MOOC BUDDHA1x | 3.5 The Universal Vehicle Literature – The Vimalakirti as Anthology



– The Universal Vehicle sutra discourses are voluminous, thousands and thousands of pages in the forms coming down to us today. So in this course, we will focus on a short one, the Vimalakīrti Teaching, in English translation
from Sanskrit and Tibetan a mere 108 pages. I don't use this text just
because I translated it, available free online, but because it serves as a good anthology of the main genre of
Universal Vehicle discourses. In the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, which are the most foundational
emptiness-teaching sutras, there are 18 of them, and they are reflected
in the main teachings of chapters four and chapters eight. The Flower Ornament sutra, Avatamsaka sutra, giant 1600-page translation in English from Chinese and Tibetan, which depict the magical universe like a hologram vision of Buddhism. For every atom of the universe contains all the information of the whole universe like a hologram. That is taught in the
Inconceivable Liberation chapter five of the Vimalakīrti. The Jewel Heap sutras, which are the ones where the lay people give what-for to the monks, and show that lay people can be just as enlightened as monks. These are illustrated in chapters one, two, and three, and actually later in the Goddess chapter with the monk Sariputra. Then in the Pure Land sutras, which show the sort of celestial fields, or worlds, heavens, which the buddhas can create for beings to be reborn in and who need a break from
the ordinary human life form, and which become very
popular devotional schools within all forms of Mahayana Buddhism. They are taught in chapters one, seven, and ten, of the Vimalakīrti, they're sort of hinted at and shown. And then the Lotus type of sutra, where this world itself, the historical field of Shakyamuni Buddha of the last 2500 years, is shown as itself being
a perfect Buddha field. Being pedagogically
perfect for living beings, human beings especially, to attain wisdom and
compassion of enlightenment through the struggle of
living on Planet Earth in its present form. And this and the Power of Nirvana sutra and the Lotus sutra are shown in chapters six, eight, and nine, of the Vimalakīrti. And then finally, the Tantras, or esoteric vision of
immediate presence of Buddhas, which is shown esoterically, these are touched on in the Vimalakīrti's chapter seven and eight. And all of these sutra discourses fit neatly into what
the individual vehicle Pali literature calls, the expansive category or Vipulia, so they actually have a category for these more, vast and huge panoramic type of sutras that are shown, that are widely expounded in the Universal Vehicle. Similarly now, the voluminous Sanskrit
Buddhist literature of histories, fables, life stories, et cetera. Itivertika, Avadana, and Jantaka, can be considered expansions
of the Discipline Basket, Vinaya Pitaka, of the
individual vehicle ethical literature. The enormous literature,
and then finally also the enormous literature of scientific and technical treatise
written by major Indic philosophers, scientists,
chemists, botanists, physicians, literary critics,
architects, dramatists, etc., any conceivable type of academic or intellectual figure. These can all be considered an expansion of the higher science
or Abhidhamma, basket of the individual vehicle literature. Also, contrary to the modern stereotype of the universal vehicle being opposed to the individual vehicle. With the explosion of
philosophical, religious, and social activity in
all the Indic countries stimulated by the
universal vehicle movement, many more individual vehicle
monasteries were founded in the many kingdoms of the subcontinent as showing that the universal
vehicle never lost sight of the importance of the
foundational monastic institution. Far from being opposed to
it, it supported it and recognized that it needed
it as the anchor of the educational movement of
the universal vehicle.

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