Chapter XIV — Similes (RiBa)
Future and Past Rebirths
Subhuti: As a Bodhisattva, on merely hearing this, immediately believes in this unfathomable perfection of wisdom, does not become cowed, stolid, paralysed, or stupefied, does not doubt or hesitate, but delights to perfect wisdom, -where does one decease, where is one reborn?
The Lord: As a Bodhisattva reacts in such a way to perfection of wisdom, delights in seeing and hearing this, bears this in mind and develops this, keeps one's attention fixed on this without diverting it elsewhere, feels an urge to take this up, bears this in mind, speaks this, studys and spreads this, as, once one hears perfect wisdom, one follows and pursues the reciters of dharma and does not let these go, until one realizes this perfection of wisdom in one's heart or has it in the form of a book, just as a cow does not abandon her young calf, -this Bodhisattva deceases among people and is reborn among people.
Subhuti: Is a Bodhisattva, which is endowed with just these qualities crossed in other Buddha-fields just as being reborn here?
The Lord: It is possible any Bodhisattva which is endowed with these qualities, is, just as being reborn here, crossed in other Buddha-fields, as such honors and questions Buddhas and Lords. One may also cross among Tushita Gods. This may be, as such honors Maitreya, the Bodhisattva, and persistently questions him concerning this perfection of wisdom.
Past Deeds of a Bodhisattva Who Fails in Perfect Wisdom
On another hand, as any Bodhisattva past or present hears this unfathomable perfection of wisdom and yet asks no questions, or so doing listens not to any reply, this one may be reborn among people and hear this unfathomable perfection of wisdom being taught, hesitates and is stupefied and cowed, this is one of these who are unwilling to ask questions and listen. Any Bodhisattva, again, may have had or does have a right attitude to this unfathomable perfection of wisdom, for one, two, three, four or five days, and for a certain time has faith in this, but again is withdrawn and no longer feels like asking questions about nor listening to this. It is a fact such a Bodhisattva has not or does not all the time ask questions about nor listen to and pursue this unfathomable perfection of wisdom and as such, one may at one time feel urged to pursue and hear this fathomless perfection of wisdom, but not so at other times urged to pursue and listen; such a one again falls from faith and is disheartened, as intelligence is unsteady like cotton wool. Such a Bodhisattva has but lately set out in the vehicle. Having come but lately to this vehicle, one loses faith, serene confidence and one's urge to this. In other words one no longer takes up this perfection of wisdom nor pursues it. Such a one moves on either of two levels, on the level of a Disciple, or on the level of a Pratyekabuddha.
As a ship is wrecked in the middle of the ocean, people die in the water without getting to shore, unless these find support on a log, or plank, or any floating object. These who manage to gain such support do not die in the water; this being so, safely and unhindered these cross over to a shore beyond, and stand, unhurt and uninjured, on firm ground. In this same way, any Bodhisattva which is endowed with but little faith, just little serene confidence, little affection, little aspiration, and which does not gain support of perfection of wisdom, incurrs a fall in the middle of a bad road, and, without having attained to the state of all-knowledge, stands in Discipleship or Pratyekabuddhahood.
Different is this case for any Bodhisattva of full faith, which accepts this patiently, develops a taste for this, as full aspiration, vigour, vigilance, resolve, earnest intention, renunciation, a title which is respected, joyous zest, elation, serene confidence, affection in this, and persistence to realize full enlightenment, which gains support as perfection of wisdom; in realizing this perfection of wisdom, one stands in all-knowledge. As one uses a badly baked jar to carry water in, this jar does not last long, and actually quickly falls to pieces and melts away. In its unbaked condition this jar actually soon comes to an end on the ground.
Likewise, although any Bodhisattva obtains all these qualities enumerated above, from faith to a persistent aspiration for enlightenment, as one does not take hold of perfection of wisdom and skill in means, one is bound to come to a bad fall in the middle of a bad road, in other words, one falls on this level of a Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. But, as one which carries water, from a river, or lake, or pond, or well, or any water-bearing place in a well-baked jar, a jar such as this, with the water, gets safely and uninjured to the house, simply due to the well-baked condition of this jar. Just so, any Bodhisattva, which develops not only these qualities enumerated above, but which in addition takes hold of perfection of wisdom and skill in means, does not in the middle of a bad road incur a fall, and, unhurt and uninjured, stands in all-knowledge.
A person who is exercising little intelligence launches into the water a seafaring vessel which was not caulked or repaired, and had been tied to its moorings for a long time, overloads it with goods, and climbs on board, and sets out on it. This ship is doomed to collapse before it has conveyed the goods across the water. When this ship bursts asunder, this merchant, exercising little intelligence, who is unskilled in means, loses a huge fortune, a great source of wealth. Just so a Bodhisattva with all the qualities enumerated above, but lacks perfection of wisdom and skill in means, without realizing the wealth of all-knowledge collapses midway, incurrs a fall; this Bodhisattva loses a great deal of wealth, and has also lost a great deal of wealth for others, having lost all-knowledge, which is a huge fortune and a great source of wealth; not to mention the collapse in the middle of the bad road, resulting in realization unto the level of Disciple or Pratyekabuddha.
An intelligent merchant, on the other hand, constructs a solid ship and launches it with proper care into the water, loads it with goods and distributes these evenly, and with a favourable wind this vessel gradually sails to the country which is the goal of this voyage. This ship does not collapse in the water, it goes to as it is meant to go, and the merchant will win great wealth in the shape of world-like jewels. Likewise, as any Bodhisattva of peerless faith, and these other qualities enumerated above, in addition is taken hold of by perfect wisdom through her perfection and does not lack skill in means, one such as this does not collapse in the middle of a bad road, does not incur a fall, and stands fully enlightened like unto Suchness. It is a fact as a Bodhisattva with peerless faith, and the other qualities enumerated above, in addition, develops these dharmas as is taken hold of by perfect wisdom through her perfection, and does not lack skill in means, these do not hasten obscurred thought realizing the level of a Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. On the contrary these dharmas face all-knowledge, as such these set out for this, as these dissolve any obscurations to realization of full enlightenment.
As any person is aged, even advanced in years, physically weakened, say one hundred and twenty years old, and as one falls ill in one's body, could one rise from one's bed without being taken hold of by others?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: And as one such as this does rise from one's bed, this one has not the strength to walk even for half a mile. Wasted away by both old age and illness this one does not walk about for any length of time, even as this one may be able to rise from this bed. Likewise, as any Bodhisattva as having developed all these qualities enumerated above, does not oneself come to be magnetized by perfect wisdom through her perfection, and lacks skill in means, although set out for full enlightenment, one such as this nevertheless collapses in the middle of a road, and incurrs a fall, as this one produces subtle obscurities and now realizes the level of Disciple or Pratyekabuddha. This is an unavoidable consequence of the fact of not bringing oneself to a point of being magnetized by perfect wisdom through her perfection, and is lacking skill in means. So...here now, as two strong beings take hold of this old and sick being, and carefully lift this one up, and promise this one may go wherever this one wishes, and as far as this one wishes, as these are assisting this one, and one does not fall along this way to the place one is headed to. In this same way, a Bodhisattva of peerless faith, etc., and which is assisted by perfect wisdom and her perfection, and endowed with skill in means, does not collapse in the middle of a road, does not incur a fall, and is able to reach this station, i.e. the station of full enlightenment.
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