Chapter XXVI — Like Illusion (RiBa)

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Chapter XXVI

~LIKE ILLUSION ~

Sakra Praises the Bodhisattvas

So now it occurs to Sakra, Chief of Gods: A Bodhisattva, even as one courses only just so far, surpasses all; how much more so as one knows full enlightenment! A great gain accrues to these beings, a good life do these live as thoughts stride in all-knowledge; how much more so as these have realized thoughts unto full enlightenment! To be emulated are these, the very cream of all beings, which realize full enlightenment!

So here, Sakra, Chief of Gods, conjured up Mandarava flowers, saluted these reverently, scattered these over Tathagata, and said: May any persons who are avowed to the vehicle of Bodhisattvas, and who have revealed and realized thoughts to full enlightenment, succeed in their resolve to know full enlightenment, and beyond this, to transfer any and all beings which are borne along by the great flood of birth-and-death to the smooth yonder shore! May this thought of enlightenment which these wish for, think over and take hold of, bring to fulfillment any dharmas of a Buddha, and dharmas in accord with all-knowledge, dharmas of the Self-Existent, insuperable dharmas! I have not even the slightest suspicion such Bodhisattvas, which are endowed with great compassion, might turn away from full enlightenment, [435] or these persons who are avowed to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas and who are set out for full enlightenment might turn away from this. On the contrary, I am sure this resolve to reveal and realize full enlightenment increases more and more in these, as these survey the ills which afflict beings on the plane of birth-and-death. For through great compassion these desire the welfare of this world with its Gods, beings and Asuras, are of an aspiration to benefit this, are full of pity for this, these, who are endowed with this attitude of mind, dwell in the attitude of mind which is expressed in this resolution..."we have crossed over, we help beings to cross over! Freed, we free them! Recovered, we help these to recover! Gone to Nirvana, we lead these to Nirvana!" "Gaté Gaté Paragaté Parasamgaté Bodhi Svaha!"

Jubilation, Turning Over, and Merit

Any son or daughter of good family who rejoice at this production of thought of any Bodhisattvas, who are just now set out in the vehicle, as well as at this production of thought of any which realize progression as always, on course, as well as at this irreversible nature of any which realize irreversibility, as well as at this nature of any which inevitably realize one birth only, -to what extent is their merit a different one?

The Lord: One might be able, Kausika, to grasp the measure of Sumeru, king of mountains, or of a world system, up to a great trichiliocosm, with the help of a tip of straw, but one can not possibly grasp any measure of merit coming to these sons or daughters of good family, or to a Bodhisattva, from the production of this thought connected with that jubilation. [436]

Sakra: Seen as and thought of as beset by Mara are any beings which do not hear of this immeasurable merit of jubilation over the career of a Bodhisattva -which begins with the first thought of enlightenment [tathagatagarbha] and which ends with full enlightenment [Tathagata] -which do not know it, which do not see it, which do not bring this jubilation to mind. These are seen as partisans of Mara, deceased in Mara's realms. For any which bring to mind these thoughts, which turn these over into the supreme enlightenment, rejoice at these, such do so in order to bring to realization Mara's realm, as this truly is. One does O Lord, rejoice at the various stages of thought which these Bodhisattvas raise to enlightenment. [437] Sons and daughters of good family abandon neither the Tathagata, nor Dharma, nor Community, these rejoice in the stages of the thought of enlightenment!

The Lord: So it is, Kausika. And sons or daughters of good family who have rejoiced in the stages of the thought of enlightenment, these do - whether these belong to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, or of the Pratyekabuddhas, or of the Disciples - soon please the Tathagatas, and not displease such as these.

Sakra: So it is, O Lord. Here and now, these are reborn as a result of the wholesome roots [which these plant] as hearts are filled with jubilation, here these are treated with respect, revered, worshipped and adored. These never see any unpleasant sights, nor hear any unpleasant sounds, nor smell any unpleasant smells, nor taste any unpleasant tastes, [438] nor come into contact with anything unpleasant to the touch. One realizes these things to be reborn in the wholesome roots of countless beings, roots which bring happiness to all beings. The thoughts of jubilation of any beings which, as producing an aspiration towards enlightenment, rejoice over the successive stages of the thought of enlightenment [enlightened thought] in persons who aspire to the vehicle of Bodhisattvas, as these thoughts increase, are nourishers of full enlightenment. As these realize and reveal full enlightenment, and just so these lead countless beings to Nirvana.

The Lord: So it is, Kausika, as you say through Tathagatas might. The wholesome roots of countless beings are rejoiced over, planted and consummated as a consequence of these actions of sons or daughters of good family who rejoice over the successive stages of the thought of enlightenment in these persons who belong to this vehicle of the Bodhisattvas.

The Nature of Illusion

Subhuti: But how can a thought which is like illusion know full enlightenment?

The Lord: Subhuti, do you see the thought which is like illusion as a separate real entity?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Do you see illusion as a separate real entity?

Subhuti: No, Lord. [439]

The Lord: So, as you see neither illusion, nor the thought which is like illusion, as a real separate entity, do you now perhaps see this dharma which knows full enlightenment as something other than illusion, or as something other than the thought which is like illusion?

Subhuti: No, Lord. I do not. In consequence, to which dharma can I point, and say "it is" or "it is not?" To a dharma which is absolutely isolated one cannot attribute "it is" or "it is not." Also any absolutely isolated dharma can not know full enlightenment. Here now, O Lord, perfect wisdom is absolutely isolated. But any dharma which is absolutely isolated, this is not a dharma which can be developed, nor does this bring about or remove any dharma. So, how can a Bodhisattva, by resorting to an absolutely isolated perfection of wisdom, know full enlightenment? Even full enlightenment is absolutely isolated. [440] As, O Lord, the perfection of wisdom is absolutely isolated, and as full enlightenment is absolutely isolated, how can the isolated become known through the isolated?

The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. It is just as this perfection of wisdom is absolutely isolated that absolutely isolated full enlightenment is known [by this]. But as a Bodhisattva forms such a notion as "the perfection of wisdom is absolutely isolated," this is not the perfection of wisdom. It is thus certain, thanks to perfecting wisdom a Bodhisattva can know full enlightenment, and one cannot know this without resorting to this. The isolated cannot be known by the isolated, and nevertheless a Bodhisattva knows full enlightenment, and does not know this without resorting to the perfection of wisdom.

Subhuti: As I understand the meaning of the Lord's teaching, a Bodhisattva in this way courses in an unfathomable object.

The Lord: A doer of what is hard is the Bodhisattva which courses in an unfathomable object, and which yet does not realize such object [or: gain], i.e. on the level of Sravaka, Disciple or Pratyekabuddha.

Subhuti: As I understand the meaning of the Lord's teaching, here is in this way no Bodhisattva at all which is any doer of what is hard. [441] As this very dharma is not got at which is realized, nor anything whatsoever which can be revealed or realized, nor anything whatsoever by means of which one can realize. So, as this is being taught, as a Bodhisattva is not despondent, cowed or stolid, does not turn back, and remains unafraid, this one courses in perfect wisdom. As one does not review this as a certain fact as one courses, one such courses in perfect wisdom. As one does not review this as a real fact one is near to full enlightenment, one such as this courses in perfect wisdom. As it does not even occur to one that one is keeping aloof from the level of Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas, this one courses in perfect wisdom. This does not occur to space, "I am near to this, or, I am far from that," for space can not make such discriminations, just so it can not in truth occur to a Bodhisattva which courses in perfect wisdom..."full enlightenment is near to me, the level of Sravaka, Disciple or Pratyekabuddha is far from me."

The perfection of wisdom does not make any discriminations. It is as with a man created by magical illusion to which (!) it does not occur "the conjurer is near to 'me', but this assembled crowd of spectators is far from 'me'." For illusory men make no such discriminations. [442] It is as with the reflection of an object in a mirror or in water, to which it does not occur "the object which produces the reflection is near to 'me', but these who come along and cast the reflection in the mirror or in water, are far from 'me'." For this reflection of an object makes no discrimination. Just as Tathagata, as one which forsakes all constructions and discriminations, finds nothing dear or not dear, just so a Bodhisattva which courses in perfecting wisdom, for here is no discrimination on the part of perfect wisdom. Just as Tathagata is one which forsakes all constructions and discriminations, even so perfect wisdom forsakes all constructions and discriminations. It does not occur to a fictitious creature which Tathagata magically conjures up "the level of Sravakas, Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas is far from 'me', full enlightenment is near to 'me'," for any fictitious creature can not make any discriminations. In the same way a Bodhisattva which courses in perfect wisdom does not think "the level of Sravakas, Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas is far from 'me', full enlightenment is near to 'me'," and this simply due to an absence of any and all discrimination on the part of the perfection of wisdom. [443] A fictitious creature [which has been conjured up by the Tathagata] to do a certain work [in converting beings], performs this work, but remains without discrimination, just due to being so constituted as it lacks all discrimination. Just so a Bodhisattva performs the work for the sake of which one develops this perfection of wisdom, but this perfection of wisdom remains without discrimination, due to the fact as it is so constituted it lacks all discrimination. An expert mason, or mason's apprentice, makes of wood an automatic man or woman, a puppet which can be moved by pulling the strings. Whatever action it is made to perform, this action it performs, yet this wooden machine has no discrimination. Just due to the fact as it is so constituted that it lacks all discrimination. Just so a Bodhisattva performs this work for the sake of which one develops this perfection of wisdom, but this perfection of wisdom remains without discrimination, just due to the fact as this perfection of wisdom is so constituted it lacks all discriminations.


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