2.Introduction to Aksayamati
The Blessed one then expounded on the Dharma known as “The Unobstructed Gate of Penetration into and Going Forth in the Practice of a Bodhisattva”…
[being the body (kaya) of this sutra]
…which proclaims the structure of the Bodhisattva’s Way…
…leading into the Absolute Method of self-mastering all aspects of existence by entering into the Gateless Gate of concentrated Buddha-gnosis thus abiding on the diurnal Dharma-wheel which never backslides into endless re-becoming. This assured the destruction of all Maras thereby subduing all vices and evil points of view. What remained were the infinite virtues of the Tathagatas.
While the Blessed One reinforced the virtues of this discourse, a vast Golden-Light appeared in the east. This marvelous visualization illumined the present spiritual sanctuary with nebulous jewels, highlighting this system of threefold great thousands of worlds. Apart from the light of the Tathagatas and the consecrated bodhisattvas, all other lighted ideations in this three-fold system, the sun and moon, the majestic light of Indra and great Brahman world protectors, accompanied with the divine light of gods, naga-deities, demons, celestial musicians, giants, divine birds, man-horses and great serpents, the radiance of fire, gems, jewels, lightning and the stars were all eclipsed, obscured and darkened. And even in the darkest cavities of these worlds, the places wherein evil dwells, were illumined by that light. All the great snow-capped mountains, Mt. Sumeru, Mt. Cakravada, Mt. Mucilinda, Mt. Maha-mucilinda, and all the great kings of mountains did not obscure it. And when it had penetrated everywhere, right down to the great Avici hell, the whole of this system of threefold thousand worlds was filled with light. And all the beings who were inhabitants of that hell, animals or inhabitants of Yama’s kingdom, whose bodies were graced by that light, thought: “I am in possession of every pleasure”, having no excruciating sensations, and being most pleased in body and mind.
All around the august assembly there arose from the bowels of the earth sixty times ten millions of seven-jewel lotuses; they were sweet-smelling, exuding variegated colors, beautiful to behold and soft to the touch like kacilinda tissue. Whatever fragrance is found among gods and men in this system of threefold thousands of worlds were overwhelmed by the fragrance of that lotus wonder. All the inhabitants of this world-system, from great gods and Brahmans down to the lowest insect were enveloped in that exquisite fragrance, thinking to themselves, “I am devoid of all vices,” and were thus enraptured in the Dharma.
The venerable Ananda also witnessed that golden radiance and the marvelous vast array of lotuses. Greatly astonished and amazed he arose from his seat, put his cloak over his shoulder, and placing his right knee on the ground he bowed in the direction of the Lord with the palms of his hands joined, saying:
“Lord, such a magnificent radiance, beyond beautiful to behold! What is this omen all about”?
The Blessed One then responded to Ananda:
“Ananda, this is a sign that indicates the arrival of the Bodhisattva Aksayamati, who originates from the eastern quarter, together with sixty times ten millions of bodhisattvas who accompany and attend upon him. Such is the wonder you now behold!”
Soon after the Blessed One’s proclamation, the Bodhisattva Aksayamati’s incredible bodhipower shook the very foundation of the earth, and emitting rays of light by his Bodhisattva’s power and might displayed a great shower of flowers, accompanied with billions of cymbals introducing waves of music. He then materialized with his entourage of over six-million bodhisattvas who attended upon him precisely where the citadel adorned with jewels stood, where the Blessed One was staying. Upon his arrival Aksayamati seated himself in the very air permeating around the Blessed One some seven tala-heights above that hallowed ground. Reaching out and placing his palms together his spirit permeated that system of threefold thousand great worlds with a resilient sound and praised the Blessed One with the following verses:
Blessed One, you are spotlessly pure, the great hero against all covetousness; your three eyes are unobstructed in supernal vision and divine wisdom; you have conquered hate and have rejected all impurities that strike-out against morality; to the duly Awakened-One I bow and pay you homage.
Three eyes: with a special emphasis placed on the Divine [third] Eye or Dragon-Eye of Tathata that never sleeps or lets-down Its Primordial-guard. Also, the other [two] represent vision on both the Nirmanakaya and Shambhogakaya planes. Thus the [third] eye is the all-seeing Dharmakayic Element—truly profound. As stated in an earlier series, “The Dharma Eye of Tathāta is the exclusive domain of the Shining Ones. All others can approach IT with faith but still do not KNOW IT AS IT IS IN ITSELF. Thus, gradually being in accord with the Unborn Buddha Mind will empower one to become aware of Prime Reality” [Dharmadhātu]
Fearless and conqueror over all delusion and Lord of the ten powers, your ways are hard to subdue by garrulous opponents. You frighten those who walk in defective ways; you walk the earth like a fearless lion.
- The Tathāgata has the mental power to know and understand reality as it actually is, understanding why and how the possible is possible, and why and how the impossible is impossible (sthānāsthāna-jñānabala). The Tathāgata understands the exact underlying conditions and causes determining why things will happen and why things will not happen in the future.
- The Tathāgata understands, as they actually are, the cause-and-effect relations of actions undertaken in the past, present, and future, with their possibilities and causes. This is the knowledge of the retribution of actions (karmavipāka-jñānabala). The Buddha has clearly realized the results of any kamma belonging to the past, present, and future, knows its reasons, and knows the place where it gives its results.
- The Tathāgata understands, as they actually are, the ways leading to all destinations. This is the knowledge of the dhyānas. The Tathāgata has realized that the way the birth of any person takes place, based on the conditions and factors leading to that birth. The Buddha understands the conditions of the paths leading to birth in the heavenly worlds, birth in the human world, and birth in the lower worlds.
- The Tathāgata understands, as it actually is, the world with its many different elements. This is the knowledge of the degree of the moral faculties (indriya-parāpara-jñānabala). The Tathāgata understands how worldly beings match up and attach to one another, how the ignoble are attracted to and mix with the ignoble, and how the ungrateful are attracted to and mix with the ungrateful, how the bad are attracted to and mix with the bad, the good with the good, how like is attracted to like in a cause-and-effect manner.
- The Tathāgata understands, as it actually is, how beings have different inclinations. This is the knowledge of acquired dispositions (dhātu-jñānabala). The Buddha realizes and understands how, within the diversity of beings, their various types of behaviors, desires, and emotions interact and mix together.
- The Tathāgata realizes exactly how a person’s abilities develop and how they deteriorate. The Buddha understands, as it actually is, the disposition of the faculties of other persons. He has knowledge of the way leading to their various destinies and their potential to realize or not realize the Dhamma accordingly.
- The Tathāgata understands, as it actually is, the defilement, the cleansing, and development regarding the jhanas, liberations, concentrations, and attainments. This is the knowledge of former abodes (pūrvanivāsa-jñānabala). In other words, the Buddha realizes and understands the causes of the deficiencies or of the progress in regard to jhana, vimokkha, samadhi, samapatthi. He knows how one gains as a result of meditation and the exact way to develop the factors.
- The Tathāgata recollects his manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, 10 births, 20 births, 30 births, 40 births, 50 births, 100 births, 1,000 births, 100,000 births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and -expansion: “There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.” Thus with their aspects and particulars he recollects his manifold past lives. This is the knowledge of death and rebirth (cyutyupapāda-jñānabala). The Buddha has realized, as they really were, how his past lives were spent; not only one or two lives but a recollection of an infinite number of past lives.
- “Again, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the conventional human eye, the Tathāgata sees beings passing away and reappearing, as inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and he understands how beings pass on according to their actions.” This is the knowledge of death and rebirth (cyutyupapāda-jñānabala). The Buddha has exactly realized the way that beings pass away and reappear according to their kamma, and he has realized how those who collect demerits go to lower worlds, and how those who collect merits go to heavenly worlds.
- Again, by realizing it for himself, with direct knowledge, the Tathāgata, in the here and now, how one enters upon and abides in deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom, which are taintless, through the destruction of the taints. This is the knowledge of death and rebirth (cyutyupapāda-jñānabala). The Buddha has realized and understood through his efforts and through his great wisdom, how one may eradicate all the defilements and thereby attain arahantship.
In all celestial realms your faultless body is immaculately pure and forever shining; having conquered the darkness of ignorance you outshine the sun and have dispersed the clouds of all discriminations.
All created worlds are suffering incessant torment, devoid of all refuge, held captive to the disease of old age and death (samsara). But you, Blessed One, out of infinite Compassion have set us free from this diurnal sickness like a divine physician.
Out of this samsaric-mess plagued by avidya and endless vices, impossible to traverse, you have emerged victorious by [yourself], not having to rely on others; your undefiled Buddhafield arises from this ignominious waste like an unsoiled lotus.
Mighty one, you have reached unlimited perfection, your spectacular qualities have been preserved for all time and they cannot be curtailed. I bow in acquiescence to your Bodhi-power, that supreme field of merit.
Having spoken thus, the Bodhisattva Aksayamati accompanied with his entourage of [sixty times ten millions of bodhisattvas], descended from the sky and greeted the Blessed One bowing to his feet with his head and circumambulating about him seven times. With the Blessed One’s permission, they sat themselves down in the calyxes of the lotuses with their legs crossed.
Shortly after, the venerable Śāriputra, empowered by the grace of the Blessed One, arose from his seat and having put his cloak over one shoulder he placed his right knee on the ground, and bowed in the direction of the Lord with the palms of his hands joined, saying:
“Blessed One, from where does this Bodhisattva Aksayamati come? What is the name of the Tathagata there, and what is the name of that world-sphere? And how far away is it?”
Śāriputra: āriputra (Pāli, Sāriputta). The chief disciple of the *Buddha. A lifelong friend of *Mahā-maudgalyana, the two renounced the world on the same day and first became disciples of the sceptic *Sañjaya Belatthiputta. Thereafter both converted to *Buddhism, and on the day of their *ordination the Buddha declared them to be his two chief disciples. Both soon became *Arhats. The Buddha declared Śāriputra to be a perfect disciple and second only to himself in transcendent knowledge (*prajñā). Śāriputra frequently preached with the Buddha’s approval, and for his contribution to the propagation of the faith was rewarded with the title ‘General of the *Dharma’ (Pāli, Dhammasenāpati). He had special expertise in analytical philosophy and is regarded as the originator of the *Abhi-dharma tradition. śāriputra was renowned for his exemplary qualities of compassion, (*karuṇā), patience, and humility. He was older than the Buddha and when he died a few months before him, the Buddha pronounced a eulogy. (Keown, Damien. A Dictionary of Buddhism (p. 253). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)
The Blessed One replied, “Noble Śāriputra, you should inquire from the Bodhisattva Aksayamati himself, I am sure he will instruct you.”
I am sure he will instruct you: the Blessed One forewarns Śāriputra that he will indeed “be instructed”, indicating that the response to his question will entail more than he anticipated.
Then the venerable Śāriputra spoke these words to the Bodhisattva Aksayamati: “Son of good family, where do you come from? What is the name of the Tathagata there, and what is the name of that world-sphere? And how far away from here is that world-sphere?”
Aksayamati replied, do the concepts of coming and going occur even to the elder Śāriputra?”
Śāriputra responded, “Of course, I know about concepts most thoroughly.”
Aksayamati said: “If you knew about concepts thoroughly, Śāriputra, you wouldn’t now engage in dualistic thought. So why are you asking me where I came from?”
***Keep in mind during these following passages that when there is no qualifier, both coming and going have no function, and therefore are just nominalizations, and therefore dualistic constructs.
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra , is a word for uniting, while going is a word for separation. Where there is [no word] for uniting and [no word] for separation, there is no coming nor going [as there is no individuality (purusa) which is the subject of going (gantr)]: hence, neither coming nor going is the proper way of bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is the essential character of [action]-nature, while going is the essential character for the [end] of action-nature. Where there is no essential character of action-nature, and no essential character for the end of action-nature, there is thus no coming nor going for the way of bodhisattvas. “
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is the essential character of wishing, while going is the essential character of the end of wishing. Where there is no essential character of wishing, and no essential character of the end of wishing, there is thus no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is the essential character of arising, while going is the essential character of cessation. Where there is no essential character of arising, and no essential character of cessation, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, belongs to the sphere of coming, while going, belongs to the sphere of going. Where there is no sphere of coming and no sphere of going, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is the essential character of a condition, while going is the essential character of the end of a condition. Where there is no essential character of condition, and no essential character of the end of a condition, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is the essential character of dependent origination, while going is the essential character of the end of dependent origination. Where there is no essential character of dependent origination, and no essential character of the end of dependent origination, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra is the essential character of having a cause, while going is the essential character of the end of having a cause. Where there is no essential character of having a cause, and no essential character of the end of having a cause, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
“Coming, reverend Śāriputra, is an expression, a word, a syllable, a conventional sign, while going is the thorough knowledge of an expression, a word, a syllable, a conventional sign. Where there is no expression, no word, no syllable, no conventional sign, and no thorough knowledge of an expression, a word, a syllable, a conventional sign, there is no coming nor going: not coming nor going is the way of the bodhisattvas.”
Keep in mind, dear reader that these constructs are a different kettle of fish all together when it comes to the Thusness of the Tathagatas. The following is from a resource entitled, Studies in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramita and other Essays, by Leinart Mäll:
Takakusu writes: “”Thusness” or the matrix of “Thus Come” or “Thus Gone” means the true state of all things in the universe, the source of an enlightened one, the basis of enlightenment itself (with no relation to the time or space), but, when dynamic, it is in human form assuming an ordinary way and feature of life. “Thusness” and the “Matrix of Thus Come” are practically one and the same – the ultimate truth. In Mahāyāna, the ultimate truth is called “Thusness”.