Chapter XXII — The Good Friends (RiBa)

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Chapter XXII


The Good Friends

A Bodhisattva which sets out with earnest intention from the very beginning tends, loves and honors good friends.

Subhuti: Who are these good friends of a Bodhisattva?

The Lord: The Buddhas and Lords, and also the irreversible Bodhisattvas who are skillful in the Bodhisattva-course, and which instruct and admonish one in the perfections, who demonstrate and expound perfection of wisdom. The perfection of wisdom in particular is regarded as a Bodhisattva's good friend. All the six perfections, in fact, are good friends of a Bodhisattva. These are one's Teacher, one's path, light, torch, illumination, one's shelter, refuge, place of rest, one's final relief, island, mother, father, and these lead one to this sublime revealing of undifferentiated awareness and this inherent pure cognition herein, to understanding, to full enlightenment. For it is in these perfections this perfection of wisdom is accomplished.

Simply from the six perfections is revealed all-knowledge of Tathagatas which, in a period which stands completely clear of time as it is known in these triple worlds, come to realize full enlightenment and enter Nirvana...and so also the all-knowledge of Tathagatas which in all periods of these three times simultaneously realize enlightenment, and so these Tathagatas which just now reside in incalculable, immeasurable, infinite, inconceivable world systems.

I also, Subhuti, am a Tathagata which in this present period is revealing full enlightenment, and reveal also this all-knowledge coming forth from these six perfections. For the six perfections contain the thirty-seven dharmas which act as wings to enlightenment, these contain four Brahma-dwellings, four means of conversion, and any Buddha-dharma whatsoever, any Buddha-cognition, cognition of the Self-Existent, any unthinkable, incomparable, immeasurable, incalculable, unequalled cognition, any cognition which equals the unequalled, any cognition of all-knowing.

So Subhuti, simply the six perfections of any Bodhisattva [398] are known as one's good friends. These are one's Teacher, etc., to: these lead one to cognition, to understanding, to full enlightenment. In addition, a Bodhisattva which trains in these six perfections is a true benefactor to all beings which are in need of one. But as one wants to train in these six perfections, a Bodhisattva must above all hear this perfection of wisdom, take it up, bear it in mind, recite, study, spread, demonstrate, expound, explain and write of and about this, and investigate this profound meaning, content and method, meditate on this, and ask questions regarding this. For this perfection of wisdom directs these six perfections, guides, leads, instructs and advises these, this is their genetrix and nurse. Because, if these are deprived of the perfection of wisdom, the first five perfections do not come under any concept of perfections, and these are not called "perfections". As a Bodhisattva trains in just this perfection of wisdom, one comes to reveal a state which is such as one cannot be led astray by others, and stands naturally and firmly in this.

Emptiness, Defilements, and Purification

Subhuti: How is perfect wisdom marked? [399]

The Lord: It has non-attachment for mark.

Subhuti: Is it feasible to say that same mark of non-attachment, which exists as regards perfect wisdom, exists also as regards all dharmas?

The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. For all dharmas are isolated and empty. Here as well this same mark of non-attachment, which indicates perfect wisdom as isolated and empty, also indicates all dharmas as isolated and empty.

Subhuti: As all dharmas are isolated and empty, how is the defilement and purification of beings conceivable? For what is isolated cannot be defiled and purified, what is empty cannot be defiled or purified, and what is isolated and empty cannot know full enlightenment. Nor can one get at any dharma outside emptiness which has known full enlightenment, which will know it, or which does know it. How do we so understand the meaning of this teaching! Show us, O Lord, show us, O Sugata!

The Lord: What do you think, Subhuti. Do beings course for a long time in I-making and mine-making? [400]

Subhuti: So it is, Lord.

The Lord: Are also I-making and mine-making empty?

Subhuti: These are, O Lord.

The Lord: Is it just do to this I-making and mine-making these beings wander about in birth-and-death?

Subhuti: So it is, Lord.

The Lord: It is in this sense the defilement of beings is conceivable. To whatever extent beings take hold of things and settle down in these, to this extent is defilement in place. But no one is here defiled. And to whatever extent one does not take hold of things and does not settle down in these, to this extent does one deconceptualize I-making and mine-making. In this sense does one come to continuously participate in revealing and hence forming this realization of the purification of being. So see, Subhuti, to whatsoever greater or lesser extent these do not take hold of things and do not settle down in things, in direct proportion to this extent here is realized, or rather, here is revealed, purification. But no one is here purified. As a Bodhisattva courses thus, one courses in perfect wisdom. It is as this sense which we gradually and steadily come to reveal to our selves is this which we are but indications our day to day practice, that we form this concept of any and all defilement, and deconceptualize I-mine concepts -as becoming "some kind of purification" of beings- in spite of the fact all dharmas are isolated and empty. As such, here is neither question of defilement to rise above or send away, nor even purity in which to seek absolution. Here is no thing whatsoever, which 'I' have...and nothing which is mine. To be sure, Subhuti, none of this.

Subhuti: This is truly wonderful! And a Bodhisattva which courses thus, courses in perfect wisdom as one now does not course in form, or other skandhas. As one courses thus, [401] a Bodhisattva is not crushed by worlds with various Gods, beings and Asuras. As one courses thus, a Bodhisattva comes to reveal the coursing of all persons belonging to the vehicle of Sravaka Disciples and Pratyekabuddhas as it is, and gains an insuperable equanimous position. For Buddhahood is insuperably equanimous, and so is Tathagatahood, this state Self-Existent beyond any existent self, this state of all-knowledge in which is nothing knowledgeable. A Bodhisattva, which day and night passes 'time' dwelling on these mental activities associated with perfect wisdom, is quite near full enlightenment and quickly comes to reveal such.

Attentions to Perfect Wisdom, and the Pearl of Great Price

The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. Suppose, Subhuti, all beings in Jambudvipa simultaneously acquire a human personality, and upon raising any thoughts to full enlightenment, abide in [402] these thoughts of enlightenment all life long. Just [after all this preparation], these give gifts to all beings, -do these Bodhisattvas on the strength of this beget much merit?

Subhuti: These do, O Lord.

The Lord: Truly again, Subhuti, any son or daughter of good family begets a much different merit, who, as a Bodhisattva, dwells for even one single day only in mental activities connected with perfection of wisdom. For, as one goes on dwelling day and night in these mental activities, one is more and more worthy of the bestowal of sacrificial gifts to any and all beings. Few beings whatsoever have minds and intentions so full of friendliness as these and, except for Buddhas, the Lords, and Tathagatas of course, are matchless, without any likeness, endowed with unthinkable dharmas. So, how do these sons or daughters of good family at first aspire to such merit?

Such ones are endowed with a kind of wise (or, exceedingly natural) insight which allows one to view any and all beings as on their way to being slaughtered. This being as it is, great compassion on all occasions take hold of such as these. [403] We survey countless beings with this heavenly eye, and what we see fills us with great agitation. So many beings carry this burden of karma which lead to immediate retribution in hells. Others acquire unfortunate rebirths [which keeps these away from the Buddha and their own revelations of buddha-nature, and these teachings]. Still others are doomed to be killed, or are enveloped in a net of false views, or fail to find this path, while again others which gain fortunate rebirths lose it again, and yet again.

So, one attends to these with a thought: "I shall become a savior to all these beings, I seek release for these from all suffering!" But one makes neither this, nor anything else, into a sign to which one is partial. This also is this light of a Bodhisattva's natural wisdom, this same light by which one cognizes and reveals full enlightenment. Bodhisattvas which dwell in these dwellings are worthy of the gifts from the worlds which these inhabit, and do not turn back upon recognition of full enlightenment. These purify gifts and offerings of any and all which accord to these the requisites of life, when their thoughts are well directed toward perfect wisdom, as these are near to all-knowledge.

So here a Bodhisattva dwells in mental work accorded to perfect wisdom, as one does not consume one's alms fruitlessly, as one points out the path to any and all beings, [404] sheds light over a limitless range, is able to set free from birth-and-death any and all beings who subject themselves to these ones and apply themselves attentively, and is able to cleanse the organs and faculties of perception and vision of all beings.

As one dwells in mental activities directed towards these goals, one brings to mind and maintains mental activities which accord with perfection of wisdom. As one decides to bring these to mind, one's mind works welfare for any and all beings. But as well, one gives no room to other mental activities, such as lack in perfect wisdom. As one so accords [as the mental work, which is essentially loving concern for beings, impels one thusly], one spends days and nights in mental activities which accord with perfection of wisdom.

Suppose a man, well versed in jewelry and the different varieties of jewels, newly acquires a very precious gem. This makes him very glad and elated. As he again lost this precious gem, he is most sad and distressed. Constantly and always mental activities associated with this jewel proceed in him, and he regrets being parted from it. He does not forget it, until he either regains this gem, or another one of like quality and kind. Just so a Bodhisattva who again loses sight of the precious jewel of perfect wisdom; [405] with a clear perception of this preciousness of perfect wisdom, and convinced one is not definitely parted from it, one does, with a thought not lacking in mental work on perfect wisdom, and which is directed to the state of all-knowledge, search about everywhere until one regains this Sutra, or gains an equivalent one. All this time this is one which is not lacking in mental activities which accord with the recognition of the precious jewel of perfection of wisdom, and such a one is not lacking in mental activities which accord with recognition of this great jewel of all-knowledge.

Subhuti: But, since the Lord teaches all dharmas and all mental activities are lacking in own-being, and empty, -how can a Bodhisattva now be as one not lacking in mental activities which accord with perfect wisdom, or with all-knowledge?

The Lord: As the mind of a Bodhisattva works on this fact that all dharmas are through their own-being isolated and empty, and agrees this is so, now such a one is one not lacking in mental activities which accord with perfect wisdom and with all-knowledge. As perfect wisdom is empty, such neither increases nor decreases.

Emptiness and Growth in Enlightenment

Subhuti: So, how can a Bodhisattva cognize, with no increase in perfect wisdom, full attainment of enlightenment, how can one know full enlightenment?

The Lord: In actual fact a Bodhisattva which courses in perfect wisdom neither increases or decreases. Just as perfect wisdom is empty, without increase or decrease, just so also a Bodhisattva is empty, without increase or decrease. It is this fact, -i.e. just as perfect wisdom is empty, [406] without increase or decrease, -a Bodhisattva arrives at cognition of enlightenment, and thus is full enlightenment revealed. As a Bodhisattva is taught, and is not afraid, does not lose heart, this one is known as a Bodhisattva who courses in perfect wisdom.

Subhuti: Does now perfect wisdom course in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does emptiness of perfect wisdom course in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Can one now apprehend outside any emptiness of perfect wisdom, any dharma which courses in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does emptiness course in perfect wisdom? [407]

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Can one apprehend in emptiness any dharma which courses in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does emptiness course in emptiness?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Does form, etc., course in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: Can one apprehend outside form, etc., any dharma which courses in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: So, O Lord, how does a Bodhisattva course in perfect wisdom?

The Lord: Do you now, Subhuti, see any real dharma which courses in perfect wisdom?

Subhuti: No, Lord. [408]

The Lord: Do you see perfect wisdom, in which the Bodhisattva courses, as a real thing?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: Do you see as real any dharma which offers no basis for apprehension? Is this dharma by any chance produced, or can this be produced, or is this being produced, is this stopped, can this be stopped or is this being stopped?

Subhuti: No, Lord.

The Lord: This insight gives any Bodhisattva patience in regards to dharmas which fail to be produced. As one is endowed with this, one is sure to reveal full enlightenment. One is bound to progress towards self-confidence of a Tathagata. This is quite impossible for a Bodhisattva, which courses, strives and struggles in this way, and progresses in this direction, to not reach this supreme cognition of a Buddha, the cognition of the all-knowing, the cognition of a great Caravan Leader.

Subhuti: Can this true nature of all dharmas, which consists in the fact that these fail to be produced, can this be predestined to full enlightenment?

The Lord: No, Subhuti.

Subhuti: How in this case does the prediction of this dharma to full enlightenment take place?

The Lord: Do you see as real this dharma which has a prediction to full enlightenment? [409]

Subhuti: No, Lord. I do not see any real dharma which is at any time predestined to full enlightenment. Nor do I see any real dharma which is known by the enlightened, which can be known to these, or by means of which these can even reveal full knowledge. It is such as any and all dharmas cannot be apprehended, that this does not occur to me to think, "this dharma is known to the Enlightened, this dharma can be known to such as these, by means of this dharma these recognize full knowledge."

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