ChapterXVII — Attributes, Tokens, and Signs of Irreversibility (RiBa)

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Chapter XVII


Various Tokens of Irreversibility

Subhuti: What, O Lord, are any attributes, tokens and signs of an irreversible Bodhisattva, and how do we know any Bodhisattva is irreversible?

The Lord: This level of 'we common people', this level of 'we Disciples', this level of 'we Pratyekabuddhas', this level of 'we Buddhas' -- these levels and we are all called the 'Level of Suchness'. Thought as well, all these are Suchness, not two, nor any one divided, neither discriminated amongst, nor undiscriminated between, a Bodhisattva is revealed as within Suchness and not other than this nature of dharma. Realizing one's firm stance as Suchness, one neither imagines nor discriminates in this. With this sense awakened is one revealed thus. Once this is realized, even if one goes away from this assembly, because one's hearing is also Suchness, one does not and can not in any circumstance hesitate, does not and can not become perplexed, does not and can not doubt, and one is not stupefied by thought [concerning any or all of form, feeling, perceptions, impulses, or consciousness] as 'it is not thus'. On the contrary, one is firmly aware as 'it is just thus, just Suchness', and with this, one realizes one's being as such. Just so, one does not prattle away about everything which comes into one's head. Such a one only speaks if this is considered beneficial for another, and not if this may not. One does not look in final judgement on what others do or don't do. Endowed with such attributes, tokens and indications of Suchness, a Bodhisattva may be borne in mind as irreversible from full enlightenment.

An irreversible Bodhisattva can not pander to Shramanas and Brahmins of 'other schools', telling these what anyone knows is worth knowing, or what anyone sees is worth seeing. [324]

A Bodhisattva pays no homage to strange Gods, offers these no flowers, incenses, etc., and cannot put one's trusts in these. A Bodhisattva is no more reborn in places of woe, nor does one ever again become a different sex. As well, Subhuti, an irreversible Bodhisattva undertakes to observe the ten avenues [ways] of wholesome action. One observes, as one instigates others to observe, abstention from taking life, abstention from taking what is not given, abstention from wrong conduct as regards sensuous pleasures, abstention from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind, abstention from lying speech, abstention from malicious speech, abstention from harsh speech, abstention from indistinct prattling, abstention from covetousness, abstention from ill will, abstention from wrong views. [325]

It is true an irreversible Bodhisattva observes these ten ways of wholesome action, and instigates any others to observe these, incites and encourages these to do so, establishes and confirms others in these. Even in Bodhisattva dreams one never commits offenses against these ten precepts, and one does not build on such offenses in one's mind. Even in one's dreams an irreversible Bodhisattva keeps the ten wholesome paths of action present in mind. Also, as an irreversible Bodhisattva masters a text of dharma, and offers this to others, in mind one builds upon the welfare and happiness of all beings as such, and one offers this gift of dharma in common to all beings, with no distinction. [326]

What's more, as deep dharmas are taught, a Bodhisattva is not hesitant, is not perplexed, is not doubtful, is not stupefied. One only says what is beneficial, speaks gently and in moderation. One exhibits little sloth and torpor, and loses all latent biases to evil. Whether one goes out or comes back, this mind does not wander, but one's mindfulness is fixed. As one steps on this ground one knows what one does, and as one lifts up and puts down one's feet one neither loiters nor hurries but remains at ease. A Bodhisattvas robe is free from lice, one's habits are clean, one is rarely ill, and afflictions are few. In one's body these eighty thousand families of worms which are present in the bodies of other beings cannot at all develop, as these wholesome roots insure one's place within this whole world. And as these wholesome roots such as these go on increasing, in due course one gains perfect purity of body, speech and thought. [327]

Subhuti: What is known as perfect purity of thought on the part of a Bodhisattva?

The Lord: As these wholesome roots go on increasing, in due course one gains a state of mind in which one developes few cares, and is free from treachery, deceit, crookedness and craftiness. In addition this perfect purity of thought also consists in transcending through and beyond levels of Sravaka Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, while yet facing these, and being in perfect accord with any such ways, still just as intent on mutuality and benevolence. And what's more, an irreversible Bodhisattva is not one to attach exclusivity to gain, honor, or fame, or to robes, alms bowl, lodging or medicinal appliances for use in sickness. This is not one who is full of envy and meanness. And, as profound dharmas are revealed, one does not lose heart; but intelligence grows steady, and, one's intelligence runs deep. With respect one hears Dharma from others, ever with a view to learn. All these dharmas one hears from others are united as perfection of wisdom, and also all worldly arts and professions one unites, thanks to this perfection of wisdom, as this very nature of dharma. Here is no dharma which one does not see as yoked to the nature of dharmas, and each dharma one sees is simply engaged in this effort. [328]

Mara's Deeds

So now, Mara, the Evil One, is (only thought of as being) the one conjuring up visions of the eight great hells, with many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of Bodhisattvas in these, and he says to an irreversible Bodhisattva: "These Bodhisattvas, described by the Tathagata as irreversible, are reborn in these great hells. Just so you also, since you are described as irreversible, fall into these great hells. Confess this, this thought of enlightenment is an error! What is Buddhahood to you? Abandon it! In this way you avoid rebirth in the hells. As you act thus you are one who goes to heaven." As the mind of the Bodhisattva does not waver, is not put out, is certain in one's knowledge an irreversible Bodhisattva cannot possibly be reborn against one's will in the hells, this is another token of his irreversibility.

Even so, Mara, the Evil One, is seen as coming along possibly in the guise of a Shramana, and saying: "Give up what you hear up to now, abandon what you gain so far! As you follow this advice, we again and again approach you, and say to you: 'What you hear just now is not the word of Buddha. It is poetry, the work of poets. But what I here teach to you, this is the teaching of Buddha, this is the word of the Buddha.'" Upon hearing this, as any Bodhisattva wavers and is put out, one can know, such is not predicted by the Tathagata, this one is not fixed on full enlightenment, [329] as this one does not stand firmly in this element of irreversibility. But again, even as one hears these words of Mara, one does not waver, but remains as this nature of dharma, to Non-production, to Non-stopping, to the Unaffected, this is not one of these who put their trust in others.

An Arhat, a monk who has outflows dried up, does not go by what is said by merely someone else whom one trusts in, but has placed the nature of dharma directly before one's own eyes...before, or beyond, anyone or anything whatsoever...and Mara is seen as having no access to one such as this.

Just so, any irreversible Bodhisattva can neither be crushed nor inflated by beings belonging to the vehicle of Sravaka Disciples and Pratyekabuddha, and one cannot, by this very nature, backslide into the level of Disciples or Pratyekabuddhas, as any such as this are fixed on all-knowledge, and end up in perfect enlightenment. It is quite certain any Bodhisattva who stands firmly in the element of irreversibility cannot possibly be led astray by others.

So, someone may come to the irreversible Bodhisattva and say: "A journey in birth-and-death is this coursing in perfection of wisdom, and not a journey of someone who is in quest of enlightenment. If you put an end to all suffering in this very life you no longer experience all the sufferings and disappointments which are bound up with this plane of birth-and-death. Aye surely, in this very life already this personality of yours is finished, so why do you think of taking upon yourself another one [for the benefit of other beings]?" Even now the Bodhisattva neither wavers nor is put out, even as Mara himself appears to say to this one: "Just look at these Bodhisattvas which for countless aeons present the necessities of life [330] to Buddhas and Lords, which lead holy lives in the presence of countless Buddhas, which honor countless Buddhas and Lords, and question these about just this vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, asks these how a Bodhisattva should stand, hear the answer of the Tathagatas, and act on it!

"In spite of the fact these stand, course and exert as they do, this very day these do not yet know full enlightenment! These stand firm in instruction, train themselves like this, -but do not reach all-knowledge! How do you reach full enlightenment ever?" Even as one does not waver and is not put out, then Mara, the Evil One, seems to conjure up some monks in this place, and say: "These monks are Arhats, with outflows dried up. These who set out for enlightenment, in the meantime have reached Arhatship, and are established in it. How do you ever reach full enlightenment?" It is quite certain any Bodhisattva must be irreversible from full enlightenment for, as this is being said and expounded, one's mind does not waver and is not put out.

As this mind of a Bodhisattva which hears from a stranger these discouraging remarks still does not become excluded from the true nature of dharma, and one does not go back on it, as one does not change one's mind, as one recognizes these deeds of Mara as appearing for exactly what these are, it is quite impossible for one which courses correctly in these perfections not to reach all-knowledge.

Mara, the Evil One, cannot possibly gain entry to a Bodhisattva which not only courses but also trains oneself correctly, which does not lack in these practices described by Tathagatas, which is completely adjusted to this mental activity which is associated with these perfections. [331] As any Bodhisattva recognizes these deeds of Mara, as one hears discouraging remarks from strangers, one does not desist, nor slide back, nor change one's mind, and one perceives these deeds of Mara for exactly what these are, this is another token of irreversibility.

So now, an irreversible Bodhisattva does not piece together a perception of skandhas, (i.e. form, feeling, perception, impulses, or consciousness), nor produce one. As the irreversible Bodhisattva which through dharmas empty of their own marks definitely entered on this certainty of salvation, as a Bodhisattva does not apprehend even this dharma we now behold (in any moments) this one cannot piece it together, or produce it. One says here, "a Bodhisattva is irreversible as one patiently accepts the cognition of non-production." This is another token of irreversibility.

What's more, Mara, the Evil One, comes along in the guise of a monk and tries to deter the Bodhisattva with the words: "The same as space is this all knowledge. It is a dharma which is not, it is non-existent. Who can anoint oneself with such as this, who fully know it? Here is no one who goes forth to such, here is no one who can fully know such, nothing can be fully known, here is no one who understands, here is nothing which can be understood. Due to this fact that at all times these dharmas are the same as space, it is useless to resist, revealed and seen as a deed of Mara is this doctrine which 'one knows full enlightenment,' is not a Buddha's teaching." A son or daughter of good family now cognizes, realizes and knows this [332] kind of critical examination is seen as just a deed of Mara. After one makes this reflection, one makes one's mind firm, unshakeable, irrestible. This is another token of irreversibility.

More Tokens of Irreversibility

So now, an irreversible Bodhisattva is one inquiring even beyond, and transcending any level of Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, and proceeding in a direction toward all-knowledge. According to plan one comes to first, second, third and fourth trance stages, and dwells within absorbtion in these four trances. One realizes complete mastery over these trances, meaning one enters into trances, but a future rebirth is not determined by their influence. It is on dharmas of the sphere of sense-desire one bases one's rebirth. This also is known as a mark of irreversibility in irreversible Bodhisattvas.

Also an irreversible Bodhisattva does not attach weight to any name, nor to renown, title or fame. One does not get attached to any [particular] name [which in any case is absent in emptiness]. One's mind remains undismayed, and interested only in the welfare of all beings. Whether one goes out or comes back, one's mind does not wander, and one remains ever mindful.

When one lives the life of a householder, one has no great love for pleasant things, and one does not want these too much. For, it is realized that it's with fear and disgust one possesses all pleasant things. [fear of the possessed item's loss, and disgust at their decrepitude or lacking being better than what it is]. Situated in a wilderness infested with robbers one would eat one's meals in fear, and with the constant thought [333] of getting away, of getting out of this wilderness, and not with repose.

Just so an irreversible Bodhisattva living the life of a householder, possesses pleasant things simply without caring for too much for them, without eagerness, without attachment. One is not one of these people who care for dear and pleasant forms. These who live the lives of householders and who are involved in the five kinds of sensuous pleasures do not earn their living in an irregular way, but in the right way. Neither do these incur death in a state of sin, nor do these inflict injuries on others. These incite all beings to realize this supreme happiness, -these worthy beings, these great beings, superbeings, excellent beings, splendid beings, powerful of beings, sublime beings, valiant beings, heroes of beings, leaders of beings, waterlilies of beings, lotuses of beings, thoroughbred beings, Nagas of beings, lions of beings, trainers of beings! It is in this spirit which Bodhisattvas live the life of householders, in as much as these are impregnated with the power of perfection of wisdom, and this is another token of their irreversibility.

So now, Vajrapani, the great Yaksha, constantly follows behind the irreversible Bodhisattva. Unassailable, the Bodhisattva cannot be defeated by either men or ghosts. All beings find it hard to conquer one, and one's mind is not disturbed [by their attacks]. One's faculties are all complete, and one is not deficient in any of these. One possesses the organs of a virile being, [334] not those of an impotent being. One does not in any way embark on these spells, mutterings, herbs, magical formulae, medical incantations, etc., which are the work of beings. One earns one's livelihood in a clean way, not in a wrong way. One's character is neither quarrelsome nor disputatious. One's views are upright, one does not exalt oneself nor deprecate others. With these and other similar qualities this one is endowed. Such as these do not predict to women or men these will have a son or daughter. Such faulty ways of making oneself acceptable will not be this one's. All this is another token of irreversibility.

So now, Subhuti, I'll indicate the attributes, tokens and signs of an irreversible Bodhisattva. Endowed with these one is known as irreversible from full enlightenment. Again, which are these? The following: One does not give oneself over to occupation and preoccupation with the skandhas, the sense-fields, the elements, and with conditioned coproduction. One is not preoccupied with the kind of talk a person is fond of in society, with talk about kings, and robbers, about armies and battles; about villages, [335] cities, market towns, countries, kingdoms, and capitals; about oneself, about ministers and prime ministers; about women, men and neuters; about journeys, parks, monasteries, palaces, pools, lakes, ponds, lotus ponds, woods, gardens and mountains; about Yakshas, Rakshasas, Pretas, Pishacas, Kataputana-demons and Kumbhanda-demons; about food, drink, dresses, ornaments, perfumes, garlands and ointments; about roads, crossroads, streets, markets, palanquins and people; about songs, dances, tales, actors, dancers, and wandering singers; about the ocean, about rivers, about islands.

These do not devote themselves to talk which obstructs dharma, to the kind of talk which delights the common people, but to talk on perfection of wisdom, and these are people who do not lack in mental activities which are associated with all-knowledge. But talk about fightings and strife, about quarrels and disputes these avoid. These are willing for what is right, and not willing for what is wrong. These praise without causing dissension, and not in order to cause dissension. These want friendship, and not its opposite. These speak dharma, and not its opposite. These plan to gain a vision of Tathagatas which dwell in other world systems, and thus these increasingly produce thoughts which lead to their presence. According to plan these are come near them, and so these do not lack in the vision of Tathagatas, [336] nor in opportunities for honoring and serving them.

Furthermore, as an irreversible Bodhisattva definitely terminated one's existence among the Gods, -whether these belong to the sphere of sense-desire, or the sphere of form, or the formless sphere, -one is turned over to just this middle region, in Jambudvipa. For in the border countries are only a few beings with a good knowledge of the arts, of poetry, of mantras, of secret lore, of the standard treatises, of portents and of the meaning of religion, but in the middle region these are turned to abundance. But any who are turned over to the border regions these are at least revealed again in the big towns. This is another mark of irreversibility.

Furthermore, to an irreversible Bodhisattva it does not occur to ask oneself whether one is irreversible or not. No question about it arises, as one is not uncertain about the stage one made, and one does not sink down below such. Just as a Streamwinner has no hesitations or doubts about the fruit of a Streamwinner, if that is the stage which is this one's right, just so an irreversible Bodhisattva neither questions nor doubts about being on this stage of a Bodhisattva, as this stage is one's right stage, here is no uncertainties about this stage which is right, nor does one sink below such. And one quickly sees through any deed appearing as Mara's that may arise, and does not come under his sway. [337]

A person who commits one of the deadly sins never again, until one's death, loses this thought of this action, one cannot get rid of it or remove it, but it follows after one until the time of one's death. Just so this irreversible mind of an irreversible Bodhisattva learns to stand firm on this irreversible stage which is one's right, and even this whole world, with its Gods, beings and Asuras, cannot deflect, divert or diverge such a one from this. One recognizes any deeds as being -only seen to be- of Mara which may arise, as these do, and does not come under their sway.

One such as this is free from hesitations and doubts about this stage which any can realize, even after one passes through this present life the thoughts which are characteristics of Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas do not arise in beings such as this. As one passes through this present life one thinks: "Here is not a case in which any shall not realize full enlightenment. Anyone is sure to realize full enlightenment, I stand firm on this stage which also I realize as such."

One can no longer be led astray by others, and on the stage which is anyone's by nature, one can neither be crushed nor inflated, if one in one's nature adheres to the principle of Suchness in and as all, and beyond even such, as such is. For, as one stands firm on this, one's mind is insuperable, one's cognition is insuperable. Suppose Mara, the Evil One, in the guise of Buddha himself were to come to this one, and say: "Realize Arhatship in this very life! You are not predestined to full enlightenment. You have not the attributes, tokens and signs with which a Bodhisattva must be endowed in order to realize full enlightenment. Why now do you course in this?"

If the Bodhisattva now experiences a change of heart, one can know one is not predicted to full enlightenment by the Tathagatas of the past. [338] On the other hand, as one considers, "I see this, surely, as Mara, the Evil One, who comes along after he by magical means, adopts the disguise of the Buddha, as all are beset by Mara, this is but one of Mara's magical creations, but certainly not Tathagata.

A Tathagata speaks to the effect as one not realizing only Arhatship, and not otherwise," as one sees and understands "I see this, surely, is as Mara, the Evil One, who is manufacturing a magical double of the appearance of the Buddha, and who wants to estrange any and all beings from supreme enlightenment," and now at this Mara turns back...this Bodhisattva certainly in the past is predicted to full enlightenment by the Tathagatas, and stands firmly in this irreversible Bodhisattva stage. Where these attributes, tokens, and signs are found as a Bodhisattva, here one can be certain, beyond any shadow or doubt of this: -as one exudes these qualities, so this one is predicted by Tathagatas in the past, and stands firm on this irreversible Bodhisattva-stage and as one exudes such attributes, tokens and signs of an irreversible Bodhisattva this is another token of irreversibility.

In addition to irreversible Bodhisattva gains this good dharma even as this costs one one's life and any belongings. Here one makes a supreme effort to gain this good dharma, through affection and respect for Buddhas and Lords, past, future and present. In one's firm conviction- "the Dharma-bodies are Buddhas and Lords" realizes this good dharma not only of the past Buddhas and Lords, but also of the present and future Buddhas and Lords. One is convinced as one also is within the ranks of these which are reckoned as future Buddhas and Lords, one also is predicted to this supreme enlightenment, also one is known as already having gained this good dharma. So, these considerations one bears in mind as, in one's efforts to gain this good dharma, one renounces even one's life and one's belongings, as one does not lose heart, nor become indolent. This is another token of irreversibility. Moreover, as Tathagata demonstrates dharma, an irreversible neither hesitates nor doubts.

Subhuti: Does one also neither hesitate nor doubt when a Disciple demonstrates dharma?

The Lord: No, such a one does not. For a Bodhisattva which acquires this patient acceptance of dharmas which fail to produce, or be productive or produced, neither hesitates nor doubts as one hears about this unobstructed true nature of all dharmas. Endowed with these virtues a Bodhisattva is irreversible. [340] These also are known as the exudation of attributes, tokens and signs of a Bodhisattva which is irreversible from full enlightenment.

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