Samdhirnimocana Sutra or Sutra of Unlocking the Mysteries Part 7A

Samdhirnimocana Sutra

Sutra of Unlocking the Mysteries

 

7A. The Transcendent Ways of the Stages

 

Then the enlightening being Avalokiteshvara said to the Buddha, "The Buddha speaks of ten stages of enlightening beings: the stage of intense joy, the stage of freedom from defilement, the stage of radiance, the stage of blazing intellect, the stage most difficult to conquer, the stage of presence, the stage of far going, the stage of immovability, the stage of good intellect, and the stage of cloud of teaching. You also speak of Buddha hood, making eleven stages. How many kinds of purity, in how many portions, are these stages contained in?"

 

The Buddha said, "The stages are contained by four kinds of purity in eleven portions. What does it mean to say that four kinds of purity can contain the stages? Purity of overwhelming determination contains the first stage, purity of overwhelming discipline contains the second stage, purity of overwhelming concentration contains the third stage, and purity of overwhelming insight become more and more refined in successive stages, so it includes the stages from the fourth stage up to Buddha hood.

 

"What does it mean to say that eleven portions contain the stages? First, in the stage of devoted practice, enlightening beings cultivate the tolerance of devotion extremely well, and therefore go beyond that stage and experientially enter the true nature of enlightening beings, detached from life. Due to these cooperating factors, this portion is complete in these enlightening beings, yet they still cannot act with correct knowledge of active expressions of subtle errors and faults.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they diligently practice so that they can realize it. Due to these cooperating factors, this portion is fulfilled, but they are still not able to attain the full potential of meditation and concentration in the world, or the mental control to remember what they hear and learn.

 

"Therefore they are still incomplete in this portion, and in order to fulfill this portion they practice diligently so as to be able to attain it. As a result, this portion is completed, but they are not yet able to command the elements of enlightenment they have attained and practiced and concentrated on so much, and they are unable to give up their attachments to concentration states and religious practices. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this next portion, they practice diligently so as to actually realize it. Therefore they become complete in this respect, but are still unable to truly observe the principles of the truths, and are unable to abandon one-sided attraction or aversion for life and death and nirvana. They are also unable to practice the elements of enlightenment included in expedients. Because of this, they are still incomplete in this respect, and they practice diligently to realize this portion and so fulfill it.

 

"Because of this, they complete this portion, but they are as yet unable to truly see through the continuing cycles of be coming and decay; and because they develop much revulsion to becoming and decay, they are unable to dwell much on formless attention. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect, and practice diligently to realize this portion and fulfill it. As a result, they become complete in this respect, but they still cannot make formless attention flawless and uninterrupted and highly cultivated. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they practice diligently to realize it. Due to this, they become complete in this respect, but they are as yet unable to relinquish effort in the formless state, and they are as yet unable to master forms. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they practice diligently to realize it. Due to this, they become complete in this respect, but they are as yet unable to attain great freedom in teaching with different terms, different forms, and different expressions, to all kinds of people. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they practice diligently to realize it. Due to this, they become complete in this respect, but they still do not attain direct experience of the perfect spiritual body. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they practice diligently to realize it. Due to this, they become complete in this respect, yet they are still incapable of unattached, unobstructed subtle knowledge and subtle vision of all objects of knowledge. Therefore they are still incomplete in this respect.

 

"In order to fulfill this portion, they practice diligently to realize it. Due to this, they become complete in this respect, and therefore all the portions are fulfilled. These eleven portions contain all the stages."

 

Avalokiteshvara also asked the Buddha, "Why is the first stage called the stage of extreme joy? And why are the other stages, up to the stage of Buddha hood, called what they are?"

 

The Buddha replied, "Accomplishing a great aim, attaining a world transcending mind for the first time, one becomes very joyful. The first stage is therefore called that of intense joy.

 

"By virtue of avoiding all transgressions, even minute ones, the second stage is called the stage of freedom from defilement, or purity.

 

"The third stage is called the stage of radiance because the concentration and mental control attained in this stage are a basis for immeasurable light of knowledge.

 

"The fourth stage is called the stage of blazing intellect because the elements of enlightenment one attains in this stage burn out afflictions with knowledge like flames of fire.

 

"The fifth stage is called the stage difficult to conquer because one attains mastery only after extreme difficulty in practicing the techniques of the elements of enlightenment.

 

"The sixth stage is called the stage of presence because one observes the flux of events at the moment, and because after a great deal of meditation upon the formless, it becomes manifest.

 

"The seventh stage is called the stage of far going because one in this stage realizes flawless, uninterrupted formless attention to a great extent, and is on the brink of purity.

 

"The eighth stage is called the stage of immovability by virtue of attainment of effortlessness in dealing with the formless, and not being moved by currently active afflictions in the midst of forms.

 

"The ninth stage is called the stage of good intellect because of mastery of all kinds of spiritual teaching and attainment of tremendous unimpeded knowing.

 

"The tenth stage is called cloud of teaching because the gross body is as vast as space and the spiritual body is fulfilled, like a great cloud that can cover all.

 

"The eleventh stage is called the stage of Buddha hood because of permanently stopping the most subtle barriers of afflictions and knowledge, being unattached and unobstructed in dealing with all kinds of objects of knowledge, and realizing true enlightenment."

 

Avalokiteshvara also asked the Buddha, "How many kinds of ignorance and grossness are there to be cured in these stages?"

 

The Buddha replied, "There are twenty-two kinds of ignorance and eleven kinds of grossness to be cured in these stages.

 

"In the first stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is the ignorance of clinging to person and thing. The other is ignorance of the defilement of wrong tendencies and actions. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the second stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of minute errors and transgressions. The other is ignorance of what various actions lead to. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the third stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of greed. The other is ignorance of complete mental control to retain what is learned. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the fourth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of attachment to attainments in concentration. The other is ignorance of attachment to religion. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the fifth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of one-sided thought rejecting life and death. The other is ignorance of one-sided thought heading for nirvana. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the sixth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of observing the flux of events at the moment. The other is ignorance of elaborate active mental patterns. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the seventh stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of subtle active mental patterns. The other is ignorance of method in one-sided formless awareness. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the eighth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of making effort toward the formless. The other is ignorance of control over forms. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the ninth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of control of the intellectual powers and mental command of ultimate understanding of infinite expressions of truth. The other is ignorance of free command of special knowledge of comprehension and communication. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the tenth stage, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of great mystic powers. The other is ignorance of awakening to subtle mysteries. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"In the stage of Buddhahood, coming to thusness, there are two kinds of ignorance. One is ignorance of extremely subtle sticking to objects of knowledge. The other is ignorance of extremely subtle barriers. These and their grossness are what is to be cured.

 

"The stages are set up because of these twenty-two kinds of ignorance and eleven kinds of grossness. Supreme perfect enlightenment is free from bondage to them."

 

The enlightening being Avalokiteshvara said to the Buddha, "Supreme perfect enlightenment is most marvelous and effects great benefits, great rewards, enabling enlightening beings to break through such great webs of ignorance and to get past such great wilds of grossness and to actually realize supreme perfect enlightenment in the present."

 

Avalokiteshvara then went on to ask the Buddha, "In these stages, how many kinds of excellence are defined?"

 

The Buddha replied, "In brief, there are eight. First is purity of strong determination. Second is purity of mind. Third is purity of compassion. Fourth is purity of transcendence. Fifth is purity of seeing Buddha’s and offering service. Sixth is purity of maturing sentient beings. Seventh is purity of birth. Eighth is purity of spiritual powers.

 

"These purities in the first stage increase and improve from stage to stage, to the purities of Buddha hood, except that there is no purity of birth in the stage of Buddha hood.

 

"Also, the virtues in the first stage all exist equally in the higher stages, so you should know that the virtues of each stage are excellent, but the virtues of the ten stages of all enlightening beings all have something above them. The virtues of the stage of Buddha hood, in contrast, have nothing above them."

 

The enlightening being Avalokiteshvara also asked the Buddha, "Why do you say the birth of enlightening beings is most excellent among living beings?"

 

The Buddha replied, "There are four reasons. First, because it is constructed on ultimately pure foundations of good. Second, because it is chosen intentionally, with conscious discernment. Third, because it is based on compassion to liberate sentient beings. Fourth, because one can be undefiled oneself, and remove the defilements of others."

 

Avalokiteshvara also asked the Buddha, "Why do you say enlightening beings carry out far-reaching vows, marvelous vows, excellent vows?"

 

The Buddha replied, "For four reasons. Enlightening beings do know the bliss of nirvana very well and can quickly realize it, yet they relinquish immediate experience of the state of bliss and arouse a mind of great aspiration to benefit living beings, without object, without expectation, and therefore they remain in the midst of many kinds of suffering over a long time. That is why I say that enlightening beings carry out far-reaching, marvelous, excellent vows."

 

The enlightening being Avalokiteshvara also asked the Buddha, "How many things should enlightening beings learn?"

 

The Buddha replied, "In general, there are six things enlightening beings should learn: consummate giving, discipline, forbearance, diligence, meditation, and insight."

 

Avalokiteshvara asked, "Of these things to learn, how many are included in the study of discipline, how many are included in the study of mental concentration, and how many are included in the study of knowledge?"

 

The Buddha replied, "The first three are included in the study of discipline. Meditation is included in the study of concentration. Insight is included in the study of knowledge. And I say diligence is in all of them."

 

Avalokiteshvara asked, "Of these six things to learn, how many are included in provisions of virtue, and how many are included in provisions of knowledge?"

 

The Buddha replied, "Whatever is included in the study of discipline is said to be included in provisions of virtue. Whatever is included in the study of knowledge is said to be included in provisions of knowledge. Diligence and meditation I say are in both provisions of virtue and knowledge."

 

Avalokiteshvara also asked, "How should enlightening beings cultivate these six things to learn?"

 

The Buddha replied, "They should cultivate them by five kinds of unification practice. First is intense devotion to the subtle correct teachings dealing with the ways of transcendence for enlightening beings. Second is diligent cultivation of subtle knowledge developed by learning, contemplating, and applying ten kinds of spiritual practice. Third is preserving the will for enlightenment in all situations. Fourth is associating with the wise. Fifth is constantly working to cultivate good."

 

Avalokiteshvara asked, "Why, as you define these things to learn, are there only six?"

 

The Buddha replied, "For two reasons. One is to benefit sentient beings. The other is to cure afflictions. The first three benefit sentient beings; the latter three cure all afflictions.

 

"As for the first three benefiting sentient beings, because of giving, enlightening beings use means of subsistence for the benefit of sentient beings, to help and aid them. Because of discipline, they do not act in harmful or oppressive or irritating ways, and thus they benefit sentient beings. Because of forbearance, they are able to bear injury, oppression, and annoyance by others, and thus benefit sentient beings.

 

"As for the latter three curing afflictions, because of diligence, although enlightening beings may not have yet subdued all afflictions forever or destroyed all propensities forever, still they diligently practice good, and those afflictions cannot upset their worthy efforts. By meditation, they permanently subdue afflictions. By insight, they permanently destroy propensities."

 

Avalokiteshvara asked, "Why, as you define the other ways of transcendence, are there only four more?"

 

The Buddha said, "Because they are aids to the first six ways of transcendence. Enlightening beings use skill in means of salvation to deal with sentient beings to be saved by the first three ways of transcendence, and place them in good. Therefore I say the transcendent way of skill in means is an aid to the first three ways of transcendence.

 

"If there are many afflictions in the present state, and so people are incapable of cultivation and continuity, and they have weak wills and inferior aspirations and so are incapable of inner mental stability, and are unable to hear the teachings for enlightening beings and cultivate good, therefore their meditations cannot bring forth transmundane wisdom; so they take in a little bit of narrow inferior virtue and truly vow in their hearts that in the future their afflictions will diminish. This is called the transcendent way of vowing. By this vowing, afflictions are weakened and diligence can be cultivated, so I say that the transcendent way of vowing is an aid to the transcendent way of diligence.

 

"If enlightening beings associate with good people, listen to true teaching, and think about it reasonably, and thereby transform inferior will into superior will, and can also attain higher aspiration, this is called the transcendent way of power. By this power, they have the capability of inner mental stability, so I say the transcendent way of power is an aid to the transcendent way of meditation.

 "If enlightening beings are able to hear the teachings for enlightening beings, focus on what is good, and cultivate its practice, they can develop meditation. This is called the transcendent way of knowledge, by virtue of which knowledge they are able to bring out transmundane wisdom. Therefore I say that the transcendental way of knowledge is an aid to the transcendental way of insight."

Samdhirnimocana Sutra 
 SUtra of Unlocking the Mysteries
Part 7A
 
 
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