When a bodhisattva ascends into higher modes of advancement, the Tathagatas themselves appear to procure their progress: “Moreover, Mahamati, the tathagatas employ two kinds of powers for the support of bodhisattvas who come before them for instruction. And which two supporting powers? The power to appear in bodily form and speak to those in Samadhi and the power to anoint their foreheads.” (Red Pine, pg 130) Suzuki goes even further and refers to these as “sustaining” powers: “Further, Mahamati, there are two kinds of the sustaining power which issues from the Tathagatas who are Arhats and Fully-Enlightened Ones; and sustained by this power the Bodhisattvas would prostrate themselves at their feet and ask them questions. What is this twofold power that sustains the Bodhisattvas? The one is the power by which they are sustained to go through the Samadhis and Samapattis; while the other is the power whereby the Buddhas manifest themselves in person before the Bodhisattvas and baptize them with their own hands.” Interesting how Suzuki employs “baptism” in reference to “anointing”—almost as if this is some kind of Christian initiation, yet the terms are interchangeable. The Lanka describes a beautiful mystical transformation that occurs when the bodhisattvas reaches the tenth-stage, or dharmamegha (dharma-cloud): “As they work their way through the easy and difficult aspects of the various stages, they finally reach the dharma cloud stage, where they dwell inside a magnificent lotus flower palace seated upon a jeweled lotus flower throne surrounded by a retinue of their fellow bodhisattvas adorned with necklaces of jewels that shine like the sun or the moon or golden champaka flowers. The great victors of the ten directions then appear before their thrones in this lotus flower palace and anoint their foreheads…this is what is meant by the power to anoint the foreheads of bodhisattvas. Mahamati, this is what is meant by the two powers that support bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas who rely on these two powers will meet the tathagatas. Otherwise, they will not.” (Red Pine, pg 131) Quite a revelation here as the Lanka portrays a mystical anointing that needs to occur for initiation into the Tathata family.
Having now reached the “inner-realm of Noble Self-Realization” when their heads were anointed within the marvelous dharma-cloud, bodhisattvas can now begin to employ their own manomayakaya abilities, using their “higher powers, insights, and masteries to help protect all beings. For just as the earth supports everything that lives, so too do bodhisattvas aid beings everwhere. “ (Red Pine, pg 155) Yet, they still need to have an ongoing Recollection of the proper Buddha-gnosis needed for such an endeavor—there is a need to continually reside within their own bodhi-mandala (proper meditation setting)…Suzuki states this best: “In accordance with the authoritative teachings in which there are no discriminations, Mahamati, let the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva retire by oneself to a quiet secluded place, where one may reflect within oneself, not relying on anyone else, but by means of one’s own inner intelligence, in order to discard erroneous views and discriminations, make successive advances and exert oneself to finally enter upon the stage of Tathagatahood. This, Mahamati, is the characteristic feature of the inner realization to be gained by means of noble wisdom.” Another salient revelation as the advanced bodhisattva—in order to proceed on the way to full Tathagatahood, no longer relies upon “any-outside” influences other than the Tathagatas themselves. Thus the anointment becomes sealed through Tathagataic grace alone—devoid of all phenomenal and karmic outflows and empowering the developing Maha-Bodhisattva to awaken to the eternal kingdom of their own Self-Nature, the Dharmakaya.
Most Chinese are only nominally Buddhist; they aerenglly practice Taoism and Confucianism as well. Korea, Japan and Viet Nam are equally uncommitted, for their own reasons. But, nonetheless, most of the mainstream Buddhists in those countries would be able to tell you that they chant things like “namo amitafa” not because anyone will come down and forgive them, but because it helps to purify the mind, which of course it does. No teaching in any Buddhist school that I know of suggests that one can escape one’s karma without working for one’s own salvation. In the end, the one thing most Buddhists throughout the world agree on is that you have to do the work yourself, and no one’s forgiveness will help. This is certainly a core teaching of Buddhism. Christianity is pretty clear that it is God, not man, who does the work deciding who is good and who is bad, based on his largely arbitrary rules of obedience and fidelity. I think it is at least fair to say that for most Christians, fidelity to God is more important than fidelity to one’s partner. Or, to put it in a more Christian tone, the best way to overcome infidelity to one’s partner is to become faithful to Christ. Sure, there is some benefit to doing so, since the teachings of Christ do put adultery as a sin, and faith can have a temporary calming effect on one’s addictions, but in the end it is just another way to avoid dealing with the issues. This is really the problem with Christian practice in general; the solution (God) is a total non sequitur to the problem (addiction), and so the results are aerenglly substandard to actually dealing with the issues. It is not that Christians don’t think adultery is wicked, they just don’t think you need to deal with that wickedness, as long as you are always on your knees praying to Christ to forgive your failure to overcome it. To me, that’s a cop out, and I’m not afraid to say it.
Most astute and warranted observations concerning Christianity; the “anointment” within this particular blog-post refers to a transcendent stage (Dharmamegha) on the Bodhisattva path that is not akin to a mere soteriological action but an omniscient-union within Tathagatahood. This is a most advanced teaching in the Lankavatara Sutra and is primarily intended for Maha-Bodhisattvas who are ready to enter this most advanced stage.