“Maitreya! You should enable the celestial beings to abandon the different views about bodhi. Why? The notion of bodhi cannot be attained with the body or the mind.”
Excerpts from A Discourse on the Vimalakīrti Nirdesa Sutra
Venerable Xiao Pingshi
Vimalakirti continued, “Maitreya, you should make the celestial beings abandon any discrimination of bodhi. Why? The notion of bodhi cannot be attained with the body or the mind.” The physical body is only a chunk of flesh. How can we realize bodhi on the basis of the body? Can we attain bodhi simply with our perceptive mind? Let your perceptive mind attend the class without your physical body and see if you will be able to hear the bodhi-related teachings without your body. How about attaining bodhi with a combination of the physical body and the perceptive mind? If we become enlightened and realize the tathagatagarbha, thereby bringing forth the prajna wisdom, what bodhi have we obtained? None! We have not gained any dharma! As sentient beings, we have innately possessed the tathagatagarbha and its fundamental awareness since its inception or non-inception. Nothing was given to us from outside, so how can we say “to have attained the bodhi”? Hence, the bodhi truly cannot be attained with the body or the mind.
By the same token, along our cultivation path and upon our completion of Buddhahood, the tathagatagarbha and its fundamental awareness have always been with us and have never come to us from the external world. The Buddha only instructed us regarding how to realize the Dharma that has been inherently within ourselves. Hence, there is no actual attainment when we realize the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment or the unsurpassed bodhi. This notion of non-attainment in fact denotes true attainment of the bodhi.
A Discourse on the Vimalakīrti Nirdesa Sutra, Vol.2, p.247,248