11.Lesson of the Destructible and the Indestructible
Meanwhile, back at the main assembly, a strange golden-like hue descends and encompasses everything. Ananda is awestruck and inquires from the Blessed One what this could mean. The Buddha says that this auspicious sign is a portent that Vimalakriti, Mañjuśrī and the great multitude of Bodhi-beings from Sarvagandhasugandhā will be arriving soon. Sure enough, Vimalakriti—in a miraculous fashion like the Buddha before him (with his Big-Toe) reduces the vast company of Bodhi-beings with their vast thrones into the palm of his hand and, in an instant, transports them from Sarvagandhasugandhā to the present assembly. Like Aladdin rubbing his magic lamp, those Bodhi-beings appear and begin to emit their divine spiritual-fragrance. Ananda inquires, what is that strange smell? The Buddha says that is that mystical-spice emanating from the pores of the Bodhi-beings; then, Śāriputra, like a little kid says, “Yes, see…it’s emanating from our pores, too!” Ananda then aska Vimalakriti “how long will this –perfume smell last?” Vimalakriti says, “Not until it’s thoroughly digested.” This is highly symbolic of the spiritual path that a Bodhisattva is called to follow—the ten-fold path of Bodhisattvahood—it will all finally be digested when the Bodhisattva conceives anuttara samyak sambodhi…hence perfected in Inseparable-Bodhi. The Blessed One then expounds that there are an infinitesimal number of Dharma-doors that open into many diversified Buddha-fields—all propounding the Buddhadharma; in this fashion, the Buddhadharma can be expounded upon for a trillion eons and still not exhaust the teachings of the Tathagatas. Feeling deeply humbled with this realization, Ananda considers himself from this day-forth truly unwise! The Buddha says that this is a cop-out! “Sure, Ananda, you’re the foremost of the disciples—your powers of observation and memorization are second-to-none, yet in all your splendid and erudite disciplehood, the least “Bodhisattva” is greater than you.” “Why? Ananda, these marvels displayed in a single morning by the Licchavi Vimalakirti could not be performed by the disciples and solitary sages who have attained miraculous powers, were they to devote all their powers of incarnation and transformation during one hundred thousand millions of aeons.”
Witnessing all that transpired between Ananda and the Buddha, the multitude of Bodhi-beings from Sarvagandhasugandhā bow-down in reverence at the feet of the Tathagata, relaying how they once considered this “saha-realm” as a dirty and lowly one—truly of no intrinsic value—yet, when discovering all that has transpired between their time with Vimalakriti and the Blessed One—opening their dharma-ears to the “inconceivable compassion” that is utilized through the skillful-means of the Bodhisattvas in these inconceivable and filthy realms—they fully acquiesce and beg him to give them something of supreme value on their return home. The Blessed One sends them on their merry way with a most Supreme insight indeed:
Thus having been requested, the Buddha declared, “Noble sons, there is a liberation of bodhisattvas called ‘destructible and indestructible.’ You must train yourselves in this liberation. What is it? ‘Destructible’ refers to compounded things. ‘Indestructible’ refers to the uncompounded. But the bodhisattva should neither destroy the compounded nor rest in the uncompounded.
The Buddha continues to break this liberation down into various sequential parts—all reminiscent of the destructible (Moving Principle) and the Indestructible (Unmoving Principle). The Bodhisattva is called to never disengage from all the compounded (composed) mess of Samsara—if he/she did, then the Inconceivable Compassion would never be conveyed. At the same time, the Bodhisattva can never just “rest-easy” in the (Uncomposed) Blessed-Stillness of the Unmoving—if he/she did, then the great Bodhisattvic Resolve to liberate all sentient beings would never be fulfilled. (He considers motionlessness, yet he moves in order to develop all living beings) Yet, in blessed-fashion, as the Bodhisattva commits to this Unborn Resolve, the all-inclusive presence and comfort of the Sugata-garbha accompanies them in all ten-directions. This can be broken down into the parallel teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes from the great Bodhisattva, Jesus the Christ—one will be able to discern that, in spiritual reality, this Supreme teaching is meant for all who are called to the Bodhisattvic Path:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In truly humbleness of heart, the Bodhisattva forsakes the comfort of nirvana for the benefit of sentient beings; this is truly a self-emptying endeavor—relying on nothing but the Unborn-Word in fulfilling the Will of the Sugata.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
The Bodhisattva enters into total empathy with sentient reality—as this chapter says he/she “feels the needs of living beings.” As they do so, they in return are comforted through the Sugata-garbha (the Supreme Womb of Buddhaic Light).
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
The Bodhisattva forsakes her/his will in favor of the Unborn Will (being content with little desire in order to uphold the Buddhadharma).
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
The Bodhisattvas food IS the Buddhadharma—in this way, they teach others to savor a food that alone can satisfy.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
A Bodhisattva longs for the happiness of others, not his/her own. Even, as the sutra states, conceiving of trance, meditation, and equanimity as if they were the Avici hell; thus, what one experiences in deep-samadhi needs to eventually be abandoned in order to fulfill their Bodhisattvic Resolve.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Being-one with the heart of the Sugata, their “spiritual heroism” encounters and becomes One with the “immeasurable virtues of the Buddha.”
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Forever making peace in the darkest holes of samsara, they are truly called beloved children of the Unborn!
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Being willing to undergo the pangs of persecution from the unyielding attacks of Mara, the evil one, for the sake of the Buddhadharma…in so doing, the Dharmakaya is theirs!
Then, those bodhisattvas, having heard this teaching, were satisfied, delighted, and reverent. They were filled with rejoicing and happiness of mind. In order to worship the Buddha Sakyamuni and the bodhisattvas of the Saha universe, as well as this teaching, they covered the whole earth of this billion-world universe with fragrant powder, incense, perfumes, and flowers up to the height of the knees. Having thus regaled the whole retinue of the Tathagata, bowed their heads at the feet of the Buddha, and circumambulated him to the right three times, they sang a hymn of praise to him. They then disappeared from this universe and in a split second were back in the universe Sarvagandhasugandha.
One can almost envision this like a closing from some Spielberg film. When you think about it, with today’s technology and digital effects—many of the sequences from the Vimalakriti Sutra could indeed be made today into a Speculator film! What a way to bring home the Buddhadharma so that many could be freed from today’s contemporary spiritual malaise.