THE GOOD DHARMA
Heroic Progress, or
The samādhisūtra associated with the Wise
Thus have I heard.
At one time Buddha was in Rājagrha (Rajgir) on Grhrdakūta-párvata (Vulture Peak), with a great assembly of bhikshus, thirty-two thousand bhiksus, and Mahāsattva-bodhisattvas numbering seventy-two thousand.
These last were born to (,resp. from) supernatural powers (abhijñānābhijñāta); they possessed the dhāranī; they were quick-witted (pratibhāna) and delighted in expounding ceaselessly; uninterruptedly in concentration (samādhisupratisthita), they never strayed from it; they were skilled in beneficial knowledge (jñāna-kúsala) and of inexhaustible knowledge-wisdom (aksaya-prajñā); they possessed the endurance pertaining to the profound teachings (gambhīra-dharmaksānti) and represented the profound Teachings of the Dharma (gambhīra-dharma-mukha); ....
The sūtra associated with the Wise
Thus have I heard.
Once Buddha stayed in the Jetavāna vihāra near Srávasti with twelve hundred and fifty bhiksus (most of whom) were great arhats who had crossed the stream of transmigration. They upheld his teaching firmly, could leap over all realms of existence and had achieved the respect inspiring deportment which was held in great esteem throughout the country. They followed the Buddha to turn the Wheel of the Law (Dharma) and were qualified to hand down his dharma. Being self-disciplined, they set a good example in the three worlds (past, present and future) in which they appeared in countless transformation bodies to deliver living beings and to save future generations from defilement. They were led by Sariputra the Wise, Mahā-Maudgalyāyana, Mahā-Kausthila, Purnamaitrayāniputra, Subhuti and Upanishād.(*)
The two introductions, that generally are omitted by students who're on the fast track, set the tone as far as the bodhisattva-arhat discussion is concerned. Left the praises are sung of the bodhisattvas on the tenth and last stage of cultivating who left the cycle of re-becoming but remain the helpful forces in the universe, the Mahāyāna says.
In the column on the right the praises of the arhat are sung. They may, the present-day Theravāda says (who were not the compilers of this sūtra) become Buddha in the future, after the present Buddha-sásana is over. A Buddha-sásana being the time and area where a Buddha appears in the world, or where it is remembered as such.
It is remarkable that this text translates the rebirth concept pertaining to the Hinayāna schools in Mahāyāna idealistic bodhisattvic wordings when it says that the arhat — basically presented by the Small Vehicle — in former ages "appeared in countless transformation bodies", that he does so in the present, and will continue to do so in the future. "Transformation body" being a thourougly Mahāyānistic concept. Different sects of Buddhism use it in highly different ways.
(*) The name Upanishād is no less than an attack on a certain body of Vedic (pre-Hindu) cultivators who followed the Upanishāds, a collection of Scriptures younger than the oldest Vedic Scriptures. The Vedic community paid back in kind by speaking of pāsandas, heretics, i.e. Buddhists.
The cultivation§ 70: Then the bodhisattva Drdhámati questioned the devaputra (child of either a superior clan, or a heavenly being) Matya-bhimukha: If a bodhisattva wishes to obtain this samādhi, what dharmas (things) should he cultivate?
The devaputra: A bodhisattva who wishes to obtain this samādhi should cultivate the dharmas of the worldly (prthagjána-dharma). If he sees those prthagjanadharma are neither united (yukta) with nor separate (viyukta) from the buddhadharmas (the phenomena pertaining to the Buddhas), then he is cultivating the samādhisūtra associated with the Wise.
Drdhamati: Can there be union (yoga) or separation (viyoga) in relation to the buddhadharmas?
The devaputra: In relation to the prthagjanadharma, there is neither union nor separation, and even less so in relation to the buddhadharmas.
The cultivation§ 1: "Virtuous men, I have always declared that Form and Mind and all causes arising therefrom, all mental conditions and all causal phenomena are but manifestations of the mind. Your bodies and minds are just appearances within the wonderful, bright and pure Profound Mind. Why do you stray from the precious, bright and subtle nature of fundamentally Enlightend Mind and so recognize delusion within enlightenment?"
Both fragments speak of the ultimate. The Samādhisūtra associated with the Wise however is far more radical than the Sūtra associated with the Wise. It demonstrates how the Vedic concepts of Oneness do not obtain: there is neither Oneness nor non-Oneness.
The Sūtra associated with the Wise on the other hand, does not go beyond an establishing of Mind as the ultimate realization and does not state that Mind, ultimately, is neither X-ness nor non-X-ness. And indeed, this allowed the Chinese audience to establish a "something", a something that became known as the (Hybr.Skr.:) alayavijñāna, the storehouse-consciousness.