400 verses | Āryadeva | 5


400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century

Part 5 | of 16

Indicating the Behaviour of Bodhisattvas


There are no actions of the Buddhas
that are not causes (for benefiting others).
Even their breath is issued only for the sake
of (acting as a) medicine for limited beings.


Just as the word “Lord of Death
produces terror for all the world;
likewise, this word “Omniscient One
produces terror indeed for the Lord of Death.


The Able Sage (Buddha) possesses (the foresight to know
when) to act and not to act, what to teach and not to teach.
Therefore, what reason is there to say
that the Omniscient One is not omniscient?


Because you cannot see (any action),
such as going and so forth, (becoming) positive and so on
except through the thought (that motivates it),
therefore the mind is established as crucial for all karma.


For Bodhisattvas, then, constructive (actions)
and even (normally) destructive ones
become constructive and good through their intentions.
Why? Because these (actions)
are controlled (in accordance) with their minds.


The positive force
of a Bodhisattva’s first (generating a deepest Bodhichitta) mind
is more especially distinguished than that
which (would be required) for all the limited beings on the earth
to become universal chakra-emperors.


And (the positive force of) someone
who disciplines and causes (others) to develop Bodhichitta
is said to be chosen as more supreme
than that from erecting a Stūpa
with the nature of precious gems and as high as the universe.


A spiritual mentor who wishes to benefit a disciple
needs to show deference to his (inclinations and needs).
Because he knows not (how) to benefit himself,
(a disciple) is called “one who’s to be taught.


Just as a doctor
doesn’t fight with a (patient) seized by demons and rage;
likewise, a sage sees the disturbing emotions as the enemy,
not the person who’s possessed with these emotions.


Whatever (teachings) anyone has preference for,
he should be (taught to) act (in accord with) these first.
By no means is (someone a) vessel for (the profound) sacred teachings
if they would cause him (spiritually) to decline
(if he were taught them prematurely).


Just as a mother
would be more especially concerned and loving
toward a child afflicted with a sickness;
likewise, the loving affection of Bodhisattvas
for those not nice is especially (great).


Appearing as the disciples of some
and as the spiritual mentors of others,
those who know skilful means use various methods
to bring insight to those not understanding (voidness).


Just as it’s rare for a physician, who has become proficient,
not to be able to treat some sickness,
likewise it is exceedingly rare for a Bodhisattva,
after he’s gained his powers, not to be able to tame someone.


If a Bodhisattva were not to encourage some people
to be objects (for his Enlightening influence),
he’d be causing them to go to worse rebirth states
and thus would become an object of abuse for others with intelligence.


And how could any (beginner Bodhisattva),
who (because of jealousy) did not accept
that it’s good to be compassionate and kind to others
oppressed (by disturbing emotions),
later on, give with generosity and kindness (even his body)
to these protectorless ones?


In order to benefit (all) wandering beings,
(Bodhisattvas) remain for as long as the universe.
If those who would remain apart (from having respect for them)
bring ruination (upon themselves),
what’ll be for those who hate them from the bottom of their hearts?


Those (Bodhisattvas) who have
even the 5 extrasensory abilities for (helping) all beings
(will assume even) inferior forms,
like those of lowly (animals, in order to help others.
Such are) their extremely difficult actions (to benefit others).


The Thusly Gone (Buddhas) have said
that the (amount of) positive force built up (by these Bodhisattvas)
over extremely long periods of time through (such) methods
(to benefit others) at all times
is not even an object an omniscient mind knows.


(Oncoming) death, the Dharma teachings
and (causes for) further lives (helpful for others)
– (all these) are indicated by the (single) word “giving”.
Therefore, every time Bodhisattvas hear the word “giving
(it gives them great joy).


To give in order to receive (something back, however),
thinking great (enjoyment) will come about in this (lifetime)
as the result from generous giving,
is just like selling and so forth, and is despised (by the hallowed ones).


(How can you say that those Bodhisattvas)
who have previously built up negative karmic force
cannot (eliminate) its possession (through their positive deeds)?
There’s no such thing as these (Bodhisattvas) having constructive karma
and yet not being able to fulfil (the purposes of others).


Those (Ārya Bodhisattvas) whose minds
have great waves (of exceptional resolve),
even (while remaining) in this (Saṁsāra existence) are not harmed (by it).
Therefore, for them, there’s no difference
(whether they’re) in (compulsive Saṁsāra) existence
or in a Nirvāṇa state of release.
(They’re unaffected by the disadvantages of either).


(Ārya Bodhisattvas) are able to take birth (as they wish)
from having control over their minds at all times.
For what reason, then,
should they not become the lords of all the world, (able to help everyone)?


Great outstanding (results come) from outstanding (causes).
Certain (examples of this) can be seen even in this world.
Therefore, understand that from the force
of an inconceivable (build-up of positive force),
there certainly will be (the omniscience of Buddhahood).


Just as the stupid generate fear
for the extremely profound teachings (of voidness),
the cowardly generate fear for the extremely amazing teachings
(concerning Bodhisattva behaviour).