Entrance into nonduality

One of the most interesting Mahasiddhas in the ancient Buddhist scriptures is Vimalakīrti.  By definition, a Mahasiddha is someone who is abiding on the tenth-bhumi level.  If you ever have a chance to read more about him you will learn, in detail, how such a bodhisattva operates beyond the limitations of the conventional mind.

Vimalakirti is a Mahayanist lay-practitioner and a contemporary of Gautama Buddha.  What separates him from the strict monks who have renounced the world is that he is an extremely wealthy person.  Yet, he is considered to be very honorable and impeccable in both the business and spiritual worlds.

At this particular time, he has taken on the sickness of others.  When the ruler of the region and various officials and others visit him to pay their respects, he takes the opportunity to expound dharma teachings.

When Shakyamuni Buddha learns of the situation, he asks each of his ten major monk disciples to visit Vimalakirti to inquire about his illness.  But each one declines to do so, each citing a past incident where he was rebuked for some deficiency in his understanding of dharma.  The same is repeated with various great celestial bodhisatvas, until Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, finally agrees.

From the Vimalakirti sutra:

The bodhisattva Parigudha declared, “‘Self’ and ‘selflessness’ are dualistic. Since the existence of self cannot be perceived, what is there to be made ‘selfless’? Thus, the nondualism of the vision of their nature is the entrance into nonduality.”

The bodhisattva Vidyuddeva declared, “‘Knowledge’ and ‘ignorance’ are dualistic. The natures of ignorance and knowledge are the same, for ignorance is undefined, incalculable, and beyond the sphere of thought. The realization of this is the entrance into nonduality.”

The bodhisattva Candrottara declared, “‘Darkness’ and ‘light’ are dualistic, but the absence of both darkness and light is nonduality. Why? At the time of absorption in cessation, there is neither darkness nor light, and likewise with the natures of all things. The entrance into this equanimity is the entrance into nonduality.”

The bodhisattva Manikutaraja declared, “It is dualistic to speak of good paths and bad paths. One who is on the path is not concerned with good or bad paths. Living in such unconcern, he entertains no concepts of ‘path’ or ‘nonpath.’ Understanding the nature of concepts, his mind does not engage in duality. Such is the entrance into nonduality.”

The bodhisattva Satyarata declared, “It is dualistic to speak of ‘true’ and ‘false.’ When one sees truly, one does not ever see any truth, so how could one see falsehood? Why? One does not see with the physical eye, one sees with the eye of wisdom. And with the wisdom-eye one sees only insofar as there is neither sight nor nonsight. There, where there is neither sight nor nonsight, is the entrance into nonduality.”

When the bodhisattvas had given their explanations, they all addressed the crown prince Manjusri: “Manjusri, what is the bodhisattva’s entrance into nonduality?”

Manjusri replied, “Good sirs, you have all spoken well. Nevertheless, all your explanations are themselves dualistic. To know no one teaching, to express nothing, to say nothing, to explain nothing, to announce nothing, to indicate nothing, and to designate nothing – that is the entrance into nonduality.”

Then the crown prince Manjusri said to the Licchavi Vimalakirti, “We have all given our own teachings, noble sir. Now, may you elucidate the teaching of the entrance into the principle of nonduality!”

Thereupon, the Licchavi Vimalakirti kept his silence, saying nothing at all.

The crown prince Manjusri applauded the Licchavi Vimalakirti: “Excellent! Excellent, noble sir! This is indeed the entrance into the nonduality of the bodhisattvas. Here there is no use for syllables, sounds, and ideas.”

When these teachings had been declared, five thousand bodhisattvas entered the door of the Dharma of nonduality and attained tolerance of the birthlessness of things.

Being inspired by the above greatness of Vimalakirit’s ‘diamond-like samadhi’ we may inquire how do we reach that level.  Well, there are many dharma doors to liberation.  The Buddha declared that there are literally 84,000 such methods to liberation.

Many of us realize that we live in a present-day world that is filled with even more deceptive attractions than in the past.  Since grasping is naturally stronger in people, we need a powerful method to overcome these negative forces.

Zen Meditation:

Here’s a helpful tip for the modern seeker.  When you grasp at the things that you desire very badly, notice how your breathing becomes disruptive.

Do you notice how your breath is most likely shallow or tight, right now?

Years ago, I came across a very potent meditation that you can derive a lot of benefit from if worked on seriously.  Its method was created by the Zennist and he states:

“To recollect that which is most antecedent to the in breath and out breath means that you must tune into that which is prior to the entire breathing cycle itself.

Just as the hand which lifts a staff is not part of the staff, likewise the antecedent recollection is not a part of your breathing.

As a practical illustration, you must recollect the antecedent as you breathe in and breathe out.  If the breathing is long or short, labored or otherwise, you must focus on the antecedent so that breathing follows after it.”

Take some time to investigate this form of meditative analysis.  Since the breath is so closely related to our own survival (which reinforces the concept of a self) it is a very good method to utilize.

Good luck,


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Filed under Buddhist sutras, Masters

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