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Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra - A Layperson's Praise for Bodhisattvas

Immediately, the bodhisattva Sarvarupasamdarsana, who was present in that assembly, addressed the Licchavi Vimalakīrti:

"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 Vimalakīrti spoke the following verses to the bodhisattva Sarvarupasamdarsana:

Of the true bodhisattvas,
The mother is the transcendence of wisdom,
The father is the skill in liberative technique;
The Leaders are born of such parents.

Their wife is the joy in the Dharma,
Love and compassion are their daughters,
The Dharma and the truth are their sons;
And their home is deep thought on the meaning of voidness.

All the passions are their disciples,
Controlled at will.
Their friends are the aids to enlightenment;
Thereby they realize supreme enlightenment.

Their companions, ever with them,
Are the six transcendences.
Their consorts are the means of unification,
Their music is the teaching of the Dharma.

The incantations make their garden,
Which blossoms with the flowers of the factors of enlightenment,
With trees of the great wealth of the Dharma,
And fruits of the gnosis of liberation.

Their pool consists of the eight liberations,
Filled with the water of concentration,
Covered with the lotuses of the seven impurities —
Whoever bathes therein becomes immaculate.

Their bearers are the six superknowledges,
Their vehicle is the unexcelled Mahāyāna,
Their driver is the spirit of enlightenment,
And their path is the eightfold peace.

Their ornaments are the auspicious signs,
And the eighty marks;
Their garland is virtuous aspiration,
And their clothing is good conscience and consideration.

Their wealth is the holy Dharma,
And their business is its teaching,
Their great income is pure practice,
And it is dedicated to the supreme enlightenment.

Their bed consists of the four contemplations,
And its spread is the pure livelihood,
And their awakening consists of gnosis,
Which is constant learning and meditation.

Their food is the ambrosia of the teachings,
And their drink is the juice of liberation.
Their bath is pure aspiration,
And morality their unguent and perfume.

Having conquered the enemy passions,
They are invincible heroes.
Having subdued the four Māras,
They raise their standard on the field of enlightenment.

They manifest birth voluntarily,
Yet they are not born, nor do they originate.
They shine in all the fields of the Buddhas,
Just like the rising sun.

Though they worship Buddhas by the millions,
With every conceivable offering,
They never dwell upon the least difference
Between the Buddhas and themselves.

They journey through all Buddha-fields (Pure Land)
In order to bring benefit to living beings,
Yet they see those fields (lands) as just like empty space,
Free of any conceptual notions of "living beings."

The fearless bodhisattvas can manifest,
All in a single instant,
The forms, sounds, and manners of behavior
Of all living beings.

Although they recognize the deeds of Māras,
They can get along even with these Māras;
For even such activities may be manifested
By those perfected in liberative technique.

They play with illusory manifestations
In order to develop living beings,
Showing themselves to be old or sick,
And even manifesting their own deaths.

They demonstrate the burning of the earth
In the consuming flames of the world’s end,
In order to demonstrate impermanence
To living beings with the notion of permanence.

Invited by hundreds of thousands of living beings,
All in the same country,
They partake of offerings at the homes of all,
And dedicate all for the sake of enlightenment.

They excel in all esoteric sciences,
And in the many different crafts,
And they bring forth the happiness
Of all living beings.

By devoting themselves as monks
To all the strange sects of the world,
They develop all those beings
Who have attached themselves to dogmatic views.

They may become suns or moons,
Indras, Brahmās, or lords of creatures,
They may become fire or water
Or earth or wind.

During the short eons of maladies (suffering),
They become the best holy medicine;
They make beings well and happy,
And bring about their liberation.

During the short eons of famine (lack of Dharma),
They become food and drink.
Having first alleviated thirst and hunger,
They teach the Dharma to living beings.

During the short eons of swords (violent conflict),
They meditate on love,
Introducing hundreds of millions
Of living beings to nonviolence.

In the middle of great battles (inner and outer conflict)
They remain impartial to both sides;
For bodhisattvas of great strength
Delight in reconciliation of conflict.

In order to help the living beings,
They voluntarily descend into
The hells which are attached
To all the inconceivable buddha-fields (Pure Lands).

They manifest their lives
In all the species of the animal kingdom,
Teaching the Dharma everywhere.
Thus they are called "Leaders."

They display sensual enjoyment to the worldlings,
And trances to the meditative.
They completely conquer the Māras,
And allow them no chance to prevail.

Just as it can be shown that a lotus
Cannot exist in the center of a fire,
So they show the ultimate unreality
Of both pleasures and trances.

They intentionally become courtesans
In order to win men over,
And, having caught them with the hook of desire,
They establish them in the buddha-gnosis.

In order to help living beings,
They always become chieftains,
Captains, priests, and ministers,
Or even prime ministers.

For the sake of the poor,
They become inexhaustible treasures,
Causing those to whom they give their gifts (meditation,mantra recitation, and skillful means)
To conceive the spirit of enlightenment.

They become invincible champions,
For the sake of the proud and the vain,
And, having conquered all their pride,
They start them on the quest for enlightenment.

They always stand at the head
Of those terrified with fright,
And, having bestowed fearlessness upon them,
They develop them toward enlightenment.

They become great holy men,
With the superknowledges and pure continence,
And thus induce living beings to
The morality Of tolerance, gentleness, and discipline.

Here in the world, they fearlessly behold
Those who are masters to be served,
And they become their servants or slaves,
Or serve as their disciples.

Well trained in liberative technique,
They demonstrate all activities,
Whichever possibly may be a means
To make beings delight in the Dharma.

Their practices are infinite;
And their spheres of influence are infinite;
Having perfected an infinite wisdom,
They liberate an infinity of living beings.

Even for the Buddhas themselves,
During a million eons,
Or even a hundred million eons,
It would be hard to express all their virtues.

Except for some inferior living beings,
Without any intelligence at all,
Is there anyone with any discernment
Who, having heard this teaching,
Would not wish for the supreme enlightenment?


The above text, being the Thurman version, may be subject to copyright. I own no rights on this work.

Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra:
Robert Thurman biography:
Thurman, Robert. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakīrti: A Mahāyāna Scripture. 1992

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