Manjushri, what is meant by the Bodhisattva Mahasattva's range of practice? If a Bodhisattva Mahasattva dwells on the ground of patience, is gentle and compliant, not impetuous or volatile; if his mind is not frightened; if, moreover, he does not practice in regard to any dharma, but contemplates the marks of all dharmas as they really are not, however, practicing nondiscrimination—that is called the Bodhisattva Mahasattva's range of practice.
This section of text discusses the Bodhisattva's range of practice, which is why Shakyamuni Buddha says,
"Manjushri, do you know what is meant by the Bodhisattva Mahasattva's range of practice? Do you know what constitutes the scope of cultivation of a great Bodhisattva?
If a Bodhisattva Mahasattva dwells on the ground of patience—when a Bodhisattva cultivates the practice of being patient and resides at the level of patience—what is he like? It must be that he
is gentle and compliant, not impetuous or volatile."
Being patient is not at all easy. In the past, when Shakyamuni Buddha was a Patient Immortal, King Kali dismembered his body, yet as a Patient Immortal, he didn't feel any hatred or anger. That qualifies as dwelling on the ground of patience. Those who have heard the
Vajra Sutra know that story, but those who have not will not know it.
Limitless kalpas ago, Shakyamuni Buddha was in the mountains cultivating the practice of patience. You may wonder, "Since there aren't any people in the mountains, with whom was he being patient? No one came into conflict with him or had any dealings with him, and so how could he cultivate patience?" His cultivation of patience did not necessarily involve being insulted. He simply endured things people cannot bear. For instance, in the mountains there are many mosquitoes, and they bite people all the time. When the mosquitoes came to bite him, the Buddha, a Patient Immortal, was patient and didn't drive them away. First of all, he wanted to practice patience; and secondly, he was afraid that if he drove them away, he would terrify them. That's an example of how he was patient with small creatures. As to larger creatures, if snakes came to bite him, he would bear it. If wolves, bears, tigers, and leopards came wanting to tear into him, he endured it. He practiced patience toward all the animals, since there were no people there.
One time, King Kali came to the mountain to hunt. He brought a large group of people with him. There were ministers, generals, and quite a few women, including the queen and the ladies-in-waiting from the palace. During the sport, each of the men went off in pursuit of whatever kind of animal he spotted. The women didn't hunt, so they wandered around amusing themselves on the mountain. In the course of their explorations, they saw a very strange creature. The hair on his head was matted together like a rug, and his beard was very long. His fingernails were several inches long and had curled into several loops at the ends of his fingers. The women stared and exclaimed, "What kind of monster is that?" Many of them were frightened and wanted to run away.
But then the "monster" (they couldn't tell if it was an animal or a human being) spoke to them. He said, "Don't be afraid of me. I won't eat you."
The women said, "Oh, it's not a monster. He can talk like a human being." Then the ones who had started to run away came back, for people tend to be curious. They said, "Let's go see how he can talk."
They asked him, "What are you doing here?"
He answered, "I'm cultivating."
"What does 'cultivating' mean?" they asked.
He replied, "No matter what kind of trouble people give me, I endure it. I am cultivating the practice of patience."
Once he had said a few sentences, the women were no longer afraid, and they thought, "He talks. He's a person like us." They drew closer and closer until they had surrounded the Patient Immortal.
Meanwhile, King Kali had finished hunting and came back to look for his women. He was a long way off, but because there weren't any other sounds on the mountain, he could hear them chattering with someone. As the King approached, he saw the person had long hair and a long beard. However, he wasn't a hippie. You shouldn't be misled to think hippies are like the Patient Immortal. The Patient Immortal specialized in being patient, whereas hippies specialize in being impatient, in breaking the rules and doing every kind of disreputable thing there is to do.
As soon as the King saw the strange man talking with his women, he became jealous and thought, "You freak, you must have some special skill to be able to confuse my women like that."
To be continued