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...
XIX. Turning the Wheel of Religion. (80th Imperishable, Expedient Means)
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
Further, reverend Śāradvatīputra, the bodhisattvas’ expedient means are also imperishable.
What then is expedient means?
[In short,] that by which the bodhisattva creates and activates all the teachings of a Buddha [the perfections (pāramitā), wings of awakening (bodhipakṣika), etc.] is expedient means.
[The following describes how it is:] The bodhisattva’s practice of all good moments of existence [giving birth as god or human being] is expedient means; introspection into one’s intention is expedient means; unbroken practice is expedient means; desiring with determination religious teachings which are distinguished [from those of disciples and isolated buddhas, namely those of the great way] is expedient means; fulfilling all the perfections through generosity is expedient means; assuming any kind of birth with morality is expedient means; to adorn body, speech and mind with tolerance for the sake of awakening is expedient means; exertion for beginning and carrying through with vigour is expedient means; knowledge of returning from [the worlds of] meditation (dhyānadhātu) to be born in the world of passion (kāmadhātu) through meditation is expedient means; giving up the unconditioned [while understanding it; not remaining in the sphere of the unconditioned (asaṃskṛtadhātu),but doing things pertaining to the conditioned (saṃskṛtakṛtya) ] with insight is expedient means; protecting the unprotected with friendliness is expedient means; not being contemptuous of existence because of one’s compassion is expedient means; to endure pleasant and unpleasant with joy is expedient means; to heap up all the accumulations of roots of the good with equanimity is expedient means; attaining the sight of a Buddha by means of divine sight is expedient means; attaining the hearing of a Buddha by means of divine hearing is expedient means; attaining knowledge of superior and inferior abilities through knowledge of others’ thoughts is expedient means; unattached knowledge of the three times through remembering earlier places of birth is expedient means; attaining the magical power of a Buddha with knowledge of the methods of magical power is expedient means; entering the intentions of living beings is expedient means; knowledge of the characteristics of behaviour is expedient means; descending after having ascended, ascending after having descended [that is, though having attained the above-mentioned qualities by meditation (dhyāna), etc., by the power of expedient means (upāyavaśena) he returns and keeps practising on lower stages (bhūmi) ] is expedient means; vice by virtue of freedom from vice [that is, having got rid of the hindrances of vices and knowledge of objects (kleśajñeyâvaraṇa), being without vices (niṣkleśabhūta), but appearing full of vices (kliṣṭa) in existence (saṃsāra) for the sake of living beings (sattvārtha) ] is expedient means; when, having put down the burden [of the five parts of personality (pañcaskandha) ], he [though unsullied (anāsravabhūta) ] takes up the burden [again for the sake of living beings (sattvārtha) ] it is expedient means; displaying the measurable as immeasurable is expedient means; displaying the immeasurable as measurable is expedient means; making things clear to those with weak abilities is expedient means; knowledge of the right and wrong time [to act] is expedient means; going by bad ways [the ways of existence (saṃsāramārga) ] though being on the way [viz. the sacred way (āryamārga) ] so as to set beings who are on bad ways on the right way is expedient means; making much out of little [by transforming into incomparable awakening (anuttarabodhipariṇāmanā) with pure intention (śuddhâśayena) small things, gifts, etc.], making the immeasurable out of much [with the purity of transforming (pariṇāmanāpariśuddhyā) great things, gifts, etc.] is expedient means; reconciling beings in discord is expedient means; when he stays with the weak, the average and the able, it is expedient means; when he falls from the practice of extinction to the practice of existence, it is expedient means; when he seeks bondage while liberated, it is expedient means; when, though he makes objects [both conditioned (saṃskṛta) and unconditioned (asaṃskṛta) ] of cognition perish [understanding them as empty (śūnya) ], he does not fall into [the extreme of emptiness (śūnyânta), namely] the destruction of objects of cognition, it is expedient means; when, though he [when practising intent on the good of living beings (sattvārthacaritakāle) ] relaxes the proper modes of deportment [of practising meditation, concentration, etc. (dhyānasamādhyādicarita) ], he does not give up the proper modes of deportment [which is the aim of meditation and concentration (dhyānasamādhyartha) ], it is expedient means; having living beings in view, (p. 153) not the morality [of the vows of the monastic code (prātimokṣasaṃvara) ] is expedient means; adopting viewpoints to attract [beings to educate them], not to make disaccord [like the tīrthikas] is expedient means; speaking [and thus teaching religion with words and expressions through expedient means for the sake of living beings, though understanding that all moments of existence are beyond expression (anabhilāpya) ] is expedient means; expedient means has the threefold world as its range; the practice having the character of attaining the three gates to liberation is expedient means; mixing with the unholy [even though being holy oneself (ātmaîvâryabhūto ’pi) ] and not mixing with the holy is expedient means; having turned the view away from extinction [though having attained it] and facing existence [for the sake of beings (sattvārtha) ] is expedient means; the light of no vices even in the region of the Evil One [the sphere of passion (kāmadhātu) ] is expedient means; [knowledge that, according to concealed truth (saṃvṛtitas),] all [substances (bhāva) may be born] from any [substance, and, according to the highest truth (paramārthatas), understanding that] none [not even a single substance, is born] from any [substance] is expedient means.
This, reverend Śāradvatīputra, is called the bodhisattvas’ imperishable expedient means.
These, reverend Śāradvatīputra, are the bodhisattvas’ eighty imperishables; in these imperishables all the Buddhas’ teachings are included and summarized.