Mañjuśrī Elects Sudhana


The emphasis now shifts to Mañjuśrī who is portrayed in his youthful appearance. (kumārabhūta). The magnificent Bodhisattva of unparalleled Wisdom confers praises on the auspicious gathering before departing to the city of Dhanyākara. Welcomed there by the local inhabitants Mañjuśrī chooses from the multitude a young man named Sudhana, who traditionally is bestowed with the title, “The Celestial Youth of the Treasure of Merit.” Mañjuśrī meritoriously elects him as one who is worthy to embark on a journey in search of the proper-conduct of a Bodhisattva:

Then Manjushri spoke to Sudhana in verse:
Bravo, ocean of pure virtues, who has come to me;
With a mind of vast compassion, you seek supreme enlightenment.
You are committed to the peerless course of conduct for the sake of the liberation of all beings;
You will become a savior of the world—this is the principle of enlightening beings’ practice.
Enlightening beings who are steadfast and indefatigable work within the mundane—
They attain universal good, invincible and unobstructed.
Light of virtue, star of virtue, mine of virtue, ocean of virtue, pure—
You are committed to universal good in practice, for the welfare of the world.
You will see infinite buddhas, in the worlds of the ten directions:
And you will hold their clouds of teachings by the power of memory.
As you see the buddhas in the buddha-lands of the ten directions,
You will clarify their ocean of vows in enlightenment practice.
Those who enter this ocean of principles and stand on the ground of buddhahood
Will become all-seers, learning from the Guides of the world.
Having practiced the conduct of universal good throughout all lands, for as many eons as there are atoms in the lands, 
You will reach enlightenment, the abode of peace and bliss.
You should practice for boundless oceans of eons in all lands
And fulfill this undertaking of the conduct of universal higher good.
Behold the millions of beings who are happy to hear your vow,
Who seek enlightenment by the knowledge of universal good.

Then Manjushri, having uttered these verses, said to Sudhana, “It is good that you think, having set your heart on supreme enlightenment, that you should find out the practice of enlightening beings. It is hard to find beings who set their hearts on supreme enlightenment. It is even harder to find beings who, once they have set their minds on enlightenment, seek the practice of enlightening beings. An enlightening being is to attain certainty through true spiritual friends, spiritual benefactors, for the realization of omniscience. One should indefatigably seek spiritual benefactors and be tireless in seeing spiritual benefactors. One should respectfully follow the appropriate instructions of spiritual benefactors and should carry out the
techniques skillfully devised by spiritual benefactors, without interruption. South of here is a country called Ramavaranta; there is a mountain there called Sugriva, where a monk named Meghashri lives. Go to him and ask how an enlightening being should learn the conduct of enlightening beings, and how to apply it; how one is to fulfill, purify, enter into, carry out,
follow, keep to, and expand the practice of enlightening beings, and how an enlightening being is to fulfill the sphere of universally good action. That spiritual friend will tell you about the sphere of universally good conduct.”

We have reached the loci of our series. This encounter between Mañjuśrī and Sudhana highlights the salient nature of how one is singled-out to begin the spiritual pilgrimage to Bodhisattvahood. Yea, this is how it is accomplished in Buddhism. One doesn’t necessarily encounter some transcendent guru or savior figure who points the way to salvation, rather an initial Bodhi-Being (perhaps a sage or elder) elects one, who due to their meritorious past, is ready to embark on this most auspicious of spiritual journeys. Hence, Mañjuśrī represents a teacher of outstanding bodhipower and Sudhana represents the spiritual adept who is ready for baptism in the ways of the Unborn. Mañjuśrī is the Abbagotaragarbha, or the guiding, mystic-spiritual, father (abba) who implants the auspicious bodhiseed (gotra); Sudhana is the willing adept who, in essence, becomes impregnated with this seed of potential enlightenment and one day culminating in becoming a living Buddha—i.e., fully entering into Tathagatahood, or the family of Buddhas. Once the bodhiseed is planted, it becomes nourished and nurtured along the way by a series of spiritual encounters with those who have “walked the walk” and thus can point the elected adept in the right direction. The sutra here calls these entities “spiritual-friends” or mentors, kalyānamitras. We will discover that these kalyānamitras take on many different characteristics—some are monks, others are lay-folk, while others are transcendent beings—yet they all hold one characteristic in common—they are all the Ariya, the elect, the venerable in different stages of development. Sudhana will absorb from them what is necessary to successfully bring to fruition the Bodhichild, or a fully developed Light Bringer—Bodhisattva.

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