T]. Meanwhile, until we better understand, we should remain equanimous with regard to the views & deeds of the bodhisattvas. We should keep our mind open, free from all extremes & middle.)

  5. The teaching on the liberation of bodhisattvas called 'destructible and indestructible' (Résumé: ‘The bodhisattva should neither destroy (reject / negate / abandon / eliminate) the compounded (the world / samsara / causality / appearances – physical, conceptual, mental –) nor rest (accept / affirm / seek) in the uncompounded (nirvana / nothingness / mere-emptiness / acausality).’ Meaning that true liberation / enlightenment is not about accepting / affirming / seeking this – ex. nirvana / nothingness / mere-emptiness / acausality –, while rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating that – the world / samsara / appearances / causality / the various adapted skillful means / the paths –. It is about inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of the world / samsara as it is here & now [U2T]. By seeing through the conditioning / karmic cycle, one can transcend it without rejecting it, one can become free from its illusory nature, free to live in the same Reality as it is without being fooled by the conditioning / karma, without any grasping or fear in absolute terms, without being slaves to illusions / conditioning / karma. So a Bodhisattva does not reject the world / samsara / appearances, nor falls for it, but embraces its non-dual true nature & dynamic, its primordial beauty. It is not because everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent, that we should drop everything and hide in a deep trance / meditative state / non-existence / nothingness / mere-emptiness. There are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional <==> even if everything is empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent / deterministic / absolute. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond existence & non-existence, good & bad, acceptation & rejection, movement & rest, action & non-action, thinking & non-thinking, mentation & non-mentation, ideation & non-ideation, conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-discrimination, causality & acausality / spontaneity, difference & identity, manyness & oneness, self & non-self, samsara & nirvana, dependence & independence, emptiness & non-emptiness, dependently co-arisen appearances & emptines. We need to be on the Middle Way about everything. The compounded / samsara and the Uncompounded / nirvana are not different / separate / two / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; they are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony … both empty of inherent existence <==> because interdependent [U2T].)

12. Vision of the Universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya

  1. The Tathagata (Résumé – same as 7.1: A bodhisattva should perceived everything, including all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it is, as like dreams / magical illusions / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: ‘there but not there’ – empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen / interdependent [T1] [U2T], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S]. Not inherently existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not this, not non-this, not both together, not neither; etc. Meaning the true nature & dynamic of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all limits, beyond all conditioning / karma. It has to be inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceived / realised / experienced.)
    (Same as 3.7 - Perceiving / knowing without perceiving / knowing all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it iss: 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.)

  2. Nothing dies or is reborn (Résumé - same as 7.8: Tolerance of the birthlessness, occurrencelessness, rebirthlessness, and destructionlessness / extinctionlessness of all things: In Reality as it is [U2T], everything is 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].
    Thus there are no real three stages of becoming for anything: -- 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 –.
    Thus there are no real / inherently existing change / evolution, rebirths / transmigration, and liberation / enlightenment.
    Again here ‘no’ / ‘not existent’ doesn’t mean ‘complete non-existence’ but not inherently existent, just dependently / relatively / conventionally existent. In the same way, ‘non duality’ doesn’t mean ‘oneness’.
    All of this is dualistic thinking – existence vs. non-existence, duality vs. non-duality / oneness –, while Reality as it is is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all limits, beyond all conditioning / karma.) [See also 9.1, 9.23]

  3. Show them the Universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya (Résumé: 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.)

  4. May all living beings come to live in such a buddha-field and be like Vimalakirti (Résumé: Great benefits of receiving and practicing such non-absolutist non-dualistic Mahayana teachings, of living in such a Buddha-field, with such Bodhisattva as Vimalakirti.)

Epilogue

  1. (Résumé: About those miracles -- 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 –: Appreciation & support from Sakra, the price of gods.)

  2. The Dharma Worship (Résumé: The supreme worship: Explanation of the Great Merit of accepting this exposition of the Dharma called 'Instruction in the Inconceivable Liberation,' reciting it, and understanding it deeply. Also the greatest merit is gained by worshiping this Dharma. 'Good man, the supreme worship is the Dharma-worship.' 'Noble son, the Dharma-worship is that worship rendered to the discourses taught by the Tathagata.’ To teach correctly, to uphold, to investigate, and to understand such Scriptures, thus incorporating into one's own life the holy Dharma - that is the "Dharma-worship.")

  3. The two levels: beginner, veteran (Résumé: Entrusting Maitreya to protect this Dharma teaching for future generations. Also, in this Dharma teaching, there is a) the superficial more-absolutist more-dualistic conceptual level of understanding and practice of the beginners, and b) the inconceivable personal very-subtle spontaneous less-absolutist less-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] of the veterans in the religious practice. At each of those levels there are specific dangers of misinterpretation and mispractice; so be careful.)




10. THE FEAST BROUGHT BY THE EMANATED INCARNATION

(From the Introduction: Śāriputra again becomes an object of mind-opening critique when, at the opening of the ninth (tenth) chapter, Vimalakīrti catches him wondering how everyone present is going to eat before noon. Vimalakīrti miraculously makes everyone perceive another distant buddhafield, where the Tathāgata Gandhottama­kūṭa and his bodhisattvas are about to take their meal. Vimalakīrti emanates a bodhisattva, a messenger who goes to that buddhafield and invites all the bodhisattvas there back to the house in Vaiśālī, bringing a vessel of their miraculous, highly fragrant food for the assembly to enjoy. Vimalakīrti elicits from the visiting bodhisattvas an account of how Gandhottama­kūṭa teaches the Dharma only through perfumes, and explains to them how the Buddha Śākyamuni has to use much grosser expedients to tame the wild and difficult beings of his own buddhafield, the Sahā world. The visitors are surprised and impressed by the Buddha’s compassion. )

10.1 - A universe without the lower vehicle (using a more direct, less conceptual, less absolutist & dualistic approach)

(Résumé: The perfume approach / adopted skillful means: In another universe / Buddha-field, even the names "disciple" and "solitary sage" do not exist, and the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teaches the Dharma to a gathering of bodhisattvas only. Sarvagandhasugandha, where the Tathagata Sugandhakuta does not teach the Dharma by means of sound and language. He disciplines the bodhisattvas only by means of perfumes. (a different medium of communication, but can still be dualistic & conceptual; so there is still the need for the Dharma to point out the non-dualistic non-conceptual nature of Reality as it is)
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]

Thereupon, the venerable Sariputra thought to himself,

"If these great bodhisattvas do not adjourn before noon-time, when are they going to eat? "

The Licchavi Vimalakirti, knowing telepathically the thought of the venerable Sariputra, spoke to him:

"Reverend Sariputra, the Tathagata has taught the eight liberations.
You should concentrate on those liberations, listening to the Dharma with a mind free of preoccupations with material things.
Just wait a minute, reverend Sariputra, and you will eat such food as you have never before tasted."

(i.e. From: The Discourse about the Great Emancipation DN16 – Chapter 22: The Eight Liberations (8 dhyanas)
There are, Ānanda, eight liberations. Which eight?

  1. One having form sees forms. This is the first liberation.

  2. Not perceiving forms internally, he sees forms externally. This is the second liberation.

  3. One is intent on beauty. This is the third liberation.

  4. Having completely transcended perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of (sensory) impact, not attending to perceptions of variety, (understanding): ‘This is endless space’, he abides in the sphere of endless space. This is the fourth liberation.

  5. Having completely transcended the sphere of endless space, (understanding): ‘This is endless consciousness’, he abides in the sphere of endless consciousness. This is the fifth liberation.

  6. Having completely transcended the sphere of endless consciousness,: ‘This is nothing’, he abides in the sphere of nothingness. This is the sixth liberation.

  7. Having completely transcended the sphere of nothingness, he abides in the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. This is the seventh liberation.

  8. Having completely transcended the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he abides in the cessation of perception and feeling. This is the eighth liberation.

These, Ānanda, are the eight liberations.)

[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.]
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti set himself in such a concentration and performed such a miraculous feat that those bodhisattvas and those great disciples were enabled to see the universe called Sarvagandhasugandha, which is located in the direction of the zenith, beyond as many buddha-fields as there are sands in forty-two Ganges rivers.

There the Tathagata named Sugandhakuta resides, lives, and is manifest. In that universe, the trees emit a fragrance that far surpasses all the fragrances, human and divine, of all the buddha-fields of the ten directions. In that universe, even the names "disciple" and "solitary sage" do not exist, and the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teaches the Dharma to a gathering of bodhisattvas only. In that universe, all the houses, the avenues, the parks, and the palaces are made of various perfumes, and the fragrance of the food eaten by those bodhisattvas pervades immeasurable universes.

At this time, the Tathagata Sugandhakuta sat down with his bodhisattvas to take his meal, and the deities called Gandhavyuhahara, who were all devoted to the Mahayana, served and attended upon the Buddha and his bodhisattvas. Everyone in the gathering at the house of Vimalakirti was able to see distinctly this universe wherein the Tathagata Sugandhakuta and his bodhisattvas were taking their meal.

The Licchavi Vimalakirti addressed the whole gathering of bodhisattvas:

"Good sirs, is there any among you who would like to go to that buddha-field to bring back some food?"

But, restrained by the supernatural power of Manjusri, none of them volunteered to go.

The Licchavi Vimalakirti said to crown prince Manjusri,

"Manjusri, are you not ashamed of such a gathering?"

Manjusri replied,

"Noble sir, did not the Tathagata declare, 'Those who are unlearned should not be despised'?"

[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.]
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti, without rising from his couch, magically emanated an incarnation-bodhisattva, whose body was of golden color, adorned with the auspicious signs and marks, and of such an appearance that he outshone the whole assembly.

The Licchavi Vimalakirti addressed that incarnated bodhisattva:

"Noble son, go in the direction of the zenith and when you have crossed as many buddha-fields as there are sands in forty-two Ganges rivers, you will reach a universe called Sarvagandhasugandha, where you will find the Tathagata Sugandhakuta taking his meal. Go to him and, having bowed down at his feet, make the following request of him:

"'The Licchavi Vimalakirti bows down one hundred thousand times at your feet, O Lord, and asks after your health - if you have but little trouble, little discomfort, little unrest; if you are strong, well, without complaint, and living in touch with supreme happiness.'

"Having thus asked after his health, you should request of him

'Vimalakirti asks the Lord to give me the remains of your meal, with which he will accomplish the buddha-work in the universe called Saha. Thus, those living beings with inferior aspirations will be inspired with lofty aspirations, and the good name of the Tathagata will be celebrated far and wide."

At that, the incarnated bodhisattva said, "Very good!" to the Licchavi Vimalakirti and obeyed his instructions. In sight of all the bodhisattvas, he turned his face upward and was gone, and they saw him no more.

When he reached the universe Sarvagandhasugandha, he bowed down at the feet of the Tathagata Sugandhakuta and said,

"Lord, the bodhisattva Vimalakirti, bowing down at the feet of the Lord, greets the Lord, saying: 'Do you have little trouble, little discomfort, and little unrest? Are you strong, well, without complaint, and living in touch with the supreme happiness?'

He then requests, having bowed down one hundred thousand times at the feet of the Lord:

 'May the Lord be gracious and give to me the remains of his meal in order to accomplish the buddha-work in the universe called Saha. Then, those living beings who aspire to inferior ways may gain the intelligence to aspire to the great Dharma of the Buddha, and the name of the Buddha will be celebrated far and wide.'"


10.2 - Our universe (using both more absolutist & dualistic approaches and less absolutist & dualistic approaches)

(Résumé: The two different approaches – absolutist/dualistic & non-absolutist/non-dualistic – of our Buddha-field: In this Saha universe / Buddha-field, tainted with five corruptions, the Tathagata Sakyamuni teaches the Dharma to living beings who aspire to the inferior ways (using a dualistic approach). And the bodhisattva Vimalakirti, who lives in the inconceivable liberation, teaches the Dharma to the bodhisattvas (using a non-dualistic approach). A buddha-field is a field of pure space, but the Lord Buddhas, in order to develop living beings, do not reveal all at once the pure realm of the Buddha. Most sentient beings need a gradual approach: because the true nature of Reality as it is is too different from their imagined reality / illusions / conditioning / karma, they need to use a gradual approach consisting of using more and more subtle virtuous adapted skillful means [T1] <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness [T2]. One wing supporting the other (<==>) [U2T]. So, most people need to start with a more dualistic approach, and are introduced to non-duality very gradually – otherwise they would reject everything as absurd / meaningless / even offensive.)

[Go to TOC]

At that the bodhisattvas of the buddha-field of the Tathagata Sugandhakuta were astonished and asked the Tathagata Sugandhakuta,

"Lord, where is there such a great being as this?
Where is the universe Saha?
What does he mean by 'those who aspire to inferior ways'?"

Having thus been questioned by those bodhisattvas, the Tathagata Sugandhakuta said,

"Noble sons, the universe Saha exists beyond as many buddha-fields in the direction of the nadir as there are sands in forty-two Ganges rivers.

  • There the Tathagata Sakyamuni teaches the Dharma to living beings who aspire to the inferior ways, in that buddha-field tainted with five corruptions.

  • There the bodhisattva Vimalakirti, who lives in the inconceivable liberation, teaches the Dharma to the bodhisattvas.
    He sends this incarnation-bodhisattva here in order to celebrate my name, in order to show the advantages of this universe, and in order to increase the roots of virtue of those bodhisattvas."

The bodhisattvas exclaimed,

"How great must that bodhisattva be himself if his magical incarnation is thus endowed with supernatural power, strength, and fearlessness!"

The Tathagata said,

"The greatness of that bodhisattva is such that he sends magical incarnations to all the buddha-fields of the ten directions, and all these incarnations accomplish the buddha-work for all the living beings in all those buddha-fields."

Then, the Tathagata Sugandhakuta poured some of his food, impregnated with all perfumes, into a fragrant vessel and gave it to the incarnation-bodhisattva. And the ninety million bodhisattvas of that universe volunteered to go along with him:

"Lord, we also would like to go to that universe Saha, to see, honor, and serve the Buddha Sakyamuni and to see Vimalakirti and those bodhisattvas."

The Tathagata declared,

"Noble sons, go ahead if you think it is the right time. But, lest those living beings become mad and intoxicated, go without your perfumes. And, lest those living beings of the Saha world become jealous of you, change your bodies to hide your beauty. And do not conceive ideas of contempt and aversion for that universe. Why? Noble sons, a buddha-field is a field of pure space, but the Lord Buddhas, in order to develop living beings, do not reveal all at once the pure realm of the Buddha."

[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.]
Then the incarnation-bodhisattva took the food and departed with the ninety million bodhisattvas and by the power of the Buddha and the supernatural operation of Vimalakirti, disappeared from that universe Sarvagandhasugandha and stood again in the house of Vimalakirti in a fraction of a second. The Licchavi Vimalakirti created ninety million lion-thrones exactly like those already there, and the bodhisattvas were seated.

Then, the incarnation-bodhisattva gave the vessel full of food to Vimalakirti, and the fragrance of that food permeated the entire great city of Vaisali and its sweet perfume spread throughout one hundred universes. Within the city of Vaisali, the brahmans, householders, and even the Licchavi chieftain Candracchattra, having noticed this fragrance, were amazed and filled with wonder. They were so cleansed in body and mind that they came at once to the house of Vimalakirti, along with all eighty-four thousand of the Licchavis.

Seeing there the bodhisattvas seated on the high, wide, and beautiful lion-thrones, they were filled with admiration and great joy. They all bowed down to those great disciples and bodhisattvas and then sat down to one side. And the gods of the earth, the gods of the desire-world, and the gods of the material world, attracted by the perfume, also came to the house of Vimalakirti.

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti spoke to the elder Sariputra and the great disciples:

"Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathagata!
It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion.
But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift."

But some of the disciples had already had the thought:

"How can such a huge multitude eat such a small amount of food?"

Then the incarnation-bodhisattva said to those disciples,

"Do not compare, venerable ones, your own wisdom and merits with the wisdom and the merits of the Tathagata! Why? For example, the four great oceans might dry up, but this food would never be exhausted. If all living beings were to eat for an aeon an amount of this food equal to Mount Sumeru in size, it would not be depleted. Why? Issued from inexhaustible morality, concentration, and wisdom, the remains of the food of the Tathagata contained in this vessel cannot be exhausted."

Indeed, the entire gathering was satisfied by that food, and the food was not at all depleted. Having eaten that food, there arose in the bodies of those bodhisattvas, disciples, Sakras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, and other living beings, a bliss just like the bliss of the bodhisattvas of the universe Sarvasukhamandita. And from all the pores of their skin arose a perfume like that of the trees that grow in the universe Sarvagandhasugandha.

Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti knowingly addressed those bodhisattvas who had come from the buddha-field of the Lord Tathagata Sugandhakuta:

"Noble sirs, how does the Tathagata Sugandhakuta teach his Dharma?"

They replied,

"The Tathagata does not teach the Dharma by means of sound and language.
He disciplines the bodhisattvas only by means of perfumes.
At the foot of each perfume-tree sits a bodhisattva, and the trees emit perfumes like this one. From the moment they smell that perfume, the bodhisattvas attain the concentration called 'source of all bodhisattva-virtues.' From the moment they attain that concentration, all the bodhisattva-virtues are produced in them."


10.3 - Description of the lower vehicle method (using a more absolutist & dualistic approach)

(Résumé: Using an introductory more absolutist & dualistic approach – ex. strict laws, good vs. evil – adapted for ordinary beings and disciples: There, in this Saha universe, Buddha Sakyamuni teaches the Dharma to them with discourses appropriate for the disciplining of the wild and uncivilized: teaching mostly in terms of absolutes and opposition / dualities: virtues vs. non-virtues, the four Noble Truths, the inescapable laws of karma, the cycle of rebirth in the six realms, the 12 links of dependent origination, the three marks, renunciation, vow of personal liberation, mundane vs. transcendental, compounded vs. uncompounded, passions vs. purification, samsara vs. nirvana … And he conceals what would be unacceptable / inconceivable for ordinary beings and disciples: ex. his magic-like powers; the primordial spontaneity, timelessness, limitlessness, equality, purity, perfection, divinity / completeness / freedom / beauty / enlightenment / trikaya of all dharmas; the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], the Union of the three spheres [U3S / U2T-3S], the Union of opposites / Non-duality [Uopp / U2T-opp], the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, etc.)

[Go to TOC]

Those bodhisattvas then asked the Licchavi Vimalakirti,

"How does the Buddha Sakyamuni teach the Dharma?"

Vimalakirti replied,

"Good sirs, these living beings here are hard to discipline.
Therefore, he teaches them with discourses appropriate for the disciplining of the wild and uncivilized.

How does he discipline the wild and uncivilized? What discourses are appropriate? Here they are:

  • "'This is hell. This is the animal world.

  • This is the world of the lord of death.

  • These are the adversities.

  • These are the rebirths with crippled faculties.

  • These are physical misdeeds, and these are the retributions for physical misdeeds.

  • These are verbal misdeeds, and these are the retributions for verbal misdeeds.

  • These are mental misdeeds, and these are the retributions for mental misdeeds.

  • This is killing. This is stealing. This is sexual misconduct.

  • This is lying. This is backbiting. This is harsh speech. This is frivolous speech.

  • This is covetousness. This is malice. This is false view.

  • These are their retributions.

  • This is miserliness, and this is its effect.

  • This is immorality.

  • This is hatred.

  • This is sloth. This is the fruit of sloth.

  • This is false wisdom and this is the fruit of false wisdom.

  • These are the transgressions of the precepts.

  • This is the vow of personal liberation.

  • This should be done and that should not be done.

  • This is proper and that should be abandoned.

  • This is an obscuration and that is without obscuration.

  • This is sin and that rises above sin.

  • This is the path and that is the wrong path.

  • This is virtue and that is evil.

  • This is blameworthy and that is blameless.

  • This is defiled and that is immaculate.

  • This is mundane and that is transcendental.

  • This is compounded and that is uncompounded.

  • This is passion and that is purification.

  • This is life and that is liberation.'

"Thus, by means of these varied explanations of the Dharma, the Buddha trains the minds of those living beings who are just like wild horses. Just as wild horses or wild elephants will not be tamed unless the goad pierces them to the marrow, so living beings who are wild and hard to civilize are disciplined only by means of discourses about all kinds of miseries."

The bodhisattvas said,

"Thus is established the greatness of the Buddha Sakyamuni! It is marvelous how, concealing his miraculous power, he civilizes the wild living beings who are poor and inferior. And the bodhisattvas who settle in a buddha-field of such intense hardships must have inconceivably great compassion!"


10.4 - Description of the Mahayana vehicle

(Résumé: Using a less absolutist & dualistic approach – ex. with more relativity & emptiness – adapted for the higher intelligence of the Bodhisattvas – an approach that is even more in accord with the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is [U2T]. There, in this Saha universe, the Bodhisattva Vimalakirti teaches via ten virtuous practices – the 10 Mahayana Paramitas, Bodhicitta, Non-duality – which do not exist in any other buddha-field. Ex. Using less and less ‘absolutes & opposition / dualities’. Using the Union of more and more subtle virtuous methods (virtuous adapted skillful means) <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness (one supporting the other, one implying the other (<==>)), the Union of the Two Truths [U2T], Union of the three spheres [3S / U2T-3S], Union of opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp] / Non-duality, Madhyamaka / Middle Way in everything, the tetralemma, divinities / miracles / apparently magical demonstrations, etc.)

[Go to TOC]

The bodhisattvas said,

"Thus is established the greatness of the Buddha Sakyamuni! It is marvelous how, concealing his miraculous power, he civilizes the wild living beings who are poor and inferior. And the bodhisattvas who settle in a buddha-field of such intense hardships must have inconceivably great compassion!"

The Licchavi Vimalakirti declared,

"So be it, good sirs! It is as you say. The great compassion of the bodhisattvas who reincarnate here is extremely firm. In a single lifetime in this universe, they accomplish much benefit for living beings. So much benefit for living beings could not be accomplished in the universe Sarvagandhasugandha even in one hundred thousand aeons. Why?

Good sirs, in this Saha universe, there are ten virtuous practices which do not exist in any other buddha-field.
What are these ten? Here they are (10 perfections):

  1. to win the poor by generosity;

  2. to win the immoral by morality (virtue, morality, discipline, proper conduct);

  3. to win the hateful by means of tolerance (patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance);

  4. to win the lazy by means of effort/ diligence;

  5. to win the mentally troubled by means of concentration (one-pointed concentration, contemplation);

  6. to win the falsely wise by means of true wisdom (insight);

  7. to show those suffering from the eight adversities how to rise above(transcend) them (skillful means – These last four paramitas are aspects of the sixth paramita—the paramita of wisdom—and are not added to the first six);

  8. to teach the Mahayana to those of narrow-minded behavior (vow, resolution, aspiration, determination – Strength);

  9. to win those who have not produced the roots of virtue by means of the roots of virtue (spiritual power - Aspiration prayers);

  10. and to develop living beings without interruption through the four means of unification (knowledge – Primordial wisdom).

Those who engage in these ten virtuous practices do not exist in any other buddha-field."

Again the bodhisattvas asked,

"How many qualities must a bodhisattva have, to go safe and sound to a pure buddha-field after he transmigrates at death away from this Saha universe?"

Vimalakirti replied,

"After he transmigrates at death away from this Saha universe, a bodhisattva must have eight qualities to reach a pure buddha-field safe and sound.
What are the eight? He must resolve to himself:

  1. 'I must benefit all living beings, without seeking even the slightest benefit for myself.

  2. I must bear all the miseries of all living beings and give all my accumulated roots of virtue to all living beings.

  3. I must have no resentment toward any living being.

  4. I must rejoice in all bodhisattvas as if they were the Teacher.

  5. I must not neglect any teachings, whether or not I have heard them before.

  6. I must control my mind, without coveting the gains of others, and without taking pride in gains of my own.

  7. I must examine my own faults and not blame others for their faults.

  8. I must take pleasure in being consciously aware and must truly undertake all virtues.'

"If a bodhisattva has these eight qualities, when he transmigrates at death away from the Saha universe, he will go safe and sound to a pure buddha-field."

When the Licchavi Vimalakirti and the crown prince Manjusri had thus taught the Dharma to the multitude gathered there,
one hundred thousand living beings conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment,
and ten thousand bodhisattvas attained the tolerance of the birthlessness of 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.)




11. LESSON OF THE DESTRUCTIBLE AND THE INDESTRUCTIBLE

(From the Introduction: They express the wish to pay him their respects and Vimalakīrti, in the tenth (eleventh) chapter, magically transports the entire assembly, including the visiting bodhisattvas, into the Buddha’s presence in Āmrapālī’s grove so that they may do so. A discussion between the Buddha, Vimalakīrti, and Ānanda of the great variety of methods used to express the Dharma in different buddhafields ensues, and the Buddha gives the visitors, before they depart for their own buddhafield, a long teaching on “the destructible and indestructible,” explaining how bodhisattvas should neither destroy (reject) what is compounded nor rest in (accept) what is uncompounded.)

11.1 - Visit to the lower vehicle school

(Résumé: 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]

Meanwhile, the area in which the Lord was teaching the Dharma in the garden of Amrapali expanded and grew larger, and the entire assembly appeared tinged with a golden hue.

Thereupon, the venerable Ananda asked the Buddha,

"Lord, this expansion and enlargement of the garden of Amrapali and this golden hue of the assembly - what do these auspicious signs portend?"

The Buddha declared,

"Ananda, these auspicious signs portend that the Licchavi Vimalakirti and the crown prince Manjusri, attended by a great multitude, are coming into the presence of the Tathagata."

At that moment the Licchavi Vimalakirti said to the crown prince Manjusri,

"Manjusri, let us take these many living beings into the presence of the Lord, so that they may see the Tathagata and bow down to him!"

Manjusri replied,

"Noble sir, send them if you feel the time is right!"

[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.]
Thereupon the Licchavi Vimalakirti performed the miraculous feat of placing the entire assembly, replete with thrones, upon his right hand and then, having transported himself magically into the presence of the Buddha, placing it on the ground. He bowed down at the feet of the Buddha, circumambulated him to the right seven times with palms together, and withdrew to one side.

The bodhisattvas who had come from the buddha-field of the Tathagata Sugandhakuta descended from their lion-thrones and, bowing down at the feet of the Buddha, placed their palms together in reverence and withdrew to one side. And the other bodhisattvas, great spiritual heroes, and the great disciples descended from their thrones likewise and, having bowed at the feet of the Buddha, withdrew to one side. Likewise all those Indras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, and gods bowed at the feet of the Buddha, placed their palms together in reverence and withdrew to one side.

Then, the Buddha, having delighted those bodhisattvas with greetings, declared,

"Noble sons, be seated upon your thrones!"

Thus commanded by the Buddha, they took their thrones.

The Buddha said to Sariputra,

"Sariputra, did you see the miraculous performances of the bodhisattvas, those best of beings?"

"I have seen them, Lord."

"What concept did you produce toward them?"

"Lord, I produced the concept of inconceivability toward them.
Their activities appeared inconceivable to me to the point that I was unable to think of them, to judge them, or even to imagine them."

Then the venerable Ananda asked the Buddha,

"Lord, what is this perfume, the likes of which I have never smelled before?"

The Buddha answered,

"Ananda, this perfume emanates from all the pores of all these bodhisattvas."

Sariputra added,

"Venerable Ananda, this same perfume emanates from all our pores as well!"

Ananda:

Where does the perfume come from?

Sariputra:

The Licchavi Vimalakirti obtained some food from the universe called Sarvagandhasugandha, the buddha-field of the Tathagata Sugandhakuta, and this perfume emanates from the bodies of all those who partook of that food.

Then the venerable Ananda addressed the Licchavi Vimalakirti:

"How long will this perfume remain?"

Vimalakirti:

Until it is digested.

Ananda:

When will it be digested?

Vimalakirti:

It will be digested in forty-nine days, and its perfume will emanate for seven days more after that,
but there will be no trouble of indigestion during that time.
Furthermore, reverend Ananda,
If monks who have not entered ultimate determination eat this food,
it will be digested when they enter that determination.
When those who have entered ultimate determination eat this food,
it will not be digested until their minds are totally liberated.
If living beings who have not conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment eat this food,
it will be digested when they conceive the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment.
If those who have conceived the spirit of perfect enlightenment eat this food,
it will not be digested until they have attained tolerance.
And if those who have attained tolerance eat this food,
it will be digested when they have become bodhisattvas one lifetime away from Buddhahood.
Reverend Ananda, it is like the medicine called "delicious," which reaches the stomach
but is not digested until all poisons have been eliminated only then is it digested.
Thus, reverend Ananda, this food is not digested until all the poisons of the passions have been eliminated only then is it digested.


11.2 - The diversity of the adapted skillful means / buddha-fields

(Résumé: There are no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing views, methods / paths, goals, causality, adapted skillful means / Buddha-field … for teaching all living beings, only possible conventional / relative adapted skillful means to choose from. There are various adapted skillful means in the various Buddha-fields – ex. using concepts / images / perfumes / lights / bodhisattvas / using speech words & language or not using them / using or not Maras & passions  –. In a sense, everything – apparently good or bad or neutral – could be used as a lesson to ultimately 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], because everything is this Reality as it is. As for using something or another as possible adapted skillful means to teach the dharma, because everything is essentially Reality as it 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]. Everything is like the pristine display of the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]. In that sense everything is more like primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms. We just need to open our eyes.)

[Go to TOC]

Then, the venerable Ananda said to the Buddha,

"Lord, it is wonderful that this food (ambrosia perfumed by great compassion) accomplishes the work of the Buddha!"

(The Buddha) :

"So it is, Ananda! It is as you say, Ananda!

  • There are buddha-fields that accomplish the buddha-work by means of bodhisattvas;

  • those that do so by means of lights;

  • those that do so by means of the tree of enlightenment;

  • those that do so by means of the physical beauty and the marks of the Tathagata;

  • those that do so by means of religious robes;

  • those that do so by means of good;

  • those that do so by means of water;

  • those that do so by means of gardens;

  • those that do so by means of palaces;

  • those that do so by means of mansions;

  • those that do so by means of magical incarnations;

  • those that do so by means of empty space;

  • and those that do so by means of lights in the sky.

Why is it so, Ananda?

  • Because by these various means, living beings become disciplined.

  • Similarly, Ananda, there are buddha-fields that accomplish the buddha-work by means of teaching living beings words, definitions, and examples, such as 'dreams,' 'images,' 'the reflection of the moon in water,' 'echoes,' 'illusions,' and 'mirages';
    and those that accomplish the buddha-work by making words understandable.

  • Also, Ananda, there are utterly pure buddha-fields that accomplish the buddha-work for living beings without speech, by silence, inexpressibility, and unteachability.

  • Ananda, among all the activities, enjoyments, and practices of the Buddhas, there are none that do not accomplish the buddha-work, because all discipline living beings.

  • Finally, Ananda, the Buddhas accomplish the buddha-work by means of the four Maras and all the eighty-four thousand types of passion that afflict living beings.


11.3 - The same perfection of the Buddhas-qualities in all Buddha-fields

(Résumé: There are no best views / methods / paths / goals / adapted skillful means / buddha-fields: Because everything – good, bad, or neutral – is exactly this inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unchanging unconditioned unceasing pristine true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [Ground / U2T], then everything can teach us the liberating inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T] – if only we can bypass our usual dualistic conceptual proliferations, our limitations, our conditioning / karma, for just an instant. This inconceivable non-dual pure perfect divine complete free Reality as it is that is present in everything, that is everything, is what we call ‘Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness / Ground / Basis / Source’. So, whichever path / adapted skillful mean / door / Buddha-field we adopt, ultimately, we all converge to the same 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]. Ultimately we all inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceive / realise / experience that everything is primordially spontaneous, timeless, limitless, equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, beautiful, enlightened / trikaya – in the non-dual sense of those terms; 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 [U2T]. – Note: the same Buddha-qualities in all Buddhas means the same Reality as it is in everything, in all Buddha-fields,  all paths.)

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"Ananda, this is a Dharma-door (#5) called 'Introduction to all the Buddha-qualities.' The bodhisattva who enters this Dharma-door experiences neither joy nor pride when confronted by a buddha-field adorned with the splendor of all noble qualities, and experiences neither sadness nor aversion when confronted by a buddha-field apparently without that splendor, but in all cases produces a profound reverence for all the Tathagatas. Indeed, it is wonderful how all the Lord Buddhas, who understand the equality of all things, manifest all sorts of buddha-fields in order to develop living beings!

"Ananda, just as the buddha-fields (Dharma doors) are diverse as to their specific qualities but have no difference as to the sky that covers them, so, Ananda, the Tathagatas are diverse as to their physical bodies but do not differ as to their unimpeded gnosis.

"Ananda, all the Buddhas are the same as to the perfection of the Buddha-qualities, that is: their forms, their colors, their radiance, their bodies, their marks, their nobility, their morality, their concentration, their wisdom, their liberation, the gnosis and vision of liberation, their strengths, their fearlessnesses, their special Buddha-qualities, their great love, their great compassion, their helpful intentions, their attitudes, their practices, their paths, the lengths of their lives, their teachings of the Dharma, their development and liberation of living beings, and their purification of buddha-fields. Therefore, they are all called 'Samyaksambuddhas,' 'Tathagatas,' and 'Buddhas.'

"Ananda, were your life to last an entire aeon, it would not be easy for you to understand thoroughly the extensive meaning and precise verbal significance of these three names. Also, Ananda, if all the living beings of this billion-world galactic universe were like you the foremost of the learned and the foremost of those endowed with memory and incantations - and were they to devote an entire aeon, they would still be unable to understand completely the exact and extensive meaning of the three words 'Samyaksambuddha,' 'Tathagata,' and 'Buddha.' Thus, Ananda, the enlightenment of the Buddhas is immeasurable, and the wisdom and the eloquence of the Tathagatas are inconceivable."


11.4 - The lower vehicle declares forfeit

(Résumé: All of these less absolutist & less dualistic teachings & demonstrations are totally inconceivable for the disciples – their minds cannot assimilate them –: For ordinary beings – like the disciples who are accustomed to more absolutist dualistic positions & methods about everything –, this is hard to digest. All of this seems ‘inconceivable’ for our limited flawed conditioned dualistic conceptual ordinary mind(s) based on two erroneous assumptions: inherent existence / absolutes and opposition / dualities. It all looks like unbelievable theories and magic; but it is just based on a better experiential understanding of the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now [U2T]. Meanwhile, until we better understand, we should remain equanimous with regard to the views & deeds of the bodhisattvas. We should keep our mind open, free from all extremes & middle.)

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Then, the venerable Ananda addressed the Buddha:

"Lord, from this day forth, I shall no longer declare myself to be the foremost of the learned."

The Buddha said,

"Do not be discouraged, Ananda! Why? I pronounced you, Ananda, the foremost of the learned, with the disciples in mind, not considering the bodhisattvas. Look, Ananda, look at the bodhisattvas. They cannot be fathomed even by the wisest of men. Ananda, one can fathom the depths of the ocean, but one cannot fathom the depths of the wisdom, gnosis, memory, incantations, or eloquence of the bodhisattvas. Ananda, you should remain in equanimity with regard to the deeds of the bodhisattvas. Why? Ananda, these marvels displayed in a single morning by the Licchavi Vimalakirti could not be performed by the disciples and solitary sages who have attained miraculous powers, were they to devote all their powers of incarnation and transformation during one hundred thousand millions of aeons."


11.5 - The liberation of bodhisattvas called 'destructible and indestructible'

(Résumé: ‘The bodhisattva should neither destroy (reject / negate / abandon / eliminate) the compounded (the world / samsara / causality / appearances – physical, conceptual, mental –) nor rest in (accept / affirm / seek) the uncompounded (nirvana / nothingness / mere-emptiness / acausality).’ Meaning that true liberation / enlightenment is not about accepting / affirming / seeking this – ex. nirvana / nothingness / mere-emptiness / acausality –, while rejecting / negating / abandoning / eliminating that – the world / samsara / appearances / causality / the various adapted skillful means / the paths –. It is about inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of the world / samsara as it is here & now [U2T]. By seeing through the conditioning / karmic cycle, one can transcend it without rejecting it, one can become free from its illusory nature, free to live in the same Reality as it is without being fooled by the conditioning / karma, without any grasping or fear in absolute terms, without being slaves to illusions / conditioning / karma. So a Bodhisattva does not reject the world / samsara / appearances, nor falls for it, but embraces its non-dual true nature & dynamic, its primordial beauty. It is not because everything is empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent, that we should drop everything and hide in a deep trance / meditative state / non-existence / nothingness / mere-emptiness. There are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent / non-functional <==> even if everything is empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent / deterministic / absolute. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all extremes & middle, beyond existence & non-existence, good & bad, acceptation & rejection, movement & rest, action & non-action, thinking & non-thinking, mentation & non-mentation, ideation & non-ideation, conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-discrimination, causality & acausality / spontaneity, difference & identity, manyness & oneness, self & non-self, samsara & nirvana, dependence & independence, emptiness & non-emptiness, dependently co-arisen appearances & emptines. We need to be on the Middle Way about everything. The compounded / samsara and the Uncompounded / nirvana are not different / separate / two / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth; they are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony … both empty of inherent existence <==> because interdependent [U2T].)

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Then, all those bodhisattvas from the buddha-field of the Tathagata Sugandhakuta joined their palms in reverence and, saluting the Tathagata Sakyamuni, addressed him as follows:

"Lord, when we first arrived in this buddha-field, we conceived a negative idea, but we now abandon this wrong idea. Why? Lord, the realms of the Buddhas and their skill in liberative technique are inconceivable. In order to develop living beings, they manifest such and such a field to suit the desire of such and such a living being.

Lord, please give us a teaching by which we may remember you, when we have returned to Sarvagandhasugandha."

Thus having been requested, the Buddha declared,

"Noble sons, there is a liberation of bodhisattvas called 'destructible and indestructible.'
You must train yourselves in this liberation. What is it? '

  • Destructible' refers to compounded things.

  • 'Indestructible' refers to the uncompounded.

But the bodhisattva should neither destroy the compounded nor rest in the uncompounded.
(i.e. The Middle Way: He should not reject / negate / abandon samsara / appearances in absolute terms, and should not accept / affirm / seek nirvana / emptiness in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / intersubjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the liberating Truth [U2T]. Samsara & nirvana, appearances & emptiness, are inseparable, interdependent, co-dependent, in harmony. = Union of apparent opposites, ex. Union of samsara <==> and nirvana, Union of the Two Truths: Union of appearances / relativity [T1] <==> and emptiness of inherent existence [T2]. One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>) [U2T].)

"Not to destroy compounded things consists in (i.e. not rejecting / negating / abandoning the world / samsara / all paths in absolute terms,)

  • not losing the great love;

  • not giving up the great compassion;

  • not forgetting the omniscient mind generated by high resolve;

  • not tiring in the positive development of living beings;

  • not abandoning the means of unification;

  • giving up body and life in order to uphold the holy Dharma;

  • never being satisfied with the roots of virtue already accumulated;

  • taking pleasure in skillful dedication;

  • having no laziness in seeking the Dharma;

  • being without selfish reticence in teaching the Dharma;

  • sparing no effort in seeing and worshiping the Tathagatas;

  • being fearless in voluntary reincarnations;

  • being neither proud in success nor bowed in failure;

  • not despising the unlearned, and respecting the learned as if they were the Teacher himself;

  • making reasonable those whose passions are excessive;

  • taking pleasure in solitude, without being attached to it;

  • not longing for one's own happiness but longing for the happiness of others;

  • conceiving of trance, meditation, and equanimity as if they were the Avici hell;

  • conceiving of the world as a garden of liberation;

  • considering beggars to be spiritual teachers;

  • considering the giving away of all possessions to be the means of realizing Buddhahood;

  • considering immoral beings to be saviors;

  • considering the transcendences to be parents;

  • considering the aids to enlightenment to be servants;

  • never ceasing accumulation of the roots of virtue;

  • establishing the virtues of all buddha-fields in one's own buddha-field;

  • offering limitless pure sacrifices to fulfill the auspicious marks and signs;

  • adorning body, speech and mind by refraining from all sins;

  • continuing in reincarnations during immeasurable aeons, while purifying body, speech, and mind;

  • avoiding discouragement, through spiritual heroism, when learning of the immeasurable virtues of the Buddha;

  • wielding the sharp sword of wisdom to chastise the enemy passions;

  • knowing well the aggregates, the elements, and the sense-media in order to bear the burdens of all living beings;

  • blazing with energy to conquer the host of demons;

  • seeking knowledge in order to avoid pride;

  • being content with little desire in order to uphold the Dharma;

  • not mixing with worldly things in order to delight all the people;

  • being faultless in all activities in order to conform to all people;

  • producing the super-knowledges to actually accomplish all duties of benefit to living beings;

  • acquiring incantations, memory, and knowledge in order to retain all learning;

  • understanding the degrees of people's spiritual faculties to dispel the doubts of all living beings;

  • displaying invincible miraculous feats to teach the Dharma;

  • having irresistible speech by acquiring unimpeded eloquence;

  • tasting human and divine success by purifying the path of ten virtues;

  • establishing the path of the pure states of Brahma by cultivating the four immeasurables;

  • inviting the Buddhas to teach the Dharma, rejoicing in them, and applauding them, thereby obtaining the melodious voice of a Buddha;

  • disciplining body, speech, and mind, thus maintaining constant spiritual progress;

  • being without attachment to anything and thus acquiring the behavior of a Buddha;

  • gathering together the order of bodhisattvas to attract beings to the Mahayana;

  • and being consciously aware at all times not to neglect any good quality.

Noble sons, a bodhisattva who thus applies himself to the Dharma is a bodhisattva who does not destroy the compounded realm.

"What is not resting in the uncompounded? (i.e. not accepting / affirming / seeking / resting in nirvana in absolute terms)

  • The bodhisattva practices voidness, but he does not realize (grasp) voidness.

  • He practices signlessness but does not realize signlessness.

  • He practices wishlessness but does not realize wishlessness.

  • He practices non-performance but does not realize non-performance.

  • He knows impermanence but is not complacent about his roots of virtue.

  • He considers misery, but he reincarnates voluntarily.

  • He knows selflessness but does not waste himself.

  • He considers peacefulness but does not seek extreme peace.

  • He cherishes solitude but does not avoid mental and physical efforts.

  • He considers placelessness but does not abandon the place of good actions.

  • He considers occurrencelessness but undertakes to bear the burdens of all living beings.

  • He considers immaculateness, yet he follows the process of the world.

  • He considers motionlessness, yet he moves in order to develop all living beings.

  • He considers selflessness yet does not abandon the great compassion toward all living beings.

  • He considers birthlessness, yet he does not fall into the ultimate determination of the disciples.

  • He considers vanity, futility, insubstantiality, dependency, and placelessness,
    – yet he establishes himself on merits that are not vain,
    – on knowledge that is not futile,
    – on reflections that are substantial,
    – on the striving for the consecration of the independent gnosis,
    – and on the Buddha-family in its definitive meaning.

"Thus, noble sons, a bodhisattva who aspires to such a Dharma neither rests in the uncompounded nor destroys the compounded.

"Furthermore, noble sons,

in order to accomplish the store of merit, a bodhisattva
does not rest in the uncompounded (does not seek / escape in nirvana / emptiness),
and, in order to accomplish the store of wisdom, he
does not destroy the compounded. (does not reject / abandon samsara / appearances / relativity / karma)

In order to fulfill the great love, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, in order to fulfill the great compassion, he does not destroy compounded things.

In order to develop living beings, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and in order to aspire to the Buddha-qualities, he does not destroy compounded things.

To perfect the marks of Buddhahood, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, to perfect the gnosis of omniscience, he does not destroy compounded things.

Out of skill in liberative technique, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, through thorough analysis with his wisdom, he does not destroy compounded things.

To purify the buddha-field, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, by the power of the grace of the Buddha, he does not destroy compounded things.

Because he feels the needs of living beings, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, in order to show truly the meaning of the Dharma, he does not destroy compounded things.

Because of his store of roots of virtue, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and because of his instinctive enthusiasm for these roots of virtue, he does not destroy compounded things.

To fulfill his prayers, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, because he has no wishes, he does not destroy compounded things.

Because his positive thought is pure, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, because his high resolve is pure, he does not destroy compounded things.

In order to play with the five super-knowledges, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, because of the six super-knowledges of the buddha-gnosis, he does not destroy compounded things.

To fulfill the six transcendences, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, to fulfill the time, he does not destroy compounded things.

To gather the treasures of the Dharma, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, because he does not like any narrow-minded teachings, he does not destroy compounded things.

Because he gathers all the medicines of the Dharma, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, to apply the medicine of the Dharma appropriately, he does not destroy compounded things.

To confirm his commitments, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, to mend any failure of these commitments, he does not destroy compounded things.

To concoct all the elixirs of the Dharma, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, to give out the nectar of this subtle Dharma, he does not destroy compounded things.

Because he knows thoroughly all the sicknesses due to passions, he does not rest in the uncompounded,
and, in order to cure all sicknesses of all living beings, he does not destroy compounded things.

"Thus, noble sons, the bodhisattva does not destroy compounded things (does not reject / negate / abandon samsara / appearances / relativity) and does not rest in the uncompounded (does not accept / affirm / seek nirvana / emptiness in absolute terms), and that is the liberation of bodhisattvas called 'destructible and indestructible.' Noble sirs, you should also strive in this."

Then, those bodhisattvas, having heard this teaching, were satisfied, delighted, and reverent. They were filled with rejoicing and happiness of mind. In order to worship the Buddha Sakyamuni and the bodhisattvas of the Saha universe, as well as this teaching, they covered the whole earth of this billion-world universe with fragrant powder, incense, perfumes, and flowers up to the height of the knees. Having thus regaled the whole retinue of the Tathagata, bowed their heads at the feet of the Buddha, and circumambulated him to the right three times, they sang a hymn of praise to him. They then disappeared from this universe and in a split second were back in the universe Sarvagandhasugandha.




12. VISION OF THE UNIVERSE ABHIRATI
AND THE TATHAGATAS AKSOBHYA

(From the Introduction: In the penultimate (twelveth) chapter, prompted by the Buddha, Vimalakīrti describes how he sees the Tathāgata. When Śāriputra asks where Vimalakīrti was before manifesting in this world, the Buddha tells him it was in Abhirati, the buddhafield of Akṣobhya. Everyone present wants a glimpse of that buddhafield, so at the Buddha’s request Vimalakīrti physically miniaturizes Abhirati, brings it to Vaiśālī to show and inspire them all, and then replaces it where it was.)

12.1 - The Tathagata

(Résumé – same as 7.1: A bodhisattva should perceived everything, including all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it is, as like dreams / magical illusions / tricks of the sight / mirages / reflections / echos / Cities of Gandharvas / emanated apparitions: ‘there but not there’ – empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because dependently co-arisen / interdependent [T1] [U2T], like objects merely co-labeled / co-imputed / co-imagined / co-created / co-evolving by/with the subject / mind [U3S]. Not inherently existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, not both together, not neither; not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither; not this, not non-this, not both together, not neither; etc. Meaning the true nature & dynamic of everything is indescribable / inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all limits, beyond all conditioning / karma. It has to be inconceivably personally very-subtly spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceived / realised / experienced.)
(Same as 3.7 - Perceiving / knowing without perceiving / knowing all subjects / living beings, all objects / phenomena, all relations / actions, and even the Tathagata / Ground / Reality as it iss: 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.)

From 9.31 - (i.e. Perceiving / knowing without perceiving / knowing – There are no real / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing truth / sight / perception / cognition and false / non-sight / non-perception / non-cognition –: Those apparent opposites – truth / sight & falsehood / non-sight – are apparently inherently existent and apparently inherently independent / different / separate / independent / multiple / dual / in opposition; but in reality they are more like in harmony; they are more like empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing / co-transcended [T1] [T2], 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; One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). They are not existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, 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; etc. Meaning their true nature is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. So there is no solid basis to describe and discriminate / differentiate / oppose / classify them in absolute terms, or to not-describe and not-discriminate / not-differentiate / not-oppose / not classify them completely; they are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent or non-functional <==> even if empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent or deterministic. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all dualistic concepts / dualism.)

From 9.19 - (i.e. Directly understanding and then perceiving / realising / experiencing the true nature & dynamic of the three inseparable spheres of perception / cognition – There are no real / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing subject / actor / perceiver / knower, relation / action / perception / cognition, object / result / perceived / known –: Those apparent opposites – the three spheres of perception / cognition – are apparently inherently existent and apparently inherently independent / different / separate / independent / multiple / dual / in opposition; but in reality they are more like in harmony; they are more like empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing / co-transcended [T1] [T2], 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; One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). They are not existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, 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; etc. Meaning their true nature is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. So there is no solid basis to describe and discriminate / differentiate / oppose / classify them in absolute terms, or to not-describe and not-discriminate / not-differentiate / not-oppose / not classify them completely; they are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent or non-functional <==> even if empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent or deterministic. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all dualistic concepts / dualism.)

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Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=1884
Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=6200 

[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.]

Thereupon, the Buddha said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti,

"Noble son, when you would see the Tathagata, how do you view him?"
(i.e. in the sense of under-standing & then directly perceiving the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is / Ground / Suchness / U2T)

Thus addressed, the Licchavi Vimalakirti said to the Buddha,

"Lord, when I would see the Tathagata, I view him by not seeing any Tathagata [U2T]. (i.e. Seeing without seeing.)
Why?
I see him as not born from the past, not passing on to the future, and not abiding in the present time.
Why?

He is the essence which is the reality of matter, but he is not matter. (i.e. He is the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is / Ground / Suchness / U2T. Not many, not one, not both together, not neither.)
He is the essence which is the reality of sensation, but he is not sensation.
He is the essence which is the reality of intellect, but he is not intellect.
He is the essence which is the reality of motivation, yet he is not motivation.
He is the essence which is the reality of consciousness, yet he is not consciousness.
Like the element of space, he does not abide in any of the four elements.
Transcending the scope of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, he is not produced in the six sense-media.

He is not involved in the three worlds,
  is free of the three defilements,
  is associated with the triple liberation,
  is endowed with the three knowledges,
  and has truly attained the unattainable."

The Tathagata has reached the extreme of detachment in regard to all things, yet he is not a reality-limit.
He abides in ultimate reality, yet there is no relationship between it and him.
He is not produced from causes, nor does he depend on conditions.
He is not without any characteristic, nor has he any characteristic.
He has no single nature nor any diversity of natures.
He is not a conception, not a mental construction, nor is he a non-conception.
He is neither the other shore, nor this shore, nor that between.
He is neither here, nor there, nor anywhere else.
He is neither this nor that.
He cannot be discovered by consciousness, nor is he inherent in consciousness.
He is neither darkness nor light.
He is neither name nor sign.
He is neither weak nor strong.
He lives in no country or direction.
He is neither good nor evil.
He is neither compounded nor uncompounded.
He cannot be explained as having any meaning whatsoever.

"The Tathagata is neither generosity nor avarice,
neither morality nor immorality,
neither tolerance nor malice,
neither effort nor sloth,
neither concentration nor distraction,
neither wisdom nor foolishness.

He is inexpressible [inconceivable].
He is neither truth nor falsehood;
neither escape from the world nor failure to escape from the world;
neither cause of involvement in the world nor not a cause of involvement in the world;
he is the cessation of all theory and all practice.

He is neither a field of merit nor not a field of merit;
he is neither worthy of offerings nor unworthy of offerings.

He is not an object, and cannot be contacted.
He is not a whole, nor a conglomeration.
He surpasses all calculations.
He is utterly unequaled, yet equal to the ultimate reality of things.
He is matchless, especially in effort.
He surpasses all measure.
He does not go, does not stay, does not pass beyond.
He is neither seen, heard, distinguished, nor known.
He is without any complexity, having attained the equanimity of omniscient gnosis.
Equal toward all things, he does not discriminate between them.

He is without reproach, without excess, without corruption, without conception, and without intellectualization.
He is without activity, without birth, without occurrence, without origin, without production, and without non-production.
He is without fear and without subconsciousness; without sorrow, without joy, and without strain.
No verbal teaching can express him.

"Such is the body of the Tathagata and thus should he be seen.
Who sees thus, truly sees. Who sees otherwise, sees falsely."


12.2 - Nothing dies or is reborn -- origin of Vimalakirti

(Résumé - same as 7.8: Tolerance of the birthlessness, occurrencelessness, rebirthlessness, and destructionlessness / extinctionlessness of all things: In Reality as it is [U2T], everything is 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].
Thus there are no real three stages of becoming for anything: -- 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 –.
Thus there are no real / inherently existing change / evolution, rebirths / transmigration, and liberation / enlightenment.
Again here ‘no’ / ‘not existent’ doesn’t mean ‘complete non-existence’ but not inherently existent, just dependently / relatively / conventionally existent. In the same way, ‘non duality’ doesn’t mean ‘oneness’. All of this is dualistic thinking – existence vs. non-existence, duality vs. non-duality / oneness –, while Reality as it is is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all limits, beyond all conditioning / karma.) [See also 9.1, 9.23]

From 9.1 - (The attainment of the tolerance of the birthlessness, occurrencelessness, rebirthlessness, and destructionlessness / extinctionlessness of all things – There are no real / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing origination, duration, cessation / death / destruction / nirvana extinction of the five aggregate –: Those apparent opposites – the three stages of becoming of any thing / being / relation / action – are apparently inherently existent and apparently inherently independent / different / separate / independent / multiple / dual / in opposition; but in reality they are more like in harmony; they are more like empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing / co-transcended [T1] [T2], 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; One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). They are not existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, 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; etc. Meaning their true nature is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. So there is no solid basis to describe and discriminate / differentiate / oppose / classify them in absolute terms, or to not-describe and not-discriminate / not-differentiate / not-oppose / not classify them completely; they are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent or non-functional <==> even if empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent or deterministic. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all dualistic concepts / dualism.)

From 9.23 - (The attainment of the tolerance of the birthlessness, occurrencelessness, rebirthlessness, and destructionlessness / extinctionlessness of all things – There are no real / independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing origination, duration, cessation / death / destruction / nirvana extinction of the five aggregate –: Those apparent opposites – the three stages of becoming of the five aggregates – are apparently inherently existent and apparently inherently independent / different / separate / independent / multiple / dual / in opposition; but in reality they are more like in harmony; they are more like empty of inherent existence [T2] <==> because inseparable / interdependent / co-defined / co-relative / co-dependent / co-emergent / co-evolving / co-ceasing / co-transcended [T1] [T2], 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; One aspect / truth implies / proves the other (<==>). They are not existent, not completely non-existent or non-functional, 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; etc. Meaning their true nature is inconceivable, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all dualistic conceptual proliferations, beyond all defining limitations, beyond all conditioning / karma. So there is no solid basis to describe and discriminate / differentiate / oppose / classify them in absolute terms, or to not-describe and not-discriminate / not-differentiate / not-oppose / not classify them completely; they are still valid meaningful useful conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances [T1], not completely non-existent or non-functional <==> even if empty of inherent existence [T2] [U2T], not really existent or deterministic. So it is ok to use them, to describe / conceptualise / differentiate / classify them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms. Reality as it is is beyond all dualistic concepts / dualism.)

[Go to TOC]

Comments: What is the Vimalakirti Sutra? Buddhism Explained with Robert A.F. Thurman: https://youtu.be/GY1UXFNM7YY?t=2358

[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 venerable Sariputra then asked the Buddha,

"Lord, in which buddha-field did the noble Vimalakirti die, before reincarnating in this buddha-field?"

The Buddha said,

"Sariputra, ask this good man directly where he died to reincarnate here."

Then the venerable Sariputra asked the Licchavi Vimalakirti,

"Noble sir, where did you die to reincarnate here?"

Vimalakirti declared,

"Is there anything among the things that you see, elder, that dies or is reborn?"

Sariputra:

[Ultimately] There is nothing that dies or is reborn [T2].
(i.e. Birthlessness, occurencelessness, changelessness, rebirthlessness, deathlessness.)

Vimalakirti:

Likewise, reverend Sariputra, as [Ultimately] all things neither die nor are reborn [T2], why do you ask, "Where did you die to reincarnate here?" Reverend Sariputra, if one were to ask a man or woman created by a magician where he or she had died to reincarnate there, what do you think he or she would answer?

(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.)

Sariputra:

Noble sir, a magical creation does not die, nor is it reborn.

Vimalakirti:

Reverend Sariputra, did not the Tathagata declare that
all things have the nature of a magical creation [‘there but not there’ [U2T]]?

Sariputra:

Yes, noble sir, that is indeed so.

Vimalakirti:

Reverend Sariputra, "death" is an end of performance, and "rebirth" is the continuation of performance. But, although a bodhisattva dies, he does not put an end to the performance of the roots of virtue, and although he is reborn, he does not adhere to the continuation of sin.

Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Sariputra,

"Sariputra, [but conventionally / relatively [T1]] this holy person came here from the presence of the Tathagata Aksobhya in the universe Abhirati."

Sariputra:

Lord, it is wonderful that this holy person, having left a buddha-field as pure as Abhirati, should enjoy a buddha-field as full of defects as this Saha universe!

The Licchavi Vimalakirti said,

"Sariputra, what do you think? Does the light of the sun accompany the darkness?"

Sariputra:

Certainly not, noble sir!

Vimalakirti:

Then the two do not go together?

Sariputra:

Noble sir, those two do not go together. As soon as the sun rises, all darkness is destroyed.

Vimalakirti:

Then why does the sun rise over the world?

Sariputra:

 It rises to illuminate the world, and to eliminate the darkness.

Vimalakirti:

Just in the same way, reverend Sariputra,
the bodhisattva reincarnates voluntarily in the impure buddha-fields
in order to purify the living beings,
in order to make the light of wisdom shine,
and in order to clear away the darkness.
Since they do not associate with the passions, they dispel the darkness of the passions of all living beings.


12.3 - Show them the Universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya

(Résumé: 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]

Thereupon, the entire multitude experienced the desire to behold the universe Abhirati, the Tathagata Aksobhya, his bodhisattvas, and his great disciples.

The Buddha, knowing the thoughts of the entire multitude, said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti,

"Noble son, this multitude wishes to behold the universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya - show them!"

Then the Licchavi Vimalakirti thought, (Aksobyas Mandala)

"Without rising from my couch, I shall pick up in my right hand the universe Abhirati and all it contains:

its hundreds of thousands of bodhisattvas;

its abodes of devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, and asuras, bounded by its Cakravada mountains;

its rivers, lakes, fountains, streams, oceans, and other bodies of water;

its Mount Sumeru and other hills and mountain ranges;

its moon, its sun, and its stars;

its devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, and asuras themselves;

its Brahma and his retinues;

its villages, cities, towns, provinces, kingdoms, men, women, and houses;

its bodhisattvas;

its disciples;

the tree of enlightenment of the Tathagata Aksobhya;

and the Tathagata Aksobhya himself, seated in the middle of an assembly vast as an ocean, teaching the Dharma.

.

Also the lotuses that accomplish the buddha-work among the living beings;

the three jeweled ladders that rise from its earth to its Trayastrimsa heaven, on which ladders the gods of that heaven descend to the world to see, honor, and serve the Tathagata Aksobhya and to hear the Dharma, and on which the men of the earth climb to the Trayastrimsa heaven to visit those gods.

.

Like a potter with his wheel, I will reduce that universe Abhirati,

with its store of innumerable virtues,

from its watery base up to its Akanistha heaven,
to a minute size and, carrying it gently like a garland of flowers, will bring it to this Saha universe and will show it to the multitudes."

[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.]
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti entered into a concentration, and performed a miraculous feat such that he reduced the universe Abhirati to a minute size, and took it with his right hand, and brought it into this Saha universe.

In that universe Abhirati, the disciples, bodhisattvas, and those among gods and men who possessed the super-knowledge of the divine eye all cried out,

"Lord, we are being carried away! Sugata, we are being carried off! Protect us, O Tathagata!"

But, to discipline them, the Tathagata Aksobhya said to them,

"You are being carried off by the bodhisattva Vimalakirti. It is not my affair."

As for the other men and gods, they had no awareness at all that they were being carried anywhere.

Although the universe Abhirati had been brought into the universe Saha, the Saha universe was not increased or diminished; it was neither compressed nor obstructed. Nor was the universe Abhirati reduced internally, and both universes appeared to be the same as they had ever been.

Thereupon, the Buddha Sakyamuni asked all the multitudes,

"Friends, behold the splendors of the universe Abhirati, the Tathagata Aksobhya, the array of his buddha-field, and the splendors of these disciples and bodhisattvas!"

They replied,

"We see them, Lord!".

The Buddha said,

"Those bodhisattvas who wish to embrace such a buddha-field should train themselves in all the bodhisattva-practices of the Tathagata Aksobhya."

While Vimalakirti, with his miraculous power, showed them thus the universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya, one hundred and forty thousand living beings among the men and gods of the Saha universe conceived the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment, and all of them formed a prayer to be reborn in the universe Abhirati.

And the Buddha prophesied that in the future all would be reborn in the universe Abhirati.

And the Licchavi Vimalakirti, having thus developed all the living beings who could thereby be developed, returned the universe Abhirati exactly to its former place.


12.4 - May all living beings come to live in such a buddha-field and be like Vimalakirti

(Résumé: Great benefits of receiving and practicing such non-absolutist non-dualistic Mahayana teachings, of living in such a Buddha-field, with such Bodhisattva as Vimalakirti.)

[Go to TOC]

The Lord then said to the venerable Sariputra,

"Sariputra, did you see that universe Abhirati, and the Tathagata Aksobhya?"

Sariputra replied,

"I saw it, Lord! May all living beings come to live in a buddha-field as splendid as that!
May all living beings come to have miraculous powers just like those of the noble Licchavi Vimalakirti!

"We have gained great benefit from having seen a holy man such as he. We have gained a great benefit from having heard such teaching of the Dharma, whether the Tathagata himself still actually exists or whether he has already attained ultimate liberation. Hence, there is no need to mention the great benefit for those who, having heard it, believe it, rely on it, embrace it, remember it, read it, and penetrate to its depth; and, having found faith in it, teach, recite, and show it to others and apply themselves to the yoga of meditation upon its teaching.

"Those living beings who understand correctly this teaching of the Dharma will obtain the treasury of the jewels of the Dharma.
"Those who study correctly this teaching of the Dharma will become the companions of the Tathagata.
Those who honor and serve the adepts of this doctrine will be the true protectors of the Dharma.
Those who write, teach, and worship this teaching of the Dharma will be visited by the Tathagata in their homes.
Those who take pleasure in this teaching of the Dharma will embrace all merits.
Those who teach it to others, whether it be no more than a single stanza of four lines, or a single summary phrase from this teaching of the Dharma, will be performing the great Dharma-sacrifice.
And those who devote to this teaching of the Dharma their tolerance, their zeal, their intelligence, their discernment, their vision, and their aspirations, thereby become subject to the prophesy of future Buddhahood!"




EPILOGUE
ANTECEDENT AND TRANSMISSION OF THE HOLY DHARMA

(From the Introduction: In a dialogue with Śakra in the final chapter the Buddha explains, as in many other sūtras, the extraordinary merit of studying and understanding this teaching, and recounts how in one of his own former lives he was taught the importance of Dharma-worship by the Tahāgata Bhaiṣajyarāja. He then entrusts his own enlightenment along with this sūtra to Maitreya, explaining the importance it will have in conveying the profound principles of the Dharma to beings in the future, as well as asking Ānanda to memorize it and giving it several different names.)

1 - The initiation to the purity of the external mandala as a skillful means (?)

(Résumé: About those miracles -- 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 –: Appreciation & support from Sakra, the price of gods.)

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Then Sakra, the prince of the gods, said to the Buddha,

"Lord, formerly I have heard from the Tathagata and from Manjusri, the crown prince of wisdom, many hundreds of thousands of teachings of the Dharma, but I have never before heard a teaching of the Dharma as remarkable as this instruction in the entrance into the method of inconceivable transformations.

Lord, those living beings who, having heard this teaching of the Dharma, accept it, remember it, read it, and understand it deeply

will be, without a doubt, true vessels of the Dharma;

there is no need to mention those who apply themselves to the yoga of meditation upon it.

They will cut off all possibility of unhappy lives, will open their way to all fortunate lives,
will always be looked after by all Buddhas,
will always overcome all adversaries,
and will always conquer all devils.

They will practice the path of the bodhisattvas,
will take their places upon the seat of Enlightenment,
and will have truly entered the domain of the Tathagatas.

Lord, the noble sons and daughters who will teach and practice this exposition of the Dharma

will be honored and served by me and my followers.

To the villages, towns, cities, states, kingdoms, and capitals wherein this teaching of the Dharma will be applied, taught, and demonstrated,

I and my followers will come to hear the Dharma.

I will inspire the unbelieving with faith,
and I will guarantee my help and protection to those who believe and uphold the Dharma."


2 - The Dharma Worship

(Résumé: The supreme worship: Explanation of the Great Merit of accepting this exposition of the Dharma called 'Instruction in the Inconceivable Liberation,' reciting it, and understanding it deeply. Also the greatest merit is gained by worshiping this Dharma. 'Good man, the supreme worship is the Dharma-worship.' 'Noble son, the Dharma-worship is that worship rendered to the discourses taught by the Tathagata.’ To teach correctly, to uphold, to investigate, and to understand such Scriptures, thus incorporating into one's own life the holy Dharma - that is the "Dharma-worship.")

[Go to TOC]

At these words, the Buddha said to Sakra, the prince of the gods,

"Excellent! Excellent, prince of gods! The Tathagata rejoices in your good words. Prince of gods, the enlightenment of the Buddhas of the past, present, and future is expressed in this discourse of Dharma. Therefore, prince of gods, when noble sons and daughters accept it, repeat it, understand it deeply, write it completely, and, making it into a book, honor it, those sons and daughters thereby pay homage to the Buddhas of the past, present and future.

(GREAT MERIT)

"Let us suppose, prince of gods, that this billion-world-galactic universe were as full of Tathagatas as it is covered with groves of sugarcane, with rosebushes, with bamboo thickets, with herbs, and with flowers, and that a noble son or daughter were to honor them, revere them, respect and adore them, offering them all sorts of comforts and offerings for an aeon or more than an aeon. And let us suppose that, these Tathagatas having entered ultimate liberation, he or she honored each of them by enshrining their preserved bodies in a memorial stupa made of precious stones, each as large as a world with four great continents, rising as high as the world of Brahma, adorned with parasols, banners, standards, and lamps. And let us suppose finally that, having erected all these stupas for the Tathagatas, he or she were to devote an aeon or more to offering them flowers, perfumes, banners, and standards, while playing drums and music.

That being done, what do you think, prince of gods?
Would that noble son or daughter receive much merit as a consequence of such activities?"

Sakra, the prince of gods, replied,

"Many merits, Lord! Many merits, O Sugata! Were one to spend hundreds of thousands of millions of aeons, it would be impossible to measure the limit of the mass of merits that that noble son or daughter would thereby gather!"

The Buddha said,

(GREATER MERIT WITH THIS SUTRA)

"Have faith, prince of gods, and understand this: Whoever accepts this exposition of the Dharma called 'Instruction in the Inconceivable Liberation,' recites it, and understands it deeply, he or she will gather merits even greater than those who perform the above acts. Why so? Because, prince of gods, the enlightenment of the Buddhas arises from the Dharma, and one honors them by the Dharma worship, and not by material worship. Thus it is taught, prince of gods, and thus you must understand it."

The Buddha then further said to Sakra, the prince of gods,

(GREAT MERIT)

"Once, prince of gods, long ago, long before aeons more numerous than the innumerable, immense, immeasurable, inconceivable, and even before then, the Tathagata called Bhaisajyaraja appeared in the world: a saint, perfectly and fully enlightened, endowed with knowledge and conduct, a blissful one, knower of the world, incomparable knower of men who need to be civilized, teacher of gods and men, a Lord, a Buddha. He appeared in the aeon called Vicarana in the universe called Mahavyuha.

"The length of life of this Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja, perfectly and fully enlightened one, was twenty short aeons. His retinue of disciples numbered thirty-six million billion, and his retinue of bodhisattvas numbered twelve million billion. In that same era, prince of gods, there was a universal monarch called King Ratnacchattra, who reigned over the four continents and possessed seven precious jewels. He had one thousand heroic sons, powerful, strong, and able to conquer enemy armies. This King Ratnacchattra honored the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja and his retinue with many excellent offerings during five short aeons.

At the end of this time, the King Ratnacchattra said to his sons, 'Recognizing that during my reign I have worshiped the Tathagata, in your turn you also should worship him.'

"The thousand princes gave their consent, obeying their father the king, and all together, during another five short aeons, they honored the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja with all sorts of excellent offerings.

"Among them, there was a prince by the name of Candracchattra, who retired into solitude and thought to himself, 'Is there not another mode of worship, even better and more noble than this?'

(GREATER MERIT IN THE DHARMA PRACTICES)

"Then, by the supernatural power of the Buddha Bhaisajyaraja, the gods spoke to him from the heavens:

'Good man, the supreme worship is the Dharma-worship.'

"Candracchattra asked them,

'What is this "Dharma-worship"?'

The gods replied,

'Good man, go to the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja, ask him about the "Dharma-worship," and he will explain it to you fully.'

"Then, the prince Candracchattra went to the Lord Bhaisajyaraja, the saint, the Tathagata, the insuperably, perfectly enlightened one, and having approached him, bowed down at his feet, circumambulated him to the right three times, and withdrew to one side. He then asked,

'Lord, I have heard of a "Dharma-worship," which surpasses all other worship. What it this "Dharma-worship"?'

"The Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja said,

'Noble son, the Dharma-worship is that worship rendered to the discourses taught by the Tathagata.

  • These discourses are deep and profound in illumination.

  • They do not conform to the mundane and are difficult to understand, difficult to see and difficult to realize.

  • They are subtle, precise, and ultimately incomprehensible.

  • As Scriptures, they are collected in the canon of the bodhisattvas, stamped with the insignia of the king of incantations and teachings.

  • They reveal the irreversible wheel of Dharma, arising from the six transcendences (the six paramitas?), cleansed of any false notions.

  • They are endowed with all the aids to enlightenment (the same as The seven sets of the Wings of Awakening) and embody the seven factors of enlightenment.

  • They introduce living beings to the great compassion and teach them the great love.

  • They eliminate all the convictions of the Maras, and they manifest relativity.

  • -

  • "'They contain the message of selflessness, living-beinglessness, lifelessness, personlessness, voidness, signlessness, wishlessness, non-performance, non-production, and non-occurrence.

(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 make possible the attainment of the seat of enlightenment and set in motion the wheel of the Dharma.

  • They are approved and praised by the chiefs of the gods, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas.

  • They preserve unbroken the heritage of the holy Dharma, contain the treasury of the Dharma, and represent the summit of the Dharma-worship.

  • They are upheld by all holy beings and teach all the bodhisattva practices.

  • They induce the unmistaken understanding of the Dharma in its ultimate sense.

  • They certify that all things are impermanent, miserable, selfless, and peaceful, thus epitomizing the Dharma.

  • They cause the abandonment of avarice, immorality, malice, laziness, forgetfulness, foolishness, and jealousy, as well as bad convictions, adherence to objects, and all opposition.

  • They are praised by all the Buddhas.

  • They are the medicines for the tendencies of mundane life, and they authentically manifest the great happiness of liberation.

To teach correctly, to uphold, to investigate, and to understand such Scriptures, thus incorporating into one's own life the holy Dharma - that is the "Dharma-worship."

"'Furthermore, noble son, the Dharma-worship consists of

  • determining the Dharma according to the Dharma;

  • applying the Dharma according to the Dharma;

  • being in harmony with relativity;

  • being free of extremist convictions;

  • attaining the tolerance of ultimate birthlessness and non-occurrence 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.)

  • realizing selflessness and living-beinglessness;

  • refraining from struggle about causes and conditions, without quarreling, or disputing; not being possessive;

  • being free of egoism;

  • relying on the meaning and not on the literal expression;

  • relying on gnosis and not on consciousness;

  • relying on the ultimate teachings definitive in meaning and not insisting on the superficial teachings interpretable in meaning;

  • relying on reality and not insisting on opinions derived from personal authorities;

  • realizing correctly the reality of the Buddha;

  • realizing the ultimate absence of any fundamental consciousness;

  • and overcoming the habit of clinging to an ultimate ground.

  • Finally, attaining peace by stopping everything from ignorance to old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, anxiety, and trouble,

  • and realizing that living beings know no end to their views concerning these twelve links of dependent origination;

  • then, noble son, when you do not hold to any view at all, it is called the unexcelled Dharma-worship.'

"Prince of gods, when the prince Candracchattra had heard this definition of Dharma-worship from the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja, he attained the conformative tolerance of ultimate birthlessness; and, taking his robes and ornaments, he offered them to the Buddha Bhaisajyaraja, saying,

(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.)

'When the Tathagata will be in ultimate liberation, I wish to defend his holy Dharma, to protect it, and to worship it. May the Tathagata grant me his supernatural blessing, that I may be able to conquer Mara and all adversaries and to incorporate in all my lives the holy Dharma of the Buddha!'

"The Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja, knowing the high resolve of Candracchattra, prophesied to him that he would be, at a later time, in the future, the protector, guardian, and defender of the city of the holy Dharma. Then, prince of gods, the prince Candracchattra, out of his great faith in the Tathagata, left the household life in order to enter the homeless life of a monk and having done so, lived making great efforts toward the attainment of virtue. Having made great effort and being well established in virtue, he soon produced the five super-knowledges, understood the incantations, and obtained the invincible eloquence. When the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja attained ultimate liberation, Candracchattra, on the strength of his super-knowledges and by the power of his incantations, made the wheel of the Dharma turn just as the Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja had done and continued to do so for ten short aeons.

"Prince of gods, while the monk Candracchattra was exerting himself thus to protect the holy Dharma, thousands of millions of living beings reached the stage of irreversibility on the path to unexcelled, perfect enlightenment, fourteen billion living beings were disciplined in the vehicles of the disciples and solitary sages, and innumerable living beings took rebirth in the human and heavenly realms.

"Perhaps, prince of gods, you are wondering or experiencing some doubt about whether or not, at that former time, the King Ratnacchattra was not some other than the actual Tathagata Ratnarcis. You must not imagine that, for the present Tathagata Ratnarcis was at that time, in that epoch, the universal monarch Ratnacchattra. As for the thousand sons of the King Ratnacchattra, they are now the thousand bodhisattvas of the present blessed aeon, during the course of which one thousand Buddhas will appear in the world. Among them, Krakucchanda and others are already born, and those remaining will still be born, from Kakutsunda up to the Tathagata Roca, who will be the last to be born.

"Perhaps, prince of gods, you are asking yourself if, in that life, in that time, the Prince Candracchattra who upheld the Holy Dharma of Lord Tathagata Bhaisajyaraja was not someone other than myself. But you must not imagine that, for I was, in that life, in that time, the Prince Candracchattra. Thus it is necessary to know, prince of gods, that among all the worships rendered to the Tathagata, the Dharma-worship is the very best. Yes, it is good, eminent, excellent, perfect, supreme, and unexcelled. And therefore, prince of gods, do not worship me with material objects but worship me with the Dharma-worship! Do not honor me with material objects but honor me by honor to the Dharma!"


3 - The two levels: beginner, veteran

(Résumé: Entrusting Maitreya to protect this Dharma teaching for future generations. Also, in this Dharma teaching, there is a) the superficial more-absolutist more-dualistic conceptual level of understanding and practice of the beginners, and b) the inconceivable personal very-subtle spontaneous less-absolutist less-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] of the veterans in the religious practice. At each of those levels there are specific dangers of misinterpretation and mispractice; so be careful.)

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Then the Lord Sakyamuni said to the bodhisattva Maitreya, the great spiritual hero,

"I transmit to you, Maitreya, this unexcelled, perfect enlightenment which I attained only after innumerable millions of billions of aeons, in order that, at a later time, during a later life, a similar teaching of the Dharma, protected by your supernatural power, will spread in the world and will not disappear. Why? Maitreya, in the future there will be noble sons and daughters, devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, and asuras, who, having planted the roots of virtue, will produce the spirit of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment. If they do not hear this teaching of the Dharma, they will certainly lose boundless advantages and even perish. But if they hear such a teaching, they will rejoice, will believe, and will accept it upon the crowns of their heads. Hence, in order to protect those future noble sons and daughters, you must spread a teaching such as this!

(TWO APPROACHES: ONE FOR BEGINNERS, ONE FOR VETERANS)

"Maitreya, there are two gestures of the bodhisattvas. What are they?

  1. The first gesture is to believe in all sorts of phrases and words,

  2. and the second gesture is to penetrate exactly the profound principle of the Dharma without being afraid.

Such are the two gestures of the bodhisattvas.

  1. Maitreya, it must be known that the bodhisattvas who believe in all sorts of words and phrases, and apply themselves accordingly, are beginners and not experienced in religious practice.

  2. But the bodhisattvas who read, hear, believe, and teach this profound teaching with its impeccable expressions reconciling dichotomies and its analyses of stages of development these are veterans in the religious practice.

(DANGERS OF PRESENTING ADVANCED TEACHINGS TOO SOON)

"Maitreya, there are two reasons the beginner bodhisattvas hurt themselves and do not concentrate on the profound Dharma. What are they?

  1. Hearing this profound teaching never before heard, they are terrified and doubtful, do not rejoice, and reject it, thinking, 'Whence comes this teaching never before heard?'

  2. They then behold other noble sons accepting, becoming vessels for, and teaching this profound teaching, and they do not attend upon them, do not befriend them, do not respect them, and do not honor them, and eventually they go so far as to criticize them.

These are the two reasons the beginner bodhisattvas hurt themselves and do not penetrate the profound Dharma.

(TWO BAD ATTITUDES OF VETERANS - in relation to the helping beginners)

"There are two reasons the bodhisattvas who do aspire to the profound Dharma hurt themselves and do not attain the tolerance of the ultimate birthlessness of 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.)

What are these two?

  1. These bodhisattvas despise and reproach the beginner bodhisattvas, who have not been practicing for a long time, and they do not initiate them or instruct them in the profound teaching.

  2. Having no great respect for this profound teaching, they are not careful about its rules. They help living beings by means of material gifts and do not help them by means of the gift of the Dharma.

Such, Maitreya, are the two reasons the bodhisattvas who aspire to the profound Dharma hurt themselves and will not quickly attain the tolerance of the ultimate birthlessness 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.)

Thus having been taught, the bodhisattva Maitreya said to the Buddha,

"Lord, the beautiful teachings of the Tathagata are wonderful and truly excellent. Lord, from this time forth, I will avoid all such errors and will defend and uphold this attainment of unexcelled, perfect enlightenment by the Tathagata during innumerable hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of aeons! In the future, I will place in the hands of noble sons and noble daughters who are worthy vessels of the holy Dharma this profound teaching. I will instill in them the power of memory with which they may, having believed in this teaching, retain it, recite, it, penetrate its depths, teach it, propagate it, write it down, and proclaim it extensively to others.

"Thus I will instruct them, Lord, and thus it may be known that in that future time those who believe in this teaching and who enter deeply into it will be sustained by the supernatural blessing of the bodhisattva Maitreya."

Thereupon the Buddha gave his approval to the bodhisattva Maitreya:

"Excellent! Excellent! Your word is well given! The Tathagata rejoices and commends your good promise."

Then all the bodhisattvas said together in one voice,

"Lord, we also, after the ultimate liberation of the Tathagata, will come from our various buddha-fields to spread far and wide this enlightenment of the perfect Buddha, the Tathagata. May all noble sons and daughters believe in that!"

Then the four Maharajas, the great kings of the quarters, said to the Buddha,

"Lord, in all the towns, villages, cities, kingdoms, and palaces, wherever this discourse of the Dharma will be practiced, upheld, and correctly taught, we, the four great kings, will go there with our armies, our young warriors, and our retinues, to hear the Dharma. And we will protect the teachers of this Dharma for a radius of one league so that no one who plots injury or disruption against these teachers will have any opportunity to do them harm."

Then the Buddha said to the venerable Ananda,

"Receive then, Ananda, this expression of the teaching of the Dharma.
Remember it, and teach it widely and correctly to others!"

Ananda replied,

"I have memorized, Lord, this expression of the teaching of the Dharma.
But what is the name of this teaching, and how should I remember it?"

The Buddha said,

"Ananda, this exposition of the Dharma is called
'The Teaching of Vimalakirti,'
or 'The Reconciliation of Dichotomies,'
or even 'Section of the Inconceivable Liberation.'
Remember it thus!"

Thus spoke the Buddha. And the Licchavi Vimalakirti, the crown prince Manjusri, the venerable Ananda, the bodhisattvas, the great disciples, the entire multitude, and the whole universe with its gods, men, asuras and gandharvas, rejoiced exceedingly. All heartily praised these declarations by the Lord.





[Go to TOC]

END OF THE VIMALAKIRTI NIRDESA SUTRA

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