The Special Nature of the Bodhisattva's Practice of Vigor
Question: Why is it that one does not refer to the diligence inherent in all other good dharmas as constituting the paaramitaa of vigor, but instead refers only to that vigor employed by the bodhisattva as constituting "paaramitaa"?
Response: "Paaramitaa" means "reaching to the other shore." Worldly people, the Hearers, and the Pratyekabuddhas are unable to entirely perfect the practice of the paaramitaas. Hence we do not describe such cases as constituting the paaramitaa of vigor.
Moreover, these people do not possess the great loving-kindness and the great compassion. They cast off and abandon beings. They do not seek the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, the eighteen special dharmas, all-knowledge, the unobstructed liberations, innumerable bodies, innumerable radiances, innumerable sounds and voices, innumerable types of moral conduct, dhyaana absorption, or wisdom. It is for these reasons that the vigor of such persons is not described as constituting paaramitaa.
Additionally, the vigor of the bodhisattva is unrelenting and unresting as he single-mindedly seeks the Buddha Way. In the case of those who practice in this way it is referred to as the paaramitaa of vigor. This is exemplified by Grand Giving Bodhisattva (Mahaatyaagavat) who, in seeking the wish-fulfilling gem, searched through all the waters of the great oceans. Even when this endeavor caused his bones and sinews to become entirely atrophied he never rested or diminished his efforts. Thus he found the wish-fulfilling gem and used it to supply the needs of beings and to rescue them from physical suffering. It is in this way that the bodhisattva is able to do what is difficult to do. This constitutes the bodhisattva's paaramitaa of vigor.
Furthermore, the bodhisattva takes the power of vigor as foremost in carrying forward with his practice of the other five paaramitaas. It is at this point that the practice is referred to as the bodhisattva's paaramitaa of vigor. This is analogous to a severe illness being curable only by a combination of manifold medicines. The bodhisattva's cultivation of vigor is just like this. If he only practiced vigor in isolation he would be unable to successfully practice the other five paaramitaas. In such a case, this could not be referred to as the bodhisattva's paaramitaa of vigor.
Also, the bodhisattva's vigor is not taken up for the sake of valuables, benefits, wealth, noble status or power. Nor is it implemented for the sake of his own person, for the sake of being reborn in the heavens, for the sake of becoming a wheel-turning king, or for the sake of becoming a king of the gods such as Brahmaa or Shakradevendra. Nor is it taken up for the sake of gaining nirvana for himself. It is cultivated solely for the sake of realizing the Buddha Way and providing benefit for beings. Such characteristics as these are referred to as the bodhisattva's paaramitaa of vigor.
Then again, the bodhisattva's vigor is such that in his cultivation of all good dharmas it is the great compassion which is taken as foremost. It is as if there were a lovingly kind father who cherished his son. He has only that one son who then becomes afflicted by a serious disease. The father then singlemindedly seeks for medicines to rescue his son from the disease. The bodhisattva's taking of loving-kindness as foremost in his practice of vigor is just like this. In his rescuing and treating of everyone his mind does not foresake them for even a moment.
Then again, the vigor of the bodhisattva takes the wisdom of the reality aspect as foremost as he carries on the practice of the six paaramitaas. This is what is meant by the bodhisattva's paaramitaa of vigor.
Question: The reality aspect of all dharmas is unconditioned and in the sphere of the wishless. Vigor is characterized by being conditioned and by being in the sphere of wished-for endeavors. How is it that it can take the reality aspect as foremost?
Response: Although one is aware that the reality aspect of all dharmas is in the sphere of the unconditioned and the wishless, on account of a desire to cross beings over to liberation which is rooted in the great compassion and in one's original vows, even in the midst of the wishless one employs the power of vigor to deliver everyone to liberation.
Additionally, since the reality aspect of all dharmas is unconditioned, wishless and characterized by being like nirvana, it is neither singular nor dual. How then can you claim that the reality aspect is different from vigor? You simply do not understand the characteristics of dharmas.