Chapter VIII. The Path of Buddhahood
1. Mañjuśrī then asked Vimalakīrti, “How should the bodhisattva penetrate the path of buddhahood?”
Vimalakīrti said, “If a bodhisattva traverses the unacceptable paths, this is to penetrate the path of buddhahood.”
[Mañjuśrī] also asked, “How does the bodhisattva traverse the unacceptable paths?”
[Vimalakīrti] answered, “The bodhisattva practices the five [deeds of] interminable [retribution] without becoming distraught.
“He goes to the hells without the defilements of transgression; goes among the animals without the errors of ignorance, conceit, and so on. “He goes among the hungry ghosts replete in merit; traverses the paths of the form and formless realms without considering himself superior. “He manifests acting out of desire but transcends the defiled attachments; manifests acting out of anger at sentient beings but is without aversion. “He manifests acting out of stupidity but uses wisdom to control his mind. “He manifests acting out of lust but forsakes both internal and external and does not begrudge his own life; manifests the practicing of moral infractions but peacefully resides in the pure precepts, even unto harboring great fear about even minor transgressions; manifests acting out of anger but is always sympathetically forbearant; manifests acting out of laziness, yet vigorously cultivates merit; manifests acting out of a disturbed mind, yet is always mindfully concentrated; manifests acting out of stupidity, yet penetrates both mundane and supramundane wisdom.
“He manifests the practicing of flattery and deception, yet uses good skillful means to accord with the meanings found in the sutras; manifests acting out of conceit, yet is like a bridge for sentient beings.
“He manifests acting out of the afflictions, yet is always pure in mind; manifests becoming a Māra, yet accords with the wisdom of the Buddha and follows no other teaching; manifests becoming a śrāvaka, yet for sentient beings explains Dharmas they have not heard before; manifests becoming a pratyekabuddha, yet accomplishes great compassion to teach sentient beings; manifests becoming destitute, yet has the unlimited merit of the ‘hand of treasures’; manifests becoming maimed through criminal punishment, yet adorns himself with all the [thirty-two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks; manifests becoming low-born, yet is [actually] born within the Buddha’s lineage and replete in its various merits; manifests becoming feeble and ugly, yet attains the body of a Nārāyaṇa, which all sentient beings enjoy seeing.
“He manifests becoming old and sick, yet always eradicates the roots of illness and transcends the fear of death.
“He manifests having the material requisites, yet always views [the world as] impermanent and is truly without desire; manifests having wife, concubines, and mistresses, yet always distantly transcends the muddy filth of the five desires; manifests dumbness (i.e., muteness), yet accomplishes eloquence and unfailing dhāraṇīs.
“He manifests becoming a ‘false ford’ (i.e., a heretic), yet uses the correct ford to ‘cross over’ sentient beings [to salvation].
“He manifests entering all the destinies, yet eradicates their causes and conditions; and manifests nirvana, yet does not eradicate samsara.
“Mañjuśrī, if a bodhisattva can traverse the unacceptable paths in this way, this is to penetrate the path of buddhahood.”
2. At this Vimalakīrti asked Mañjuśrī, “What is the seed of the Tathāgata?”
Mañjuśrī said, “The possession of a body constitutes this seed. Ignorance and affection constitute this seed. Lust, anger, and stupidity constitute this seed. The four confusions constitute this seed. The five hindrances constitute this seed. The six entrances (āyatanas) constitute this seed. The seven loci of consciousness constitute this seed. The eight heterodox dharmas and nine loci of affliction constitute this seed. The ten evil actions constitute this seed. In essence, the sixty-two mistaken views and all the afflictions constitute this seed.”
3. [Vimalakīrti] said, “Why is this?”
[Mañjuśrī] answered, “Anyone who sees the unconditioned and enters the primary status [of Hinayana enlightenment] will be unable to generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi.
“It is just as lotus flowers do not grow on dry land on the high plateau— these flowers grow in the muddy filth of the lowly marshes. Thus one who sees the unconditioned dharmas and enters the primary status will never be able to generate the dharmas of a buddha. It is only within the mud of the afflictions that sentient beings give rise to the dharmas of a buddha.
“Or again, it is like planting a seed in space, where it would never grow— only in nightsoil-enriched earth can it flourish. In this way, one who enters the unconditioned primary status will not be able to generate the dharmas of a buddha.
“It is only when one generates a view of self as great as Mount Sumeru that one is able to generate the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃ- bodhi and generate the dharmas of a buddha.
“Therefore, you should understand that all the afflictions constitute the seed of the Tathāgata. It is like not being able to attain the priceless jewel- pearl without entering the ocean. Therefore, if one does not enter the great sea of the afflictions, one will not be able to attain the jewel of omniscience.”
4. At this time Mahākāśyapa exclaimed, “Excellent, excellent, Mañjuśrī! It is well that you have spoken thus; truly, it is as you have said! The field of the sensory troubles constitutes the seed of the Tathāgata.
“We [disciples] are now unable to bear generating the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi. It will only be after [we have committed] the transgressions [leading to] the five interminable [hells] that we will be able to generate that intention and generate the dharmas of a buddha. [As we are] now we will never be able to generate it.
5. “It is like a man whose sense organs are destroyed being unable to benefit from the five desires. Likewise, śrāvakas who have eradicated the fetters are unable to benefit from the dharmas of a buddha and will never vow [to achieve buddhahood].
6. “Therefore, Mañjuśrī, ordinary people can respond to the dharmas of a buddha, but śrāvakas cannot. Why? When an ordinary person hears the Buddha-Dharma he is able to generate the intention to achieve unsurpassable enlightenment and not eradicate the Three Jewels. Even if śrāvakas spend their whole lives hearing about the dharmas of a buddha, [including the ten] powers, [the four] fearlessnesses, [and the other] unique [dharmas of a buddha], they will never be able to generate the intention to achieve unsur- passable enlightenment!”
7. At that time there was a bodhisattva in the assembly named Universally Manifests the Form Body. He asked Vimalakīrti,
“O retired scholar, who are your parents, wife and sons, relatives, subordinates, servants, and friends? Where are your slaves, servants, elephants, horses, and vehicles?”
At this, Vimalakīrti replied in verse:
1. The perfection of wisdom is the bodhisattva’s mother;
Skillful means is his father.
All the assembly of guides
Without exception are the causes of his birth.
2. Joy in the Dharma is his wife,
And the mind of sympathy and compassion his daughters.
The mind of goodness and sincerity is his sons,
And ultimate emptiness and serenity his home.
3. His congregation of disciples is the sensory troubles,
Which he converts as he wishes.
The factors of enlightenment are his good friends,
On whom he depends to achieve correct enlightenment.
4. The dharmas of the perfections are his companions,
And the four types of attraction his dancing girls,
Who sing the words of Dharma
And thereby create their music.
5. In the garden of dhāraṇī
And the grove of the flawless Dharma,
Is the pure and wonderful flower of the intention for enlightenment
And the fruit of wisdom and emancipation.
6. The pool of the eight emancipations
Is filled with the peaceful waters of concentration.
Scattering the flowers of the seven purities,
Here bathe the undefiled persons.
7. His elephants and horses are the five penetrations that race,
And the Mahayana is his chariot.
Control is through singlemindedness,
So he wanders the roads of the eightfold correct [paths].
8. With the [thirty-two primary] characteristics replete to ornament his form,
And the host of [eighty subsidiary] marks to decorate his bodies,
Shame is his upper garment,
And the profound mind his flowered necklace
9. His wealth is the seven treasures [of the Dharma],
Which he bestows in teaching so that [beings] will flourish.
He practices according to [the Buddha’s] explanation
And rededicates [the ensuing merit] for great benefit.
10. The four dhyānas are his seat,
From which his pure livelihood is generated.
Erudition increases his wisdom
And becomes the sound of his own enlightenment.
11. His food is the sweet dew of the Dharma,
And his drink the flavor of emancipation.
With the pure mind does he bathe,
Using the categories of the precepts as his incense powder.
12. Demolishing the bandits of the afflictions,
He is courageous and invincible.
Subjugating the four types of Māras,
The banner of his victory is erected at the place of enlightenment.
13. Although he understands there is no generation and no extinction,
He is born so as to manifest [the Dharma] to others.
He manifests all the countries,
With none invisible, as [plain as] the sun.
14. He makes offerings to the immeasurable koṭis
Of Tathāgatas throughout the ten directions,
Without having any thought of discriminating
Between the buddhas and himself.
15. Although he understands that the buddha lands
And sentient beings are empty,
He always practices purifying his land,
Teaching the hosts of beings.
16. The various categories of sentient beings—
Their forms, sounds, and deportments—
The bodhisattva with the power of fearlessness
Can simultaneously manifest them all.
17. Recognizing the affairs of the host of Māras,
And while seeming to go along with their activities,
He uses wisdom and good skillful means,
So that he can manifest anything he wishes.
18. He may manifest old age, illness, and death
To accomplish [the liberation of] the hosts of beings.
Comprehending that [all things] are like phantasmagorical transformations,
penetration is without hindrance.
19. He may manifest the kalpa-ending conflagration,
In which heaven and earth are entirely incinerated.
To the hosts of people who have the conception of permanence,
He illuminates [the truth] so that they understand impermanence.
20. Innumerable koṭis of sentient beings
All come to request the bodhisattva’s [assistance].
He simultaneously goes to their homes
And converts them so that they turn toward the path of buddhahood.
21. The magical arts prohibited in the scriptures,
The various skills and arts—
He manifests the performance of all these things
To benefit the hosts of beings.
22. In all the religious teachings of this world
Does he leave home [to dedicate himself],
Thereby to release people from their delusions,
So they will not fall into heterodox views.
23. He may become the god of the sun or moon,
A Brahmā king, or a world lord,
And at times he may become earth or water,
Or again wind or fire.
24. When there are epidemics in the middle of a kalpa
He manifests himself as medicinal plants.
If someone takes [these herbs],
They eradicate illness and eliminate the host of poisons.
25. When there are famines in the middle of a kalpa
He manifests himself as food and drink,
First saving the hungry and thirsty,
And then speaking of the Dharma to people.
26. When armed soldiers appear in the middle of a kalpa
He generates sympathy for them.
He converts the sentient beings,
Causing them to abide in noncontention.
27. If there are great armies
Facing each other with equal strength,
The bodhisattva manifests his awesome power,
And, subjugating them, imposes peace.
28. In all the countries,
Wherever there are hells
Does he go to save [the beings there]
From their sufferings.
29. In all the countries,
Wherever animals devour one another,
He always manifests being born there
To provide benefit for them there.
30. He manifests experiencing the five desires
And also manifests the practice of dhyāna,
Making Māra distressed
At being unable to take control.
31. For a lotus flower to be born in the midst of fire
Can certainly be called rare!
To practice dhyāna within the desires—
This is just as rare.
32. He may manifest himself as a prostitute,
Enticing those who enjoy sensuality.
First enticing them with desire,
And later causing them to enter the wisdom of the Buddha.
33. He may become a village master,
Or become a merchant guide,
National teacher, great minister—
In order to benefit sentient beings.
34. For the destitute
He manifests inexhaustible treasuries,
Thereby exhorting and guiding them,
Causing them to generate the intention to achieve enlightenment.
35. For those who are selfish and conceited,
He manifests himself as a great warrior,
Decimating the pretensions [of sentient beings],
And causing them to abide in the unsurpassable path.
36. The hosts of the fear-stricken
He shields and comforts,
First giving them fearlessness
And then causing them to generate the intention to achieve enlightenment.
37. He may manifest the transcendence of licentious desire
And become a transcendent of the five penetrations,
Guiding the hosts of beings
And making them abide in morality, forbearance, and sympathy.
38. Seeing those who should be served,
He manifests himself as a servant.
Taking joy in the affirmation of one’s intention,
[Those to be honored] generate the intention to achieve
39. In accordance with the needs of others,
He causes them to enter into the path of buddhahood.
Using the power of good skillful means
He provides sufficiency to all.
40. Thus are the paths immeasurable
Which he traverses without restriction.
His wisdom is without limit
In saving the innumerable hosts [of beings].
41. Even if we had all the buddhas
Throughout immeasurable koṭis of kalpas
Praise his merits,
They would not be able to do so completely.
42. Whoever hears the Dharma such as this
And does not generate the intention to achieve bodhi—
Excluding those who do not even seem human—
Are ignorant fools.
Chapter IX. The Dharma Gate of Nonduality
1. At that time Vimalakīrti said to the congregation of bodhisattvas, “Sirs, how does the bodhisattva enter the Dharma gate of nonduality? Each of you explain this as you wish.”
Within the assembly was a bodhisattva named Autonomous Dharma, who said, “Sirs, generation and extinction (i.e., samsara) constitute a duality. Since the dharmas were fundamentally not generated, now they are with- out extinction. To attain this [understanding is to achieve] forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
2. Maintenance of Virtue Bodhisattva said, “The self and the self’s attributes constitute a duality. It is because of the existence of the self that the self’s attributes occur. If the self does not exist, then there are no attributes of self. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
3. Unblinking Bodhisattva said, “Experience and nonexperience constitute a duality. If dharmas are not experienced, they cannot be attained (i.e., are imperceptible). Because of unattainability, there is no grasping, no forsaking, no production, and no activity. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
4. Crown of Virtue Bodhisattva said, “Defilement and purity constitute a duality. If one sees the real nature of defilement, then there is no characteristic of purity, and one accords with the extinction of characteristics. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
5. Excellent Constellation Bodhisattva said, “Motion and mindfulness constitute a duality. If there is motionlessness, there is no-mindfulness. If there is no-mindfulness, there is no discrimination. To penetrate this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
6. Excellent Eye Bodhisattva said, “The single characteristic and the non-characteristic constitute a duality. If one understands that the single characteristic is the non-characteristic, and does not grasp the non-characteristic but enters into universal sameness, this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
7. Wonderful Arm Bodhisattva said, “The aspirations of bodhisattvas and the aspirations of śrāvakas constitute a duality. If one contemplates that the characteristics of mind (i.e., mental aspirations) are empty, like phantasmagorical transformations, there is no aspiration of bodhisattvas and no aspiration of śrāvakas. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
8. Puṣya Bodhisattva said, “What is good and what is not good constitute a duality. If one does not generate the good and what is not good, entering into and penetrating the limit of the non-characteristics, this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
9. Lion Bodhisattva said, “Transgression and blessing constitute a duality. If one penetrates the nature of transgression, then it is not different from blessings. Using the vajra wisdom to definitively comprehend this characteristic, and to be neither in bondage nor emancipated, is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
10. Lion Mind Bodhisattva said, “To have flaws and to be flawless constitute a duality. If one can attain the equivalence of the dharmas, then one will not generate the conception of flaws and flawlessness. Being unattached to characteristics, but also not abiding in the absence of characteristics, is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
11. Pure Emancipation Bodhisattva said, “The constructed and the unconstructed constitute a duality. If one transcends all categories, then the mind is like space. If one’s wisdom is pure and without hindrance, this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
12. Nārāyaṇa Bodhisattva said, “The mundane and supramundane constitute a duality. The emptiness that is the nature of the mundane is the supra-mundane. Within these to neither enter nor exit, neither overflow nor disperse, is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
13. Excellent Mind Bodhisattva said, “Samsara and nirvana constitute a duality. If one sees the nature of samsara, there is no samsara. To be without bondage and without emancipation, neither generating nor extinguished— to understand in this way is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
14. Manifest Perception Bodhisattva said, “Exhaustible and inexhaustible constitute a duality. Whether the dharmas are ultimately exhaustible or inexhaustible, they are all [marked by] the characteristic of inexhaustibility. The characteristic of inexhaustibility is emptiness. Emptiness is without the characteristics of exhaustible and inexhaustible. To enter thus is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
15. Universal Maintenance Bodhisattva said, “Self and no-self constitute a duality. Since even the self is unattainable, how could no-self be attainable? Those who see the real nature of the self will never again generate duality. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
16. Thunder God Bodhisattva said, “Wisdom and ignorance constitute a duality. The real nature of ignorance is wisdom. Furthermore, wisdom can- not grasp and transcend all the categories [of reality]. To be universally same and nondual with respect to this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
17. Joyful Vision Bodhisattva said, “Form and the emptiness of form constitute a duality. Form is emptiness—it is not that form extinguishes emptiness but that the nature of form is of itself empty. Likewise are feeling, conception, process, and consciousness. Consciousness and emptiness are two. Consciousness is emptiness—it is not that consciousness extinguishes emptiness but that the nature of consciousness is of itself empty. To [abide] within and penetrate this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
18. Characteristic of Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “The differentiation of the four types [of elements] (i.e., earth, water, fire, and air) and the differentiation of the type of space constitute a duality. The nature of the four types [of elements] is the nature of emptiness. Given that the former and latter [types of elements] are empty, the intermediate is also empty. To understand the natures of the types [of elements] in this way is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
19. Wonderful Mind Bodhisattva said, “The eye and forms constitute a duality. If one understands that the nature of the eye is neither licentious, nor angry, nor stupid with regard to forms, this is called serene extinction. Likewise, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and tangibles, and the mind and dharmas constitute dualities. If one under- stands that the nature of the mind is neither licentious, nor angry, nor stupid with regard to dharmas, this is called serene extinction. To abide peacefully within this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
20. Inexhaustible Mind Bodhisattva said, “Charity and the rededication [of the merit of charity] to omniscience constitute a duality. The nature of charity is the nature of the rededication to omniscience. Likewise, morality, forbearance, exertion, meditation, and wisdom constitute dualities with the rededication to omniscience. The nature of wisdom is the nature of the re- dedication to omniscience. To enter the single characteristic with respect to this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
21. Profound Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “[The three emancipations of] emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness constitute dualities. The empty is the signless, and the signless is the wishless. If [one achieves] the empty, the signless, and the wishless, then there is no mind, thought, or consciousness. In this single gate of emancipation are the three gates of emancipation. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
22. Serene Capacity Bodhisattva said, “Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha constitute dualities. The Buddha is the Dharma, and the Dharma is the Sangha. These Three Jewels all [have] the characteristic of the unconditioned and are equivalent to space, and all dharmas are also likewise. To be able to practice accordingly is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
23. Unhindered Mind Bodhisattva said, “The body and the extinction of the body constitute a duality. The body is identical to the extinction of the body. Why? Those who see the real characteristic of the body do not generate seeing the body and seeing the extinction of the body. Body and the extinc- tion of the body are without duality and cannot be differentiated (lit., “with- out discrimination”). To neither be surprised or afraid with respect to this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
24. Superior Excellence Bodhisattva said, “The good [actions] of body, speech, and mind constitute dualities. These three [types of] action all have the characteristic of the nonconstructed. The body’s characteristic of the non- constructed is the same as speech’s characteristic of the nonconstructed. Speech’s characteristic of the nonconstructed is the same as the mind’s char- acteristic of the nonconstructed. The characteristic of the nonconstructed of these three [types of] action is the same as the characteristic of the noncon- structed of all dharmas. To be able to be in accord with this wisdom of the nonconstructed is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
25. Field of Blessings Bodhisattva said, “Meritorious action, transgressive action, and immobility constitute dualities. The real nature of these three [types of] action is emptiness. Emptiness is without meritorious action, transgressive action, and immobility. Not to generate these three [types of] action is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
26. Flower Ornament Bodhisattva said, “The generation of dualities from the self constitutes a duality. To see the real characteristic of the self is to not generate dualistic dharmas. If one does not abide in dualistic dharmas, then there is no consciousness. To be without consciousness is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
27. Store of Virtue Bodhisattva said, “The characteristics of the attainable (i.e., the perceptible) constitute dualities. If there is unattainability, then there is no grasping and forsaking. If there is no grasping and no forsaking, this is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
28. Superior Moon Bodhisattva said, “Darkness and illumination constitute a duality. If there is no darkness and no illumination, then there is no duality. Why? If one enters into the concentration of extinction, there is no darkness and no illumination. The characteristics of all the dharmas are also like this. To enter this with universal sameness is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
29. Jewel Seal Hand Bodhisattva said, “To delight in nirvana and not to delight in the world constitute a duality. If one does not delight in nirvana and does not have aversion for the world, then there is no duality. Why? If there is bondage, then there is emancipation. If there is fundamentally no bondage, who would seek emancipation? Without bondage or emancipation, then there is no delighting or aversion. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
30. Crown of Pearls King Bodhisattva said, “The correct path and the heterodox paths constitute a duality. Those who abide in the correct path do not discriminate between the heterodox and the correct. To transcend this duality is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
31. Delights in the Real Bodhisattva said, “The real and the unreal constitute a duality. To really see is not to see reality, and how much more so the not-real? Why? That which the physical eye cannot see can be seen by the wisdom eye, but this wisdom eye is without seeing and without not-seeing. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
32. After the various bodhisattvas had thus each made their explana- tions, [Vimalakīrti] asked Mañjuśrī, “How does the bodhisattva enter the Dharma gate of nonduality?”
Mañjuśrī said, “As I understand it, it is to be without words and without explanation with regard to all the dharmas—without manifestation, with- out consciousness, and transcending all questions and answers. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
33. Mañjuśrī then asked Vimalakīrti, “We have each made our own explanations. Sir, you should explain how the bodhisattva enters the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
At this point Vimalakīrti was silent, saying nothing.
Mañjuśrī exclaimed, “Excellent, excellent! Not to even have words or speech is the true entrance into the Dharma gate of nonduality.”
When this “Discourse on Entering the Dharma Gate of Nonduality” was explained, five thousand bodhisattvas within the congregation all entered the Dharma gate of nonduality and attained forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas.
Chapter X. The Buddha Accumulation of Fragrances
1. At this point Śāriputra thought to himself, “It is almost noon. What will all these bodhisattvas eat?”
Then Vimalakīrti, knowing his thoughts, said, “The Buddha has explained the eight emancipations. You, sir, have accepted them as your practice. How can you mix up the desire for food and [that of] listening to the Dharma? If you wish to eat, then just wait a moment. I will provide you with an unprecedented meal.”
2. Then Vimalakīrti entered into samādhi and, using his powers of numinous penetration, manifested to the great congregations that in the upper direction, past buddha lands as numerous as the sands of forty-two Ganges Rivers, there was a country called Host of Fragrances, with a buddha named Accumulation of Fragrances, who currently exists in that world. In comparison with the world-systems of the other buddhas thoughout the ten directions, the fragrances [experienced by] the humans and gods of that country are supreme. In that land, the names “śrāvaka” and “pratyekabuddha” do not exist—there is only the great congregation of pure bodhisattvas, for whom the Buddha explains the Dharma. In that world all the buildings are made of fragrance. In doing walking meditation on that fragrant earth, the gardens are all fragrant. The fragrance of the food there circulates throughout the immeasurable worlds in the ten directions.
At the time, that Buddha and the bodhisattvas [in that country] were just sitting together to eat. The gods in attendance [in Vimalakīrti’s assembly] all exclaimed at the ornament of fragrance, and they all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, making offerings to that buddha and the bodhisattvas.
Everyone in the great congregations [in Vimalakīrti’s room] saw this.
3. At that time, Vimalakīrti asked the congregation of bodhisattvas, “Sirs, who is able to go get food from that buddha?”
Through the influence of Mañjuśrī’s awesome numinous power, they all remained silent.
Vimalakīrti said, “Sir, are you not ashamed for this great congregation?”
Mañjuśrī said, “As the Buddha has said, one should not belittle those of no learning.”
4. At this Vimalakīrti, without rising from his seat, created by transformation a bodhisattva whose [thirty-two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks were radiantly bright, whose glorious presence was par- ticularly excellent, surpassing all in the assembly. [Vimalakīrti] announced to him, “Go to the world in the upper direction where, separated from here by buddha lands as numerous as the sands of forty-two Ganges Rivers, there is a country named Host of Fragrances. The buddha [of that country], named Accumulation of Fragrances, is just sitting down to eat with the bodhisattvas. Go there, and say as I tell you: ‘Vimalakīrti bows his head to the feet of the World-honored One, and with great respect he inquires immeasurable times as to whether you might have some slight illness, some slight vexation, and whether your energies are at peace. He wishes to obtain the leftovers of the World-honored One’s meal, which would be given to accomplish the Buddha’s work in the sahā world.
“‘It will cause those who delight in inferior dharmas to disseminate the great path, and it will also cause the Tathāgata’s (i.e., Buddha Accumulation of Fragrances) reputation to be universally known.’”
5. Then the conjured bodhisattva ascended to the upper direction in front of the assembly. The entire congregation saw him arrive at that Host of Fragrances world and worship at that Buddha’s feet. They also heard him say,
“Vimalakīrti bows his head to the feet of the World-honored One, and with great respect he inquires immeasurable times as to whether you might have some slight illness, some slight vexation, and whether your energies are at peace. He wishes to obtain the leftovers of the World-honored One’s meal, which would be given to accomplish the Buddha’s work in the sahā world.
“It will cause those who delight in inferior dharmas to disseminate the great path, and it will also cause the Tathāgata’s reputation to be universally known.”
6. When the great beings there saw the conjured bodhisattva, they exclaimed that it was unprecedented. “Where has this superior person come from? Where is the sahā world? What does he mean, ‘those who delight in inferior dharmas’?”
So did they question the Buddha [Accumulation of Fragrances], and that buddha said, “In the lower direction, separated from here by buddha lands as numerous as the sands of forty-two Ganges Rivers, is a world named sahā. The buddha there is named Śākyamuni, who exists at present in an evil age of the five corruptions. He extensively disseminates the teaching of the path in order to enlighten those who delight in inferior dharmas. One of his bodhisattvas is named Vimalakīrti, who resides in the inconceivable emancipation and explains the Dharma for the bodhisattvas [of the sahā world]. Therefore, he has sent this conjured [bodhisattva] here to praise my name and extol this land, so that those bodhisattvas will increase their merit.”
7. The bodhisattvas there said, “How was he able to create this conjured [bodhisattva]? How great are his powers of merit, fearlessness, and the bases of numinous [power]?”
That Buddha said, “[Vimalakīrti’s powers are] extremely great. He sends transformations to all the ten directions, where they carry out the Buddha’s work and benefit sentient beings.”
8. Then Accumulation of Fragrances Tathāgata gave his bowl with its host of fragrances and filled with fragrant food to the conjured bodhisattva. The nine million bodhisattvas there then all spoke in unison, “We wish to proceed to the sahā world to make offerings to Śākyamuni Buddha. We also wish to see Vimalakīrti and the other bodhisattva congregations.”
The Buddha said, “You may go.
“However, withdraw the fragrance of your bodies, so as not to cause the sentient beings there to generate thoughts of deluded attachment. Also, you should forsake your original forms, so as not to cause those seeking to become bodhisattvas in that country to be ashamed of themselves. In addition, you must not harbor feelings of belittlement or thoughts of the hindrances [present in that world]. Why? The countries of the ten directions are all like space (i.e., devoid of fixed reality). Furthermore, [you should realize] that the buddhas do not completely manifest their pure lands solely in order to convert those who delight in inferior dharmas.”
9. Then, by means of the Buddha’s awesome numinous [penetrations] and Vimalakīrti’s power, the conjured bodhisattva took the bowl and food and, accompanied by those nine million bodhisattvas, suddenly disappeared from that world. In an instant, they arrived at Vimalakīrti’s house.
10. Vimalakīrti then created by transformation nine million lion seats, excellently ornamented as before, and the bodhisattvas all sat upon them. The conjured bodhisattva gave the bowl full of fragrant food to Vimalakīrti. The fragrance of the food wafted through Vaiśālī and the [whole]
trimegachiliocosm. When the brahmans and retired scholars of Vaiśālī smelled this fragrance, their bodies and minds were joyful, and they exclaimed at the unprecedented [event]. At this, Moon Canopy, the leader of the elders, followed by eighty-four thousand people, came and entered Vimalakīrti’s house.
Seeing that the room contained so many lion seats, which were so tall and broad, with excellent ornamentation, in great joy they all worshiped the congregation of bodhisattvas and great disciples, then stood to one side. The earth spirits, sky spirits, and gods of the desire and form realms, smelling this fragrance, also entered Vimalakīrti’s house.
11. Then Vimalakīrti said to Śāriputra and the other great śrāvakas, “Sirs, you may eat the Tathāgata’s food of the flavor of sweet dew, which is perfumed with the limitless intention of great compassion, and which will not be diminished by its consumption.”
12. Another śrāvaka wondered, “There is not much of this food, yet everyone in the great assembly is supposed to eat!”
The conjured bodhisattva said, “Do not measure the limitless blessings and sagacity of the Tathāgata with the small merit and small wisdom of a śrāvaka! Even were the four seas to dry up, this food would not be exhausted. Even if everyone ate as much as [Mount] Sumeru for an entire kalpa, we would never be able to exhaust it. Why? That which is left over from the meal of someone who fully possesses the merits of morality, meditation, wisdom, sagacity, emancipation, and the vision and hearing of emancipation can never be exhausted.”
13. At this, the bowl of food satisfied all within the assembly, yet was unchanged and undepleted. The bodhisattvas, śrāvakas, gods, and humans who ate this food became physically peaceful and happy, as if they were all bodhisattvas who take pleasure in ornamenting their [buddha] countries. Also, their pores all exuded wondrous fragrances, just like the fragrances of the trees of the Host of Fragrances country.
14. Vimalakīrti then asked the bodhisattvas from the Host of Fragrances [world], “How does Accumulation of Fragrances Tathāgata explain the Dharma?”
Those bodhisattvas said, “In our land the Tathāgata explains [the Dharma] without words. He simply uses the host of fragrances to make the gods and humans enter into the practice of the Vinaya. The bodhisattvas each sit beneath fragrant trees, smelling such wondrous fragrances, from which they attain the ‘samādhi of the repository of all virtues.’ Those who attain this samādhi all become replete in the merits of the bodhisattva.”
15. Those bodhisattvas asked Vimalakīrti, “Now, how does the World- honored One Śākyamuni explain the Dharma here?”
Vimalakīrti said, “The sentient beings of this land are obdurate and difficult to convert, and so the Buddha disciplines them by means of stern language.
“He says, ‘These are the hells, these are the animals, and these are the hungry ghosts. These are the places of difficulty, and these are the places where the foolish are born.
“‘These are licentious practices of the body, and these are the retributions for licentious practices of the body. These are licentious practices of the mouth, and these are the retributions for licentious practices of the mouth. These are licentious practices of the mind, and these are the retributions for licentious practices of the mind.
“‘This is to kill sentient beings, and this is the retribution for killing sentient beings. This is to take what is not given, and this is the retribution for taking what is not given. This is licentiousness, and this is the retribution for licentiousness. This is false speech, and this is the retribution for false speech.
This is slander, and this is the retribution for slander. This is defamation, and this is the retribution for defamation. This is meaningless speech, and this is the retribution for meaningless speech.
“‘These are desire and jealousy, and this is the retribution for desire and jealousy. These are anger and vexation, and this is the retribution for anger and vexation. These are heterodox views, and this is the retribution for heterodox views. This is parsimony, and this is the retribution for parsimony. This is immorality (lit., “breaking the precepts”), and this is the retribution for immorality. This is anger, and this is the retribution for anger. This is laziness, and this is the retribution for laziness. This is perturbation, and this is the retribution for perturbation. This is stupidity, and this is the retribution for stupidity.
“‘This is to be bound by the precepts, this is to maintain the precepts, and this is to transgress the precepts. This is what you should do, and this is what you should not do. These are hindrances, and these are not hindrances. These are transgressions, and these are not transgressions (lit., “transcend transgression”). This is pure, and this is defiled. This is to have flaws, and this is to be flawless. This is the wrong path, and this is the correct path. This is the conditioned, and this is the unconditioned. This is worldly, and this is nirvana.’
“Since the minds of people so difficult to convert are like monkeys, one must use several types of Dharma to control their minds, so that they can be disciplined. It is like elephants and horses who are stubborn and uncontrollable, who can only be disciplined by making them suffer to the bone. Because the sentient beings [of this world] are obdurate like this, [Śākyamuni] uses all sorts of painfully strict language to get [sentient beings] to enter into the Vinaya.”
16. When those bodhisattvas heard this explanation, they all said, “How unprecedented! Thus the World-honored One Śākyamuni Buddha conceals his immeasurable autonomous powers and uses that which is enjoyed by the poverty-stricken to save sentient beings. The bodhisattvas here are also able to labor and be humble, and it is with immeasurable great compassion that they have been born in this buddha land.”
Vimalakīrti said, “The bodhisattvas of this land are resolute in their com- passion for the sentient beings here. Truly, it is as you have said. Thus in a single lifetime they benefit more sentient beings than you do in that country (i.e., the Host of Fragrances world) in a hundred thousand kalpas of practice. Why?
17. “This sahā world has ten excellent dharmas (i.e., features) that are lacking in the other pure lands. What are these ten?
i) “The poor are attracted by charity,
ii) “the transgressors are attracted by pure precepts,
iii) “the angry are attracted by forbearance,
iv) “the lazy are attracted by exertion,
v) “the perturbed are attracted by meditation,
vi) “the foolish are attracted by wisdom,
vii) “those who experience the eight difficulties are saved by explanation of how to eliminate difficulties,
viii) “those who take pleasure in the Hinayana are saved by the teaching of the Mahayana,
ix) “those without merit may be saved by the various good roots, and
x) “[the liberation of] sentient beings is constantly being accomplished by means of the four attractions.
“These are the ten.”
18. Those bodhisattvas said, “How many dharmas do bodhisattvas have
to accomplish in their flawless practice in this world to be born in a pure land?” Vimalakīrti said, “Bodhisattvas accomplish eight dharmas in their flawless practice in this world so as to be born in a pure land. What are the eight?
i) “They benefit sentient beings without seeking recompense,
ii) “they experience various sufferings in place of all sentient beings,
iii) “they donate all the merit from their actions to others,
iv) “in humility and non-interference they are even-minded toward all sentient beings,
v) “they view [other] bodhisattvas as if they were buddhas,
vi) “they hear and do not doubt sutras they have not heard before,
vii) “they do not become refractory toward śrāvakas, and
viii) “they are not jealous of the offerings [received by] others and donot become haughty over benefit to themselves.
“In these [eight dharmas] they discipline their minds, always reflecting
on their own errors and not proclaiming the shortcomings of others, yet always singlemindedly seeking the various merits. These are the eight dharmas.”
When Vimalakīrti and Mañjuśrī explained this Dharma to the great congregation, a hundred thousand gods and humans all generated the intention to achieve anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi, and ten thousand bodhisattvas attained the forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas.
Chapter XI. Practices of the Bodhisattva
1. Meanwhile, the Buddha had been explaining the Dharma in the garden of Āmrapālī. The land there suddenly expanded and became ornamented, and the entire assembly became gold in color.
Ānanda asked the Buddha, “World-honored One, due to what causes and conditions are there these propitious responses? This place has suddenly expanded and became ornamented, and the entire assembly has become gold in color!”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “This is because Vimalakīrti and Mañjuśrī, together with the great congregations that surround and revere them, will decide they want to come here. It is in anticipation of this that these propitious responses have occurred.”
2. Just then Vimalakīrti said to Mañjuśrī, “We should go together to see the Buddha, to revere him and make offerings along with the bodhisattvas.”
Mañjuśrī said, “Excellent! Let us go. This is just the right time.”
Vimalakīrti, using his numinous power, lifted the great congregations together with the lion seats in his right hand and proceeded to where the Buddha was. When he arrived there he placed them on the ground. He bowed his head to the Buddha’s feet, then circumambulated him seven times. Holding his palms together singlemindedly, he then stood to one side.
The bodhisattvas all left their seats and bowed their heads to the Buddha’s feet, then circumambulated him seven times, and stood to one side. The great disciples, Śakras, Brahmās, four heavenly kings, and so on, also all left their seats to bow their heads to the Buddha’s feet, and then stood to one side.
Then the World-honored One, according to custom, requested that the bodhisattvas all sit once again. They all followed these instructions, and the congregation sat and became settled.
3. The Buddha said to Śāriputra, “Have you seen what this bodhisattva, this great being, has done with his autonomous numinous power?”
[Śāriputra said,] “Yes, I have seen.” [The Buddha said,] “What do you think about it?” [Śāriputra said,] “World-honored One, I look upon what has been done as inconceivable. It is something that my mind cannot figure out and which my powers cannot even estimate.”
4. Then Ānanda addressed the Buddha, “World-honored One, the fragrance I smell now is one I have never experienced before. What fragrance is it?” The Buddha told Ānanda, “This is the fragrance from the pores of those
bodhisattvas.” Then Śāriputra said to Ānanda, “Our pores are also emitting this fragrance.” Ānanda said, “Where does it come from?” [Śāriputra] said, “This elder, Vimalakīrti, brought the leftover meal from the buddha of the Host of Fragrances country to his house [for us to] eat, and so all our pores are fragrant like this.”
5. Ānanda asked Vimalakīrti, “How long will this fragrance last?” Vimalakīrti said, “Until the food is digested.” [Ānanda] said, “When will the food be digested?” [Vimalakīrti] said, “The energy of this food will be digested after seven
6. “Also, Ānanda: i) “If a śrāvaka who has not yet entered the primary status [of Hinayana
enlightenment] eats this food, it will only be digested after he enters the primary status.
ii) “If someone who has already entered the primary status eats this food, it will only be digested after his mind is emancipated.
iii) “If someone who has not generated the intention [to follow the] Mahayana eats this food, it will only be digested after he has generated that intention.
iv) “If someone who has already generated the [Mahayana] intention eats this food, it will only be digested after he has attained forbearance of the birthlessness of dharmas.
v) “If someone who has already attained forbearance of the nonarising of dharmas eats this food, it will only be digested after he has reached his penultimate rebirth.
vi) “It is as if there were a medicine called ‘superior flavor’ that is digested only after all the poisons in the body of the person who takes it have been eliminated.
7. “Like this, this food eliminates all the poisons of the afflictions and then is digested.”
Ānanda addressed the Buddha, “This is unprecedented! World-honored One, can fragrant food perform the Buddha’s work like this?”
The Buddha said, “Just so, just so, Ānanda.
8. “There are buddha lands where the illumination of the Buddha per- forms the Buddha’s work, or where the bodhisattvas perform the Buddha’s work, or where conjured persons created by the Buddha perform the Buddha’s work, or where the bodhi tree performs the Buddha’s work, or where the Buddha’s clothing and bedding perform the Buddha’s work, or where food performs the Buddha’s work, or where groves and pavilions perform the Buddha’s work, or where the thirty-two characteristics and eighty subsidiary marks perform the Buddha’s work, or where the Buddha’s body performs the Buddha’s work, or where space performs the Buddha’s work. Sentient beings respond to these conditions and are able to enter into the practice of the Vinaya.
9. “There are [other buddha lands] where dreams, phantasms, shadows, echos, images in mirrors, the moon [reflected in] water, mirages during times of heat, and other metaphors perform the Buddha’s work; or where sounds, words, and letters perform the Buddha’s work; or where a pure buddha land is serene and silent, where the wordless, the explanationless, the manifesta- tionless, the consciousnessless, the unconstructed, and the unconditioned perform the Buddha’s work.
10. “Thus, Ānanda, given the buddhas’ deployment of the deportments and their various actions, there is nothing that is not the Buddha’s work. “Ānanda, there may occur these eighty-four thousand gateways of affliction of the four Māras, which trouble sentient beings.
11. “The buddhas use these dharmas to perform the Buddha’s work—this is called ‘to enter into the Dharma gates of all the buddhas.’ “When bodhisattvas enter these gates, even if they see all the pure and excellent buddha lands they do not become happy, do not desire them, and do not become elated; even if they see all the impure buddha lands, they do not become sad, do not become hindered, and do not become melancholy.
They merely generate pure minds with regard to the buddhas, being joyful and respectful toward the unprecedented [teachings they encounter].
“The merits of the buddhas, the Tathāgatas, are universally same, and it is in order to convert sentient beings that they manifest different buddha lands.
12. “Ānanda, when you observe the buddhas’ countries, the lands are numerous but space is not (i.e., there is only one “space”). Likewise, when you observe the form bodies of the buddhas, they are numerous but their unhindered wisdom is not.
13. “Ānanda, regarding the buddhas’ form bodies; their awesome characteristics and qualities; their morality, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, knowledge and vision of emancipation; their powers, fearlessnesses, [and other] exclusive attributes [of the buddhas]; their great sympathy, great com- passion, and the practices of the deportments; their lifespan, explanation of the Dharma, and teaching; and their purification of buddha countries where they accomplish [the emancipation of] sentient beings—“all [the buddhas] are identically replete in all these Buddha-Dharmas. Therefore, they are called samyaksaṃbuddha, they are called tathāgata, they are called buddha.
“Ānanda, if I were to explain the meanings of these three [Sanskrit] phrases extensively, you would not be able to experience them completely even if you had the lifespan of a kalpa! Even if all the sentient beings in the trimegachiliocosm were, like Ānanda, paramount in erudition, and retained them mindfully with dhāraṇī, and even if they had lifespans of a kalpa, they would not be able to experience them completely! Thus it is, Ānanda, that the anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi of the buddhas is limitless, and their wisdom and eloquence is inconceivable!”
14. Ānanda addressed the Buddha, “From now on I will not be able to consider myself erudite.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Do not become discouraged. Why? I have explained that you are the most erudite among the śrāvakas. I did not say [among the] bodhisattvas. But stop, Ānanda! The wise should not [attempt to] evaluate the bodhisattvas. How could the total depth of the ocean be calculated? All the merits of the bodhisattvas’ meditation, wisdom, dhāraṇī, and eloquence are immeasurable. “Ānanda, you [śrāvakas] have forsaken the practices of the bodhisattva. The power of numinous penetration that Vimalakīrti has manifested on this one occasion would be impossible for śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas to do by their powers of transformation even in a hundred thousand kalpas.”
15. At that time the bodhisattvas who had come from the Host of Fragrances world held their palms together and addressed the Buddha, “World- honored One, when we first saw this land we generated the concept of its inferiority. Now we are ashamed of ourselves and have abandoned this attitude. Why? The skillful means of the buddhas are inconceivable. In order to save sentient beings, they manifest different buddha countries in accordance with the responses of [sentient beings].
“Please, O World-honored One, bestow upon us a bit of your Dharma as we return to the other world, so that we might remember you.”
16. The Buddha told the bodhisattvas, “You should learn the teaching of the emancipation of the exhaustible and inexhaustible. What is the exhaustible?
“It is the conditioned dharmas. What is the inexhaustible? It is the unconditioned dharmas. If you are bodhisattvas, you should neither exhaust the conditioned nor abide in the unconditioned.
17. “What is it not to exhaust the conditioned? It is neither to transcend great sympathy nor to forsake great compassion, to profoundly generate the aspiration to achieve omniscience and never forget it even momentarily. It is to teach sentient beings without ever becoming tired, to be constantly mind- ful of following the teaching of the four attractions. It is to defend the cor- rect Dharma without fear for one’s own life, to plant good roots without becoming fatigued. It is for one’s intent to always be on peaceful abiding and one’s skillful means rededicated [to anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi]. It is to seek the Dharma without tiring and explain the Dharma without parsimony, and to energetically make offerings to the buddhas.
“By doing so one will enter samsara without fear, be without sadness or joy regarding the various honors and disgraces, not belittle the unlearned and revere the learned as if they are buddhas, cause those who have fallen into the afflictions to generate correct mindfulness, distantly transcend pleasure and not consider it valuable, not be attached to one’s own pleasure yet celebrate the pleasure of others, have the concept that being in the dhyānas is like being in the hells, and have the concept that being in samsara is like being in a garden or pavilion.
“One will have the concept that seeing one coming to make a request is like [seeing] an excellent teacher, have the concept that to forsake one’s various possessions is to be replete in omniscience, have the concept that to see transgressors is to generate salvific protection, have the concept of the pāramitās (perfections) being one’s parents, and have the concept of the [thirty-seven] factors of enlightenment being one’s subordinates. One’s generation of practices and [planting of] good roots will be limitless. One will create one’s own buddha land with the various ornamentations of the pure countries [of different buddhas].
“Practicing limitless charity, one will become replete in the [thirty-two primary] characteristics and [eighty subsidiary] marks. Eliminating all evil, one will purify one’s body, speech, and mind. Being born and dying for countless kalpas, one will remain courageous [throughout]. Hearing of the immeasurable merits and intention of the buddhas, one will never become tired. With the sword of wisdom one will destroy the ‘bandits’ of the afflictions, and one will emerge from the skandhas, realms (dhātus), and entrances (āyatanas).
“One will bear the burden of sentient beings and always make them become emancipated. With great exertion one will subjugate the armies of Māra. One will always seek the practice of wisdom of the real characteristic of no-mindfulness. One will know satisfaction through minimal desire regarding the worldly dharmas. One will seek the supramundane dharmas without tiring. Yet one will be able to accord with the profane, without either forsaking the worldly dharmas or breaking the deportments. One will generate the sagacity of numinous penetration and entice sentient beings [to salvation]. One will not forget what one has heard through the dhāraṇī of memory. One will discriminate well [between] those of the various capacities and eliminate the doubts of sentient beings. One will expound upon the Dharma without hindrance, taking pleasure in one’s eloquence. One will be pure in carrying out the ten types of good and experience the blessing of gods and humans. One will cultivate the four unlimiteds and open up the path to the Brahmā heavens. One will exhort and request [others to] explain the Dharma and be accordingly joyous in praising its excellence.
“Attaining the Buddha’s voice, one will be good in [acts of] body, speech, and mind. Attaining the deportments of the Buddha, one will profoundly cultivate the good qualities, with one’s practice becoming increasingly excellent. With the Mahayana teaching, one will become a bodhisattva monk. Without mental laxity, one will not fail in the host of goods. Practicing a Dharma such as this, one is called ‘a bodhisattva who does not exhaust the conditioned.’
18. “What is a bodhisattva who does not abide in the unconditioned? “It is to cultivate [the emancipation of the] empty without taking the empty as one’s realization. It is to cultivate [the emancipations of] signlessness and wishlessness without taking the signless and the wishless as one’s realization. It is to cultivate nonactivation without taking nonactivation as one’s realization. It is to contemplate impermanence without having aversion for the roots of goodness. It is to contemplate worldly suffering with- out considering samsara evil. It is to contemplate no-self while teaching people without tiring. It is to contemplate extinction without undergoing permanent extinction. It is to contemplate transcendence while cultivating
the good with mind and body. “It is to contemplate the absence of any refuge while going for refuge in the dharmas of goodness. It is to contemplate the birthless, yet to bear the burden for all [sentient beings] using the dharmas of birth. It is to contemplate the flawless, yet not eliminate the flaws. It is to contemplate the absence of any practice, yet to teach sentient beings using the dharmas of practice. It is to contemplate emptiness and nonexistence, yet not to forsake great com- passion. It is to contemplate the position of the correct Dharma, yet not to follow the Hinayana.
“It is to contemplate the empty falsity of the dharmas, which are without solidity, without selfhood, without subject, and without characteristic. It is not to consider merit, meditation, and wisdom to be in vain when one’s original vow has not been fulfilled. Practicing a Dharma such as this, one is called ‘a bodhisattva who does not abide in the unconditioned.’
19. “Furthermore, in order to be complete in merit one should not abide in the unconditioned; and in order to be complete in wisdom one should not exhaust the conditioned.
“In order to [achieve] great sympathy and compassion, one should not abide in the unconditioned; in order to fulfill one’s original vow, one should not exhaust the conditioned. In order to accumulate the medicines of the Dharma, one should not abide in the unconditioned; in order to bestow medicines according [to the needs of sentient beings], one should not exhaust the conditioned. In order to understand the illnesses of sentient beings, one should not abide in the unconditioned; in order to extinguish the illnesses of sentient beings, one should not exhaust the conditioned. O good sirs, a bodhisattva who cultivates this Dharma does not either exhaust the conditioned or abide in the unconditioned. This is called ‘the teaching of the emancipation of the exhaustible and inexhaustible.’ You should learn this.”
20. When those bodhisattvas heard the explanation of this Dharma they were all extremely happy, and they scattered hosts of wondrous flowers of several colors and fragrances throughout the trimegachiliocosm, making offerings to the Buddha, this teaching, and the bodhisattvas [of this world]. They bowed their heads to the Buddha’s feet and exclaimed at this unprecedented [teaching], saying, “Śākyamuni Buddha is able to perform the skillful means of this excellent practice in this [world].” Saying this, they suddenly disappeared, returning to that other country.