Thursday, June 16, 2022

Prajnaparamita-18K - Chapter 54 - Understanding Reality as it is without actualizing it until awakening - 354

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The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom
in Eighteen Thousand Lines - 354
Daśa­sāhasrikā­prajñā­pāramitā

– Chapter 54 - Understanding Reality as it is without actualizing it until awakening –

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]

54. TEACHING THE CULTIVATION OF SKILLFUL MEANS – Cultivating the perfection of wisdom with skillful means [U2T], without actualising the very limit of reality (until an inconceivable unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening), without apprehending any absolute, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes.

(i.e. Résumé: Cultivating without cultivating the perfection of wisdom with skillful means [U2T], without actualising the very limit of reality (until an inconceivable unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening), without apprehending any absolute, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes. Cultivating an awareness of the emptiness of all dharmas without grasping at any emptiness / nothingness / complete non-existence; thus more and more in accord with the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths.
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How to master emptiness, signlessness and wishlessness … the true dharmic nature of all dharmas [U2T] ?
-
Bodhisattvas should understand analytically
'all dharmas [T1] are empty [T2] [U2T]', without apprehending anything, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes.
(i.e. Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas: Union of being dependently originated [T1] and empty of inherent existence [T2].)
-
Because they are well trained in phenomena [T1] that are empty of their own marks [T2] [U2T],
so they see that all those phenomena‍ [the three spheres of any relation / action:]
— ex. an actualizer (subject), something to be actualized (object),
and something through which there is actualization (relation / action)‍ —
are not joined and are not disjoined [not one, not many] [U3S / U2T-3S]."
(i.e. Union of the three spheres about all relations / actions [U3S], or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S].)
-
(i.e. Understanding (without understanding) and then personally spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing (without …) the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / Suchness / Genuine-emptiness / Buddha-nature / Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata:
that is the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle about all dharmas [U2T];
the inconceivable Union of the three spheres [U3S] or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S] – subject, relation / action, object –;
the inconceivable Union of apparent opposites [Uopp] or Union of the Two Truths about apparent opposites [U2T-opp];
and the inconceivable Union of the Two truths about the two truths themselves [U2T-2T].
In each case all dharmas – including the three spheres [3S], apparent opposites [opp], the two truths [2T] –
are all like a 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 / truths implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T].
Something could be co-dependent [T1] with its parts and wholes, with its causes & conditions and effects, with its apparent opposites [opp], and especially co-dependent with the mind merely labeling / imputing / imagining it [3S].
All dharmas are thus like illusions, reflections, mirages, dreams, echos, magical tricks: 'There, but not there.' [U2T].
So all dharmas – including the three spheres, apparent opposites, the two truths – are not really existent / caused / functional, not completely non-existent / non-caused / 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 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 as if different and in opposition [2T], not neither of the two truths as if identical and one [1T]; not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / freed / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / bounded / non-enlightened, not both together, not neither; not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth – for whatever 'this' is.
Meaning everything is indescribable / inconceivable.
Meaning there are no real three stages of becoming for anything – origination / beginning / coming, duration / lasting / evolving / changing, cessation / ending / going –, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation / ranking / judgment in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Meaning there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / stop / not-do in absolute terms, nothing to change / improve / purify in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth.
Meaning all dharmas are primordially equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, enlightened, the inseparable three pure kayas, the true Buddha – in the nn-dual sense of those terms: Not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth – for whatever 'this' is.)
-
-
How do bodhisattva great beings stand in emptiness [or U2T] but not actualize emptiness [or U2T]?
-
"Bodhisattvas should contemplate emptiness [T2] furnished with the best of all aspects [T1[ [U2T]."
"When not in actual meditative equipoise,
Bodhisattva great beings attach their minds to an objective support
and without letting the dharmas on the side of awakening lessen,
in the meantime do not actualize the extinction of outflows."
(i.e. not rejecting anything in absolute terms; not grasping at emptiness / nothingness / complete non-existence)
"... they remain with the dharmas on the side of awakening."
(i.e. Bodhisattvas keep using valid useful conventional relative tools / adapted skillful means / words / concepts / ideas / truths / views / methods / practices / milestones / goals <==> even if they know that everything is empty of inherent existence <==> merely labeled / imputed by the mind.)
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They use those adapted skillful means – like dependent origination, impermanence, no-self, emptiness, the Union of the Two Truths, the six paramitas … various valis useful words, concepts, ideas, truths, views, methods, practices, milestones, goals – conventionally / relatively / intersubjectively, but never in absolute terms.
Thus acting / standing / using without acting / standing / using,
  without apprehending anything,
  without any attachment / fixation / absolutes, with the bodhicitta motivation,
  without falling into any extreme or middle,
  without accepting or rejecting anything in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / intersubjectively,
  without any di-vision between apparent opposites, or between the three spheres, or between the two truths themselves.
  Thus getting closer and closer to the inconceivable liberating truth,
  to directly perceiving / realising / experiencing the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now,
  the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas.
Why?
Because even though all dharmas are empty of inherent existence [T2],
that does not mean that everything is completely non-existent / non-caused / non-functional / meaningless [T1] [U2T].
Adapted skillful means are relatively useful and efficient [T1], even if never universal / absolute [T2] [U2T].
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Ex. Bodhisattvas develop an understanding of emptiness / signlessness / wishlessness / etc., but without grasping at anything like emptiness / nothingness / complete-non-existence, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes, without apprehending anything as independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing – not even causality / dependent origination [T1], no-self / emptiness [T2], the two truths together [2T], neither of the two truths [1T], or the Union of the Two truths [U2T]. That is why we call it the 'inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T]'.
-
-
"Those who do what is difficult are the bodhisattva great beings who [act in accord with the Union of the Two truths:]
train in this true nature of dharmas, train in the very limit of reality,
train in suchness, train in the dharma-constituent [U2T],
train in the emptiness of what transcends limits,
up to train in the emptiness of its own mark, up to train in the three gateways to liberation [T2]
but do not, in the interim, fall away from unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening [T1] [U2T]."
"I is because the bodhisattva great beings
– even if they know that everything is empty of inherent existence [T2] –
do not forsake all beings [T1] [U2T] and, Subhūti, because they find and produce within themselves the thought of a bodhisattva great being [bodhicitta / T1]."
-
Bodhisattva great beings who produce those thoughts [bodhicitta]
and also with skillful means [T1] practicing the perfection of wisdom [T2] [U2T]
complete the cultivation of the emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness meditative stabilization gateways to liberation,
and do not, in the interim, actualize the very limit of reality
(i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
for as long as the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha, great love, and great compassion are still not completed, and until they have fully awakened to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.)

Then venerable Subhūti inquired of the Lord,

  • "Lord, how do bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom fully master emptiness
    and how do they become absorbed in the emptiness meditative stabilization?
    How do they fully master signlessness
    and how do they become absorbed in the signlessness meditative stabilization?
    How do they fully master wishlessness
    and how do they become absorbed in the wishlessness meditative stabilization?
    -
    How do they master . . . up to the eightfold noble path?
    How do they cultivate the eightfold noble path?
    -
    How do they master the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening?
    How do they cultivate the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening?"

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

  • "Subhūti, here bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom
    ______________________________________________________________
    should understand analytically 'form [T1] is empty [T2] [U2T],'
    ______________________________________________________________
    and should understand analytically 'feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness are empty.'

  • Similarly, connect this with each,
    up to they should understand analytically 'the desire realm is empty.'
    They should understand analytically 'the form realm and the formless realm are empty.'

And, one way or the other, when they understand this analytically,
such an analytical understanding should be without mental distraction.

Without mental distraction
they do not see [2] the phenomenon [T1] [U2T] that is the phenomenon to be actualized,
and not seeing that phenomenon
they do not [T2] actualize it [T1] [U2T].

And why?

Because they are well trained in phenomena [T1] that are empty of their own marks [T2] [U2T],
(i.e. Union of the Two Truths about all dharmas:
Union of being dependently originated [T1] and empty of inherent existence [T2].)

so they see that all those phenomena‍ [the three spheres of any relation / action:]
— [ex.] an actualizer (subject), something to be actualized (object),
and something through which there is actualization (relation / action)‍ —
are not joined and are not disjoined [not one, not many] [U3S / U2T-3S]."
(i.e. Union of the three spheres about all relations / actions [U3S],
or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S].)

(i.e. Understanding (without understanding) and then personally spontaneously non-dualistically non-conceptually directly perceiving / realising / experiencing (without …) the true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is here & now / Suchness / Genuine-emptiness / Buddha-nature / Ground / Basis / Source / Dharmata:
that is the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free from all extremes & middle about all dharmas [U2T];
the inconceivable Union of the three spheres [U3S] or Union of the Two Truths about the three spheres [U2T-3S] – subject, relation / action, object –;
the inconceivable Union of apparent opposites [Uopp] or Union of the Two Truths about apparent opposites [U2T-opp];
and the inconceivable Union of the Two truths about the two truths themselves [U2T-2T].
In each case all dharmas – including the three spheres [3S], apparent opposites [opp], the two truths [2T] – are all like a 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 / truths implies / proves / enables the other (<==>) [U2T].
Something could be co-dependent [T1] with its parts and wholes, with its causes & conditions and effects, with its apparent opposites [opp], and especially co-dependent with the mind merely labeling / imputing / imagining it [3S].
All dharmas are thus like illusions, reflections, mirages, dreams, echos, magical tricks: 'There, but not there.' [U2T].
So all dharmas – including the three spheres, apparent opposites, the two truths – are not really existent / caused / functional, not completely non-existent / non-caused / 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 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 as if different and in opposition [2T], not neither of the two truths as if identical and one [1T]; not equal / pure / perfect / divine / complete / freed / enlightened, not unequal / impure / imperfect / ordinary / bounded / non-enlightened, not both together, not neither; not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth – for whatever 'this' is.
Meaning everything is indescribable / inconceivable.
Meaning there are no real three stages of becoming for anything – origination / beginning / coming, duration / lasting / evolving / changing, cessation / ending / going –, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Meaning there is no independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing basis for any discrimination / differentiation / ranking / judgment in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively.
Meaning there is nothing to accept / affirm / seek / add / do in absolute terms, nothing to reject / negate / abandon / eliminate / stop / not-do in absolute terms, nothing to change / improve / purify in absolute terms, just conventionally / relatively / inter-subjectively if it helps someone to get closer to the inconceivable liberating Truth.
Meaning all dharmas are primordially equal, pure, perfect, divine, complete, free, enlightened, the inseparable three pure kayas, the true Buddha – in the nn-dual sense of those terms: Not 'this', not 'non-this', not both together, not neither, and there is no fifth – for whatever 'this' is.)


The Lord having said this, venerable Subhūti asked him,

  • "Lord, in regard to what the Lord has said,
    'Bodhisattva great beings should not actualize emptiness,'
    how do bodhisattva great beings stand in emptiness but not actualize emptiness?"

The Lord responded,

  • "When bodhisattva great beings
    _____________________________________________________________________________
    contemplate emptiness [T2] furnished with the best of all aspects [T1[ [U2T],
    they do not contemplate that they should actualize it;
    rather, they contemplate that they should master it.
    _____________________________________________________________________________
    -
    They contemplate that it is not the time it should be actualized,
    but rather it is the time it should be mastered.
    -
    When not in actual 572 meditative equipoise,
    bodhisattva great beings attach their minds to an objective support
    and without letting the dharmas on the side of awakening lessen,
    in the meantime do not actualize the extinction of outflows.
    (i.e. not rejecting anything in absolute terms; not grasping at emptiness / nothingness / complete non-existence)
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    And why?
    Because the bodhisattva great beings are endowed with such prodigious knowledge that
    they remain with the dharmas on the side of awakening,
    (i.e. Bodhisattvas keep using valid useful conventional relative tools / adapted skillful means / words / concepts / ideas / truths / views / methods / practices / milestones / goals <==> even if they know that everything is empty of inherent existence <==> merely labeled / imputed by the mind. Thus acting / practicing without acting / practicing, without apprehending anything, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes.)
    understanding that it is thus the time for mastery, and it is not the time for actualization.

  • "Subhūti, there bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom
    thus understand analytically
    that it is the time for the perfection of giving;
    that it is the time for the perfection of morality, patience, perseverance, concentration, and wisdom;
    that it is the time to cultivate the applications of mindfulness,
    up to that it is the time to cultivate the eightfold noble path;
    that it is the time to cultivate the emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness meditative stabilizations;
    that it is the time to acquire the ten tathāgata powers;
    that it is the time to acquire the four fearlessnesses and the four detailed and thorough knowledges;
    that it is the time to acquire great love and great compassion;
    -
    and that it is not the time to actualize the result of stream enterer,
    up to that it is not the time to actualize the state of a worthy one;
    that it is not the time to actualize a pratyekabuddha's awakening;
    and that it is not the time to acquire and to master all-knowledge. 573

  • "Thus, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom
    master emptiness, and persisting with emptiness master signlessness and wishlessness.
    Persisting with signlessness and wishlessness,
    they cultivate the eightfold noble path
    but still do not actualize the result of stream enterer, up to the state of a worthy one.
    -
    Similarly, connect this with
    they cultivate the applications of mindfulness and persist in the applications of mindfulness
    but still do not actualize it.
    Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings thus master the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening,
    cultivate the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening, and persist in the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening, but still do not actualize it.
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)

  • "To illustrate, Subhūti, a brave, heroic, firmly grounded, physically beautiful, handsome, good-looking person endowed with the finest, clearest, most deeply imbued beautiful skin color, an expert archer holding hardened weapons 574 who is thoroughly established in the sixty-four vocational arts, knowing as much as can be known about all crafts and vocations, giving pleasure to and loved by many persons, gains great wealth from whatever work they undertake and with that wealth respects, reveres, honors, and worships many people.
    Having made them feel immense rapture, delight, joy, and happiness, for some purpose or other they lead the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, into a hair-raising jungle terrifying to simple folk.
    That person, after having led them there, inspires the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, to be fearless, saying, 'Do not be scared, do not be scared, I will quickly free you from this terrifying, scary place.' When enemies, murderers, and opponents of that person come close in that jungle, because that person has the ultimate power of wisdom, they get those mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, out of that jungle, leading them to freedom.
    Having reached a settlement, or market town, or city, or other spot uninjured and unharmed, they occasion a feeling of joy and mental happiness in them, but they do not poison their minds against those beings who are enemies and opponents.
    What is the reason for this?
    It is because they have expertise in all the vocational arts, so they magically produce immensely more and braver opponents with even more hardened weapons than the enemies and opponents in that jungle, getting rid of those beings who are enemies and opponents by scaring them.
    Then, having easily freed their parents, sons, and daughters, that person lives at ease.

  • "Similarly, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings radiate out loving thoughts with all beings as the objective support‍ — compassionate, joyful, and balanced thoughts with all beings as the objective support‍ [T1] —
    and while doing so bodhisattva great beings in the interim
    do not employ a causal sign as a conventional label [T2] [U2T]. 575
    They do not actualize that signlessness meditative stabilization
    on account of which, were they to have actualized it,
    they would stand on the śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha level.
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    -
    (i.e. See Chapters 8-9, 33: The perfection of wisdom should be taken up by way of no causal sign and no absence of causal sign, without taking it up. Thus, it should be taken up by way of no causal sign and no absence of causal sign, without taking it up. Meaning doing all actions of the body, speech and mind – while not grasping at any subject, relation / opposition / action, object; or at any cause, causality, effect – while being fully aware of their true nature & dynamic as it is here & now [U2T]. Not accepting, not rejecting.)
    -
    (i.e. Note g.255: Causal sign: "A causal sign is the projected reality (objects) that functions as the objective support of a cognitive state. It cannot be separated out from the cognitive state (subject) and to that extent may enjoy a modicum of conventional reality. To "practice with a causal sign" means to look at an apparent phenomenon within accepting that it has more reality than it actually does.")

  • "To illustrate further, Subhūti, a winged bird glides through the air without falling to the ground, but even though it glides through the air in the sky it does not stand and take up a position there.
    -
    Similarly, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings also master emptiness and practice emptiness, also master signlessness and wishlessness and make a practice of signlessness and the wishlessness, but they do not actualize those emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness meditative stabilizations on account of which, were they to have actualized them, they would fall to the śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha level before completing any of the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, great compassion, or any of those infinite buddha-dharmas, having practiced which they would reach the knowledge of all aspects.
    (i.e. Bodhisattvas develop an understanding of emptiness / signlessness / wishlessness …, but without grasping at emptiness, without any attachment / fixation / absolutes, without apprehending anything as independent / universal / absolute / inherently existing – not even causality / dependent origination [T1], no-self / emptiness [T2], the two truths together [2T], neither of the two truths [1T], or the Union of the Two truths [U2T]. That is why we call it the 'inconceivable Union of the Two Truths [U2T]'.)

  • "To illustrate further, Subhūti, a person, a powerful master archer well trained in archery, shoots an arrow far into the sky. Having shot the arrow far into the sky they again shoot with a series of other, later arrows going after the earlier, not letting them fall to earth. Those arrows do not fall to earth for as long as that person does not want them to. Then, thinking, 'Let those arrows fall to earth,' they do not shoot a later arrow up into the sky and that leading series of arrows falls to earth.
    -
    Similarly, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom assisted by skillful means do not actualize the final limit of reality for as long as the wholesome roots of unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening have not matured,
    but when the wholesome roots of unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening have matured, they then actualize the final limit of reality.

  • "Therefore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom should ponder the true dharmic nature of those dharmas like that."


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

  • "Those who do what is difficult, Lord, are the bodhisattva great beings who
    train in this true nature of dharmas, train in the very limit of reality,
    train in suchness, train in the dharma-constituent [U2T],
    train in the emptiness of what transcends limits [T2],
    up to 576 train in the emptiness of its own mark, up to train in the three gateways to liberation [T2]
    but do not, in the interim, fall away from unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening [T1] [U2T].
    Lord, it is amazing! Sugata, it is amazing!"

"Subhūti," said the Lord,

  • "it is because the bodhisattva great beings do not forsake all beings [T1] [U2T]
    and, Subhūti, because they find and produce within themselves
    the thought 577 of a bodhisattva great being [bodhicitta],
    -
    Subhūti, who has not forsaken all beings‍ — this type of special prayer:
    'I will not forsake these ignorant beings,
    these beings who are deceived because they perceive nonexistent phenomena as existing. 578
    I should not forsake all those ignorant beings.
    I have not forsaken all beings, so I should also free all these beings caught up in nonexistent phenomena.'
    -
    When those bodhisattva great beings
    find and produce within themselves the emptiness meditative stabilization gateway to liberation [T2],
    find and produce within themselves the signlessness meditative stabilization gateway to liberation,
    and find and produce within themselves the wishlessness meditative stabilization gateway to liberation,
    but in the interim, before reaching the knowledge of all aspects, do not actualize the very limit of reality,
    you should know that at that time they are endowed with skillful means [T1] [U2T].

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti,
    bodhisattva great beings who want to understand analytically those deep, deep places
    — namely, inner emptiness, up to the emptiness that is the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature, and the four applications of mindfulness and three gateways to liberation‍ —
    find and produce within themselves the thought, 'These beings have been involved for a long time in a false apprehension of facts because of perceiving a self, perceiving a being, up to perceiving someone who knows and someone who sees, so in order to eliminate their view falsely apprehending facts I will fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening and teach the Dharma.'
    -
    Then when the bodhisattva great beings become absorbed in the emptiness meditative stabilization,
    they still do not actualize that very limit of reality on account of which, were they to have actualized it,
    they would have reached the result of stream enterer,
    up to would have reached a pratyekabuddha's awakening.
    Subhūti, when the bodhisattva great beings become absorbed in the signlessness meditative stabilization
    and wishlessness meditative stabilization gateways to liberation,
    the bodhisattva great beings meditate and become absorbed
    but still do not actualize the very limit of reality on account of which, were they to have actualized it,
    they would have reached the result of stream enterer,
    up to would have reached the state of a worthy one and a pratyekabuddha's awakening.

  • "Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing like that
    are endowed with those wholesome roots and do not actualize the very limit of reality,
    but still on account of the production of that thought they do not fall away from the four concentrations,
    four immeasurables, four formless absorptions, or four applications of mindfulness;
    up to the eightfold noble path; the emptiness, signlessness and wishlessness meditative stabilizations;
    the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, or four detailed and thorough knowledges;
    great love; or great compassion.
    At that time bodhisattva great beings are endowed with the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening and do not fall away from them.
    -
    Assisted by skillful means they grow in the wholesome dharmas
    and their faculties are also not like those of śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas but are keener.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings think,
    'The minds of these beings have been distorted for a long time by the fourfold erroneous perception of permanence, perception of happiness, perception of the pleasant, and perception of a self, so I will practice for awakening for their sake, and having thus fully awakened to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening will teach them so that one way or the other they do not practice with the idea of "permanent," or the idea of "happiness," or the idea of "pleasant," or the idea of "self," but rather with the idea of "impermanent," the idea of "unpleasant," the idea of "suffering," and the idea of "selfless." '
    Bodhisattva great beings who have produced that thought [bodhicitta] and
    practice the perfection of wisdom [T2] with skillful means [T1] [U2T]
    do not enter into absorption in a buddha's meditative stabilization
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    until they have completed the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, and great compassion.
    During that time, they meditate on and become absorbed in the wishlessness meditative stabilization
    but do not actualize the very limit of reality until they have fully awakened to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings think,
    'For a long time these beings have been involved in a false apprehension of facts with the idea of "a self," or the idea of "a being," up to or the idea of "one who knows" and "one who sees," and the idea of "form," or the idea of "feeling," or the idea of "perception," or the idea of "volitional factors," or the idea of "consciousness," or the idea of "aggregates," or the idea of "constituents," or the idea of "sense fields," or the idea of "four concentrations," or the idea of "four immeasurables," or the idea of "four formless absorptions." When I fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening, one way or the other I will make it so that they will not have these faults of beings who falsely apprehend facts.'
    Bodhisattva great beings with the production of those thoughts [bodhicitta] who
    practice the perfection of wisdom [T2] with skillful means [T1] [U2T]
    do not actualize the very limit of reality
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    until they have completed the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, and great compassion,
    and at that time they complete the cultivation of the emptiness meditative stabilization gateway to liberation.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom think,
    'For a long time these beings have been practicing a practice with causal signs: the causal sign for woman, the causal sign for man, the causal sign for form, the causal sign for formless. When I fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening, one way or the other I will make it so that beings will not have such faults as these.'
    When bodhisattva great beings who produce those thoughts [bodhicitta]
    and also with skillful means [T1] practice the perfection of wisdom [T2] [U2T],
    they do not, in the interim, actualize the very limit of reality
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    until they have completed the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, and great compassion.
    Endowed with that production of the thought they complete the cultivation of the signlessness meditative stabilization gateway to liberation.

  • "Furthermore, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings practicing the perfection of wisdom think,
    'For a long time these beings have been practicing a practice while making wishes‍ — that is, they have harbored a strong liking for Śatakratu, Brahmā, a world protector, or a wheel-turning emperor; they have harbored a strong liking for form, feeling, perception, volitional factors, and consciousness; up to they have harbored a strong liking for the knowledge of all aspects‍ — so for their sake, fully awakened to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening, one way or the other I will teach the doctrine so that beings will not have these wish-making faults.'

  • "Thus, Subhūti, bodhisattva great beings who produce those thoughts [bodhicitta]
    and also with skillful means [T1] practicing the perfection of wisdom [T2] [U2T]
    complete the cultivation of the emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness
    meditative stabilization gateways to liberation,
    and do not, in the interim, actualize the very limit of reality
    (i.e. They cultivate without cultivating good roots. But, meanwhile, they do not grasp at any absolute truth / view / goal until they can personally non-dualistically non-conceptually unconditionally directly perceive / realise / experience the inconceivable true nature & dynamic of Reality as it is.)
    for as long as the ten tathāgata powers, four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha, great love, and great compassion are still not completed, and until they have fully awakened to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening.

  • "Subhūti, it is impossible and there is no chance that bodhisattva great beings practicing the six perfections;
    practicing inner emptiness, up to the emptiness that is the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature;
    practicing the applications of mindfulness;
    practicing the emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness meditative stabilizations;
    practicing the ten tathāgata powers,
    up to and practicing the four fearlessnesses, four detailed and thorough knowledges, great love, great compassion, and the eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha‍ —
    it is impossible that those bodhisattva great beings practicing and mastering them
    with such knowledge could fall into the absence of volitional activity 579 or inhabit the three realms.

  • "Subhūti, you should ask bodhisattva great beings thus practicing mastery of those thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening,
    'How do bodhisattva great beings who want to fully awaken to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening cultivate the perfection of wisdom when they master those dharmas
    with a realization that does not cause them to actualize emptiness;
    does not cause them to realize the very limit of reality;
    and does not cause them to actualize the signlessness, wishlessness,
    not occasioning anything, nonproduction, or the absence of an existing thing
    which would otherwise lead to the attainment of the result of stream enterer,
    up to or the state of a worthy one or a pratyekabuddha's awakening?'
    -
    If, Subhūti, when a bodhisattva great being has asked bodhisattva great beings about that, they respond,
    'Those bodhisattva great beings must pay attention to emptiness,
    must pay attention to signlessness,
    must pay attention to wishlessness, and
    must pay attention to not occasioning anything, to nonproduction, and to the absence of an existing thing,'
    then, Subhūti, the bodhisattva great being should know that the lord buddhas have prophesied the unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening of those bodhisattva great beings.
    And why?
    Subhūti, it is because they pronounce on, point out, and sort out the mastery of bodhisattva great beings irreversible from awakening.
    -
    But if, Subhūti, when asked they respond,
    'They should NOT pay attention to emptiness,
    and they should NOT pay attention to signlessness, wishlessness,
    not occasioning anything, nonproduction, or the absence of an existing thing,'
    then, Subhūti, the bodhisattva great being should know that
    the lord buddhas have not prophesied the unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening
    of those bodhisattva great beings.
    And why?
    Subhūti, it is because they do not pronounce on, point out, or sort out the mastery of irreversible bodhisattva great beings, and do not pronounce on, do not point out, and do not sort out the Dharma of irreversible bodhisattva great beings.
    In regard to them, that bodhisattva great being should know that those bodhisattva great beings are not like irreversible bodhisattva great beings who, having achieved mastery, have stepped onto the irreversible level, passing beyond the Tanū level."


"Would there then, Lord, be ways in which the bodhisattva great beings would be irreversible from awakening?" asked Subhūti.

"There would be, Subhūti," said the Lord.

  • "It would be if the bodhisattva great beings, whether or not they have heard of the six perfections,
    give an answer just like an irreversible bodhisattva great being."

"Therefore, Lord," said Subhūti,

  • "those bodhisattva great beings who practice for awakening are many,
    but levels that have been cleansed or levels that have not been cleansed do not appear‍ —
    those bodhisattva great beings who give an answer just like an irreversible bodhisattva great being are few." 580

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

  • "Subhūti, those bodhisattva great beings of whom the irreversible knowledge level has been prophesied are few.
    Those who are prophesied are those who will give such an answer,
    and you should know that those who will give such an answer are those with cleansed wholesome roots.
    The world with its gods, humans, and asuras cannot steal those bodhisattva great beings away."

This was the fifty-fourth chapter, "Teaching the Cultivation of 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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