Vimalakirti, a Mahayana ideal

Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra

At that time, there lived in the great city of Vaisali a certain Licchavi, Vimalakirti by name. Having served the ancient Buddhas, he had generated virtue by honouring them and making offerings to them. He had attained tolerance as well as eloquence. He played with the great knowledge’s. He had attained the power of incantations and fearlessnesses. He had conquered all demons and opponents. He had penetrated the profound way of the Dharma.

He was liberated through the transcendence of wisdom. Having integrated his realization with skill in the technique of liberation, he was expert in knowing the thoughts and actions of living beings. Knowing the strength or weakness of their faculties, and being gifted with unrivalled eloquence, he taught the Dharma appropriately to each. Having applied himself energetically to the Mahayana, he understood it and accomplished his tasks with great finesse. He lived with the deportment of a Buddha, and his superior intelligence was as wide as an ocean. He was praised, honoured, and commended by all the Buddhas and was respected by Indra, Brahma, and all the Lokapalas.

In order to develop living beings with his skill in liberative technique, he lived in the great city of Vaisali. His wealth was inexhaustible for the purpose of sustaining the poor and the helpless. He observed a pure morality in order to protect the immoral. He maintained tolerance and self-control in order to reconcile beings who were angry, cruel, violent, and brutal. He blazed with energy in order to inspire people who were lazy. He maintained concentration, mindfulness, and meditation in order to sustain the mentally troubled. He attained decisive wisdom in order to sustain the foolish.

He wore the white clothes of the layman, yet lived impeccably like a religious devotee. He lived at home, but remained aloof from the realm of desire, the realm of pure matter, and the immaterial realm. He had a son, a wife, and female attendants, yet always maintained self-restraint. He appeared to be surrounded by servants, yet lived in solitude. He appeared to be adorned with ornaments, yet always was endowed with the auspicious signs and marks. He seemed to eat and drink, yet always took nourishment from the taste of meditation. He made his appearance at the sporting fields and in the casinos, but his aim was always to nurture those people who were attached to games and gambling. He visited the fashionable heterodox teachers, yet always kept unswerving loyalty to the Buddha. He understood the mundane and transcendental sciences and esoteric practices, yet always took pleasure in the delights of the Dharma. He mixed in all crowds, yet was respected as foremost of all.

In order to be in harmony with people, he associated with elders, with those of middle age, and with the young, yet always spoke in harmony with the Dharma. He engaged in all sorts of businesses, yet had no interest in profit or possessions. To train living beings, he would appear at crossroads and on street corners, and to protect them he participated in government. To turn people away from the Hinayana and to engage them in the Mahayana, he appeared among listeners and teachers of the Dharma. To develop children, he visited all the schools. To demonstrate the evils of desire, he even entered the brothels. To establish drunkards in correct mindfulness, he entered all the cabarets. He was honoured as the businessman among businessmen because he demonstrated the priority of the Dharma. He was honoured as the landlord among landlords because he renounced the aggressiveness of ownership. He was honoured as the warrior among warriors because he cultivated endurance, determination, and fortitude. He was honoured as the aristocrat among aristocrats because he suppressed pride, vanity, and arrogance. He was honoured as the official among officials because he regulated the functions of government according to the Dharma. He was honoured as the prince of princes because he reversed their attachment to royal pleasures and sovereign power. He was honoured as a eunuch in the royal harem because he taught the young ladies according to the Dharma.

He was compatible with ordinary people because he appreciated the excellence of ordinary merits. He was honoured as the Indra among Indra’s because he showed them of their lordship existed in the past, present, and future. He was honoured as the Brahma among Brahmas because he showed them the special excellence of knowledge. He was honoured as the Lokapala among Lokapalas because he fostered the development of all living beings. Thus lived the Licchavi Vimalakirti in the great city of Vaisali, endowed with infinite skill in the techniques of liberation.

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