How does a Bodhisattva argue?

A Bodhisattva won’t argue! Though a Bodhisattva does share her wisdom, she will not engage in petty quarreling. I can’t express it any more clearly than the masters of yore, so I’m just going to share this piece of this Prajnaparamita Sutra called “Perfect Wisdom in 8,000 Lines”.


Perfect Wisdom in 8,000 Lines

Chapter 24

Ananda is asking the Buddha questions about quarreling Bodhisattvas.

After a section about the conditions which open a Bodhisattva to Mara’s influence, we find this section on “The Bodhisattva’s Right Attitude to Other Bodhisattvas”.

Let’s take a look.


If a Bodhisattva fights with a Bodhisattva,
and cherishes malice for him,
for very many aeons he must wear the armor.


Can he escape from these states of mind?
Or, is he definitely condemned to go on putting on the armor for all that length of time?

[the length of time must correlate to the amount of time which the angry mind was held]


I have,
demonstrated a dharma which includes the possibility of escape,

for persons of the Disciple-vehicle,
for persons of the Pratyekabuddha-vehicle,
for persons of the Bodhisattva-vehicle.

As to the person who belongs to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas
and who has quarreled with someone else who also belongs to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas

if he does not confess his fault,
does not promise restraint in the future,
harbors a latent bias towards hate,
and dwells tied to that bias,

of that person I do not teach the escape from the consequences of action.
This person is definitely condemned to go on putting on the armor for all that length of time in which this latent bias is harbored.

But I teach his escape
if he confesses his fault,
promises restraint in the future,
and reflects as follows:

“I whose duty it is to drive away,
to pacify and appease the quarrels,
disputes and conflicts of all beings…
I myself engage in disputes!
It is indeed a loss to me,
I am gaining nothing by responding to harsh speech with harsh speech.
When I should be
to all beings
a bridge across the sea of birth-and-death,
I nevertheless say to another:
‘The same to you!’
Or, I return some harsh and rough answer.
No! This is not the way in which I should speak!
In fights, quarrels and disputes it would be better for me to behave like a senseless idiot,
when people obviously cherish malice for others,
I will be like a dumb sheep!
It is not right for me to perceive the faults of others,
or to think that what is being said about the faults of others is worth listening to.
For I,
since I am earnestly intent on full enlightenment,
should not do harm to others!
When I should make all beings happy by giving them everything that brings happiness,
when I should lead them to Nirvana after having won full enlightenment,

Here I am bearing ill-will!
I will not bear ill-will even against those who have heavily offended me,
and I must avoid getting into a rage,
and I must make an actual effort in this direction!
Even when my life is in danger I must not get into a rage,
and no frown should ever appear on my face!”

Of such a Bodhisattva I teach the escape.
This is the attitude which a Bodhisattva should adopt also towards persons who belong to the vehicle of the Disciples.
Never to get angry with any being,
that is the attitude of mind one should adopt towards all beings.

What attitude then should a Bodhisattva have towards other people belonging to the vehicle of the Bodhisattvas?
The same as towards the Teachers!

He should have the attitude that
“these Bodhisattvas are my teachers.”
Surely, they have mounted on the same vehicle as I,
have ascended by the same path,
are of like intention with me,
have set out in the same vehicle as I.

Wherein they should be trained, that is the method by which I should be trained.
If some of them dwell in a dwelling contaminated by notions,
then i should not do likewise.
If, however they dwell in an uncontaminated dwelling,
in mental activities associated with all-knowledge,
then I also should train as they do.

No obstacles to full enlightenment can arise to a Bodhisattva who trains himself in this way,
in all-knowledge,
this Bodhisattva quickly knows full enlightenment.

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