vaiśāradya (P. vesārajja; T. mi 'jig pa bzhi མི་འཇིག་པ་བཞི་; C. wusuowei 無所畏) is translated as "self-confidence," "fearlessness," etc. It refers to a set of qualities possessed by all buddhas, typically enumerated as a set of four. These are:
- fearlessness in the knowledge of all things
- fearlessness in knowing all the cessations of corruption
- fearlessness according to the definitive prophetic declarations that these things which are intermittently cut off on the path do not change into something else
- fearlessness that the path through which all excellent attributes are to be obtained, transformed and ascertained, is just what it is
Presentation in One Teacher, Many Traditions
One Teacher, Many Traditions states:
- Learning about the qualities of the Three Jewels and especially of the Buddha increases our confidence in their ability to guide us from the dangers of saṃsāra. Both the Pāli and the Sanskrit traditions extensively praise the Tathāgata’s qualities by expressing his four types of fearlessness, ten powers, and eighteen unshared qualities.
- Candrakīrti quotes (Madhyamakāvatāra 6.210cd) a passage, also found in the Pāli canon (MN 12:22–26), describing the four kinds of self-confidence or fearlessness of the Tathāgata that enable him to “roar his lion’s roar in the assemblies.” The Buddha sees no ground on which any recluse, brahman, god, or anyone else could accuse him of
- (1) claiming to be fully awakened although he is not fully awakened to certain things,
- (2) claiming to have destroyed pollutants (āsava, āśrava) that he has not destroyed,
- (3) calling things obstructions that are not obstructions, and
- (4) teaching a Dharma that does not lead someone who practices it to complete destruction of duḥkha.
- These four enable the Tathāgata to teach the Dhamma with perfect self-confidence free from all self-doubt because he is fully awakened regarding all aspects, has destroyed all pollutants, correctly identifies obstructions on the path, and gives teachings that lead those who practice them to nirvāṇa.
Presentation in the Khenjuk
The Khenjuk presents the four types of fearlessness as follows:
- 1) Fearlessness in accepting perfect realization as a benefit for oneself means to make the statement: "I know, in actuality, all aspects of knowable things."
- 2) Fearlessness in accepting perfect abandonment as a benefit for oneself means to make the statement: "I have relinquished, without exception, all that is to be discarded regarding the two obscurations, along with the habitual tendencies." These two are truthful proclamations regarding the benefit for oneself, exactly as it is.
- 3) Fearlessness in revealing the path of deliverance as a benefit for others means to teach: "Through these paths of realizing no-identity, and so forth, there will definitely be deliverance at the state of liberation."
- 4) Fearlessness in revealing the hindrances ofthe path as a benefit for others means to teach: "The disturbing emotions of attachment, and so forth, are hindrances for the path." These two are truthful proclamations regarding what is beneficial for others.
- No one among the superior beings in the world, including the gods, demons, Brahma or brahmins can object to his four statements in accordance with the Dharma, saying: "It is not so!" Among his followers, he therefore resembles a lion, making these proclamations with a lion's roar that is free from fear or intimidation.
Presentation in the Greater Discourse of the Lion's Roar
The four kinds of fearlessness are presented with the Greater Discourse of the Lion's Roar (Mahāsīhanādasutta) as follows:
- Sāriputta, the Tathāgata has these four kinds of intrepidity, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahmā. What are the four?
- Here, I see no ground on which any recluse or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or anyone else at all in the world could, in accordance with the Dhamma, accuse me thus: ‘While you claim to be fully enlightened, you are not fully enlightened about these things.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness, and intrepidity.
- I see no ground on which any recluse…or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘While you claim to be one who has destroyed the taints, you have not destroyed these taints.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness, and intrepidity.
- I see no ground on which any recluse…or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘Those things called obstructions by you are not able to obstruct one who engages in them.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness, and intrepidity.
- I see no ground on which any recluse…or anyone at all could accuse me thus: ‘When you teach the Dhamma to someone, it does not lead him when he practises it to the complete destruction of suffering.’ And seeing no ground for that, I abide in safety, fearlessness, and intrepidity.
- A Tathāgata has these four kinds of intrepidity, possessing which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahmā.
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. vaiśāradya
- mi_'jigs_pa_bzhi, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
- Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Chapter 2, section "The Tathagata's qualities.
- Mipham Rinpoche (2002), Gateway to Knowledge, vol. III, translated by Kunsang, Erik Pema, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Chapter 21, lines 62-66
- Bhikkhu Bodhi (2009), The Greater Discourse on the Lion’s Roar (M. 12), SuttaCentral
- Four fearlessnesses, Rigpa Shedra Wiki