The English translation of the Akshayamatinirdesha: an ancient Mahayana Sutra devoted to the Bodhisattva Akshayamati, recognized as one of the sixteen bodhisattvas of the Bhadrakalpa (fortunate aeon). The text expounds the practices and ethics of the Bodhisatva way of life. Original titles: Akṣayamatinirdeśa (अक्षयमतिनिर्देश), Akṣayamatinirdeśasūt...
Akṣayamati said: – There is, reverend Śāradvatīputra. The generosity of the bodhisattvas is also imperishable. Why? It is immeasurable. Reverend Śāradvatīputra, the bodhisattvas’ enjoyment of generosity is immeasurable.
[1. Generosity comprising the fruit (phalaparigṛhīta): a. outer gifts (bāhyadāna):] He gives food to those desirous of food so as to display [the immeasurable (amita) ] life [of the Tathāgata], eloquence [never interrupted (apratihata) ], pleasure [of concentration and states of meditation (samādhisamāpatti) ], strength [unthinkable (acintya) ] and complexion; he gives drink to those desirous of drink to get rid of the thirst of all vices; he gives vehicles to those desirous of vehicles to collect all kinds of things bringing happiness and welfare; he gives clothes to those desirous of clothes for the sake of modesty and bashfulness, and to purify a golden complexion; he gives lamps to those desirous of lamps so as to see with the divine sight of the Tathāgata; he gives music to those desirous of music to purify the divine hearing of the Tathāgata; he gives perfume and unguents to those desirous of perfume and unguents to be anointed with morality, learning and concentration; he gives garlands to those desirous of garlands to obtain the flowers of remembrance, eloquence, and the limbs of awakening; he gives aromatic powder to those desirous of aromatic powder to attain a pleasant smell of the body; he gives all kinds of taste to those desirous of any [of the six kinds of] taste to bring about the character of the true man which consists in having excellent taste; he gives houses to those desirous of houses to make houses, refuges, places to go to and places of protection; he gives places of rest to those desirous of places of rest [so they will enjoy the pleasure of sleep] to get rid of all hindrances [by the resting-places of the eight liberations (vimokṣa), or of the three gates of liberation (vimokṣamukha) ] and attain the abodes of the gods [that is, the four states of meditation (dhyāna) ] and that of Brahmā [the four immeasurable qualities (apramāṇa) ], and the Tathāgatas’ place of rest; he gives seats to those desirous of seats to attain the adamantine seat, the place of awakening of each of the threefold thousand great thousand worlds; he gives necessities of life to those desirous of the necessities of life to complete the necessities for awakening; he gives medicine to the sick, those desirous of medicine, to complete the happiness which is the ambrosia of agelessness and deathlessness [that is, extinction (nirvāṇa) ]; the bodhisattvas’ gift when letting female and male slaves go is to complete self-originated knowledge which is dependent only on itself, in its own power; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away all kinds of riches, gold, silver, jewels, pearls, lapis lazuli, conches, crystals and corals is to complete the thirty-two characteristics of a great man; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away different kinds of ornaments is to complete the eighty marks of beauty; head-jewels and diadems are the bodhisattvas’ gift to obtain the invisible crown of the head; (p. 31) vehicles, horses, elephants, carts and foot-men are the bodhisattvas’ gift to complete the great way; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away gardens, palaces, meditation-groves and monasteries is to complete the multitude of limbs of meditation; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away their dear sons, daughters and wives [namely the highest joy and beauty of the world] is for the sake of waking up to the joy of incomparable complete awakening [which is omniscience]; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away riches and grain, treasuries and granaries is to fill the treasuries and granaries of true religion; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away sovereignty over villages, towns, market-towns, royal cities, capitals, over the central continents or the four continents, is to go to the place of awakening of the king of religion, which is in all respects excellent; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away all pleasure, joy and amusement is to attain joy and confidence in religion.
[b. Inner gifts (adhyātmadāna):] The feet are the bodhisattvas’ gift so as to go to the place of awakening on the foot of true religion; the palm of the hand is the bodhisattvas’ gift so as to give the hand of true religion to all beings; the ears and nose are the bodhisattvas’ gift so as to attain unimpaired faculties; the eyes are the bodhisattvas’ gift so that he with regard to all beings may attain the unhindered sight of a Buddha, the sight of religion; the head, the best part of the body, is the bodhisattvas’ gift so as to attain the highest knowledge, omniscience, distinct from the threefold world; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away flesh and blood is to nourish a body without strength [namely that of the five parts of the personality (skandha) created by action and vices (karmakleśa) ] so it attains strength [as the absolute body (dharmakāya) ]; the bodhisattvas’ gift when giving away the skin is to purify a golden complexion, with the skin soft and shining; bones and marrow are the bodhisattvas’ gift so as to attain the body of a Buddha, unbreakable and firm as adamantine, strong as that of Nārāyāṇa.
[2. The pure nature (viśuddhasvabhāva) of generosity in rejecting contrary faults (vipakṣahāṇi):] Further, reverend Śāradvatīputra, there is no gift of the bodhisattvas for the sake of seeking perverted pleasure; no gift entailing harm to living beings [like killing someone who is ill to save him from suffering, teaching the way to kill living beings, or offerings (yajña) involving the killing of animals]; no gift producing conceit; no gift accompanied by fear, worries or shame; no gift that is not given once it has been offered; no gift smaller than promised; no gift of bad things when good things are available; no gift without determination; no gift with falsehood or fraud; no artificial gifts; no gift for the sake of getting a certain result, for the sake of frivolity; no gift with intention leading to bad conduct; no gift with deluded intentions [not believing in the action and its maturation (karmavipāka) ]; no gift with the intention of seeking a way [out of dangers]; no gift with perverted intentions [believing in permanence (nityādyabhiniveśa), etc.]; no gift without faith [or attitude of joy]; no gift not given with joy; no gift to which one is attached; no gift because of compliance; no gift recognizing a difference between living beings; no gift seeking out a special recipient [to get the maximum return in merit]; (p. 32) no gift despising any being as unworthy of gifts [as it gives no merit in return]; no gift accompanied by praise of the moral and blame of the immoral; no gift for the sake of retribution; no gift for the sake of renown, fame and praise; no gift to exalt oneself and deprecate others; no gift with subsequent annoyance; no gift with regret; no gift with remorse; no gift which is irksome [to the welcomed supplicant by not giving it to him at once]; no gift with another hope; no gift with deprecatory utterances [asserting that the supplicant has benefitted in this or that way]; no gift with the hope that a good result for oneself should be entailed; no gift measured out; no gift producing rage, aversion, delusion or harmfulness; no gift troublesome to the one asking [because of giving too much to someone desirous of food or someone who is ill]; no gift with mocking and derision; no gift with hostility; no gift [already] thrown away; no gift not treated with respect; no gift not from one’s own hands; no gift not given always; no gift without serenity; no gift prompted by others [thinking: “When this person gives, I must also give”]; no gift with special limitations; no gift less than appointed; no gift not in accordance with the original resolution; no gift thinking: “That being is no worthy receiver”; no gift with contempt for the small; no gift with pride because of the magnificent; no gift with the wrong purpose [not transformed (pariṇāmita) into incomparable awakening (anuttarabodhi) ]; [and thus] no gift wishing [a special kind of] birth; no gift for the sake of enjoyment of beauty, pleasure and power [having been born as a human]; no gift with the wish of being born as the king of the gods, the highest god, a protector of the world or in the group of all the gods; no gift which is transformed into the way of disciples or isolated buddhas; no gift wishing to be a crown-prince and to have the power of a king; no gift [of] which [the result] disappears in one lifetime; no gift [thinking:] “It is enough [with one lifetime], further giving is not needed”; no gift not transformed into the thought of omniscience; no unsuitable gift [as when giving too much food and drink to ascetics, and giving garlic, onion, meat and wine to those who do not eat these things as they think it is not right (pratikūla), thus defiling them]; no gift at the wrong time [as when giving to others without first giving to one’s own retinue]; no gift of poison [even wine] or swords; no gift [of meat, blood, etc.] that involves the injury of living beings [like the killing of sheep, etc.]. [In short], the generosity of the bodhisattvas is not censured by the wise.
[3. Its pure nature (viśuddhasvabhāva) as the adoption of an antidote (pratipakṣaparigraha):] [a) Antidote to the worldly (laukikapratipakṣa):] That generosity is accomplished in the form of emptiness, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is pervaded by the absence of distinguishing marks, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is established in the absence of longing for anything, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is transformed into the unconditioned, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is [correctly] undertaken, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is not contaminated by the threefold world, which is why it is imperishable. [b) Antidote of unworldly training (lokottaraśikṣāpratipakṣa):] That generosity has liberation as the outcome, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is the absolute subjugation of all the Evil Ones, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is not mixed up with any of the vices [and cannot perish through its contrary, namely meanness and concepts of self and other (mātsaryaparâtmagrahavipakṣa) ], which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is going to a different state, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is definitely a good deed, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is accumulation of merit on the way to awakening, which is why it is imperishable. [c) Incomparable (anuttara):] That generosity is rightly transformed, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity has liberation as the outcome, it is an ornament of the place of awakening, which is why it is (p. 33) imperishable; that generosity is nourishing all beings, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is boundless, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is beyond decrease, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is not included in anything [neither the side of existence nor that of extinction (saṃsāranirvāṇapakṣa) ] which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is never interrupted [because it is not the case that what has been given in the past is not to be given in the future], which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is abundant, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is not dependent [on the fruit (phala) ], which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is without any [future] basis, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is faultless, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is blameless, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is never subdued [never getting into the power of its contrary, meanness (mātsaryavipakṣa) ], which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is unsurpassed, which is why it is imperishable; that generosity is bent on the knowledge of omniscience, which is why it is imperishable.
This, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is called the bodhisattvas’ imperishable generosity.