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...
36th Imperishable, The Presence of Recollection Concerned with Thought.
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
What then is the bodhisattva’s presence of recollection which consists in the consideration of thought It is not forgetting the thought of awakening, guarding it with recollection, and no lack of concentration.
He looks at [the] thought [of awakening] this way: “Thought [that is, thought itself and the thought of awakening] never remains once it has arisen, it is broken up and melts away as unstable, it does not remain internally, it does not perish outwardly, it is not perceived in between the two. The first thought of awakening arisen in me has perished and ceased, vanished and disappeared, it is not found in any place, not in any location, it is not possible to communicate it. And the thoughts by which the roots of good are accumulated for the sake of awakening, these have also perished and ceased, vanished and disappeared, they are not found in any place, not in any location, it is not possible to communicate them. The thoughts by which roots of the good are transformed into awakening are also of that nature, having those characteristics. Thought is not known by thought, thought is not seen by thought, [past] thought does not [perish in the future, it does not] connect itself to [future] thought.
What then is thought? That by which one thinks: ‘I will wake up to the incomparable perfect awakening’. But the thought of awakening does not stay with the roots of good [since there is really (svabhāvatas) no attainment at all]; and again, [thus] the thought of the roots of the good does not stay with the thought of transformation. Thus he reflects.
If the bodhisattva reflecting thus does not get afraid, scared or terrified, he is one to continually consider thought.
Again he thinks: “[Thought is essentially empty (svabhāvaśūnya), but] dependent origination is very deep since there is no destruction of [the connection between] the cause [that which is performed] and the fruit [attained, i. e., according to conventional truth (saṃvṛtyā) ]. Even though the true state of thought is such [that it is in the highest meaning (paramārthatas) essentially empty (svabhāvaśūnya) ], all moments of existence are dependent on causes and conditions, but without a mover, without an activator, without an owner, beyond appropriation. I will create them [the causes (hetu), like giving up all belongings, and the fruit (phala), purifying my buddha-field] according to my wish, and I will exert myself in creating [according to conventional truth (saṃvṛtyā) ], but I will not give up the true state of thought [which is unborn according to the highest truth (paramārthatas) ].
(p. 131) What then is the true state of thought, what is creating?
Thought is like an illusion – here there is no giver at all – this is called the true state of thought, but when one gives up all belongings and transforms it so as to purify one’s buddha-field, it is called creating.
Thought is like a dream, characterized by absolute peace, this is called the true state of thought, but when one transforms morality, training and qualities of purification into omniscience – gathering the accumulation for awakening – it is called creating.
Thought is like a reflection, from the beginning not developed, this is called the true state of thought, but when one transforms all tolerance and mildness into attaining the tolerance that all moments of existence are unborn, it is called creating.
Thought is like a mirage [empty of water], dissociated [from and empty of subject and object (grāhyagrāhaka) ] because of its absolute dissociation, this is called the true state of thought, but when one transforms the undertakings of vigour for [attaining] all roots of the good into fulfilling all teachings of the Buddha, it is called creating.
Thought is without form, it cannot be demonstrated, is unhindered [and all-pervasive (sarvatragata) like empty space (ākāśa) ] and beyond communication, this is called the true state of thought, but when one transforms all meditations, liberations, concentrations and the states of concentration into attaining the concentration of a Buddha [that is, the concentration beyond thought-constructions (nirvikalpasamādhi) ], it is called creating.
Thought cannot be grasped; signless, it cannot be demonstrated, it has no basis, this is called the true state of thought, but when one transforms the knowledge of explaining by analysis all words of questions into fulfilling the knowledge of a Buddha, it is called creating.
Thought does not originate without an object [that is, without the causes and conditions of objects (ālambanahetupratyaya) ], this is called the true state of thought; when one produces thoughts that have all roots of good as the object for the sake of attaining all the qualities of a Buddha, it is called creating.
Thought does not originate without a cause, this is called the true state of thought, but when one produces thoughts for the sake of [that is, being the cause of] all the moments of existence that are wings of awakening, it is called creating.
Thought does not originate without the six object-fields of sense-perception, this is called the true state of thought, but when one produces thoughts [namely the moments of existence of insight and expedient means (prajñopāyadharma) ] for the sake of [that is, being the cause of, in that they produce] the field of all the teachings [and qualities] of a Buddha [this field, however, being emptiness (śūnyatā) ], it is called creating.
The bodhisattva continually considering thought treats [and thus makes one-pointed (ekāgra) ] thought so as to attain supernormal knowledge; and having attained supernormal knowledge by means of thought he knows the mental behaviour of all beings. Having known this he teaches them religion in accordance with their nature. The bodhisattva continually considering thought treats thought so as to attain great compassion; and having attained great compassion by means of thought he never gets tired of maturing all beings. The bodhisattva continually considering thought does not produce the thought that thought should perish, or that thought should cease [like the disciples and isolated buddhas intent solely on peace (śānti), on extinction (nirvāṇa); on the contrary, by expedient means (upāya) he does not cut off the roots of good (kuśalamūla) in the stream of existence (saṃsārasrotas) ], (p. 132) but he produces the thought to join himself to the roots of good in the stream of existence. Though he by that knowledge of recollection of thought is situated in the moment of existence which is the entrance into the certainty that all is unborn, does not arise and does not cease, he does not fall into the stage of disciples and isolated buddhas. And until the fulfilment of all qualities of a Buddha [that is, the incomparable complete awakening (anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi) for oneself and all other beings], he relates at any time to the continuity of thoughts [never giving up the continuity of thoughts which is the union of insight and expedient means (prajñôpâyayuganaddha) ]; and he wakes up to incomparable, perfect awakening by insight associated with that moment.
This is called the bodhisattvas’ presence of recollection which consists in the consideration of thought.