The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti:
Copyright (c) 1976 by The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Reproduced with permission of the publisher.
Available at Amazon.com.
Purification of the Buddha-Field
Inconceivable Skill in Liberative Technique
The Disciples' Reluctance to Visit Vimalakirti
The Reluctance of the Bodhisattvas
The Consolation of the Invalid
The Inconceivable Liberation
The Family of the Tathagatas
The Dharma-Door of Nonduality
The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
Lesson of the Destructible and the Indestructible
Vision of the Universe Abhirati and the Tathagata Aksobhya
Epilogue - Antecedents and Transmission of the Holy Dharma
The Family of the Tathagatas
Then, the crown prince Manjusri said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti, "Noble sir, how does the bodhisattva follow the way to attain the qualities of the Buddha?"
Vimalakirti replied, "Manjusri, when the bodhisattva follows the wrong way, he follows the way to attain the qualities of the Buddha."
Manjusri continued, "How does the bodhisattva follow the wrong way?"
Vimalakirti replied, "Even should he enact the five deadly sins, he feels no malice, violence, or hate. Even should he go into the hells, he remains free of all taint of passions. Even should he go into the states of the animals, he remains free of darkness and ignorance. When he goes into the states of the asuras, he remains free of pride, conceit, and arrogance. When he goes into the realm of the lord of death, he accumulates the stores of merit and wisdom. When he goes into the states of motionlessness and immateriality, he does not dissolve therein.
"He may follow the ways of desire, yet he stays free of attachment to the enjoyments of desire. He may follow the ways of hatred, yet he feels no anger to any living being. He may follow the ways of folly, yet he is ever conscious with the wisdom of firm understanding.
"He may follow the ways of avarice, yet he gives away all internal and external things without regard even for his own life. He may follow the ways of immorality, yet, seeing the horror of even the slightest transgressions, he lives by the ascetic practices and austerities. He may follow the ways of wickedness and anger, yet he remains utterly free of malice and lives by love. He may follow the ways of laziness, yet his efforts are uninterrupted as he strives in the cultivation of roots of virtue. He may follow the ways of sensuous distraction, yet, naturally concentrated, his contemplation is not dissipated. He may follow the ways of false wisdom, yet, having reached the transcendence of wisdom, he is expert in all mundane and transcendental sciences.
"He may show the ways of sophistry and contention, yet he is always conscious of ultimate meanings and has perfected the use of liberative techniques. He may show the ways of pride, yet he serves as a bridge and a ladder for all people. He may show the ways of the passions, yet he is utterly dispassionate and naturally pure. He may follow the ways of the Maras, yet he does not really accept their authority in regard to his knowledge of the qualities of the Buddha. He may follow the ways of the disciples, yet he lets living beings hear the teaching they have not heard before. He may follow the ways of the solitary sages, yet he is inspired with great compassion in order to develop all living beings.
"He may follow the ways of the poor, yet he holds in his hand a jewel of inexhaustible wealth. He may follow the ways of cripples, yet he is beautiful and well adorned with the auspicious signs and marks. He may follow the ways of those of lowly birth, yet, through his accumulation of the stores of merit and wisdom, he is born in the family of the Tathagatas. He may follow the ways of the weak, the ugly, and the wretched, yet he is beautiful to look upon, and his body is like that of Narayana.
"He may manifest to living beings the ways of the sick and the unhappy, yet he has entirely conquered and transcended the fear of death.
"He may follow the ways of the rich, yet he is without acquisitiveness and often reflects upon the notion of impermanence.
"He may show himself engaged in dancing with harem girls, yet he cleaves to solitude, having crossed the swamp of desire.
"He follows the ways of the dumb and the incoherent, yet, having acquired the power of incantations, he is adorned with a varied eloquence.
"He follows the ways of the heterodox without ever becoming heterodox. He follows the ways of all the world, yet he reverses all states of existence. He follows the way of liberation without ever abandoning the progress of the world.
"Manjusri, thus does the bodhisattva follow the wrong ways, thereby following the way to the qualities of the Buddha."
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti said to the crown prince Manjusri, "Manjusri, what is the family of the Tathagatas'?"
Manjusri replied, "Noble sir, the family of the Tathagatas consists of all basic egoism; of ignorance and the thirst for existence; of lust, hate, and folly; of the four misapprehensions, of the five obscurations, of the six media of sense, of the seven abodes of consciousness, of the eight false paths, of the nine causes of irritation, of the paths of ten sins. Such is the family of the Tathagatas. In short, noble sir, the sixty-two kinds of convictions constitute the family of the Tathagatas!"
Vimalakirti: Manjusri, with what in mind do you say so?
Manjusri: Noble sir, one who stays in the fixed determination of the vision of the uncreated is not capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment. However, one who lives among created things, in the mines of passions, without seeing any truth, is indeed capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment.
Noble sir, flowers like the blue lotus, the red lotus, the white lotus, the water lily, and the moon lily do not grow on the dry ground in the wilderness, but do grow in the swamps and mud banks. Just so, the Buddha-qualities do not grow in living beings certainly destined for the uncreated but do grow in those living beings who are like swamps and mud banks of passions. Likewise, as seeds do not grow in the sky but do grow in the earth, so the Buddha-qualities do not grow in those determined for the absolute but do grow in those who conceive the spirit of enlightenment, after having produced a Sumeru-like mountain of egoistic views.
Noble sir, through these considerations one can understand that all passions constitute the family of the Tathagatas. For example, noble sir, without going out into the great ocean, it is impossible to find precious, priceless pearls. Likewise, without going into the ocean of passions, it is impossible to obtain the mind of omniscience.
Then, the elder Mahakasyapa applauded the crown prince Manjusri: "Good! Good Manjusri! This is indeed well spoken! This is right! The passions do indeed constitute the family of the Tathagatas. How can such as we, the disciples, conceive the spirit of enlightenment, or become fully enlightened in regard to the qualities of the Buddha? Only those guilty of the five deadly sins can conceive the spirit of enlightenment and can attain Buddhahood, which is the full accomplishment of the qualities of the Buddha!
"Just as, for example, the five desire objects have no impression or effect on those bereft of faculties, even so all the qualities of the Buddha have no impression or effect on the disciples, who have abandoned all adherences.
Thus, the disciples can never appreciate those qualities.
"Therefore, Manjusri, the ordinary individual is grateful to the Tathagata, but the disciples are not grateful.
Why? The ordinary individuals, upon learning of the virtues of the Buddha, conceive the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment, in order to insure the uninterrupted continuity of the heritage of the Three Jewels; but the disciples, although they may hear of the qualities, powers, and fearlessnesses of the Buddha until the end of their days, are not capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment."
Thereupon, the bodhisattva Sarvarupasamdarsana, who was present in that assembly, addressed the Licchavi Vimalakirti: "Householder, where are your father and mother, your children, your wife, your servants, your maids, your laborers, and your attendants? Where are your friends, your relatives, and your kinsmen? Where are your servants, your horses, your elephants, your chariots, your bodyguards, and your bearers?"
Thus addressed, the Licchavi Vimalakirti spoke the following verses to the bodhisattva Sarvarupasamdarsana:
Of the true bodhisattvas,
Their wife is the joy in the Dharma,
All the passions are their disciples,
Their companions, ever with them,
The incantations make their garden,
Their pool consists of the eight liberations,
Their bearers are the six superknowledges,
Their ornaments are the auspicious signs,
Their wealth is the holy Dharma,
Their bed consists of the four contemplations,
Their food is the ambrosia of the teachings,
Having conquered the enemy passions,
They manifest birth voluntarily,
Though they worship Buddhas by the millions,
They journey through all Buddha-fields
The fearless bodhisattvas can manifest,
Although they recognize the deeds of Maras,
They play with illusory manifestations
They demonstrate the burning of the earth
Invited by hundreds of thousands of living beings,
They excel in all esoteric sciences,
By devoting themselves as monks
They may become suns or moons,
During the short aeons of maladies,
During the short aeons of famine,
During the short aeons of swords,
In the middle of great battles
In order to help the living beings,
They manifest their lives
They display sensual enjoyment to the worldlings,
Just as it can be shown that a lotus
They intentionally become courtesans
In order to help living beings,
For the sake of the poor,
They become invincible champions,
They always stand at the head
They become great holy men,
Here in the world, they fearlessly behold
Well trained in liberative technique,
Their practices are infinite;
Even for the Buddhas themselves,
Except for some inferior living beings,