Mere Moral Virtue

“It is, bhikkhus, only to trifling and insignificant matters, to the minor details of mere moral virtue, that a worldling would refer when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata.” ~Brahamjala Sutta

Normal people will not praise the correct attributes of a Buddha. Looking at life, ‘as if through a glass, darkly’, all they see or think is delusion marked with limitation and discrimination.

After this assertion, we have a list of ways in which the Tathagata is praised incorrectly, for qualities that can be displayed by any ol’ unawakened fool.

In this list, we have a kind of ‘negative’ soteriology. What do I mean by ‘negative soteriology’? I mean that, in this list, we can see how we should *not* praise the Tathagata, and thereby we indirectly come to get a feel for the qualities for which a Tathagata would be correctly praised.

What’s going on here?

Why so much, “no, no, no”?


The Tathagata is perfectly and correctly awakened– a Buddha is so perfectly liberated from the prison of discriminative mind that discrimination cannot even adequately describe the state of a Buddha, and therefore, the discriminative \ intellectual mind cannot correctly praise a Tathagata.

In this same way, the foolish and small mind cannot correctly condemn a Tathagata.

Sadly, the intellectual mind, if not properly ‘put in place’ by correct practice leading to aryajnana, prajna, bodhi, etc (choose whatever name you wish to apply to the nameless mind).. will not be very helpful in pursuit of liberation from Dukkha.

But, yes!

We must be discerning!

And, so eventually, intellect becomes very useful!

Intellect is useful when it has been adequately overwhelmed by Dharma.

Approach Buddha / Dharma / Sangha with your heart so that intellect does not lead you astray. Then, sharpen intellect into a useful tool. Use the sharp-knife-intellect to slice through delusion with discernment. But, first, learn to distrust every*thing*. All *things* are born of discrimination, discrimination is the action of intellect-mind. Put that mind where it belongs!

Guide that chariot, drive that car, be a charioteer, be a driver– not simply a passenger, you travel with discernment and clear-intention toward the Goal of true liberation.

Lanka and Mahamati.

The Bodhisattva Mahasattva Mahamati, the “great minded one”, has perfected this practice.

Mahamati uses intellect mind all throughout the Lankavatara Sutra, as he continuously assails Buddha with questions. Questions which, because they are truly asked with compassion, for the benefit of all beings, the Buddha seems happy to answer.

Some people will ridicule you for engaging intellect at all. Some people will ridicule you for not ever engaging intellect. No one is ever always blamed, or always praised– so get over it and realize that many people have no clue. Most people are like children playing in a burning house. Be like their father, trick them into escaping greed, hatred and delusion.

Sly as snakes, innocent as doves. Not lying. Not doing what we hate. Synthesizing all Buddha Doctrines. Liberating ourselves as we liberated all beings, liberating all beings as we liberate ourselves. Dropping foolish discrimination, recognizing the false notions born of ego-delusion, we sharpen our compassion and manipulate these complex feedback systems skillfully, with infinitely skillful means!

This is the life of the Bodhisattva. This is how it is for one who tends toward awakening.

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