Chapter XIX — The Goddess of the Ganges (RiBa)

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Chapter XIX

~THE GODDESS OF THE GANGES ~

Conditioned Co-production

Subhuti: As a Bodhisattva realizes full enlightenment, is this due to production of the first thought of enlightenment, or due to the last thought of enlightenment? These two acts of thought are nowhere synthesized [and here these cannot cooperate in producing a result]. How can any accumulation of a Bodhisattva's wholesome root take place?

The Lord: What do you think, Subhuti, is this wick of this burning oil lamp burned up at the first incidence of the flame, or at the last incidence of the flame?

Subhuti: Not so, O Lord! It is not burned up at the first incidence of this flame, nor independent of it, and is also not burned up at the last incidence of this flame, nor independent of it.

The Lord: Is now this wick being definitely burned up?

Subhuti: Yes, Lord.

The Lord: In this way is it neither through this first nor through this last thought of enlightenment, nor independent of these [353] that a Bodhisattva realizes full enlightenment. One does not come to realize this through any of these productions of thought, nor other than through them. And yet one does realize full enlightenment.

No Development

Subhuti: Unfathomable is this conditioned coproduction!

The Lord: Subhuti, does even the slighest portion of this first thought...whether just at this outset of this thought, or during this thought, or more towards the end of this thought...which seems to have stopped after its momentary appearance...does this get produced again at the time of the second thought? Consider also Subhuti, what of the outset of the outset, and during the duringness, etc., etc., do even these get produced again?

Subhuti: No Lord.

The Lord: Also once this thought thus produced is now past, (!) is this due to its very nature doomed to stop?

Subhuti: Yes it is, O Lord.

The Lord: As anything is due to its very nature doomed to stop, is this destroyed?

Subhuti: No, Lord. [354]

The Lord: This future thought which is not yet being produced, is this due to its very nature doomed to stop?

Subhuti: No, Lord [as anything which is not being produced cannot be stopped].

The Lord: So, as it comes to such a point as by its own nature it is doomed to stop, will it now be destroyed?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: As this essential nature of this thought involves neither production nor stopping, is this now being stopped?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: As any dharma is, due to this essential original nature, stopped already in its own being, is this dharma being stopped?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Is this true nature of dharmas being stopped?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Does any Bodhisattva stand firm in this same way in which Suchness stands firm?

Subhuti: Yes, one does. [355]

The Lord: Is now Suchness not in danger of being changed away from overtowering immobility?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Unfathomable is Suchness.

Subhuti: It is beyond fathoming, O Lord.

The Lord: Is here and now any thought in Suchness?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Is thought [identical with] Suchness?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Is thought other than Suchness?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Can you see a Suchness?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: One which courses like unto Suchness, does one course in the unfathomable?

Subhuti: Such a one courses nowhere at all. As any ideas as to one's own performance neither habitually proceed in one, nor befall one.

The Lord: Where does a Bodhisattva course as one courses in perfect wisdom? [356]

Subhuti: In ultimate reality.

The Lord: As coursing in ultimate reality does any Bodhisattva course in a sign?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Is the sign a sign as in something which one does not undo by one's meditational development?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Is this sign, to the Bodhisattva who courses in perfect wisdom, something which is undone by one's meditational development?

Subhuti: The Bodhisattva does not make any efforts, while coursing in the course of a Bodhisattva, to reach in this present birth any state in which all signs are forsaken. As one makes an effort to reach in this present birth any state in which all signs are forsaken, as any or all Buddha-dharmas are not complete in this one, one automatically is recognized as a Disciple. The skill in means of a Bodhisattva consists in this, as one cognizes any sign, both its mark and cause, and yet surrenders oneself completely to the Signless [realm of dharma, in which no sign has ever arisen].

Sariputra: Does a Bodhisattva's aspiration to perfect wisdom increase as in one's dreams one develops the three doors to deliverance, i.e. the Empty, the Signless and the Wishless?

Subhuti: As this increases through development by day, this also increases in one who dreams about this. As the Lord says dreams and waking are indiscriminate, essentially the same. As [357] a Bodhisattva which aspires to perfect wisdom, day by day courses in perfect wisdom, one also in one's dreams remains close to perfect wisdom, and develops even now in abundance.

Sariputra: In one's dreams as one does a deed, wholesome or unwholesome, is this added on to the heap or collection of one's karma?

Subhuti: The Lord teaches all dharmas are like a dream, and infinitely so, as in such [i.e. from the standpoint of infinite reality] this deed is not added to one's heap or collection of karma. On the other hand [from the standpoint of empirical reality], this deed is added to the heap and collection of one's karma when, upon waking up, one thinks the dream over, and consciously forms the notion as wanting to kill someone. How does one do this? During this dream one may dream of taking a life, and as one wakes up, thinks this dreamed of deed over like this: "It is good this being is killed! It is right this being is killed! It is just this being is killed! It is I who killed this being." Such thoughts are equivalent to the conscious notion this one wants to kill someone.

No Objective Supports and No Own-Being

Sariputra: As a result of conscious reflections, the deed of any particular person is added on to this persons collection of karma, so to this deed of Buddha, the Lord, as he thinks to himself and consciously forms this notion he wants to enter extinction, [358] will this not also be added to the Buddha's heap and collection of karma?

Subhuti: No, indeed not, Sariputra, as the Tathagata is beyond reflections and discriminations. Empty awareness beyond any objective support, raises to, or rather reveals result as neither deed nor thought, as such simply cannot. A deed 'arises' only with an objective support as basis and not without one [even IF such is merely assumed, as in the dream where, say, one kills another, and upon waking carries on as if having actually killed]. This result of false view, raises or reveals the assumption to reality, even though a mirage, a phantom spector now in both this objective reality, as well as the dream-world. This type of thinking arises with only a (personally) untested presumption for it's objective support, not without one (and sadly in most cases, habitually left beneath any discursive perusal). As 'intellectual' acts can only refer to dharmas such as are seen, heard, felt, or known, in this unchecked thinking all results necessarily do miss the mark, and are inaccurately assumed as fact and truth, and thusly projected out onto the myriad worlds as such.

Without giving an objective support as such TO such as is here being done in THIS instant...in regards to some objects intellectual acts take on defilement or obscuration quite naturally as just seen, while with regards to others, these don purification through revelations of non-objective, non-productive contemplation AS pure awareness beyond any basis. Acts of will and deeds only arise with objective support, not without. Suchness thus comes to reveal 'itself', OF 'itself', and so neither adds to nor takes away from any dharmas whatsoever. Your 'heap and collection of karma', Sariputra, only reveals IT's true nature OF itself, as well.

Sariputra: As the Lord describes objective supports as isolated [without an inherent relation to a subject], how can an act of will arise only with objective support, and not without?

Subhuti: An act of will is raised only with an objective support, and not without, in the sense one treats an actually non-existent objective support as a sign, as an objective support. In fact also the act of will is isolated, and also the sign. And so are Karma-formations which are conditioned by ignorance, and so all the links of conditioned co-production, up to decay and death conditioned by birth, and vice-versa. Even so objective supports are isolated. The act of will is isolated from the sign [which seems to cause it], and it arises only in reference to the conventional expressions current in the world.

Sariputra: As in one's dream a Bodhisattva gives a gift, and dedicates it to full enlightenment, can this gift effectively called dedicated? [359]

Subhuti: We are face to face with Maitreya, the Bodhisattva, the great being. The Tathagata has predicted his supreme enlightenment. He is a direct eyewitness of this matter, he can dispose of this matter.

Sariputra: Maitreya, Subhuti the Elder has said: "Here is Maitreya, the Bodhisattva, the great being! He can dispose of this matter." Dispose of this matter, Venerable Ajita!

Maitreya: With reference to what the Venerable Subhuti says, what corresponds to these words 'Maitreya' and "he can dispose of this matter? Does my form reply? Or my feeling, perception, impulses, or consciousness? Does my outward appearance reply, or my shape? Or does emptiness of form reply, or emptiness of feeling, perception, impulses or consciousness? Obviously emptiness of form, etc., does not have any capacity to reply. [360] Nor do I see any dharma which can reply, or which may reply, or by which one does reply, nor any dharma which is predicted to supreme enlightenment.

Sariputra: Maitreya, do you really witness these dharmas in this way, in which you teach?

Maitreya: I do not. Even I do not, nor can I know these dharmas, do not apprehend, do not see these, in this way in which these words express, and these thoughts reflect. But certainly this body can not touch these, speech can not express these, mind can not even consider these. These things indicate own-being of all dharmas, yet even these things are without any own-being.

Sariputra thought: Deeply wise, indeed, is this Bodhisattva Maitreya the great being. How he expounds the perfection of wisdom in which he courses for such a long time!

The Lord: Why does this thought occur to you? Can you, Sariputra, see this dharma endowed with which you have been made into an Arhat?

Sariputra: No, Lord. [361]

The Lord: In this same way this does not occur to a Bodhisattva which courses in perfection of wisdom, "this dharma is predestined to full enlightenment, that dharma will be predestined, this dharma is being predestined, that dharma will know full enlightenment."

As one courses in such a way, one courses in perfect wisdom.

Five Places which Inspire Fear

Coursing thus, here is no fear. Impregnated with this strength which is gained [in these coursings in baselessness], this enables persistence in any endeavours to think such as: "This is not a condition such as not to reveal enlightenment."

Coursing thus, one courses unto perfect wisdom. This being as it is, a Bodhisattva is not afraid as when arriving in a wilderness infested with wild beasts. Here is laid bare one's honor to renounce everything to benefit all beings. Reacting with thoughts such as: "as these wild beasts may devour this fleshly thing, just this must be freely given. Perfection of giving as this becomes perfect selflessness and of it's direction turns all the more toward full realization. Coming to have revealed perfect luminosity, steps are taken in one's Buddha-field such as are seen no animals, as these are not regarded as 'animals' at all, and none have any concept of these as such, but rather, simply as beings living on divine food."

As well, a Bodhisattva is not afraid when finding one's self in a wilderness infested by robbers. As Bodhisattvas find pleasure in this wholesome practice of renouncing anything such as belongings and what ever, a Bodhisattva exudes non-attachment to even this body, having freely renounced all of which is necessary to life. Reacting to danger with a thought such as [362]: "As these beings need everything necessary to life, just this must be life's gift. As someone needs this life, here is felt no ill will, anger or fury on account of this. Against these no offensive action is taken, either by body, voice or mind. Life here is ever an occasion to bring these perfections of generosity, discipline, and patience to more limpid perfection, and clearing any and all obscurities to great perfection. As reality of great perfection, exuding such a manner in this Buddha-field...a wilderness infested with robbers is in no way whatsoever possible, or even conceivable. Diligence and concentration to this realization of perfect purity in any Buddha-field is so great as neither these nor any faults are known as such, or even conceivable in such."

As well, in a waterless waste also a Bodhisattva is not afraid. Such is neither alarmed nor terrified. This training resolves such as may result in quenching any thirst of any and all beings. Here one will not tremble as thinking that "as one dies of thirst one is reborn as a Preta." On the contrary, as one directs a thought of great compassion unto all beings, thinking [363]: "Alas, certainly these beings are in great need as in this world such deserts are even conceivable. As this reality of great perfection, one sees to this in this Buddha-field no such deserts exist, or are even conceivable, for such simply are not needed. One exudes suchness on any and all beings as surely these drink the most excellent water. Thus effort is exerted on behalf of all beings, so on any and all occasion(s) also the perfection of effort [diligence, vigor] is more perfected. So, in a foodless waste also a Bodhisattva is not afraid.

Such is protected with this thought: "As effort is firmly exerted, a Buddha-field is purified in such a way as approaching enlightenment, in this Buddha-field is no foodless waste...such is not even conceivable. The beings in this field are entirely happy, filled with happiness, possessed of all happiness. And thus all the intentions and plans of these beings are realized as reality. Just as with these Gods of the Thirty-three, any idea in these minds is sufficient to produce anything whatsoever these desire, so effort is exerted so these beings can realize and produce everything by merely thinking of it in their minds. In order that their legitimate intentions are fulfilled, in order that all beings, everywhere and anywhere, do not go short of any requirements of life, [364] so is this exerted effort for purity in thought, for the benefit of any and all beings, as at this occasion also the perfection of concentration is more perfect. As such a Bodhisattva is not afraid in a district infested by epidemics. But such considers, reflects and deliberates as 'here is no dharma which sickness can oppress, nor is this which is called "sickness" a "dharma."

In this manner contemplate emptiness, and do not be afraid. Do not think this "is an excessively long time to realizing full enlightenment," do not tremble at such a thought. This thought-moment [which in reality is not produced] is an extreme limit with no beginning; in other words, this is absence of any limit. A Bodhisattva here avoids dwelling on difficulties as such thinks "great and long is this limit with no beginning as one single thought-moment, in other words, no absence, as no limit." Such 'prevents' a Bodhisattva from trembling at any thought such as "it will be a long time until full enlightenment". And this as well, Subhuti, as these and other fears and terrors, be they seen, heard, felt or known, do not cause a Bodhisattva to tremble, one knows "this [any] son or daughter of good family is capable of knowing full enlightenment." A Bodhisattva here dons the great armor of this thought [365]: "Thus act, thus exert firm effort and diligence such as any and all beings in this Buddha-field do not suffer any sickness, and do not even know what it is. In such a way the Tathagatas have taught and thus teach, and apply this as is taught and as such master the perfection of wisdom, for the benefit of all beings, such that on this occasion also the perfection of wisdom comes to fulfillment."

Prediction of the Goddess of the Ganges

So now a certain woman comes to this assembly, and sits down in it. She rises from her seat, puts her upper robe over one shoulder, salutes the Lord with folded hands, and says: "O Lord, as I am placed in these positions, I am not afraid. Without fear, I demonstrate dharma to all beings."

The Lord at this time smiles a golden smile. Its luster irradiates endless and boundless world systems, it rises up to the Brahma-world and returns, circulates three times round the Lord, and disappeares again in the head of the Lord. As she sees this smile, this woman seizes golden flowers, and scatters these over the Lord. Without being fixed anywhere, these remain suspended in the air. [366]

Ananda: What is this reason, O Lord, of his smile? It is not without reason the Tathagata manifests a smile.

The Lord: This Goddess of the Ganges, Ananda, is in a future period a Tathagata, 'Golden Flower' by name, -an Arhat, fully Enlightened, proficient in knowledge and conduct, Well-Gone, a knower of the world, unsurpassed, a tamer of any beings to be tamed, a teacher of Gods and people, a Buddha, a Lord. In the starlike aeon such appears in this world and realizes full enlightenment. As this one deceases here she ceases to be a woman, she is seen as a man. He is reborn in Abhirati, the Buddha-field of the Tathagata Akshobhya, in whose presence he leads the holy life. After his decease he passes from Buddha-field to Buddha-field, never deprived of the sight of the Tathagata. He goes on passing from Buddha-field to Buddha-field, from here to here, always choosing such as in which he is not without the Buddhas, the Lords. A universal monarch passes from palace to palace, and the soles of his feet never, during this entire life, tread upon the surface of the earth, [367] and he dies without ever, up to the time of his death, having trodden with his feet on the ground. Just so the Ganges Goddess passes from Buddha-field to Buddha-field, and she is never at any time deprived of the Buddhas and Lords, until the time of her full enlightenment.

Ananda thought: These Bodhisattvas which are with the Tathagata Akshobhya must actually be considered as the congregation of the Tathagata.

The Lord read Ananda's thoughts, and said: So it is, Ananda. These Bodhisattvas which lead this holy life in the Buddha-field of Akshobhya, the Tathagata, are known as having emerged from the mud, as having approached to the accomplishment of enlightenment. In addition, Ananda, the community of disciples of the Tathagata 'Golden Flower' are not bound by any measure. For his disciples are so many as here will be no measure of these. On the contrary, these are styled 'immeasurable, incalculable.' In addition, Ananda, at this time, on this occasion in such a Buddha-field is no wilderness infested with wild beasts, or with robbers, and no waterless wastes, and no districts infested by epidemics and no foodless wastes. [368] All these, and all other disagreeable places in this Buddha-field, in no way whatsoever either is, or is conceived. It is quite certain, as the Tathagata 'Golden Flower' realizes full enlightenment, all these kinds of places which inspire fear and terror no longer exists, or is even conceivable.

Ananda: Who is this Tathagata in whose presence this Goddess of the Ganges planted this wholesome root of the first thought of enlightenment, and turned it over to supreme enlightenment?

The Lord: This is under the Tathagata Dipankara. And she actually scattered golden flowers over the Tathagata as she requested of him [this prediction to] supreme enlightenment. It is as I strewed the five lotus flowers over Dipankara, the Tathagata, and acquired the patient acceptance of dharmas which fail to be produced, Dipankara predicted this future enlightenment with the words: "You, young man, in a future period are a Tathagata, Shakyamuni by name!" Here now, as she heard this prediction, this Goddess produced a thought to the effect of [369]: "Oh, certainly, as this young man I also like to be predicted to full enlightenment!" And in this way, Ananda, in the presence of the Tathagata Dipankara, this Goddess planted the wholesome root of the first thought of enlightenment, [and turns it over to] full enlightenment.

Ananda: Certainly, as one who makes the necessary preparations, as one who makes the grade this Goddess of the Ganges is predicted to full enlightenment.

The Lord: So it is, Ananda, as you say.


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