The Prajna Paramita Sutra on the Buddha-Mother's Producing the Three Dharma Treasures, Spoken by the Buddha
Chapter 13: UNTHINKABLE
Five Attributes of Perfect Wisdom
Subhuti: Unfathomable, O Lord, is perfect wisdom. As a great enterprise this perfection of wisdom becomes of itself when illucidated and revealed through any exceedingly refined vortex of cognition and awareness. Such comes to be simply revealed as unthinkable, incomparable, immeasurable, incalculable, ...as an enterprise equaling the unequalled.
The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. How and why does this come to be an unthinkable enterprise? Unthinkable is Tathagatahood, Buddhahood, [our] spontaneous self-existence which is at all times empty of any self or notions whatsoever, truly as this state of all-knowledge, yet still comes to be revealed as such. On such as this one cannot reflect with one's thought, since this can be neither any object as thought, nor of volition, nor of any dharmas which constitute thought. Why is it this incomparable enterprise? One cannot reflect on Tathagatahood, etc., nor compare these as such. Why is it immeasurable? Tathagatahood, etc., is immeasurable. Why is it incalculable? Tathagatahood, etc., is incalculable. Why is any enterprise equal to such as this unequalled? Nothing can equal Tathagatas, as fully Enlightened Ones, as Self-existent, as All-knowing, can anything be superior to such as these as totally equanimous?
Subhuti: Do these five attributes apply only to Tathagatahood, etc., or also to the skandhas, and to all dharmas?
The Lord: These attributes apply to skandhas as well as all dharmas also. Also the skandhas, and also all dharmas are unthinkable. As skandhas (i.e., form, feeling, perceptions, impulses, and/or consciousness) regard or 'show up' as in relation to true essential nature, here is neither thought nor volition, nor any of these dharmas which constitute thought, nor any comparing. For and as this reason, skandhas and all dharmas are also unthinkable and uncomparable. These are also immeasurable, as one cannot conceive of a measure of any nor all skandhas, since such a measure cannot itself exist as a consequence of infinitude [and as all dharmas relate to such]. These are also incalculable, as these are beyond any possibility of counting. These are also equal to the unequalled, as all dharmas are space. So do you think, Subhuti, here even exists (as related to space)...any sameness, or counting, or measure, or comparison, or thought, or any dharma which might even constitute thought?
Subhuti: No, Lord.
The Lord: In like manner Dharma is unthinkable, incomparable, immeasurable, incalculable, equal to no-thing even such as no equal...as Tathagata-dharma. Tathagata-dharma is unthinkable as all thought is as naught, is incomparable as such is beyond all comparison. Words such as 'unthinkable' and 'incomparable' denote any and all objects as consciousness as do 'immeasurable', 'incalculable' and 'equal to the unequalled'. Any measure, calculation and sameness is as naught, as Tathagata-dharma is immeasurable, incalculable, equal to no-thing as such has no equal. This is immeasurable, incalculable, equal to no-thing as this immeasurableness and incalculability is as space. Dharma is incomparable as any sense, as space is incomparable. Dharma cannot be placed side by side, as such cannot be compared. Dharma is unthinkable, incomparable, immeasurable, incalculable, equal to no-thing as such in this same sense, as space is this attribute.
Spiritual Rebirth Resulting from This Knowledge
As any doctrine of unthinkability, etc., is being taught, the minds of hundreds of monks who are ripened are freed from the outflows, without further clinging, and so are the minds of two thousand nuns in similar ripeness. [i.e., Four outflows; 1) sense-desire, 2) becoming 3) ignorance 4) false views. The extinction of these four outflows constituted arhatship.] Six thousand lay brethren and three thousand lay sisters obtain the pure, dispassionate, unstained eye of Dharma. Twenty thousand Bodhisattvas secure the patient acceptance of dharmas which fail to be produced. The Lords have predicted these to secure enlightenment in this very Bhadrakalpa [an auspicious aeon in which one thousand Buddhas are to appear]. And as to these lay brethren and lay sisters, whose dharma-eye is purified, these also are predestined by the Lords, and these also are free, without further clinging, from any outflows.
Nothing To Take Hold Of
Subhuti: Unfathomable, O Lord, is perfect wisdom. Certainly as a great venture this is set upon.
The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. All-knowledge is entrusted to perfection of wisdom, and so is these levels of a Pratyekabuddha and the level of all the Disciples. An anointed king, a Kshatriya, who feels strong and secure in his kingdom, entrusts all his business concerning his kingly office, and the city and the kingdom to his minister, and he himself has few cares and his burden is light. Just so, whatever dharmas of Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas, or Disciples may be possible are all entrusted to the perfection of wisdom. It is the perfection of wisdom which in these does the work. It is in this manner that perfect wisdom is set upon for a great venture, i.e. so one cannot take hold of form, feeling, perception, impulse, or consciousness, nor settle down in it and so also for skandhas, so also for the fruits of this holy life, from the fruit of a Streamwinner to this state of all-knowledge.
Subhuti: In what way is perfection of wisdom set upon so one cannot take hold of this state of all-knowledge, nor settle down in this?
The Lord: Do we view Arhatship as any real dharma which we could take hold of, or settle down in?
Subhuti: No, Lord!
The Lord: So it is, Subhuti. I also do not view Tathagatahood as real, and here I do not take hold of it, do not settle down in this. For this reason all-knowledge also is a state in which one neither takes hold of anything, nor settles down in anything.
Subhuti: Bodhisattvas who have but newly set out in the vehicle, and whose wholesome roots are but small, must beware not to tremble when hearing this exposition. On the other hand, Bodhisattvas do, on hearing this unfathomable perfection of wisdom, firmly believe this as these may have become suitable for Buddhahood, have fulfilled their duties in view of the Jinas of any time, and have planted wholesome roots continuously.
The Lord: So it is, Subhuti.
Reaction of the Gods
So now...the Gods of the realm of sense-desire and of the realm of form said to the Lord: Unfathomable, O Lord, is this perfection of wisdom, hard to see, hard to understand. Bodhisattvas who resolutely believe in this unfathomable perfection of wisdom fulfill their duties in accord with Jinas of any time, must have planted wholesome roots continuously. If, O Lord, all the beings in this great trichiliocosm, for an aeon or the remainder of an aeon, course as any stage of a Faith-follower; on the other hand someone for one day only is finding pleasure in patient acceptance of this unfathomable perfection of wisdom, and as one searches this, as one reflects on this, weighs this up, investigates this and is meditating on this, this latter being unveils realization of view and knowledge as all these things.
The Lord: As someone hears, O Gods, this unfathomable perfection of wisdom, meditation, joyful effort, patience, self-discipline, generosity... then one can rightly expect one's realization to take place more quickly than realizations of those who course on any stage of a faith-follower for an aeon, or for the remainder of an aeon.
The Gods: A great perfection is this perfection of wisdom! With these words, they saluted the Lord's feet with their heads, thrice walked round the Lord, decided to go away from this presence of the Lord, took friendly leave of him, and moved away. Before these had not gone far, yet these disappeared from sight, and these Gods of the realm of sense-desire departed for the world of sense-desire, and these Gods of the realm of form departed for the Brahma-world.
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