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Bodhisattva Vimalakirti was a renowned lay disciple and wealthy patron of Shakyamuni Buddha. The name Vimalakirti means “pure reputation”. It is said that Vimalakirti would often use the pretense of illness as an opportunity to present well-wishing visitors with spiritual teachings. He used and often shared an in-depth understanding of topics such as the path to liberation and the nature of “emptiness.” His approach was said to enlighten even advanced Bodhisattva members of the Buddha’s sangha, as well as laypersons. Vimalakirti is the legendary figure of “The Teaching of Vimalakirti,” a scripture that is included among the classic Mahayana sutras. “The Teaching of Vimalakirti” highlights the inner Truth that is available to everyone, independent of either worldly or spiritual status. The main theme of this scripture is “non-duality,” a concept especially important in Mahayana Buddhism. Basically, it refers to perception that does not distinguish between self and other. Non-duality also means “oneness,” as in the unity of the individual soul with God.
We will now share with you Chapter 9 of “The Teaching of Vimalakirti, ‘The Dharma-Door of Non-duality,’” in which Vimalakirti challenges a group of transcendent Bodhisattvas to explain how to enter the Dharma-door. “Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti asked those Bodhisattvas, ‘Good sirs, please explain how the Bodhisattvas enter the Dharma-door of non-duality!’”
“The Bodhisattva Dharmavikurvaṇa declared, ‘Noble sir, production and destruction are two, but what is not produced and does not occur cannot be destroyed. Thus the attainment of the tolerance of the birthlessness of things is the entrance into non-duality.’”
“The Bodhisattva Śrīgupta declared, ‘I and mine are two. If there is no presumption of a self, there will be no possessiveness. Thus, the absence of presumption is the entrance into non-duality.’”
“The Bodhisattva Śrīkūṭa declared, ‘Defilement and purification are two. When there is thorough knowledge of defilement, there will be no conceit about purification. The path leading to the complete conquest of all conceit is the entrance into non-duality.’”
“The Bodhisattva Nārāyaṇa declared, ‘To say, “This is mundane” and “That is transcendental” is dualism. This world has the nature of voidness, so there is neither transcendence nor involvement, neither progress nor standstill. Thus, neither to transcend nor to be involved, neither to go nor to stop — this is the entrance into non-duality.’”
“The Bodhisattva Dāntamati declared, ‘Life and liberation are dualistic. Having seen the nature of life, one neither belongs to it nor is one utterly liberated from it. Such understanding is the entrance into non-duality.’”