Chapter IV. Bodhisattvas
1. At this point the Buddha addressed Maitreya Bodhisattva, “You go inquire about Vimalakīrti’s illness.”
Maitreya addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One, I dare not accept your instruction to go inquire about his illness. Why? I remember once in the past when I was explaining the practice of the stage of irreversibility for the heavenly king of the Tuṣita Heaven and his subordinates. At the time Vimalakīrti came and said to me,
2. “‘Maitreya, the World-honored One has bestowed on your noble person the prediction that you will achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi in a single lifetime. What lifetime will you use to experience this prediction, past, future, or present? If a past life, then the past life is already extinguished. If a future life, then the future life has not arrived. If the present life, then the present life is nonabiding. It is as the Buddha has explained, “O bhikṣus, you are in this immediate present born, aged, and extinguished.”
“‘If you experience this prediction with birthlessness, then the birthless is the primary status [of Hinayanist enlightenment]. Yet within that primary status there is no receiving the prediction, and also no attainment of anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.
3. “‘How, Maitreya, did you receive the prediction of [buddhahood in] a single lifetime? Did you receive the prediction from the generation of suchness, or did you receive the prediction from the extinction of suchness?
“‘If you received the prediction by the generation of suchness, then [understand that] suchness is without generation. If you received the prediction by the extinction of suchness, then [understand that] suchness is without extinction.
“‘All sentient beings are entirely suchlike, and all dharmas are also entirely suchlike. The assembly of sages and wise ones are also suchlike. Even you, Maitreya, are suchlike. If you received the prediction [of future buddhahood], all sentient beings should also receive it. Why? Suchness is nondual and nondifferentiated. If Maitreya attains anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, then all sentient beings should also all attain it. Why? All sentient beings are the characteristic of bodhi. If Maitreya attains extinction, then all sentient beings should also all [attain] extinction. Why? The buddhas understand that all sentient beings are ultimately extinguished, which is the characteristic of nirvana, and cannot again be extinguished.
“‘Therefore, Maitreya, do not inspire the gods with this teaching.
4. “‘Truly, there is no one who generates the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, and there is no one who retrogresses. Maitreya, you should have these gods forsake this discriminative view of bodhi. Why?
“‘Bodhi cannot be attained with the body, and it cannot be attained with the mind.
“‘Extinction is bodhi, because of the extinction of the characteristics. “‘Non-contemplation is bodhi, because it transcends the conditions. “‘Non-practice is bodhi, because it is without recollection. “‘Eradication is bodhi, because of renouncing the views. Transcendence is bodhi, because of the transcendence of false concepts. “‘Hindrances are bodhi, because of the hindrance of the vows. “‘Non-entry is bodhi, because of the absence of lustful attachment. Accordance is bodhi, because of accordance with suchness. “‘Abiding is bodhi, because of abiding [in the] Dharma-nature. “‘Approach is bodhi, because of the approach to the reality-limit. “‘Nonduality is bodhi, because of the transcendence of mind and dharmas. “‘Universal sameness is bodhi, because of universal sameness with space. “‘The unconditioned is bodhi, because of the absence of generation, abiding, and extinction. “‘Understanding is bodhi, because of the comprehension of the mental processes of sentient beings. “‘Non-assemblage is bodhi, because of the non-assemblage of the entrances (āyatanas, i.e., sensory capacities). “‘Non-aggregation is bodhi, because of the transcendence of the latent influences of the afflictions. “‘The non-locative is bodhi, because of formlessness. “‘Provisional names are bodhi, because names are empty. “‘The [activities of the] conversion of suchness are bodhi, because of the nonexistence of grasping and forsaking. “‘The non-turbulent is bodhi, because of permanent composure. “‘Good serenity is bodhi, because of the purity of the natures. “‘Non-grasping is bodhi, because of the transcendence of objectified mentation. “‘Nondifferentiation is bodhi, because of the universal sameness of the dharmas. “‘Non-comparison is bodhi, because of the impossibility of analogy. “‘The subtle is bodhi, because of the difficulty of understanding the dharmas.’
5. “World-honored One, when Vimalakīrti explained this Dharma, two
hundred gods achieved the forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas. Therefore, I cannot accept [your instruction] to go inquire about his illness.”
6. The Buddha told Radiance Ornament Youth, “You go inquire about
Vimalakīrti’s illness.” Radiance Ornament Youth addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One,
I dare not accept your instruction to go inquire about his illness. Why? I remember once in the past, when I was coming out of the great city of Vaiśālī just as Vimalakīrti was entering the city. I immediately bowed and asked, ‘Retired scholar, from where are you coming?’
“He answered me, ‘I have come from the place of enlightenment.’ “I asked, ‘Where is the place of enlightenment?’ “He answered,
7. “‘Sincerity is the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of falsity. The generation of practice is the place of enlightenment, because it is able to discriminate things. Profound mind is the place of enlightenment, because of the increase in merit. The mind of bodhi (bodhicitta) is the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of error.
8. “‘Charity is the place of enlightenment, because of not seeking after retribution (i.e., reward). Morality is the place of enlightenment, because of the fulfillment of vows. Forbearance is the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of any mental hindrance regarding sentient beings. Exertion is the place of enlightenment, because of not retrogressing. Meditation is the place of enlightenment, because of the pliable disciplining of the mind. Wis-dom is the place of enlightenment, because of the manifest perception of the dharmas.
9. “‘Sympathy is the place of enlightenment, because of the universal sameness of sentient beings. Compassion is the place of enlightenment, because of the forbearance of suffering. Joy is the place of enlightenment, because of taking pleasure in the Dharma. Equanimity is the place of enlightenment, because of the eradication of repugnance and affection.
10. “‘The numinous penetrations are the place of enlightenment, because of the achievement of the six penetrations (i.e., supernatural abilities). Emancipation is the place of enlightenment, because of the ability to forsake. Skillful means are the place of enlightenment, because of the salvation of sentient beings. The four means of attraction are the place of enlightenment, because of the attraction (i.e., conversion) of sentient beings. Erudition is the place of enlightenment, because of practice according to one’s knowledge. Mental control is the place of enlightenment, because of the correct contemplation of the dharmas. The thirty-seven factors of enlightenment are the place of enlightenment, because of forsaking the conditioned dharmas. The truth is the place of enlightenment, because of not misleading the world.
“‘Conditioned generation is the place of enlightenment, because ignorance and so forth through old age and death, are all unexhausted. The afflictions are bodhi, because of understanding according to actuality.
11. “‘Sentient beings are the place of enlightenment, because of understanding no-self.
“‘All dharmas are the place of enlightenment, because of understanding the emptiness of the dharmas. Subjugation of the Māras is the place of enlightenment, because of not being swayed. The triple world is the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of destinations. The lion’s roar is the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of fear. The [ten] powers, [four] fearlessnesses, and [eighteen] exclusive attributes are the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of transgressions. The three illuminations are the place of enlightenment, because of the absence of remaining hindrances. To understand all the dharmas in a single moment of thought is the place of enlightenment, because of the accomplishment of omniscience.
12. “‘Thus, my good man, should the bodhisattva teach sentient beings according to the perfections. In all that is done, [down to every] lifting or placing of one’s foot, you should understand that all these come from the place of enlightenment and abide in the Buddha-Dharma.’
13. “When [Vimalakīrti] explained the Dharma five hundred gods and humans all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. Therefore, I cannot accept [your instruction] to go inquire about his illness.”
14. The Buddha told Maintains the World Bodhisattva, “You go inquire about Vimalakīrti’s illness.”
Maintains the World addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One, I dare not accept your instruction to go inquire about his illness. Why?
“I remember once in the past when I was residing in a meditation chamber, Māra the Evil One, attended by twelve thousand goddesses and in a man- ner like Indra with his drum, music, and song, proceeded to where I was. He and his subordinates bowed their heads to my feet, held their palms together reverentially, and stood to one side.
“Thinking it was Indra, I said to him, ‘Welcome, Kauśika! Although [you enjoy] blessings you should not be self-indulgent. You should contemplate the impermanence of the five desires and seek for the foundation of goodness, cultivating the perduring dharmas with regard to your body, life, and wealth.’
“He then said to me, ‘O good sir, [please] receive these twelve thousand goddesses to clean and wash [for you].’
“I said, ‘Kauśika, as a śramaṇa and son of Śākya I have no need for improper things such as this. This would not be appropriate for me.’
15. “Before I had even finished saying this Vimalakīrti came and said to me, ‘This is not Indra. This is Māra, who has come only to ridicule you.’ “He then said to Māra, ‘You can give these women to me. If it were I, I would accept them.’ “Māra then thought in shock, ‘Vimalakīrti should not be troubling me!’
He wanted to become invisible and leave but he could not disappear. Even using all his numinous power he was not able to leave.
“He then heard a voice from space, saying, ‘Evil One, if you give him the women you will be able to go.’
“Because of his fear, and with eyes casting nervously about, [Māra] gave Vimalakīrti the women.
16. “Then Vimalakīrti said to the women, ‘Māra has given you to me. You should now all generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃ-bodhi.’
“He then explained the Dharma to them in various ways and caused them to generate the intention for enlightenment.
“He then said, ‘Now that you have generated the intention for enlightenment, you may amuse yourselves in the joy of the Dharma, never again taking pleasure in the five desires.’
“The goddesses asked, ‘What is the joy of the Dharma?’
“He answered, ‘Joy is to always trust the Buddha. Joy is to desire to hear the Dharma. Joy is to make offerings to the assembly. Joy is to transcend the five desires. Joy is to contemplate the five skandhas as vengeful bandits. Joy is to contemplate the four elements as poisonous snakes. Joy is to contemplate the interior sensory capacities as being like empty aggregations. Joy is to maintain one’s intention for enlightenment in all situations. Joy is to benefit sentient beings. Joy is to revere teachers. Joy is the extensive practice of charity. Joy is the firm maintenance of the precepts. Joy is forbearance and pliability. Joy is the vigorous accumulation of good roots. Joy is the lack of disturbance in meditation. Joy is to transcend the defilements in wisdom. Joy is to disseminate bodhicitta. Joy is the subjugation of the host of Māras. Joy is the eradication of the afflictions. Joy is purification of the countries of the buddhas. Joy is the accomplishment of the [thirty-two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks, based on the cultivation of the merits. Joy is ornamentation of the place of enlightenment. Joy is to hear the profound Dharma without fear. Joy is the three emancipations and not to take the pleasure [of ultimate enlightenment] at an inappropriate time. Joy is to associate with fellow trainees. Joy is for one’s mind to be without hindrance in the midst of those [who are] not one’s fellow trainees. Joy is to defend against evil friends. Joy is to associate closely with good friends. Joy is to be happy and pure in mind. Joy is to cultivate the immeasurable factors of enlightenment.
“‘These are the bodhisattva’s joy in the Dharma.’
17. “At this Māra the Evil One announced to the women, ‘I want to return with you to the heavenly palace.’
“The women said, ‘You already gave us to this retired scholar. We are extremely joyful in the joy of the Dharma, and will never again take pleasure in the five desires.’
“Māra said, ‘If the retired scholar is able to forsake these women, and everything that exists is given to him, then he is a bodhisattva.’
“Vimalakīrti said, ‘I have already forsaken them. You may take them away, but you must make all sentient beings attain fulfillment of their vows in the Dharma.’
“At this the women asked Vimalakīrti, ‘How should we reside in Māra’s palace?’
18. “Vimalakīrti said, ‘Sisters, there is a Dharma called “inexhaustible lamp.” You should study it. The inexhaustible lamp is like a lamp that ignites a hundred thousand lamps, illuminating all darkness with an illumination that is never exhausted. Thus, sisters, if a single bodhisattva guides a hundred thousand sentient beings, causing them to generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, that bodhisattva’s intention to achieve enlightenment will also never be extinguished.
“‘With each teaching of the Dharma all the good dharmas are naturally increased. This is what is called the “inexhaustible lamp.” Although you reside in Māra’s palace, with this inexhaustible lamp you can cause innumerable gods and goddesses to generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. Thereby you will repay the Buddha’s kindness and also greatly benefit all sen- tient beings.’
19. “At that time the goddesses bowed their heads to Vimalakīrti’s feet in worship and suddenly disappeared to return to Māra’s palace.
“World-honored One, Vimalakīrti’s autonomy, numinous power, wisdom, and eloquence are like this. Therefore, I cannot accept [your instruction] to go inquire about his illness.” 543c
20. The Buddha told the elder’s son Good Virtue, “You go inquire about Vimalakīrti’s illness.”
Good Virtue addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One, I dare not accept your instruction to go inquire about his illness. Why?
“I remember once in the past when I was holding a great charity assembly in my father’s house. We made offerings to all the śramaṇas, brahmans, those of the heterodox paths, the poor, low-class, orphans, and beggars. It lasted fully seven days. At the time Vimalakīrti came into the assembly and said to me, ‘Elder’s son, you should not hold a great charity assembly like this. You should have an assembly of the charity of the Dharma. What use is a charity assembly of material wealth?’ “I said, ‘Retired scholar, what is an assembly of the charity of Dharma?’ “He answered,
21. “‘An assembly of the charity of the Dharma is to make offerings to all sentient beings simultaneously, without before and after. This is called an assembly of the charity of the Dharma.
“‘If you ask how I say this, I say that one uses bodhi to generate sympathy. One generates great compassion in order to save sentient beings. One generates joy by maintaining the correct Dharma. One practices equanimity by mastering wisdom.
22. “‘One generates dāna-pāramitā (the perfection of charity) by mastering desire. One generates śīla-pāramitā (the perfection of morality) by attracting those who transgress the precepts. One generates kṣanti-pāramitā (the perfection of forbearance) by the Dharma of no-self. One generates vīrya-pāramitā (the perfection of exertion) by transcending the characteristics of body and mind. One generates dhyāna-pāramitā (the perfection of meditation) with the characteristic of bodhi. One generates prajñā-pāramitā (the perfection of wisdom) with omniscience.
23. “‘One teaches sentient beings and generates emptiness. Without forsaking the conditioned dharmas, one generates that which is without characteristics. One manifests the experience of [re]birth and generates the uncreated.
24. “‘One defends the correct Dharma and generates the power of skillful means. One generates the four means of attraction by saving sentient beings. One generates the elimination of conceit by reverencing all. One generates the three perduring dharmas with regard to body, life, and wealth. One generates contemplation of the dharmas within the six mindfulnesses. One generates sincerity with regard to the six types of considerate esteem. One generates pure livelihood with correct practice of the good dharmas. One becomes close to the wise and sagely with purification of the mind in joy. One generates a disciplined mind by not having aversion for bad people. One generates the profound mind with the dharma of leaving home. One generates erudition by practicing according to the explanation. One generates the locus of empty repose with the dharma of noncontention. In approaching buddha wisdom one generates sitting in repose. In releasing the bonds of sentient beings one generates the stages of cultivation.
25. “‘By becoming replete in the [thirty-two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks and by purifying a buddha land one generates meritorious karma. Understanding the thoughts of all sentient beings and how one should explain the Dharma to them, one generates the karma of wisdom. Understanding all the dharmas, one neither grasps nor forsakes. Entering the gate of the single characteristic, one generates the karma of sagacity. Eradicating all the afflictions, all the hindrances, and all the non- good dharmas, one generates all good karma.
26. “‘By attaining omniscience and all the good dharmas, one universally generates the dharmas that assist one’s buddhahood. Thus, good man, is the assembly of the charity of the Dharma. If a bodhisattva resides in this assembly of the charity of the Dharma he will be a great donor. He will also be a field of blessings for the entire world.’
“World-honored One, when Vimalakīrti explained this Dharma, two hundred people in the congregation of brahmans all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.
27. “At the time my own mind attained a purity which I exclaimed to be unprecedented, and I bowed my head to Vimalakīrti’s feet in worship. Unfastening my necklace, a hundred thousand [coins] in value, I gave it to him but he did not accept it. I said, ‘Please, retired scholar, you must accept this and give it to whomever you please.’ Vimalakīrti then accepted the necklace and divided it into two parts. Taking one part, he gave it to the lowliest beggars in the assembly. Taking the other part, he offered it to the Tathāgata Difficult to Overcome. The entire assembly saw the Radiant Illumination country and Difficult to Overcome Tathāgata. They also saw the necklace on that Buddha change into a four-pillared jewel-laden platform, with mutually noninterfering ornamentation on the four sides.
28. “Having manifested these numinous transformations, Vimalakīrti then said, ‘If a donor with an attitude of universal sameness gives to the lowliest beggars, this is to be like the characteristic of the Tathāgata’s field of blessings, with no distinction, and to be equivalent to great compassion without seeking any reward. This is called “to be replete in the charity of the Dharma.”’
29. “The lowliest beggars in the city witnessed this numinous power and heard his explanation, and they all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.
“Therefore, I cannot accept [your instruction] to go inquire about his illness.”
30. In similar fashion all of the bodhisattvas explained their original encounters and related what Vimalakīrti had said, and each said he was unable to accept [the Buddha’s instruction] to go inquire about his illness.
Chapter V. Mañjuśrī’s Condolence Visit
1. At this point the Buddha addressed Mañjuśrī, “You go inquire about Vimalakīrti’s illness.”
Mañjuśrī addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One, that superior one is difficult to respond to.
“He has profoundly attained the true characteristic, and he is good at explaining the essentials of the Dharma.
“His eloquence is unhampered, and his wisdom is unhindered.
“He completely understands all the deportments of the bodhisattvas, and he has entered into all the secret storehouses of the buddhas. “He has subjugated the host of Māras, and disports himself in the numinous penetrations. He has already attained perfection in his wisdom and skill- ful means.
“Nevertheless, I will accept your sagely purport and proceed to inquire about his illness.”
2. Thereupon the bodhisattvas, great disciples, Indras, Brahmās, and the four heavenly kings in the assembly all thought, “Now these two great bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī and Vimalakīrti will have a discussion. They will certainly explain a wondrous Dharma.”
At the time eight thousand bodhisattvas, five hundred śrāvakas, and a hundred thousand gods all wanted to follow along.
Mañjuśrī and the congregation of bodhisattvas and great disciples, with the gods reverentially surrounding them, then entered the great city of Vaiśālī.
3. At that time the Elder Vimalakīrti thought, “Now Mañjuśrī and a great congregation is coming.”
Then with his numinous power he emptied out his room, removing what was there as well as his servants. He left only a single couch, upon which he reclined in his illness.
4. Mañjuśrī entered the house, and he saw the room was empty, with [Vimalakīrti] lying alone on a single couch.
Then Vimalakīrti said, “Welcome, Mañjuśrī. You have come with the characteristic of not coming; you see with the characteristic of not seeing.” Mañjuśrī said, “So it is, retired scholar. If one has come, there is no more coming. If one has gone, there is no more going. Why? To come is to come from nowhere; to go is to proceed nowhere. That which can be seen is then invisible.
5. “But enough of this matter. Retired scholar, can this illness be forborn? In its treatment is it diminished, so as not to increase? The World-honored One has made immeasurable courteous inquiries about you.
6. “Retired scholar, what is the cause from which this illness arises? Has it been affecting you long? How will it be extinguished?”
Vimalakīrti said, “From stupidity there is affection, and hence the generation of my illness (or: the illness of self). Since all sentient beings are ill, therefore I am ill. If the illness of all sentient beings were extinguished, then my illness would be extinguished. Why? Bodhisattvas enter samsara on behalf of sentient beings. Because there is samsara, there is illness. If sentient beings were able to transcend illness, then bodhisattvas would not also be ill.
7. “It is like an elder whose only son becomes ill, and the parents become ill as well. If the son recovers from the illness, the parents also recover. Bodhisattvas are like this. They have affection for sentient beings as if for their own children. When sentient beings are ill the bodhisattvas are ill also, and when sentient beings recover from their illness the bodhisattvas recover also.”
He also said, “From what cause does this illness arise? The illness of bodhisattvas arises from great compassion.”
8. Mañjuśrī said, “Retired scholar, why is this room empty, with no servants?”
Vimalakīrti said, “The countries of the buddhas are also all empty.” [Mañjuśrī] asked, “With what was it emptied?”
[Vimalakīrti] answered, “It was emptied with emptiness.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “How can emptiness use emptiness?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “It is empty through nondiscriminating empti-
ness.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Can emptiness be discriminated?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “Discrimination is also empty.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Where should emptiness be sought?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “It should be sought within the sixty-two [heterodox] views.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Where should the sixty-two views be sought?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “They should be sought within the emancipation of the buddhas.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Where should the emancipation of the buddhas be sought?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “It should be sought within the mental processes of all sentient beings. “Also, regarding your question about why there are no servants—all the host of Māras and [followers of] the heterodox paths are all my servants. Why? The host of Māras take pleasure in samsara, and the bodhisattvas do not forsake samsara. Those of the heterodox paths take pleasure in the views, and bodhisattvas are unmoved by the views.”
9. Mañjuśrī said, “Retired scholar, what characteristics does your illness have?”
Vimalakīrti said, “My illness is without form, invisible.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Is this an illness of body or of mind?” [Vimalakīrti] said, “It is not of the body, since the body transcends char-
acteristics. Nor is it of the mind, since the mind is like a phantasm.” [Mañjuśrī] asked further, “Of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air, to which element does this illness belong?” [Vimalakīrti] answered, “This illness is not of the earth element, but neither does it transcend the earth element. The water, fire, and wind elements are likewise. However, the illnesses of sentient beings arise from the four elements, and because they are ill I am ill.”
10. At that time Mañjuśrī asked Vimalakīrti, “How should bodhisattvas comfort bodhisattvas who are ill?”
Vimalakīrti said, “Explain that the body is impermanent but do not teach that one should have aversion for one’s body. Explain that the body suffers but do not teach that one should take pleasure in nirvana. Explain that the body is without self but teach that one should guide sentient beings [anyway]. Explain that the body is emptily serene but do not teach that it is ultimately extinguished.
“Explain that one should regret one’s former transgressions but do not teach that they enter into the past. Comfort the illness of others with one’s own illness. One should recognize the innumerable kalpas of suffering of one’s past lives. One should be mindful of benefiting all sentient beings and remember one’s cultivation of blessings, be mindful of one’s pure livelihood without generating vexation but always generating exertion. Be the physician king, healing the host of illnesses. Thus should bodhisattvas comfort bodhisattvas who are ill, making them happy.”
11. Mañjuśrī said, “Retired scholar, how should the bodhisattva who is ill control his mind?”
Vimalakīrti said, “The bodhisattva who is ill should think as follows:
“‘This present illness of mine comes entirely from the false concepts, confusions, and afflictions of previous lives. There is no actual dharma that experiences illness.’
“Why? ‘Body’ is a provisional name for a conglomeration of the four elements, and the four elements have no master.
“The body also has no self. Furthermore, the arising of this illness is entirely due to attachment to self. Therefore, one should not generate attachment regarding the self. You should understand that this is the foundation of illness and so eliminate the conception of ‘self’ and the conception of ‘sentient being.’
“You should give rise to the conception of dharmas, thinking as follows: ‘It is only through the combination of a host of dharmas that this body is created. Its arising is only the arising of dharmas, and its extinction is only the extinction of dharmas.’ Also, ‘these dharmas do not know themselves. When they arise, they do not say “I have arisen.” When they are extinguished, they do not say “I have become extinguished.”’
12. “The bodhisattva who is ill should undertake the conception (or: visualization) of the extinguished dharmas. He should think as follows, ‘This conception of the dharmas is also a confused [view]. Such a confused [view] is a great calamity, and I should transcend it.’ What should be transcended? One should transcend the self and [the sense of] personal possession. What is it to transcend the self and [the sense of] personal possession? It is to transcend the two dharmas. What is it to transcend the two dharmas? It is to be mindful neither of interior nor exterior dharmas and to practice universal sameness. What is universal sameness? It is for self to be same and for nirvana to be same. Why? Both self and nirvana are empty. Why are they empty? They are merely names, and therefore empty. Thus these two dharmas are without definitive nature. When one attains universal sameness there is no remaining illness. There is only the illness of emptiness, and the illness of emptiness is also empty.
13. “Bodhisattvas who are ill should use nonexperience to experience the experiences. They acquire realization without becoming complete in the dharmas of buddhahood and without extinguishing experience. Given the suffering of their bodies, they think of sentient beings in the evil destinations and generate great compassion, [thinking] ‘I have already controlled [my suffering] and I should also control [the suffering] of all sentient beings.’
14. “Just eliminate the illness; do not eliminate dharmas. [Bodhisattvas] teach [sentient beings] so that they eliminate the basis of their illness. “What is the basis of their illness? It is the presence of objectified men- tation. It is through objectified mentation that the basis of illness is consti-
tuted. “What is objectified mentation? It is the triple world. What is it to eliminate objectified mentation? It is done with nonattainment. “If there is no attainment, there is no objectified mentation. What is nonattainment? It is the transcendence of dualistic views. “What are dualistic views? They are the internalistic view and externalistic view. These are without attainment (i.e., not apprehensible). “Mañjuśrī, this is how bodhisattvas who are ill control their minds. This is how they eliminate old age, illness, death, and suffering. This is the bodhisattva’s bodhi. If it were not like this, then my cultivation would be a foolish waste. It is like one who is victorious over his enemies being called a hero: this is the term for the bodhisattva who has simultaneously eliminated old age, illness, and death.
15. “Bodhisattvas who are ill should think as follows: ‘If this illness of mine is neither real nor existent, then the illnesses of sentient beings are also neither real nor existent.’
“When performing this contemplation, [such bodhisattvas] may generate an affectionate view of great compassion with regard to (i.e., sentimental compassion toward) sentient beings, but this should be forsaken. Why?
“Bodhisattvas eliminate the vexations of sensory data and generate great compassion. If they have an affectionate view of compassion, they would thereby generate aversion toward samsara. If they are able to transcend this they will not have any [such] aversion, and no matter where they are subsequently reborn they will not be limited by any affectionate view. They will be born without bonds and be able to explain the Dharma to sentient beings and emancipate them from their bonds. “It is as the Buddha has explained: ‘It is impossible for someone with bonds to emancipate others from their bonds. It is only possible for someone without bonds to emancipate others from their bonds.’ Therefore, bodhisattvas should not generate bonds.
16. “What are bonds, and what is emancipation? “A desirous attachment to the flavor of meditation is the bond of bodhisattvas; and birth through skillful means is the emancipation of bodhisattvas. “Further, to be without skillful means is to have one’s wisdom in bondage, while to have skillful means is to have one’s wisdom emancipated. “To be without wisdom is to have one’s skillful means in bondage, while to have wisdom is to have one’s skillful means emancipated.
17. “What is it to be without skillful means and one’s wisdom in bondage? It is for bodhisattvas to use affection to ornament the buddha lands and accomplish [the salvation of] sentient beings, to control oneself within [the three emancipations of] emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness. This is called being without skillful means and one’s wisdom in bondage. “What is it to have skillful means with one’s wisdom emancipated? It is not to use affection to ornament the buddha lands and accomplish [the liberation of] sentient beings, and to control oneself so as to be without aversion within [the three emancipations of] emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness. This is called having skillful means with one’s wisdom emancipated. “What is it to be without wisdom and have one’s skillful means in bondage? It is for bodhisattvas to plant a host of virtuous roots while abiding in the afflictions of desire, anger, and false views. This is called being without wisdom with one’s skillful means in bondage.
“What is it to have wisdom with one’s skillful means emancipated? It is to transcend the afflictions of desire, anger, and false views and plant a host of virtuous roots, rededicating [the merit to one’s achievement of] anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. This is called having wisdom with one’s skillful means emancipated.
18. “Mañjuśrī, bodhisattvas who are ill should contemplate the dharmas like this:
“Also, to contemplate the body as impermanent, suffering, empty, and no-self is called wisdom.
“Although the body is ill, it always exists in samsara. To benefit all without tiring—this is called skillful means.
“Also, in contemplating the body, [one should realize] that the body does not transcend illness and illness does not transcend the body, and that this illness and this body are neither new nor old—this is called wisdom. For one’s body to be ill but never die is called skillful means.
19. “Mañjuśrī, thus should bodhisattvas who are ill control the mind. They should not abide within [the controlled mind], and they should also not abide in the uncontrolled mind. Why? To abide in the uncontrolled mind is the Dharma of fools. To abide in the controlled mind is the Dharma of śrāvakas. Therefore, bodhisattvas should not abide in either the controlled or uncontrolled mind. To transcend these two Dharmas is the practice of bodhisattvas. To be within samsara and not undertake polluted practices, to abide in nirvana and never become extinguished: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
20. i) “It is neither the practice of ordinary [unenlightened persons] nor the practice of the wise and sagely: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
ii) “It is neither a defiled practice nor a pure practice: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
iii) “Although in the past one [performed] the practices of Māra, in the present one subjugates the host of Māras: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
iv) “To seek omniscience but not to seek it at the improper time: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
v) “Although one contemplates the dharmas as nongenerated, not to enter the primary status [of buddhahood]: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
vi) “Although one contemplates the twelve [factors of] conditioned generation, to enter the heterodox views: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
vii) “Although one attracts all sentient beings, to be without the attachment of affection: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
viii) “Although one takes pleasure in transcendence, not to rely on the elimination of body and mind: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
ix) “Although one practices [throughout] the triple world, not to destroy the Dharma-nature: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
x) “Although practicing [the emancipation of ] emptiness, to plant the host of virtuous roots: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xi) “Although practicing [the emancipation of] signlessness, to save sen- tient beings: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xii) “Although practicing [the emancipation of] wishlessness, to manifest the experience of a body: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xiii) “Although practicing nonactivation, to activate all good practices: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xiv) “Although practicing the six pāramitās (perfections), to universally understand the minds and mental attributes of sentient beings: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xv) “Although practicing the six penetrations, not to exhaust the flaws: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xvi) “Although practicing the four unlimited states of mind, not to desire birth in the Brahmā world: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xvii) “Although practicing concentration, meditation, emancipation, and samādhi, not to be born [in a corresponding heaven] according to one’s concentration: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xviii) “Although practicing the four foundations of mindfulness, never to transcend the body, sensation, mind, and dharmas: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xix) “Although practicing the four right efforts, not to forsake exertion of body and mind: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xx) “Although practicing the four supernormal abilities, to attain autonomy in numinous penetration: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxi) “Although practicing [in the context of] the five faculties, to discriminate the sharp and dull faculties of all sentient beings: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxii) “Although practicing the five powers, to delight in seeking the ten powers of a buddha: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxiii) “Although practicing the seven factors of enlightenment, to discriminate buddha wisdom: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxiv) “Although practicing the eightfold noble path, to take pleasure in practicing the unlimited path[s] to buddhahood: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxv) “Although practicing concentration and contemplation, the auxiliary factors of the path, yet ultimately never to fall into extinction: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxvi) “Although practicing [with an awareness of] the nongeneration and nonextinction of the dharmas, to ornament one’s body with the [thirty- two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks: this is the prac- tice of bodhisattvas.
xxvii) “Although manifesting the deportment of a śrāvaka or pratyeka-buddha, not to forsake the Buddha-Dharma: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxviii) “Although being in accord with the ultimate characteristic of the purity of the dharmas, to manifest one’s body where needed: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxix) “Although contemplating the buddhas’ countries as permanently serene like space, yet to manifest the various pure buddha lands: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.
xxx) “Although attaining the enlightenment of buddhahood, turning the wheel of the Dharma, and entering nirvana, yet not to forsake the bodhisattva path: this is the practice of bodhisattvas.”
When [Vimalakīrti] explained [the Dharma] in these words, eight thousand gods within the great assembly led by Mañjuśrī all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.
Chapter VI. Inconceivable
1. At this point Śāriputra saw that there were no seats in the room. He thought, “Where will this congregation of bodhisattvas and great disciples sit?” The Elder Vimalakīrti knew what he was thinking and said to Śāriputra, “Which is it, sir—did you come for the Dharma or come seeking a seat?”
Śāriputra said, “I came for the Dharma, not for a seat.”
2. Vimalakīrti said, “O Śāriputra, those who seek the Dharma should begrudge neither body nor life. How much more so a seat!
“To seek the Dharma is not a seeking in the context of form, sensation, concept, processes, and consciousness, nor a seeking in the context of the realms (dhātus) and entrances (āyatanas).
“[To seek the Dharma] is not a seeking in the context of [the three realms of] desire, form, and formlessness.
3. “O Śāriputra, in seeking the Dharma one should not be attached to the Buddha in seeking, nor be attached to the Dharma in seeking, nor be attached to the congregation [of the Sangha] in seeking. In seeking the Dharma, one should seek without recognizing suffering, one should seek without cutting off the accumulation [of suffering], one should seek without contriving the complete realization and cultivation of the path. Why? The Dharma is without contrived theories. If one says ‘I will recognize suffering, cut off the accumulation [of suffering], and realize the extinction [of suffering] and cultivate the path,’ this would be a contrived theory and not to seek the Dharma.
“O Śāriputra, the Dharma is named extinction: if one practices generation and extinction this is to seek generation and extinction, not to seek the Dharma.
“The Dharma is named the undefiled: if the dharmas, up to and including nirvana, are defiled, then this is defiled attachment and not to seek the Dharma.
“The Dharma is without any locus of its practice: if one practices in the Dharma, this is a locus of practice and not to seek the Dharma.
“The Dharma is without grasping and forsaking: if one grasps and forsakes the Dharma, then this is grasping and forsaking and not to seek the Dharma.
4. “The Dharma is without locus: if one is attached to locus, this is to be attached to locus and not to seek the Dharma.
“The Dharma is named ‘without characteristics’: if one’s understanding accords with characteristics, this is to seek characteristics and not to seek the Dharma.
“One cannot abide in the Dharma: if one abides in the Dharma, this is to abide in the Dharma and not to seek the Dharma.
“One cannot see, hear, sense, or know the Dharma: if one practices seeing, hearing, sensing, and knowing, this is seeing, hearing, sensing, and knowing and not to seek the Dharma.
5. The Dharma is named the unconditioned: if one practices [within] the conditioned, this is to seek the conditioned and not to seek the Dharma. “Therefore, Śāriputra, if one seeks the Dharma one should be without seeking regarding all the dharmas.” When he spoke these words, five hundred gods attained purity of the Dharma eye with regard to the dharmas.
6. At this time the Elder Vimalakīrti asked Mañjuśrī, “Sir, in your wanderings throughout the immeasurable ten million koṭis of incalculable numbers of [buddha] countries, which buddha land has lion seats made with the best and most wondrous qualities?” Mañjuśrī said, “Retired scholar, in the east, as many countries away as there are grains of sand in thirty-six Ganges Rivers, there is a world-system called Characteristic of Sumeru. Its buddha is called Sumeru Lamp King, who is manifest [in that world] at present. That buddha’s body is eighty-four thousand yojanas tall. His lion seat is eighty-four thousand yojanas high and paramount in ornamentation.”
7. At this the Elder Vimalakīrti manifested the power of numinous pen- etration, and immediately that Buddha dispatched thirty-two thousand lion seats, tall, wide, and pure in ornamentation, which arrived in Vimalakīrti’s room. This was something the bodhisattvas, great disciples, Indras, Brahmās, and four heavenly kings had never seen before.
The breadth of the room entirely accommodated the thirty-two thousand lion seats with no obstruction. Nor was there any deformation of the city of Vaiśālī, Jambudvīpa, or all the worlds of four continents. All appeared just as before.
8. At this time Vimalakīrti said to Mañjuśrī, “Take a lion seat and sit there along with the bodhisattvas and superior ones. You should adjust [the size of] your body to match the image of the seat.”
Those bodhisattvas who had attained the numinous penetrations immediately transformed themselves to become forty-two thousand yojanas [tall] and sat on the lion seats. But none of the beginner bodhisattvas and great disciples were able to ascend [the seats].
At that time Vimalakīrti said to Śāriputra, “Take a lion seat.”
Śāriputra said, “Retired scholar, this seat is [so] huge I am unable to ascend it.”
Vimalakīrti said, “O Śāriputra, after you have worshiped Sumeru Lamp King Tathāgata you will be able to sit there.”
Then the beginner bodhisattvas and great disciples worshiped Sumeru Lamp King Tathāgata and were immediately able to sit on the lion seats.
9. Śāriputra said, “Retired scholar, this is unprecedented! Such a small room has accommodated these huge seats, and there is no hindrance in the city of Vaiśālī, nor is there any distortion in the villages and towns of Jambudvīpa, nor in all the worlds of four continents, nor in the palaces of the gods, dragon kings, and demonic spirits.”
10. Vimalakīrti said, “O Śāriputra, the buddhas and bodhisattvas have an emancipation called ‘inconceivable.’ For a bodhisattva residing in this emancipation, the vastness of [Mount] Sumeru can be placed within a mustard seed without [either of them] increasing or decreasing in size. Sumeru, king of mountains, will remain in appearance as before, and the gods of the [heavens of the four heavenly kings and the Trayastriṃśa [Heaven] will not sense or know their own entry [into the mustard seed]. Only those one is trying to save will see Sumeru enter into the mustard seed. This is called abiding in the teaching of inconceivable emancipation.
11. “Also, [a bodhisattva] may cause the waters of the four great oceans to enter into a single pore.
“[The bodhisattva does so] without discomforting the fish, turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, and [other] aquatic life forms, and the fundamental characteristics of those great oceans [remain] as before. The dragons, demonic spirits, and asuras do not realize that they have entered [into the single pore]. At this, the sentient beings [just mentioned] are not discomforted.
12. “Furthermore, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva residing in inconceivable emancipation who eradicates grasping of the great trimegachiliocosm does so just like a potter grasping a wheel in his right palm: were he to throw it past world-systems as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River, the sentient beings within [that great trimegachiliocosm] would be unaware of where they had gone. Also, when it returns to its original location, none of them would have any conception of having gone and returned, and the fundamental characteristics of this world-system would be as before.
13. “Furthermore, Śāriputra, if there are sentient beings who can be saved through their desire for longevity, a bodhisattva will extend seven days into an entire kalpa and cause those sentient beings to consider it a kalpa. If there are sentient beings who can be saved through their desire for brevity of lifespan, a bodhisattva will compress an entire kalpa into seven days and cause those sentient beings to consider it [only] seven days.
14. “Furthermore, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva who resides in inconceivable emancipation can assemble the ornaments of all the buddha lands in a single country to manifest them to sentient beings.
“Furthermore, a bodhisattva can take the sentient beings of a buddha land in the right palm and fly to all ten directions, showing them everything, without moving from the original location.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva can make visible in a single pore all the articles offered to the buddhas by [all] the sentient beings throughout the ten directions. Also, he can make visible all the suns, moons, and constellations of the countries of the ten directions.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva can without physical harm inhale through the mouth all the winds of the worlds in the ten directions, and the trees outside [the bodhisattva] will not be damaged [by the winds].
15. “Also, during the kalpa-ending conflagration of the world-systems of the ten directions, he can take all the fires within his abdomen, and though the fires will be as before he will not be harmed.
“Also, passing beyond buddha world-systems in the lower direction more numerous than the sands of the Ganges River, he can take a single buddha land and lift it up in the upper direction, passing beyond world-systems more numerous than the sands of the Ganges River. Like holding a needle or a thorn, he is not inconvenienced [at all by doing so].
16. “Also, Śāriputra, a bodhisattva who resides in inconceivable emancipation is able to use the numinous penetrations to manifest the body of a buddha, or to manifest the body of a pratyekabuddha, or to manifest the body of a śrāvaka, or to manifest the body of an Indra, or to manifest the body of a Brahmā king, or to manifest the body of a world lord (i.e., heavenly king), or to manifest the body of a universal ruler.
17. “Also, [a bodhisattva can take] all the sounds in the world-systems of the ten directions, high, medium, and low, and can change them into the sounds (i.e., voices) of the Buddha, playing the sounds of impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and no-self, with all the various Dharmas explained by the buddhas of the ten directions within those sounds, to be heard everywhere.
18. “ Śāriputra, I have now briefly explained the power of the bodhisattva’s inconceivable emancipation. If I were to explain it extensively a kalpa would be exhausted without completing it!”
19. Then Mahākāśyapa, hearing the teaching of the bodhisattva’s inconceivable emancipation, exclaimed that it was unprecedented and said to Śāriputra, “It is as if someone displayed to a blind person all the colors and forms he cannot see. In the same fashion, when all the śrāvakas hear this teaching of the inconceivable emancipation, they are not able to comprehend it. When the wise hear it, who among them would not generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi?
“How is it that we have long cut off our capacity [for understanding]? With regard to this Mahayana we are like destroyed seeds. When all the śrāvakas hear this teaching of the inconceivable emancipation, they should all scream out a cry to shake the trimegachiliocosm. All the bodhisattvas should accept this Dharma with great joy.
“If there are bodhisattvas who devoutly understand this teaching of inconceivable emancipation, all the congregations of Māras will be unable to do anything to them.” When Mahākāśyapa spoke these words, thirty-two thousand gods all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃ-bodhi.
20. At that time Vimalakīrti said to Mahākāśyapa, “Sir, the majority of those acting as Māra kings in the incalculable asaṃkhyeyas of world-sys- tems are bodhisattvas residing in the inconceivable emancipation. They manifest themselves as Māra kings through the power of skillful means, to teach sentient beings.
“Also, Kāśyapa, as to the immeasurable bodhisattvas of the ten directions, there may be people who beg them for a hand, foot, ear, nose, head, eye, marrow, brain matter, blood, flesh, skin, bone, village, town, wife and sons, slave, elephant, horse, vehicle, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, sapphire, agate, coral, emerald, pearl, conch shell, clothing, or food.
“Beggars such as these are usually bodhisattvas residing in the inconceivable emancipation, who use the power of skillful means to go test [the bodhisattvas] and make them resolute. Why? Bodhisattvas who reside in the inconceivable emancipation possess the power of awesome virtue and there- fore manifest the practice of pressuring, showing sentient beings difficulties such as these. Ordinary people are inferior and lack energy, and they are unable to pressure bodhisattvas in this way. It is like the kick of a dragon or elephant, which is not something a donkey could withstand.
“This is called the ‘gate of wisdom and skillful means of bodhisattvas residing in the inconceivable emancipation.’”
Chapter VII. Viewing Sentient Beings
1. At this point Mañjuśrī asked Vimalakīrti, “How should the bodhisattva view sentient beings?” Vimalakīrti said,
i) “As if he were a magician seeing a conjured person, so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.
ii) “Like a wise person seeing the moon in water,
iii) like seeing the image of a face in a mirror,
iv) like a mirage when it is hot,
v) like the echo of a shout,
vi) like clouds in the sky,
vii) like water collecting into foam,
viii) like bubbles upon water,
ix) like the firmness of the banana tree,
x) like the prolonged abiding of lightning,
xi) like a fifth element,
xii) like a sixth skandha,
xiii) like a seventh sense,
xiv) like a thirteenth entrance (āyatana),
xv) like a nineteenth realm (dhātu)—so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.
xvi) “Like form in the formless realm,
xvii) like a seedling emerging from burned grain,
xviii) like a stream-enterer’s mistaken view of the body,
xix) like a non-returner’s (anāgāmin) entrance into a womb,
xx) like an arhat’s three poisons,
xxi) like a bodhisattva who has achieved forbearance breaking the prohibition against anger,
xxii) like a buddha’s latent influences of the afflictions,
xxiii) like a blind man seeing forms,
xxiv) like the inhalation and exhalation of someone who has entered the concentration of extinction,
xxv) like the tracks of birds in the sky, like the child of a barren woman,
xxvi) like a conjured person generating the afflictions, like waking up in a dream,
xxvii) like one who has entered nirvana being reborn, like fire without smoke—so should a bodhisattva view sentient beings.”
2. Mañjuśrī said, “If a bodhisattva views sentient beings in this fashion, how should he practice sympathy?” Vimalakīrti said, “The bodhisattva who views [sentient beings] in this fashion should think to himself, ‘I should explain the Dharma for sentient beings in this fashion, and this will constitute true sympathy.
“‘I should practice the sympathy of extinction, because of the absence of anything generated;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of no-heat, because of the absence of the afflictions;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of sameness, because of the sameness of the three periods of time;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of nondisputation, because of the absence of generation;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of nonduality, because of the nonconjunction of interior and exterior;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of nondestruction, because of the ultimate exhaustion [of the characteristics of sympathy];
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of resoluteness, because of indestructibility; practice the sympathy of purity, because of the essential purity of the dharmas;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of no extremes, because of its being like space; practice the sympathy of an arhat, because of the destruction of the “bandits” of the fetters;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of a bodhisattva, because of the pacification of sentient beings; practice the sympathy of a Tathāgata, because of attainment of the characteristic of “thusness”;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of a buddha, because of the enlightenment of sentient beings; practice the sympathy of the naturally [accomplished sage], because of the imperceptibility of causes;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of bodhi, because of the sameness of the single taste;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of inequivalence, because of the eradication of the affections;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of great compassion, because of guiding [sentient beings] by means of the Mahayana;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of nonrevulsion, because of the contemplation of emptiness and no-self;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of the charity of Dharma, because of the absence of regrets;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of morality, because of converting the transgressors; practice the sympathy of forbearance, because of protecting others and self;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of exertion, because of carrying the burden for sentient beings;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of concentration, because of not experiencing the flavors [of desire];
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of wisdom, because of the absence of any time of non-understanding;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of skillful means, because of the manifestation of all [teaching methods];
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of non-hiding, because of the purity of sincerity;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of the profound mind, because of the absence of heterogeneous practices;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of the non-crazed, because of not using false conventions;
“‘[I should] practice the sympathy of peace and joy, because of causing [beings] to attain the joy of buddhahood—thus is the sympathy of the bodhisattva.’”
3. Mañjuśrī asked further, “What is compassion?”
[Vimalakīrti] answered, “The merits achieved by the bodhisattva are entirely shared with all sentient beings.”
[Question:] “What is joy?” Answer: “If there is benefit, then one rejoices without regret.” [Question:] “What is forsaking?” Answer: “The blessings generated are without expectation.”
4. Mañjuśrī also asked, “For the bodhisattva who fears samsara, what should be his reliance?” Vimalakīrti said, “A bodhisattva who fears samsara should rely on the
power of the Tathāgata’s merit.” Mañjuśrī also asked, “The bodhisattva who wishes to rely on the power of the Tathāgata’s merit—in what should he abide?” Answer: “The bodhisattva who wishes to rely on the power of the Tathāgata’s merit should abide in saving all sentient beings.”
5. [Mañjuśrī] also asked, “If one wishes to save sentient beings, what should be eradicated?” Answer: “If one wishes to save sentient beings, the afflictions should be eradicated.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “If one wishes to eradicate the afflictions, what should one practice?” Answer: “One should practice correct mindfulness.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “How does one practice correct mindfulness?” Answer: “One should practice nongeneration and nonextinction.”
Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What dharmas are nongenerated and what dharmas are nonextinguished?” Answer: “The not-good are [to be] nongenerated, and the good dharmas are [to be] nonextinguished.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of good and bad [dharmas]?” Answer: “The body is their fundamental basis.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of the body?” Answer: “Desire is its fundamental basis.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of desire?” Answer: “False discrimination is its fundamental basis.”
6. [Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of false discrimination?” Answer: “Confused conception is its fundamental basis.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of confused conception?”
Answer: “The nonabiding is its fundamental basis.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “What is the fundamental basis of nonabiding?” Answer: “Nonabiding is without any fundamental [basis]. Mañjuśrī, all dharmas are established on the fundamental [basis] of nonabiding.”
7. At the time, there was a goddess in Vimalakīrti’s room who, upon seeing the great men listening to the Dharma being explained, made herself visible and scattered heavenly flowers over the bodhisattvas and great disciples. When the flowers reached the bodhisattvas they all immediately fell off, but when they reached the great disciples they adhered and did not fall off. Even using all their numinous powers, the disciples were unable to remove the flowers.
8. At that time, the goddess asked Śāriputra, “Why would you remove the flowers?” [Śāriputra] answered, “These flowers are contrary to the Dharma, so I would remove them.” The goddess said, “Do not say that these flowers are contrary to the Dharma! Why? These flowers are without discrimination. Sir, it is you who are generating discriminative thoughts. If one who has left home in the Buddha-Dharma has discrimination, this is contrary to the Dharma; if such a one is without discrimination, this is in accord with the Dharma.
“Look at the bodhisattvas, to whom the flowers do not adhere—this is because they have eradicated all discriminative thoughts.
“For example, when a person is afraid, non-human [beings] are able to control him. Thus, since the disciples fear samsara, then forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangibles control you. None of the five desires can affect those who have transcended fear.
“It is only because the latent influences [of your afflictions] are not yet exhausted that the flowers stick to your bodies.
“For those in whom the latent influences are exhausted, the flowers do not stick.”
9. Śāriputra said, “Have you stayed in this room long?”
Answer: “I have stayed in this room as long as you have been emancipated.”
Śāriputra said, “How long have you stayed here?” The goddess said, “How long has it been since your emancipation?” Śāriputra was silent and did not answer. The goddess said, “What is your great wisdom that you remain silent?” Answer: “Emancipation is not to be spoken of, and so I did not know what to say.” The goddess said, “Speech and words are entirely the characteristics of
emancipation. Why? “Emancipation is neither internal, nor external, nor intermediate. Words
are also neither internal, nor external, nor intermediate. Therefore, Śāriputra, the explanation of emancipation does not transcend words. Why? “All dharmas have the characteristic of emancipation.”
Śāriputra said, “Is it not also that emancipation is the transcendence of licentiousness, anger, and stupidity?”
The goddess said, “On behalf of the self-conceited, the Buddha explained that emancipation is the transcendence of licentiousness, anger, and stupidity. If one is not self-conceited, the Buddha explains that licentiousness, anger, and stupidity are emancipation.”
10. Śāriputra said, “Excellent, excellent! O goddess, what attainment do you have, and through what realization do you have eloquence such as this?” The goddess said, “It is because I am without attainment and without realization that my eloquence is like this. Why? If one had attainment and realization, this would be to be self-conceited with regard to the Buddha-Dharma.”
11. Śāriputra asked the goddess, “Which of the three vehicles do you seek?” The goddess said, “Since I convert sentient beings with the śrāvaka Dharma I am a śrāvaka. Since I convert sentient beings with the Dharma of causality I am a pratyekabuddha. Since I convert sentient beings with the Dharma of great compassion, I am a Mahayanist.
12. “Śāriputra, just as a person who has entered a campaka forest can smell only campaka and no other smells, thus it is if you enter this room— you can smell only the fragrance of the Buddha’s merit and do not delight in smelling the fragrance of the merit of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas.
“Śāriputra, those Indras, Brahmās, four heavenly kings, and the gods, dragons, and spirits who enter this room all hear this Superior One (i.e., Vimalakīrti) explain the correct Dharma, and they all leave delighting [only] in the fragrance of the Buddha’s merit and generating the intention [to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi].
“Śāriputra, I have stayed in this room twelve years. From the beginning I have not heard the Dharma of śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha; I have only heard the buddhas’ inconceivable Dharma of the bodhisattvas’ great sympathy and great compassion.
13. “Śāriputra, this room constantly manifests eight unprecedentedly rare dharmas. What are these eight?
i) “This room is always illuminated with golden light, with no variation day or night. It is not bright due to the illumination of sun and moon. This is the first unprecedentedly rare dharma.
ii) “Those who enter this room are not afflicted by the defilements. This is the second unprecedentedly rare dharma.
iii) “This room always has Indras, Brahmās, the four heavenly kings, and bodhisattvas from other regions who arrive and gather without interruption. This is the third unprecedentedly rare dharma.
iv) “In this room there is constant explanation of the six perfections and the nonretrogressive Dharma. This is the fourth unprecedentedly rare dharma.
v) “This room always produces the gods’ supreme string music, which generates the sound of the teaching of the immeasurable Dharma. This is the
fifth unprecedentedly rare dharma.
vi) “This room has four great storehouses filled with the many jewels,
which are given to the destitute and used to save the poor without limit. This is the sixth unprecedentedly rare dharma.
vii) “To this room Śākyamuni Buddha, Amitābha Buddha, Akṣobhya Buddha, Jewel Virtue Buddha, Jewel Mirage Buddha, Jewel Moon Buddha, Jewel Ornament Buddha, Difficult to Overcome Buddha, Lion’s Echo Buddha, and Achievement of All Benefits Buddha, and the immeasurable buddhas of the ten directions such as these all come when the Superior One is mindful of them; and they extensively explain to him the buddhas’ secret Dharma storehouse and, having explained it, then return [to their own worlds]. This is the seventh unprecedentedly rare dharma.
viii) “In this room appear all the ornamented palaces of the gods and the pure lands of the buddhas. This is the eighth unprecedentedly rare dharma.
“Śāriputra, this room always manifests the eight unprecedentedly rare dharmas. Who could see these inconceivable things and still take pleasure in the śrāvaka Dharma?”
14. Śāriputra said, “Why do you not transform your female body?”
The goddess said, “For the past twelve years I have sought the characteristic of being female and have comprehended it to be unattainable (i.e., imperceptible). Why should I transform it? It is as if a magician has created a conjured female. If someone asked her, ‘Why do you not transform your female body?’ would that person’s question be proper or not?”
Śāriputra said, “It would not. An indeterminate characteristic that has been conjured—why should it be transformed?”
The goddess said, “All dharmas are also like this, in being without determinate characteristics. So why do you ask, ‘Why do you not transform your female body?’”
15. Then the goddess used the power of numinous penetration and changed Śāriputra’s body to be like that of a goddess, and she transformed her own body to be like Śāriputra. She then asked, “Why do you not transform this female body?”
Śāriputra, in the goddess’s form, answered, “I do not know how you transformed me now into this female body.”
The goddess said, “Śāriputra, if you were able to transform this female body, then all females would also be able to transform themselves. Just as Śāriputra is not female but is manifesting a female body, so are all females likewise. Although they manifest female bodies, they are not female.
“Therefore, the Buddha has explained that all dharmas are neither male nor female.”
At this point the goddess withdrew her numinous power, and Śāriputra’s body returned to as it was before.
The goddess asked Śāriputra, “Now where does the characteristic of form of the female body occur?”
Śāriputra said, “The characteristic of form of the female body is without occurrence and without non-occurrence.”
The goddess said, “All the dharmas are also likewise, in being without occurrence and without non-occurrence. This ‘without occurrence and without non-occurrence’ is as the buddhas have explained.”
16. Śāriputra asked the goddess, “When you die here, where will you be reborn?”
The goddess said, “Wherever the Buddha’s [activity of] conversion is born (i.e., generated), likewise will I be born.”
[Śāriputra] said, “Where the Buddha’s [activity of] conversion is generated is not [a place] of death and birth.”
The goddess said, “Sentient beings are likewise without death and birth.”
Śāriputra asked the goddess, “How long will it be until you attain anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi?”
The goddess said, “When you are reborn as an [unenlightened] ordinary person, I will achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.”
Śāriputra said, “For me to be an ordinary person—this will never happen!”
The goddess said, “My attaining of anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi—this too will never happen. Why? Bodhi is without any locus of abiding. Therefore there is no one who attains it.”
Śāriputra said, “The buddhas who attain anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, including those who have attained it and those who will attain it, are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River. What about all of them?”
The goddess said, “It is entirely through conventional words and num- bers that one talks of the existence of the three periods of time. It is not that there is past, future, and present in bodhi!”
The goddess said, “Śāriputra, have you attained arhatship?” [Śāriputra] said, “There is no attainment, and so have I attained it.” The goddess said, “The buddhas and bodhisattvas are also like this.
There is no attainment, and so have they attained [anuttarā samyaksaṃ-bodhi].”
17. At this time Vimalakīrti said to Śāriputra, “The goddess has already served ninety-two koṭis of buddhas. She is able to disport in the numinous penetrations of the bodhisattva, her vows are complete, she has attained forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas, and she abides in nonretrogression. By virtue of her original vows she is able to manifest the teaching of sentient beings as she wishes.”