Thursday, June 16, 2022

Prajnaparamita-18K - Chapter 51 - Using adapted skillful means without apprehending anything - 351

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The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom
in Eighteen Thousand Lines - 351
Daśa­sāhasrikā­prajñā­pāramitā

– Chapter 51 - Using tools / adapted skillful means without apprehending anything –

Source: https://read.84000.co/translation/toh10.html

More Analysis of Mahayana Sutras : https://www.gilehtblog.com/2022/07/toc-400.html

[Note: The two truths are:
T1: conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances / tools / adapted skillful means, merely labeled / imputed / imagined / created by the mind in dependence of its conditioning / karma (in cycle), not completely non-existence;
T2: emptiness of inherent existence, not real existence;
U2T: those two truths, like any other pair of apparent opposites, are inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, in harmony, in 'Union' <==> thus empty of inherent existence.
They are tools to help us to get to the 'inconceivable' by refuting what 'Reality as it is' is not:
all extreme views like: existence / dharma / causality / functionality, non-existence / non-dharma / non-causality / non-functionality, both together, neither; difference / manyness / diversity / duality, identity / oneness / sameness / non-duality, both together, neither; permanence / continuity / eternity, impermanence / discontinuity / annihilation, both together, neither; individuality, collectivity, universality, a combination of those, none of those; subjectivity, relation / action / process, objectivity, a combination of those, none of those; the 1st truth alone / dependent origination [T1], the 2nd truth alone / mere-emptiness [T2], both two truths together as if different and in opposition [2T], neither of the two truths as if identical and one [1T,]; 'this', 'non-this', both together, neither – for whatever 'this' is.
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The three spheres: ex.
i. The subject / actor / goer / perceiver / knower / acquirer / owner,
ii. The relation / action / going / perceiving / knowing / acquiring / having
iii. The object / result / destination / perceived / known / acquired / possessions / karma / 5 aggregates / body & speech & mind.
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Generalisations:
Whenever it is possible the comments of each section are expressed into a more global context. So they always cover more than just what is said in the various translations. The goal is to make the Big Picture more evident.
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Note: All comments within (i.e. …) or [...] are from the commentator (me), not the translators.)


[Back to Résumés of chapters 42-87]

51. SKILLFUL MEANS – Using tools / adapted skillful means without apprehending anything.

(i.e. Résumé: Expressing the unique true dharmic nature of all dharmas [U2T], even though the true nature of dharmas is inexpressible. Using tools / adapted skillful means without apprehending anything.
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Bodhisattva great beings irreversible from awakening are endowed with tremendous / infinite / immeasurable good qualities. It is because they have gained a limitless and boundless knowledge not shared in common with śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas.
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The deep, deep places standing in which bodhisattva great beings practicing the six perfections complete the four applications of mindfulness, up to complete the knowledge of all aspects: emptiness, the signless, the wishless, the absence of occasioning anything, nonproduction, freedom from greed, cessation, nirvāṇa, peace, suchness, the very limit of reality, and the dharma-constituent.
That‍ — namely 'deep, deep'‍ — is a term for all dharmas; because all dharmas are deep that way.
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What is the suchness of a dharma like? It is the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T] – dependently arisen appearances and emptiness of inherent existence –: that these two truths are not different / separate / two / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; that one truth implies the other [U2T-2T]. The same for the Ground / Suchness / Union of the Two Truths and all of its inseparable natural manifestations [UGM].
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Bodhisattvas practice without practicing the six perfections, without apprehending anything, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes.
This way they could accumulate without accumulating
an infinite, incalculable, immeasurable, inconceivable amount of merit and wisdom (one supporting the other).
Because they do it while being aware of the Union of the Two Truths about themselves, their actions / practices and the merit accumulated. 'Whatever merit has been accumulated, it is all imaginary'.
Because, having practiced the perfection of wisdom, bodhisattva great beings pass beyond the level of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, enter into the secure state of a bodhisattva, and will fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
Because this perfection of wisdom is the mother of the bodhisattva great beings; this perfection of wisdom gives birth to the bodhisattva great beings; and
because, bodhisattva great beings dwelling in this perfection of wisdom complete all the buddha-dharmas.
Because bodhisattva great being inseparable from the perfection of wisdom is inseparable from the knowledge of all aspects.
Because it is impossible, there is no chance that a bodhisattva great being who is inseparable from the perfection of wisdom turns back from the knowledge of all aspects.
Because dedication with this‍ — that is, the perfection of wisdom‍ — is the ultimate dedication.
Even if everything is empty of inherent existence, Bodhisattvas can still practice, accumulate merit, able to enter into the right view and the secure state of a bodhisattva, reach the result of stream enterer, up to or fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
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All dharmas are inexhaustible, incalculable, infinite, immeasurable, indescribable, inconceivable, unborn / not coming, non-existent, unchanging, unceasing / not going – in the non-dual sense of those terms: not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, for whatever 'this' is – because all dharmas are appearing but still empty of inherent existence, empty but still dependently co-arisen & relatively functional.
We cannot get at a meaning or a word that makes these dharmas different in absolute terms.
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The Tathāgata has expounded the true dharmic nature of dharmas [U2T], even though the true nature of dharmas is inexpressible. Even the two truths – dependent origination and emptiness –, and their relationship / Union, are inexpressible. Still we use them as tools / adapted skillful means / antidotes.
With those skillful means they do not cultivate any dharma and they do not cause any to disintegrate either.
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"An inexpressible reality does not know increase or decrease. All dharmas do not increase or decrease.
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Same résumé as chapter 49-50: Irreversible Bodhisattvas have entered Reality as it is without apprehending anything, or rejecting everything.
Bodhisattvas who have entered without entering into 'the inconceivable unique all-pervasive timeless unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing Ground / Suchness / True nature & dynamic of Reality as it is / Union of the Two Truths [U2T]' are said to be irreversible from unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
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Irreversible Bodhisattvas have entered without entering into 'suchness: the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle'.
They have entered suchness [T1] without apprehending any absolute [T2] [U2T].
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that all dharmas
have this inconceivable unique all-pervading timeless unborn unconditioned unchanging unceasing Ground / Basis / Source / Genuine-emptiness / Buddha-nature / Suchness / true nature & dynamic as it is here & now: the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle [U2T], the inconceivable Union of the three spheres [U3S / U2T-3S], the inconceivable Union of apparent opposites [Uopp / U2T-opp], and the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about the two truths themselves [U2T-2T / U3S-2T / Uopp-2T].
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that all dharmas
are inconceivable inseparable spontaneous natural manifestations of this inconceivable unique Ground [UGM].
There is no ground with / without those manifestations, and vice versa.
The Ground and its manifestations are not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth. Meaning indescribable / inconceivable.
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"Thus, they do not differentiate the undifferentiated [Ground] and thus enter into it. (i.e. not many, not one…)"
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that all dharmas
are like an inconceivable Union of being empty of inherent existence [T2], not really existent / caused / functional <==> because of being conventionally dependently co-arisen (interdependent) relatively functional ever-changing impermanent appearances / tools / adapted skillful means [T1], merely labeled / imputed by the mind [U3S] in dependence of its conditioning / karma, not completely non-existent / non-caused / non-functional. And vice versa; one aspect / truth implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T].
There is no emptiness with / without those appearances, and vice versa.
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"All dharmas are without attributes, without tokens, and without signs."
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that all dharmas
are like illusion, reflections, mirage, dreams, echos, magical tricks: 'There, but not there.' [U2T].
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that all dharmas:
– are not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / free / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / bound / non-enlightened, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not dependent, not independent, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not empty, not non-empty, not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth;
– not dependently co-arisen [T1], not empty of inherent existence [T2], not both truths together [2T], not neither of the two truths [1T], and there is no fifth;
– not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth – for whatever 'this' is.
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that there are not real three stages of becoming for any dharma: no real (i) origination / causality / production / beginning / birth / coming, (ii) duration / change / evolution / defilement & purification / life / lasting, (iii) cessation / ending / death / going … in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation / ranking / judgment about anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience that there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / stop / subtract / not-do in absolute terms, nothing to change / improve / purify in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
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They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience all dharmas as primordially equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, enlightened, the inconceivable three pure kayas, the true Buddha – in the non-dual sense of those terms: not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth.
They understand and almost always directly perceive / realise / experience all dharmas as indescribable / inconceivable.
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So they may use without using some valid dharmas / words / concepts / ideas / truths / views / methods / practices / milestones / goals / activities …, but without apprehending anything in absolute terms: using them as possible conventional relative / inter-subjective tools / adapted skillful means, but without any grasping / attachment / apprehension / obsession / fixation / reification / reference points / absolutes, without falling into any extremes or middle, without any di-vision between subject, relation / action, and object … This acting more and more in accord with the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now, with the inconceivable Union of the Two truths free from all extremes & middle, free from all dualistic conceptual proliferations, free from all defining limitations, free from all conditioning / karma.
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"All dharmas – ex. body / physical, speech / conceptual, mind / mental fabrications; subjects / beings, relations / actions, objects / phenomena / worlds – are 'purified / completed / transcended' simply by understanding and then directly perceiving / realising / experiencing their inconceivable true nature & dynamic as it is here & now: the Union of the Two Truths about them [U2T / U2T-3S / U2T-opp / U2T-2T].
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"Because all dharmas [T1] are empty of their own mark [T2] [U2T],
so irreversible bodhisattva great beings enter into the secure state of a bodhisattva.
They do not apprehend [T2] even just a very tiny dharma [T1] [U2T],
so they do not occasion anything,
and because they do not occasion anything, they do not produce it.
They are called irreversible bodhisattva great beings 'who have gained
forbearance for the non-production [T2] of dharmas [T1] [U2T].'
Subhūti, you should know that bodhisattva great beings endowed with those attributes,
those tokens, and those signs are irreversible from awakening.")

The Lord having said this, venerable Subhūti said to him,

  • "Lord, bodhisattva great beings irreversible from awakening are endowed with tremendous good qualities.
    Lord, irreversible bodhisattva great beings are endowed with infinite good qualities.
    Lord, irreversible bodhisattva great beings are endowed with immeasurable good qualities."

"Exactly so, Subhūti, exactly so!" replied the Lord.

  • "Irreversible bodhisattva great beings are endowed with tremendous good qualities.
    Subhūti, irreversible bodhisattva great beings are endowed with infinite good qualities.
    Subhūti, irreversible bodhisattva great beings are endowed with immeasurable good qualities.
    And why?
    It is because they have gained a limitless and boundless knowledge
    not shared in common with śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas.
    Standing in that knowledge, irreversible bodhisattva great beings
    accomplish the detailed and thorough knowledges.
    Though questioned by the world with its gods, humans, and asuras,
    their responses with the detailed and thorough knowledges can never be exhausted."

Then venerable Subhūti said to the Lord,

  • "Lord, the tathāgata, worthy one, perfectly complete Buddha has well sorted out those attributes, those tokens, and those signs on account of which bodhisattva great beings are irreversible from awakening.
    Engaged as you are in the exposition of those attributes, tokens, and signs of irreversible bodhisattva great beings for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River, Lord,
    would that you might also well expound those deep places standing in which bodhisattva great beings practicing the six perfections complete the four applications of mindfulness, up to complete the knowledge of all aspects."

Venerable Subhūti having made this request, the Lord said to him,

  • "Excellent, Subhūti, excellent. It is excellent, Subhūti, that you have it in mind to
    ask about those deep, deep places for the sake of the irreversible bodhisattva great beings.

  • "Subhūti, deep place is a term for
    emptiness, the signless, the wishless, the absence of occasioning anything,
    nonproduction, freedom from greed, cessation, nirvāṇa, peace,
    suchness, the very limit of reality, and the dharma-constituent.

  • Subhūti, those deep places have come to be words for nirvāṇa."

"Lord, are they words only for nirvāṇa or are they, Lord, words for all dharmas?" asked Subhūti.

"Subhūti," replied the Lord,

  • "that‍ — namely 'deep, deep'‍ — is a term for all dharmas.
    And why?
    Subhūti, it is because form is deep.
    Subhūti, feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness are deep.
    Subhūti, the eyes are also deep.
    Subhūti, similarly, connect this with each, up to the thinking mind is deep,
    up to Subhūti, awakening is deep.
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    And why, Subhūti, is form deep?
    Just as the suchness of form is deep, so too is form deep;
    just as the suchness of feeling . . . perception . . . , volitional factors . . . , and consciousness is deep, so too is consciousness deep.
    Subhūti, similarly, connect this with each,
    up to Subhūti, just as the suchness of awakening is deep, so too is awakening deep."

"Lord, what is the suchness of form like,
and what is the suchness of . . . up to awakening like?" asked Subhūti.

"Subhūti," replied the Lord,

  • "there is no form in the suchness of form,
    and there is no suchness of form other than form.
    The suchness of form is like that. [UGM]

  • Subhūti, there is no . . . , up to consciousness in the suchness of consciousness,
    and there is no suchness of consciousness other than consciousness.
    The suchness of consciousness is like that.

  • There is no . . . , up to awakening in the suchness of awakening,
    and there is no suchness of awakening other than awakening.
    The suchness of awakening is like that."

The Lord having said this, venerable Subhūti said to him,

  • "Lord, it is amazing the extent to which with a simple method irreversible bodhisattva great beings have been made to turn back from form, and nirvāṇa has been pointed out;
    they have been made to turn back from feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness, and nirvāṇa has been pointed out;
    and they have been made to turn back from all grasping at ordinary and extraordinary, shared in common and not shared in common, with outflows and without outflows, and nirvāṇa has been pointed out."

Venerable Subhūti having said this, the Lord said to him,

  • "Subhūti, when bodhisattva great beings think about these deep, deep places
    connected with the perfection of wisdom, weigh and ponder them, thinking,
    'I must stand like that in the perfection of wisdom as it has been taught;
    I must train like that in the perfection of wisdom as it has been taught,'
    -
    those bodhisattva great beings, Subhūti,
    practicing the perfection of wisdom as it has been taught like that,
    meditating like that, reflecting deeply on it like that,
    applying themselves like that, trying like that, making an effort like that,
    with just a single production of the thought
    appropriate infinite, countless wholesome roots without measure
    and stop saṃsāra for an immeasurable eon.
    Since that is the case, what need is there to say more about those who have an unadulterated practice of the perfection of wisdom and remain with their attention connected with awakening?

  • "To illustrate, Subhūti, say there is a man with a strong libido and a fertile imagination who has set up a date with an outstanding, beautiful, good-looking woman, but that woman is under somebody else's protection so she cannot get out of her home.
    What do you think, Subhūti?
    With what will that man's imagination be preoccupied?"

"Lord," said Subhūti,

  • "that man's imagination will be preoccupied with that woman, thinking, 'Will she not come? When she has come then I am going to lie down together with her. I am going to get her to come back again and have sex with her.' "

"What do you think, Subhūti," asked the Lord,
"how many times would that man imagine her during the passing of a day or a night?"

"During the passing of a day or a night that man would imagine her a lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," continued the Lord,

  • "for as many times as that man imagines her during the passing of a day and night, for that many eons will saṃsāra be stopped and put an end to by bodhisattva great beings training in and reflecting deeply on this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught, bodhisattvas who endeavor at whatever will stop those faults‍ — those faults on account of which bodhisattva great beings turn back from unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • "Subhūti, even were you to fill up as many world systems as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River with the wholesome roots appropriated in a single day by a bodhisattva great being thus preoccupied with and dwelling in the dwelling of this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught, it still would not approach what remains of those wholesome roots even by a hundredth part, or by a thousandth part, or by a hundred thousandth part; it would not stand up to any number, or fraction, or counting, or example, or comparison.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, if that bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom were to give as many gifts as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River to the Three Jewels‍ — the Buddha Jewel, Dharma Jewel, and Saṅgha Jewel‍ — what do you think, Subhūti?
    Based on that would that bodhisattva great being create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata, an infinite, incalculable, immeasurable amount," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord,
"the bodhisattva great beings who make an effort at this perfection of wisdom as it has been taught
create even more merit than that.
And why?
Subhūti, it is because just that is the vehicle of the bodhisattva great beings,
and in that vehicle they will fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, if that bodhisattva great being separated 558 from the perfection of wisdom remained for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River
    giving gifts to the stream enterers;
    giving gifts to the once-returners, non-returners, and worthy ones;
    giving gifts to the pratyekabuddhas; and
    giving gifts to the tathāgatas, worthy ones, perfect complete buddhas,
    what do you think, Subhūti?
    Based on that would that bodhisattva great being create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "a son of a good family or daughter of a good family
who makes an effort at this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught
creates even more merit than that
And why?
Subhūti, it is because, having practiced this perfection, bodhisattva great beings
pass beyond the level of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas,
enter into the secure state of a bodhisattva,
and will fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • "What do you think, Subhūti, if a bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom remaining for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River were to give gifts, guard morality, cultivate patience, make an effort at perseverance, become absorbed in concentration, and cultivate wisdom, Subhūti,
    based on that would that bodhisattva great being create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata.," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "a son of a good family or daughter of a good family who remains for one single day in this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught, giving gifts, guarding morality, cultivating patience, making an effort at perseverance, becoming absorbed in concentration, and cultivating wisdom, creates even more merit than that.
And why?
Subhūti, it is because this perfection of wisdom is the mother of the bodhisattva great beings; this perfection of wisdom gives birth to the bodhisattva great beings; and because, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings dwelling in this perfection of wisdom complete all the buddha-dharmas.

  • "What do you think, Subhūti, if a bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom remaining for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River were to give the gift of Dharma, Subhūti,
    based on that would that bodhisattva great being create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "a son of a good family or daughter of a good family who remains for one single day in this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught, giving the gift of Dharma, creates even more merit than that.
And why?
Subhūti, it is because that bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom is separated from the knowledge of all aspects, while that bodhisattva great being inseparable from the perfection of wisdom is inseparable from the knowledge of all aspects.
Therefore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings who want to fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening should not be separated from the perfection of wisdom.

  • "What do you think, Subhūti, if a bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom were to have made an effort at the four applications of mindfulness, and were to have made an effort at the emptiness meditative stabilization, signless meditative stabilization, and wishless meditative stabilization for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River, Subhūti,
    based on that would that a son of a good family or daughter of a good family create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "a son of a good family or daughter of a good family who has made an effort at this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught, at the four applications of mindfulness, up to at the eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha for one single day creates even more merit than that.
And why?
Subhūti, it is because it is impossible, there is no chance that a bodhisattva great being who is inseparable from the perfection of wisdom turns back 559 from the knowledge of all aspects‍ — that is not a possibility. But it is possible, there is a chance, Subhūti, that a bodhisattva great being who is separated from the perfection of wisdom turns back from the knowledge of all aspects‍ — that is a possibility.

  • "Subhūti, if a bodhisattva great being separated from the perfection of wisdom were to remain for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River dedicating the gift of material possessions, the gift of Dharma, and the attention associated with inward absorption to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening‍ — what do you think, Subhūti?
    Based on that would that son of a good family or daughter of a good family create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "if a son of a good family or daughter of a good family remaining for one single day in this deep perfection of wisdom were to dedicate the gift of material possessions, the gift of Dharma, the perfection of wisdom, and those attentions associated with inward absorption to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening it would create even more merit than that.
And why?
Subhūti, it is because dedication with this‍ — that is, the perfection of wisdom‍ — is the ultimate dedication, while a dedication without the perfection of wisdom is not a dedication. Therefore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings who want to fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening should become skilled in dedication with the perfection of wisdom.

  • "Subhūti, if a certain son of a good family or daughter of a good family separated from the perfection of wisdom were to remain for as many eons as there are sand particles in the Gaṅgā River rejoicing in all the wholesome roots, as many as there are, of past, future, and present lord buddhas together with their śrāvaka saṅghas, dedicating them to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening‍ — what do you think, Subhūti?
    Based on that would that a son of a good family or daughter of a good family create a lot of merit?"

"A lot, Lord; a lot, Sugata," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord, "if a son of a good family or daughter of a good family remaining for one single day in this deep perfection of wisdom as it has been taught were to dedicate those wholesome roots to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening it would create even more merit than that. Therefore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings who want to fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening should become skilled in dedication with the perfection of wisdom."

The Lord having said this, venerable Subhūti inquired of him,

  • "Lord, the Lord has said, 'Whatever merit has been accumulated, it is all imaginary,' so how will a son of a good family or daughter of a good family create a lot of merit? Lord, since what has been accumulated does not exist, they will not be able to enter into the right view and the secure state of a bodhisattva, reach the result of stream enterer, up to or fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening."

"Exactly so, Subhūti, exactly so!" said the Lord.

  • "Since whatever has been accumulated does not exist, they will not be able to enter into the right view and the secure state of a bodhisattva, reach the result of stream enterer, up to or fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    Subhūti, what the bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom have accumulated appears as just empty, appears as just in vain, appears to just ring hollow, appears to be just pointless.
    And why?
    Subhūti, it is because bodhisattva great beings have trained well in inner emptiness,
    and similarly, connect this with each, up to have trained well in the emptiness that is the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature.
    Subhūti, to the extent here that bodhisattva great beings stand in emptiness examining those accumulations of merit, to that extent they are inseparable from the perfection of wisdom.
    Subhūti, to the extent that bodhisattva great beings are inseparable from the perfection of wisdom,
    to that extent they create infinite, incalculable, immeasurable merit."

"What are the specific features of incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable,
and what makes them different?" asked Subhūti.

The Lord said,

  • "The incalculable is that which has no enumeration, that which you cannot count as a calculable element or an incalculable element.
    The infinite is that of which a measure in past, future, and present phenomena cannot be apprehended.
    The immeasurable is that of which you cannot take a measurement."

"Lord, would there also be a way such that form would also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable;
a way such that feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness would also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable?"

"Subhūti," said the Lord,

  • "there would also be a way such that form would also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable;
    a way such that feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness would also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable."

"Lord, in what way would form also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable,
and would feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness also be incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable?" asked Subhūti.

"Subhūti," said the Lord,

  • "given that form [T1] is empty [T2] [U2T],
    it is incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable;
    given that feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness are empty, they are incalculable, infinite, and immeasurable."

"Lord, is it that just that form is empty, but all phenomena are not also empty like that?
Is it just that feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness are empty,
but all phenomena are not also empty like that?"

"Subhūti, what do you think?
Did I not explain that all phenomena [T1] are empty [T2] [U2T]?" the Lord asked in return.

Subhūti said,

  • "Lord, the Tathāgata has explained,
    'All phenomena [T1] are empty [T2] [U2T],'
    and Lord, that which is empty
    is also inexhaustible;
    it is also incalculable,
    it is also infinite,
    and it is also immeasurable.
    In emptiness you cannot get at a number,
    you also cannot get at a size, and
    you cannot get at a measure either.
    Since that is the case, Lord,
    you cannot get at a meaning or a word that makes these phenomena different."
    -
    (i.e. All dharmas are not describable / exhaustible / calculable / finite / immeasurable / conceivable, not indescribable / inexhaustible / incalculable / infinite / immeasurable / inconceivable, not both together, not neither.)
    -
    (i.e. All dharmas are not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither;
    not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither;
    not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither;
    not dependent, not independent, not both together, not neither;
    not empty, not non-empty, not both together, not neither;
    not dependently co-arisen [T1], not empty of inherent existence [T2], not both truths together [2T], not neither of the two truths [1T].
    Meaning all dharmas are indescribable / inconceivable for our flawed dualistic conceptual conditioned ordinary mind(s);
    we can use them conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively, but never in absolute terms.)

"Exactly so, Subhūti, exactly so!" said the Lord.

  • "You cannot get at a meaning or a word that makes these phenomena different.
    Subhūti, it is inexpressible [inconceivable].
    The Tathāgata expresses it as inexhaustible, or incalculable, or infinite, or immeasurable, or empty, or signless, or wishless, or not occasioning anything, or nonproduction, or free from greed, or a cessation, or nirvāṇa;
    and those from inexhaustible, up to nirvāṇa
    are an exposition in harmony with what causes a tathāgata's teaching." 560

The Lord having said this, venerable Subhūti said to him,

  • "Lord, it is amazing the extent to which
    the Tathāgata has expounded the true dharmic nature of dharmas [U2T],
    even though the true nature of dharmas is inexpressible.
    (i.e. All dharmas are not expressible / conceivable, not inexpressible / inconceivable, not both together, not neither.)
    -
    Lord, the way I understand the meaning of what you, Lord, have said is that
    all phenomena are simply inexpressible."

"Exactly so, Subhūti, exactly so!" said the Lord.

  • "Subhūti, all phenomena are simply inexpressible,
    and that inexpressibility of all phenomena, Subhūti, is emptiness,
    and even emptiness cannot be expressed."

"Lord, does an inexpressible reality know increase or decrease?" asked Subhūti.

"Subhūti, an inexpressible reality does not know increase or decrease," replied the Lord.

"Lord," said Subhūti,

  • "if an inexpressible reality does not increase or decrease,
    the perfection of giving, Lord, will not increase or decrease.
    And similarly, up to the perfection of wisdom, Lord, will not increase or decrease,
    the four applications of mindfulness will not increase or decrease,
    up to the eightfold noble path will not increase or decrease,
    the gateways to liberation will not increase or decrease,
    the eight deliverances will not increase or decrease,
    the nine serial absorptions, ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, and four detailed and thorough knowledges will not increase or decrease,
    and the eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha will not increase or decrease.
    -
    Lord, if the six perfections, up to four detailed and thorough knowledges, and the eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha thus do not increase or decrease,
    even the knowledge of all aspects will not come with the good fortune of fully awakening to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening either."

"Exactly so, Subhūti, exactly so!" said the Lord.

  • "Subhūti, an inexpressible reality does not increase or decrease.
    Subhūti, if bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom, cultivating the perfection of wisdom, making an effort at the perfection of wisdom with skillful means do not think, 'I am improving because of the perfection of wisdom, up to I am improving because of the perfection of giving,'
    but rather, thinking, 'Whatever this perfection of giving may be, it is just words'‍ — if they practice the perfection of giving dedicating that attention, those production

  • s of the thought, and also those wholesome roots to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening
    they will make a dedication just like unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • Similarly, connect this with each, up to if they practice the perfection of wisdom dedicating that attention, those productions of the thought, and also those wholesome roots to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening they will make a dedication just like unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening."

Then venerable Subhūti asked the Lord,
"Lord, what is unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening?"

"As the suchness of all phenomena is,
so too is unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening," replied the Lord.

"What is the suchness of all phenomena, the unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening?" asked Subhūti.

The Lord said,

  • "The suchness of form, up to the suchness of nirvāṇa is unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening
    and it does not increase, nor does it decrease there.
    -
    Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings inseparable from the perfection of wisdom
    constantly, time and again abiding there,
    do not see any dharma increase or decrease.
    Therefore, Subhūti, an inexpressible reality does not increase or decrease,
    and similarly, Subhūti, the perfection of giving also does not increase or decrease,
    up to the perfection of wisdom also does not increase or decrease.
    Similarly, connect this with each, up to the four detailed and thorough knowledges also do not increase or decrease.
    Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings should practice the perfection of wisdom like that,
    by way of no increase or decrease."

Subhūti then asked,

  • "Lord, do bodhisattva great beings fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of the first production of the thought, or do they fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of a later production of the thought?
    Lord, if you say that bodhisattva great beings fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of the first production of the thought, that first production of the thought will not have been fully put together with the later production of the thought, and the later production of the thought will not have been fully put together with the first production of the thought. In that case, Lord, given that the minds 561 and mental factors‍ — the dharmas‍ — will not have been fully put together, how will wholesome roots be amassed? If wholesome roots have not been amassed, it is not possible to fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening."

"Subhūti," replied the Lord,

  • "here certain learned persons understand the meaning of an explanation through an illustration,
    so, in order that you will understand this‍ — namely, the meaning of this explanation‍ — I will furnish an illustration.
    What do you think, Subhūti?
    When a wick is being lit up by the flame of an oil lamp, is that wick burned up by encountering the first tongue of fire or is that wick burned up by encountering a later tongue of fire?"

"Lord," replied Subhūti,

  • "that wick is not burned up by encountering the first tongue of fire,
    and, Lord, that wick is not burned up independent of that first tongue of fire.
    Lord, that wick is not burned up by encountering a later tongue of fire,
    and, Lord, that wick is not burned up independent of that later tongue of fire."

"Subhūti, what do you think, does that wick get burned up or not get burned up?" asked the Lord.

"Lord, it gets burned up. Sugata, it gets burned up," replied Subhūti.

"Similarly, Subhūti," said the Lord,

  • "even though bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of the first production of the thought,
    bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening independent of the first production of the thought either.
    And even though bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of a later production of the thought,
    bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening independent of a later production of the thought either.
    But still, it is not that bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    Rather, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom, starting from the first production of the thought, having completed up to the tenth level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening."

"Lord, bodhisattva great beings, having completed all the ten levels,
fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening?" asked Subhūti.

"Subhūti," replied the Lord,

  • "bodhisattva great beings, having completed the Śuklavipaśyanā level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    Bodhisattva great beings, having completed the Gotra level, Aṣṭamaka level, Darśana level, Tanū level, Vītarāga level, and Kṛtāvin level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    Bodhisattva great beings, having completed the Pratyekabuddha level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    Bodhisattva great beings, having completed the Bodhisattva level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening,
    and bodhisattva great beings, having completed the Buddha level, fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.
    There, when bodhisattva great beings train on all ten levels, they do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening because of the first production of the thought,
    but they do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening independent of the first production of the thought either.
    They do not because of a later production of the thought fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening, and they do not do so independent of a later production of the thought either.
    But still bodhisattva great beings fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening."

"Lord," said Subhūti,

  • "even though it is not because of the first production of the thought,
    still bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening independent of the first production of the thought either.
    So too, Lord, even though it is not because of a later production of the thought,
    still bodhisattva great beings do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening independent of a later production of the thought either.
    Lord, this dependent origination
    where bodhisattva great beings fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening
    is deep."

"Subhūti, what do you think, will that thought which has stopped be produced again?" asked the Lord.

"No it will not, Lord," replied Subhūti.

"Subhūti, what do you think, is that thought which has been produced subject to stopping?" he asked.

"It is subject to stopping, Lord; it is subject to stopping, Sugata."

"Subhūti, what do you think, will that which is subject to stopping stop?"

"No it will not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, will it remain just as suchness does?"

"It will remain just as suchness does, Lord."

"Subhūti, if it will remain just as suchness does, will it not be unmoved?"

"No it will not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is suchness deep?

"It is deep, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is that thought suchness?

"It is not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is that thought other than suchness?"

"It is not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is thought in suchness?"

"It is not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is suchness in thought?"

"It is not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, does suchness see suchness?"

"It does not, Lord."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is someone practicing like that practicing the deep perfection of wisdom?"

"Lord, someone practicing like that is practicing the deep perfection of wisdom."

"Subhūti, what do you think, is someone practicing like that practicing anything?"

"Lord, someone practicing like that [T1] is not practicing anything at all [T2] [U2T].
And why?
Lord, it is because those habitual ideas 562 do not occur in bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom and abiding in suchness.
They do not have habitual ideas.
And why?
Lord, it is because suchness does not have habitual ideas about anything,
and nobody has habitual ideas about anything there."

Venerable Subhūti having said that, the Lord asked him further,

  • "Subhūti, where do bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom practice?"

"Lord, they practice in the ultimate where there are no habitual dualistic ideas," he replied.

  • "Subhūti, what do you think,
    do those who practice the ultimate have anything to do with habitual ideas?
    Do they have anything to do with causal signs?"

"They do not, Lord."

  • "Subhūti, what do you think,
    has the perception of a causal sign disintegrated because of them?" 563

"It has not, Lord," he replied.

  • "Well then, Subhūti, how have bodhisattva great beings' perceptions of a causal sign disintegrated?"

Having been asked that, venerable Subhūti responded to the Lord,

  • "Lord, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom
    do not apply themselves with the thought,
    'I will meditate on a causal sign,' or 'I will investigate the absence of a causal sign.' 564
    Lord, bodhisattva great beings practicing this perfection of wisdom do not fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening up until the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, great compassion, up to and the eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha are completed.
    Lord, that is the bodhisattva great beings' skillful means.
    With those skillful means they do not cultivate any dharma and they do not cause any to disintegrate either.
    Why?
    Lord, it is because bodhisattva great beings realize all dharmas are empty of their own marks.
    Now, standing in that emptiness of their own marks, they become absorbed for the sake of beings in the three meditative stabilizations, meditative stabilizations that bring beings to maturity.

"How, Lord, when they do so, will bodhisattva great beings become absorbed for the sake of beings in the three meditative stabilizations?"

"Subhūti," replied the Lord,

  • "here bodhisattva great beings standing in the three meditative stabilizations connect beings who practice with wishes to wishlessness;
    the bodhisattvas establish beings who practice with thought constructions in emptiness;
    and they establish beings who practice with causal signs in signlessness.
    Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom thus bring beings to maturity with those three meditative stabilizations."

This was the fifty-first chapter, "Skillful Means," of "The Perfection of Wisdom in Eighteen Thousand Lines."




Access to other chapters on the Blog:
(Work in progress. Empty files means they are not done yet.)

  1. Chapter 0 – Introduction to the Sutra

  2. Chapter 1 – Introduction / the Assembly

  3. Chapter 2 – Production of the Thought

  4. Chapter 3 – designation [U2T]

  5. Chapter 4 – Equal to the Unequal

  6. Chapter 5 – Tongue

  7. Chapter 6 – Subhūti

  8. Chapter 7 – Entry into flawlessness

  9. Chapter 8 – The Religious Mendicant Śreṇika

  10. Chapter 9 – Causal Signs

  11. Chapter 10 – Illusion-like

  12. Chapter 11 – Embarrassment

  13. Chapter 12 – Elimination of Views

  14. Chapter 13 – The Six Perfections

  15. Chapter 14 – Neither Bound nor Freed

  16. Chapter 15 – Meditative Stabilization

  17. Chapter 16 – Dhāraṇī Gateway

  18. Chapter 17 – Level Purification

  19. Chapter 18 – The Exposition of Going Forth in the Great Vehicle [cause / path]

  20. Chapter 19 – Surpassing

  21. Chapter 20 – Not Two

  22. Chapter 21 – Subhūti

  23. Chapter 22 – Śatakratu

  24. Chapter 23 – Hard to Understand

  25. Chapter 24 – Unlimited

  26. Chapter 25 – Second Śatakratu

  27. Chapter 26 – Getting Old

  28. Chapter 27 – Reliquary

  29. Chapter 28 – Declaration of the Good Qualities of the Thought of Awakening

  30. Chapter 29 – Different Tīrthika Religious Mendicants

  31. Chapter 30 – The Benefits of Taking Up and Adoration

  32. Chapter 31 – Physical Remains

  33. Chapter 32 – The Superiority of Merit

  34. Chapter 33 – Dedication

  35. Chapter 34 – Perfect Praise of the Quality of Accomplishment

  36. Chapter 35 – Hells

  37. Chapter 36 – Teaching The Purity of all Dharmas

  38. Chapter 37 – Nobody

  39. Chapter 38 – Cannot Be Apprehended

  40. Chapter 39 – The Northern Region

  41. Chapter 40 – The Work of Māra

  42. Chapter 41 – Not Complete Because of Māra

  43. Chapter 42 – Revealing the World

  44. Chapter 43 – Inconceivable

  45. Chapter 44 – Made Up

  46. Chapter 45 – A Boat

  47. Chapter 46 – Teaching the Intrinsic Nature of All Dharmas

  48. Chapter 47 – Taming Greed

  49. Chapter 48 – A Presentation of the Bodhisattvas' Training

  50. Chapter 49 – Irreversibility

  51. Chapter 50 – Teaching the Signs of Irreversibility

  52. Chapter 51 – Skillful means

  53. Chapter 52 – Completion of the Means

  54. Chapter 53 – The Prophecy about Gaṅgadevī

  55. Chapter 54 – Teaching the Cultivation of Skillful Means

  56. Chapter 55 – Teaching the Stopping of Thought Construction [in absolute terms]

  57. Chapter 56 – Equal Training

  58. Chapter 57 – Practice

  59. Chapter 58 – Exposition of the Absence of Thought Construction [in absolute terms]

  60. Chapter 59 – non-attachment

  61. Chapter 60 – Entrusting

  62. Chapter 61 – Inexhaustible

  63. Chapter 62 – Leaping Above Absorption

  64. Chapter 63 – Many Inquiries about the Two Dharmas

  65. Chapter 64 – Perfectly Displayed

  66. Chapter 65 – Worshiping, Serving, and Attending on Spiritual Friends as Skillful Means

  67. Chapter 66 – A Demonstration of Skillful Means

  68. Chapter 67 – Morality

  69. Chapter 68 – Growing and Flourishing

  70. Chapter 69 – An Explanation of Meditation on The Path

  71. Chapter 70 – An Explanation of Serial Action, Training, and Practice

  72. Chapter 71 – The True Nature of Dharmas That Cannot Be Apprehended

  73. Chapter 72 – Teaching the Absence of Marks

  74. Chapter 73 – Exposition of the Major Marks and Minor Signs and the Completion of Letters

  75. Chapter 74 – Exposition of the Sameness of Dharmas

  76. Chapter 75 – Exposition of non-complication –

  77. Chapter 76 – The Armor for Bringing Beings to Maturity

  78. Chapter 77 – Teaching the Purification of a Buddhafield

  79. Chapter 78 – Teaching the Skillful Means for the Purification of a Buddhafield

  80. Chapter 79 – Teaching the non- Existence of an Intrinsic Nature

  81. Chapter 80 – Teaching that there is No Defilement or Purification

  82. Chapter 81 – Yogic Practice of the Ultimate

  83. Chapter 82 – The Unchanging True Nature of Dharmas

  84. Chapter 83 – Categorization of a Bodhisattva's Training

  85. Chapter 84 – Collection

  86. Chapter 85 – Sadāprarudita

  87. Chapter 86 – Dharmodgata

  88. Chapter 87 – Entrusting

  89. Résumés in bullet points of all chapters.




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