The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra features a deep spiritual dialogue between Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, and Vimalakirti, who although an Indian, can be considered the first Zen Master – apart from the Buddha himself – as he specializes in a type of discourse that is subtle, in a lucidity that balances on the razor’s edge of paradox and yet is quite logically coherent.
His message is particularly appealing to our secular age because Vimalakirti was a man of the world, not a monk or saint. In essence, he clears up the confusions surrounding the central Buddhist concept of emptiness, or voidness – presenting it not as nihilism but rather, as Professor Thurman, who translated the text into English himself says, “as the joyous and compassionate commitment to living beings from an unwavering confrontation with the inconceivable profundity of ultimate reality.”
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