III. Root of the Dharma
Then the Noble Śāriputra inquired from the Bodhisattva Aksayamati:
“Most highly auspicious one, why does your name signify ‘Imperishable Intelligence’?”
Bodhisattva Aksayamati responded:
“The designation ‘Imperishable Intelligence’ stems from what is recognizable in the pattern of existence. Why? Because of the imperishability of the existence-field.”
Śāriputra then queried:
“Please expound in greater detail your statement concerning the imperishability of the existence-field.”
1st Imperishable: Generating the Thought of Awakening. Aksayamati said:
“Awakening itself, venerable Śāriputra, is the direct-source of imperishability. Why? Its generation is an unadulterated one. It is unadulterated since it has no desire to entertain other intellectual or spiritual paths; in such vein it can never be corrupted by any adversary, particularly since its generation is impervious to any assaults from the Evil Ones.
“Its foundation is solely on the Good which can never be despoiled and thus impenetrable from any thoughts or evil proclivities. It clearly discerns the [impermanence of all conditioned things]. Hence It is immovable being in-union with the Absolute qualities of Buddhahood that is sustained as the Unmoving Principle.
“It is indestructible since It knows not the venue of evil thoughts and practices. Unwavering, It is well-fixed and beyond comparison since there are no conflicting contrasts within Its Prime Stature. It engenders an adamantine resolve that dismantles all properties of the composed.
“It is wholly and Immaculately Pure and celebrates the splendor of insight that has no equal. Its generation is sustained by deep meditation…
[not swerving into something else]
…since It never abandons self-determination. Its friendliness is shaped by the very expanse of the boundless sky…
[the friendliness which originates from that thought fills living beings whose number is as endless as the expanse of the sky]
…Its generosity is also boundless in extending to sentient beings an avenue of self-transcendence and an opportunity for genuine Awakening; thus It is the very foundation for all happiness and an unobstructed mind.
“It’s spirit is one of equanimity and thus never troubled nor distracted by the twin-plagues of pleasure or suffering. This is known as the generation of the unbroken thread that is woven through all teachings of the Buddhadharma as self-expressed through the body of the Three Jewels. This Great Realization is praised in all the congregations [throughout the Buddha-fields in the ten directions].
“What do you think, Śāriputra, is there any perishability in the nature Omniscience?”
“Not at all, Noble One” said Śāriputra.
Omniscience: another critical term in this sutra. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramita states:
Then the venerable Subhuti asked the Lord:
“When the bodhisattva great being trains himself in omniscience, in what does he train himself?”
The Lord said:
“If, Subhuti, the bodhisattva great being trains himself in perishing (ksaya) he trains himself in omniscience, and thus, Subhuti, if the bodhisattva great being trains himself in non-origination, unbornness, non-existence, transcendence, non-cupidity, empty space, total reality, or in extinction, he trains himself in omniscience.”
-“But Lord, by what reason does the bodhisattva great being train himself in omniscience when he trains himself in perishing, how does he train himself in omniscience training himself in non-origination, unbornness, non-existence, transcendence, non-cupidity, empty space, total reality, or in extinction?”
As this was said the Lord again spoke to the venerable Subhuti:
“Concerning what you say, Subhuti, “By what reason does the bodhisattva great being train himself in omniscience when he trains himself in perishing, how does he train himself in omniscience training himself in non-origination, unbornness, nonexistence, transcendence, non-cupidity, empty space, total reality, or in extinction?”
“What do you think, Subhuti, the suchness of the Tathagata (alternatively: “the reality of the one having understood things such [as they are]”), the suchness because of which the Tathagata is called a Tathagata, does it perish?”
“Oh no, Lord! And why? Because, Lord, perishing does not perish, perishing, Lord, is imperishable.”
The Lord said:
“What do you think, Subhuti, the suchness of the Tathagata, the suchness because of which the Tathagata is called a Tathagata, does it originate or cease, is it born, does it become or come to nought, does it transcend, does it become impure or get purified, does it become like space or like some moment of existence?”
“Oh no, Lord!”
The Lord said:
“What do you think, Subhuti, the suchness of the Tathagata, the suchness because of which the Tathagata is called a Tathagata, does it become extinct?”
“Oh no, Lord!”
The Lord said:
“Therefore, Subhuti, the bodhisattva great being training himself thus trains himself according to the “principle suchness does not perish.”
Jens Braarvig expounds:
The aim of the never-ending activity of the bodhisattva is omniscience, (sarvajhata), knowledge of the totality of existence, mentioned passim in Aks as the motive of the bodhisattva’s practice. And omniscience is the same as bodhi, the same as the insuperable and self-existent Buddha-nature; omniscience is also what distinguishes the Buddha from the disciples.
Yea, it is also what distinguishes the Buddha from all manner of sentient beings and gods as well. JR Haldar writes in his newly published book, Early Buddhist Mythology:
The gods and Brahma are neither supreme deities nor are they the creators of the universe. They are inferior to the Buddha who is regarded as omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
“The Supreme Mind of the Tathagata [namely the knowledge of omniscience (sarvajhajhana)], Noble Śāriputra, is imperishable; hence the power of awakening is generated as its root-source, which is why it is imperishable.” [when the fruit (phala) is imperishable, its cause (hetu) is also imperishable].
“Noble Śāriputra, be aware that the heaps of morality, concentration, insight, liberation and the gnosis of the definitive emancipation of the Tathagata, are imperishable. Why? Because the power of awakening is generated as its root-source, which specifies that it is imperishable.”
“Generosity, morality, tolerance, strength, one-pointed meditation and insight of the Tathagata, Noble Śāriputra, are imperishable. Why? Because the power of awakening is generated as its root-source, which specifies that it is imperishable.”
“In short, Noble Śāriputra, all the qualities of a Buddha are imperishable; once again, because the power of awakening is generated as its root-source, which specifies that it is imperishable.”
power of awakening: the incontrovertible Bodhipower of the Tathagata.
“In all of this, the unbroken succession of the Three-Jewels remains inviolate; it is by that continuous recognition of this three-fold marvel that the sphere of sentient reality is invited into this imperishability. In essence, Its gnosis of unbornness Itself is imperishable.”
“Since It never arises nor cessates, It is imperishable. This then, is the comprehensive completeness of the Direct Realization that the Totality of the existence-field is originally imperishable—an imperishable quotient in itself.”
“All of this, Noble Śāriputra, is referred to as the Bodhisattva’s imperishable thought of awakening.”
Awakening, then, is the catalyst behind the impetus of imperishability. The Root-Source is also immutable in-Itself; yet, it does mutate within the stream of the existence-field exhibiting numerous variables, yet the source of that stream still remains immutable, with the effect being that all sentitalia within that stream enjoys the benefit of conjunctive imperishability.