Manjushri

Manjushri

In case, some of you, those who are very new, some of you who have no knowledge of Manjushri, relatively speaking, Manjushri is like, Manjushri appears at time as one of the Buddha’s chief disciple among the lay disciples, chief among the lay disciples. But from the Mahayana sutras, Manjushri is also as the, I don’t know how to put this very simply, but Manjushri appears almost as the narrator of all the Buddha activities, narrator, the narration not necessary verbally but physically and in the form of manifestation. For instance it is believed that Suddhodana or Shakyamuni Buddha’s father, the physical father. Suddhodana is considered in the Mahayana sutras as a Manjushri in person. And also if some of you are familiar with the Buddha’s twelve deeds, Buddha’s life story, the deed of Buddha’s first observing the death, old age and sickness which triggered so to speak, which triggered Buddha’s renunciation mind. Then also seeing a Bikshu who really inspired the Buddha to become the wanderer. In some sutras in fact is believed that all the manifestation of death, old age and sickness and the monk are created by Manjushri as the reminder to the young bodhisattva. Manjushri seems to be quite busy, because Manjushri is not only doing this to the Shakyamuni Buddha but it is believed that Manjushri will be doing the same thing with all the nine hundred and ninety six coming Buddhas. Reminding them, teaching them, giving them signals. But then again also acting like a disciple. And his teachings, the way he taught also not ordinary. Many times, I am sure some of you know that in the sutras there is an account of how at one point when Shariputra or Kashyapa in the presence of the Shakyamuni Buddha asked Manjushri: What is emptiness, what is shunyata? Manjushri kept quite for some time and then Buddha applauded and said, that was the right answer. And there is also another occasion. You know is some of the Mahayana sutras there is this restriction that you are not supposed to teach the shunyata to ordinary people, ordinary who are not matured, because shunyata, the message of shunyata is too vast, if you are not prepared it can mislead you. But there is a Sutra which talks about how Manjushri actually, deliberately, loudly, extremely talked about emptiness and shunyata and all of that. In fact, about five hundred odd people got really shocked, and not only that, they actually sort of discard the Mahayana path and born in the lower realm. And another bodhisattva asked Manjushri this is like mindless thing to do. How can you, a bodhisattva, of all the people specially you Manjushri, how can you do such things? Here there Buddha Shakyamuni intervened and said: Actually Manjushri did an amazing thing because Manjushri knew that even though this people will suffer for the time being, eventually Manjushri has already planned the seed of understanding the shunyata. Therefore it was necessary. So as you can see from these accounts, Manjushri has a very unique way of teaching. Many sutras talk about Manjushri. I think it was Maitreya, the future Buddha, Maitreya said that if ten million bodhisattvas who are equal standings of Maitreya, looked at Manjushri, even the ten million bodhisattvas who are equal standing of Maitreya, they will not comprehend how Manjushri even place his steps when he walks. So there is this kind of very flowery at times, symbolic kind of account. But there is something that you might want to know. These are not just like a legend or some kind of a mystical stories, actually quite a profound symbolic teachings. Because what is the most important in the Buddha’s path, what is the most important. The most important is the wisdom. Without the wisdom as the Shantideva said, all the other path is like blind path. It is because of the wisdom all the other path also become valid such as generosity, discipline, diligence, all of this becomes a valid path because of the wisdom or if you have the wisdom. So obviously wisdom is considered the essential. And Manjushri actually represents or symbolize or if you like, is the embodiment of all the wisdom of the Buddhas, all the Buddhas. So it is because of this reason the symbolic Manjushri is very much venerated by Panditas, scholars, saints of the past, present and I am sure in the future. Even in Tibet there is a rush of tulkus that are claim that they are incarnations of Manjushri. Everybody likes to claim, quite a lot. Even more then, I don’t think I have heard any Tibetan lamas who claim there are Shakyamuni’s incarnation. But Manjushri incarnation they love it, this resume, or this CV, that tulkus like to have the CV of being a Manjushri’s incarnation or something to do with the Manjushri. Among many other bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara.

Parting from the four attachments, Nepal June 2009
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