Thereupon, a certain goddess who lived in that house, having heard this teaching
of the Dharma of the great he- roic Bodhisattvas, and being delighted, pleased,
and overjoyed, manifested herself into a material body and showered the great
spiritual heroes, the Bodhisattvas, and the great disciples with heavenly flowers.
When the flowers fell on the bodies of the Bodhisattvas, they fell off on the
floor, but when they fell on the bodies of the great disciples, they stuck to
them and did not fall. The great disciples shook the flowers and even tried to
use their magical powers, but still the flowers would not shake off. Then, the
goddess said to the venerable Shariputra, "Reverend Shariputra, why do you
shake these flowers?" Shariputra replied, "Goddess, these flowers are
not proper for religious persons and so we are trying to shake them off."
The goddess said, "Do not say that, Reverend Shariputra. Why? These flowers
are proper indeed! Why? Such flowers have neither constructual thought nor discrimination.
But the elder Shariputra has both constructual thought and discrimination. Reverend
Shariputra, impropriety for one who has renounced the world for the discipline
of the rightly taught Dharma con- sists of constructual thought and discrimination,
yet the elders are full of such thoughts. One who is without such thoughts is
always proper. Reverend Shariputra, see how these flowers do not stick to the
bodies of these great spiritual heroes, the Bodhisattvas! This is because they
have eliminated constructual thoughts and discrimina tions. For example, evil
spirits have power over fearful men but cannot disturb the fearless. Likewise,
those in- timidated by fear of the world are in the power of forms, sounds, smells,
tastes, and textures, which do not disturb those who are free from fear of the
passions inherent in the constructive world. Thus, these flowers stick to the
bodies of those who have not eliminated their instincts for the passions and do
not stick to the bodies of those who have eliminated their instincts." Therefore,
the flowers do not stick to the bodies of these Bodhisattvas, who have abandoned
their instincts. Shariputra asked, "Goddess, what prevents you from transforming
yourself out of your female state?" The goddess replied, "Although I
have sought my 'female state' for these twelve years, I have not yet found it.
Reverend Shariputra, if a magician were to incarnate a woman by magic, would you
ask her, 'What prevents you from transforming yourself out of your female state?'"
Such a woman would not really exist, so what would there be to transform?"
Goddess: "Just so, Reverend Shariputra, all things do not really exist.
Now, would you think, 'What prevents one whose nature is that of a magical incarnation
from transforming herself out of her female state?'" Thereupon the goddess
employed her magical power to cause herself to appear in his form. Then the
goddess, transformed into Shariputra, said to Shariputra, transformed into a
goddess, "Reverend Shariputra, what pre- vents you from transforming yourself
out of your female state?" And Shariputra, transformed into the goddess,
replied, "I no longer appear in the form of a male! My body has changed
into the body of a woman! I do not know what to transform!" The goddess
continued, "If the elder could again change out of the female state, then
all women could also change out of their female states. All women appear in
the form of women in just the same way as the elder appears in the form of a
woman. While they are not women in reality, they appear in the form of women.
With this in mind, the Buddha said, 'In all things, there is neither
male nor female.'" Then, the goddess released her magical power and each
returned to his ordinary form. She then said to him, "Reverend Shariputra,
what have you done with your female form?" Shariputra: "I neither
made it nor did I change it." Goddess: "Just so, all things are neither
made nor changed, and that they are not made and not changed, that is the teaching
of the Buddha."