Expedient means are also used by bodhisattvas for their own training, for example, śilapāramita, the perfection of discipline which necessarily involves renunciation such as abandoning killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxication.
A bodhisattva may engage in any of those five misdeeds for the benefit of others, but not for his or her own benefit. Therefore, the bodhisattva path is a renunciate path in general.
- The monastic codes, vinaya, should not be confused with the definitive teaching on which the bodhisattvas rely. Bodhisattvas can choose to assume any role such as that of a fully ordained, a sramana, who keeps 250 precepts or an apprentice, a samanera, 10 precepts, or an upasaka 5, or someone like Devadata, or a prostitute. The path of a bodhisattva is not defined by one or more of the expedient means that bodhisattva employs but:
Wisdom is the bodhisattva's mother,
expedient means his father;
of those who guide and teach all beings,
there are none not born of these.
From Chapter 8 THE BUDDHA WAY of the Vimalakirti Sutra
Mahāyāna indeed has both provisional teachings and definitive teachings. For example, the Avatamska teaches the definitive teachings on practicing the path, which involve renunciation, etc., included in the seven limbs.
For their own practice of the path, bodhisattvas are obliged to abandon the ten nonvirtuous deeds, eating meat and so on. Therefore, the bodhisattva path is a renunciate path in general.
- For his/her own practice of the path, a bodhisattva relies on the definitive teaching to employ one or more of the expedient means. In the definitive teaching:
Here, Sariputra, a Bodhisattva, a great being, having stood in the perfection of wisdom, by way of not taking his stand on it, should perfect the perfection of giving, by way of seeing that no renunciation has taken place, since gift, giver, and recipient have not been apprehended. He should perfect himself in the perfection of morality, through not transgressing into either offence or non-offence. He should perfect the perfection of patience and remain imperturbable. He should perfect the perfection of vigour, and remain indefatigable in his physical and mental vigour. He should perfect the perfection of meditation, and derive no enjoyment (from transic meditation). He should perfect the perfection of wisdom, on account of the fact that he apprehends neither wisdom nor stupidity.
From Chapter 2 THE THOUGHT OF ENLIGHTENMENT of The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom
Subhuti : If, O Lord, form should be seen as empty of form, etc. to: enlightenment as empty of enlightenment, how can of a Bodhisattva who courses in perfect wisdom the coursing take place?
The Lord : A noncoursing is the bodhisattva’s coursing in perfect wisdom.
Subhuti : For what reason?
The Lord : Because no perfect wisdom can be apprehended, no Bodhisattva, no coursing, no one who courses, nor that whereby or wherein he courses. It is thus that a Bodhisattva’s coursing in perfect wisdom is a noncoursing in which all these discoursings are not apprehended.
From Chapter 63 MANY QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE DUALITY OF DHARMAS of The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom
- As I said before, those who confuse worldly things with bodhisattvas' wisdom and practice do not know this path.