Chapter XVIII — Emptiness (RiBa)

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Chapter XVIII


Unfathomable Stations

Subhuti: This is wonderful, O Lord, how great and with what unlimited and measureless qualities a Bodhisattva is endowed!

The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. Irreversible Bodhisattvas come to reveal TO self and others pure, undifferentiated cognition as non-produced, innate and simply beyond any conceptual fixations AS 'self and others', and still just beyond any notions born OF these [skandhas]. Suchness comes to be realized as it's truth of center-lessness, boundary-lessness, beginning- and thus end-lessness, and to which Sravaka Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas as yet have no claim.

Subhuti: Truly beyond any convention or standard whatsoever the Lord can and does expound how an irreversible Bodhisattva represents and emanates these attributes, tokens and signs. So now might the Lord indicate these unfathomable positions of Bodhisattvas as are connected through inconceivable perfect wisdom?

The Lord: Well said Subhuti. Surely, you bring up unfathomable positions as you want to hear discoursing on this subject as well. "Unfathomable", Subhuti, is Emptiness which is a synonym of Signlessness, Wishlessness, Uneffectedness. Such is Unproduced, as in...No-birth, Non-existent, Dispassioned of Cessation, Nirvana and Departing. [342]

Subhuti: Is this a synonym only of these, or of all dharmas?

The Lord: Indeed Subhuti, such is a synonym of all dharmas, as form, feeling, impulses, perception and consciousness, is unfathomable. Choose any dharma or dharmas whatsoever, and 'unfathomable', among all such and unlimited is synonymous with and as such. How are any and all skandhas unfathomable? Just as unfathomable as Suchness, so unfathomable is any and all skandhas. As unfathomable Suchness is any and all skandhas, etc., to include nothing throughout, even as no completely unfathomable is form, feeling, perception, impulse and consciousness. Even as here is no form, etc., this is the fathomlessness of form, etc.

Subhuti: Such is wonderful, O Lord, how subtle a device is -such- as allows for this relativity of form, etc., and indicates Unfathomable Nirvana at this same time.

How to Attend to Perfect Wisdom

The Lord: As a Bodhisattva reflects, ponders and meditates on these unfathomable positions which are connected through inconceivable perfect wisdom, and strives to stand, train and progress as is ordained, described and explained in this perfection of wisdom, [343] now, as one may do so for, say, one day only, how great the deed is which one does during this one day! As a person, moved by considerations of greed, had made a date with a handsome, attractive, and good-looking other person, and as now this other person is held back by yet something or other and could not leave one's house, what do you think, Subhuti, with what would this other person's preoccupations be connected?

Subhuti: With this other person, of course. One thinks about this other one coming, about things these do together, and about joy, fun and delight one has with the other.

The Lord: Does this person entertain many such ideas in the course of this day?

Subhuti: Many indeed, O Lord.

The Lord: As many such ideas as this person entertains in the course of this day, so for each vibration comprising each of the thoughts from each idea, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of kotis of aeons for each of these vibrations, a Bodhisattva spurns birth-and-death, turns one's back on it, and has resolve enough to end this.


As one stands, trains, progresses, meditates and strives as is ordained, described and explained in this perfection of wisdom, one's faults and obscuring defilements dissolve which are a turning away from full enlightenment. [344] As one Bodhisattva gives one's self up to devotion to perfect wisdom, and does deeds for one day only while dwelling completely in mental activities connected with perfect wisdom; and yet another Bodhisattva lacks connections with perfect wisdom, but gives gifts for countless aeons...more discretely refined attributes has the Bodhisattva which, for one day only, makes endeavours connected with perfect wisdom.

A Bodhisattva which for one day only makes endeavours connected with perfect wisdom, begets merit other than the greatest merit of another Bodhisattva which for countless aeons gives and bestows gifts on all classes of holy persons, -from Streamwinners to Tathagatas - but lacks this discretion regarding perfect wisdom. And, as the other Bodhisattva not only bestows gifts as indicated, but in addition observes these moral precepts, but still lacks in connecting these with perfect wisdom, this Bodhisattva which dwells in connection with perfect wisdom, begets other merit, as this one emerges from this mental work on perfect wisdom, and demonstrates dharma. And this remains true [345] even as the other Bodhisattva in addition were endowed with patience. Even as in addition the other Bodhisattva exerts vigour, and makes endeavours about the trances and wings of enlightenment, but is still lacking connections in perfect wisdom...a Bodhisattva which, as one gives this gift of dharma, as said before, turns this over to full enlightenment, one such as this begets a different type of merit all together which benefits all sentient beings, than the Bodhisattva which yet does not make such connections in perfect wisdom. The merit of a Bodhisattva which not only gives this gift of dharma, not only turns this over to full enlightenment, but employs the kind of turning over which is being taught in this perfection of wisdom begets another type of merit indeed...beyond any reckonings whatsoever, of 'greater or lesser'. So, as a Bodhisattva which does all this, makes no further efforts than these visible and more tangible ones about it in meditative seclusion, [346] this one's merit is very great perhaps, yet still, different than this merit of one which also makes effort about this in meditative seclusion and which in addition, is taken hold of by perfect wisdom as coursing in her perfection, and now is open in this meditative seclusion, and is not devoid of perfect wisdom. The latter begets yet other merit.

Immeasurable, Empty and Talk

Subhuti: How can one say that one begets the greater merit since the Lord has described all accumulations as the result of false discrimination?

The Lord: In this case also the accumulation of merit on the part of any Bodhisattva who courses in perfect wisdom must be described as just empty, worthless, insignificant and unsubstantial. To the extent any Bodhisattva goes on contemplating all dharmas in this manner, to this extent this is one which does not lack affinities with perfect wisdom. And to the extent one does not lack affinities with perfect wisdom, to this extent one begets immeasurable and incalculable merit, beyond any tabulation of such as would result in some accumulation deemed as worth or of some value.

Subhuti: Is any distinction made or difference noticed between immeasurable and incalculable?

The Lord: Such is "immeasurable" as in such, even measurement cannot exist nor take place. Such is "incalculable" as even any sense or effort to count such is exhausted and even numbers to count such as one or many, or even as one divided into many cannot take place.

Subhuti: Is here any reason to assume skandhas (form, feeling, perception, impulse, consciousness) are immeasurable?

The Lord: Yes. [347]

Subhuti: Of what is this term "immeasurable" a synonym?

The Lord: Are not all dharmas described as "empty"?

Subhuti: Yes, and simply so, as quite empty Tathagata describes all dharmas.

The Lord: And being empty, such are also inexhaustible of emptiness. And what is emptiness is also immeasurableness. So here and now, according to ultimate reality, neither distinction nor difference is apprehended between dharmas, nor can any 'between' dharmas even begin to be assumed. As talk these are described by Tathagata. One merely talks as one speaks of "immeasurable", or "incalculable", or "inexhaustible", or of "empty", or "signless", or "wishless", or 'this Unaffected", or "Non-production", "no-birth", "non-existence", "dispassion", "cessation", "Nirvana". This exposition is being described by Tathagata as the consummation of demonstrations. [348]

Subhuti: It is wonderful to see such an extent to which Tathagata demonstrates true nature of dharmas, and yet one cannot properly talk about true nature of dharmas, [in any sense of even predicating distinctive attributes to truly non-existent separate real entities around and through us]. As I humbly understand this meaning of Tathagatas teaching, neither any nor all dharmas can be talked about, in any proper sense.

The Lord: So it is, for none can properly express emptiness of dharmas in words, and ever and always can such, be merely indicated.

Neither Growth nor Diminution

Subhuti: Can something truly have growth, or diminution, as it is beyond all distinctive words, and even characteristics?

The Lord: No Subhuti.

Subhuti: But, as no growth or diminution occurs of any entity or dharma which is beyond all distinctive words and even characteristics, so also can neither growth nor diminution of these six perfections occur. And now, how does a Bodhisattva realize full enlightenment through the force of these six perfections, as these do not grow, and how does one even come close to full enlightenment, since without fulfilling these perfections, one cannot come close to full enlightenment? [349]

The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. Here is certainly neither growth nor diminution of a perfection-entity. A Bodhisattva coursing in perfection of wisdom who develops affinities toward perfect wisdom, and comes to be skilled in means, does obviously not think, "this perfection of giving grows, this perfection of giving diminishes". Rather, such a one knows, "this perfection of giving is a mere word and a characteristic". As one gives a gift one IS turning any and all 'merit' over thus: in totally equanimous reflection for any accountability whatsoever, one comes to reveal that such as 'merits' cannot be had outside of or in addition to the infinite fullness of emptiness, for such IS "always" already had...merely in the simple realization that even the mental activities, the production of thought, the roots of good which are involved in the act of giving...IS to and for the total benefit of countless sentient beings. However, IN such a revelation one turns these over in such an 'automatic' way as one respects this actual reality of full enlightenment. One proceeds in this way as one takes upon oneself these moral obligations, as one perfects oneself in patience, [350] as one exerts diligence, enters into the trances, courses in perfection of wisdom, AS one develops and maintains affinities to perfect wisdom. See?

Subhuti: So now, what is this supreme enlightenment? [351]

The Lord: It is Suchness Subhuti. However, Suchness neither grows nor diminishes. A Bodhisattva which repeatedly and often dwells in mental activities connected with Suchness dwells near supreme enlightenment, and any such as these do not lose these mental activities. This is certain as here can be neither growth nor diminution of any entity or dharma as such is beyond any and all words and even characteristics, and here neither the perfections, nor any dharmas, can grow or diminish. So, it is thus as dwelling in mental activities of this kind a Bodhisattva is one ever nearing perfect enlightenment, yet in Suchness also are neither considerations of distance as, near or far, nor of time as, sooner or later. For now Subhuti, this is all.

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