Simultaneous Attainment

Yutang Lin

Sooner or later to attain Bodhi varies with aspirations;
Realization of limitless oneness must be simultaneous.
Characteristics of Buddhas and beings all disappeared;
Originally there is no real distinction of self and others.


According to traditional Buddhist teachings there are three kinds of aspirations for Bodhisattvas. Depending on when they wish to attain Buddhahood, whether after, at the same time or before all other sentient beings' attaining Enlightenment, the aspirations are referred to as that of a shepherd, a boatman or a crown prince. Even though there are three types of aspirations, their common feature is that the Bodhisattva needs to have the capability to carry out salvation of sentient beings.

At the instant of attaining Buddhahood the state of "no concept of self, no concept of others, no concept of sentient beings, and no concept of living beings" is realized, and there is neither traces of Buddhas nor traces of any sentient beings; all merge into limitless oneness. Therefore, no matter whoever had attained Bodhi earlier or whoever will attain Bodhi later, the attainment of any one means the simultaneous attainment of all. Before attainment of Bodhi a Bodhisattva recognizes that there are sentient beings to be saved, and hence the Bodhisattva aspires toward their salvation. Having realized Bodhi there is in reality no sentient beings as independently existing and hence, in this sense, there are no sentient beings to be saved. Furthermore, all sentient beings that were previously falsely recognized as existing independently have been saved through the correct recognition that their existence is due to nominal designation.

As to salvation activities of Buddhas after their attainment, there are indeed no preconceived intentions, but only natural outpouring of responses, actions and inaction from full awakening.

Written in Chinese on May 24, 2002
Translated on May 25, 2002
El Cerrito, California

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