Bodhisattva Vajragarbha

Jaroslav Poncar

The Adamantine Bodhisattva Vajragarbha arose from his seat in the sacred assembly, bowed and then prostrated himself at the feet of the Tathagata and then circumambulated about him three times to the right. He then knelt down and with hands clasped in a manner depicting sublime devotion, invoked the Blessed One.

“Most Honorable Compassionate One! You have superbly expounded upon the wonderful dhāraṇī of the Tathagata’s Pure Mind of Primordial Enlightenment, the dharma-practice of the Mind-ground, as well as the expediency of gradual cultivation empowering sentient beings to eradicate their obstructions. Because of this dharma all who are present in this august assembly have cleared-away the dark clouds of illusion thus purifying their wisdom-eye.”

“Blessed One, I must ask that if sentient beings have already procured Buddhahood, why does there remain such ignorance?  If the dark cloud of dukkha obscures their Bodhi-mind, how then could they ever have been accomplished Buddhas? If all sentient beings in the ten-directions are primordially enlightened, yet later fell victim to the pangs of ignorance, then will the Tathagatas themselves regenerate these klesas? Because of your limitless compassion, I humbly implore you to reveal the sacred-treasury for the benefit of Bodhisattvas and sentient beings, so that the Dharma-door will be swung open thus eradicating all doubts and instill unshakable faith in the Unborn resolve.”

After invoking his pleas in three-fold fashion, he then once again prostrated himself on the ground before the feet of the Blessed One.

Vajragarbha: Vajra indicates an adamantine hardness, diamond-like, and signifies the power of illumination. Invoking Bodhisattva Vajragarbha empowers one to breakthrough any forms of avidya, or ignorance. Garbha indicates “womb” or spiritual receptacle. Thus the invocation also keeps one safe within the Dharma-womb of the Sugata. The invincible and irresistible Diamond Storehouse is the source of great spiritual satisfaction and protection—a vast reservoir housing the very best of what the Tathatic-Spirit can offer.

Within the Vajrayana this Bodhisattva is known as the “thunderbolt-matrix”, a most wrathful form as the great destroyer of all illusion:

Only when all manifestation has been negated
Will the clear light truly dawn
Only when attachments have been blasted
Can we see what lies behind illusion
Only when experience and personality become irrelevant
Can we know what we really are
I may be both savior and destroyer, tyrant and servant.
I open the gates to liberation
If you cling to nothing, and wish only release from the traps of Maya
Call upon me, and my power may crash you open
That you may become Truth
And freedom unending. (BuddhaNature.Com)

In such vein, in this sutra thus invoking adamantine bodhipower restores the innate knowledge and capacity of the original essence—going back to the fundamental, primordial-principle; returning to the root-Mind-Source.

Also, in the Ghanavyūha Sutra, “Bodhisattva Vajragarbha asks for an explanation of absolute truth (PARAMĀRTHASATYA), which Śākyamuni describes in terms of the nonproduction (ANUTPĀDA) and nonextinction (anuccheda) of the tathāgatagarbha. Vajragarbha then explains to other bodhisattvas the characteristics of the tathāgatagarbha and ālayavijñāna.” (Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism)

“Presently, the World-Honored One addressed Bodhisattva Vajragarbha: “Most outstanding, most outstanding indeed! Adamantine One, for the sake of the assembly you have masterfully queried about the Tathagata’s concealed and ultimately profound expedient methods employed and taught by the Bodhisattvas for the benefit of revealing the Ultimate Truth in the Great Vehicle. All beings in the ten-directions benefit from and gain great faith in the propagation of these sacred teachings.  Listen-well, as I shall now reveal it before you.”

Bodhisattva Vajragarbha became filled with reverential joy and silently listened along with the rest of the assembly.

“Virtuous ones, all these created worlds have their beginnings and endings, are birthed and extinguished, exist and do not exist, amalgamate and dissolve, arise and terminate. It is thus the nature of cyclic existence of perpetuating all manner of grasping and discarding in one continuous vicissitude of motion. If one attempted to engage in Primordial Enlightenment while still in the grasp of these cyclic interflows, then one would be entrapped in transmigration with no hope of escape.”

“It is comparable to being enthralled with mere perceptional tricks of mind such as appearing to stir water that is naturally motionless, or perceiving the imaginary motion of a fire-wheel. Likewise perceiving the moon to move behind the pattern of swift-moving clouds, and the shoreline appearing to move when in actuality you are in a moving boat. How can one possibly even get a small glimpse of the True-Mind of Bodhi and Its Primordial Enlightenment when one is still bound to cyclic and samsaric existence? It is because of these misperceptions of mind that you are affected by these mental disturbances.”

“Virtuous ones, it can be likened to an eye-disease that falsely stimulates the visions of flowers in the sky. When the illusory illness is removed how can one ask when similar illusory projections of a diseased mind will occur? And why? Because the Sky of Mind bears no such flowers. In truth there is no appearing or vanishing. Similarly, samsara and nirvana neither arise nor cease, while the perfect illumination of Primordial Enlightenment is free from illusory flowers and diseases of the eye.”

“Virtuous ones, you should know that the emptiness of the sky exists nor does not exist. How much more so is the Tathagata’s marvelous Unborn Mind that is in complete accord with Primordial Enlightenment that can be likened to the nature of empty-space?”

“Virtuous ones, it is like the smelting-process of refining ore into gold. In actuality, the gold already exists without being affected by the smelting. It is now perfected-gold and will never become likened unto ore ever again.  Whatever process it is exposed to, the nature of Gold’s original purity is never tarnished. The Primordial Enlightenment of the Tathagata is also as such.”

“Virtuous ones, the Primordially Enlightened Mind of the Tathagata is void of both Bodhi and Nirvana. It is not dependent upon being an accomplished or non-accomplished Buddhahood, or neither cyclic nor non-cyclic existence.”

“Virtuous ones, even the Śrāvakas who have perfected the art of severing karmic activity in body, mind, and speech, are still incapable of actualizing their own nirvanic-mind that is won by the Shining Ones. Likewise, how can one ever hope to master the Mind-realm of the Tathagata’s Primordial Enlightenment utilizing conceptual-measures?  It would be like trying to light-up Mt. Sumeru’s panoramic hue utilizing the miniscule light of a firefly. Anyone attempting to enter the Tathagata’s oceanic tranquility by using cyclic and phenomenal models will fail in abject and utter futility. Hence, Bodhisattvas and all sentient beings need to first sever the beginningless root of the cyclic-mind.”

“Virtuous ones, the habitual arising of discursive thought patterns originate from the conditioned mindset that is a composite of the six sense objects. All conditioned patterns of habitual sensate impressions are not reflective of the Mind’s True Essence, but rather like those flowers in the Sky of Mind. Discernment of authentic Buddha-fields based on such false conceptualizations is like trying to produce fruit from those lifeless flowers. One simply becomes swallowed up in thoughts of delusion.

“Virtuous ones, such deluded thinking can never accomplish the expedient methods of Primordial Enlightenment. Using this kind of false discrimination one cannot even begin to formulate proper inquiries into the True Nature of the Unborn.”

 In order to reinforce this Mind-teaching, the World-Honored One spoke thus in verse:

Vajragarbha, you should rightly discern
that the Tathagata’s quiescent nature of Mind
has neither beginning nor end.
If you attempt to use the cyclic-mind,
discursive thought patterns will continue to emerge,
entrapping one forever in cyclic existence,
thus being unable to enter into the Tathagata’s oceanic tranquility.
In the act of smelting gold from ore,
the gold’s essence is never altered
by the process of smelting.
Once subsequently perfected,
the gold never returns to ore again.
Samsara and nirvana,
worldlings and Buddhas,
like flowers in the Sky of Mind are mere apparitions.
Discursive-thought patterns are illusory projections of mind.
Even more so asking questions from conceptual frames of reference.
Putting an end to the illusory mind,
is the beginning of knowing Primordial Enlightenment.

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