Thereupon, Manjusri, the crown prince, addressed the Licchavi Vimalakirti: “Good sir, how should a bodhisattva regard all living beings?”
Vimalakirti replied, “Manjusri, a bodhisattva should regard all livings beings as a wise man regards the reflection of the moon in water or as magicians regard men created by magic. He should regard them as being like a face in a mirror; like the water of a mirage; like the sound of an echo; like a mass of clouds in the sky; like the previous moment of a ball of foam; like the appearance and disappearance of a bubble of water; like the core of a plantain tree; like a flash of lightning; like the fifth great element; like the seventh sense medium;like the appearance of matter in an immaterial realm; like a sprout from a rotten seed; like a tortoise-hair coat; like the fun of games for one who wishes to die; like the egoistic views of a stream-winner; like a third rebirth of a once-returner; like the descent of a nonreturner into a womb; like the existence of desire, hatred, and folly in a saint; like thoughts of avarice, immorality, wickedness, and hostility in a bodhisattva who has attained tolerance; like the instincts of passions in a Tathagata; like the perception of color in one blind from birth; like the inhalation and exhalation of an ascetic absorbed in the meditation of cessation; like the track of a bird in the sky; like the erection of a eunuch; like the pregnancy of a barren woman; like the unproduced passions of an emanated incarnation of the Tathagata; like dream-visions seen after waking; like the passions of one who is free of conceptualizations; like fire burning without fuel; like the reincarnation of one who has attained ultimate liberation. “Precisely thus, Manjusri, does a bodhisattva who realizes the ultimate selflessness consider all beings.”
Manjusri then asked further, “Noble sir, if a bodhisattva considers all living beings in such a way, how does he generate the great love toward them?”
Vimalakirti replied, “Manjusri, when a bodhisattva considers all living beings in this way, he thinks: ‘Just as I have realized the Dharma, so should I teach it to living beings.’ Thereby, he generates the love that is truly a refuge for all living beings; the love that is peaceful because free of grasping; the love that is not feverish, because free of passions; the love that accords with reality because it is equanimous in all three times; the love that is without conflict because free of the violence of the passions; the love that is nondual because it is involved neither with the external nor with the internal; the love that is imperturbable because totally ultimate.”Thereby he generates the love that is firm, its high resolve unbreakable, like a diamond; the love that is pure, purified in its intrinsic nature; the love that is even, its aspirations being equal; the saint’s love that has eliminated its enemy; the bodhisattva’s love that continuously develops living beings; The Tathagata’s love that understands reality; the Buddha’s love that causes living beings to awaken from their sleep; the love that is spontaneous because it is fully enlightened spontaneously; the love that is enlightenment because it is unity of experience; the love that has no presumption because it has eliminated attachment and aversion; the love that is great compassion because it infuses the Mahayana with radiance; the love that is never exhausted because it acknowledges voidness and selflessness; the love that is giving because it bestows the gift of Dharma free of the tight fist of a bad teacher; the love that is morality because it improves immoral living beings; the love that is tolerance because it protects both self and others; the love that is effort because it takes responsibility for all living beings; the love that is contemplation because it refrains from indulgence in tastes; the love that is wisdom because it causes attainment at the proper time; the love that is liberative technique because it shows the way everywhere; the love that is without formality because it is pure in motivation; the love that is without deviation because it acts from decisive motivation; the love that is high resolve because it is without passions; the love that is without deceit because it is not artificial; the love that is happiness because it introduces living beings to the happiness of the Buddha. Such, Manjusri, is the great love of a bodhisattva.”
Manjusri: What is the great compassion of a bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It is the giving of all accumulated roots of virtue to all living beings.
Manjusri: What is the great joy of the bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It is to be joyful and without regret in giving.
Manjusri: What is the equanimity of the bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It is what benefits both self and others.
Manjusri: To what should one resort when terrified by fear of life?
Vimalakirti: Manjusri, a bodhisattva who is terrified by fear of life should resort to the magnanimity of the Buddha.
Manjusri: Where should he who wishes to resort to the magnanimity of the Buddha take his stand?
Vimalakirti: He should stand in equanimity toward all living beings.
Manjusri: Where should he who wishes to stand in equanimity toward all living beings take his stand?
Vimalakirti: He should live for the liberation of all living beings.
Manjusri: What should he who wishes to liberate all living beings do?
Vimalakirti: He should liberate them from their passions.
Manjusri: How should he who wishes to eliminate passions apply himself?
Vimalakirti: He should apply himself appropriately.
Manjusri: How should he apply himself, to “apply himself appropriately”?
Vimalakirti: He should apply himself to productionlessness and to destructionlessness.
Manjusri: What is not produced? And what is not destroyed?
Vimalakirti: Evil is not produced and good is not destroyed.
Manjusri: What is the root of good and evil?
Vimalakirti: Materiality is the root of good and evil.
Manjusri: What is the root of materiality?
Vimalakirti: Desire is the root of materiality.
Manjusri: What is the root of desire and attachment?
Vimalakirti: Unreal construction is the root of desire.
Manjusri: What is the root of unreal construction?
Vimalakirti: The false concept is its root.
Manjusri: What is the root of the false concept?
Manjusri: What it the root of baselessness?
Vimalakirti: Manjusri, when something is baseless, how can it have any root? Therefore, all things stand on the root which is baseless.
Like oxymorons in the Minds-eye, such is all sentient reality. Like bird tracks in the air and a eunuch’s erection—so is the lackluster-illusiveness of barren and potential-less sentienthood. If this is true, then why does the Bodhisattva even bother to extend any semblance of compassion for such phantasmagoric creations? Even in the midst of these phantoms, the Bodhisattva never loses sight of the fundamental component (śūnyatā) that is the self-emptying nature within the Element of Truth (Dharmadhātu). So, although no living-thing is actually grasped, and even the bodhisattva oneself being constitutive of the emptying-flavor of śūnyatā, there is an overflowing of this self-realization within the very heart of Suchness that somehow finds satisfaction in calming the effects of Mind’s Pluralized-Obstructive-Mode. So, it’s a continual self-emptying of Self for Self. Salvador Dali’s depiction of the Last Supper is an apt metaphor revealing this Bodhisattvic Love:
Another striking metaphor is that of the thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara that embodies this compassionate embrace in all ten directions…hearing (through the Dharma-ear, dhammasota) and comforting the illusive cries of samsara, As Tears Go By…