The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra

by Charles Luk | 1972 | 32,509 words

Translated and edited from the Chinese (Kumarajiva ed. T.475) by Charles Luk (Lu K'uan Yi) in 1972....

Chapter 9 - Initiation Into The Non-Dual Dharma

At that time, Vimalakirti said to the Bodhisattvas present: “Virtuous Ones, each of you please say something about the non-dual Dharma as you understand it.”

In the meeting, a Bodhisattva called “Comfort in the Dharma” said: “Virtuous Ones, birth and death are a duality but nothing is created and nothing is destroyed. Realization of this patient endurance leading to the uncreate is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The bodhisattva called “Guardian of the Three Virtues” said: “Subject and object are a duality for where there is ego there is also (its) object, but since fundamentally there is no ego, its object does not arise; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Never Winking” said: “Responsiveness (vedana, the second aggregate) and unresponsiveness are a duality. If there is no response to phenomena, the latter cannot be found anywhere; hence there is neither accepting nor rejecting (of anything), and neither karmic activity nor discrimination; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Highest virtue” said: “Impurity and purity are a duality. When the underlying nature of impurity is clearly perceived, even purity ceases to arise. Hence this cessation (of the idea of purity) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Winner of Samadhi by Looking at the Star” said: “(External) disturbance and (inner) thinking are a duality; when disturbance subsides, thinking comes to an end and the absence of thought leads to non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Skillful Eye” said: “Monistic form and formlessness are a duality. If monistic form is realized as (fundamentally) formless, with relinquishment of formlessness in order to achieve impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Wonderful Arm” said: “The Bodhisattva mind and the Sravaka mind are a duality. If the mind is looked into as void and illusory, there is neither Bodhisattva mind nor sravaka mind; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva Pusya said: “Good and evil are a duality; if neither good nor evil arises so that formlessness is realized to attain Reality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva Simha (Lion) said: “Weal and woe are a duality; if the underlying nature of woe is understood, woe does not differ from weal. If the diamond (indestructible) wisdom is used to look into this with neither bondage nor liberation (coming into play), this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Lion’s Fearlessness” said: “The mundane and supra-mundane are a duality. If all things are looked into impartially, neither the mundane nor the supra-mundane will arise, with no differentiation between form and formlessness, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Pure Interpretation” said: “Activity (ju wei) and non-activity (wu wei) are a duality, but if the mind is kept from all mental conditions it will be (void) like space and pure and clean wisdom will be free from all obstructions. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva Narayana said: “The mundane and the supra-mundane are a duality but the underlying nature of the mundane is void (or immaterial) and is but the supra-mundane, which can be neither entered nor left and neither overflows (like the stream of transmigration) nor scatters (like smoke). This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Skillful Mind” said: “Samsara and nirvana are a duality. If the underlying nature of samsara is perceived there exists neither birth nor death, neither bondage nor liberation, and neither rise nor fall. Such an understanding is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Direct Insight” said: “The exhaustible and the inexhaustible are a duality. If all things are looked into exhaustively, both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible cannot be exhausted; and the inexhaustible is identical with the void which is beyond both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible. Such an interpretation is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Upholder of Universality” said: “The ego and non-ego are a duality. Since the ego cannot be found, where can the non-ego be found? He who perceives the real nature of the ego will not give rise to dualities; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Lightning Perception” said: “Enlightenment and unenlightenment are a duality, but the underlying nature of non-enlightenment is enlightenment which should also be cast away; if all relativities are discarded and replaced by non-dual impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva Priyadarsana said: “Form (rupa) and voidness are a duality, (but) form is identical with voidness, which does not mean that form wipes out voidness, for the underlying nature of form is void of itself. So are (the other four aggregates) reception (vedana), conception (sanjna), discrimination (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana- in relation to voidness). “Consciousness and voidness are a duality (yet) consciousness is identical with voidness, which does not mean that consciousness wipes out voidness for the underlying nature of voidness is void of itself. A thorough understanding of this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Understanding the Four Elements” said: “The four elements (earth, water, fire and air) and their voidness are a duality (but) the underlying nature of the four elements is identical with that of voidness. Like the past (before the four elements came into being) and the future (when they scatter away) which are both void, the present (when they appear) is also void. Identical understanding of the underlying nature of all four elements is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Deep Thought” said: “Eyes and form are a duality (but) if the underlying nature of the eye is known with neither desire nor anger nor stupidity in relation to things seen, this is nirvana. “Likewise, the ear and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the body and touch, and the mind and ideation are dualities (but) if the underlying nature of the mind is known with neither desire, anger and stupidity in relation to things (heard, smelt, tasted, touched and thought), this is nirvana. Resting in this state (of nirvana) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Inexhaustible Mind” said: “Charity-perfection (dana-paramita) and the dedication (parinamana) of its merits towards realizing the all-knowledge (sarvajna) are a duality, (but) the underlying nature of charity is dedication towards the All-knowledge. “Likewise, discipline perfection (sila-paramita), patience-perfection, (ksanti-paramita), zeal-perfection (virya-paramita), meditation-perfection (dhyana-paramita) and wisdom-perfection (prajna-paramita), with dedication to the All-knowledge, are (five) dualities, but their underlying natures are but dedication to the All-knowledge, while realization of their oneness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Profound Wisdom” said: “Voidness, formlessness and non-activity are (three different gates to liberation, and when each is compared to the other two there are) three dualities, (but) voidness is formless and formlessness is non-active. For when voidness, formlessness and non-activity obtain, there is neither mind, nor intellect nor consciousness, and liberation through either one of these three gates is identical with liberation through all the three. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Unstirred Sense Organs” said: “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are three different treasures and when each is compared to the other two there are three dualities (but) Buddha is identical with Dharma, and Dharma is identical with Sangha. For the three treasures are non-active (wu wei) and are equal to space, with the same equality for all things. The realization of this (equality) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Unimpeded Mind” said: “Body and its eradication (in nirvana) are a duality but body is identical with nirvana. Why? Because if the underlying nature of body is perceived, no conception of (existing) body and its nirvanic condition will arise, for both are fundamentally non-dual, not being two different things. The absence of alarm and dread when confronting this ultimate state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Superior Virtue” said: “The three karmas (produced by) body, mouth and mind (are different when each is compared to the other two and make three) dualities (but) their underlying nature is non-active; so non-active body is identical with non-active mouth, which is identical with non-active mind. These three karmas being non-active, all things are also non-active. Likewise, if wisdom (prajna) is also non-active, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Field of Blessedness” said: “Good conduct, evil conduct and motionlessness are (different and when each is compared to the other two make three) dualities (but) the underlying nature of all three is voidness which is free from good, evil and motionlessness. The non-rising of these three is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Majestic Blossom” said: “The ego and its objective are a duality, (but) if the underlying nature of the ego is looked into, this duality vanishes. If duality is cast away there will be no consciousness, and freedom from consciousness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Treasure of Threefold Potency” said: “Realization implies subject and object which are a duality, but if nothing is regarded as realization, there will be neither grasping nor rejecting, and freedom from grasping and rejecting is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Moon in Midheaven” said: “Darkness and light are a duality. Where there is neither darkness nor light, this duality is no more. Why? Because in the state of samadhi resulting from the complete extinction of sensation and thought there is neither darkness nor light, while all things disappear. A disinterested entry into this state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva Ratna Mudra( (Precious Symbol) said: Joy in nirvana and sadness in samsara are a duality which vanishes when there is no longer joy and sadness. Why? Because where there is bondage, there is also (desire for) liberation, but if fundamentally there is no bondage nor liberation, there will be neither joy nor sadness; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Gem on the Head” said: “Orthodoxy and heterodoxy are a duality, (but) he who dwells in (i.e. realizes) orthodoxy does not discriminate between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Keeping from these two extremes is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

The Bodhisattva “Joy in Reality” said: “Reality and non-reality are a duality, (but) he who realizes reality does not even perceive it, still less non-reality. Why? Because reality is invisible to the ordinary eyes and appears only to the eye of wisdom. Thus (realization of) the eye of wisdom, which is neither observant nor unobservant, is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

After the Bodhisattva had spoken, they asked Manjusri for his opinion on the non-dual Dharma.

Manjusri said: “In my opinion, when all things are no longer within the province of either word or speech, and of either indication or knowledge, and are beyond questions and answers, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

At that time, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti: “All of us have spoken; please tell us what is the Bodhisattva’s initiation into the non-dual Dharma.”

Vimalakirti kept silent without saying a word. At that, Manjusri exclaimed: “Excellent, excellent! Can there be true initiation into the non-dual Dharma until words and speech are no longer written or spoken?”

After this initiation into the non-dual Dharma had been expounded, five thousand Bodhisattvas at the meeting were initiated into it thereby, realizing the patient endurance of the uncreate.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: