Chapter VII — Hell (RiBa)
Hymn to The Perfection of Wisdom
Sariputra: Perfection of wisdom, O Lord, is accomplishment of cognition of all-knowing. Perfection of wisdom is realized as all-knowledge.
The Lord: So it is, Sariputra, as you say.
Sariputra: Veneration towards perfection of wisdom polishes away obscurities, revealing light, O Lord. I pay homage to perfection of wisdom! She is worthy of homage. She is unstained, and thus entire worlds along with complete systems cannot stain her. Regardless whether viewed from, in or as absolute unification, beings come to reveal her as spontaneous source of light, having dispelled any limitations, and things of any triple worlds. Holding her in supreme reverence leads beings away from blinding darkness caused by defilements and wrong views. As this is her nature, we find shelter. Most excellent is her impartial abiding. Within us she is revealed as cause to seek the safety of wings of enlightenment. Realization of her brings light to the blind. Our being is permeated by her light so all fear and distress may be forsaken within her revelation. Veneration of her aquires the five eyes, and shows this path to all beings. She herself is an organ of vision. Her knowledge disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion. She does nothing about all dharmas. She becomes the path and guide any who have strayed on to an obscure road. She is identical with all-knowledge. She never produces any dharma because she cast off any residues relating to both kinds of coverings, these produced by defilements and these produced by any thing whatsoever. She does not stop any dharma, herself unstopped and unproduced...is this perfection of wisdom. She is mother of the Bodhisattvas, on account of emptiness of own mark. As the donor of the jewel of all Buddha-dharmas she brings about the ten powers (of a Buddha). She cannot be crushed. She protects the unprotected with the help of the four grounds of self-confidence. She is the antidote to birth-and-death. She reveals this clear knowingness of the true nature of any own-being of all dharmas, for she does not stray away from it. The perfection of wisdom of Buddhas, the Lords, sets in motion this wheel of Dharma.
Predominance of Perfect Wisdom Over Other Perfections
How does a Bodhisattva stand in perfection of wisdom, how attend and pay homage to it?
The Lord: In every way the perfection of wisdom is treated as our teacher.
Sakra now asks Sariputra: Wherefrom, and for what reason does this question of the holy Sariputra arise?
Sariputra: It arises as I hear it said, "a Bodhisattva being taken hold of by perfection of wisdom and skill in means transforms into all-knowledge any so-called meritorious work founded on jubilation. Ones such as these delve even beyond the entire meritorious works founded on giving, morality, patience, vigour, and trance of all Bodhisattvas observing any basis whatsoever." It is just perfection of wisdom which guides these five perfections in their intention and direction on this path toward all-knowledge. Just as, Kausika, people born blind, one hundred, or one thousand, or one hundred thousand of them, cannot, without a leader, go along a path and get to a village, town or city; - just so, Giving, Morality, Patience, Vigour and Trance cannot alone be called 'perfections,' for without perfection of wisdom these are as if born blind, here now without their leader and unable to traverse the path to all-knowledge, and still less can these reach all-knowledge. However, as Giving, Morality, Patience, Vigour and Trance are taken hold of by perfection of wisdom, now these are in deed and propriety termed 'perfections', for these five perfections acquire this organ of vision which enables these to evolve along this path to all-knowledge, and to reach all-knowledge.
Nothing Procured by Perfect Wisdom
Sariputra said to the Lord: How does any Bodhisattva consummate perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: By pure cognition and establishment in one's view of the non-consummation of form, feeling, perception, impulse, and consciousness. The non-consummation of the five skandhas, this is called 'consummation of perfection of wisdom'. In this way nothing is affected, so the consummation of the five skandhas is called consummation of perfection of wisdom.
Sariputra: When perfection of wisdom is consummated by such a consummation, what dharma, or what of any phenomena whatsoever does it procure?
The Lord: When consummated in such a way, perfection of wisdom does not procure any dharma, and in consequence of this fact she comes to be styled 'perfection of wisdom.'
Sakra: So, O Lord, perfection of wisdom does not even procure all-knowledge?
The Lord: Perfection of wisdom does not procure even this, as this is formed as, or from some basis, or some mental process, or some volitional act.
Sakra: So, how does perfection of wisdom procure?
The Lord: In so far as this does not procure, to this extent this procures.
Sakra: This is wonderful, O Lord, to see any extent to which perfection of wisdom neither produces nor stops any dharma. For the purpose of non-production and of non-stopping of all dharmas is perfection of wisdom set up, without, however, being really present.
Subhuti: If any Bodhisattva perceives this also, one might keep far away from perfection of wisdom, treating this as worthless and insignificant, and fail to act on it.
The Lord: This is quite true. For here perfection of wisdom is lit up, and here form does not become lit up, nor other skandhas, nor any fruits of this holy life, up to Buddhahood.
Subhuti: Perfection of wisdom is great perfection, O Lord!
Why the Perfection of Wisdom is Great
[Note: Perfection of Wisdom is here stated as the Great Perfection. ...not bad for 1st Century!]
The Lord: Tell what you think, Subhuti, in what manner is perfection of wisdom a great perfection?
Subhuti: This neither makes form (solidity), feelings (sensations), perceptions (experiences) will (volition), and consciousnesses (states of mind) greater nor smaller, and does not assemble nor disperse form, etc. This also neither strengthens nor weakens the powers of Tathagata, nor does this assemble or disperse these. This does not even make all-knowledge greater or smaller, nor does this assemble or disperse it. For all-knowledge is unassembled [uncollected] and undispersed [undisturbed]. In the event any Bodhisattva perceives even this, one courses not in perfection of wisdom, so how much more so if one forms the notion: "Thus do I, endowed with cognition of all-knowing, demonstrate dharma to beings, thus do I lead these beings to final Nirvana." For this apprehension of these beings is a basis fact, for when one says, "I lead these beings to final Nirvana," this cannot be an outcome of perfection of wisdom. This indeed is a great basis of apprehension on one's part. For the absence of own-being in beings needs to be known as belonging to the very essence of perfection of wisdom. One needs know this perfection of wisdom is without own-being in the same way in which beings are without own-being; also, perfection of wisdom is unthinkable, because beings are naturally as well; also perfection of wisdom has an indestructible nature because beings do as well; and perfection of wisdom taken as it naturally is, does not undergo any process which leads to enlightenment as well...for beings, as these are naturally, do not undergo such a process ; also this way in which Tathagatas arrive at full possession of powers is understood as the way in which beings arrive thus at full possession of their power. It is in this manner which perfection of wisdom is the great perfection. [rdzogs chen]
Causes of Belief in Perfection of Wisdom
Sariputra: Bodhisattvas reborn here, resolutely believe or have direct knowing in deep perfection of wisdom without hesitation, doubt or stupefaction, here these decease and enduring beyond any duration do these practice. These ones following this doctrine of perfection of wisdom, understand its meaning, and instruct others in it both by any method which reveals the meaning and by any method which reveals the doctrine.
The Lord: Thus it is, Sariputra. One can know this as such Bodhisattvas are reborn here as decease in other world systems in which one honors and questions Buddhas, the Lords. Any such Bodhisattvas as decease in other world systems in which one honors and questions Buddhas, the Lords, are reborn here and upon hearing this deep perfection of wisdom being taught, identify perfection of wisdom as teacher, and are definitely convinced beyond even such questions one is face to face with ones teacher...such a one can know one sees the teacher. As perfection of wisdom is being taught, and as one listens attentively, pays respect to this even before one hears this, and does not cut this story short...such a Bodhisattva is known as one practicing for long, even beyond duration. And as well, one herein honors many Buddhas.
Subhuti: Is it at all possible to hear perfection of wisdom, to distinguish and consider her, to make statements and to reflect about her? Can one explain or learn such as because of certain attributes, tokens or signs this is perfection of wisdom, or such as here this is perfection of wisdom, or over there...that is perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: No indeed, Subhuti. Perfection of wisdom cannot be expounded, learned, distinguished, considered, stated, or reflected upon by means of any or all skandhas, nor by means of any or all elements, nor means of any or all sense-fields. This is a consequence of fact. All dharmas are isolated, absolutely isolated without any basis, as said and known. Nor can perfection of wisdom be understood other than by the skandhas, elements or sensefields. For just the very skandhas, elements and sense-fields are empty, isolated and calmly quiet. [without basis] It is thus, Subhuti, as perfection of wisdom and skandhas, elements and sense-fields are neither many as more than one, nor even one, nor one divided. [again, without basis] As a result of emptiness, isolatedness and quietude these cannot be apprehended. The lack of a basis of, or for apprehension in any and all dharmas, this is called 'perfect wisdom.' Whatever, wherever, whenever, or however pure cognition reveals no perception, appellation, conception, contrivance or conventional expression, hereof one speaks 'perfection of wisdom.'
Subhuti: For how long is any Bodhisattva known as one who practices, who makes endeavours about this deep perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: One must make one's own distinction in this, owing to the unequal endowment of different Bodhisattvas.
Causes and Consequences of Disbelief
It is quite possible some Bodhisattvas, although perhaps seeing or having seen many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of Buddhas, and have led and continue to lead the holy life, in any present 'time' may nevertheless have no faith in perfection of wisdom. The reason is now as whenever, some have no respect for this profound perfection of wisdom as it is taught, even in the presence of Buddhas and Lords. Wherever might be a lack of respect for this is also in like measure a lack of desire to learn more about this, a lack of honor recognized in this, and thus a lack in faith and unwillingness to ask questions. Lacking in faith these hereupon walk out of assemblies. It is just because in any past these have produced, accumulated, piled up and collected karma conducive to the ruin of dharma that also at any present these walk out when this deep perfection of wisdom is being taught. From the lack of respect, without faith and firm belief in perfection of wisdom, these lack also in accord either in body or in thought. Lacking in accord these do not know, see, recognize or make known this perfection of wisdom. First any such as these do not believe, and so do not hear, so as to not see, and here these do not recognize this and thus produce, accumulate, pile up and collect karma conducive to the ruin of dharma within these lives, any and ultimately all. This in its turn will bring about karma conducive to weakness in wisdom. This in its turn will make such as these refuse, reject and revile this perfection of wisdom while it is being taught, and so rejecting this will walk out. But by rejecting this perfection of wisdom these reject the all-knowledge of Buddhas and Lords, past, future and present. Not content with having vitiated merely their own continuities, so too these as if all aflame, deter, dissuade, turn away others also, -beings of less intelligence, seemingly less wisdom, merit and wholesome roots, endowed with but a little faith, affection, serenity, and desire-to-do, beginners, essentially unqualified, -trying to take away even what little faith, affection, serenity and desire-to-do may be present. These bid one not to train in this, and finally declare this is not the Buddha's word. These first vitiate and estrange their own communities, and even those of 'others'. Hereby these calumniate perfection of wisdom. To calumniate perfection of wisdom means to calumniate all-knowledge, and hereof the past, future and present Buddhas. These cause themselves removal from the presence of the Buddhas and Lords, self-deprived of Dharma, self-expelled from Sangha. In each and every way these will be, of their own-self's shut out from Triple Jewel. Such activities cut down the welfare and happiness of all-beings, and these will collect karma conducive to the great hells. As these have raised such karma-formations, these will be reborn in great hells, for many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, indeed for many hundreds of thousands of niyutas of kotis of aeons. From one great hell these will pass on to another. After a long time this world of these is consumed by fire. Yet such as these are hurled into the great hells in another world system, and again these pass on from great hell to great hell. When also such as this world is consumed by fire, yet still these are hurled into the great hells in another world system, here still these pass on from great hell to great hell. When also this world is consumed by fire, this karma of ones such as these is still unexhausted, still has some residue of efficacy and, deceasing now here, these are still reborn in great hells and experience great sufferings in these, until the time when yet even this world is once more consumed by fire. These still as even unto our own-selves, as we see, experience a karma which involves many painful feelings. And why? Because their teachings are so misleading.
Sariputra: Does not even the effect of the five deadly sins bear no proportion to this misconduct of mind and speech?
The Lord: It does not. All these ones opposing perfection of wisdom and dissuading others from it are beings like unto ones by and to whom are not granted any vision. How can any become intimate with these, how can any gain wealth, honor, position? As a matter of fact, regard these as defamers of dharma, as mere rubbish, as pitchguards, as mere vipers. These are beings breeding misfortune, these ruin anyone listening. Regard these seeking to defame perfection of wisdom as beings which seek to defame Dharma.
Sariputra: The Lord has not told us about the length of time such a person must spend in the great hells.
The Lord: Leave that alone, Sariputra. If this were announced, anyone hearing it needs to beware lest hot blood spurt from their mouths, lest any incur death or deathly pain, lest harsh oppression weigh any down, lest the dart of grief enter their hearts, lest any drop down with a big fall, lest any shrivel up and wither away, lest any be overpowered by great fright. So...the Lord refused to answer the Venerable Sariputra's question. For a second time, for a third time the Venerable Sariputra spoke thus to the Lord: Tell me, O Lord, the length of such a person's sojourn in hell, as a guidance for future generations.
The Lord: Because one has brought about, accumulated, piled up and collected this karma of mind and speech one must sojourn for a long while in the great hells. Just so much guidance will be given to future generations, so one will, in consequence of the unwholesome karma-formations of this misconduct of speech and mind, experience pain for just so long. The mere announcement of the measureless magnitude of one's pain will be a sufficient anxiety to virtuous sons and daughters of good family. The mere announcement will turn any of these away from activities conducive to the ruin of dharma, so even now these cause formations of merit, and these ones will not reject the good dharma, even to save their lives, for these do not wish to meet with such pains.
Subhuti: Such a person needs become well-restrained in the deeds of one's body, speech or mind. For so great a heap of demerit is begotten by such false teaching. Which, O Lord, is the deed, or are the deeds begeting so great a heap of demerit?
The Lord: Such false teachings do. Just here are deluded beings, persons who, having left the world for the well-taught Dharma-Vinaya, decide to defame, to reject, to oppose this perfection of wisdom. But to oppose the perfection of wisdom is to oppose the enlightenment of Buddhas and Lords. And this means one opposes such all-knowledge of Buddhas and Lords in this past, future and present. To oppose all-knowledge means to oppose Dharma. To oppose Dharma means to oppose the community of Disciples of Tathagatas. And as one opposes also the community of Disciples of Tathagatas, such a one is shut out in each and every way from the Triple Jewel. One is acquiring an unwholesome karma-formation which cannot be equaled, for such is immeasurable and incalculable.
Subhuti: For what reason do these lack faith, and oppose this perfection of wisdom?
The Lord: Such as these are beset by Mara. One's karma is conducive to weakness in wisdom, and so one has no faith or serene confidence in profound Dharma. Endowed with those two evil dharmas one opposes this perfection of wisdom. Moreover, Subhuti, this person will be one who is in the hands of friends which are other than good; or may be one who has not yet practiced; or one who has settled down in the skandhas and determined a basis for things; or one who exalts oneself and deprecates others, looking out for faults. Endowed also with these four attributes is this person believing this perfection of wisdom needs opposition whenever and wherever this is being taught.
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