The Sound of Silence

9.The Dharma-Door of Nonduality

We now come to the most famous passage in the whole sutra: Vimalakriti’s Noble Silence. It deserves special consideration. We find all of the Bodhisattvas expounding ad nauseam (all dribbling nonsense) their take on the nature of Non-duality. When all of the grandiose extrapolations have ceased, we find Mañjuśrī succinctly downplaying their theories as being in themselves “dualistic”. Then he addresses Vimalakriti for his take on the matter, and of course Vimalakriti responds with a deafening silence.

When the bodhisattvas had given their explanations, they all addressed the crown prince Manjusri: “Manjusri, what is the bodhisattva’s entrance into nonduality?” Manjusri replied, “Good sirs, you have all spoken well. Nevertheless, all your explanations are themselves dualistic. To know no one teaching, to express nothing, to say nothing, to explain nothing, to announce nothing, to indicate nothing, and to designate nothing – that is the entrance into nonduality.” Then the crown prince Manjusri said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti, “We have all given our own teachings, noble sir. Now, may you elucidate the teaching of the entrance into the principle of nonduality!” Thereupon, the Licchavi Vimalakirti kept his silence, saying nothing at all. The crown prince Manjusri applauded the Licchavi Vimalakirti: “Excellent! Excellent, noble sir! This is indeed the entrance into the nonduality of the bodhisattvas.
Here there is no use for syllables, sounds, and ideas.” When these teachings had been declared, five thousand bodhisattvas entered the door of the Dharma of nonduality and attained tolerance of the birthlessness of things.

Vimalakirti is on par with Mañjuśrī as a “Bodhi-being.” Vimalakirti’s silence itself directly negates duality. No-thing uttered, no-thing grasped. Indeed, the Absolute is unutterable. This sutra-scene is the Absolute-stare-down of any Immanent take on the matter. The Unborn IS the Absolute Silence of the Shining-Ones (bodhi-beings). It is Suchness (Tathata) without the immanent reliance upon words. This Venerable Silence is not the “silence of the tomb”, but the resounding stillness of the Buddha-void emanating in all ten-directions. It is totally devoid (śūnyatā) of any phenomenal attribute. It is the magnificent Parato ghosa, the deathless sound not heard in any conventional sense of hearing, but rather ineffably experienced in the very heart of Suchness; this is fostered within the Bodhi-mandala for those attuned with the Dharma-ear (Dhammasota), mystically represented through the initiating power (Dharmasota) of the Dharmata Buddha—who showers the power (Bodhi-gnosis) of self-realization upon those resilient ones who are ready to awaken from the mad dream of Samsara and who know, through great faith and reason, in the Unborn that the dreaming phenomenal world is nothing apart from Mind itself. This is called “entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Unborn Mind”—Mahaśūnyā, penetrating into the primordial vibration (samanyaspanda) of the Absolute…with no-thing to see, no-thing to hear, no-thing to perceive, no-thing to grasp or cling to…Total Unequivocal Relinquishment.

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