Dispassionate Liberation

dispatbud

Sinhavijurmbhita

The introduction to the nun, Sinhavijurmbhita, provides a lengthy description of her city, Sunlight Park. Breaking it down…

He saw Sunlight Park adorned with hundreds of thousands of towers arrayed with inconceivable, innumerable jewels, beautiful as the castle of the god Indra. It was adorned with arrays of all kinds of jewels, everywhere graced with arrays of beautifully formed parasols, always radiating pleasing light, like the abode of the god Brahma, shining with world-illumining light. It was as vast as a space that holds innumerable worlds. Sudhana saw this Sunlight Park by the strength of the mystic power of the nun Sinhavijurmbhita…
In all of those lion seats under the various precious trees he saw the nun
Sinhavijurmbhita sitting, surrounded by a great company of followers,
calm, composed, her senses and mind quiet, well controlled, her senses subdued, as restrained as an elephant, her mind pellucid and clear as a deep pool, granter of all desires like a wish-fulfilling jewel, unaffected by worldly
things as a lotus is not clung to by water, fearless as a lion, with polished
expertise, unshakable as a mountain, pure in conduct, soothing the minds of
beings like intoxicating perfume, extinguishing the burning of afflictions
like sandalwood from the snowy mountains, alleviating the pains of all sentient beings like the medicine “good to see,” beneficial to all who behold
her, producing the physical and mental bliss of quiescence like the light of a
buddha free from the ills and delusions of passion, clearing the minds of sentient beings polluted by afflictions like the water-purifying crystal,
promoting the growth of roots of virtue like a good field. He saw her sitting
in those seats, with various audiences in the surrounding seats…

Her varying audience here includes gods, goddesses, demigods and demigoddesses and their children, titans, celestial musicians, fantastic birds, great serpents, and various enlightened beings.  Sinhavijurmbhita’s mystic power extends through “hundreds of thousands of doors of transcendent wisdom,” fully expounding the Buddhadharma of the Tathagatas. Yet, in all this vast “mystical array” of her exotic setting and attributes, she tells Sudhana that “I have attained the enlightening liberation of removal of all vain imaginings.” “Vain imagining” here includes spheres and cycles of the teaching of the Buddhas, sentient beings, yea even the Cosmos itself. And why? Because the very act of imagining all such dharmata exists solely in illusion. Thus her teaching stance is a no-teaching of anything experienced or observable. All is AS SUCH yet it cannot be imagined-so. This course of wisdom can appear to be an anomaly in this series since such vast-arrays of vistas, both celestial, mundane and transcendent, literally pop-out at every peek. Sinhavijurmbhita says to look beyond all appearances, for appearances can at times prove to be untrustworthy. If one exclusively depends upon these imaginings, then that is a sure example of vanity indeed. Look beyond the beyond and you will begin to See As Such.

 

Vasumitra

This encounter as well speaks volumes of any attempt to base things solely on face-value. Vasumitra has a beautiful-enticing form (even in the midst of an unwholesome realm—the realm of Durga [difficult to approach]), so much so that many in that realm wrongly pegged her as being unwholesome in spirit:

People there who did not know of Vasumitra’s virtues or the scope of her
knowledge said to Sudhana, “What has someone like you—with senses so
calm and subdued, so aware, so clear, without confusion or distraction, your
gaze focused discreetly right before you, your mind not overwhelmed by
sensations, not clinging to appearances, your eyes averted from involvement
in all forms, your mind so cool and steady, your way of life profound, wise,
oceanic, your mind free from agitation or despondency—what have you to
do with Vasumitra? You should not have any lust for her, your head should
not be turned by her, you should not have any such impure thoughts, you
should not be ravaged by such desires, you should not be under the power of
a woman, you should not be so bewitched, you should not enter the realm of
temptation, you should not sink into the mire of sensuality, you should not
be bound by the snares of the devil, you should not do what should not be
done.”

However, those who could see beyond mere appearance “knew the excellence of the virtues of Vasumitra”, they knew her true-form:

Those who knew the excellence of the virtues of Vasumitra, however, and
who were aware of the scope of her knowledge, said, “Good, good! You have
really made gain if you ask about Vasumitra. You surely seek buddhahood;
you surely want to make yourself a refuge for all sentient beings; you surely
want to extract the barbs of passion from all sentient beings; you surely want
to transform the notion of purity.

Sudhana’s meeting with Vasumitra truly did “transform the notion of purity”, for she teaches him:

She said, “I have attained an enlightening liberation called ‘ultimately dispassionate.’ To gods, in accord with their inclinations and interests, I appear in the form of a goddess of surpassing splendor and perfection; and to all other types of beings I accordingly appear in the form of a female of their
species, of surpassing splendor and perfection. And all who come to me with
minds full of passion, I teach them so that they become free of passion.
Those who have heard my teaching and attain dispassion achieve an enlightening concentration called ‘realm of nonattachment.’

Li Tongxuan provides a wonderful assessment:

Vasumitra said she had attained the liberation of ultimate dispassion, because by means of the supreme knowledge of the real universe she lived in the midst of pollution without becoming defiled. One attains the joy of meditation just be believing in this, so Vasumitra said that anyone who looked at her became free from desire and attained absorbing joy. (ibid, pg. 55)

Vasumitra concludes her teaching by relaying a story about one of her former incarnations, as the “wife of a grandee.” Manjushri himself appeared at the scene (one of the appearance of a past Buddha named, ‘Reaching the Heights appeared in the world’) and inspired her towards supreme perfect enlightenment. In a real sense she became a disciple of Manjushri and was thus empowered to achieve “the liberation of ultimate dispassion.” Yea, the Seed of Wisdom here is a dispassionate one, based on the Supreme-Gnosis of the Real.

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