TMingyur wrote:As to "all beings"
Samsara is empty in the first place. According to Mahayana there is no difference beween samsara and nirvana because these ideas are just dependently arisen ideas.
So samsara has to be a state of "not knowing". But how can anyone know the state of others minds? It can be inferred from deeds if one knows what deeds are samsara and what deeds are nirvana. To "liberate all beings" implies that one does not mistakenly have the intention to liberate those who are already liberated.
Since there have been already several buddhas "all beings" does not make much sense because "all beings" should already be liberated.
Therefore "all beings" means that the sphere of the bodhisattvas activities is beyond calculated effort, that the bodhisattva has transcended "effort" and "quantities".
Hi, TMingyur. Thank you for your comments.
We might be seeing things from within different lineages (or so I suspect), so rather than enter an endless and pointless debate with you, I would like to present you with an alternative perspective for what it's worth, which is also an authentic Mahayana perspective.
> As to "all beings" Samsara is empty in the first place.
In the lineage with which I currently most identify this is true for the wisdom that realizes emptiness and perceives ultimate truths (the emptiness of all phenomena). Ultimate analysis finds nothing in samsaric existence, because all things lack inherent existence or intrinsic nature. All things arise dependently on causes and conditions, component parts, and conceptual designation. From the perspective of conventional valid cognition, however, which perceives conventional truths, samsara is full. "Samsara" refers to cyclic existence, the condition of being subject to repeated birth and death as the result of our deluded misperception of reality and the actions that spring from it. As Jay Garfield puts it, "To be in samsara is to see see things as they appear to deluded consciousness and to interact with them accordingly." Therefore, the countless sentient beings are caught in samsara, even though they all possess the buddhadhatu or buddha nature, which Gelukpas see as a potential for enlightenment, rather than buddhahood itself. Though they cannot be found by ultimate analysis, it cannot be said that beings, suffering, karma, and delusion are entirely nonexistent. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains in Transcendent Wisdom, "the manifold events in the world are not non-existent... They are able to help and hurt us..." or, to quote Guy Newland, "Our utter lack of a self-existent self, an ultimately real self--does not mean that we do not exist at all. Persons and other phenomena do exist interdependently." In other words, though they are not ultimately existent, they are real enough.
Of course, there is also the tantric practice of seeing oneself and all sentient beings as buddhas and the world as a pure land, but this does not relieve bodhisattvas of their responsibility to liberate beings, nor does it nullify their vows. It does not mean that beings are not suffering and that they do not need liberation. (His Holiness the Dalai Lama stresses Bodhi[sattva]caryavatara 10.55.)
To say that samsara is no problem is to undermine at least two of the principal aspects of the path in this lineage: renunciation of samsara and conventional bodhicitta.
> According to Mahayana there is no difference beween samsara and nirvana because these ideas are just dependently arisen ideas.
Yes. This is true, of course. I gather that you are referring to Mulamadhyamakakarika XXV.19-20: "There is not the slightest difference/Between cyclic existence and nirvana..." Some people read these verses and suppose that Nagarjuna is saying that samsara is the realm of enlightenment. If you look at it in context, however, it is clear that Nagarjuna is discussing emptiness, as you seem to acknowledge above, which is really the subject of the entire text. Thus Lama Tsongkhapa writes in Ocean of Reasoning that if samsara and nirvana "are analytically examined" (as Nagarjuna does), "they are absolutely identical in terms of their nature as completely empty of essence." Nagarjuna's point, on this interpretation, is that nirvana and samsara are the same in terms of emptiness or dependent arising.
In another sense I suppose one might say that samsara and nirvana are the same "place," so to speak, and perhaps you are hinting at something like this. With afflictive and cognitive obscurations, we are "in" samsara. Without afflictive and cognitive obscurations we are "in" nirvana. Bodhisattvas, seeking to become buddhas for the sake of all beings, work toward apratisthita or "nonabiding" nirvana, a nirvana which involves neither the abandonment of beings in a separate nirvana nor entanglement in samsara. As Bhavaviveka wrote in his Essence of the Middle Way, "Because they see its defects, they avoid samsara. Because their hearts are loving, nirvana will not hold them." If no beings were in samsara, then the "nirvana of the arhats" (as understood in this perspective) would be enough.