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...
– [1. Since the object it takes into consideration (ālambanīya) is immeasurable (apramāṇa), it is, taking that object into consideration (ālambika) immeasurable itself:] The friendliness of the bodhisattvas, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is also imperishable.
Why? Because it is boundless. The friendliness of the bodhisattvas should be known as boundless, their presentation of friendliness is unbroken.
Thus, as great as the sphere of living beings may be, that much the bodhisattva pervades in producing thoughts of friendliness.
Just as, reverend Śāradvatīputra, there is no place which is not pervaded by space, just so, reverend Śāradvatīputra, there is no being who is not pervaded by the friendliness of the bodhisattva. Just as the sphere of beings is immeasurable – there is no exhaustion of it – just so the bodhisattva’s cultivation of friendliness is immeasurable – and in that there is no exhaustion. Thus, as space is imperishable, living beings are imperishable, and since living beings are imperishable, friendliness is imperishable; that is why the friendliness of those good men is said to be imperishable.
Thus addressed, the elder Śāradvatīputra again asked the bodhisattva Akṣayamati:
How great then, son of good family, is the sphere of living beings?
Akṣayamati said: – As great, reverend Śāradvatīputra, as is the sphere of earth, the sphere of water, the sphere of fire and the sphere of air, even greater than that is the sphere of living beings.
Said he again: – But, son of good family, is it possible to express it by examples?
Akṣayamati said: – Though it is possible, reverend Śāradvatīputra, no limited means of demonstration will do.
(p. 85) It is, reverend Śāradvatīputra, as if world-spheres as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā in the eastern direction, thus in the southern direction, thus in the western direction and thus in the northern direction, as if world-spheres as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā in each of the ten directions all were filled with the waters of the great ocean and made into one, if living beings as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā came together and took out of it one drop of water with a tip of a strand of hair split a hundred times, and then, if living beings as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā came together after a period of world-ages as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā and took out a second drop of water with a tip of a strand of hair split a hundred times, if by this way of establishing distinguishing marks, by this way of calculating, if once in a period of time consisting of world-ages as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā a drop of water was taken out by living beings as numerous as the grains of sand in the river Gaṅgā with a tip of a strand of hair split a hundred times, one by one, even though such a great mass of water would be exhausted, there would be no exhaustion or diminution in the sphere of living beings.
Thus, reverend Śāradvatīputra, the sphere of living beings is immeasurable, but the bodhisattva pervades them all with friendliness.
What do you think, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is the destruction of the immeasurable roots of good stemming from the cultivation of such friendliness possible?
Said he: – Not at all, son of good family, he would hold that space could perish who holds that such roots of good stemming from the cultivation of friendliness could perish. And the bodhisattvas who do not get scared having heard this, distinguish themselves through the imperishability of friendliness.
[2. Its action (karman):] Akṣayamati said:
– Friendliness is protection for oneself [since the friendly have no enemies to hurt them, and they have no aversion] and practice for the benefit of others; absence of quarreling; destroying all ill-will, harshness, aversion, rage and malice; absence of bad habits and manifestations of vices, and producing joy, not seeing the mistakes of any being; bringing pleasure to body and thought, leaving them untormented, and also beyond the violence of others; absence of fear for anything bad, and accordance with the holy way, making happy beings with paranoid and enraged thoughts; setting free from any conflict; [through vanquishing the Evil One and opponents with the concentration on friendliness (maitrīsamādhi) and thus] not carrying club or sword; joy by liberating all beings; absence of all aversion; absence of hypocrisy, boasting or threats [for the sake of gain].
[3. Its fruit (phala):] It is the producer of all kinds of wealth, honour and fame; honoured by all, the king of the gods, the lord of the world and the protectors of the world; adorned with the ornament of its own splendour; praised by the wise; protecting the simple-minded; in accordance with the way of Brahmā; not polluted by the sphere of cupidity; the excellent way of liberation for all beings; all ways of religious development are embodied in it; it attains non-material [and thus liberating] merit; it accumulates the multitude of all merit; is is not surpassed even by all merit produced by material things; adorned with the thirty-two characteristics of a great man and (p. 86) the eighty marks of beauty; avoiding birth with weak or imperfect sense-abilities; in accordance with the way that leads to fortunate birth [as a human or a god], and then to extinction; and avoiding birth in the eight untimely states of birth.
[4. Its essence (svabhāva):] Delight in the joy of [emptiness, the truth in] religion [or in the practice of religion] [and thus] no joy in pleasures, food and power; the same thoughts towards all beings, making no distinctions in the practice of generosity; the way into morality and rules of conduct, but protecting [from the bad] all with bad morality [and helping them to reach the good], showing the power of tolerance, no conceit, infatuation or arrogance; carrying through to the end all actions of right practice by undertaking imperturbable vigour; the root of the meditations, concentrations and states of meditation which the holy enter; deliverance from all vices by the meditations, liberations, concentrations and states of concentration; bringing about the causes of introspection and insight by retaining learning in sacred formulas; certainty of one’s own position of [purity (vyavadāna) ] and the other position [of evil and vices (mārakleśa) ], doing away with the position of evil and vices; pleasant to stay with; pondering the result of serving and progressing [on the stages (bhūmi) and in the moments of existence which are the wings of awakening (bodhipakṣikadharma) ]; guarding one’s behaviour, transcending all frivolity [in such a way that the senses (indriya) and consciousness (vijñāna) do not enter the outer objects (viṣaya), but stay in peace]; cessation of conceited action, being anointed with conscience regarding oneself and when confronted with others, and thus fragrant; and purification of the foul smell of the fetters of impressions and vices.
[5. Its excellence (viśeṣa):] Friendliness, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is protecting all beings, great friendliness is giving up one’s own pleasure and giving pleasure to living beings. The friendliness of the disciples is to protect oneself, the great friendliness of the bodhisattvas is to protect all beings.
Friendliness, reverend Śāradvatīputra, takes you out of the stream of existence.
[6. The different kinds (prabheda):] Friendliness, reverend Śāradvatīputra, consists in these three things. What three? 1) Friendliness with living beings as the object, 2) friendliness with moments of existence as the object, and 3) friendliness without object.
1) Friendliness with living beings as the object pertains to the bodhisattvas who have produced the thought of awakening for the first time;
2) friendliness with moments of existence as the object pertains to the bodhisattvas whose practice is in progress;
3) friendliness without object pertains to the bodhisattvas who have attained the tolerance that all moments of existence are unborn.
This, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is called the bodhisattvas’ imperishable friendliness.