Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi: Unsurpassed, perfect enlightenment.
As we see from the definition, the exact translation of, or any meaning previously attached to Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi is the least of our worries. Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi is unsurpassed correct awakening. It is the state of a Buddha differentiated from the attainment of even high Bodhisattvas and Arhats in that it is without error, nothing can exist outside of it and it is present everywhere and in everything. It is the complete replacement of false knowing with clear seeing which penetrates and pervades all phenomenon in every time and is incapable of being stuck in knowing as it is the ultimate manifestation of pure and perfect, formless dharma. Because it does not conceive, it cannot be conceived of but merely expounded on as the complete absence of conception and rebirth into pure reality. The pure essence which we become familiar with through meditation and negating comes to completely replace conception and the soul is born fully into the world.
Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi is the ultimate goal and no-goal of every serious practitioner of Buddhism and in this way it can be seen to encompass the completion of the understanding and integration of the four noble truths and the eightfold path, although these doctrines have long been forgotten and discarded, having been understood, undertaken and failed at to the point of their complete dissolution. Similarly, all jhanas, practices and mental states have been seen through and discarded, leaving one in Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi completely free from any conceivable hinderance or resting place and completely present with reality. Any matter which may give rise to vexation as well as any vexation has been blown out like a flame, nirvanna with remainder (of the body and it’s feelings and needs) is entered, yet the ability for re-manifestation and rebirth as a supremely perfect Buddha who is ultimately skillful at helping all beings in all times and places at will is retained.
Because Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi is both unsurpassed and inconceivably perfect, it remains both the ultimate goal which drives our practice and a more tangible benchmark against which we can compare our wakefulness from the dream of the phenomenal. As a concept it is the irreligious pinnacle of religion and clarity in the highest of highs and lowest of lows. It is the unity and merging of our whole being in reality for the sake of others and at the same time maintaining the ability to abide beyond all worlds, again, recognizing the dream of all phenomena. It is the realization of what is already true – that we are both one and many and driven continually onward in evolution for the benefit of the whole. Choice, power, creation and being are ours to play with as they have always been and any doubt or confusion about this flux state of existence is eradicated – it is clear as our hands and can never be taken in death or dream because we have not forgotten how to stand apart from both, seeing that all phenomenon is both illusory and real.
If we take the four stages of enlightenment as a model for total freedom, Annutara Samyak Sambodhi has both freed itself from as well as freed itself into the following vexations:
Freedom from Identity View, Attachment to Rites and Rituals, Doubt About the Teachings (Stream-Enterer), Sensual Desire, Ill Will (Once Returner), Sensual Desire, Ill Will completely (Non-Returner), Craving for Material Existence, Craving for Non-Material Existence, Conceit, Restlessness, Ignorance (Arhat).
By “freed itself into” I mean the ability not only to abide in Nirvana apart from the six worlds but to swim completely unhindered within the six worlds in absolute wisdom of non-forgetting for the benefit of all beings in these worlds who are both existent and non-existent, one and many. If we break this down to ordinary terms, we would say simply that all illusion of separation is permanently gone and wherever we find ourselves we see and recognize absolute and relative reality. Even simpler then, our body and mind right now is understood and accepted with complete equanimity and we are able to suffer and rejoice without attachment or dreaming, only clear seeing.
Like all phenomena, this is only a matter of perception. Nirvana with and without remainder, the eightfold path, all Jhanas and mental states, the Four Noble Truths, the six worlds, separation and oneness, birth and death, matter and energy, compassion and selfishness, wisdom and delusion – these are only there if we see them. Our expansion towards including them allows us the freedom to understand and contain them and, if nothing else for now, we can give the finality of this expansion a name as we move toward it – Annutara Samyak Sambodhi.