In order to see the bodhisattva Maitreya, one had to contemplate it in a tantric way. For this, Asanga found a Teacher who had knowledge of the contemplation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, received initiation from him and went into the cave for meditation. In the first three years, he contemplated strictly according to the rules specified by the Teacher, with the reading of mantras. But time passed without any noticeable success. he did not even see the bodhisattva Maitreya even in a dream. Then he lost heart and went to roam the world. Once he met an old man on the banks of a dried river. When Asanga approached him, he was busy knitting a fishing net. Asanga asked him in surprise:
“What are you doing?”
The old man answered:
- I knit nets for fishing.
“But where is your water in which fish would be found?” - Asked Asanga.
The old man, pointing at a dry river, said:
“Water will flow along this channel in the future, and there will be fish.”
Asanga thought for a while and came to the conclusion that he did not engage in contemplative practice enough, for mere mortals, fighting for life and hoping for an almost unrealizable one, did not retreat from their life goals and continue to act stubbornly, and he, having longed to see the Victorious, retreated from the goal. With these thoughts, Asanga returned to the cave.
Three more years of practice passed, but still he was not able to see the bodhisattva Maitreya even in a dream. This time, passing by an abandoned quarry, he noticed a man who was rubbing a large piece of stone against another stone. Asanga went up to him and asked:
“Why are you rubbing this block?”
The man explained:
“I am a connoisseur of precious stones, especially diamonds.” This block in my hands has thin white veins that converge, like rays, in the center. This is a sign that there is a diamond in the center of the block. But if I break a block with a sledgehammer, then a diamond will also break, so by rubbing against another stone I will gradually get to the diamond itself and be a rich man. All wealth is given by hard work.
Asanga, having heard this, thought for a while and said to himself:
"If people do not spare power and energy for their own enrichment, then how weak I am in seeking guidance on the Path leading to Nirvana. It is necessary, without sparing strength, to continue tantric practice."
He returned to the cave and continued the contemplation of the bodhisattva Maitreya.
Three more years passed, but he did not feel any shifts. Asanga thought: “I sat for the first time to contemplate the bodhisattva Maitreya for nine years in contemplative practice and achieved nothing. Apparently, I am not karmically destined to fulfill my plan in this life, and therefore I express my wish to the bodhisattva Maitreya so that I can see him and receive instructions on ways to improve in a future life. "
And again he went to wander. This time, Asanga passed under a large stone terrace and drew attention to drops of water constantly dripping from above with a certain interval at the same place, which caused a cup-like depression to form in it. It hit him:
“How many years and how many drops fell on a stone slab so that such a recess appeared in it? Apparently, it took decades for the drops to grind such a bowl.”
And then Asanga realized that in all actions perseverance and perseverance is required to achieve the goal: “After all, I am looking for Buddha Maitreya to receive teachings from him on the path to perfection, and I still don’t achieve the desired result because of laziness and lack of perseverance. until complete victory. I will not stop to contemplate until I see him. "
And so he sat for another three years. Now it took a total of twelve years to contemplate. But he never noticed any results. Only occasionally did intuition tell him that the goal was near.
Again Asang left the cave. Without thinking about anything, not paying attention to anything, he wandered, not understanding where he was going and why. He was already looking for nothing: neither wealth, nor happiness, nor the bothisattva Maitreya. Nothing bothered him. He walked where the legs carried. But then he suddenly came across a sick dog lying on the road. From afar, he heard her whining mournfully. Stepping closer, he noticed a deep wound on his hind leg, and this wound was full of swarming worms. The dog helplessly licked the wound and looked plaintively at it with watery eyes.
He looked at her for a long time, considering how to help her. Suddenly, a trembling swept his whole body, and deep in his soul a strong sense of compassion suddenly arose. The rational desire to help the dog was replaced by an ardent, passionate desire to save her, no matter what. Rushing towards her, he touched the wound and then drew attention to the moving worms - with the same force as the dog, he felt sorry for the worms. His task was complicated, for throwing worms to the ground meant destroying them. The feeling of pity grew more and more and, finally, embraced his whole being. All thoughts were consumed by one desire: to save both the dog and the worms. In his entire inner world there was nothing real except this thought, this task. He grabbed the bone knife that he carried everywhere, he did it unconsciously; instinctively cut his thigh and began to pull the worms out of the dog’s wound, carefully transferring them to his wound. At that very moment, the dog miraculously transformed into the bodhisattva Maitreya - in a rainbow of radiance, in the very guise in which Asanga had represented him during contemplation for twelve years.
Asanga rushed at His feet in amazement and exclaimed indignantly:
- For what I contemplated the twelve hardest years to see you in the guise of a wounded dog ?!
The bodhisattva Maitreya answered him:
- All material dharmas (things) arose from shunyata (emptiness), then, in their development, they are spatially united due to the creative power of land and water. Uniting, they become material objects with various qualities, such as beauty or ugliness of form, useful or opposite qualities. All these various qualities of things that arose at the moment of combining the elements of matter that act on Klesha-Avidya (fetters-ignorance) are called illusions of feelings. These illusions of feelings remain with a person until he senses enlightenment. With the advent of enlightenment, the veil of illusion falls. Only then can a person see, feel the root nature of things as shunyata, and then he can see the true nature of Buddha. You, Asanga, have just removed this curtain of illusion thanks to the birth of a bodhisattva mindset in you, which was expressed in pity, compassion for a wounded dog. But I was near you from the very moment when you sat down to contemplate me.
I did not leave you for an instant for twelve years. Three years later, you, disappointed, left the cave and met an old man knitting a net - it was me. Three years later, you again left the cave and saw a man in a quarry - that was me too. Three years later, you left this place and turned your attention to a drop of water - and that was me. Finally, for the fourth time you left the cave, and now you were destined to gain Bodhisattan altruism, and you saw Me in the form of a dog. Sinful people believe in illusion as in truth, and do not believe the words of Buddha.