Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mahayana Nirvana Sutra – 25: ON PURE ACTIONS (E)

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Buddha’s  Great Compassion

Then, the World-Honoured One saw, from where he was between the twin sal trees, Ajatasatru swoon and fall to the ground, and he said to those present: “I shall, for the sake of Ajatasatru, live, and I shall not enter Nirvana for innumerable kalpas.” Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! The Tathagata will not enter Nirvana, for the sake of innumerable people. Why is it that you especially will not for the sake of Ajatasatru?” The Buddha said: “O good man! There is not one person amongst those here who will say: “I shall definitely enter Nirvana.” Ajatasatru will say that he will assuredly suffer eternal death. So he swoons and throws himself upon the ground. O good man! I say that I shall not enter Nirvana for the sake of Ajatasatru. Such undisclosed teaching will be hard for you to understand. Why? I say “for the sake of”. This refers to all beings. “Ajatasatru” refers to all those who have committed the five deadly sins. Also, “for the sake of” refers to all those beings of created existence. I do not exist in the world for the non-create. Why? Now, “non-create” is no beings. Ajatasatru is one with inner defilement Also, “for the sake of” refers to the beings who see the Buddha-Nature. If the Buddha-Nature is seen, I shall not stay long in the world. Why not? One who sees the Buddha-Nature is no being. “Ajatasatru” refers to all those who have not yet aspired to unsurpassed Enlightenment. Also, “for the sake of” refers to the two, Ananda and Kasyapa; “Ajatasatru” refers to Ajatasatru’s royal consort and also to all the females of the castle of Rajagriha. Also, “for the sake of” is none but the Buddha-Nature.

“Aja” means “not born”; “se” means “vengeance”. When the Buddha-Nature is born, there comes about the vengeance of defilement. When there is the vengeance of defilement, one does not see the Buddha-Nature. When no defilement is born, one sees the Buddha-Nature. When one sees the Buddha-Nature, one can abide peacefully in Great Nirvana. This is “not born”. That is why we say “for the sake of Ajatasatru” [“Ajatasatru” is rendered as “Ajase” in Chinese]. O good man! “Aja” means “not born”; “not born” refers to Nirvana. “Se” refers to “worldly dharma”; “for” refers to “not spoiled”. Not spoiled by the world’s eight things, I do not enter Nirvana for innumerable, boundless asamkhyas of kalpas. Thus I say that I do not enter Nirvana for the sake of Ajatasatru. O good man! The undisclosed word of the Tathagata is inconceivable. Also, the Buddha-Dharma and Sangha cannot be conceived. The Buddha-Nature, too, is inconceivable, and the Great Nirvana Sutra is inconceivable.”

Buddha’s Power to cure all

Then, the World-Honoured One, the All-Compassionate One and Guide, entered into moonlight samadhi for the sake of Ajatasatru. On his having entered this samadhi, a great light issued forth. The light was pure and cool, and it went to the king and shone upon his body. The boils on his body healed up, and the choking pains died out. Relieved of the pain of the boils and feeling pure and cool in body, the king said to Jivaka: “Once, I heard people say that when the kalpa is about to end, three moons appear at the same time. At that time, the sufferings of beings are all done away with. That time has not yet come. Where does this light come from? It shines on me and touches me; it cures all my boils, and my body feels at peace.” Jivaka answered: “It is not that the kalpa is ending and the three mons are appearing and shining. This is also not the light of Mars, the sun, or the constellations, or a medicinal herb, a mani [jewel], or the light of heaven.”

The king further asked: “If this is not the light of the three moons, or of the mani, then what light is it?” “O great King! This is the light of the god of gods. This light has no root; it is boundless. It is not hot, not cold, not eternal; it does not die; it is not matter, not non-matter; it has no outer expression; nor is it non-phenomenal; it is not blue, not yellow, not red, and not white. It is seen only where there is a desire to save. It has its characteristics and can be explained. It has a root, boundary, heat, cold, blue, yellow, red, and white. O great King! Though this light has such aspects of phenomena, it is not possible to explain it. It cannot be seen; nor is there the blue, yellow, red, or white.”

The king said: “O Jivaka! Why does the god of gods send forth this light?” Jivaka answered: “Now, this auspicious scene is for you, great King. O King! You said just now that there was no good doctor in the world who could cure your body and mind. For this reason, this light has first been sent forth. It first cures your body, and then your mind.”

The king said: “O Jivaka! Does not the Tathagata-World-Honoured One think of us?” Jivaka replied: “As an example: a person has seven sons. One of the seven is ill. It is not that the mind of the father and mother is not all-equal, but their mind inclines towards the one who is sick. O great King! It is the same with the Tathagata. He is not partial, and yet his mind is heavy at [the sight of] one who is sinful. Compassion works upon him who is indolent, and his mind is released from him who is not indolent. Who is non-indolent? This refers to the Bodhisattva of the sixth stage. O great King! The All-Buddha-World-Honoured one does not see any differences of caste, youth, age, middle age, wealth and poverty, time, sun, moon, constellations, the lowly, the page and the maid, the skill of works done, but sees, amongst beings, him who has a good mind. If one has a good mind, his compassion acts. O great King! Please know that this auspicious scene indicates the fact that the Tathagata is now in the moonlight samadhi. Hence this light.”

The king asked: “What is the moonlight samadhi?” Jivaka answered: “This is like the moonlight, which well makes all utpala blossoms brightly open their petals. So too does the moonlight samadhi. It thoroughly opens the petals of the good mind of beings. So we call it the “moonlight samadhi”. For example, the moonlight truly gladdens the heart of all who travel. So does the moonlight samadhi. It truly awakens joy in the minds of those who travel nirvana-wards. Hence we say “moonlight samadhi”. O great King! The light of the moon increases daily in form and brightness, from the first of the month up to the fifteenth. The case is the same with the moonlight samadhi. The root of the first bud of all good deeds grows by degrees, and ends in the perfection of Great Nirvana. It is also for this reason that we say “moonlight samadhi”. O great King! For example, the form and brightness of the moonlight from the sixteenth to the thirtieth day gradually lessen in size. It is the same with the moonlight samadhi. Wherever it shines, it decreases, by degrees, all defilements. Thus we say “moonlight samadhi”. O great King! At a time of great heat, all beings always think of the moonlight. As the moonlight appears, the choking heat all goes. It is the same with the moonlight samadhi. It thoroughly dispels the fever of greed and worry. O great King! For example, the full moon is the king of all stars and is called “amrta” [ambrosia of immortality]. All beings love it. It is the same with the moonlight samadhi. It is the king of all good deeds and is the amrta, and is loved by all. For this reason, we say “moonlight samadhi.”

The king said to Jivaka: “I hear that the Tathagata will not abide, sit, stand up, talk or discuss with evil persons, just as the great sea will not retain corpses within itself. He is like a mandarin duck, which will not live in a privy, like Sakrodevendra, who does not live with devils, and like the kokila, which does not live in a dead tree. The same is the case with the Tathagata. How can I go and see him? If I am made to see him, I might sink into the ground. What I see is that the Tathagata may well approach an intoxicated elephant, a lion, a tiger, a wolf, a great fire, or a blazing flame, but not an evil person. It is for this reason that I think thus. With what mind can I go and see him?” Jivaka answered: “O great King! One who is thirsty hastens to a spring; one hungry seeks food; one afraid calls for help; a sick person calls for a doctor; one who feels hot seeks coolness; one feeling cold looks for clothing. O great King! It is the same with your now seeking the Buddha. O great King! The Tathagata even delivers sermons to the icchantikas and others. And you, O great King, are no icchantika. So how could you not expect the help of the Compassionate One?”

The king said: “O Jivaka! I once heard that the icchantika is a person who does not believe, hear, see, or grasp the meaning. How can the Tathagata speak of Dharma to such a person as that?”

Jivaka replied: “O great King! As an illustration: there is a man who contracts a serious illness. At night the person goes up to a one-pillared palace, partakes of butter, rubs it on his body, lies on ashes, eats ashes, climbs up a dead tree, plays with monkeys, and sits and reclines with them, and sinks into water or mud. He jumps from a high building, a high mountain, trees, elephants, horses, cows, and sheep. He wears blue, yellow, red, or dark-coloured clothes, laughs, sings and dances. He looks at crows, eagles, foxes, and raccoon dogs. His teeth and hair fall out; he is naked, sleeps with dogs as his pillow amidst dung and dust. Furthermore, he walks, lives, and stands amongst the dead, holds hands with them and eats. He sees in dreams that poisonous serpents cover the path and that he must pass these. Or he embraces a hair-covered woman, and wears cothing made of tala leaves. He dreams that he is riding on a broken cart drawn by a donkey or is playing in front of it. Having dreamt thus, his mind is worried. Due to this worry, his illness increases. As the illness increases, all the people and his relatives send for a doctor. The errand-boy dispatched for the doctor is of small stature and is lacking in carnal organs. His head is dusty, and he wears tattered clothes, and he means to carry the doctor on a broken-down cart. He says to the doctor: “Quick! Get in the cart!”

“Then, the good doctor thinks to himself: “Now, this messenger looks ill and unpleasant. I know that the sick person is difficult to cure.” He also thinks: “The messenger does not look very auspicious. I shall now look into the fortunes of the day and see if I can cure [the patient] or not. The fourth, sixth, eighth, twelfth and fourteenth are bad days, when illnesses do not heal up.” He further thinks: “This is a bad day. I shall now look into the stars and see if I can cure [the patient] or not. If it is the time of such stars as Mars, Revati, Krttika, Apabharani, Shissho , and Mansho , illness is hard to cure.” He also thinks: “As the stars are not in an auspicious constellation, I shall now look at the time. If it is autumn, winter, eventide, midnight, moonless time, then illnesses are hard to cure.” Also he thinks: “Even though all such aspects indicate ill omens, things may be definite or indefinite. I shall now see the sick person himself. If fortune is favourable, there will be a cure; if not, nothing will help.”

Thinking thus, he goes along with the messenger. On the way, he again thinks: “If the sick person is destined to live long, his illness will be cured. If not, there can be no cure.” And in front of the cart, he sees two children quarrelling and fighting, catching hold of each other’s head, tugging at their hair, throwing tiles and stones, and brandishing and striking with swords and staffs. He sees people bearing fire, which spontaneously dies out, or people felling trees, or catching hold of skin and going along, tugging at it, or things left out on the path, or people holding empty things, or a sramana walking alone, without a companion, or a tiger, wolf, crow, eagle or fox. Seeing this, he thinks: “I see the messenger that is sent, all that is happening on the road, and I see that they all indicate bad omens. I know that this illness will be hard to cure.” Also he thinks: “Though the omens are bad, let things go as they must. I shall go and see this illness.” Thus thinking, he hears this said on the way: “Things such as forgetting, death, collapsing, breaking, skinning, falling, burning, and non-coming cannot be cured.” Also, to the south he hears the cries of such birds and beasts as crow, eagle, sarika, dog, rat, fox, pig, and hare. Hearing all of these, he thinks: “I know that it will be hard to cure this sick person.”

“Then he arrives at the place of the sick person and sees the sick man. Cold and heat press down upon him time and again; his joints are painful, his eyes red, and the ringing in his ears can be heard from without. His throat is gripped by convulsions and pains, and the surface of his tongue is cracked. The person is of a truly dark colour, and his head is not in order. His body is dried up; no perspiration comes out. The calls of nature have all stopped; his body is uncommonly swollen and is scarlet and red, different from what obtained in ordinary days. There is no balance in his voice, which is at times coarse and at times weak. Spots can be seen all over his body, strangely blue and yellow in colour. His belly is swollen, and his speech is not clear. The doctor, on seeing this, asks the attendant of the patient: “How does the patient feel?” The answer comes back: “O great Doctor! This man previously respected the Three Treasures and all devas. Now, this person has changed and has ceased to respect [them]. Hitherto, he gladly gave, but now he is miserly. In the past, he ate sparingly, but now he eats a lot. Previously he harmonzed with good, but now he is evil. Hitherto he was filial and respected his father and mother, but now he has no mind to respect them.”

“The doctor, having heard all this, steps forward and smells. What he smells is utpala, the mixed smell of agaru, prkka, tagaraka, tamala-pattra, kunkumam, sandalwood, the smell of roasting meat, the smell of wine, the smell of roasting spines and bones, the smell of fish, and the smell of dung. Having smelled these good and bad smells, he steps forward and touches the [patient’s] body, which is as delicate and soft as silk or cotton or the karpasa [cotton-tree] flower. Or it is as hard as stone, or cold as ice, or hot as fire, as astringent as sand. Having seen all this, the good doctor sees that the man will surely die. Of this he has no doubt. But he does not say that the person will surely die. He says to the sick man’s attendant: “I am busy now. I shall come back tomorrow. Let the man eat whatever he desires to eat, and do not say no.” And he returns home. The next day the messenger comes, to whom the doctor again says: “My business is not yet concluded; besides, the medicine has not yet been made up.” The wise should know that such a sick person will assuredly die.

“O great King! It is the same with the World-Honoured One, too. He well knows what the icchantika is, and yet he speak to him of Dharma. Why? If he did not speak of Dharma, common mortals would all say: “The Tathagata has no compassion. If he has, we say “all-knowing”; if he does not, how can we say that he is the all-knowing one?” Thus would they say. For this reason, the Tathagata delivers sermons to the icchantikas. O great King! The Tathagata sees all sick persons and always dispenses the medicine of Dharma. The Tathagata is not to blame if the sick do not take the medicine. O great King! There are two kinds of icchantika. One gains the wholesome root [“kusala-mula”] in the present, and the other the wholesome root in the life to come [i.e. next life]. The Tathagata well knows which of the icchantika will gain the wholesome root in this life. So he speaks of Dharma. Even to the one whose wholesome root actualizes in the life to come, he speaks of Dharma. The result may not come about now, but he makes it the cause in the life to come. For this reason does the Tathagata speak of Dharma to the icchantika. Of the icchantika, there are two kinds. One is sharp, and the other is of middle grade. The one of sharp grade gains the wholesome root in this life; the one of middle grade will gain it in the life to come. The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One does not speak for nothing. O great King! For example, a person who is clean does not fall into the privy [cesspit]; a good teacher of the Way sees and pities him, and goes forward, catches hold of his hair and pulls him out. So do things obtain with the All-Buddha-Tathagata. He sees all beings falling into the pit of the three unfortunate realms. He effects expedients and saves them. It is for this reason that the Tathagata does indeed speak of Dharma even to the icchantikas.”

The king said to Jivaka: “If things obtain thus with the Tathagata, I shall tomorrow check the fortunes of the day and the stars to see if they are good, and then I shall go.” Jivaka said to the king: “There is no finding out of the best day and stars in the teaching of the Tathagata. It is as with a person suffering from serious illness: he does not select the good or bad day and time, but seeks out a doctor. Now, your illness, King, is serious and you seek a good doctor, who is the Buddha. Please do not speak about whether it is a good or bad day. O great King! This is as in the case of sandalwood and eranda fire, both of which burn in the same way, without any difference. It is the same with the best day and that of ill-omens. At the place of the Buddha, one gains the same expiation of one’s sins. Please, O great King, hasten there today!”

Then the great king gave orders to a minister called “Auspicious”, saying: “O you minister! Today I mean to go to the Buddha-World-Honoured One. Make haste and get things ready for the offerings!” The minister said: “O great King! Well said, well said! We have everything ready for the offerings.” King Ajatasatru had with him his royal consort. The palanquins on thich they rode were 12,000 in number; their great and powerful elephants were 50,000. On each elephant were three attendants, who held banners and parasols in their hands. There was no lack of flowers, incense, or musical instruments. All was complete. There were 180,000 horses leading and bringing up the rear. And the people of Magadha who followed the king numbered 580,000. At this time, the people of Kusinagara filled an area 12 yojanas in size. All saw King Ajatasatru and his kindred coming from afar, asking the way.

Buddha, the Savior

Then, the Buddha spoke to the congregation. “All of you! The most closely related to unsurpassed Bodhi is the good friend of the Way. Why? If Ajatasatru had not followed the words of Jivaka, he would have died on the 7th of next month and would have fallen into hell. For this reason, there is no one better than the most closely related and good friend of the Way.” A voice came from in front of King Ajatasatru, which said: “King Vidudabha of Sravasti rode on a ship, went to sea, met with a fire and died. The bhiksu, Kokalika, was swallowed up alive by the earth and fell into Avichi Hell. Sunaksatra, after committing many an evil deed, came to the Buddha, and all his sins were expunged.” On hearing this, he said to Jivaka: “I have heard these two things said. But I cannot be too sure. O Jivaka! Come with me! I mean to ride together with you on one elephant. If I am to fall into Avichi Hell, grab hold of me so that I do not fall down there. Why? I once heard that the person who has gained the Truth will not fall into hell.”

Then the Buddha said to the people around: “King Ajatasatru yet has doubts. I shall now fix my mind.”

At that time, there was a Bodhisattva called “All-Upholding” there. He said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! As you the Buddha have previously stated: all things have no fixed state. Matter has no fixed form, and Nirvana has no fixed form, either. How is it that you, Tathagata, say that for Ajatasatru’s sake you will gain a fixed mind?” The Buddha said: “Well said, well said, O good man! I now gain a fixed mind for the sake of Ajatasatru. Why? If the king’s doubts become annihilated, know that there can be no fixed forms for all things. Because of this, I shall, for Ajatasatru’s sake, gain a fixed mind. Know that this mind is not one that is fixed. O good man! If the mind of the king is fixed, how could one destroy the king’s deadly sins? As there is no fixed state, we can indeed crush out sin. Hence, for Ajatasatru’s sake, I gain a fixed mind.”

Then the great king went to the forest of sal trees, went to where the Buddha was, looked up and saw the 32 signs of perfection and the 80 minor marks of excellence, all of which stood out like an all-wonderful golden mount. Then the Buddha issued the eight kinds of voice and said: “O great King!” Then Ajatasatru looked to right and left and said: “Who is the great king amongst all of those who are here? I am sinful and have no virtue worth mentioning. So the Tathagata could not be addressing me thus.” Then the Tathagata again called out: “O great King Ajatasatru!” On hearing this, the king was greatly pleased and said: “The Tathagata uses loving words to me. I now know that the Tathagata truly has great pity for all us beings; he makes no distinction.” And he said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! I have now eternally made away with doubt. I definitely know now that the Tathagata is truly the unsurpassed great teacher.” Then, Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to All-Upholding: “The Tathagata has gained a fixed mind for the sake of King Ajatasatru.”

King Ajatasatru said further to the Buddha: “O great King! Even if I now sat and stood and took meals with Brahma and Sakrodevendra, I would not feel happy. You, Tathagata, just drop me a word and command me, and I greatly rejoice.” And he brought the banners, parasols, flowers, incense, and musical instruments to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then he stepped forward, touched the Buddha’s feet, and walked around the Buddha three times. Worshipping him in this way, he stepped back and took his seat to one side.

Meditation Instruction

Then the Buddha said to Ajatasatru: “O great King! I shall now talk to you about the pith of Wonderful Dharma. Listen to me carefully with all your mind! The common mortal should always meditate on 20 things:

1) this body is empty and there is nothing there that is undefiled [i.e. “anasrava”],

2) it has no wholesome root in it,

3) there is no adjustment in birth and death,

4) one falls into a deep pit and there is no place where one may have no fear,

5) by what means can one see the Buddha-Nature?

6) how can one practise meditation and see the Buddha-Nature?

7) birth and death are always the cause of suffering and there are [there] no Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure,

8) it is not possible to segregate oneself from the eight inopportune situations,

9) one is always pursued by enmity,

10) there is not one dharma that can shake off all things that exist,

11) one is not emancipated from the three unfortunate realms,

12) various twisted views accompany one,

13) no boat is on hand to pass one across the waters of the five deadly sins,

14) birth and death go on endlessly and no limit to this is gained,

15) when no karma is performed, there is no result to follow,

16) no fruition comes about to others for what one has oneself done,

17) without the cause of bliss, there cannot be the result of bliss,

18) once the seed of karma is sown, the result will not be lost,

19) ignorance calls forth life and by it one dies,

20) what one has over the three times of past, present and future is indolence.

O great King! Common mortals should always meditate on these 20 things. Having meditated thus, one will come not to desire birth and death any more. If no desire exists for birth and death, one will gain samatha-vipasyana [tranquillity and insight]. Then, in an orderly way, one will meditate on what obtains regarding birth, life, and extinction. So does it go with dhyana, wisdom, effort and shila. Having meditated on birth, life and extinction, one comes to know what obtains with the mind down to the moral precepts. Refraining from evil to the end, there can be no fear of death and the three unfortunate realms. Any person whose mind is not set upon these 20 things has a mind that is indolent, and there will be no end of evil that is not yet done.”

Ajatasatru said: “I did not hitherto grasp the meanings of these 20 things which the Buddha has expounded to me. I therefore committed many evil deeds. As I have committed many evil deeds, I have a fear of death and of the three unfortunate realms. O World-Honoured One! I am myself to blame; I myself have invited this suffering [upon myself] and am responsible for all these grave sins. Though my father, the King, was utterly blameless, I committed deadly acts against him. Whether or not I may have meditated on all of these things, I am sure that Avichi Hell awaits me.”

The Buddha said to the great king: “All things that exist, and their charactersitics, are not eternal; there is nothing that is fixed. O King! How can you say that you will definitely go to Avichi Hell?” King Ajatasatru said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! If all things do not have a fixed state, then the sins that I have committed cannot be fixed, either. If killing is definite, there cannot be any saying that all things are not fixed.”

Buddha’s Encouragement 

The Buddha said: “O great King! Well said, well said! The All-Buddha-World-honoured One says: “All things have no definite aspects.” You, King, well know that killing, too, is not definite. For this reason, know that in killing, too, there is nothing that is definite. You say that your father was innocent and you killed him. Who is your father? Only a provisional man made up of the five skandhas, towards which you carelessly entertain the notion of “father”. Which of the 12 spheres and 18 realms is your father? If matter [“rupa”] is father, the other four skandhas must be false. There cannot be anything such as rupa or non-rupa that can combine together and make father. Why not? Because there cannot be anything, by nature, that can be called rupa or non-rupa. O great King! Common mortals and all beings carelessly entertain the notion of father in the rupa-skandha. Such a rupa-skandha also cannot be harmed. Why not? There are ten kinds of rupa. Of these ten, only one is seen, held, prized, weighed, tugged and bound. Although we can see and bind, there is no nature that sustains [this rupa]. [As it is] non-abiding, we cannot see, hold, prize, weigh, tug or bind. This is what rupa is. How can we kill it? If this rupa is your father and is liable to get harmed, and if we are to reap the karmic fruit, the other nine must be false. If the remaining nine are false, there can be no talk of sin. O great King! There are three kinds of rupa. These are of the past, present and future. We cannot harm that of the past and that of the present. Why not? The past has passed; as to the present, all things die out moment after moment. As to what arises in time the future, things can be checked, so as not to arise. This is killing. Thus a single rupa can either be killed or not be killed. As there are the two cases of being killed and not being killed, we can say that nothing is ever definite. If rupa is not fixed, killing too is indefinite. Since killing is not definite, the karmic consequence is also not definite. How can you say that you will fall into hell?

“O great King! There are two kinds of karmic results to what beings do. One is light and the other is grave. What concerns mind and mouth is light; what is done by body, mouth and mind is grave. What is thought about in mind and spoken by mouth, but what is not done, is light in karma. O great King! You, in days gone by, did not say “Kill!”; you only said, “Cut off the legs!” If you had told your attendants to behead your father while he was standing, and if he were beheaded while sitting, you would not have purchased sin. Contrary to this, you did not command thus. How can you have sinned? If it is the case that you sinned, then the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One, too, must have sinned. Why so? Your father, King Bimbisara, had previously sown all the seeds of good. As a result he was then able to ascend the throne. Had the Buddha-World-Honoured One not accepted the offerings made, he could not have become king. If he had not become king, you could not have plotted against the state and caused harm. If it is the case that you have killed your father and have committed a crime, all we Buddhas must have sins to answer for. If the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One has no sin, how could it be that you alone must have sinned?

“O great King! Bimbisara once gained an evil state of mind and went out hunting on Vipula Hill. He roamed about the wilderness, but found no game. He saw a rishi who was endowed with the five divine powers. Seeing him, anger and a twisted thought arose in him; he thought that the reason he had no game came from the fact that this rishi must have caused the game animals to run away. He told his attendants to kill this rishi. The rishi, as he was about to breathe his last, gained an evil state of mind. He lost his divine powers and took an oath: “I am truly innocent. But you, by means of your mouth, ruthlessly perform an act of killing. I shall, in the life to come, cause – like you – death to you through my mouth.” Then the king, on hearing this, repented. He cremated the dead body with offerings. So did it go with the former king. The karmic consequence was light, and he did not fall into hell. In contrast to this, you did nothing of the sort, so how could you suffer in hell? The former king did the thing himself and he had to pay for it. How could you say, King, that you did the killing and that you have to suffer? You say that your father was innocent. How could you say that he was innocent? Now, a person who has sinned has to suffer from what he has done. A person who has not sinned does not suffer from karmic results. If your late father, the King, had committed no sin, how could there be any karmic result? Bimbisara acquired good and bad karmic results in his lifetime. Because of this, nothing was definite with the late king. Being indefinite, killing, too, was indefinite. The killing being indefinite, how can you say that you will have to fall into hell?

“O great King! Regarding the defilement of madness in beings, there are four kinds. These are: 1) madness from greed, 2) madness from medicine, 3) madness by charms, 4) madness from original karma. O great King! There are these four kinds of madness amongst my disciples. They do many evil things, and yet I do not call it violating sila [the moral precepts]. What is done by such persons does not lead to the three unfortunate realms. Even when regaining a sane state of mind, we do not speak of their having violated [sila]. You, King, were in a greedy state of mind and committed this offence. This is what the madness of greed did. How can we call this sin? O great King! A person takes drink, becomes intoxicated and kills his own mother. Once the intoxication has passed, he repents. Know that this action also does not call forth karmic results. O King! The intoxication of greed is not the action of a sane mind. If not of the sane mind, how can one acquire sin? Now, a juggler at a crossroads displays various forms of men, women, elephants, horses, garlands, clothings, etc. The ignorant call these real, whereas the wise know that all of these are not true. The same with killing. The common mortal calls it true, but the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One knows that it is not true. O King! The ignorant call an echo true, but the wise know that it is not. O great King! A mind of vengeance comes about, but presents [a face of] seeming friendliness. The ignorant call this true, but the wise see through it and recognise it as false. It is the same with killing. The common mortal says that it is true, whereas the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One knows that it is not true. O great King! One takes up a mirror and looks into it. The ignorant say that it is a true face [in the mirror], but the wise see through it and say that this is not something true. It is the same with killing. The common mortal says that it is true, whereas the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One knows that it is not so. The ignorant see a mirage in the hot season and call it water, but the wise see through it and know that it is not water. The same is the case with killing. The common mortal calls it true, whereas the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One knows that it is not true. O great King! The common mortal calls a gandharvan castle true, whereas the wise see through it and know that it is not true. It is the same with killing. The common mortal calls it true, but the All-Buddha-World-Honoured one knows that it is not true. O great King! In a dream, one enjoys the bliss of the five desires. The ignorant call these true, but the wise see through it and know them and know that they are not true. The case is the same with killing. The common mortal says that it is true, but the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One knows that it is not true. O great King! I know all about killing, the act of killing, the killer, the karmic results of killing, and emancipation. That is to say that there is no sin. O King! You may know of killing, but how can there be any sin? O great King! For example, one may know how to serve wine, but if one does not drink it, one will not get intoxicated. Also, the knowledge of fire is not burning. It is the same with you, King. And the knowing of killing does not mean any sin. O great King! The beings, at sunrise, commit various sins, and at the rise of the moon commit robbery, but they do not perform any sinful acts when there are no sun and moon out. The sun and moon enable them to commit crime. But the sun and moon do not actually commit any sinful deeds. It is the same with killing. You, King, were the vehicle, but you have no sin.

“O great King! You always give orders in your royal palace to kill sheep. And you have no fear in your mind. How is it that you entertain fear only when you kill your father? We say “respectable” and “disrespectable” as between man and animal. But both equally love life and fear death. In this there is no difference. Why is it that your mind is light when you have killed sheep and that you fear greatly when you have killed your father? O great King! Man is a servant of craving, and is not free. Driven by craving, a person commits the act of killing. There can be karmic results. But “craving” [“trishna”] is to answer [is responsible]. You, King, feel molested [oppressed]. But who is to blame? O great King! For example, Nirvana is no “is” and is not a “not-is”. Yet it is an “is”. The same applies to killing. Though not “is” and not “not-is”, it is yet an “is”. It is “not-is” with the person who repents; it is “not-not-is” with the person who feels no repentance. One who harvests the karmic consequences calls this “is”; one who sees “void” regards it as “not-is”. For one who holds the world-view of “is”, it is “not-not-is”, and for one who bases himself on the “is-is” theory, it is an “is”. Why? Because a person of this world-view reaps karmic results. A person who upholds the world-view that there is no “is” reaps no karmic results. For a person who holds the world-view of the eternal oneness of “is” existence, it is “not-is”. For a person who holds the “non-eternal-oneness theory”, it is “not-not-is”. For a person of the “eternal-eternal theory”, it cannot be “not-is”. Why not? Because a person of this eternal-eternal theory harvests an evil karma. Hence, for a person of this eternal-eternal theory, it cannot be “not-is”. For this reason, “not-is” and “not-not-is” are “is”. O great King! Now, beings speak of an “exhaling-inhaling breath”. When we cut off the exhaling and inhaling breath, there is death. All Buddhas follow the way of life of the lay and say that there is “killing”.

“O great King! Matter [“rupa”] is non-eternal; the causal relations of matter are also not eternal. How could matter, which arises out of an impermanent cause, be eternal? This applies down to consciousness, which is non-eternal, and the causal relations of consciousness are also non-eternal. How could the consciousness that arises out of impermanent causation be eternal? “Due to impermanence, there arises suffering; due to suffering, what there is is void; due to the void, what there is is non-Self. If there are impermanence, suffering, void, and non-Self, what does one kill? If Impermanence is killed, what there is is eternal Nirvana. If Suffering is killed, one must gain Bliss; if the Void is killed, one must gain the Real. If the non-Self is killed, one must gain the True Self. O great King! If Impermanence, Suffering, the Void, and non-Self are killed, you must be equal to me.” I, too, killed Impermanence, Suffering, the Void, and non-Self, and I am not in hell. How could you fall into hell?”

Ajatasatru’s Meditation

Then, King Ajatasatru meditated, as told to by the Buddha, on matter down to consciousness. Having thus meditated, he said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! I have come to know for the first time that matter is non-eternal and down to the fact that consciousness is non-eternal. If I had so meditated, I could not have sinned. In days gone by, I heard a person say that the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One always becomes the parent to all beings. Though I heard so, I could not be quite sure. Now I definitely know. O World-Honoured One! I also heard that the king mountain, Mount Sumeru, is made of the four treasures: gold, silver, vaidurya, and sphatika; and also that all birds change their colour, according to the colour of the place they go to. Though I heard so, I was not quite sure. As I now come to Mount Sumeru, I am now of the same colour. To say that I am the same in colour means to say that all things are non-eternal, suffering, void, and non-Self. O World-Honoured One! I observe that in the world the eranda [recinus communis] comes from the eranda seed, but not that sandalwood comes from eranda. I now see for the first time that sandalwood comes from the eranda seed. The eranda seed is none but I. The sandalwood is the faith that has no root in my mind. I say “rootless”. That is to say that I first did not know how to respect the Tathagata, that I did not believe in the Dharma and Sangha. This is what I call “rootless”. O World-Honoured One! If I had not met with you, the Tathagata-World-Honoured One, I would have had to live for innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas in a great hell, suffering there infinite pain. I am now fortunate to have met with you, the Tathagata. By virtue of having seen this Buddha, I can now crush all defilements and the evil state of mind.” The Buddha said: “O great King! Well said, well said! I now know that you will surely destroy the evil state of mind of beings.” “O World-Honoured One! If I could well destroy the evil state of mind of beings, I could well fall into Avichi Hell and suffer great pain there for innumerable kalpas, and I should not feel it as pain.”

And the innumerable people of the state of Magadha aspired to unsurpassed Bodhi [Enlightenment]. And when all such people had aspired to the great mind, all the grave sins of King Ajatasatru became light. And the king, the royal consort, the ladies of the harem, and the attendant females aspired to unsurpassed Bodhi.

Then King Ajatasatru spoke to Jivaka: “O Jivaka! I am not yet dead, and yet I have a heavenly body. Casting away a short life, I have gained a long one, and I cause all beings to aspire to unsurpassed Bodhi. That is to say that this is the heavenly body, long life, and the eternal body, and this is a disciple of all Buddhas.”

Saying thus, he offered the Buddha various gem-studded hanging-ensigns, flags and parasols, incense, flowers, garlands, and wonderful music, and spoke in praise of the Buddha in a gatha:

“The true words are delicately set

In sentences all skilfully woven.

The undisclosed store of deep meaning

Is opened for the sake of all beings.

The implications are great and extensive,

But told in simple ways, for beings’ sake.

Perfect in all such words

He thoroughly cures beings.

Any being blessed with hearing these words

Will definitely come to know,

Whether he believes or not,

That all this is the sermon of the Buddha.

All Buddhas always with soft words

For beings’ sake explain what is coarse.

The words softly spoken or coarsely spoken

All turn up to [end up in] “Paramartha-satya” [Ultimate Truth].

That is why I now take refuge in the World-Honoured One.

Just as the water of the great ocean

Is one that the Tathagata uses.

This is the foremost meaning. Because of this,

There are no words which are meaningless.

The various and innumerable things

That the Tathagata speaks are now

Heard by beings, male and female, big and small,

Who all-equally arrive at “Paramartha-satya”.

Causelessness, fruitlessness, birthlessness, and deathlessness

Are all called Great Nirvana.

And those who hear destroy all karmic results.

The Tathagata becomes the compassionate father and mother to all beings.

Know that all beings are all sons of the Tathagata.

The World-Honoured One, being compassionate,

Practised penance for beings’ sake. It seems

That man is much caught by demons or lost to madness.

I now see the Buddha and am blessed

With the good of the three actions [i.e. of body, mouth and mind].

I pray that I shall turn this merit over to the unsurpassed Way.

I now make offerings to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,

And I pray that the Three Treasures will always exist in the world.

The various merits that I gain will thoroughly crush the four Maras of all beings.

I made friends with evil ones.

And there was no end of sins that pass in the Three Times.

I now repent before the Buddha. And I pray

That I shall commit no more sins in the days to come.

I pray that all beings will aspire to Bodhi

And always think of all the Buddhas of the ten directions.

And I pray that all beings

Will eternally destroy the defilements

And that, like Manjushri, they will

Clearly see the Buddha-Nature.”

Then the World-Honoured One praised King Ajatasatru: “Well said, well said! If one aspires to Bodhi, know that this adorns all Buddhas and the masses. O great King! You, once in the past, at the site of Buddha Vipasyin, aspired to Bodhi, and ever since then, up to the time when I appeared in the world, you have never once suffered the pains of hell. O great King! Know that Bodhichitta [the resolve to gain Enlightenment] generates innumerable karmic effects. O great King! From now onwards, always cultivate Bodhichitta. Why? Through this, you can thoroughly make away with an innumerable number of sins.”

Then King Ajatasatru and all the people of the state of Magadha stood up from their seats, walked around the Buddha three times, drew back, and returned to the palace.

Now, what refers to the Chapter on Heavenly Actions is as stated in the Gandavyuha Sutra.

The Buddha Speaks the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma Sutra

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Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha was in the state of Kushinagara. The Tathagata was to enter nirvana within three months and the bhikshus and Bodhisattvas as well as the great multitude of beings had come to pay homage to the Buddha and to bow in reverence. The World Honored One was tranquil and silent. He spoke not a word and his light did not appear. Worthy Ananda bowed and asked the Buddha,

”0 Bhagavan, heretofore whenever you spoke the Dharma, awesome light would naturally appear. Yet today among this great assembly there is no such radiance. There must be a good cause for this and we wish to hear the Bhagavan’s explanation.”
The Buddha remained silent and did not answer until the request had been repeated three times. He then told Ananda,
”After I enter nirvana, when the Dharma is about to perish, during the evil age of the five turbidities, the way of demons will flourish. Demonic beings will become shramanas; they will pervert and destroy my teachings. Monastics will wear the garb of laypersons and will prefer handsome clothes. Their precept sashes will be made of multi-colored cloth. They will use intoxicants, eat meat, kill other beings and they will indulge in their desire for flavorful food. They will lack compassion and they will bear hatred and exhibit jealousy even among themselves.
”Even then Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats will reverently and diligently cultivate immaculate virtue. They will be respected by all people and their teachings will be fair and egalitarian. These cultivators of the Way will take pity on the poor, they will be mindful of the aged, and they will save and give counsel to those people they find in difficult circumstances. They will at all times exhort others to worship and to protect sutras and images of the Buddha. They will do meritorious deeds, be resolute and kind, and never harm others. They will make physical sacrifices for others’ benefit. They will hold no great regard for themselves but will be patient, yielding, humane, and peaceful.
”As long as such people exist, the hordes of demonic bhikshus will be jealous of them. The demons will harass them, slander and defame them, expel them from their midst and degrade them. They will ostracize the good monks from the monastic community. Thereafter these demons derive no virtue from their practice. Their monastic buildings will be vacant and overgrown with weeds. For want of care and maintenance their Way-places will drift into ruin and oblivion. The demonic bhikshus will increase their greed for wealth and will amass great heaps of goods. They will refuse to distribute any of it or to use it to gain blessings and virtue.
”At this time, the evil monks will buy and sell slaves to till their fields and to slash and burn the mountain forests. They will do harm to living creatures and they will feel not the least bit of compassion. These slaves will themselves become bhikshus and maidservants will become bhikshunis. Totally lacking in Way-virtue, these people will run amok, indulging in licentious behavior. In their turbid confusion they will fail to separate the men from the women in the monastic communities. From this generation on, the Way will be weakened. Fugitives from the law will seek refuge in my Way, wishing to be shramanas but failing to observe the moral regulations. Monastics will continue to recite the precepts twice a month, but in name alone. Being lazy and lax, no one will want to listen any longer. These evil shramanas will be unwilling to recite the sutras in their entirety and they will make abbreviations at the beginning and at the end of the texts as they please. Soon the practice of reciting sutras will stop altogether. Even if there are people who recite texts, they will be unlettered, unqualified people who will insist, nonetheless, that they are correct. Bumptious, arrogant, and vain, these people will seek fame and glory. They will put on airs in the hope of attracting offerings from other people.
”When the lives of these demonic bhikshus come to an end their essential spirits will fall into the Avichi Hell. Having committed the five evil deeds, they will suffer successive rebirths as hungry ghosts and as animals. They will know all such states of woe as they pass on through eons as numerous as sands on the banks of the Ganges River. When their offenses are accounted for they will be reborn in a border land where the Triple Jewel is unknown.
”When the Dharma is about to disappear, women will become vigorous and will at all times do deeds of virtue. Men will grow lax and will no longer speak the Dharma. Those who are genuine shramanas will be looked upon as dung and no one will have faith in them. When the Dharma is about to perish, all the gods will begin to weep. Rivers will dry up and the five grains will not ripen. Pestilences will frequently take millions of lives. The masses will toil and suffer while the local officials will plot and scheme. No one will adhere to principles. Instead, the human race will multiply, becoming like the sands of the ocean-bed. Good persons will be hard to find; at most there will be one or two. As the eon comes to a close, the revolutions of the sun and the moon will grow short and the lifespan of people will decrease. Their hair will turn white by the time they are forty. Because of excessive licentious behavior they will quickly exhaust their seminal fluids and will die at a young age, usually before sixty years. As the lifespan of males decreases, that of females will increase to seventy, eighty, ninety, or one hundred years.
”The mighty rivers will flood and lose harmony with their natural cycles, yet people will not take notice or feel concern. Extremes of climate will soon be taken for granted. Beings of all races will mix together at random, without regard for the noble and the mean. Their births and rebirths will cause them to sink and float, like feeding aquatic creatures.
”Even then Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats will gather together in an unprecedented assembly because they will all have been harried and pursued by the hordes of demons. They will no longer dwell in the assemblies but the Three Vehicles will retreat to the wilderness. In a tranquil place they will find shelter, happiness, and long life. Gods will protect them and the moon will shine down upon them. The Three Vehicles will have an opportunity to meet together and the Way will flourish. However, within fifty-two years the Shurangama Sutra and the Pratyutpanna [[[Standing]] Buddha] Samadhi, will be the first to change and then to disappear. The twelve divisions of the canon will gradually follow until they vanish completely, never to appear again. Its words and texts will be totally unknown ever after. The precept sashes of shramanas will turn white of themselves. When my Dharma disappears it will be just like an oil lamp that flares brightly for an instant just before it goes out. So too, will the Dharma flare and die. After this time it is difficult to speak with certainty of what will follow.
”A period of ten million years will follow before the time when Maitreya is about to appear in the world to become the next Buddha. At that time the planet will be entirely peaceful. Evil vapors will have dissipated, rain will be ample and regular, and crops will grow abundantly. Trees will grow to a great height and people will grow to be eighty feet tall. The average lifespan will extend to 84,000 years. It will be impossible to count all the beings who will be taken across to liberation.”
Worthy Ananda addressed the Buddha, “What should we call this Sutra and how shall we uphold it?”
The Buddha said, “Ananda, this sutra is called The Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma. Tell everyone to propagate it widely; the merit of your actions will be measureless, beyond reckoning.”
When the four-fold assembly of disciples heard this sutra they grieved and wept. Each of them resolved to attain the true path of the Supreme Sage. Then bowing to the Buddha, they withdrew.
End of The Buddha Speaks the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma Sutra.
From the Seng You Records, translator anonymous.
Appended to the Song Annals.

Biographies: Lord Padmasambhava, Embodiment of all the Buddhas

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Lord PadmasambhavaThere is no doubt in the mind of every practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism that the second most unique and extraordinary exemplar of our whole lineage afterPramodavajra himself, was the powerful Lord Padmasambhava, the Wisdom Master who was chiefly instrumental in bringing the tradition to Tibet. Known as the Lotus Guru (padma-guru), the Saint Lama (guru Rinpoche) of Tibet, and as a “second Buddha”, Padmasambhava1 shines with the incomparable brightness of the morning star in the world’s firmament of stellar saints. Long before he was born, mystics and prophets were signaling his advent. During his life he drew the respect and veneration of kings and emperors and after his death the multitude made his memory into an imperishable icon of the Absolute.

Uddiyana In The Eighth Century

To properly appreciate the liberating life-story of this Great Incarnation, it is necessary to view him in the appropriate historical context, and to accomplish this we must look again at that once magical land in the north-west corner of the Indian subcontinent, known as the sacred garden-like Kingdom of Uddiyana. It was in Uddiyana that Padmasambhava was born.

We are able to catch a glimpse of the lost kingdom of Uddiyana through records and writings found in China. Chinese annals record missions from the Kingdom of Uddiyana to the Chinese Court in the years 502, 511, 518, and 521. In general these sixth century contacts between Uddiyana and Imperial China are representative of the alliance which the countries of Central Asia and the North-West depended upon to protect themselves from the tribes of the north, as also the rising military presence of Tibet in the east.2

In 642 A.D., a ” King Ta-mo-yin-t’o-ho-szu” 3  of Uddiyana is said to have sent a gift of camphor and an embassy to the Emperor of China. This is the year that the Arabs succeeded in defeating the King of Kings, Yazdagird 111, of Persia. The latter, fleeing eastward, met his death near Merv in 651. With the death of Yazdagird, last of the Sassanid dynasty, the southern bedouin hordes of Islam for the first time marched onto the soil of Iran and began their great, rapacious advance eastward. The kings of the Orient had cause to fear the coming of the Arabs. These southerners were savagely barbarian; a patchwork of desert tribes woven together by the threads of a fanatical monotheism and a religion which encouraged them to slay with the sword those whom they could not convert to their personal dominion. ” Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day,” says the Koran (Sura 9:29), ” …until they pay you tribute out of hand, having brought them low.”

The inexorable expansion of the Arabs spread along two fronts: the first moved through Nishapur to Herat, Merv and Balkh, reducing the northern provinces of Persia; the second passed south by way of Sistan (Sijistan) to the Helmand. In 650 Abdallah ibn Amr began the yet further push forwards across the desert of the Dasht-i-Lut. He was followed over the years by succeeding Moslem armies which, through continuous raids, massacres and looting, systematically transformed the wondrous flower-garden of Persian civilization and Mazdean or Buddhist culture into a scorched wasteland. Today all these lands lie under the yoke of Arabic culture.

The Turkish Shahi kingdom of Kapisa-(with Kabul on the south as its capital) and the central Afghan massif of Ghor (now the Hazarajat), held against the invader, and for many centuries remained unconquered and primarily Buddhist. In 663 A.D. Ibn Samurah fought his way into Kabul, but his success was only temporary. Nevertheless, reading the T’ang Annals, we note that a party of Uddiyanean ambassadors presented themselves at the Chinese Court in 665 A.D., and granting the length and hardships of the journey, it is practical to assume that the embassy’s presence was a direct response to Ibn Samurah’s raid. Kapisa’s strength, backed by the armies of Imperial China, acted as a major bulwark against Islam penetrating the Pamir, and significantly protected Uddiyana.

In 672 an Arab governor of Sistan, Abbad ibn Ziyad, raided the frontier of Al-Hind and crossed the desert to Gandhara, but quickly retreated again. The marauder Obaidallah crossed the Sita River and made a raid on Kabul in 698 only to meet with defeat and humiliation. Vincent Smith, in Early History of India, states that the Turkishahiya dynasty continued to rule over Kabul and Gandhara up until the advent of the Saffarids in the ninth century. Forced by the inevitable advance of Islam on the west, they then moved their capital from Kapisa to Wahund on the Indus, whence they contin­ued as the Hindushahiya dynasty. This was in 870 A.D. and marks the first time that the Kingdom of Shambhala actually came under Moslem domination. The Hindushahis recaptured Kabul and the rest of their Kingdom after the death of the conqueror Yaqub but never again maintained Kapisa as their capital.

Meanwhile another power was on the upsurge. This was Tibet. In 617 A.D. Namri Songtsen, the 32nd King of the peoples of Tibet, had a son named Tri De-songtsen (Ch: Chi Tsung-lung-tsan), who is better known as Tri Songtsen Gampo.4  This young ruler (he was 13 when he ascended the throne in 630) quickly squashed the attempted coup that accompanied his father’s assassination and then proceeded with the systematic and bloodthirsty reduction of all traces of opposition to his control over the Tibetan Plateau. Having married his sister to the king of Suvarnadwipa, he conspired with her in the latter’s ambush and murder.5  Following upon the death of the last descendant of the matriarchal dynasty of Suvarnadwipa, the armies of Tibet streamed westward along the Indus and north toward the vast basin lands of the Tarim.

A few years6 after the conquest of Suvarnadwipa, Tri Sontsen Gampo sent his minister, Gar Tongtsen to the Nepalese king Amsuvarman,7 to ask for the hand of his daughter, the princess Bhrikuti-devi, in marriage. The Tibetans had conquered parts of upper Burma and areas of Nepal, and King Amsuvarman was eager to contract an alliance. It appears that Bhrikuti-devi was responsible for converting the barbarous king of Tibet to Buddhism.

Meanwhile Tri Sontsen Gampo had also been seeking the hand in marriage of Wen-ch’eng Kung-chu, the daughter of the Tang Emperor T’ai-tsung. The Chinese princess already had a suitor in the person of T’o-ki-ki, khan of the Eastern Tartars (T’u-ku-hun). Fearing the advantage which the Tartars would gain through a marriage with the Imperial House of China, and desirous of Wen-ch’eng for himself, Tri Songtsen Gampo sent his armies against the Tartars and defeated them. Having then recruited (or conscripted) 200,000 troops in all8, Tri Songtsen Gampo lay siege and conquered the city of Sung-p’an in Sze-ch’uan. This action was followed by warfare against China itself, in which the Tibetans proved victorious. Overnight Tibet had grown into a major power with whom the Chinese were quick to seek a treaty. This is long before the epoch of the Mongols and their empire under Genghis Khan.

In 641 the minister Tao-tsung, prince of Chiang-hsia, escorted the Chinese princess Wen-ch’eng as far as the border of Tibet, where she was received by Tri Songtsen Gampo. In Lhasa they were married.

Songtsen Gampo, being the founder of the Tibetan Empire and a patron of civilization in that country, and having, due to the prompting of his two wives, initiated the planting of Buddhism in Tibetan soil, is justly one of the most famous sovereigns in Tibetan history.9 In keeping with the awe in which he is held by the people, he has also been canonized as an incarnation of the celestial Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara; while his wives have likewise been declared incarnations of Green Tara and White Tara, respectively. But as Waddell10 so pointedly has made clear, Songtsen Gampo’s apotheosis into the Buddhist archetype of unconditional love and mercy, as Avalokitesvara, is incongruous in face of the reality of his character as one of the greater warlords of Oriental history. He did, however, accomplish much good by introducing culture and the art of writing into the country.

Songtsen Gampo died of the plague in 649 A.D. and the throne descended to his grandson, Mangsong Mangtsen, who was still only a child. This left the Tibetan Empire in the hands of the capable regent Gar Tongtsen, who immediately embarked on a series of campaigns in Central Asia, taking from China the Indo-European kingdoms of Khotan, Kucha, Karashahr and Kashgar. In 666 A.D. Gar Tongtsen returned victoriously to Lhasa, where he died of fever a year later, leaving power in the hands of his son. In fact power was held by the Gar family for a considerable period, until the disgrace and suicide of Gar Tridang Tsendro in 699. The warlike activity and expansion of the Tibetan Empire continued unabated through the reign of the Hsuan-tsung Emperor of China, and we read that the latter, in 719 A.D., was hard pressed to block the advances of the Tibetans, on the one hand, and the Moslem Arabs, on the other.

Gilgit is a small state that borders on the north of Uddiyana. Between 720 and 726 the King of Baltistan moved his seat westwards to Gilgit out of fear of the Tibetan advance. It becomes apparent as we sift through the records, that more and more territory on the edges of Uddiyana was being eaten up by the expanding Tibetan Empire during this period. Al­though the King of Baltistan, newly settled in Gilgit, remained loyal to his alliance with China, the nobility and peoples of Baltistan are said to have gone over to the Tibetan side. We can justifiably surmise that similar pressures were certainly felt in Uddiyana. This becomes clear in 745 A.D. when the Chinese Court is suddenly seen to confer upon the king of Kapisa the double investiture of ” king of Kapisa and Uddiyana.”

Only twenty-five years previously the Chinese had invested the king of Uddiyana as the ruler of his lands. In the interim Uddiyana appears to have lost its independence. History does not state the reason for this change in Chinese policy, but a good guess is that Uddiyana had attempted to align itself with Tibet and the Chinese countered by backing Kapisa in the overthrow of the Uddiyan royal house. Mention of tribute from the King of Kapisa in 748 A.D. ascertains that by that date Uddiyana had become a vassal state. As we shall see, it was in the very midst of this turmoil and change that Padmasambhava was born and spent his youth.

Fortunately we are able to catch yet another glimpse of events in Uddiyana from the biography of an Indian monk who passed through the country early in the 8th century. Subhakarasimha was a monk from Magadha who stopped in Uddiyana on his way to China. Later in China he became famous as a teacher of the Yoga tantras. The Chinese called him Shan-wa-wei.

Subhakarasimha descended from the Sakya prince Amritodana, an uncle of Sakyamuni Buddha. Due to unrest in Magadha (Central India), his ancestors, centuries earlier, had moved eastwards, eventually becoming the rulers of Kalinga (Odra), modern Orissa in the east. Subhakarasimha’s father was King Buddhakara of Kalinga. When the elder son of the family inherited the throne in circa 680 A.D.,Prince Subhakarasimha entered a monastery in Caritra on the seacoast of Kalinga. Eventually he graduated to the great University of Nalanda in Central India and, as a disciple of the Master Dharmagupta, became a learned expert in theMahavairocana-tantra.11 After the death of his teacher he set forth to teach in China.

That aspect of Subhakarasimha’s journey to China which interests us is his brief stay in Uddiyana between the years 714 and 715 A.D.12 Pei, in the Wen-yuan ying-huo reports that he was commissioned to teach the profound Mahavairocana-tantrato the son of the khatun of Uddiyana. The term khatun is a Turkishahiya title for Queen. This implies that the King of Uddiyana, ” Ta-mo-yin-t’o-ho-szu,” mentioned in the Chinese records for the year 642, was deceased. A Queen, or Khatun, was on the throne, and she had a son and heir-a boy who was sufficiently mature to be involved in the higher scholastic Sanskrit studies of Yoga tantra. This boy must have been the young Indrabhuti, the king of Udiyana who figures so prominently in the biography of Lord Padmasambhava.

Six years after Subhakarasimha’s visit, in 720 A.D., the T’ang Annals state that the Emperor sent ambassadors to Uddiyana to confer the investiture on the new king. Therefore, 720 A.D. must mark the date that King Indrabhuti, the famous adoptive father of Padmasambhava, succeeded to the throne.

The Legend of King Indrabhuti and the Holy Grail

Amongst the legendary stories that have grown up around the memory of King Indrabhuti there is one in particular that is most fascinating. We are told that the old King, now blind, is unable to have a son. As in many a classical fairytale, some kind of ‘wound’ represents the sovereign’s infertility. Here the wound appears as blindness. But the wound, the royal infirmity, does not infect the king alone. Infertility pertains to the whole kingdom. The land is impoverished by famine. The crops will not grow. The royal treasury is exhausted. Consequently, to find a cure, the Blind King must enter upon a quest for that magical blue pearl of the sea known as the Wish fulfilling Gem.13 Those familiar with medieval European culture will recognize that this story is, in fact, an early source of that great collection of aristocratic literature and poetry commonly known as the Grail Myth, which began to circulate in the West shortly after the first Crusades.14

Dr. W. Y Evans-Wentz should probably be credited as the first to introduce the story of ‘King Indrabhuti and the Wish-fulfilling Gem’ to English readers in his The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, published by Oxford University Press in 1954. Evans-Wentz’s translation15reads:

“In the country of Urgyen (or Udyana), westward from Bodh-Gaya, there was the great city of Jatumati, containing a palace called ‘Emerald Palace’ wherein dwelt King Indrabodhi. Although possessed of vast wealth and power and blessed with five hundred queens and one hundred Buddhist and one hundred non-Buddhist ministers, Indrabodhi was blind; and his subjects called him ‘the wealthiest king without eyes’. When his only son and heir died and famine immediately thereafter weakened his kingdom, Indrabodhi wept, overcome with misfortune… In the end, his subjects were so impoverished that they were obliged to eat the young un-ripened crops and even flowers….

” The kingdom being impoverished, the King called his ministers together for advice. Some suggested increase of agriculture, some increase of trade, and others declared for the making of war and the plundering of the property of others. Rather than adopt any policy not in accord with the precepts of the Dharma, the King decided to risk his own life for the good of his people and obtain from the Nagas, who dwelt beneath the waters of the ocean, a wondrous wish-granting gem.”

King Indrabhuti (or his chief Minister, as the case may be) is said to go by ship to the Isle of jewels, where after many trials and dangers, the Azure Lady places in his hands the priceless Stone, which is the Wish-fulfilling Gem. Through the healing powers of the Stone his blindness is cured. His infirmity is healed. In the Padma Ka-yang, a late biography of Lord Padmasambhava, the restoration of Indrabhuti’s sight leads immediately to the king being able to see the divine eight year old child (i.e., Padmasambhava) sitting in the midst of a jeweled lotus floating on the calm surface of Dhanakosha lake. The King adopts the child and makes him his heir.16Thus through the mystic Wish-fulfilling Gem the King acquires a son, the land yields a rich harvest once more, and the treasury becomes filled with wealth.

Here we are dealing with an early source of the Grail Myth. But there is an even more ancient rendition of this legend. Some time back, archaeologists digging in the remains of the Temple of Nippur in Mesopotamia came upon a collection of four thousand year old clay tablets. When translated it was discovered that these tablets told a very ancient story about the Deluge and its survivor-Hero. The survivor’s name was Ziusudra. In the story recounted on the tablets it was said that, after the Deluge, Ziusudra was made to reside as an immortal in the Isle of Dilmun.

Scholars have now established that the ancient Isle of Dilmun is the modern island of Bahrain. They have likewise found that the story of Ziusudra is an early version of the famous Assyrian Epic of Gilgamesh. In the latter, the Deluge survivor is called Utnapishtim. In the Hebrew bible, of course, he is known as the Patriarch Noah.

According to the Assyrian legend, Utnapishtim is visited on the Isle of Dilmun by Gilgamesh who is in quest for the secret of immortality. This secret, Gilgamesh learns, is acquired through a mystical flower. In order to obtain the flower of immortality, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he must attach weights to his feet and descend to the bottom of the ocean. Gilgamesh follows these instructions and on the sea floor plucks the magical flower of immortality, the blue Pearl. The quest completed, Gilgamesh takes his prize back to Erech, his home city in Mesopotamia. This is not, however, the end of the story. While Gilgamesh is sleeping, a serpent cunningly comes out of a water hole in the ground and swallows the pearl, winning an immortality that is henceforth denied to man.

Pearl fishing was a major occupation in ancient Dilmun. At Qulaat, on the island of Bahrain, archaeologists unearthed the remains of a palace dating back to 1700 B.C. Beneath the floor of the palace they discovered seven bowls each containing the skeleton of a water snake and a tiny blue bead. These talismanic bowls must have been laid down before the palace was constructed as a magical seal against ill fortune and death.

Here we have the elements of the Indrabhuti story: a healing stone (the blue pearl) protected by serpents in the depth of the sea, and a magical Isle in the ocean where this stone, the flower of regeneration, might be acquired.

It is quite remarkable to be able, in this manner, to trace backwards from the troubadour songs of medieval Europe to the legends surrounding a mystic King of eighth century Uddiyana, and from thence to the dawn of civilization itself in Mesopotamia. But we must also remember that Indrabhuti was a factual historical character, and his adopted son, the great saint Lord Padmasambhava, likewise possessed a factual existence.

The Twelve Acts of a Sainted Lama

Now that we have outlined the historical context into which he was born, it is time to outline the story of Lord Padmasambhava’s life. His life can be concisely outlined in twelve heroic acts and, therefore, this is how we shall present it:

1. The Birth of the Holy Child

There are many different accounts concerning Padmasambhava’s birth. It is commonly stated that he was miraculously born from a lotus-flower on Dhanakosha lake in Uddiyana. In fact his very name, ” Lotus-born” (Padmasambhava), has undoubtedly encouraged such a belief. Some believe that he was the natural son of the king of Uddiyana. And some have claimed that he descended in a flash of light onto the peak of Mount Namchak. The Bonpo of Tibet state that he was the son of a Bon siddha named Drenpa Namkha. Although there are various different accounts of his birth, the generally accepted orthodox view amongst Tibetans today is that Lord Padmasambhava was born miraculously and at the age of eight from within a sacred flowering lotus bud in the center of the lake of Dhanakosha. He was then adopted by King Indrabhuti of Uddiyana. His miraculous ‘lotus-birth’ and adoption at the age of eight is the theme of all the revealed Treasure-texts17 of Tibet.

However, although it is the tradition of the revealed Treasure-texts that he was born miraculously from a lotus, according to the ancient, written Ka-ma tradition of the cycle of Vajrakilaya teachings, he was the son of a royal heir, Prince Mahusita of Dhanakosha, in Uddiyana. Originally given the name Dhanaraksita, which means ” Protector of Charity” , it is stated that he was born in the year of the water monkey (732 A.D.). Thus his mundane birth and status as a prince of Uddiyana may be pinpointed as a fact of history.

The seemingly conflicting stories of Lord Padmasambhava’s birth may likewise be easily resolved if we understand that the revealed Treasure-texts are not meant to be ordinary historical treatises, but rather, poetic descriptions of an esoteric spiritual reality. In so far as Padmasambhava, as a Divine Incarnation, represents the ageless Enlightened-mind (bodhicitta) itself, the spiritual reality of his birth is pictured as an emergence from out of the lotus heart of the Boundless Luminosity of the Absolute. 18 Like a vibrant singularity of divine Love (represented iconographically in the texts by a red tonal “Hrih-gnoseme”) unfolding in the manner of a lotus from the midst of universal Mind symbolized by the sacred lake of the Treasury of Charity (dhanakosha), he emerged self-born in the temporal world of duality for the sake of alleviating countless beings from the hell of earthly suffering. In this sense his spiritual reality transcends time and place.

For Buddhists, the Lord Padmasambhava represents a second Buddha. For the Hindus he is the deathless Mahavatar (Great Avatar), the eternal youth, or Kumara. For the Christian he is the Christ-consciousness. The Himalayan yogis know him as the foremost of their great Saints, or Mahasiddhas, while amongst the sages he is known as the supreme Magi (mahamuni). For some initiates he is known as Arunagiri babaji, the holy master of the Sacred Red Mountain. In our tradition he is the Paramguru, the supreme Guru of those who follow the way of Tantra.

According to the Mahaparinirvana-sutra, when Buddha Sakyamuni was about to pass away, at Kushinagar in Nepal, he said:

“Impermanence is the nature of all created phenomena. Death being inevitable, the time for my passing into Nirvana has arrived. Of this you should not grieve. Twelve [hundred] years after my passing, there shall come forth a man, the Lake-born Lotus, from north-west Uddiyana, who shall be yet wiser and more powerful than myself. It shall be he who will promulgate the way of Secret Mantra.”

In the Manjusri-nama-sangiti we read:

A glorious Lotus-born Buddha, omniscient, possess­ing the treasury of Transcendental Wisdom, shall come: He is the sovereign manipulator of Illusion, the great Buddha who teaches the way of Secret Mantra.

In various Tantra texts we likewise find innumerable other prophecies which tell of the coming of this foremost of incarnate Buddhas. There he is described as the one who will act to preserve the ‘secret wisdom’ of the Orient during the dark era, the so called Kali-yuga, that was to come, when the ” Mlecchas” (barbarians) would overrun the East and destroy Buddhism in India. In fact this great Sage did save the old wisdom, by transplanting it into Tibet, where Buddhism was to survive untouched by the Moslem invasion, behind the high snowy ranges of the Karakorums and Himalaya. Since then, for the last millennium, it has been he who, in spirit, has overshadowed the mystical evolution of all those souls aspiring to transcend the mire of material limitation.

Was it concerning this special saint that even Jesus prophesied when he reportedly spoke about one coming after him who would promulgate a Universal Truth? In theGospel o f john we read: ” …For if I go not away, the ‘Parakletos’ shall not come to you; but if I go, then he shall be sent to you. And coming… he, the spirit of Truth, will guide you into the Universal Truth (aletheian pasan), for he will not speak from the ‘ego’ (autos), but from that heard and prophesied for the future shall he speak to you. ” 19

2. The Adoption of the Child By the King Of Uddiyana

At the age of eight the princely child was adopted by King Indrabhuti and made heir to the throne of Uddiyana. At that time he was given the name Padmaraja, the Lotus Prince.20 The child was surrounded by all the luxury of the royal court and, when he came of appropriate age, was engaged to Princess Bhasadhara, the daughter of King Candrakumara of Simhapura.21 It was Indrabhuti’s wish to have the boy brought up in the palace and educated in the ways of royal government, so as to eventually become a wise sovereign over his people. Unfortunately the tide of events swirling around the kingdom of Uddiyana were quickly moving beyond King Indrabhuti’s control.

3. The Renunciation Of The Throne Of Uddiyana

An alarming event occurred in 745 A.D. As mentioned above, the T’ang Annals record for that year, the investiture of the King of Kapisa with rulership over Uddiyana. In the Padma Ka-yang an equally disturbing tale is told. Supposedly, the young heir caused the death of Bhadralaksana, the child of a baron of the realm. Another version has it that he killed the mother and child of a minister of King Indrabhuti by letting fall from the roof of the Palace a scepter and a trident. Thus, in Evans-Wentz’s The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, we read:

The royal city was then besieged by ten thousand evil spirits who sought to prevent the Lotus-Born One from becoming a great and learned [sovereign]…. The gates both of the city and palace being closely guarded because of the siege, the Lotus-Born One considered how he might escape. And, putting off his garments, he placed on his naked body magical ornaments made of human bone, and, taking with him a dorje and a trishula, went to the roof of the palace and danced like a mad man. He let both the trishula and the dorje fall below; the prongs of the trishula, striking the breast of the wife of one of the ministers of state, pierced her heart, and the dorje, striking the head of her infant son, penetrated to the brain, and both died. 22

It is in consequence of the evil act of killing the son of a baron, or the mother and child of a minister, that the young prince is banished from the Kingdom. The prince’s banishment is further explained as corresponding to the Buddha Sakyamuni’s renunciation of worldly life. The young Lotus prince must leave behind not only his kingdom but also his new bride.

In actual fact, the storming of the land and city by evil forces, the tragic death of a noble son, and Padmasambhava’s banishment to foreign lands, reflects the changes wrought when the powerful lords of Kapisa seized, as we know they did, control of the Swat Valley. Uddiyana was defeated and utterly lost its independence. Whatever happened to Indrabhuti we do not know, but it is probable that he was slain, or perhaps as a blind captive, was dragged ignominiously back to Kabul in chains. At any rate Padmasambhava fled in the direction of Kashmir.

Padmasambhava’s route of escape is fairly evident. There was only one direction for him to go. About 30 kilometres north of the old capital of Mangalapura he must have taken the ancient trail over the Shangla Pass to present day Besham on the Indus River, a 70 kilometre trek. From Besham he would have had to make the long hike up the Indus, past Dassu and the famous Buddhist rock carvings of Shatial and Chilas, until many days later he could have entered the rela­tive safety of Baltistan. The latter country is formed by the long valley of the Indus from where it meets the Karakorum Highway at Gilgit up to Skardu. On this perilous journey Padmasambhava would have skirted around the sandy base of 26,660 foot high Nanga Parvata, the ninth highest peak in the world. Its name means “Naked Mountain” and it is a towering sentinel standing at the westernmost end of the Himilayas. On the north slope of Nanga Parvata the fleeing prince and his escort would have had the opportunity to camp in safety on the idyllic alpine pastures known as Fairy Meadows, from whence since the remotest ages pil­grims have had the opportunity to glimpse with awe the breathtaking beauty of Nanga Parvata’s snow clad peak. A single days march from the Fairy Meadows would have brought Padmasambhava into the domain of Baltistan.

Now Baltistan, or Greater Pu-lu as we find it called in the Chinese annals, was under the protection of Tibet. It is interesting in light of further developments, that so early in his life Padmasambhava came within the orbit of Tibetan imperial designs, and that he found in Tibet a protector. As Christopher Beckwith has cogently pointed out, ” One may also conclude that a major reason for so many Indian Buddhist sages coming to Central Tibet from Kashmir, and notably, the famous Padmasambhava from Udiyana, was the simple fact that Tibet then ruled much of this region.” Thus Lord Padmasambhava’s work in Tibet late in his life may well have been the result of ties forged in his youth.

Nothing is really reported concerning Padmasambhava’s life in Kashmir. He lived, some say, with wandering yogis and saddhus, in exile from his homeland. Others report that it was during this period that he acquired worldly knowledge and skill in various crafts. Howbeit, in Kashmir he earned the name Sthiramati, the Youthful Genius. 23

4. Ordination As a Buddhist Monk

On pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya (the site where Buddha Sakyamuni had attained enlightenment), the Yogi-Prince became a disciple of Bhikshu Prabhahasti.

The Vidyadhara Prabhahasti was born in the royal house of Kashmir.24 He received ordination from the Master Santiprabha of Citavara and studied the Vinaya Discipline from Punyakirti of Maru. Then he went to Nalanda University. Later he received teachings in Mahayoga tantra from Vidyadhara Humkara. After winning accomplishment he extracted the Vajrakilaya doctrines from the Shankarakuta Stupa located in the Sitavana cremation ground, and practicing the same, eventually acquired Enlightenment.

With the Kashmiri pandit Ananda acting as the master (acarya) and Prabhahasti acting as the preceptor (upadhaya), Padmasambhava received the full ordination of a Buddhist monk. He then received the ordination name of Bhikshu Sakyasimha, the Lion of the Sakyas.25 Living in the Bodh Gaya area, he disciplined himself in the path of virtue and contemplation, while receiving instruction in the Vinaya Discipline from Ananda and instruction in philosophy, logic and metaphysics from Prabhahasti. Then he was told, ” Go to the Sitavana cremation ground26 and study the traditions of the Vidyadharas living there.”

In the Sitavana cremation ground near Bodh Gaya he received empowerment and instruction from Vajra Humkara in the practice of Vajrasattva. Then when he was a little matured, he received special transmission into the wrathful aspects of the great Bodhisattvas from the eight great Insight-holders, or Vidyadhara. Each of these Vidyadharas taught him a unique sadhana, or spiritual practice, based on their own realization and on the practice by which they had attained Enlightenment. Thus he acquired eight sadhana practices. These practices pertain to what is known as the Mahayoga tantra.

Here is a list of the eight Mahayoga teachers: Vidyadhara Manjusrimitra came from Suvarnadwipa and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Manjusri, called Destroyer of Death (Yamantaka). Vidyadhara Nagarjuna-garbha came from Bengal and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathfulBodhisattva Avalokitesvara, called Hayagriva. Vidyadhara Vajra Humkara, who came from Nepal, was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Vajrapani, called Sri Samyak Heruka. Vidyadhara Vimalamitra came from Hastivana in the West and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathfulBodhisattva Samantabhadra, called Vajramrita. Vidyadhara Prabhahasti came from Zahor (modern Mandi south of the Kulu Valley at the foot of the Himalayas) and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Nivaranavishkambin, called Vajrakilaya. Vidyadhara Dhanasamskrita came from Gandhara and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Akasagarbha, called Matarah, or
Controller of the Matrikas. Vidyadhara Guhyacandra came from Mount Kailash and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, called Lokastotrapuja-natha, or Lord of Mundane Sacrifice. Vidyadhara Santigarbha came from Khotan and was proficient in the secret practice of the wrathful Bodhisattva Maitreya, called Vajramantrabhiru, or the Curse-pronouncing Diamond.

Of the eight Vidyadharas whom Lord Padmasambhava studied under in the Sitavana grove, it should be noted that initially the chief guru was Vajra Humkara, the guru of his teacher and abbot Prabhahasti.27 We have already described how Humkara met with Sri Simha in a forest and received from the latter the fundamental instructions for the Sadhana of the Lord, Vajrasattva. It was after practicing for six months with his yogini-wife in the cave of Lang-le-sho in Nepal that Humkara gained the final Great Seal28 of Buddhahood and beheld the Divine Being (Vajrasattva) face to face.

5. Becoming a Tantric Yogi In the Yogacara Tradition

There were close ties between the various teachers and spiritual guides who were involved in Padmasambhava’s life. It is not surprising therefore, that Vajra Humkara told his disciple Padmasambhava to go and study at the feet of his own beloved guruji, Sri Simha. Going to the Cina Valley, Padmasambhava found Sri Simha living as a yogi in a cremation ground. He begged for enlightenment. According to Evans-Wentz’s translation:

When Padma(sambhava) requested the guru Sri Simha to teach him, the guru pointed to the heavens and said: ‘Have no desire for what thou seest. Desire not; desire not. Desire; desire. Have no desire for desire; have no desire for desire. Desire and deliverance must be simultaneous. Voidness; voidness. Non-voidness; non-voidness. Non-obscuration; non-obscuration. Obscuration; obscuration. Emptiness of all things; emptiness of all things. Desire above, below, at the centre, in all directions, without differentiation.’ When all this had been explained in detail, the guru assured Padma that he would realize the essentiality of all doctrines…29

From Sri Simha, the prince of yogis received the mystical tantric empowerments and teachings. Then in various cremation grounds inhabited by yogis and yoginis in Cina, and in the famous Eight Sacred Cremation grounds of India, the diligent practitioner Padmasambhava struggled to attain realization. Living like an ascetic hermit, he was known as Suryabhasa Yogi, the Sun-ray Mystic.

6. Attainment of Great Enlightenment

Lord PadmasambhavaThen Padmasambhava, the Sun-ray Yogi, went to the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. At that time the main Buddhist center of Nepal consisted of the royal town of Patan founded by the Emperor Asoka in the third century B.C. Four ancient stupas, said to have been erected by Asoka, still stand at the four quarters of the perimeter of modern Patan. But rather than stay as a monk in one of the many renowned monastic houses of Patan, Padmasambhava went to Parphing, which lies in the hills to the southwest of Kathmandu.

Today at Parphing, among other temples and shrines, there is a very famous Buddhist temple dedicated to the feminine aspect of Buddha, known as Vajrayogini, the Divine Mother. This temple was in existence in the eleventh century when it was occupied by the famous Mahasiddha Naropa, the guru of the Tibetan Master Marpa, but it is unlikely that it was there in Padmasambhava’s time. Nevertheless the presence at that site of some form of worship of the Divine Mother is quite likely. Not far away there is also the Hindu sacred site of Dakshinkali, likewise dedicated to the feminine principle of Divinity. From ancient times, therefore, a goddess cult was probably associated with the Parphing area. This would also imply that it was a region inhabited by practicing yoginis and women saints.

High on the mountain side above Parphing is the little cave of Lang-le-sho where Padmasambhava and his consort, the lovely Nepalese princess Sakyadevi, lived together.30 This is the site where, earlier, Vajra Humkara and his consort had attained Enlightenment. Lang-le-sho is a very sacred place.

From Lang-le-sho one can see out over the beautiful valley lands below. The fields are yellow with sesame in spring, and later in the year varieties of flowers give them a multitude of colourings. In the cloudy distance can be seen the glorious snow covered peaks of the castle-like Himalayan mountains, beyond which lies mysterious Tibet. Looking south-east one sees the old road falling away through the mountain valleys to the dusty plains of India. The cave where Padmasambhava and Sakyadevi resided is high on the hill face, in a pleasant location bathed by the warmth of the Nepalese sun. There is fresh water close by.

In the cave of Lang-le-sho they jointly practiced the sadhana of VAJRASATTVA as Sri Samyak Vajra Heruka (Tib: Yangdag Heruka), merging their hearts with absolute Divinity, while dissolving themselves in the bliss of transcendental union. The spiritual practice of Sri Samyak Heruka-” diamond-mind of all the Buddhas” -begins with the mar-me gu pa, or Nine Lamps practice, which is very profound. But although they practiced for about twelve months, obstacles arose and they did not succeed in acquiring true union, or mahamudra, with Divinity. Obstacles also manifested on the external plane. Disease and famine caused by drought spread throughout the Kathmandu Valley.

” O lord of my heart,” said Princess Sakyadevi to her beloved consort, ” it is appropriate to enquire of the guru the proper action to take when the loyal disciple is faced with many obstacles.”

Acting on this advice, Padmasambhava wrote a missive to Vidyadhara Prabhahasti, beseeching his guidance. He then sent two of his disciples, a Nepalese couple named jila-jisa and Kunla-kunsa, to Nalanda University in India where the great Vidyadhara Prabhahasti was teaching.

Bound by compassion for his beloved disciple and heir, the guru sent two mule-loads of Vajrakilaya-practice texts. Immediately all the obstacles afflicting the course of progress were eradicated and Padmasambhava began to meditate with renewed ease. It is said that as soon as jila-jisa and Kunla-kunsa arrived on the outskirts of Khatmandu with the mule-load of sacred texts, it began to rain and the drought came to an end. Consequently Padmasambhava is recorded as having declared: ” Sri Samyak Heruka is rich in accomplishments, like a wealthy merchant; but Vajrakilaya practice is essential for protection, like an armed knight.”

It is said that when the King of Yogis performed the powerful Vajrakilaya rites, he made it rain by subduing three kinds of elemental spirits. These spirits, or forces, are referred to as Nagas or serpentine spirits of water, Yakshas or giant spirits of the earth, and Kumbhandas or sylph-like spirits of air. He mastered these primitive spiritual forces through mastery of the Garuda or phoenix-like spirit of fire.

Invoking Vajrakilaya, the activity of all the Buddhas, for the overpowering of obstacles and demonic-.forces, Padmasambhava and Sakyadevi developed their contemplative practice on the basis of their earlier practice of Sri Samyak. They dissolved themselves together as a unity, in the Father-Mother icon of the Absolute, with the aim of mutually realizing nondual Buddhahood.

Through the progress of their ecstatic dance of contemplation, during the delightful union of the vajra in the serene lotus of the absolute ground of Being, the blended solar and lunar refined bindus (” seed-essences” ) of their psychic nerve-systems gradually blazed up in the heart-cakra into intense light, so that the essential energy of the lower cakras and the crown Great Bliss cakras of their two bodies burst into incandescence, irradiating their united minds with waves of rapture and joy.

In a state of intense bliss, Padmasambhava and Sakyadevi realized the infinite reality of the Primordial Buddha Mind, the All-Beneficent Lord (Samantabhadra),who’s absolute love is the unimpeded dynamo of existence. Experiencing the succession of the four stages of ecstasy, their mutual state of consciousness increased from height to height. And thus, meditating on Supreme Vajrasattva Heruka as the translucent image of compassionate wrathful (energized) activity, they together acquired the mahamudra of Divinity and attained complete Great Enlightenment.

In an exulted state of mind, upon emerging from the cave where their meditations had taken place, Padmasambhava placed his hand against the rock face of the mountain, leaving impressed for ever in stone a miraculous handprint. His handprint can to this very day be seen outside the entrance of Lang-le-sho cave, where he and his consort Sakyadevi attained simulta­neous Enlightenment.

A little after their attainment of Great Enlighten­ment, Padmasambhava and Sakyadevi were joined at Lang-le-sho by two other enlightened Masters. These were Silamanju, who came from the Kathmandu Valley, and the famous Vimalamitra. Vimalamitra, you will remember, had previously met Sri Simha and was a disciple of Jnanasutra. All of these saints lived together for some time.

7. Turning The Wheel of Dharma At Nalanda

Then Padmasambhava was asked to come to Nalanda University to debate against a number of proud Hindu intellectuals who were drawing many away from the practice of the Dharma by means of their brilliant scholastic arguments. Consequently he left Nepal and once more ventured down into the hot plains of India.

Having vanquished the Hindu scholars through means of impeccable logic, the five hundred chief professors of Nalanda University conferred on him the honorary title of Maha-pandita,31 or great Pandit, and he was given the name of Vadisimha, fierce Lion of Debate.

8. Spreading The Dharma And Performing Miracles

A group of Hindu religious who had been defeated by the Lord in the great debate at Nalanda University became so enraged that they determined to attempt assassination. Seizing Lord Padmasambhava while he was out walking one day near the Ganges River, they dragged him to the bank of the river and threw him down into the fast rushing waters. Then they began to stone him. Yet miraculously Padmasambhava merely floated, unharmed, in a meditative pose, on the surface of the river, while each stone, as it struck his body, turned instantly into a delicate flower. In a very short time his luminous bodily form was surrounded by flower petals, dancing on the sparking waves, and the mob, who had only moments earlier felt such enmity towards him, was completely awed by what they saw.

Then the precious Lord thought it was time he propagated the Dharma in different parts of the world, beginning with the Himalayan kingdom of Zahor (modern Mandi and the Kulu Valley). The sovereign of Zahor was King Arshadhara, a powerful ruler of a small state closely aligned with the Tibetan Empire. The brother of the King of Zahor was a renowned Buddhist monk and scholar known as Upadhyaya Santaraksita. The king also had a daughter called Mandarava. It was in Zahor that the great Master was first addressed as Lord Padmasambhava,32 the Lotus-born Guru, and was praised as a second Buddha.

Princess Mandarava had many suitors, but not wishing to be married to any of them, she had abandoned worldly life and become a Buddhist nun. She lived in a royal convent of nuns in Zahor.

Lord Padmasambhava became Mandarava’s teacher and soon they became tantric lovers. When King Arshadhara heard that his daughter was involved with a man, and not understanding the situation, he ordered that the culprits should be punished. The King’s officers therefore had the princess dragged from her convent and thrown into a pit. They seized Lord Padmasambhava, flogged him, and bound him to a stake, to be burnt. They then set fire to the stake.

Unbelievable as it might seem, the Lord’s transfigured body was invincible to the elements. Fire could not touch him. Although he looked and appeared physical, his body was so highly developed into what is called a ” rainbow-body” that it behaved more like a light-image or like a type of energy, rather than an ordinary material body. When the King’s men burnt him at the stake, he miraculously escaped injury. Then rain is said to have extinguished the flames. The rain caused floods to pour into the valley where he was bound. When the storm cleared and the smoke from the pyre was gone, instead of a charred corpse, what the witnesses saw was an image of the yogi and yogini together on a lotus, in the midst of a small lake, in the holy form of the eternal Vajrasattva.

Whether this miracle actually occurred or not, it is certain that Lord Padmasambhava and Mandarava both escaped harm. A sacred lake near the town of Mandi is today shown as the site where this miracle occurred.

Afterwards Lord Padmasambhava married Princess Manadarava and together they departed for the Maratika Cave in the Himalayas to perform the sadhana of Amitayus, the Bodhisattva of Vitality and Longevity. The mystic couple continued to live in Nepal for many years after that.

9. The Consecration Ofsamye Monastery In Tibet

Meanwhile King’s Arshadhara’s famous brother, Upadhyaya Santaraksita, was invited by the Bengalese Emperor Dharmapala of eastern India to take part in a peace mission to Tibet. Tri-song Detsan, son of a Chinese princess and the ruling Emperor of Tibet (755-797 A.D.), had been educated in Buddhism during the reign of his father. With the death of his father, however, a powerful minister named Manshang had driven all the Chinese monks and scholars out of Tibet. Manshang was a great military leader who extended Tibetan rule over the greater portion of Yunnan and Si-Chuen, but his attempt to suppress Buddhism in favour of the Bon religion resulted in his downfall. In 755 A.D. Tri-song Detsan succeeded to the throne of his father and brought the warlords of Tibet under his personal control.

Emperor Tri-song Detsan (742-803) was the thirty-seventh sovereign of Tibet in lineal descent from King Nyatri Tsenpo (c. 127 B.C.). His father was the Emperor Mei Agtsom-chen and his mother was a Chinese prin­cess, Chin Ch’eng Kun-chu, daughter of Li-lung Chi of the Imperial House of China. His parents were Buddhists of the Chinese Ch’an (or Zen) school. He was enthroned in the year 755 A.D. as sovereign ruler of the Twelve Provinces of Tibet and of the subject kingdoms of Central Asia. He was, at that time, merely thirteen years of age.

By means of ceaseless combat the Tibetan army had brought to their knees most of the chieftains of Central Asia, even taking Chang-an, the Imperial Capital of China, which they held long enough to negotiate a payment of tribute. While China was reeling under the humiliating sting of Tibetan belligerence, India was seeing larger and larger chunks of its frontier territories falling into the Northerner’s orbit of power. Consequently, in 783 A.D., the Emperor Dharmapala (768-809) was more than ready to sign a peace treaty with the young Tri-song Detsan. Besides, on behalf of Tri-song Detsan, the Tibetan minister Salnang of Ba had been secretly exploring connections with Indian Buddhism for years.

When Santaraksita met with the Tibetan Emperor, Tri-song Detsan asked him to define his system of instruction. Santaraksita answered that his practice was to follow that which could be proved by means of rational examination and to avoid all that did not agree with reason. This rational approach to the Dharma pleased Tri-song Detsan and he gave permission for Khenpo Santaraksita to promulgate Buddhism in Tibet.

The Bodhisattva Santaraksita’s first attempt to teach in Tibet was a failure. Powerful political factions in the country, allied to the indigenous Bon cult, strongly opposed him. Old noble families, supporters in the past of men like Manshang, forced Santaraksita to retreat back to Nepal.

A second expedition was made by Santaraksita in 784 A.D. However the gentle scholar made little head-way amongst an aristocracy that was generally concerned with chivalry and personal advancement, rather than religion or spiritual development. It is said that it was for this reason that Upadhyaya Santaraksita recommended to the Emperor Tri-song Detsan that the enlightened Saint, Lord Padmasambhava, should be invited to the Tibetan Court. As soon as Tri-song Detsan heard the name of Lord Padmasambhava, his heart was seized with an unquenchable desire to meet the divine Guru. Therefore the minister Salnang was sent to Nepal to extend the imperial invitation.

In the spring of 786,33 by the Tibetan reckoning a Fire Tiger year, the Precious Lord, or ” Guru Rinpoche” as he is most commonly known in Tibetan, set forth across the high passes of the Himalaya. On the Tibetan frontier, in Mangyul, he was met by five royal ministers to escort him to the Imperial Palace. In the valley of Tsang he was greeted by a messenger with a white horse. Riding in state to the town of Turdlung, he was welcomed with a grand reception. Then in the Tamarisk Garden near Red Rock, he was royally received by the Emperor.

With Padmasambhava’s presence in the country opposition melted. Fresh enthusiasm for Buddhism on the part of various noble families made it possible for Santaraksita to initiate the plans for founding a major Buddhist establishment in the heart of Tibetan territory. Consequently the Lord Padmasambhava, through the power of his blessings, exorcised the negative, demonic numina of the land and consecrated the site upon which Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first sizeable Buddhist academy, was to be built. In the year 787 A.D. (Fire Hare year) construction began.

The second Buddha then went back to Nepal. Construction of Samye continued for the next four years. Samye Monastery was completed in 791 A.D., the year of the Iron Sheep. After the completion of Samye, Langdro Nangzer, Nyer Tagtsen Dongzi and Senggo Lha-lung-zi were sent to Vrikramasila University in India. They brought back with them twelve monks of the Sarvastivada Order. Then the first candidates for monastic life were selected. First, under the supervision of Santaraksita acting as Upadhyaya, Danasila as Acarya, Jinamitra as father-confessor, and the ten other Bhikkhus gathered at Samye, the noble minister Ba Trizi renounced the world and was ordained as a monk. He received the name Ba Ratnaraksita. Then Ba Salnang, Pagor Vairocana, Gyalwa Choyang, Ma Rinchen-chok, Kawa Peltsek, and La-sum Gyalwa Chanchub were also ordained. The ordination ceremony occurred in the first fortnight of the month of Spring in the Iron Sheep year of 791 A.D. Collectively this first group of Tibetan monks were known as the “Seven Probationers” because they were a test to see if Tibetans were suitable for the monastic life. When after a number of years they proved that they had adapted well to monastic conditions, then the Emperor gave his permission for Tibetans in general to apply for ordination.

This marks the founding of the Nyingma School in Tibet. There are four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism: the Nyingmapa, or followers of the Venerable Ancients; the Kargyupa, or followers of the Oral Transmission; the Sakyapa, or followers from the Sakya-region; and the Gelugpa, or followers of the school of Virtue. The Nyingmapa were the first to be founded and they are known as themother school. The other three schools, collectively called the New Schools(sarmapa) and known as the sons, were founded later, starting in the 11th century. All four main schools and their secondary branches, adhere to the Sarvastivada Order of Buddhism.

The school becomes the vehicle which carries, like a vessel, the inspiration of the Bodhisattvas from age to age. As Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche used to say, the Nyingma school is not an institution with membership cards and dues paying members, nor does it has a central leader or government. The Nyingma are a collection of sacred lineages, heavenly teachings, and divine revelations, transmitted by spiritual Masters who are sovereign in their own right. These are monks, nuns, yogis, yoginis, and both male and female Lamas, who compose the school. All, in their own way, are servants of holy Dharma.

A school like this is outer, inner and secret (Tib: Chi- Nang-Sang). The outer, exoteric aspect of the school is the visible part, including the historical entity founded by Khenpo Santaraksita, Danasila, Jinamitra, etc., and the first Tibetan probationers. The inner, esoteric aspect consists of the transmission of the sixtantra-yana lineages, the priceless teachings of human transforma­tion, and thecorpus of the Dzogchen teachings, along with the inner experience of the seekers who are practicing those teachings. On the inner level, there is a definite connection with something transcendental. The secret level of the school cannot be conceived of by ordinary individuals. In this sense it is ” self-secret” . That which is self-secret has, in part, to do with the school’s influence on the destiny of all humanity.

10. Promulgating the Mahayoga Tantra

It was not until seven years after his first visit that our Lotus Master came once again to the auspicious realm of Tibet. By that time not only had Samye Monastery been erected and the Seven Probationers installed in its precincts, but the contemplative hermitage center of Chimpu had been founded.

From the first moment of laying eyes once again on the precious Lord, Tri-song Detsan was fired with faith and devotion. The Emperor begged for tantric teach­ings. Consequently, in the new Retreat Center of Chimphu, Lord Padmasambhava conferred the sacred Empowerments of the sadhanas of the Eight Mandalas of Mahayoga Tantra upon his chief Disciples.

It is customary for the disciple to offer a mandala of the whole material world to his or her guru in ex­change for instruction. Such a mandala is a symbolic renunciation of the worldly condition. Tri-song Detsan went to extreme lengths in making his mandala offering. He actually gifted his entire empire into the guru’s hands. Seating Lord Padmasambhava on a jewel-encrusted throne, he offered the four districts of Central Tibet along with Tsang as the center of the mandala; eastern Kham province and his territories in China and Jang as the eastern realm; Jar, Kongpo and Bhutan as the southern realm; the kingdoms of Hor, Central Asia and Changthang as the northern realm; Kailash, Zang-zung, Baltistan and Hunza as the western realm. He arranged pieces of gold and silver to represent the sun, moon and stars, and as an offering of sensual delight he bestowed Yeshe Tsogyal, princess of Karchen, one of the ladies of his harem. This was no mere symbolic gesture. The Emperor legally bestowed his possessions in this manner on Padmasambhava.

Lesser spiritual leaders might readily have been enticed by the power, wealth and vast lands placed in his hands. Guru Padmasambhava, however, was un­moved by material desire. He thanked the humble Emperor, but returned the proffered gifts. The princess Yeshe Tsogyal alone he accepted, taking her only on 100 Suvama Sampradaya condition that she freely become his disciple, which she did. With his deep insight and foreknowledge he had seen in her heart the potential to become his successor and spiritual heir. He therefore was glad to retain her in his company when handing back to Tri­song Detsan the empire of Tibet. To the latter he ex­plained that the priceless Dharma was beyond material value, and although the Emperor’s act of renunciation was indeed appropriate, nevertheless spiritual truth could never be bartered for with mere gold or property. Besides, in the holy book, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, 34 it is written, ” Our great Teacher did not permit the donation of property for the attainment of the spiritual path.”

In similar ways the Lord gradually tamed the Emperor’s heart and made him a disciple worthy to receive the light of understanding. He taught Tri-song Detsan, imbued with the spirit of warfare, to lay down his weapons of fear and embrace the gentle Buddhist law of love and compassion. He taught him how to become a devotee of the spirit of Truth.

Lord Padmasambhava also said to the Emperor,

” Your Imperial Highness should make the lands under your control fruitful. For example, the sandy dunes of Ngamsho should be planted with trees, so as to transform them into pleasant groves. The grassy wilderness of the three regions of Tra-dol should be irrigated. Wild swamp-lands should be cultivated and made into fertile gardens. By projects such as the redistribution of wealth, the redirection of rivers and the building of canals, etc., you will make Tibet more prosperous than even China or Central Asia.”

When the time was right, Lord Padmasambhava bestowed on the imperial disciple the mystical Empow­erment and Oral Transmissions for Mahayoga practice. He gave the blessings of the lineage of Masters and bestowed on Tri-song Detsan an ocean of grace to plant within him the seeds of Enlightenment. Through the power of the Lord’s blessing, the intellect of the Sage-Emperor acquired the wished for treasure of treasures: an unobstructed vision of his own true nature. At that moment Tri-song Detsan perceived a panoramic glimpse of the whole continuum of time and space, with a million galaxies of world-systems displayed like jewels strewn across the cosmic expanse before him. He saw within the multitudes of worlds the bewildering array of living entities: time-bound creatures flickering into birth and death, ever repeating endless cycles of propagation, caught in the struggle of desire. And he realized simultaneously the greater mystery of life; the insubstantial, awesome, timeless nature of Gnosis-the underlying identity of the omniscient state of knowledge inadequately described by mystics as God or Buddhahood or the Diamond Being. Caught for no longer than the blink of an eye within the pulse-beat of the Guru’s heart, the Imperial disciple experienced the silent dance of the cosmos, and marveled at the perfect harmony of the ceaseless cosmic continuum displayed by transcendental timeless awareness. Such was the force of Padmasambhava’s empowerment that, for a split second in eternity, Tri-song Detsan was directly introduced to ultimate Reality.

During the ritual of Empowerment the offering flower of the Emperor fell on themandala of Vajramrita, the Diamond Ambrosia of transcendental attributes. This meant that the most appropriate spiritual practice for the Emperor to undertake would be the sadhana of Vajramrita. Consequently by following that practice Tri-song Detsan rapidly acquired realization and accomplishment.

The Sage-Emperor abdicated the throne in 797 in favour of his son Mu-ne Tsanpo (ruled 798-804) and went into Meditation Retreat, where he practiced meditation until his death in 803 A.D. The treatises which Tri-song Detsan wrote and which still exists in the archives of the Nyingmapa School are known as the Ra Yangdak pai Tsadma and the Bum-tik. In these texts we see the hand not of a sword wielding king, but of a real sage, who through strenuous reli­gious practice and meditation, won through to Enlightenment.

But that is not the end of the story, for Tri-song Detsan has continued to reincarnate down through the centuries, in his beloved land of Tibet. His most recent incarnation was the famous Nyingma Lama known as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The latter was one of the last of the generation of great lamas who completed their spiritual education in Tibet prior to the Chinese Communist invasion. Having spent twenty-two years of his life in Retreat, he became a principal holder of Longchenpa’s Nying-t’ig lineage. When he had to flee Tibet, he successfully transplanted the complete Sechen tradition to Nepal. He also became a major guru of the Dalai Lama in the Dzogchen tradition. Therefore it can readily be said that Sage-Emperor’s dedication to the protection, patronage and continuation of Lord Padmasambhava’s teachings in Tibet still exists even in the present.

Besides the Emperor of Tibet, Padmasambhava had a great number of other disciples. The predominant members of his following consisted of: the Twenty-five Imperial Disciples; the Eighty Disciples of Yerpa, all of whom attained rainbow-body; the 108 Great Contemplatives of Chu-wo Mountain; the 30 Great Ngakpas(tantric masters) of Yang-dzong, in the Drak Valley; the Twenty-five sainted female Dakinis; the fifty-five Realized Ones of Shel-drak, in the Yarlung Valley; and the seven precious Yoginis.

Having taught her the innermost Heart Point(Nying-t’ig) doctrine of Dzogchen, he empowered Yeshe Tsogyal, the princess of Kharchen, as his spiritual heir. She fully practiced his instruction and attained enlightenment in her lifetime. Then she too accepted disciples and passed on the precious teachings. The succession of Dzogchen Masters that descends from her is known as the Khadro Nying-t’iglineage. In this manner Lord Padmasambhava imparted to future generations his way to Enlightenment.

Padmasambhava founded many academic centers to teach the theory and practice of the Vajrayana. The Emperor and the court acclaimed him the foremost of sages. And following his advice, the Emperor estab­lished in Tibet a twofold division of the religious community, granting equal status to both divisions, viz., the community of ordained monks and nuns, and the community of ordained yogis and yoginis. Thus the great Lord in this manner founded the school of the Nying-ma-pa, or Ancient Ones, a branch of the Sarvastivada Order of Buddhism, in Tibet.

11. Depositing Sacred Treasure Throughout The World

The great Master also, perceiving that the world would increasingly need special teachings in the ages to come, left behind various secret deposits of instruc­tion. At thirteen sacred locations throughout Tibet he manifested, while meditating in the cave of Paro Tagtsang (” Tiger’s Nest” ) of Bhutan, in the fierce energetic aspect known as Dorje Drollo, and together with Princess Yeshe Tsogyal, he deposited in a miraculous manner a great number of occult Treasure-texts (Terma) for future disciples who would be able to understand them.

At the same time he deposited sacred Treasure in other countries of the world too.

He also implanted into the psychic continuum of 108 especially great disciples the mystical keys for the eventual revelation of these hidden Treasure-texts, so that in future reincarnations they would be able to discover and bring them to light. In Tibet those reincarnated adepts who, through the centuries, have in this way been able to reveal Padmasambhava’s hidden teachings, are known as Terton Lamas, or Treasure-finders.

There are many wonders connected with the work of the Tertons. The Lord left behind a collection of written prophesies specifically detailing when, how and where each of the chosen Tertons would reveal their particular treasures. Thus, down through the ages, a select adept has drawn forth from their hiding place in certain rocks, temples, lakes, etc., the ancient yellow scrolls deposited long ago by Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal.

12. Departure From The World

The Sage-Emperor Tri-song Detsan abdicated in favour of his son Mu-ne Tsan-po35 in the latter part of the year 797 A.D. and went for the remainder of his life into a religious retreat. He died circa 803 A.D.

When in 804 A.D. (Wood Monkey year) it came time for the Lord to depart from the great land of Tibet, he was escorted by the young Emperor Mu-ne Tsan-po, by the powerful nobility, the people, and especially by his favoured disciples, to the Mang-yul Pass. He went, it is said, towards the southwest, to the Sacred Red Moun­tain of Lankapuri, where he took possession of the Padmavabhasa Palace and ruled as a king of righteousness.36 Eventually he entered the pure Field-dimension ofAkanishta where he abides in spirit to this day.

In some of the colourful legends told about him, it is said that on the Mang-yul Pass he climbed onto a celestial Changshe-Ta and flew away like a shooting star, passing out of sight into the depths of the shining Tsky. Some accounts declare that the vehicle which carried him into the heavens was a Ta-chok37 or sacred white horse, other stories state that he rode a sky-faring tiger. When he arrived at Lankapuri he converted the presiding ruler, an ogre named Rosary of Skulls. Others say that he incarnated and took possession of the body of this evil king Kapalamala, so as to convert the country to the gentle ways of true Dharma. Thus he came also to be known as Vajra Kapalamala, which is a name of the Hindu god Siva.

A precedent for ancient tales of an evil king in a land called Lankapuri is to be found in the Ramayana Epic, where the ten headed King Ravana is said to rule on Mt. Malaya in the southern ghats of Malabar. In the Lankavatara-sutra the Buddha is made to convert this King Ravana to the sacred Dharma. There are so many different legends about the precious Master that it would be impossible to repeat them all.

Such is the life story of the founder of Tibetan Bud­dhism, the incomparable Saint Lama (guru Rinpoche) of the Land of Snow. The school of the Nying-ma-pa which he founded exists to this day, along with all their ancient records and sacred teachings.

The Lord is iconographically pictured in the form of Vajradhara (i.e., Vajrasattva), the Uddiyana Diamond-holder, sitting on a broad lotus in the midst of Dhanakosha lake, with the Indian princess Mandarava and the Tibetan princess Yeshe Tsogyal, his two leading disciples, with him. In this image he is painted deep blue to represent his primordial, sky-like nature. In this manner he is shown as the Primordial Buddha. The line of Dzogchen masters is pictured above his head.

In Tibetan art he is also shown as a group of eight, representing eight major events in his life. These eight Tibetan iconographical forms, with their usual paraphrases, are:

  1. Pema Gyalpo (Padmaraja) of Uddiyana, the Lotus Prince, king of the Tripitaka, or the Three Collections of Scripture. He is shown looking like a young crowned prince or king.
  2. Lo-den Chokse (Sthiramati) of Kashmir, the Intelligent Youth, the one who gathers the knowledge of all worlds. He is shown in princely clothes, beating a hand-drum and holding a skull-bowl.
  3. Sakya-seng-ge (Bhikshu Sakyasimha) of Bodh Gaya, Lion of the Sakyas, who learns the Tantric practices of the eight Vidyadharas. He is shown as a fully ordained Buddhist monk.
  4. Nyima O-zer (Suryabhasa) of Cina, the Sunray Yogi, who illuminates the darkness of the mind through the insight of Dzogchen. He is shown like a naked yogi dressed in only a loin-cloth, holding a trident and pointing towards the sun.
  5. Seng-ge Dra-dok (Vadisimha) of Nalanda University, the Lion of Debate, promulgator of the Dharma throughout the six realms of sentient beings. He is shown in a very fierce form, dark blue and imitative of the powerful Bodhisattva Vajrapani, holding a thunderbolt sceptre in one hand and a scorpion in the other.
  6. Pema Jung-ne (Padmasambhava) of Zahor, the Lotus-born, giver of happiness to all sentient beings. He is shown dressed like a Buddhist monk, with a Pandit’s hat, and holding a skull bowl.
  7. Pemakara of Tibet, Lotus-creator, the Saviour who teaches the Dharma to the people. He is shown sitting on a lotus, dressed in the three robes of a monk, under which he wears a blue shirt, pants and heavy Tibetan boots, as protection against the cold. He holds the diamond-sceptre of compassionate love in his right hand and the yogi’s skull-bowl of clear wisdom in his left. He has the trident-staff (khatvanga) of a wandering Yogi, and wears on his head a Nepalese cloth crown, stylistically designed to remind one of the shape of a lotus flower. Thus he is represented as he must have ap­peared in Tibet.
  8. Dorje Dro-lo of Bhutan, the fierce manifestation of Vajrakilaya (wrathful Vajrasattva) known as “Diamond Guts”, the comforter of all, the Paracletos,imprinting the elements with Wisdom-Treasure.

Many other names and attributes are also given to him. He is truly the archetypal Sage and Saint, and the mystical Prince of the kings of this earth. For the Dzogchenadept he is the supreme example of the perfect, accomplished yogi-master. For Tibetan Buddhism as a whole he is the living embodiment of compassionate Buddhahood.


Footnotes

1 Padmasambhava, meaning “Born of the Lotus”, is Pe-ma lung-ne in Tibetan. Many titles and names have been applied to him. He is called Guru Padma, or the Lotus Guru, and is even more popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, or Saint Lama, the precious holy Supreme One. Like Nagarjuna before him, he has been acknowledged a “second Buddha” after Sakyamuni. He has also been called Arunagiri Babaji, the holy mystic of Red Mountain, the eternal youth (Kumara),and the Mahavatar or Great Incarnation of the world. ” As an objective man,” wrote H. P Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p.208, ” he is the mysterious (to the profane) yet ever present Personage about whom legends are rife in the East, especially among the Occultists and the students of the Sacred Science. It is he who changes form, yet remains ever the same. And it is he again who holds spiritual sway over the initiated Adepts throughout the whole world… He is the” Initiator” , called the Great Sacrifice. For, sitting at the threshold of Light, he looks into it from within the circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; nor will he quit his post till the last day of this life cycle. Why does the solitary Watcher remain at his self-chosen post? Why does he sit by the fountain of primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, as he has naught to learn which he does not know—aye, neither on this Earth, nor in its heaven? Because the lonely, sore-footed pilgrims on their way back to their home are never sure to the last moment of not losing their way in this limitless desert of illusion and matter called Earth-Life. Because he would fain show the way to that region of freedom and light, from which he is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. Because, in short, he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the Great Sacrifice… It is under the direct, silent guidance of this MAHA-(great)-GuRu that all the other less divine Teachers and instructors of mankind became, from the first awakening of human consciousness, the guides of early Humanity.”

2 vide C. I. Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia, Princeton, NJ 1987.

3 ” Ta-mo-yin-t’o-ho-szu” represents the Chinese orthogra­phy of an Indo-European name. What the Sanskrit version of this name would have been is anyone’s guess. Tucci says: ” Perhaps the first four characters may transcribe a Prakrit Dhammenda (Dharmendra); as to ho-szu one may suppose, hasa, joy, smile. But a name Dharmendrahasa is hardly possible.”

4  Tsepon Shakabpa, Tibet, A Political History, NY 1984.

5 Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia, Princeton 1987. The legality of Songtsen Gampo’s claim over Zang­zung, if there can be said to have been anything legal in the slaughter of the king and the rape of the country, may have rested in the matriarchal rights  of Se-mar-kar (Songtsen Gampo’s sister), who upon marriage would have become the Matriarch and hence the chief ruler of the land.

6 The Gyalrab Selwai Melong, or ” Crystal Mirror of Royalty” , states that Songtsen Gampo was 16 on his marriage with the Nepalese princess, who was then 18, and three years later he built his P’o-dang Mar-po, or ” Red Palace” , on the Red Mountain of Lhasa. Since he was born in 617, this would mean that he was married in 633 A.D. and moved his capital from the Yarlung valley to the mount of Lhasa in 636 A.D. However, the Chinese records, which most scholars take to be more accurate, place the marriage in 639, three years after the building of the new Palace.

7 Amsuvarman, whose name means ” Shining Armor,” is mentioned by Hiuen Tsiang as reigning about 637 A.D. In several inscriptions ranging from 635 to 640 it appears that he was of the Thakuri dynasty and a feudatory of the power­ful Buddhist king Harshavardhana of Kanauj. After the death of the latter he apparently became independent. He died in 639-640 A.D. and after his death the Tibetans succeeded in installing King Narendra-deva as his successor.

8 Tsepon Shakabpa, Tibet, A Political History, NY 1984.

9 L. A. Waddell, Tibetan Buddhism, NY 1972 ed.

10 Ibid. Waddell, for all his anti-Tibetan prejudices, is nevertheless correct in stating that Songtsen Gampo ” was not the saintly person the grateful Lamas picture, for he is seen from reliable Chinese history to have been engaged all his life in bloody wars, and more at home in the battlefield than the temple.”

11 Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-vikurvati-adhisthana-vaipulya­sutra. See Minoru Kiyota, Shingon Buddhism, (BBI),1978, for a scholarly analysis of this Yoga-tantra tradition.

12 After leaving Uddiyana, Subhakarasimha made his way north over the Hindu Kush into Central Asia. He suffered sickness and attacks by bandits, but survived the difficult journey, arriving in Chang-an, the imperial capital of China, in 716 A.D.

13 Skt: Cinta-mani. This is represented in art as a bluish colored stone as large as a crystal ball.Mani literally means “stone”, in contrast to the word “jewel” (ratna). The term Cinta means “thought”. The Cintamani is literally the “thought-stone” or the stone which magnifies one’s thoughts, i.e., fulfils one’s wishes.

14 Wolfram von Eschenbach, an early thirteenth century Bavarian knight, is one of the earliest composers of a European Grail story. In his long and colourful poem, Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach described the Grail as a ” stone of the purest kind” called lapsit exillis. ” By the power of that stone,” he said, ” the phoenix burns to ashes, but the ashes give him life again. Thus does the phoenix molt and change its plumage, which after is bright and shining… There never was a human so ill but that, if he one day sees that stone, he cannot die within the week that follows. And in youth he shall not fade… This stone is also known as the Grail.”

15 Evans-Wentz’s text, An Epitome of the Life and Teachings of  Tibet’s Great Guru Padmasambhava, isa translation of U. rgyan. u. u. pa. dma.’byunggnas. gyi. rnam. thar gyas.pa. gser gyi. phreng. ba. thar. lam. gsal. byed. bzhug. so., but his production is now very much dated. Evans-Wentz was not familiar with Tibetan and employed Lama Karma Sumdhon Pal, Lobzang Mingyur Dorje, and Kazi Dawa-Samdup, none of whom were skilled in English, to produce a translation which he then edited. Nevertheless Evans-Wentz deserves special credit for his heroic efforts to introduce Tibetan texts to the Western world.

16 In the Grail legends the hero Parceval/Purcell becomes the adopted heir of the Grail Kingdom simultaneous with the healing of King Anfortas’ mysterious thigh wound. The land too becomes fruitful. There is an actual instance in medieval history where this ‘Grail Legend’ merged with an historical event: namely when Eustache I (b. 1009) was adopted by Ernicule, Count of Boulogne. Eustache 1, a model for the Parceval character, was the grandfather of Baudoin, the first King of Jerusalem of the Crusading period.

17 The Nyingma school possesses two kinds of tantric scrip­ture: the Kah-ma, or “Sacred Word” that has been handed down since very ancient times, and the Ter-ma, or “Sacred Treasure”, which in different periods has been discovered or revealed by various saintly treasure finders (Terton). Ter-ma can include both those texts which from time to time are discovered hidden away in old temple crypts, etc., and what are known as books of Revelation.

18 Skt: Buddha Amitabha, the Boundless Luminosity of Absolute-being (buddha). Lord Padmasambhava has been called the divine incarnation or Tulku of Amitabha. Scholars have suggested that Amitabha here corresponds with the Persian “Ahura Mazda”. He is also thought of as an aspect of Avalokitesvara, the Buddhist archetype of love and compas­sion, especially as the latter, likewise, is called ” the son of the Buddha” , or son of the Infinite Light (Amitabha).

19 John 16:5-14

20 Tib: Pema Gyalpo.

21 Simhapura was a kingdom south of Uddiyana in what today is called the Salt Range. Hiuen Tsiang refers to it as Sang-ho-pu-lo and locates its capital where today stands Khetas. The temples, shrines, fort and bathhouses of Khetas, once sacred to Avalokitesvara and later to the Hindu god Siva, are now deserted. Marriage contracts or engagements were made between the parents of the prospective couple in India at very early ages. Padmasambhava was probably twelve years of age when such a contract was formed. The children are officially married by Indian custom from that point on, but they do not begin living as a married couple until much later. The term “engagement” therefore, in this context, is more suitable than saying “marriage”.

22 Evans-Wentz, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Oxford 1954. If Padmasambhava was born in 732 A.D., then he would have been 13 years old when Uddiyana was overrun by the Kingdom of Kapisa. This is confirmed also in another manner: Tsele Natsok Rangdrol says that, ” Padmasambhava stayed five years in the royal palace of Uddiyana.” He was adopted at eight and he stayed five years, means that he was thirteen when he went into exile.

23 Tib: Lo-den Chokse. If Padmasambhava was born in 732 A.D., then the years spent in Kashmir would have been roughly from the age of 13 to 20. The latter age of 20 is assumed only on the basis that the next event in his life mentioned in the various accounts is his ordination at Bodh Gaya. The full ordination of a Bhikkshu, or Buddhist monk, such as was received by Padmasambhava, is not given until the person has attained maturity. He must therefore have been at least 20 years of age.

24 In Dudjom Rinpoche’s The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism it is stated that he was born in the royal house of Western India. Tibetan historians declare that Prabhahasti and Sakyaprabha were one and the same person. They state that when the great Vinaya teacher Sakyaprabha, born in Western India, went from Kashmir to Bodh Gaya, he became a tantric practitioner and henceforth was known as Prabhahasti. This view is not feasible for a number of rea­sons. Sakyaprabha lived during the reign of King Gopala. Born in Western India, he became a famous Vinaya teacher in Kashmir. His preceptor was Punyakirti and his three chief students were called Sakyamitra, Sakyaprabha II, and Sakyasimha. Prabhahasti was born in Zahor, his preceptor was called Santiprabha, and his chief student was Sakyasimha (i.e., later known as Padmasambhava).

25 Tib: Sakya-sengge (sa.kya.seng.ge).

26 This is the same cremation where a generation earlier Sri Pramodavajra had first spread the Dzogchen teachings.

27 That Humkara was the chief influence on Padmasambhava during this period is based not on what is said in the biographies, but in the fact that Padmasambhava’s chief spiritual practice, following his stay in Sitavana, consisted of the Sri Samyak Heruka sadhana. Afterwards he augmented this sadhana with the Vajrakilaya practices that he received from Prabhahasti. It should be noted that Prabhahasti was himself a disciple of Humkara. 202 Suvarna Sampradaya.

28 Mahamudra, Great Seal, the profound realization of self and all phenomena as the Divine.

29 Evans-Wentz, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Oxford 1954. A better translation of this passage, but not substantially different, may be found in The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, vol. 1, page 222, as published by Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, CA., 1978.

30 Princess Sakyadevi was the daughter of King Sukhadhara of Nepal.

31 Tib: Panchen. The name Vadisimha is in Tibetan Sengge Dra-drok (seng.ge.sgra.sgrogs). Since he was known as Bhikshu Sakyasimha, this is nova significant change in name. It might be debatable whether he was addressed as a Mahopadhyaya (Tib: Khanchen) or a Mahapandita (Tib: Panchen), but there are some reasons why the latter would seem to have been the proper title.

32  Tib: Lama Pema-jungne (bla.ma.pa.dma.byung.nas).

33 If Padmasambhava was born in the Water Monkey year of 732 as the sacred texts state, then he would have been 54 years of age when he made the difficult journey into the Land of Snow.

34 Bodhisattvacaryavatara, by the Mahasanghika saint Bhikshu Santideva. The line is quoted by Gerasimova, Obnovlencheskoye Dvizhentye Buryatskogo Lamaistskogo Dukhovenstva, Ulan Ude, 1983, p. 66.

35 Mu-ne brTsan-po, 798-804 A.D.

36 Prof. Tucci, Preliminary Report on an Archaeological Survey o f Swat, states that ” Lankapuri is, as known, Laghman.” Laghman, an independent nation prior to Hiuen Tsiang’s time, had certainly become a tributary province of Kapisa by 629 A.D. Since Kabul was not overrun – and then only temporarily – by the Moslem invasion until as late as 870 A.D., Laghman’s status would still have been that of a Buddhist province of Kapisa (Shambhala) in 804 A.D. The Sanskrit name of the country was Lampaka and Hiuen Tsiang lists it as Lan-po. The sacred mountain in question would be that of Sri Aruna Parvata, Aruna ” the Red” , now thought by some to be the Chehel Dukhtaran peak. Eminently logical as Prof. Tucci’s argument may sound, Laghman was not Padmasambhava’s ” Lankapuri.” Sometime around 950 A.D., a certain King Indrabhuti of Uddiyana married his sister, Laksminkara, to the ” Hindu king of Lankapuri.” This latter, a kingdom south of Uddiyana (and definitely not Laghman), we can identify with Hiuen Tsiang’s Simhapura in the Salt Range, for just as Ceylon is known as Sri Lanka today, and anciently Lankapuri, so also has it been known as Simhapuri; the names are interchangeable. The actual site of the ancient Padmavabhasa Citadel in the Salt Range is still open to question: it could be near Malot, not far from Ketas (the ancient capital of Simhapura), where now stands the red sandstone remains of some eighth century Kashmiri style temples; or it could have been at Mount Sukesar (4,992 ft), the highest peak in the Range. The latter may be the Arunachala, the ” Red Mountain” of Padmasambhava’s biography. Near Mount Sukesar, at Amb, are the signs of a ruined Hindu town with fortified walls and temples that go back to the eighth century. Jean Fairly, The Lion River, who visited the Salt Range in the 1970s, talks of ” the bald redness of the mountains” rising from the barren yellow desert of the plains. Another but less likely location for the Guru’s final residence would be the old fort at Nandana, later occupied by the Hindushahi rulers when they fled from their capital at Wahind after their defeat in 1001 A.D. by Mahmud of Ghazni.

37 The Best of Horses, is closely related to Pegasus, or the Wind Horse, which carries on its back the Cintamani jewel. The Messiah rides just this horse: ” I saw heaven open and behold, there was a white horse, and the one there on was called Faith and Truth… His eyes are a flame of fire, and many diadems crown his head, and he has a name written which no one knows except himself. He was clothed in garments red as blood and has been called the Logos of God. And the armies of heaven follow him on white horses…”

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Anunatva Apurnatva Nirdesa Sutra – Dharmakaya – Non increase – Non decrease Sutra

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Thus I have heard. At one time the Bhagavat was staying on Mount Grdhrakûta at Râjagrha in the company of a community (sangha) of one thousand two hundred and fifty monks. There were also countless, inconceivable numbers of Bodhisattva-mahâsattvas.

On that occasion, Sâriputra was in the midst of the assembly and, rising from his seat, he went towards the Bhagavat. When he reached the place where the Bhagavat was, he bowed down with his head at the Bhagavat’s feet in salutation. Then he went and sat to one side. With his hands joined in devotion, he spoke to the Bhagavat.

“Bhagavat, from time without beginning all beings have wandered, coming and going, through the six states of existence in the three realms of samsâra. They have repeatedly transmigrated through the four modes of birth and have experienced unbounded sufferings undergoing births and deaths. Bhagavat, does this mass of beings, this ocean of beings, undergo increase and decrease or does it not undergo increase and decrease ? I do not understand the significance of this profound matter. How should I answer if anybody asks me about it ?”

The Bhagavat answered Sâriputra thus, “It is excellent, Sâriputra, excellent that you ask me about the significance of this profound matter in order that all beings will achieve relief from their efforts (yoga-ksema), out of pity for all beings, for the benefit of all beings, for the welfare and comfort of all beings including gods and humans.

“Sâriputra, if you had not asked the Tathâgata, Arhat, Samyak-sambuddha about this matter, many errors would occur. Why is that ? Because all beings, including the gods and humans, in the present and future ages, would experience the disadvantage of suffering misery for a long time and lose all welfare and comfort for ever.

“Sâriputra, there is a major false opinion ? the assertion that the realm of beings (sattva-dhâtu) fills up and that the realm of beings decreases. Sâriputra, beings who embrace this opinion are like the congenitally blind and cannot see the true nature of things. Hence they are involved in improper behaviour for a very long time, following a false path. For this reason, they fall in this lifetime into the miserable states of existence.

“Moreover, Sâriputra, there is a precipitous gorge — rigidly adhering to the perverse claim that the realm of beings increases and rigidly adhering to the perverse claim that the realm of beings decrease. Sâriputra, because of rigidly adhering to this perverse opinion, beings are involved in improper behaviour for a very long time, following a false path. For this reason, they fall in future lifetimes into the miserable states of existence.

“Sâriputra, because all foolish ordinary beings (bâla-prthak-jana) do not know the oneness of the Dharmadhâtu as it truly is in reality, because they do not see the oneness of the Dharmadhâtu as it truly is in reality, they give rise to a mistaken opinion in their minds ? that the realm of beings increases and the realm of beings decreases.

“Sâriputra, while I, the Tathâgata, reside in the world, my disciples do not give rise to such thoughts, but when five hundred years has elapsed after my departure there will be many foolish beings lacking in insight and knowledge. Even amongst [followers of] the Buddha Dharma, there will be those who resemble monks in their appearance, with their heads shaven and wearing the three monastic robes, and yet internally they will lack the qualities of a monk. These fellows will claim to be monks even though they are not really monks, they will claim to be disciples of the Buddha even though they not really disciples of the Buddha, saying ‘We are monks, we are the real disciples of the Buddha’.

“Such people will give rise to the false opinions of imposition (samâropa) and detraction (apavâda). Why ? Because these beings lack the eye of awareness since they rely upon the Tathâgata’s provisional sûtras, because they do not perceive emptiness as it truly is in reality, because they do not know the [significance of] the initial generation of the aspiration [to enlightenment] experienced by the Tathâgata as it truly is in reality, because they do not know [the Tathâgata’s] accumulation of immeasurable virtues for enlightenment as it truly is in reality, because they do not know the immeasurable qualities attained by the Tathâgata as they truly are in reality, because they do not know the immeasurable power of the Tathâgata as it truly is in reality, because they do not know the immeasurable domain (visaya) of the Tathâgata as it truly is in reality, because they do not believe in the Tathâgata’s immeasurable spheres of activity (gocâra) as it truly is in reality, because they do not know the Tathâgata’s mastery of inconceivable, immeasurable qualities as it truly is in reality, because they do not know the Tathâgata’s inconceivable, immeasurable expedient means as they truly are in reality, because they are not able to distinguish the immeasurable facets of the Tathâgata’s domain (visaya), because they are unable to comprehend the Tathâgata’s inconceivable great compassion, and because they do not know the Tathâgata’s great Nirvâna as it truly is in reality.

“Sâriputra, because these foolish ordinary people lack the insight born of study (sruta-mâya-prajnâ), they give rise to the false opinions (drsti) of annihilation or cessation when they hear of the Tathâgata’s Nirvâna. Because of these ideas of annihilation and cessation, they claim that the realm of beings decreases and thus generate this major false opinion which leads to extremely grave misdeeds.

“Furthermore, Sâriputra, these people give rise to a further three false opinions due to that false opinion of detraction. These three false opinions and their false opinion of detraction are mutually inseparable like the cords of a net. What are the three false opinions ? The first is the idea of nihilism (uccheda-vâda), that concerning utter annihilation, the second is the idea of cessation, that Nirvâna is thus, and the third is the idea that there is no Nirvâna, that Nirvâna is utter vacuity.

“Sâriputra, people are thus bound, thus seized, thus touched by these three opinions. Because of the power of these three opinions, they in turn give rise to another two false opinions. These two false opinions are inseparable from those two opinions like the cords of a net. What are these two opinions ? The first is the opinion concerning abstention and the second is the opinion that Nirvâna is utterly non-existent. Sâriputra, in dependence upon the opinion concerning abstention, a further two opinions arise. These two opinions are inseparable from the opinion concerning abstention like the cords of a net. What are these two opinions ? The first is the opinion that is attached to moral precepts (úîla-vrata-parâmarúa-drsti) and the second is the opinion that gives rise to the cognitive distortion that treats the impure as the pure.

“Sâriputra, in dependence upon the opinion that that Nirvâna is utterly non-existent, a further six opinions arise. These six opinions are inseparable from the opinion that Nirvâna is non-existent like the cords of a net. What are these six opinions ? The first is the opinion that the world has no beginning, the second is the opinion that the world has no ending, the third is the opinion that beings are created as manifestations, the fourth is that there is neither suffering nor happiness, the fifth is that beings have no obligations (?), and the six is that there are no noble truths.

“Furthermore, Sâriputra, these people give rise to a further two opinions due to this false opinion of attribution. These two false opinions and that false opinion of attribution are mutually inseparable like the cords of a net. What are these two opinions ?

  • The first is that Nirvâna has a starting point and
  • the second is that Nirvâna comes into existence spontaneously without causes and conditions.

Sâriputra, these two opinions cause beings to be devoid of any aspirations and strenuous effort directed at the wholesome factors (kuúala-dharma). Sâriputra, because they give rise to these two opinions, there is no chance of these people making any aspirations or efforts directed at the wholesome factors even though the seven Buddhas have appeared in the world in succession in order to teach the Dharma. Sâriputra, these two opinions ? the opinion that Nirvâna has a starting point and the opinion that Nirvâna comes into existence spontaneously without causes and conditions ? are ignorance (avidyâ), the root of afflictions (klesa).

“Sâriputra, these two opinions (samâropa & apavâda) are the root of extreme evil, the way of great defects. All opinions arise in dependence upon these two opinions. All these opinions are inseparable from those two opinions like the cords of a net. ‘All opinions’ signifies the multitude of different opinions whether concerning the internal or the external, whether coarse, subtle or middling that involve the opinions of attribution and detraction.

Sâriputra, these two opinions are grounded upon a single basis (dhâtu), are identical to a single basis, conjoined with a single basis. Because all foolish ordinary people do not know that single basis as it truly is in reality, because they do not see that single basis as it truly is in reality, they give rise to thoughts [involving] an extremely pernicious major [false] opinions ? that is to say, the realm of beings increases and that the realm of beings decreases.”

Then the venerable Sâriputra said to the Bhagavat, “Bhagavat, what is this one basis of which you speak ? Why do all foolish ordinary people give rise to thoughts [involving] an extremely pernicious major [false] opinions ? that is to say, the realm of beings increases and that the realm of beings decreases ? because they do not know that single basis as it truly is in reality, because they do not see that single basis as it truly is in reality ? I do not yet understand this extremely profound matter, so I entreat the Bhagavat to help me understand it so that I may be liberated!”

Then the Bhagavat answered the venerable Sâriputra thus, “Sâriputra, this matter [appertains] to the Tathâgata’s perceptual domain, the Tathâgata’s sphere of activity. No Srâvakas or Pratyekabuddhas, Sâriputra, are able to know, to see or to investigate this matter with their insight. How much less able are foolish ordinary people to do so, except when they directly realize it by faith! Ultimate truth, Sâriputra, may be directly realized by faith. Ultimate truth (paramârtha), Sâriputra, is a synonym for the realm of beings (sattva-dhâtu). The realm of beings, Sâriputra, is a synonym for the Tathâgata-garbha. The Tathâgata-garbha, Sâriputra, is a synonym for the Dharmakâya. Sâriputra, this Dharmakâya taught by the Tathâgata is indivisible in nature from the virtues (dharma) of the Tathâgata which far exceed the grains of sand in the Ganges in number, inseparable in its qualities from awareness (avinirmukta-jnana-guna).

“Sâriputra, just as the light, heat and colour of a lamp in the world are indivisible in nature, inseparable qualities or again just as the brilliance, colour and shape of a jewel, in the same way, Sâriputra, this Dharmakâya taught by the Tathâgata is indivisible in nature from the virtues (dharma) of the Tathâgata which far exceed the grains of sand in the Ganges in number, inseparable in its qualities from awareness (avinirmukta-jnana-guna).

  • “Sâriputra, this Dharmakâya neither arises nor ceases in nature, it is not delimited in the past nor is it delimited in the future, because it is devoid of the two extremes. Sâriputra, it is not delimited in the past because it is devoid of a point of arising and it is not delimited in the future because it is devoid of a point of cessation.
  • Sâriputra, this Dharmakâya is permanent because it is unchanging in nature and because it is inexhaustible in nature. Sâriputra,
  • this Dharmakâya is stable, because it is the stable refuge and because it is identical to the bounds of the future. Sâriputra,
  • this Dharmakâya is peace because it is non-dual (advaya) in nature, because it is devoid of conceptualization (avikalpa) in nature. Sâriputra, this Dharmakâya is eternal because it is indestructible in nature, because it is unfabricated in nature.

“Sâriputra, this very Dharmakâya is called the realm of beings (sattva-dhâtu) when it concealed by a sheath of boundless afflictions, wandering repeatedly through births and deaths in beginningless samsâra, buffeted by the waves of samsâra.

Sâriputra, this very Dharmakâya is called a Bodhisattva when it is disillusioned with the sufferings of the stream of samsâra and is detached from all the experiential objects of desire and engages in the practice aimed at enlightenment through the mass of eighty-four thousand doctrines (dharma) which are subsumed by the ten Perfections.

Sâriputra, this very Dharmakâya is called the Tathâgata, Arhat, Samyak-sambuddha when it has become free from the sheath of all the afflictions, has passed beyond all sufferings, has eliminated the stains of all the subsidiary afflictions, purified, utterly purified, and, abiding in the supremely pure reality (dharmatâ) and reaching the level which may illumine all beings, has attained the peerless, heroic strength with regards all knowable things and has realized mastering power over all phenomena without any obscuration and any obstruction in nature.

Therefore, Sâriputra, the realm of beings and the Dharmakâya are not different. The realm of beings is the Dharmakâya and the Dharmakâya is the realm of beings. Their significance is identical, only distinguished by different names.

“Furthermore, Sâriputra, as I have previously explained, the realm of beings has three qualities which are all real, not different nor separate from Thusness. What are the three qualities ?

  1. First, the Tathâgata-garbha is intrinsically conjoined with pure qualities from time without beginning,
  2. secondly the Tathâgata-garbha is intrinsically not conjoined with impure qualities from time without beginning,
  3. and thirdly the Tathâgata-garbha is unchanging sameness throughout the future.

“Sâriputra, you should know that the fact that the Tathâgata-garbha is intrinsically conjoined with pure qualities from time without beginning signifies that it is veridical and not delusive, a pure reality that is without separation and exclusion from awareness (jnana), an inconceivable “entity” (dharma) that is the Dharmadhâtu. It is primordially conjoined with this purity by nature. Sâriputra, grounded upon this pure and veridical Dharmadhâtu, I teach the intrinsic purity of the mind, this inconceivable doctrine, for the sake of beings.

“Sâriputra, you should know that the fact that the Tathâgata-garbha is intrinsically not conjoined with the impure qualities, the afflictions which envelop it, from time without beginning signifies that those impure qualities, the afflictions which envelop it, which are primordially separated from and not conjoined with it, are just to be eliminated by the awareness of the Tathâgata’s enlightenment.

Sâriputra, grounded upon the inconceivable Dharmadhâtu which is not conjoined with these enveloping afflictions, I teach the intrinsic purity of the mind to which the adventitious afflictions are attached (sakta), this inconceivable doctrine, for the sake of beings.

“Sâriputra, you should know that the fact

  • that the Tathâgata-garbha is unchanging sameness throughout the future signifies that it is the root of all [wholesome and unwholesome] qualities,
  • that it possesses all [Tathâgata] qualities,
  • that it is endowed with all qualities,
  • that it is not separate or divorced from all veridical qualities in the midst of mundane qualities, that it sustains all qualities, and that it includes all qualities.

Grounded upon this permanent, stable, pure and unchanging refuge that is free from arising and cessation, the inconceivable pure Dharmadhâtu, I term it “be-ing” (sat-tva). Why is that ? What I call ‘be-ing’ is just a different name for this permanent, stable, pure and unchanging refuge that is free from arising and cessation, the inconceivable pure Dharmadhâtu. For this reason, grounded upon this entity (dharma), I speak of ‘be-ing’.

“Sâriputra, all three of these qualities (dharma) are veridical, not separate nor divisible from reality. The two kinds of extremely pernicious, unwholesome false opinions do not ultimately arise with regards to these veridical qualities that are not separate not divisible from reality. Why ? Because of perceiving things as they truly are in reality. Sâriputra, all Buddha Tathâgatas are totally free from these two false opinions ? the opinion which [falsely] attributes and the opinion which [falsely] detracts ? which are censured (garhya-sthânîya) by the Buddha Tathâgatas.

“Sâriputra, should any monk, nun, upâsaka or upâsikâ give rise to one or other of these opinions, the Buddha Tathâgatas are not their teacher (sâstr). Such people are not my disciples (srâvaka). Sâriputra, I say that by giving rise to those two opinions, these people are filled with darkness ? they go from darkness to a greater darkness, from gloom to a greater gloom, their darkness becoming ever greater. I call them ‘icchantikas’. Therefore, Sâriputra, you should train yourself, abiding in the true path which is separated from those two opinions.”

When the Buddha finished expounding this sûtra, the elder Sâriputra, as well as the great assembly of monks, nuns, upâsakas, upâsikâs, bodhisattva-mahâsattvas together with the gods, nâgas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans and non-humans, were all greatly joyful, receiving with faith and venerating the Anûnatva-apûrnatva Sûtra expounded by the Buddha.
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Translated by Stephen Hodge. © Stephen Hodge 2003.

Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum

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Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Liu Song Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master Guṇabhadra from India

Fascicle 1 (of 2)

Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was dwelling in the Anāthapiṇḍika Garden of Jetavana Park in the city kingdom of Śrāvastī, together with 500 great bhikṣus, as well as 100,000 Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas and a multitude of godsdragonsyakṣas, and gandharvas. Also present were 100,000 upāsakas and upāsikās. In attendance too were the Brahma-kings, rulers of this Sahā World, as well as the god-king Śakra, thefour god-kings, and their retinues. From worlds in the ten directions came innumerable bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well as Bodhisattvas.
At that time the Tathāgata pronounced the Dharma to His four groups of disciples, telling them, “With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure. Therefore, keeping away from pain and pleasure is the foremost bliss ofnirvāṇa.”
All these 500 voice-hearer bhikṣus were Arhats. They had ended their afflictions and the discharges thereof, and their minds had achieved command and ease. Like the great dragon, with their minds liberated and their wisdom unfolded, they had completed their undertaking [for Arhatship]. Having shed the heavy burden, they had acquired benefits for themselves, ending the bondage of existence. Liberated by true knowledge, they had achieved the foremost pāramitā and total command of their minds
Of those who were still learning, a countless number had achieved the [voice-hearer] fruits, becoming Srotāpannas, Sakṛdāgāmins, or Anāgāmins. An innumerable multitude of bhikṣus, though still with afflictions, had come to achievement.
Also from worlds in the ten directions came an innumerable multitude of Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who had acquired immeasurableasaṁkhyeyas of merits. Their number was beyond calculation or analogy, unknowable to voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas. The exceptions were Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva. Such leading Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas were in asaṁkhyeya multitudes, as numerous as grasses and trees grown from the earth. Bodhisattvas who came from other directions were countless as well. Also present was the bhikṣuṇī Kṣema, together with a group of bhikṣuṇīs. Present as well were Lady Viśākhā and Queen Mallikā, together with their innumerable attendants. Also present was the Elder Sudatta, together with innumerable upāsakas.
The World-Honored One, in the midst of this huge multitude, introduced the Dharma Door of Existence and Nonexistence.
Meanwhile, King Prasenajit, rising from his sleep, thought: “I should go to the World-Honored One.” Having had this thought, he immediately set off, with drums beating and conch shells blowing, going to the Buddha. The World-Honored One, knowing the reason, still asked, “Ānanda, why is there the sound of drums and conch shells?”
Ānanda replied to the Buddha, “King Prasenajit is coming to the Buddha. Hence the sound of drums and conch shells.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “You should also beat the great Dharma drum because I now will pronounce the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Ānanda asked the Buddha, “I have never heard of the name of this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. Why is it called the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “How can you know it? Not even one of the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas in this assembly knows this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, which has a six-syllable name [in Sanskrit]. Much less have you heard of it.”
Ānanda said to the Buddha, “This is unprecedented. The name of this Dharma is truly hard to know.”
“Indeed, Ānanda, the fact is not different from your statement. Ānanda, this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, like the bloom of theudumbara tree, is rare in the world.”
Ānanda asked the Buddha, “Not all Buddhas have this Dharma?”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Buddhas of the past, present, and future all have this Dharma.”
Ānanda asked the Buddha, “If so, why did these Bodhisattvas, the heroes among men, all come to gather here? Why do their Tathāgatas not expound this Dharma in their own lands?”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “For example, an āraṇyaka bhikṣu lives alone in a mountain cave. On his way to the village to beg for food, he sees various human and animal corpses. Having seen them, he feels disgusted and returns without food, thinking: ‘Alas, I will definitely be like that.’ Then he feels happy, thinking: ‘I should go there again to observe corpses to intensify my revulsion.’ Again he heads for that village, looking to see corpses in order to strengthen his perception of impurity. Seeing them, he continues to observe them. Then he achieves the holy fruit, becoming an Arhat.
“Buddhas in other worlds do not teach impermanence, sufferingemptiness, or impurity. Why? Because the Dharma in those Buddha Lands should be their way. Those Tathāgatas say to their Bodhisattvas, ‘How marvelous! Śākyamuni the World-Honored One, taking the hard way, appears in the land of the five turbidities. For the sake of suffering sentient beings, using various viable approaches, he pronounces the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. Therefore, good men, you should learn in that way.’ Those Bodhisattvas have come to this assembly because they all want to see me, to pay respects, and to make obeisance. Having come to this assembly, they will attain the First Ground, even up to the Tenth Ground [on the Bodhisattva Way]. Hence the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum is very hard to encounter. Hence multitudes of great Bodhisattvas from worlds in the ten directions, for the sake of hearing the Dharma, have all gathered here.”
Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Very good! Very good! All who attend will benefit. They all will receive the hard-to-acquire Dharma in this sūtra.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Such a profound sūtra cannot be received by all. Therefore, you should not say that all who attend will benefit.”
Ānanda asked the Buddha, “Why will not all who attend benefit?”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “This sūtra is the secret Dharma store of Tathāgatas. It is profound and wondrous, hard to understand and hard to believe. Therefore, Ānanda, you should not say that all who attend will benefit.”
Ānanda said to the Buddha, “Then is it not like King Prasenajit beating the huge war drum to launch a battle? When the sound is heard, all [enemy] arrows fall away.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “When King Prasenajit beats the war drum, not all delight in hearing the sound of the drum. The cowardly ones are scared to death, or nearly to death. Indeed, Ānanda, the name of this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum is the Dharma Door in which riders of the Two Vehicles disbelieve. Therefore, Ānanda, as the huge war drum is beaten only by the king before fighting a battle, so too can this great Dharma drum, the secret of Buddhas, be expounded only by a Buddha who has appeared in the world.”
Then the World-Honored One asked Mahākāśyapa, “The bhikṣus here, having left all the scum and chaff, are pure, alike, and truly strong. Are they capable of hearing this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
Mahākāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “If there are bhikṣus who have breached the precepts or violated the regulations, they are rebuked by Mahāmaudgalyāyana. Even I do not accommodate such bhikṣus, much less would the World-Honored One. The multitude in this assembly is like the sandalwood grove, pure and unvaried.”
The Buddha told Mahākāśyapa, “The multitude in this assembly is all pure and homogeneous. However, they do not have good understanding of my veiled statements.”
Mahākāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is meant by veiled statements?”
The Buddha told Mahākāśyapa, “Saying that the Tathāgata enters the ultimate nirvāṇa is making a veiled statement. In truth the Tathāgata abides eternally, never extinct, because parinirvāṇa is not a dharma of destruction. This sūtra leaves the veiled approach and expounds with entirely explicit tones through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions. Therefore, Mahākāśyapa, you should survey this huge multitude again.”
Mahākāśyapa again observed those present and their reason for coming. In the time of a kṣaṇa, sentient beings of weak faith, voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas, who considered themselves incapable, had the thought of giving up.
As an analogy, a man named Thousand Strong Men stands up in the midst of a multitude of strong men owned by the royal family. Beating a drum, he chants, “Who is capable of wrestling with me?” The incapable ones remain silent, thinking: “I am incapable of wrestling with him. I might be injured or even lose my life.” The one against whom no one in the group dares to fight is the brave, indomitable strong man who can erect the great victory banner.
Thus, inadequate sentient beings, voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas each thought: “I am incapable of hearing or accepting this Dharma, which states that the Tathāgata has entered parinirvāṇa and that He is eternally abiding, never extinct.”
Having heard in the midst of the multitude what they had never heard before, they left their seats and departed. Why? Because they had cultivated in the long night the view of void with respect to parinirvāṇa. Upon hearing of this pure sūtra, which is free from obscurity, they left their seats and departed. Among the voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and novice Bodhisattvas, who came from worlds in the ten directions, on the scale of a million koṭi parts, only one part remained.
The Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who stayed on believed in the eternal abiding and changelessness of the dharma body. They then could settle in, accept, and uphold all the sūtras about the Tathāgata store. They could also explain to and comfort the world, enabling others to understand all the veiled statements [in these sūtras]. They could well discern sūtras of definitive meaning versus sūtras of non-definitive meaning. They all could subdue sentient beings that violated the prohibitions, and they all could respect and serve the pure, virtuous ones. With great pure faith in the Mahāyāna, they would not consider the Two Vehicles as extraordinary. They would pronounce onlymahāvaipulya sūtras, not other sūtras. They would pronounce only that the Tathāgata is eternally abiding and that there is the Tathāgata store, without abandoning emptiness—not only the emptiness of the self-view but also the emptiness of the self-essence of all saṁskṛtadharmas.
The Buddha told Mahākāśyapa, “Ask the huge multitude again whether they want to hear this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, the hard-to-believe Mahāyāna sūtra, from the vast One Vehicle. Ask all of them this three times.”
Mahākāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good, World-Honored One.”
Forthwith he rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, and bowed down at the feet of the Buddha. He then circled the Buddha three times and questioned the huge multitude: “Do you all want to hear this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum? The Tathāgata now will expound to all of you the One Vehicle, the Mahāyāna, which surpasses the vehicle of voice-hearers and the vehicle of Pratyekabuddhas.”
Three times he asked them, and they all replied, “We would be delighted to hear it. Yes, Mahākāśyapa, we all have come here to hear the Dharma. Very good, have sympathy! May the Buddha pronounce to us the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum!”
Kāśyapa next asked, “Why do you all believe?”
They then replied, “As an analogy, a man 20 years of age has a son 100 years old. If the Buddha says so, we will believe that it is so. Much more will we believe in the true Dharma He is going to pronounce. Why? Because the Tathāgata acts in accordance with His words. The Tathāgata’s pure eye shines, perfectly hindrance free. Seeing with His Buddha-eye, He knows our minds.”
Kāśyapa praised, “Very good! Very good! You worthy ones are capable of hearing the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, to uphold or pronounce it.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As an analogy, a man only 20 years of age has a 100-year-old son. The Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drumconveys a similar teaching. Why? Because the Tathāgata enters parinirvāṇa and still abides eternally. Nothing has a self, but the Tathāgata still speaks of a self.”
They immediately responded, “Only the Buddha can know. Whatever the World-Honored One says, we will accept and uphold it accordingly.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “I pray only that the World-Honored One will pronounce the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, beat the great Dharma drum, and blow the great Dharma conch shell.”
The Buddha said, “Very good! Very good! Kāśyapa, you now want to hear me pronounce the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “Affirmatively I accept Your teachings. Why? Because the Tathāgata regards me highly and treats me with respect. What kind of respect? He once said to me, ‘Come and sit together with me.’ For this reason, I should recognize His kindness.”
The Buddha said, “Very good! Kāśyapa, for a good reason, I treat you with respect. For example, King Prasenajit takes good care of hisfour types of armed forces. When they fight, they beat the huge war drums and blow the huge war conch shells, standing their ground against the enemy. Because of the king’s kind caring, they fight, sparing no strength, to defeat the enemy in order to bring peace to the country. Therefore, bhikṣus, after my parinirvāṇa, Mahākāśyapa should protect and uphold this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. For this reason, I let him use half of my seat. Accordingly, he should carry on my Way. After my parinirvāṇa, he will be capable of widely expounding the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “I am the eldest son born from the mouth of the World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told the bhikṣus, “As an analogy, King Prasenajit teaches his sons to engage in the [five] studies, so that they will one day be capable of continuing the royal line. Thus, bhikṣus, after my parinirvāṇa, in the same way the bhikṣu Kāśyapa will protect and uphold this sūtra.
“Furthermore, Kāśyapa, for example, King Prasenajit and other kings are enemies, and they battle against one another. During those times, his warriors in the four types of armed forces—elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry—upon hearing the sound of the great drum, have no fear, and they hold firm their armor and weapons. The king, out of kindness, regularly bestows on them good food. During a war they are in addition given jewels and even cities. If they have defeated the enemy, they are each crowned with a white silk scarf, decorated as kings. If, among my voice-hearer bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs as well as upāsakas and upāsikās, there are those who learn the Prātimokṣa precepts and become accomplished in observing these rules of conduct, the Tathāgata will give them the peace and joy of human or celestial life. If there are those who have achieved great merit by subduing the four māras, the Tathāgata will crown their heads with the white silk scarf of liberation, made of the Four Noble Truths. If there are those who, with enhanced faith and understanding, seek the Buddha store, the true self, and the eternally abiding dharma body, the Tathāgata will pour the water of sarvajña [overall wisdom-knowledge] on their heads and crown them with the white silk scarf of the Mahāyāna. Mahākāśyapa, in the same way I now crown your head with the white silk scarf of the Mahāyāna. You should protect and uphold this sūtra in the places where innumerable future Buddhas will be. Kāśyapa, know that, after my parinirvāṇa, you are capable of protecting and upholding this sūtra.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “It will be as You instruct.”
He further said to the Buddha, “From today on, and after Your parinirvāṇa, I will always protect, uphold, and widely pronounce this sūtra.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Very good! Very good! I now will pronounce to you the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Then gods and dragons in the sky praised with one voice, “Very good! Very good! Kāśyapa, today gods rain down celestial flowers, and dragon-kings rain down sweet nectar and finely powdered incense. To comfort and delight all sentient beings, you should be established by the World-Honored One as the eldest son of the Dharma.”
Then the multitude of gods and dragons, with one voice, spoke in verse:

As the king in the city of Śrāvastī
Beats the war drum and blows the war conch shell,
The Dharma King in Jetavana Park
Beats the great Dharma drum.

The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “You should now use questioning as the drumstick to beat the great Dharma drum. The Tathāgata, the Dharma King, will explain to you. The God of Gods will resolve your doubts.”
Then the World-Honored One told Mahākāśyapa, “There is a bhikṣu called Faith in the Mahāvaipulya. If, among my four groups of disciples, for those who hear his name, the arrows of their greed, anger, and delusion will all be pulled out. Why? Kāśyapa, King Prasenajit has [a physician called] Superior Medicine, who is the son of Jīva. When King Prasenajit is battling an enemy country, he tells Superior Medicine, ‘Quickly bring me the medicine which can pull the arrows out for sentient beings [that are shot].’ Then Superior Medicine brings the anti-poison medicine, and the king smears his war drum with the medicine. He beats the drum as he smears it with medicine and suffuses it with the smoke of burning medicine. If sentient beings that have been shot by poisonous arrows hear the sound of the drum, one or two yojanas away, their arrows will all be pulled out.
“Thus, Kāśyapa, if there are those who hear the name of the bhikṣu Faith in the Mahāvaipulya, the arrows of their greed, anger, and delusion will all be pulled out. Why? Because that bhikṣu has propagated the true Dharma through this sūtra and acquired this great fruit as his present achievement. Mahākāśyapa, you should note that even beating a mindless ordinary drum smeared with mindless medicine and suffused with its smoke has such power to benefit sentient beings. Much more, sentient beings that hear the name of a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva or the name of the bhikṣu Faith in the Mahāvaipulya are enabled to remove their three poisons.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “If hearing the name of a Bodhisattva can remove the three poisonous arrows for sentient beings, it will be more effective if they praise the name and merit of the World-Honored One by saying, ‘Namo Śākyamuni.’ If praising the name and merit of Śākyamuni can pull the three poisonous arrows out of sentient beings, it will be even more effective if they hear this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum and expound its verses and stanzas to comfort others. Furthermore, if they expound it widely, it will be impossible for their three poisonous arrows not to be pulled out.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As I just mentioned, bhikṣus who observe their precepts purely can fulfill their wishes at will because of their original vows. All Buddhas have this Dharma, as taught in the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, that dharmas, which [in true reality] are not made [through causes and conditions], neither arise nor perish. Therefore, Kāśyapa, in a future life, you will be like me. Why? Because if your four groups of disciples hear your name, their three poisonous arrows will all be pulled out. Therefore, Kāśyapa, you now should request the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, and then, after my parinirvāṇa, protect, uphold, and pronounce it for a long time in the world.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Very good! World-Honored One, please pronounce for my sake the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “You should spare no question about this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good! World-Honored One, I will ask about my doubts. The World-Honored One says, ‘With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.’ What is meant by that?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Without existence means the foremost bliss of parinirvāṇa. Therefore, having left pain and pleasure, one acquires the foremost bliss of parinirvāṇa. Pain and pleasure mean that there is existence. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure. Therefore, those who wish to attain parinirvāṇa should seek to cease existing.”
Then the World-Honored One, to restate this meaning, spoke in verse:

Existence is impermanent,
Nor is it changeless.
With existence, there are pain and pleasure.
Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.

Not acting [to cause the next rebirth] brings neither pain nor pleasure;
Acting [to cause the next rebirth] brings pain and pleasure.
Do not delight in saṁskṛta dharmas,
Nor be involved with them.

If one acquires pleasure,
One will nevertheless fall into pain.
Before attaining nirvāṇ,
One abides in neither peace nor bliss.

Then Kāśyapa replied in verse:

If sentient beings do not effect their existence,
Nirvāṇa will be their foremost bliss.
That bliss is merely a name
As there is no one experiencing bliss.

Then the World-Honored One again spoke in verse:

The eternal liberation is not just a name,
The wondrous form [of a Buddha] evidently standing.
This is not the state of voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas,
Nor that of Bodhisattvas.

Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why do you speak of form then say it is eternally abiding?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “I will give you an analogy. A person comes from Mathurā in the south. Someone asks him, ‘Where do you come from?’ He answers, ‘From Mathurā.’ He is next asked, ‘Where is Mathurā?’ Then this person points to the south. Kāśyapa, will the questioner not believe him? Why? Because this person has seen himself come from the south. Thus, Kāśyapa, because I have seen it, you should believe me.”
Then the World-Honored One again spoke in verse:

By analogy, there is a person
Who points his finger to the sky.
I now do the same,
Who pronounce liberation by name.

Analogous to the person
Who comes from the distant south,
I now do the same,
Who come from nirvāṇa.

“However, Kāśyapa, those who see the meaning do not need causes or conditions. If they do not see the meaning, they need causes and conditions. Indeed, Kāśyapa, Buddha-Bhagavāns always indicate liberation through innumerable causes and conditions.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is cause?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Cause is the reason.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is condition?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Condition is a contributing factor.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “I pray that you will further clarify with an analogy.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “For example, a child is born from parents. The mother is the cause,1 and the father is the condition. Thus, a dharma born through causes and conditions is called a formation.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is meant by formation?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Formation refers to a worldly formation.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is world?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “It is constructed with an assembly of sentient beings.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “A sentient being is constructed with an assemblage of dharmas.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is dharma?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Non-dharma is dharma, and dharma is non-dharma. There are two kinds of dharmas. What are these two? Saṁskṛta and asaṁskṛta; form and non-form. There is no third kind.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What does dharma look like?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Dharma is non-form.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What does non-dharma look like?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Non-dharma is also non-form.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “If both dharma and non-dharma have neither form nor appearance, then what is dharma and what is non-dharma?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Dharma is nirvāṇa, and non-dharma is saṁsāra.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “If both dharma and non-dharma have neither form nor appearance, how, what, and why can the wise know about their appearances?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Through their cycle of birth and death, sentient beings that develop various kinds of meritorious, pure roots of goodness are in the right ways. If they carry out these dharmas, pure appearances will arise. Those who perform these dharmas are dharma sentient beings. If they carry out non-dharmas, impure appearances will arise. Those who perform these non-dharmas are non-dharma sentient beings.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “A sentient beings is constructed by assembling the four domains—earth, water, fire, and wind—as well as the five faculties, the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, sensory reception, perception, thinking, mind, mental faculty, and mental consciousness. It is called the sentient-being dharma. Kāśyapa, know that it means all dharmas.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Which of these component dharmas is a sentient being?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “None of them alone is called a sentient being. Why? Kāśyapa, taking the king Prasenajit’s drum as an example, what is a drum?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “A so-called drum includes a membrane, wood, and a drumstick. The assemblage of these three dharmas is called a drum.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Likewise a construction with an assemblage of dharmas is called a sentient being.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Is the sound-producing drum not the drum?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Besides the sound-producing drum, any drum makes sound to be carried by the wind.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Is the drum a dharma or a non-dharma?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “The drum is neither a dharma nor a non-dharma.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is its name?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “What is neither a dharma nor a non-dharma is called a nonspecific dharma.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Including the nonspecific dharma, there should be three kinds of dharmas in the world.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “An example of a nonspecific appearance would be a person who is neither male nor female. Such a person is called a non-man. The drum is nonspecific in the same way.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “As the World-Honored One says, a child is born from the union of his parents. If they do not have the seeds for forming sentient beings, they are not the parental causes and conditions.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “That which does not have the seeds for forming sentient beings is called nirvāṇa. So too is the great eternal non-man. As an analogy, when King Prasenajit battles an enemy country, his warriors who eat men’s meals are not called men if they are not bold and fierce. Therefore, those who do not have the seeds of sentient beings are not called parents, and neither is the great eternal non-man.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, there are good dharmas, bad dharmas, and neutral dharmas. What are good, bad, and neutral dharmas?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “A pleasurable experience is a good dharma. A painful experience is a bad dharma. An experience that is neither pleasurable nor painful is a neutral dharma. Sentient beings are always in contact with these three dharmas. Pleasurable experiences relate to gods or humans gratifying the five desires as requital for their merit. Painful experiences relate to [the life of] hell dwellers, animals, hungry ghosts, or asuras. Experience in neither pleasure nor pain is like a minor skin disease.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “This is not right.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Pleasure as a cause of pain, and pain as a cause of pain, are also called a neutral experience.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What would be an analogy?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “For example, one becomes ill because of eating food. Eating food is pleasure, but illness is pain. Like a minor skin disease, this is called a neutral experience.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “If both pleasure and pain can be called a neutral experience, then parents’ giving birth to a child is also a neutral experience.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “This is not right.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What would be an analogy?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Formless gods in Neither with Nor without Perception Heaven, and gods with form in No Perception Heaven, still abide by the law of karma. So doesgoodness.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, as the Buddha says, those with sensory reception and perception are sentient beings. Then, formless gods in Neither with Nor without Perception Heaven must not be sentient beings.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “They still have mental processing. The dharma of sentient beings that I describe excludes the gods with form in No Perception Heaven.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Are sentient beings form or non-form?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Sentient beings are neither form nor non-form.2 Those who accomplish this dharma are called sentient beings.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “If there are sentient beings formed by a different dharma, formless gods should not be included. Then, there should not be these two realms of existence called the form realm and the formless realm.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Dharmas are non-form, and non-dharmas are also non-form.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Does it mean that dharmas are attuned to liberation and that non-dharmas are as well? Are formless gods already liberated?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Not true. There are only saṁskṛta and asaṁskṛta dharmas, and liberation is an asaṁskṛta dharma. Formless gods are in the domain of saṁskṛta dharmas because they still have the disposition to assume form.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, all saṁskṛta dharmas are form, and asaṁskṛta dharmas are non-form. Seeing the form of formless gods is the state of the Buddha, not our state.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Very good! Very good! It is my state, not yours. Indeed, Buddha-Bhagavāns, having achieved liberation, are free from form but still have form.”
The Buddha then asked Kāśyapa, “What are formless gods? Do you know what these gods do? Kāśyapa, can gods with form be considered formless?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “This is beyond our state.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Indeed, Buddha-Bhagavāns, who have achieved liberation, all assume form. You should observe them.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “If one achieves liberation in this way, one should still experience pain and pleasure.”
The Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “If sick sentient beings take medicine and are cured of their diseases, will they be sick again?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “If they have karma, they will still have illnesses.”
The Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “Will those who have no karma have illnesses?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Indeed, leaving pain and pleasure is liberation. Know that pain and pleasure are illness. A great man is one who has attained nirvāṇa.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “If leaving pain and pleasure is liberation, will illness end with the exhaustion of karma?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Worldly pleasures are in effect pain. One achieves liberation by leaving such pleasures and ending karma.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Is liberation the final ending?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “One may liken space to the ocean. Is space really like the ocean? As space is beyond analogy, so too is liberation. No one can know that formless gods have form. Nor can one know whether they are like this or like that, whether they stand in this way or frolic in that way. As this [knowledge] is beyond the state of voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas, so too is liberation.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, who forms sentient beings?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Sentient beings are formed by themselves.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What does that mean?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Those who do good are Buddhas. Those who do evil are sentient beings.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Who made the very first sentient being?”
The Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “Who made the formless gods, such as those in Neither with Nor without Perception Heaven? How do formless gods live and how do they carry themselves?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “Although their karmas cannot be known, they are formed by their own karmas. Then who makes sentient beings black in saṁsāra, or white in nirvāṇa?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “It is made by their karmas. Karma gives rise to innumerable dharmas; goodness also gives rise to innumerable dharmas.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What arises from karma? What arises from goodness?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Existence arises from karma. Liberation arises from goodness.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “How does goodness arise as a dharma that has no birth?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “These two are not different.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “As goodness arises, how can one realize that it has no birth?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “By doing good karmas.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Who taught this?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “It has been taught by Buddhas since time without a beginning.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Who taught and transformed all Buddhas without a beginning in time?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Time without a beginning is not what voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas can know by thinking. If a person who is as wise and well informed as Śāriputra appears in the world, he can think throughout the long night but still cannot know who is the very first of Buddhas, who are without a beginning. Nor can he know His nirvāṇa or the interval in between. Furthermore, Kāśyapa, even Mahāmaudgalyāyana, using his transcendental powers, can never find the very first Buddha World without a beginning. Thus, none of the voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or Bodhisattvas on the Tenth Ground, such as Maitreya Bodhisattva, can know it. As the origin of Buddhas is hard to know, so too is the origin of sentient beings.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Therefore, World-Honored One, there is neither a doer [of karma] nor a recipient [of karmic fruit].”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Causation is the doer and the recipient.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Does the world have an ending, or have no ending?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “The world has not ended. There is nothing to end, nor is there a time of ending.”
Then the Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “Suppose you use a hair to draw water from the immense ocean by the drop. Can you deplete the ocean water?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “Yes, it can be finished.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of great kalpas ago, a Buddha called Kelava appeared in the world, who widely expounded the Dharma. At that time in the Licchavi clan, there was a youth called Entire World Delighted to See. He was a Wheel-Turning King who ruled with the true Dharma. This king, together with his retinue in the hundreds of thousands, went to that Buddha. He bowed down at the feet of that Buddha and circled Him three times. After presenting his offerings, he asked that Buddha, ‘How long will it take me to acquire the Bodhisattva Way?’ That Buddha told the great king, ‘A Wheel-Turning King is a Bodhisattva. There is no difference. Why? Because no one else can be the god-king Śakra, a Brahma-king, or a Wheel-Turning King. A Bodhisattva is the god-king Śakra, a Brahma-king, or a Wheel-Turning King. First, he is reborn as the god-king Śakra or a Brahma-king many times, then he is reborn as a Wheel-Turning King to rule and deliver people through the true Dharma. You have already been the god-king Śakra or a Brahma-king as many times as the sands of asaṁkhyeya Ganges Rivers. Now you are a Wheel-Turning King.’
“Then the king asked, ‘What does the god-king Śakra or a Brahma-king look like?’ Kevala Buddha told the great king, ‘The god-king Śakra or a Brahma-king looks just like you now, wearing a celestial crown, but their magnificence does not match yours. For example, the form of a Buddha is so sublime and extraordinary that voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas can never compare. As a Buddha is sublime, you in your way are magnificent.’
“Kāśyapa, the noble king next asked Kevala Buddha, ‘How long will it take me to attain Buddhahood?’ That Buddha replied, ‘Great King, attaining Buddhahood requires a vastly long time. Suppose you, Great King, abandon your merit, become an ordinary person, and use a hair to draw water from the immense ocean by the drop. When the ocean water is almost completely gone, and the remaining water is like [puddles in] cow tracks, in the world will appear a Tathāgata called Lamp Light, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. At that time there will be a king named Earth Sovereign, and Lamp Light Tathāgata will bestow upon him a prophecy that he will be a Buddha. Great King [Entire World Delighted to See], you will be that king’s first-born son, upon whom Lamp Light Buddha will also bestow a prophecy. He will say these words: “Great King [Earth Sovereign], your first-born son is born to you, as the water in the immense ocean, diminishing since the past, is near depletion. During this period, he has never been a lesser king, but has been the god-king Śakra, a Brahma-king, or a noble Wheel-Turning King ruling and transforming the world with the true Dharma. This first-born son of yours is boldly valiant and energetically diligent. Great King Earth Sovereign, bodhi is hard to attain. Because of these causes and conditions, I give you an analogy. Earth Sovereign, this first-born son of yours has 60,000 lady attendants. Like goddesses, they are shapely, beautiful, adorned with necklaces of jewels. He will abandon them all like spit. Knowing that desire is impermanent, precarious, and fickle, he will say, ‘I will renounce family life.’ Having said this, believing that family is not his way of life, he will renounce family life to learn the Way.” Therefore, Lamp Light Buddha will bestow a prophecy upon that youth: “In the future, there will be a Buddha called Śākyamuni. His world will be called Endurance. Young man, you will then be reborn in the Licchavi clan and become a youth called Entire World Delighted to See. After the parinirvāṇa of Śākyamuni Buddha, the true Dharma will be perishing. When eighty years still remain, you will be [reborn as] a bhikṣu who upholds this Buddha’s name and disseminates this sūtra, not caring even about his own life. After this bhikṣu dies at age one hundred, he will be reborn in the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss and will acquire great spiritual powers, standing on the Eighth Ground. He will manifest one body in Tuṣita Heaven, another body in the Pure Land of Peace and Bliss, and a third body to ask Ajita Buddha questions about this sūtra.” Then King Earth Sovereign, having heard the prophecy of his son, will be exultant and exuberant, saying, “Today the Tathāgata has prophesied that my son will be on the Eighth Ground.” That youth, having heard the prophecy, will make energetic progress.’”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Therefore, World-Honored One, drawing water by the drop with a hair can deplete the water in the immense ocean.”
The Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “What is meant by that?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, as an analogy, a merchant keeps his gold coins in a container. When his son cries, he gives him a coin. [He knows how] the money in the container decreases day by day. Likewise, Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas know how the water in the immense ocean decreases drop by drop, as well as how much still remains. Even more, the World-Honored One should know the ending of the infinite mass of sentient beings. However, sentient beings have no ending. All voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas are unable to know this. Only Buddha-Bhagavāns can know this.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Very good! Very good! As you say, the infinite mass of sentient beings has no ending.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Do sentient beings have an ending or not? Does parinirvāṇa mean the end or not?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Sentient beings have no ending.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do sentient beings not have an ending?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “The ending of sentient beings would mean decrease [in number]. Then this sūtra would be meaningless. Therefore, Kāśyapa, Buddha-Bhagavāns after parinirvāṇa are eternally abiding. Because of this meaning, Buddha-Bhagavāns, having entered parinirvāṇa, are never extinct.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do Buddha-Bhagavāns enter parinirvāṇa, but are not ultimately extinct?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Indeed! Indeed! When a house is destroyed, space is revealed. Indeed! Indeed! The nirvāṇa of Buddhas is liberation.”

Fascicle 2 (of 2)

Then the World-Honored One told Mahākāśyapa, “As an analogy, a king is active in giving alms, and many hidden treasures are uncovered in his kingdom. Why? Because the king widely gives various kinds of relief to unfortunate sentient beings, hidden treasure stores spontaneously turn up. Thus, Kāśyapa, Bodhisattvas who use skillful ways to pronounce the profound Dharma treasure widely will acquire this profound sūtra, which is in accord with [the Three Liberation Doors:] emptiness, no appearance, and no act, and is a sūtra apart from non-dharmas. They will acquire sūtras about the Tathāgata store as well.
“Kāśyapa, on Uttarakuru, the northern continent, food grows naturally, and it never diminishes as the multitudes continue to partake of it. Why? Because the people there, in their entire lives, never have thoughts of belongings, stinginess, or greed. Likewise, Kāśyapa, here on Jambudvīpa, the southern continent, if, among the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, there are those who, having acquired this profound sūtra, read and recite it, copy and uphold it, thoroughly penetrate it, and widely pronounce it to others, never maligning it or feeling bored or doubtful, they will always naturally receive, by virtue of Buddhas’ spiritual power, offerings to their satisfaction. Until their attainment of bodhi, the offerings will be without any shortage, continuing endlessly, except for those constrained by firm karmic requitals. During their entire lives, as long as bhikṣus observe their precepts without being lax, gods and spirits will serve them and make offerings to them. If they can refrain from thinking even one maligning thought of this profound sūtra, they will gain knowledge of the Tathāgata store and of the eternal abiding of Tathāgatas, and they will often see Buddhas, be close to them, and make offerings to them.
“As the seven treasures always follow the Wheel-Turning King wherever he goes, likewise this sūtra is always where its comforting presenter stays. The seven treasures stay only where the Wheel-Turning King stays, not elsewhere, while lesser treasures stay elsewhere. Likewise, where a comforting presenter stays, this sūtra will come to him from elsewhere, while sūtras in accord with the non-definitive meaning of emptiness will stay elsewhere. When the comforting presenter goes away from his place, this sūtra always accompanies him. Wherever the Wheel-Turning King goes, sentient beings that follow him each thought: ‘Where the king stays, I too should be there.’ Likewise, wherever the comforting presenter goes, this sūtra always follows him. When a Wheel-Turning King appears in the world, the seven treasures appear. Likewise, when a comforting presenter appears in the world, this sūtra appears. If one of the seven treasures owned by the Wheel-Turning King is lost and the king seeks it, he will definitely arrive in the place where that one treasure is. Likewise, if the comforting presenter, for the sake of hearing this sūtra, seeks everywhere, he will definitely arrive in the place where this sūtra is.
“Furthermore, when a Wheel-Turning King does not appear in the world, the lesser kings, acting like Wheel-Turning Kings, appear in the world along with other kings. However, nowhere does anyone expound this profound sūtra. There are those who pronounce kindred sūtras, primary or secondary. Sentient beings study and follow them. In the course of their study, when they hear of this ultimate profound sūtra about the Tathāgata store and the eternal abiding of the Tathāgata, they elicit doubts in their minds. They bear malice toward the comforting presenter, and dishonor and scorn him. Without any appreciation, they insult and criticize, making such statements as: ‘These words are spoken by māras.’ Judging this sūtra as destructive to the Dharma, they all reject it and return to their own places. Because they damage the Dharma, breach the precepts, and hold the wrong views, they will never acquire such a sūtra. Why not? Because this sūtra stays only with its comforting presenter.
“There will be many sentient beings that malign Mahāyāna sūtras they see or hear. Do not have fear. Why not? Because as the true Dharma declines during the times of the five turbidities, there will be sentient beings that malign the Mahāyāna. As in a village of seven families, there must be a dhāyini ghost, so too wherever this sūtra is, in a seven-member group, there must be a maligner.
“Kāśyapa, as those who observe the same precepts are delighted to see one another, likewise are those who violate the precepts. When, in the midst of the multitude, they hear this sūtra, they look at one another and scornfully say, ‘What is the realm of sentient beings? What is eternal?’ Viewing one another’s facial expressions, they think: ‘These are my companions.’ They empathize with one another, keep their ways, and go their ways. As an analogy, an elder in the Brahmin caste has a son who has learned evil ways. After being reproached and admonished by his parents, he neither regrets nor changes his ways. He abandons his family to follow his evil friends, entertaining themselves with bird fights and animal fights. He goes to other lands, banding with his kind and doing non-dharma things together. They are mates. Those who do not appreciate this sūtra do the same. When they see others recite or pronounce this sūtra, they laugh at them. Why? Because most sentient beings will be negligent and indolent. Lax in observing their precepts, they will cause difficulties in preserving the Dharma. Following one another, those mates viciously criticize.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Alas! Truly that will be an evil time!”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As for the comforting presenters [of this sūtra], what should they do? Kāśyapa, as an analogy, the roadside fields near a city are encroached upon by people, elephants, and horses. The landowner sends a man to guard the fields, but the guard is not vigilant in protecting them. He then increases the number of guards to two, three, four, five, ten, twelve, and even a hundred. The more guards sent, the more trespassers arrive. The last guard thinks: ‘Guarding the fields in this way does not really protect them all. There should be a skillful way to keep them from raids.’ He then takes the seedlings from the fields and personally hands them out as alms. The recipients are grateful, and the seedlings in the fields are saved. Kāśyapa, likewise those who have skillful means will be able to protect this sūtra after my parinirvāṇa.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I can never accommodate those evil ones. I would rather carry Mount Sumeru on my shoulders for 100,000 kalpas than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, destroying the Dharma, maligning the Dharma, or defiling the Dharma. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather be owned by someone as a slave than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, countering the Dharma, abandoning the Dharma, or damaging the Dharma. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather carry on my head the great earth, mountains, and oceans for 100,000 kalpas than tolerate those evil ones violating the precepts, destroying the Dharma, elevating themselves, or slandering others. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather be deaf, blind, or mute than tolerate those evil ones damaging and violating the pure precepts, or renouncing family life for benefits, such as others’ trust and offerings. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma. World-Honored One, I would rather quickly abandon my body and enter parinirvāṇa than tolerate those evil ones damaging and violating the pure precepts, committing insidious acts, fawning with their bodies, or telling lies with their mouths. Such evils are not the tones of the Dharma.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Your parinirvāṇa would be that of a voice-hearer, not the ultimate parinirvāṇa.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “If the parinirvāṇa of a voice-hearer or of a Pratyekabuddha is not the ultimate, why does the World-Honored One pronounce the Three Vehicles: the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Buddha Vehicle? Why does the World-Honored One, having entered parinirvāṇa, enter parinirvāṇa again?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “A voice-hearer enters parinirvāṇa as a voice-hearer, and this parinirvāṇa is not the ultimate. A Pratyekabuddha enters parinirvāṇa as a Pratyekabuddha, and this parinirvāṇa is not the ultimate. If one acquires the merit of all merit, the knowledge of all knowledge, and the Mahāyāna parinirvāṇa, then this is ultimate, or no different from the ultimate.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what does this mean?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “For example, cream is produced from milk; fresh butter is produced from cream; melted butter is produced from fresh butter; and ghee is produced from melted butter. Ordinary beings holding the wrong views are like an impure mixture of milk and blood. Those who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels are like pure milk. Those who act according to their faith and newly-resolved Bodhisattvas who stand on the Training Ground for Excellent Understanding are like cream. Voice-hearers in seven ranks who are still learning and Bodhisattvas from the First Ground to the Seventh Ground are like fresh butter. Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas, who can manifest their mind-created bodies, and Bodhisattvas on the Ninth and Tenth Grounds are like melted butter. Tathāgatas, also called Arhats, Samyak-Saṁbuddhas, are like ghee.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why does the Tathāgata say that there are the Three Vehicles?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As an analogy, a valiant, heroic guiding teacher takes his retinue and a huge multitude from their homes to another place. As they pass through wilderness and treacherous, perilous paths, he thinks: ‘This group is fatigued, and they might want to turn back.’ In order for them to take a rest, he conjures up a great city ahead of them. He points at it in the distance and says to the huge multitude, ‘There is a great city ahead, and we should quickly go there.’ Those in the multitude, seeing that they are approaching the city, say to one another, ‘This is where I can rest.’ They all enter into the city to rest and enjoy their stay, unwilling to proceed further. Then the guiding teacher thinks: ‘This huge multitude has gained this small pleasure and is satisfied with it. Weak and indolent, they have no intention of advancing further.’ Forthwith the guiding teacher dissolves the conjured city. When the huge multitude sees the city vanish, they ask their guiding teacher, ‘What was it? An illusion or a dream, or something real?’ Hearing this, the guiding teacher tells the huge multitude, ‘It was for your respite that I conjured up that great city. We now should go to the next city. We should quickly get there to have peace and joy.’ The huge multitude responded, ‘Affirmatively we accept your instruction. Why should we enjoy this sordid small place? Together we should go to the great city of peace and joy.’ The guiding teacher tells them, ‘Very good! We should proceed.’ As they advance together, he further tells the huge multitude, ‘This great city we go toward is appearing. You should observe that this great city ahead is prosperous and joyous.’ As they gradually go forward, they all see the great city. Thereupon the guiding teacher tells the huge multitude, ‘Kindly People, know that before you is the great city.’ Then all in the huge multitude, seeing the great city in the distance, peaceful, prosperous, and joyous, find delight in their minds. They look at one another with curiosity and ask, ‘Is this city real or just another illusion?’ The guiding teacher replies, ‘This city is real, with all its extraordinary peace, prosperity, and joy.’ He tells the multitude to enter this great city, for this is the foremost, ultimate great city. There is no other city beyond this one. After the huge multitude has entered into the city, with wonder and happiness they praise their guiding teacher, ‘Very good! Very good! The one with true great wisdom treats us in skillful ways with great compassion!’
“Kāśyapa, know that the conjured city is like the pure knowledge of the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, the wisdom-knowledge of emptiness, no appearance, and no act. The real great city is like the liberation of a Tathāgata. Therefore, the Tathāgata presents the Three Vehicles and reveals the two nirvāṇas. He then pronounces the One Vehicle.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “If there are those who say that this sūtra is nonexistent, they are not my disciples, nor am I their teacher.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, Mahāyāna sūtras mostly state the meaning of emptiness.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “All sūtras about emptiness have unrevealed aspects. Only this sūtra is the unsurpassed pronouncement, without any unrevealed aspect. For example, Kāśyapa, King Prasenajit always sponsors a great assembly of almsgiving in the eleventh month of the year. He first feeds the hungry ghosts, the forlorn ones, and the poor mendicants. He next gives to śramaṇas and Brahmins fine food in various flavors as they wish. In the same way Buddha-Bhagavāns expound various kinds of Dharmas in the sūtras according to sentient beings’ desires and preferences.
“There are sentient beings that breach their precepts, are negligent and indolent in training and learning, and reject the wondrous texts concerning the eternal abiding of the Tathāgata store. They prefer to study and learn various sūtras that teach emptiness, whether following the words and phrases, or adding or altering some words and phrases. Why? Because they say these words: ‘The Buddha’s sūtras all declare that a sentient being has no self.’ Nevertheless, they do not know the true meaning of emptiness and no self. Those without wisdom pursue extinction.
“Indeed, emptiness and no self are the Buddha’s words. Why? Because immeasurable afflictions, like stored dirt, have always been empty, in nirvāṇa. Indeed, nirvāṇa is the all-encompassing word. It is the word for the great parinirvāṇa attained by Buddhas, eternally in peace and bliss.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “How does one discard [the view of] cessation [and the view of] perpetuity?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Sentient beings each transmigrate through their cycle of birth and death without a commanding self. Therefore, I explain to them the meaning of no self. However, the great parinirvāṇa attained by Buddhas is eternal peace and bliss. This meaning shatters the two wrong views, cessation and perpetuity.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Please turn to no self, having talked about self for a while.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “I explain the meaning of no self to destroy the worldly view of self. If I did not say so, how could I induce people to accept the Dharma of the great teacher? When the Buddha pronounces no self, sentient beings become curious. To hear what they have never heard before, they come to the Buddha. Then I enable them to enter the Buddha Dharma through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions. Once they have entered the Buddha Dharma with growing faith, they diligently train and energetically progress in their learning of the Dharma of Emptiness. Then I pronounce to them the eternal peace and bliss, and the liberation that still manifests form. There are worldly doctrines asserting that existence is liberation. To destroy them, I pronounce that liberation leads to nonexistence. If I did not say so, how could I induce people to accept the Dharma of the great teacher? Through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions, I explain to them liberation, nirvāṇa, and no self. Then I see sentient beings mistake liberation for ultimate extinction. Those without wisdom pursue extinction. Then I pronounce, through hundreds of thousands of causes and conditions, that there still is form after achieving liberation.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, achieving liberation and command means that sentient beings must be eternal. By analogy, upon seeing smoke, one deduces that there must be fire. If there is a [true] self in one, then there can be liberation. Saying that there is a [true] self means that there is form after achieving liberation. This is not the worldly self-view, nor is it the statement of cessation or perpetuity.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, why does the Tathāgata, who never enters [extinction through] parinirvāṇa, manifest entering parinirvāṇa? Why does He who is never born manifest birth?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “It is for destroying the idea of perpetuity in sentient beings’ calculating minds. The Tathāgata never enters [extinction through] parinirvāṇa but manifests entering parinirvāṇa. He is never born but manifests birth. Why? Because sentient beings would say, ‘Even a Buddha has an ending in life and is not in command, not to mention any of us, who has a self and its belongings.’ As an analogy, a king is seized by a neighboring nation. In cangue and shackles, he thinks: ‘Am I now still the king, the lord? I now am neither the king nor the lord.’ Why does he have such tribulations? It is caused by his abandonment of self-restraint. Every sentient being that transmigrates through its cycle of birth and death has no commanding self. The lack of command is the meaning of no self that I have explained.
“As another analogy, a person is pursued by bandits who will harm him with knives. He thinks: ‘I now have no strength. How can I avoid death?’ With such concerns about the suffering of birth, aging, illness, and death, sentient beings wish to become the god-king Śakra or a Brahma-king. To destroy this kind of mentality, the Tathāgata manifests death. The Tathāgata is the god of gods. If His parinirvāṇa meant extinction, then the world should also go extinct. If it is not extinction, then it means eternal peace and bliss. To be in eternal peace and bliss, there must be a [true] self, as smoke implies fire. If there is no self and one claims to have a self, the world should be filled with selves. [The true] self does not invalidate no self. If there were no [true] self, a [nominal] self could not be established.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “What is existence?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Existence refers to the twenty-five forms of existence as sentient beings. Nonexistence refers to the state of any no-thinking thing, or any sentient being before its birth or after its death. If thinking beings could be destroyed, sentient beings would eventually be extinct. Because sentient beings [in true reality] have neither birth nor death, they neither increase nor decrease in number.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, if there is a [true] self in one, why is it covered up by one’s afflictions, which are like dirt?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Very good! Very good! You should ask the Tathāgata this question. As an analogy, a goldsmith perceives the purity of gold. He thinks about why such pure gold is mixed with dirt and seeks the origin of the dirt. Will he find its origin?”
Kāśyapa replied, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “If he spends his entire lifetime thinking about the initial cause of the dirt since time without a beginning, will he find the original state? He will acquire neither gold nor the origin of dirt. However, if he diligently uses skillful means to remove the dirt mixed with the gold, he will acquire the gold.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Thus [one’s true] self is covered up by one’s afflictions, like dirt. If a person who wants to see his [true] self thinks: ‘I should search for this self and the origin of afflictions,’ will that person find the origin?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “If one diligently uses skillful means to remove one’s afflictions, which are like dirt, one will realize one’s [true] self. If one, having heard this sūtra, with profound faith and delight, uses skillful means, neither leisurely nor rushed, to do good karmas with one’s body, voice, and mind, through these causes and conditions, one will realize one’s [true] self.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “If there is true self, why it is not seen?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “I will now give you an analogy. For example, a beginning student is learning the five letters [five sets of five consonants], which are used to compose stanzas of verses. If one wants to know the meanings [of the verses] before learning [the letters], can one know them? One should first learn [the letters], then one will know [the meanings]. Having learned [the letters], one needs to be taught by the teacher, who uses examples to indicate the meanings of verses composed of words. If one can listen to and accept the teacher, one will acquire understanding of the meanings of the verses, and believe and appreciate them. The [true] self is now covered up by the store of afflictions. If someone says, ‘Good man, the Tathāgata store is such and such,’ then the hearer immediately wants to see it. Is he able to see it?”
Kāśyapa replied, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “For example, the student who does not know the meanings of the verses should follow the teacher on faith. Kāśyapa, know that the Tathāgata is the speaker of truthful words. He truthfully describes the existence of sentient beings. You will know later, like that student who has learned [from his teacher]. I now explain to you the realm of sentient beings by four veiled analogies. These four are the eye blinded by a disease, the moon covered by heavy clouds, the water in a well to be dug, and the flame of a lamp inside a container. Know that these four analogies involve the causes and conditions for realizing one’s Buddha nature. All sentient beings have Buddha nature with immeasurable excellent appearance, majesty, and radiance. Because of Buddha nature, all sentient beings can attain parinirvāṇa. For example, the disease of the eye can be cured. Before one has encountered a good physician, one’s eye is sightless. Once a good physician appears, one will quickly perceive sights. Indeed, the immeasurable store of afflictions covers and obstructs one’s Tathāgata nature. Unless one encounters Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddha, one mistakes no self for self, and non-self for belongings of self. After encountering Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas, one then knows about one’s true self. As if cured of a disease, one’s eye opens and sees clearly. The eye disease refers to one’s afflictions, and the eye refers to one’s Tathāgata nature. When the moon is covered by clouds, it is neither bright nor clear. Likewise, when one’s Tathāgata nature is covered up by afflictions, it is neither bright nor clear. If one discards one’s cloud-like afflictions, one’s Tathāgata nature will be bright and clear, like the full moon. When one digs a well, dry dirt indicates that water is still far away. When one gets wet dirt, one knows that water is near. If one gets the water, then it is the ultimate [end]. If one encounters Buddhas, [holy] voice-hearers, or Pratyekabuddhas, and learns to do good karmas and to remove one’s afflictions, like dirt, one will realize one’s Tathāgata nature, which is like the water. This nature is also like the flame of a lamp inside a container. It is useless to sentient beings when its brilliance is hidden. If the container is removed, then the light of the lamp will shine everywhere. Likewise, one’s afflictions are the container that hides one’s Tathāgata store, which is useless to sentient beings when its appearance and majesty are neither bright nor clear. If one discards the store of afflictions, eradicating them all forever, then one’s Tathāgata nature will fully manifest its excellent appearance and radiance for Buddha work. It is like shattering the container so that sentient beings can enjoy the lamplight. Thus these four analogies illustrate the causes and conditions. As one’s [true] self encompasses the realm of sentient beings, the same is true for all sentient beings. The realm of sentient beings is boundless, radiant, and pure.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, if all sentient beings have the Tathāgata store in one nature and ride the One Vehicle, why does the Tathāgata say there are the Three Vehicles: the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Buddha Vehicle?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “I should now use an analogy. An elder of great wealth has an only son who, under the care of his wet nurse, was lost in the midst of a crowd. As the elder is near his time, he thinks: ‘It has been a long time since I lost my only son. I do not have other sons, nor parents or relatives. Once I die, all my assets will go to the king.’ As he is feeling concerned, the lost son, begging on his way, arrives at his original home. He does not recognize his father’s house. Why? Because the son has been lost since childhood. His father recognizes him but does not tell him so. Why? Because he is afraid that his son might run away. He gives him some things and says to him, ‘I have no offspring, and you can be my son. Do not go elsewhere.’ The son answers, ‘I cannot bear staying here. Why? Because my staying here would be as painful as if in shackles.’ The elder asks, ‘What would you like to do?’ The son answers, ‘I would rather remove filth, tend livestock, or work in the fields.’ The elder thinks: ‘This child has little fortune, but I should be patient. I will go along with his wish for now.’ Then he tells him to remove feces. A long time has passed, and the son has seen the elder gratify the five desires. Delight rising in his heart, he thinks: ‘I hope this great elder will, out of pity, accept me as his son and give me riches and treasures.’ With this idea in mind, he no longer works diligently. The elder, having seen the change, thinks: ‘Before long, he will definitely be my son.’ Then the elder finds him and asks, ‘Do you now have different ideas which cause you not to work hard?’ The son replies, ‘My heart wishes to be your son.’ The elder says, ‘Very good! I am your father, and you are my son. I am really your father though you did not know it. I now give you all that is in my treasure store.’ He then makes an announcement in the midst of a huge multitude: ‘This is my long-lost son. Unwittingly, he happened to return home. I asked him to be my son, and he refused. Today he willingly asks to be my son.’
“Kāśyapa, that elder tactfully entices his humble-minded son, first telling him to remove feces, next giving him wealth. Then he makes an announcement in the midst of a huge multitude, saying these words: ‘He is originally my son who, after having been lost for a long time, has come back by luck and has reckoned that he is my son.’ Likewise, Kāśyapa, to those who do not appreciate the One Vehicle, I pronounce the Three Vehicles. Why? Because this is the Tathāgata’s skillful approach. All voice-hearers are my sons, just like the feces remover who has come to know his identity only today.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Alas! Strange! How inferior is the Voice-Hearer Vehicle! [Its riders] are really the sons of the Buddha, but they do not recognize their father.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “You should learn [from that elder]. If you cannot bear to rebuke or reprove them, then you should refrain from doing so. When they come to maturity later, you will know it. Furthermore, Kāśyapa, the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and the Mahāyāna often counter each other, like the worldly versus that which is free from afflictions and their discharges, or folly versus wisdom. Moreover, Kāśyapa, you should accommodate those who malign this sūtra. Why? Because the maligners, after death, will fall into boundless darkness. Out of pity for them, you should devise some ways to bring them to maturity through the Dharma of the Mahāyāna. While those who are beyond cure will fall into hell, the faithful ones will believe. As for other sentient beings, you should use the Four Drawing-in Dharmas to help them achieve liberation.
“Moreover, Kāśyapa, if there is a man who has just developed fever, he should not immediately be given medicine or other treatments. Why? Because the time has not come. One should bide the right time to treat the patient. A physician who knows neither the right treatment nor its timing is a failure. Therefore, treatment should be given when the disease has come to a head. If it is not yet ready, one should wait for its time. Likewise, for sentient beings that malign this sūtra, when they come to maturity, they will reprove themselves in remorse, saying, ‘Alas! Agony! I now finally realize what I have done.’ At that time you should rescue them and draw them in by means of the Four Drawing-in Dharmas.”
“Moreover, Kāśyapa, suppose there is a man who, crossing an expanse of wilderness, hears the call of a flock of birds. Dreading that the bird call means there are bandits, he takes another path. He enters an empty marshland and arrives at where tigers and wolves lurk. He is eaten by a tiger. Kāśyapa, likewise, when bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās in future times hear the talk of self as well as the talk of no self, they fear the talk of self. They then enter the vast void, the view of cessation, to study and learn no self. They do not appreciate the profound sūtras that teach the Tathāgata store and the eternal abiding of Buddhas. Furthermore, Kāśyapa, you ask me what I have said to Ānanda: ‘With existence, there are pain and pleasure. Without existence, there is neither pain nor pleasure.’ Hearken now! Kāśyapa, the Tathāgata is neither existence nor a sentient being, nor does He perish.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Why not, World-Honored One?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As an analogy, under the snow mountain, there is a precious jewel radiating pure light. A person who is skilled in identifying precious jewels can recognize one on sight and seize it. It is like the process of refining gold. When the impurities and rubbish are eliminated, pure gold is revealed, which has never been tainted by the filth initially with it. Why? Because it is like the lamp carried by a person walking. Wherever he goes, darkness is dispelled by the bright light of the lamp. As refined pure gold is never tainted by filth, neither is the precious jewel. When moonlight and starlight shine on it, it rains down pure water. When sunlight shines on it, it blazes fire. Indeed, Kāśyapa, the Tathāgata, also called Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, who appears in the world, has forever left birth, aging, illness, and death, and has eradicated all afflictions and habits. He always radiates great light, like a luminous jewel, and He is never tainted, like a pure lotus flower never touched by dirt or water. Furthermore, Kāśyapa, the Tathāgata responsively appears in the world, manifesting an ordinary body with such and such an appearance at such and such a time. He is never tainted by the filth in the birthplace of ordinary beings, nor does He experience the pain or pleasure of the world. The pleasures of the five desires of gods and humans as requital for one’s merit in effect are pains. Only liberation is the ultimate eternal bliss.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “Very good! Very good! World-Honored One, I just realize that beginning today I have truly renounced family life, accepted the complete monastic precepts, become a bhikṣu, and attained Arhatship. I should recognize the kindness of the Tathāgata and requite His kindness because the Tathāgata once shared His seat with me. Moreover, today in the midst of His four large groups [of disciples], He poured the Dharma water of the Mahāyāna on the crown of my head.”
Among the multitude were those assuming the appearance and deportment of bhikṣus, those assuming the appearance and deportment of upāsakas, and those assuming the appearance and deportment of non-upāsakas. Leaning sideways, bending forward or back, they all were in disguise under the power of the māra. Then Ānanda asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, this huge multitude, having left the scum, are firm and true like the sandalwood grove. Why do those others stay in this multitude?”
The Buddha advised Ānanda, “Ask Mahākāśyapa.”
Ānanda said, “Yes, very good. I should ask him.”
He then asked Kāśyapa, “Why do they stay in this multitude?”
Kāśyapa replied, “Those fools are the retinue of the māra, and they have come along with him. That is why, Ānanda, I said earlier that, after the Tathāgata’s parinirvāṇa, I would be incapable of protecting the true Dharma by skillful means as if competently guarding the fields. That is why I said earlier, with other details, that I would rather carry the great earth. Thereupon the Tathāgata told me, ‘After my parinirvāṇa, you should be capable of protecting and upholding the true Dharma until its end.’ I then said to the Buddha, ‘I will be capable of protecting and upholding the true Dharma for forty years.’ And the Buddha rebuked me, ‘Why are you too lazy to protect the Dharma until its end?’”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Identify the māra [in the multitude]. If you can find him, you are capable of protecting the Dharma.”
Kāśyapa then searched with his God-eye, but was unable to see the māra. He was like that savage in the city kingdom of Śrāvastī who had lost his son. Searching through a huge multitude, the savage failed to find his son, and he returned tired. Likewise, Kāśyapa searched with his God-eye for the māra in the multitude but could not find him. Forthwith he said to the Buddha, “I am incapable of finding the evil māra.”
For the same reason, the 80 great voice-hearers all said that they were incapable. Kāśyapa also ordered the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, to find the evil māra. Except for a Bodhisattva called Entire World Delighted to See, all were unable to find him.
Then the World-Honored One told Kāśyapa, “You are incapable of protecting or upholding the Dharma for the last eighty years as the Dharma perishes. A Bodhisattva from the south will be able to protect and uphold it. You will at last find him among the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva.”
Kāśyapa replied, “Very good! I will look for him.”
Then he found the youth, called Entire World Delighted to See, who was of the Licchavi clan.
[He said] “World-Honored One, this Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See must be the one.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “You should go ask him to find the evil māra.”
Then Kāśyapa, together with the 80 great voice-hearers and the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, jointly said to the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See: “Young man, you are designated by the World-Honored One as the one who is capable of finding the evil māra.”
This youth in the huge multitude said to Kāśyapa, “I am capable of finding the evil māra. However, there are 80 great voice-hearers and 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, as well as holy Bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī, Avalokiteśvara, Great Might Arrived, Annihilating All Evil Life-Journey, and Maitreya. Why do they not look for him, and why do you make me look for him? It would be appropriate first to have them do it, and next to have me do it.”
Kāśyapa asked, “Is subjugating the evil māra not a merit?”
He replied, “Kāśyapa, since you know there is merit, you should do it yourself. I cannot do it for now.”
Then Kāśyapa reported the story to the Buddha. The Buddha asked Kāśyapa, “Why did this youth say these words?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “This youth said, ‘The great virtuous ones have precedence, and I am next in line. I am a worldly person, in a humble caste. These great virtuous ones, such as the 80 great voice-hearers and the 500 leading Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, should go first. I am next.’”
However, these voice-hearers as well as Worthy Protector and others all searched but could not find the māra. Like that savage who had been unable to find his son, they all admitted that they were incapable, and retired to one side.
Then the World-Honored One further told Kāśyapa, “You now have heard this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. For forty years after my parinirvāṇa, you should protect and uphold the true Dharma as you do today. You should beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. Then, during the next eighty years, as the true Dharma perishes, the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See will bind that evil māra and each of his retinue with five strings, like tying up a little rabbit. He will widely pronounce and recite the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. He will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “When will this happen?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “During the last eighty years of the true Dharma, as it perishes.”
Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “I would like to see the evil māra.”
The Buddha told the youth, “Quickly show the evil māra to the huge multitude.”
Then the youth, gazing reverently at the Buddha, said, “Look at this evil māra that has come from elsewhere and is seated among the multitude in the way Bodhisattvas assume the forms of bhikṣus.”
The huge multitude all saw him bound by five strings. The māra said, “Young man, I will no longer be a hindrance to this sūtra.” Three times he said it.
Then the World-Honored One told the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See as well as the multitude of Bodhisattvas: “Mahākāśyapa will be able to protect and uphold the true Dharma for forty years after my parinirvāṇa. Who among you all can be the final Dharma protector after I am gone?”
Three times the Buddha asked them, and no one was capable. The Buddha told the multitude, “Do not think less of yourselves. In this multitude I have many disciples who, after my parinirvāṇa, will be able to protect the true Dharma and pronounce this sūtra. The last one among the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, is the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See. After my parinirvāṇa, he will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner.”
Then the youth released the vile māra. Then the huge multitude said to the youth, “You have received a prophecy from the Buddha.”
The Buddha told Mahākāśyapa, “Kāśyapa, like a man guarding the fields without effective skills, you are incapable of protecting or upholding this sūtra. This youth has now heard this sūtra. He will excel in reading and reciting it, will step forward to protect and uphold it, and will expound it to others. He will always assume the form of an ordinary man though he stands on the Seventh Ground. When eighty years still remain for the true Dharma as it perishes, he will be reborn in the south into the Kāyale family, on the bank of the Skillful Means River, in the village of Mahāpari, in the kingdom of Maṇḍala. He will be the bhikṣu who upholds my name as if skillfully guarding and protecting the seedlings in the fields.
“In the midst of an arrogant, negligent, indolent multitude, he will renounce family life, the secular life. He will draw in that multitude by means of the Four Drawing-in Dharmas. After receiving this profound sūtra, he will read, recite, and penetrate it. He will purify the Saṅgha, enabling its members to abandon the impure ways they have accepted. First, he will pronounce to them Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. Second, he will pronounce to them Mahāyāna sūtras about emptiness. Third, he will pronounce to them the eternal abiding of the Tathāgata and the realm of sentient beings, according to the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. He will beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. In my presence, he will don the armor of great vows. He will pour down the Dharma rain in his entire 100-year lifespan. After living 100 years, he will manifest great spiritual powers and demonstrate parinirvāṇa. He will say these words: ‘Śākyamuni Buddha now has come here. All should regard Him reverently, pay respects, and make obeisance. Indeed, the Tathāgata is eternally abiding in peace and bliss. You kindly people should observe that true reality is eternal and blissful as I say.’ Thereupon Buddhas from worlds in the ten directions will all appear and say these words, ‘Indeed! Indeed! It is just as you say. All should believe in what you have said so well.’”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what merits should a Bodhisattva achieve in order to see the eternal, indestructible dharma body of the Tathāgata and, upon dying, to demonstrate great spiritual powers?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who have acquired eight merits can readily see the eternal, indestructible dharma body of the Tathāgata. What are these eight merits? First, pronounce this profound sūtra tirelessly. Second, pronounce the teachings of the Three Vehicles also tirelessly. Third, never abandon those who should be delivered. Fourth, bring harmony and unity to disrupted Saṅghas. Fifth, never be intimate with bhikṣuṇīs, women, or eunuchs. Sixth, stay far away from kings or those in power. Seventh, always delight in dhyāna and samādhi. Eighth, ponder and observe impurity and no self. These are the eight merits to acquire.
“There are four more things. What are these four? First, excel in upholding the Dharma. Second, always celebrate the good and joyful things one has done. Third, willingly take refuge [in the Three Jewels] and recognize it as a gain of great benefits. Fourth, resolutely have no doubts about the eternal abiding of the Tathāgata and, day and night, think of the merit of the Tathāgata.
“Through these causes and conditions, before one’s death, one will presently see one’s eternally abiding dharma body and manifest great spiritual powers. Kāśyapa, wherever such good men and good women stay in cities or villages, I will reveal the dharma body to them and say these words: ‘Good men and good women, the Tathāgata is eternally abiding.’ From today on, you should accept and uphold this sūtra, and read and recite it. You should explain it to others, saying these words: ‘Know that the Tathāgata always abides in peace and bliss. You should wish to see [your dharma body] with an upright mind, neither sycophantic nor deceitful.’ You should know that the World-Honored One is indeed eternally abiding. For the pure ones who wish to see me, I will manifest myself to them.
“Mahākāśyapa, you should believe and deliberate. If one does not train in accordance with the Dharma, how can one see me [one’s own dharma body]? How can one acquire transcendental powers and demonstrate them? As I have said to the voice-hearers, if a bhikṣu can discard even one [evil] dharma, I assure him that he will achieve a [voice-hearer] fruit, becoming an Anāgāmin. In the same way he will acquire merits. As I said earlier, a bhikṣu who observes his precepts will have gods following and serving him for life. Therefore, you all should never be greedy for benefits or worship. You should cultivate disgust as you meditate on your [physical] body. Furthermore, Kāśyapa, that bhikṣu, who will uphold my name, will bring purity to the Saṅgha.”
Kāśyapa asked the Buddha, “Why do you say that?”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “That bhikṣu will skillfully guard and protect the Four Drawing-in Dharmas, and will draw in the entire multitude of those who are greedy and corrupt, and those who violate the precepts. Each of the 500 Bodhisattvas, including Worthy Protector, initially considered himself incapable of being the final protector of the Dharma after my parinirvāṇa. They now are still incapable. When that bhikṣu, who will uphold my name, carries out the Drawing-in Dharmas, he will include the bhikṣus who are negligent and indolent and have them learn to make offerings. He will give sūtras to them, diminishing their afflictions and protecting their minds, like a ranger who tames cattle when they are ready. Those who do not reform after inclusion and training should be abandoned. Do not allow poisonous arrows to touch and harm good and pure people. He will have these thoughts: ‘Do not allow bhikṣus who are pure in their ways to breach their precepts because of the seamy ones. Nor should they pay respects to those who expound the non-Dharma and carry out the evil ways. Nor should they perform together with the seamy ones the Saṅgha duties, such as Dharma assembly, recitation of precepts, confession, and repentance.’ Just as a king subjugates his enemies, he will tame the bhikṣus by skillful means. Having tamed them, for 100 years he will always pour down the Dharma rain, beat the great Dharma drum, blow the great Dharma conch shell, convene the great Dharma assembly, and erect the great Dharma banner. He will demonstrate great spiritual powers and, at death, enter parinirvāṇa. After the appearance of 1,000 Buddhas and 100,000 Pratyekabuddhas, and the parinirvāṇa of 8 Tathāgatas in 62 kalpas, he will then attain Buddhahood. He will be called Knowledge Accumulation Radiance, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. That bhikṣu, who will uphold my name then ultimately attain Samyak-Saṁbodhi in this land, is now the Licchavi youth called Entire World Delighted to See.
“Kāśyapa, know that it is hard to attain the unsurpassed bodhi. Kāśyapa, is it something an ordinary being can attain?”
Kāśyapa replied to the Buddha, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “As a Buddha does His Buddha work in a one-Buddha world, so too do a second Buddha and a third Buddha [in their respective worlds]. Within a mustard seed, there is a multitude of worlds. Sentient beings are not aware that they move to and fro among worlds, and they do not know who is in command of their comings and goings or who places them somewhere. They cannot help doing things according to what they know. Some know there is [true] self while others do not. In this world, on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, there is Śākyamuni Buddha, and in the same place, there will be Ajita Buddha. Events may manifest in this world, whether the burning of a kalpa or the pronouncement of the Dharma by a Buddha. Such extraordinary manifestations are rare occurrences.
“What is the foremost extraordinary event? It is the youth Entire World Delighted to See, who has never been reborn into an ordinary family. The families into which he has been reborn are Bodhisattvas. Kāśyapa, know that his supporting family and attendants are all delighted. His loving kin all say these words: ’such [an extraordinary] person has been born into our family.’ These people are all sent by me. Kāśyapa, know that if my four groups of disciples who survive me become the retinue of that Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, they all will hear him pronounce this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum. They all will attain the unsurpassed bodhi.
“Kāśyapa, in a life far in the past, I was a Wheel-Turning King called Nandisena, in the city of Vaiśālī. At that time the city of Vaiśālī was like this Sahā World, Jambudvīpa, one of the four continents [of a small world] in this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. My lifespan was inconceivable. As the Wheel-Turning King, I gave generous alms and cultivated virtues in asaṁkhyeya ways. My observance of the precepts was pure, and I trained in good actions, accumulating immeasurable merit. However, if good men and good women, hearing of the Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum of the One Vehicle, go laughing to its presentation or remember it in one thought only, the merit they will acquire surpasses mine as described. It will be beyond reckoning by measurement or calculation, or by analogy. For example, when the mantra-king Blazing Flame recites a mantra, he will be well protected by its power for four months. Kāśyapa, know that the power of even a worldly ordinary mantra can be such. If one reads this Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum, it is impossible that its power will fail to protect one for life. Therefore, if there are sentient beings that can make offerings to this sūtra, they have the definite cause for attaining the unsurpassed bodhi. Until their attainment of the ultimate bodhi, they will not stop pronouncing this sūtra.”
Then the huge multitude chanted with one voice, “Very good! Very good! How amazing! World-Honored One, this youth will be [reborn as] the bhikṣu who will uphold the Buddha’s name. If this bhikṣu enters parinirvāṇa in the south, the spirits of Jetavana Park here will have nothing to rely on. Instead, have him come from the south to the place where the Buddha was, then enter parinirvāṇa.”
The Buddha told the huge multitude, “He will not take the initiative to come here. I will go to him, manifesting myself. I will first have this sūtra sent to him, and then go there. Why? Because if this sūtra is not in his hands, his mind will regress. If he knows sentient beings that should be tamed, I, together with a huge multitude, will stand before him. After he has seen me, he will come here. Having been received here, he will enter parinirvāṇa. He will enter parinirvāṇa in the place where he wishes to deliver sentient beings.”
A son of the god-king Śakra called Abhimaṁru had come to this assembly by means of his transcendental powers. Although he was young, he believed and delighted in the Mahāyāna with a truly pure mind. Unique and unmatched, he upheld among the gods this profound Mahāyāna sūtra. Because he explained to them the right cause of liberation, he received a prophecy from the Buddha.
Then the huge multitude, with one voice, spoke in verse:

Amazing!
The youth Entire World Delighted to See
Will be [reborn as] a bhikṣu,
To beat the great Dharma drum
And to protect the Buddha Dharma,
Enabling it to abide for a long time.

After his parinirvāṇa,
The world will be empty like space.
After his parinirvāṇa,
No one can take his place.

Such a bhikṣu,
Rare in the world,
Can pronounce to the world
The ultimate Way.

Kāśyapa, Ānanda, Worthy Protector Bodhisattva, and the innumerable multitude, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and reverently carried out the teachings.

Sūtra of the Great Dharma Drum
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T09n0270)

Notes

  1. Usually, in Buddhist doctrine, one’s karmic seed is the cause for one’s rebirth, and both parents are the conditions (Sūtra 18). In this passage, the Buddha is leading up to the exhaustion of karmic causes and conditions for one’s rebirth, as He states later that “those who do not have the seeds of sentient beings are not called parents.” (Return to text)
    2. The first of the five aggregates that make up a sentient being is form, and the other four are non-form (mental functions). As stated in the Heart Sūtra (Sūtras 15-17), form is emptiness. Hence sentient beings are not form. The sūtra then states that emptiness is form. Hence sentient beings are not non-form. It is also possible to interpret at the relative level that sentient beings are not just form because they have mental functions and that they are not just mental functions because they have form. (Return to text)

Mahāyāna Vaipulya Sūtra of Total Retention

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大乘方廣總持經
Mahāyāna Vaipulya Sūtra of Total Retention

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Sui Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master Vinītaruci from India

Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was staying on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, near the city of Rājagṛha, together with 62,000 great bhikṣus, 80 koṭi Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, and 60 koṭi 100,000upāsakas from the kingdom of Magadha.
The summer meditation retreat having ended, nearing the time of His parinirvāṇa, the World-Honored One entered the In-Accord-with-the-Dharma Samādhi. During His samādhi, thisThree-Thousand Large Thousandfold World was everywhere adorned with silky banners and canopies. Jeweled incense vases were well placed and fragrances were widely spread. Scattered all about were thousand-petaled lotus flowers. At that time, in this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, multitudes in the hundreds of thousands of koṭis, Brahma-kings, and their retinues in the hundreds of thousands of koṭis came to the Buddha. Upon arrival they bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha. With folded palms, facing the Buddha, they stepped back to stand on one side. Also to the Buddha came hundreds of thousands of koṭis of god-sons from pure abode heavens, god-kings Īśvara and Maheśvara, dragon-kings,yakṣa-kings, asura-kings, garuḍa-kings, kiṁnara-kings, mahoraga-kings, together with their respective retinues in the hundreds of thousands of koṭis. Upon arrival they bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha. Also to the Buddha, from worlds in the ten directions, came Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas of great awesome virtue, who were as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Upon arrival they bowed their heads down at the feet of the Buddha. With folded palms, facing the Buddha, they stepped back to stand on one side. Even the gods from the top heaven in this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World came to join the huge multitude, which filled the space with no room to spare. Also to the assembly came all those others with great awesome power, such as gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, and others.
The World-Honored One, prompted by the right thought, rose from His samādhi. He looked all over the huge multitude as He stretched His body and opened His mouth. Like a lion-king, three times He stretched. Then the World-Honored One extended from His mouth His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. After the Tathāgata had finished His display of spiritual power, He again looked at the massive crowd. Then all in the huge multitude rose from their seats. They made obeisance with joined palms and stood in silence. Then the Buddha told Maitreya Bodhisattva, “Ajita, before long the Tathāgata will enter parinirvāṇa. If you have doubts regarding the Dharma and would like to ask me, now is the right time, while I am still here. Do not allow yourself to have any distressing regrets after the Buddha is gone.”
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said to the Buddha, “Yes, World-Honored One, You best know the right time. The Buddha-Tathāgata has realized the ultimate of all dharmas. I pray only that You will pronounce it, enabling Your Dharma-eye to abide in the world for a long time.”
In the assembly, the god-king Maheśvara’s sons and 80 koṭi gods from pure abode heavens, together with their retinues, surrounded the Buddha and bowed their heads down at His feet. Joining their palms reverently, they said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, the Mahāyāna Vaipulya Total Retention Dharma Door has been taught in the past by innumerable Buddha-Tathāgatas, also called Arhats, Samyak-Saṁbuddhas. We pray only that the Tathāgata now will also expound it to bring benefits, comfort, and delight to innumerable gods and humans, and to enable the Buddha Dharma to abide in the world for a long time.”
The Buddha approved in silence. Knowing that the Buddha had granted their request, the god-king Maheśvara’s son was joyful and exuberant. Joining his palms, he made obeisance and stepped back to stand on one side. Then the Buddha told Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, “Ajita, this Mahāyāna Vaipulya Total Retention Dharma Door is not taught by me only. Innumerable Buddhas of the past, present, and future, in worlds in the ten directions, have frequently taught it. If there are sentient beings that malign the Dharma and the Saṅgha and say that the Buddha’s words are not spoken by the Buddha, these maligners will go down the evil life-paths to undergo suffering in hell.”
Then the Buddha told Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, “If, among good men and good women, there are those who have activated the bodhi mind and will accept and uphold, read and recite, and explain to others, this Mahāyāna Vaipulya Sūtra of Total Retention, know that these people will not go down the evil life-paths.”
Then the World-Honored One asked Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, “Ajita, from the night I attained Buddhahood to the time when I will enter the nirvāṇa without remnant, are there evil karmas arising from oversights in what has been done, spoken, thought of, and pondered by the Buddha’s body, voice, and mind?”
Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva replied, “No, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha said, “Maitreya, as you say, from the time of my attainment of bodhi to the time of my parinirvāṇa, what I have said in this interval is all true, never false. If there are fools who, failing to understand that the Tathāgata’s words are skillful tools, judge that ‘this Dharma is this way; this Dharma is not this way,’ they are maligning the true Dharma as well as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I say that they are headed for hell.
“Ajita, after my parinirvāṇa, if, in the world of the five turbidities, among bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, there are those who are not Bodhisattvas but claim to be Bodhisattvas, they are actually non-Buddhists. Because they in their past lives had made offerings to Buddhas and made their resolve, they have been able to enter the Buddha’s Order, renouncing family life. Wherever they have gone, they have sought fame, benefits, and worship from their kinfolk and friends. They have unscrupulously engaged in impure activities and abandoned their faith. They have not restrained themselves from evil acts. They have not subjugated their greed for benefits and worship. As for all Dharma Doors and what will produce enduring samādhi, they have stayed far away from them and have had no knowledge of them. For the sake of their kinfolk, they have falsely claimed their knowledge and understanding. Standing in flattery and deception, their mouths have spoken contradictory words and their bodies have performed contradictory acts.
“Ajita, in my Bodhi Way all sentient beings are equal and embraced in my great compassion. While using skillful means, I never lose right mindfulness. Abiding peacefully in His unequaled power, the Tathāgata expounds the Dharma, hindrance free. Suppose there are sentient beings that say these words: ‘Bodhisattvas should not hear, study, or accept the sūtras the Buddha has pronounced for voice-hearers. These are not the true Dharma, nor the right path. Nor should Bodhisattvas study the Pratyekabuddha Dharma.’ Suppose they also say, ‘Voice-hearers should not hear or accept the Dharmas that Bodhisattvas practice. Nor should voice-hearers hear or accept the Pratyekabuddha Dharma.’ Suppose they also say, ‘Whatever Bodhisattvas have to say, voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas should not hear or accept.’ Their contradictory words and actions are not in accord with the sūtras. They are unable to believe and accept either the true Dharma of Liberation or words that are in accord with true reality. The followers of their ways cannot even be reborn in heaven, much less achieve liberation.
“Ajita, according to their faith, I have expounded the Dharma to and tamed as many [sentient beings] as the sands of the Ganges. Ajita, even now I want to go to worlds in the ten directions to expound the Dharma suitably to sentient beings for their benefit. It is not for those who are not Bodhisattvas but disguised as Bodhisattvas. Nor is it for the evil, deceitful ones who, having heard little of the Dharma, double talk about my Dharma. Suppose the double talker says these words: ‘This, Bodhisattvas should learn. This, Bodhisattvas should not learn.’ Having maligned the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, the double talker after death will fall into hell and, for hundreds and thousands of kalpas, will not be able to leave there. Suppose he will later be reborn in a poor family and even receive the prophecy of attaining Buddhahood. Then he will eventually attain samyak-saṁbodhi in an evil world of the five turbidities, just like me who has realized Buddha bodhi in this world of the five turbidities. Therefore, you should hearken, believe, and know that such will be the consequences of following the way of evil friends.
“Ajita, as I remember, countless kalpas ago, in the world appeared a Buddha called Untainted Flame Worthy-of-Name King, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Knowledge and Action Perfected, Sugata, Understanding the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. During His life of 80,000 nayutayears, that Buddha expounded the Dharma to the multitudes. In the Dharma of Untainted Flame Worthy-of-Name King Tathāgata, there was a bhikṣu called Pure Life. As a great Dharma master, he retained fourteen koṭi sūtras and six million Mahāyāna sūtras. His words were pure and beautiful, his eloquence unhindered. He helped innumerable, countless sentient beings by giving them teachings, benefits, and delight. Untainted Flame Worthy-of-Name King Tathāgata, upon entering parinirvāṇa, told the bhikṣu Pure Life, ‘You should protect and uphold my true Dharma-eye in future times.’ Pure Life, having accepted that Buddha’s instruction, for thousands and tens of thousands of years after that Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, guarded and circulated the secret store of Buddhas. He accepted and upheld, and read and recited, [texts in] the Vaipulya Total Retention Dharma Door, and had profound understanding of their tenets. He also widely expounded them to all the sentient beings in 80,000 cities in that world according to their wishes and preferences.
“At that time there was a great city called Bhadra. Pure Life went to that city to expound the Dharma to 80 koṭi households according to their preferences. Consequently, 80 koṭi people in that city acquired pure faith, one koṭi people set themselves on the Bodhi Way, and 79 koṭi people accepted the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and were thus trained. Then the Dharma master Pure Life, followed by 10,000 bhikṣus, went to train in the Bodhi Way.
“At that time, in the city of Bhadra, there was a bhikṣu named Dharma. He accepted and upheld 1,000 Mahāyāna vaipulya sūtras and attained the four dhyānas. He was transforming the sentient beings in that city only by means of the Vaipulya Dharma of Emptiness. Unable to speak easily and skillfully, he said these words: ‘All dharmas are empty and silent. What I say is truly the words of the Buddha. What the bhikṣu Pure Life says is filthy and impure. This bhikṣu is leading an impure life but calls himself Pure Life. Why? Because this bhikṣu keeps the flowers he has received for his own enjoyment, not for making offerings. He does the same with the solid perfumes and powdered incense. This bhikṣu Pure Life, foolish and senseless, does not know that I have long trained in the Brahma way of life. He is young and has not renounced family life for too long. He is arrogant, faithless, and utterly undisciplined. Those who do not have this knowledge say that Pure Life is a bhikṣu who observes the precepts.’
“Then Dharma, who with a vicious mind had slandered the bhikṣu upholding the Dharma, after death fell into hell. For 70 kalpas, he underwent multitudinous suffering. Upon completion of the 70 kalpas, he was reborn in animal form. After 60 kalpas, he encountered Fragrant Jewel Light Buddha, under whom Dharma activated his bodhi mind. He continued to be reborn in animal form for 90,000 lives. After these 90,000 lives, he was reborn in human form. For 60,000 lives, he did not have a tongue and lived in poverty and sordidness.
“[By contrast] the bhikṣu Pure Life, having gained pure faith in the Dharma, continued to pronounce the Dharma. Subsequently, he encountered 63 nayuta Buddhas. As a Dharma master with the five transcendental powers, he always asked each Buddha to turn the wheel of the true Dharma .
“Ajita, tell me this. Was the bhikṣu Pure Life in the past a different person? Do not view him as someone different. He is none other than Amitābha Buddha today. Ajita, tell me this. Was the bhikṣu Dharma in the past a different person? Do not view him as someone different. He is none other than I today. Because I had slandered Him out of foolishness and senselessness, I underwent such suffering. Through these karmic causes and conditions, I have attained samyak-saṁbodhi in this world of the five turbidities. Therefore, Ajita, if there are Bodhisattvas who double talk about the Dharma, they will, for these causes and conditions, attain Buddha bodhi in a future world of the five turbidities. When they expound the Dharma, there will bemāras in their Buddha Lands, constantly causing hindrances and making trouble.”
When the huge assembly heard the Buddha’s words, they all wept in grief, tears flowing and noses running. They all said these words: “May we, unlike that bhikṣu, refrain from double talk about the Dharma!”
Then one hundred Bodhisattvas in the assembly rose from their seats, knelt on their right knees, and cried loudly, shedding tears of sorrow. The World-Honored One, knowing the reason, still asked these Bodhisattvas, “Good men, why do you all wail miserably like this?”
These Bodhisattvas replied with one voice to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, we see in ourselves such evil karma hindrances as well.”
In confirmation, the World-Honored One spoke these words: “Indeed! Indeed! In the past you renounced family life in the Dharma of Dīpaṅkara Buddha. After the parinirvāṇa of Dīpaṅkara Buddha, there was a bhikṣu called Knowledge Accumulation, and you all slandered this bhikṣu. For this reason, you have since been unable to see Buddhas, unable to activate the bodhi mind, and unable to acquire dhāraṇīs and samādhis. From now on, you all will stay on the Bodhi Way. Good men, under the last Buddha in this Worthy Kalpa, you will achieve the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas. Afterward, you will walk the Bodhisattva Way for over three asaṁkhyeya kalpas, and then you will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.
“Therefore, good men, when Bodhisattvas see other Bodhisattvas, they should not think of self versus others. Instead, they should think that others are like sacred pagodas, like Buddhas. Hence, when Bodhisattvas see other Bodhisattvas, they should not have discriminatory thoughts, considering others as non-Buddhas. Any discriminatory thoughts are self-harming. You should accept and uphold this [instruction]. Without alienating thoughts, you should join others in harmony. If I held the view that newly-resolved Bodhisattvas would be less than a Buddha, I would be deceiving innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of Buddhas of the present, [in worlds] in the ten directions. Therefore, good men, if Bodhisattvas can acquire dhāraṇīs and samādhis in the future, in a world of the five turbidities, it will all be by virtue of the awesome power of Buddhas. Hence, good men, slandering a Dharma master is no different from slandering a Buddha. Good men, after the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, if there is a Dharma master who can well expound the Dharma according to the preferences [of the listeners], and is able to have Bodhisattvas study the Mahāyāna doctrine, and to have the multitude feel as little joy as a hair and even shed one tear, know that it will all be by virtue of the spiritual power of the Buddha.
“Suppose a fool who is not a Bodhisattva but claims to be a Bodhisattva maligns a true Bodhisattva and his actions, even speaking these words: ‘What does he know? What does he understand?’ Maitreya, I remember in the past, in Jambudvīpa, when I was learning to be a Bodhisattva, I loved and treasured the Dharma. For the sake of a verse or a stanza, I abandoned my head, eyes, wife, and throne, which I cherished. Why? To seek the Dharma. As for the fools who seek only fame, benefits, and worship, confident in their own limited capacity, they do not go to one who imparts the Dharma of the Tathāgata, to hear and receive the true Dharma. Maitreya, if the slanderers and the slandered unite in harmony, they will be able to uphold and circulate my Dharma. If the two groups are in conflict and in dispute, the true Dharma will not prevail. Ajita, you can observe those who malign the Dharma. They have done such enormously sinful karma that they will go down the three evil life-paths, from which it is hard to escape.
“Furthermore, Ajita, in the time since I attained Buddhahood, with true wisdom I have widely expounded the true Dharma to sentient beings. Suppose there are fools who neither believe nor accept the Buddha’s words, just like that bhikṣu Dharma. Although he had read and recited 1,000 Mahāyāna sūtras, explained them to others, and attained the four dhyānas, because of his slander of another, he underwent dreadful suffering for 70 kalpas. It is even more severe for those who, foolish and sordid, without any real knowledge [of the Dharma], proclaim these words: ‘I am a Dharma master who clearly understands the Mahāyāna and can widely spread it.’ They slander the true Dharma master, saying that he has no understanding. For self-elevation, they also malign the Buddha Dharma. If those fools malign even a four-verse stanza in the Buddha’s Mahāyāna teachings, know that, for this karma, they will definitely fall into hell. Why? Because they malign the Buddha Dharma and Dharma masters. For these causes and conditions, they will always walk the evil life-paths, never to see Buddhas. Because they have maligned the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, they can also create obstacles for those who have recently activated the bodhi mind, causing them to abandon the right path. Know that those who adorn themselves with enormously sinful karmas will fall into hell to receive horrendous requitals for immeasurable kalpas. Fixing an evil eye on one who has activated the bodhi mind will result in the requital of no eyes. Slandering one who has activated the bodhi mind will result in the requital of no tongue. Ajita, I have never seen an evil dharma graver than the sin of sabotaging others’ activation of the bodhi mind. Even for this sin, one will go down the evil life-paths. Even graver is [the sin of] slandering Bodhisattvas.
“Bodhisattvas should explain the Dharma truthfully to sentient beings, without holding the wrong views, such as perpetuity or cessation, the definite existence or definite nonexistence of sentient beings, or the existence or nonexistence of dharmas. Ajita, those who are learning to be Bodhisattvas should abide in this way. Abiding in this way is a pure and good karma of Bodhisattvas. They do not cling to what they train in or learn. If sentient beings cling to anything, know that they will be reborn in the world of the five turbidities.
“Furthermore, there are Bodhisattvas who excel in pronouncing the Dharma in various ways to sentient beings according to their natures and desires. Ajita, Bodhisattvas who practice all six pāramitās in this way will be able to attain the unsurpassed bodhi. The fools who believe in what they fixate on may say these words: ‘Bodhisattvas should practice prajñā-pāramitā only. Do not learn other pāramitās because prajñā-pāramitā is the supreme one.’ This statement is incorrect. Why? Because, Ajita, in the past, when King Kāśaka was training to be a Bodhisattva, he abandoned his head, eyes, bone marrow, and brain, which he cherished. Did this king not have any wisdom?”
Maitreya replied to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, truly as Your Holiness has said, he had wisdom.”
The Buddha told Ajita, “I practiced all six pāramitās fully for an immeasurable amount of time. If I had not practiced all six pāramitās fully, I would not have attained the unsurpassed bodhi.”
“Indeed, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha told Ajita, “As you say, in the past I practiced dāna-pāramitā, śīla-pāramitā, kṣānti-pāramitā, vīrya-pāramitā, dhyāna-pāramitā, and prajñā-pāramitā, each for sixty kalpas. Those fools falsely claim that one can attain bodhi by practicing prajñā-pāramitā only. There is nothing right about their claim. Because they embrace the view of void, they expound the Dharma with such impurity. The body, voice, and mind of those speakers contradict the Dharma. As they explain to others their understanding of emptiness, their do not act according to their words. Without [corresponding] actions, they are far from the [true] meaning of emptiness. Even more than their kinfolk, they harbor jealousy and are attached to benefits and worship. Ajita, when I was a Wheel-Turning King, I abandoned jewels, my head, my eyes, my hands, and my feet, but still could not attain the unsurpassed bodhi. By contrast, fools, for the sake of food and drink, visit others’ homes to make their statement. They only praise the Dharma of Emptiness and claim that what they say is the Bodhi Way and the Bodhisattva action, and that only this Dharma is the true Dharma while all other Dharmas are not. They also say these words: ‘My understanding has been realized by and known to innumerable Dharma masters.’ For the sake of fame, they praise themselves, saying that they clearly understand hatred and jealousy. Ajita, I see those who set their minds on seeking benefits and worship for a livelihood. Even if they take good actions for one hundred kalpas, they will not develop even a little Endurance in Dharmas, much less attain the unsurpassed bodhi. Ajita, I do not pronounce bodhi to the deceitful ones, who have contradictory mind and mouth. Nor to those who are jealous; nor to those who are arrogant and disrespectful; nor to those who are faithless; nor to those who are untamed; nor to those who engage in sexual misconduct; nor to those who believe that they are right and others wrong. Ajita, those fools, out ofarrogance, claim that they have surpassed the Buddha. They malign Mahāyāna sūtras pronounced by the Buddha, alleging that these are actually pronounced by voice-hearers riding the Small Vehicle.”
Then the Buddha told the venerable Subhūti, “You should not pronounce prajñā-pāramitā to those who adhere to the view of dualism.”
Subhūti said to the Buddha, “No, indeed, World-Honored One, as the Buddha says.”
The Buddha said, “Indeed, Subhūti, giving alms without being attached [to the almsgiver, the recipient, or the alms given] is called bodhi.”
Subhūti said, “Indeed, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha said, “Subhūti, giving without praising oneself and criticizing others is called bodhi.”
Subhūti said, “Indeed, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha said, “Subhūti, when you see fools who, for the love of their kinfolk, greedy for a living, [wrongly] adhere to the view of self and its belongings, and enjoy accepting offerings from others without any sense of shame or dishonor, you know that they do only evil karma.
“Furthermore, Ajita, Bodhisattvas should have no fear of any dharmas, such as the dharmas of Pratyekabuddhas, voice-hearers, or ordinary beings; afflictions, ending of dharmas, or difficulty in making progress; right or wrong, act or no act, fear or fearlessness, existence or nonexistence, mind or no mind, enlightenment or no enlightenment, karma or no karma, good or bad, peace or no peace, liberation or no liberation, training or not training, dharma or non-dharma, serenity or turmoil, true or false, belief or disbelief, good thoughts or bad thoughts, abiding or not abiding. Thus Bodhisattvas do not have fear of any dharmas.
“Ajita, because I have trained in the past in such fearlessness, I have attained samyak-saṁbodhi. I can know the mental states of all sentient beings without the notion that I am the knower of what I know. I expound what I have realized according to the capacities of Bodhisattvas, enabling those who have heard the Dharma to acquire the Radiant Dhāraṇī Seal. Having acquired this Dharma Seal, they will never regress. If one does not truly know this dharma [of fearlessness] and speaks without eloquence, one will not ultimately attain the unsurpassed bodhi.
“Ajita, when I expound the Dharma to the sentient beings here in this small world comprising four large continents, by virtue of the spiritual power of the Buddha, each of them sees [me] Śākyamuni Tathāgata expound the Dharma only to him. In the same way, from one heaven to the next, up to Akaniṣṭha Heaven, each of the sentient beings there also says that the Tathāgata pronounces the Dharma only to him. It is like this, ranging from a small world comprising four continents to even a Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold world. All sentient beings think: ‘Śākyamuni Buddha has come to be born in my country, and He turns the great Dharma wheel only for me.’ Ajita, in the morning, using great skill, I observe everywhere sentient beings in immeasurable, boundless worlds and expound the Dharma to those that should be transformed. In the midday and in the evening, I observe sentient beings impartially with my Dharma-eye and expound the Dharma in their worlds. Such are the states of innumerable Buddhas! All sentient beings that are learning to be Bodhisattvas should train in this way. Those fools who malign the true Dharma pronounced by the Buddha adhere to their wrong understanding as the right understanding. Those who malign the Dharma do not believe in the Buddha. Because of this evil karma, they will fall into hell to undergo multitudinous suffering, never to hear the Dharma. Furthermore, Ajita, you should accept and uphold the secret teachings of the Tathāgata and widely pronounce them to others by skillful means.”
Then Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, including Mañjuśrī the Youth, Fortune Light Equality Bodhisattva, No Doubt Bodhisattva, Definite Resolve Bodhisattva, Wonder Mind Open Intellect Bodhisattva, Radiance Bodhisattva, Joyful King Bodhisattva, Fearless Bodhisattva, Thoughts Reaching Boundless Buddha Lands Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, Fragrant Elephant Bodhisattva, Annihilating All Evil Karma Bodhisattva, Abiding in Samādhi Bodhisattva, Hundred Thousand Merits Adorned Bodhisattva, Wonderful Tone Heard Afar Bodhisattva, All Knowledge Unforgotten Bodhisattva, Great Name Shaking Jeweled Banner Adorned Bodhisattva, Seeking All Dharma Bodhisattva, Abiding in the Buddha State Bodhisattva, Moonlight Adorned Bodhisattva, and Great Multitude in All the World Adorned Bodhisattva, said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, indeed, indeed, truly as Your Holiness says, when we passed Buddha Lands in the east, which were as numerous as the sands of sixty Ganges Rivers, and reverently made obeisance to the Buddhas there, we saw only Śākyamuni Buddha appearing in every world. We then visited everywhere [in worlds] in the ten directions for seven days and still saw only Śākyamuni Buddha appearing in each world, not other Buddhas. After visiting everywhere, we have returned to this land to hear and accept the true Dharma.”
At that time the Buddha told Mañjuśrī the Youth, “Now observe carefully. The wisdom of the Tathāgata is inconceivable, and the state of the Tathāgata is also inconceivable. Such unequaled states are the Tathāgata dharma. Those fools say these words, ‘Only prajñā-pāramitā is the Tathāgata action, the Bodhisattva action, and the sweet nectar action.’”
The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “Their words contradict the Dharma. Why? Because it is very difficult to fully complete the Bodhisattva action. Acting without attachment is the Bodhisattva action; acting without the view of a self and its belongings is the Bodhisattva action; acting with the understanding of emptiness is the Bodhisattva action, and acting with no appearance is the Bodhisattva action. Mañjuśrī, such actions are the Bodhisattva action. Those learning to be Bodhisattvas should accept and uphold it. If those fools embrace the wrong views, you should know that they do not understand my Dharma. Mañjuśrī, you and other Bodhisattvas should all guard and protect your bodies and mouths. Do not allow them to dissipate in bad ways. Fortify your minds and keep them from regressing. As you fully expound the Dharma to sentient beings, you should abide in the Dharma. Since I fully attained the unsurpassed bodhi distant asaṁkhyeya kalpas ago, I have widely and skillfully pronounced the Dharma, enabling sentient beings to stay far away from the evil life-journeys.
“Mañjuśrī, if there are fools who malign the true Dharma, they have maligned both the Buddha and the Saṅgha. Making a statement that this Dharma is correct and that Dharma is incorrect is called maligning the Dharma. Making a statement that this Dharma is pronounced for Bodhisattvas and that Dharma is pronounced for voice-hearers is called maligning the Dharma. Making a statement that these are Bodhisattva studies and those are not Bodhisattva studies is called maligning the Dharma. Making a statement that as the past Buddha is gone, the future Buddha has not yet arrived, and the present Buddha is not staying, only I have acquired the Dhāraṇī Dharma, is called maligning the Dharma. Because of maligning the Dharma, their claim to have acquired the dhāraṇī is an impure dharma. They malign what a true Dharma master is cultivating. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that although he has intellectual understanding, his actions are inconsistent with his words. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that his actions violate the Way. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that his body does not observe the precepts. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that his mind has no wisdom. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that his intellect has no clear understanding. They further slander the Dharma master, saying that his speech is devoid of eloquence. Their minds do not believe or accept the words spoken by the Tathāgata. They also say, ‘This sūtra is correct, this sūtra is incorrect; this stanza is correct, this stanza is incorrect; this Dharma is credible, this Dharma is not credible.’ They wrongly rebut what is explained correctly. For those who listen to the true Dharma, they create hindrances, making claims, such as ‘this is a training, this is not a training; this is an accomplishment, this is not an accomplishment; this is the right time, this is the wrong time.’ These statements are all called maligning the Dharma.
“Furthermore, Mañjuśrī, whether voice-hearers pronounce the Dharma, whether Bodhisattvas pronounce the Dharma, know that it is entirely by virtue of the awesome spiritual power of the Tathāgata’s protection and consideration, which enables Bodhisattvas and others to say what they say. Mañjuśrī, even now the fools slander the Buddha. After my parinirvāṇa, how can Dharma masters, who accept and uphold my Dharma, not be slandered by them? Why? Because these fools are the retinue of the māras, know that they will go down the evil life-paths. As these fools greedily seek benefits and worship to support their kinfolk, they not only have no faith in the Dharma of the Tathāgata, but also destroy the Dharma taught by the Tathāgata. Their kinfolk, with a clannish mind, go to the houses of Brahmins and elders to praise these fools, claiming that they know and understand the Dharma and its meanings and that they are good at explanations because they know others’ capacities and desires. These fools accept others’ trust and offerings without any sense of shame or dishonor. Because they malign the Dharma, both they and their retinues will fall into hell.
“Mañjuśrī, I do not pronounce the Bodhisattva action to nonbelievers. Nor do I pronounce the pure Dharma to those who are attached to family life. Nor do I pronounce the Dharma of Liberation to those who adhere to the view of dualism. Nor do I pronounce the supra-worldly Dharma to those who adhere to the view of monism. Nor do I pronounce the pure, true Dharma to those who delight in worldly life.
“Mañjuśrī, with a mind clinging to nothing, I teach to people as many Dharma Doors as the sands of the Ganges. Then with a mind seemingly attached to something, I also teach to sentient beings as many Dharma Doors as the sands of the Ganges. If sentient beings delight in emptiness, I pronounce to them the Dharma of Emptiness. If sentient beings delight in knowledge, I pronounce to them the Dharma of Knowledge. If sentient beings delight in no appearance, I pronounce to them the Dharma of No Appearance. If sentient beings delight in appearance, I pronounce to them the Dharma of Appearance. If sentient beings delight in lovingkindness, I pronounce to them the Dharma of Lovingkindness. If sentient beings delight in causality, I pronounce to them the Dharma of Causality. If sentient beings delight in no causality, I pronounce to them the Dharma of No Causality. [Other Dharmas I have pronounced include] the awe-inspiring deportment and the non-awe-inspiring deportment, emptiness and existence, that which is saṁskṛta and that which is asaṁskṛta, holy beings and ordinary beings, fools, form, ways to draw in sentient beings, the obstructive coverings, that which is bad, and that which is definite.”
The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “Dharmas such as these are the way of prajñā-pāramitā. The words of those fools, which malign the true Dharma of the Buddha, are not in accord with the pure, true teachings of the Tathāgata.”
Then Mañjuśrī asked Buddha, “World-Honored One, as You say, such fools, because they are close to evil friends, step forward to voice their slander. Then, World-Honored One, through what causes and conditions, can they avoid this fault?”
The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “For seven years in the distant past, day and night in the six periods, I repented of the grave sins I had committed with my body, voice, and mind. After being purified, it took me ten kalpas to acquire the Endurance in Dharmas. Mañjuśrī, know that this sūtra is the Bodhisattva Vehicle. It can enable those who have not realized [the truth] to come to realization. If those who, having heard the words of this sūtra, refuse to believe and accept them and even malign them, they will go down the evil life-paths. Bodhisattvas need to understand and accept my Dharma, before they can pronounce it to others. By accepting and upholding [the Dharma] in this way, one can stay far away from the evil life-journeys.”
The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “There are four equality dharmas Bodhisattvas should learn. What are these four? First, Bodhisattvas are impartial to all sentient beings. Second, they are impartial to all dharmas. Third, they are impartial to bodhi. Fourth, they pronounce various Dharmas impartially. These are the four equality dharmas. Bodhisattvas should know these four dharmas and explain them to sentient beings. The believers will stay far away from the evil life-journeys. The nonbelievers will go down the evil life-paths. If, among good men and good women, there are those who abide in these four dharmas, know that they will not have to take the evil life-journeys. There are another four dharmas [for Bodhisattvas to learn]. What are these four? First, their minds do not regress from helping sentient beings. Second, they neither disdain nor slander Dharma masters. Third, they do not slander the wise. Fourth, they always respect everything said by Tathāgatas. If good men and good women can competently train in and learn these four dharmas, they will never go down the evil life-paths.
“Furthermore, Mañjuśrī, Bodhisattvas can take the seven treasures which fill up as many Buddha Lands as the sands of the Ganges, and make offerings every day for as many kalpas as the sands of the Ganges to as many Buddha-Bhagavāns as the sands of the Ganges. If good men and good women can three times read and recite a verse or a stanza in such a wonderful Mahāyāna vaipulya sūtra, the merit they will acquire exceeds that from making those offerings. The merit acquired by those who recite and uphold this sūtra will be twice as much. Suppose there are those who practice almsgiving, observance of precepts, endurance, energetic progress, meditation, and wisdom. The merit they achieve from cultivating these six pāramitās also cannot compare [with that of upholding this sūtra]. Mañjuśrī, the name and meaning of such a sūtra are so vast that they are unequaled. You Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas should study and learn this sūtra, accept and uphold it, read and recite it, and explain it widely to sentient beings.”
Then those in the huge multitude and Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas from worlds in the ten directions all said to the Buddha: “World-Honored One, indeed, indeed, we will accept and uphold it as the Buddha instructs.”
When the Buddha was pronouncing this Dharma, Bodhisattvas, as numerous as the sands of 30 Ganges Rivers, achieved the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas. Bodhisattvas as numerous as the sands of 70 Ganges Rivers attained the spiritual level of no regress from the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind. Furthermore, the massive multitudes in 63 koṭi 100,000 nayuta Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds, having heard the Buddha’s words, heartily rejoiced. They would have to continue flowing in the stream of birth and death for 80 kalpas, and then they too would reach the spiritual level of no regress from the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind. At the end of another 63 kalpas, they would fully attain the unsurpassed bodhi.
All in the multitude—Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, and others—having heard the Buddha’s words, greatly rejoiced and made obeisance. Then they reverently carried out the teachings.

Mahāyāna Vaipulya Sūtra of Total Retention
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T09n0275)

Mahayana Nirvana Sutra – 20: ON HOLY ACTIONS (B)

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“O good man! How does the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, abiding in the teaching of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, meditate on the cause of suffering? O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva understands that the cause of suffering is grounded in the causal relations of the skandhas. We speak of the “cause of suffering”. This corresponds to “love of what exists.” There are two loves [desires, cravings]. One is the love that loves one’s own self; the other is the love that loves what is possessed. There are two further kinds. A person seeks, head and foot, to gain the objects of the five desires [objects of the five sense-organs, and wealth, lust, food, fame, and sleep] which he does not possess. Once he has gained them, he obstinately clings to them. Also, there are three kinds: 1) love of desire, 2) love of form, and 3) love of non-form [i.e. the realms of 1) the kamadhatu 2) the rupadhatu, and 3) the arupadhatu]. Additionally, there are three kinds, which are: 1) love of the causal relations of karma, 2) love of the causal relations of defilement, and 3) love of the causal relations of suffering. Bhiksus have four kinds of love. What are the four? These are: 1) clothing, 2) food, 3) bedding, 4) decoctions. Also, there are five kinds. A person greedily clings to the five skandhas and to all that he uses. There are innumerable and boundless varieties of discrimination and presumption. O good man! There are two kinds of love, which are: 1) love of good, and 2) love of non-good. The love of non-good is the love of the common mortal and the ignorant; the love of Wonderful Dharma is what the Bodhisattva seeks. The love of Wonderful Dharma is of two kinds: 1) non-good and 2) good. Those following the two vehicles are those of the non-good; those who pursue the Mahayana are those of the good. O good man! The love of common mortals is the “cause of suffering” [“samudaya”] and is not “truth” [“satya”]. The love of the Bodhisattva is called the truth of the cause of suffering, but not the cause of suffering. Why? Because he gains birth in order to save beings. He does not gain birth for the sake of love [i.e. out of selfish craving].”

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! The Buddha-World-Honoured One speaks in other sutras about karma and says that karma constitutes causal relations. For example, you speak about arrogance, or the six touches, or ignorance, and say that these have bearings on the burning urge of the five skandhas. Now, you speak of the Four Noble Truths. But why is it that only love [selfish craving] is the cause of the five skandhas?” The Buddha praised Kasyapa, saying: “Well said, well said, O good man! What you say cannot be classed as “non-cause”. Only, the five skandhas are always based on love [craving]. O good man! This is like the situation of a great king. When he goes on a tour of inspection, all his ministers and relatives follow him. The case of love is the same. Where craving goes, all the bonds of defilement also follow in its train. For example, it is like oily clothing, which picks up dust, and whatever comes into contact with it remains there. It is the same with craving. As craving increases, there come about karmic bonds [“bandhana” – the bonds of defilement]. Also, next, O good man! For example, it is as in the case of wet ground, where a bud can easily come out. The same with craving. It easily calls forth the bud of the defilement of karma.

“O good man! As the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, abiding in the teaching of this Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, meditates deeply on this craving, [he sees] there are nine kinds, which are: 1) craving like an unpaid debt, 2) like a female rakshasa [flesh-eating demon], 3) like a beautiful flower in which nests a viper, 4) hateful gluttony, which is harmful and which one, by force, means to have [insists on having], 5) like a lustful woman, 6) like the “maruka” [“mallika”] seed, 7) like the stubborn flesh of a boil, 8) like a storm, and 9) like a comet.

“Why do we say that craving is like an unpaid debt? O good man! For example, it is as in the case of a poor woman who has borrowed money from others and has to pay back the debt. She wishes to pay the money back, but cannot. She gets sent to prison and cannot get free. The same is the case with sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. As there is a remaining taint of craving, they cannot attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! This is why we say that it is like an outstanding debt.

“Why do we say that craving is like a rakshasa woman? O good man! As an example, there is a man who gains a rakshasa woman as his wife. The rakshasa woman gives birth to a child. But after it is born, she devours it. Having devoured it, she also devours her own husband. O good man! The rakshasa woman of craving is also like this. All beings gain good children. But as they are born, they get devoured. When the good child is eaten, craving eats beings and gives them life in the realms of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts. The Bodhisattva alone is an exception. That is why we say “as in the case of a rakshasa woman.”

“O good man! Why do we say that a viper lives in a beautiful flower? For example, a man, by nature, loves beautiful flowers. He does not notice a worrying viper anywhere about. He steps forth, catches hold of the flower, gets bitten by the viper and dies. The same is the case with all common mortals. They devour the flowers of the five desires. This craving, not seeing the viper within craving, takes hold of them. Bitten by the viper of craving, they die and get reborn in the unfortunate realms. It is otherwise with the Bodhisattva. That is why we say that it is as in the case of a beautiful flower in which a viper lives.

“O good man! Why do we say that, perforce, we partake of what is not helpful? For example, there is a man here who partakes of what is of no help. Having partaken, he gets a pain in his stomach, suffers from loose bowels [diarrhoea], and dies. The same with the food of craving. All the beings of the five reallms cling to gluttony. As a result, they get reborn in the three evil realms, except for the Bodhisattva. This is why we speak of “eating what is not helpful”.

“O good man! How is it that things go as with a lustful woman? For example, an ignorant person befriends a lustful woman, who skilfully feigns and flatters and shows familiarity, and takes away all that person’s money and wealth. When these have all gone, the woman abandons the man. So do things go with the lustful woman of craving. The dull and those who have no wisdom befriend such. This woman of craving deprives one of everything good. When the good comes to an end, craving drives one away into the three evil realms, excepting the Bodhisattva. This is why we say that things go as with a lustful woman.

“O good man! Why is craving like a maruka [wisteria] seed? For example, a bird may peck at it and it may fall to the ground, beside droppings, or it may be carried by the wind to beneath a tree, where it grows and winds itself around a niagrodha, so that the tree cannot grow and finally dies. The same with the maruka seed of craving. It winds itself around the good done by common mortals and finally causes it to die away. [The good] having died, it [the common mortal] ends up in the three unfortunate realms, except for the Bodhisattva. This is why we say that things obtain as in the case of the maruka.

“O good man! How is craving like the stubborn flesh of a boil? When a boil exists for a long time, stubborn flesh comes about. The person patiently tries to cure it and the thought of it never leaves his mind. If the person does allow it to leave his mind, the stubborn flesh increases and worms come about. As a result, the man dies. It is the same with the boils of common mortals and the ignorant. Craving grows into stubborn flesh. One has to make effort and cure this stubborn flesh of craving. If one does not, when one’s life ends, the three unfortunate realms await one. But the Bodhisattva is not amongst this number. That is why we say that it is like the stubborn flesh of a boil.

“O good man! How is it like a storm? For example, it is as when a storm shatters a mountain, flattens peaks, and uproots deep-rooted trees. The same with the storm of craving. One [might] gain an evil mind against one’s parents and uproot the root of Enlightenment as of the greatly learned Shariputra, which is unsurpassed and firm. Only the Bodhisattva is not of this number. That is why we say it is like a storm.

“O good man! Why is it like a comet? For example, when a comet appears, famine and illness increase and people become lean through illness and suffer from worries. The same with the comet of craving. It indeed cuts off all the seeds of good and makes common mortals suffer from loneliness, famine, and the illness of defilement, making them repeat birth and death and suffer from various sorrows. Only the Bodhisattva is not amongst their number. This is why we say that things proceed as in the case of a comet. O good man! There are nine kinds of meditation on the bond of craving by a Bodhisattva-mahasattva who abides in the teaching of Mahayana Mahaparinirvana.

“O good man! Thus, common mortals have suffering, and lack truth. Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas have suffering, the truth of suffering, but lack in truth. All Bodhisattvas see that suffering has no suffering. Hence, there is no suffering [for them]; what there is is “Paramartha-satya” [Ultimate Truth]. All common mortals have the cause of suffering and no truth. Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas have the cause of suffering and the truth of the cause of suffering. All Bodhisattvas see that the cause of suffering has no cause of suffering; and yet, there is “Paramartha-satya”. Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas have extinction, which is not truth. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva has extinction and “Paramartha-satya”. Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas have the Way, but not the truth. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva has the way and “Paramartha-satya”.

“O good man! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva abide in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and see extinction and the truth of extinction? He extirpates defilement [“asravas”]. If defilement is cut out, this is called the Eternal. When the flame of defilement is extinguished, what there is is silence and extinction. When defilement is annulled, bliss arises. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas seek causal relations. So we say “pure”. And again, there arise the 25 existences. Hence, we say “supramundane”. Being supramundane, we say “Self”. There is nothing more ever again of the external expressions of colour, voice, smell, taste, touch, etc.; or male, female, birth, life, death, suffering, bliss, non-suffering or non-bliss. Hence, the ultimate extinction is “Paramartha-satya”. O good man! The Bodhisattva thus abides in the Mahaparinirvana of Mahayana, and meditates on the Noble Truth of Extinction.

“O good man! How does a Bodhisattva-mahasattva abide in the Mahaparinirvana of Mahayana and meditate on the holy truth of the Way? O good man! It is as when, with light, we can see small things in the darkness. The same is the case with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. Abiding in the Mahaparinirvana of Mahayana and [following] the Noble Eightfold Path, he sees all things. This is seeing the Eternal versus the non-Eternal, the created versus the non-created, created beings versus non-created beings, thing versus non-thing, Suffering versus Bliss, Self versus non-Self, Pure versus non-Pure, defilement versus non-defilement, karma versus non-karma, true versus not-true, vehicle versus non-vehicle, to know versus not-to-know, dravya versus non-dravya, guna versus non-guna, drsti [views] versus adrsti, rupa [form] versus arupa [non-form], Way versus non-Way, and understanding versus non-understanding. O good man! The Bodhisattva, thus abiding in the Mahaparinirvana of Mahayana, meditates on the Noble Truth of the Way.”

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! If one says that the Noble Eightfold Path is the Noble Truth of the Way, this does not make sense. Why not? The Tathagata has spoken about faith, and called it the Way. Thus, all “asravas” were to be done away with. At times, you said that non-indolence was the way and that through this the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One attained unsurpassed Enlightenment, and that this was the teaching of the assisting way of a Bodhisattva. At one time you said to Ananda: “If one makes effort, one attains unsurpassed Enlightenment.” At another time, you said: “Meditate on the impurity of the body [“kayasmrtyupasthana”]. If one concentrates one’s mind and practises this meditation of the body, one will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment.” At another time, you said: “Right dhyana is the Way. It is as was said to Mahakasyapa. Right dhyana is truly the Way. Non-right dhyana is not the Way. When one enters dhyana, one meditates on the birth and death of the five skandhas. Without entering dhyana, one cannot meditate.” Or you spoke about a single Dharma and said that if one thoroughly practises the Way, this will purify one, will drive away apprehension and worry, and one will attain Wonderful Dharma; this is the Buddha Meditation Samadhi. Or you said: “Meditating on the impermanent is the Way. This is as I say to the bhiksus. One who meditates on impermanence will well attain unsurpassed Enlightenment.” Or you said: “If one sits alone in an empty, quiet forest abode and meditates, one will indeed attain unsurpassed Enlightenment.” Or, at another time, you said: “Speaking to others about the Way is the Way. Having heard Dharma, doubt disappears. If doubt disappears, one will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment.” Or, at another time, you said: “Upholding the precepts is the Way. This is as was told to Ananda. If one faithfully upholds the precepts, one crosses the sea of great suffering of birth and death.” Or, at another time, you said: “Coming into close proximity to a good friend [a knowledgeable, helpful follower of the Way] is the Way. This is as I said to Ananda. A person who associates with a good friend of the Way will be perfect in the pure precepts. Anyone who comes near to me will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment.” At another time, you said: “Practice is the Way. By practising compassion, one extirpates defilement and attains the immovable state.” At another time, you said: “Wisdom is the Way. This is as was said, in days gone by, by me the Buddha, to bhiksuni Prajapati. As in the case of the nuns and sravakas, the sword of Wisdom well extirpates all leakable defilement [“asravas”].” At another time, the Tathagata said: “Dana [giving] is the Way.” This is as the Buddha said in days past to Prasenajit: “O great King! In days gone by I performed dana. Because of this, I have now attained unsurpassed Enlightenment.” O World-Honoured One! If the Noble Eightfold Path is the Way, then what all such sutras say must be wrong. Is it not so? If all such sutras are not wrong, why do they not state that the Noble Eightfold Path is the Noble Truth of the Way? If it is the case that you did not say so, why do such misgivings arise? But I defintiely know that the All-Buddha-Tathagata is long since far removed from misgivings.”

Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Kasyapa and said: “Well said, well said, O good man! You now desire to dig into the secret of the all-wonderful sutras of Mahayana that are of the Bodhisattva. That is why you put this question. O good man! All that is said in those sutras is the truths of the Way. O good man! As I have already stated, if one believes in the Way, such a Way of faith is the root of faith. This assists the Way of Enlightenment. Therefore, there cannot be any misstatements. O good man! The Tathagata is versed in all sorts of expedients, and desires to save beings. That is why he thus speaks variously.

“O good man! A good doctor, for example, knows all the causes of the maladies of all beings, and according to the nature of the illness does he mix his medicines. But water is the only instance [thing] which is not prohibited. Or he might use ginger water, licorice water, water which is somewhat pungent, black rock-candy water, amalaka water, nepala [Himalayan] water, pathola water, cold water, or hot water, grape juice, or pomegranate juice. O good man! A good doctor who knows about the illness of his patients prescribes diverse medicines. There are many things which are prohibited. But water is not one of them. The same with the Tathagata. He knows well [various] expedients. Though Dharma is one, he, according to the differences in beings, dissects, enlgarges upon and displays various categories. Various beings learn the Dharma that is shown them. Having practised as shown, they extirpate defilements. It is as with the patients, who, following the words of the doctor, do away with [their] illnesses.

“Also, next, o good man! There is a man who understands many idioms [vernaculars]. He is in a crowd. The people, oppressed by heat and thirst, all cry out: “Give me water, give me water!” The man at once gets cold water and, in accordance with the taste of each person, gives it to them, saying: “Here is water!” “Here is paniya!” “Here is ujji!” “Here is shariran!” “Here is vari!” “Here is paya!” [names of the water of different localities]. “Here is amrta!” or “Here is cow’s milk!” Using all such innumerable names for water, he addresses the people. The situation is thus, O good man! The same with the Tathagata. He expounds the one Noble Path in various ways to sravakas. It [the Path] begins with the root of faith and goes up to the Noble Eightfold Path.

“Also, next, O good man! A goldsmith, for example, makes with one [and the same] gold various kinds of jewellery as he wills, such as: necklaces, bracelets, hair pins, heavenly crowns, and elbow bands. Though there are differences and though they are not the same, they are nothing other than gold. O good man! The same is the case with the Tathagata. The single Buddhist teaching is taught in various, diverse ways in accordance with the circumstances of beings. At times, one kind [of Dharma] is presented, and we say that the Ways of the Buddha are one, not two. Also, we speak of two kinds, which are “dhyana” [meditation] and “Wisdom”. It is also presented as three, namely: perception, Wisdom [“prajna”] and Knowledge [“jnana”]. Also, it is presented as four, namely: 1)”darshana-marga” [the Way of Seeing, using reason and intellectual insight to move from mere faith in the Four Noble Truths to a full understanding of them], 2)”bhavana-marga” [the Way of Meditation], 3)”asaiksa-marga” [the Way upon which there remains nothing more to be learned], and 4)” Buddha-marga” [Buddha Way]. Also, five kinds are presented, namely: 1) the Way of the practice of Faith, 2) the Way of Dharma Practice, 3) the Way of Faith-Emancipation, 4) the Way of Intellectual Attainment, 5) the Way of Bodily Attainment. Also, six kinds are presented, namely: 1)”srotapatti-margapannaka [way of the Stream-Enterer], 2)”sakrdagami-margapannaka” [way of the Once-Returner to Samsara] 3)”anagami-margapannaka” [way of the Never-Returner to Samsara], 4)”arhat-marga” [way of the “Worthy One” – a defilement-free, passion-conquering saint], 5)”pratyekabuddha-margapannaka” [way of the Solitary-Awakened One], 6)”Buddha-marga” [Buddha-Path]. Also, seven kinds are presented, which are Enlightenment by 1) mindfulness 2) selection of the Law, 3) effort, 4) joy, 5) exclusion, 6) meditation, 7) equanimity. Also, eight kinds are presented, which are: 1) Right Seeing, 2) Right Thinking, 3) Right Speaking, 4) Right Action, 5) Right Livelihood, 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, and 8) Right Meditation. Also, nine kinds are presented, namely: eight paths and faith. Also, ten kinds are presented, which relate to the ten powers. Also, eleven kinds are presented, namely: the ten powers and great compassion. Also, twelve kinds are presented, which are: the ten powers, great loving-kindness and great compassion. Also, thirteen kinds are presented, namely: the ten powers, great loving-kindness, great compassion, and the Buddha meditation samadhi. Also, there are sixteen kinds, namely: the ten powers and great loving-kindness, great compassion, the Buddha meditation samadhi, and the three right mindfulnesses attained by the Buddha. Also, twenty ways are indicated, namely: the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, great loving-kindness, great compassion, the Buddha meditation samadhi, and the three mindfulnesses. O good man! This Way is one in body. The Tathagata, in days past, expounded the Dharma in various ways for the sake of beings.”

“Also, next, O good man! It is, for example, just as several names are given to a single fire because of the nature of the things burnt, such as: wood-fire, grass fire, rice-bran fire, wheat-chaff fire, cow and horse-dung fire. It is the same with the Buddha’s teaching. It is one, not two. For the sake of beings, we speak in diverse ways.

“Also, next, O good man! One [basic] cognition, for example, is spoken of in six separate ways. [When something is] seen by the eye, we speak of “eye-consciousness”. This applies [to all the senses] down to “mind-consciousness”. O good man! The same is the case with the Way too. To teach beings, the Tathagata discriminates [differentiates, distinguishes different aspects] and speaks variously.

“Also, next, O good man! For example, a thing seen with the eye is called “colour”; what is heard with the ear is called “sound”; what the nose smells is called “smell”; what the tongue tastes is called “taste”, and what the body feels is called “touch”. O good man! The same is the case with what applies to the Way. It is one, not two. The Tathagata, in order to guide beings, presents things in various ways. That is why the Noble Eightfold Path is called the Noble Truth of the Way. O good man! The Four Noble Truths are presented by the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One in steps. As a result, innumerable beings cross the sea of birth and death.”

Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! Once the Buddha was on the banks of the Ganges, in the forest of Simsapavana. At that time, the Tathagata picked up a small tree-branch with some leaves [on it] and said to the bhiksus: “Are the leaves that I hold in my hand many, or are all the leaves of the grass [plants] and trees of all grounds [forests] many?” All the bhiksus said: “O World-Honoured One! The leaves of the grass and tress of all grounds are many and cannot be counted. What the Tathagata holds in his hand is small in number and not worth mentioning.” “O all you Bhiksus! The things that I have come to know are like the leaves of the grass and trees of the great earth; what I impart to all beings is like the leaves in my hand.” The World-Honoured One then said: “The innumerble things that are known by the Tathagata must be my own if they [i.e. those things] but enter into the Four Noble Truths [i.e. if they are comprised within the Four Noble Truths]. If not, there would have to be five Truths.” The Buddha praised Kasyapa: “Well said, well said, O good man! What you have now asked will greatly benefit innumerable beings and give peace. O good man! All such things are [contained] in the Four Noble Truths.”

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “If all such things are in the Four Truths, why do you say that they have not yet been spoken about?” The Buddhas said: “O good man! Though they are within [the Four Truths], we do not say that they have been spoken about. Why not? O good man! There are two kinds of wisdom relating to knowledge of the Noble Truths. One is of middle grade; and the other is of superior grade. What is of the middle grade of wisdom is that of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas; what is of the superior grade is that of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

“O good man! A person sees that all the skandhas are suffering. To know this is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerable ways of knowing all the skandhas. All are suffering. This is not what can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior knowing. O good man! All such things are not stated in the sutras.

“O good man! Cognition through the 12 spheres [“dvadasayatanani” – the 12 sense-fields] is the gate. This, too, is suffering. This we know. This is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerble ways of knowing cognition through the spheres. All are suffering. This is not what can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. I did not make statements on this in the sutras.

“O good man! All realms are parts. They are also nature and are suffering too. This we know. This is middle-grade wisdom. These have innumerable aspects when dissected [analysed]. All are suffering. This cannot be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. Nothing of this is stated in the sutras.

“O good man! To see [recognise] the destructible aspect of matter [“rupa”] is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerable aspects of destructibility, when we look into any [form of] matter. They are all suffering. This is not what is known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. O good man! All such things have not been stated in the sutras.

“O good man! “Feeling” [“vedana”] is an aspect of awakening. This is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerable aspects of awakening when we dissect feelings. This is not what can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. O good man! I have not spoken about all of this in the sutras.

“O good man! “Perception” [“samjna”] is an aspect of receiving. Thus do we understand it. This is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerable aspects of receiving in conception. This is not what is known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. Nothing of such is stated in the sutras.

“O good man! “Volition” [“samskara”] is an aspect of action. This is middle-grade wisdom. There are innumerable aspects of volition. This is not what can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. O good man! Nothing of such is stated in the sutras.

“O good man! “Consciousness” [“vijnana”] is a discriminative aspect. This is middle-grade wisdom. When we look into this consciousness, we see that there are innumerable aspects of knowing. This is not what can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. O good man! None of this is stated in the sutras.

“O good man! We know that the causal relations of craving [“trishna”] indeed call forth the five skandhas. This is middle-grade wisdom. How innumerably and boundlessly craving awakens in a single person cannot be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. What thoroughly knows all the aspects of craving of all beings is superior-grade Wisdom. I have not spoken about all of this in the sutras.

“O good man! To know that one extirpates defilement is middle-grade wisdom. We cannot fully discriminate and count the number of defilements. The same with extinction. One cannot fully count it. This is not within the reach of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. Nothing of this is stated in the sutras.

“O good man! This aspect of the Way thoroughly delivers one from defilement. This we should know. This is middle-grade wisdom. Discriminating the aspects of the Way is incalculable and boundless. And the defilements to be done away with are uncountably boundless. This goes beyond the range of knowing of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. I have not spoken of this in the sutras.

“O good man! One who knows the truth of secular life is one of middle-grade wisdom. Discriminating [discerning] the truth about secular life is uncountable and boundless. This stands beyond the compass of knowing of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. I have not spoken about such in the sutras.

“O good man! All things are impermanent; all compounded things have no Self. Nirvana is silence. This is “Paramartha-satya”. Thus should we know. This is middle-grade wisdom. “Paramartha-satya” is, we should know, infinite, boundless, and uncountable. It is beyond the compass of knowing by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. This is superior-grade Wisdom. I have not spoken of such in the sutras.”

Then, Bodhisattva Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! How might we understand the “Paramartha-satya” of so-called relative truth [“samvrti-satya”]? O World-Honoured One! Is there any secular truth in “Paramartha-satya” or not? If there is, what there is is one truth. If not, does this not mean that the Tathagata has made a false statement?” “O good man! Relative truth is “Paramartha-satya”. “O World-Honoured One! If that is so, there cannot be two truths.” The Buddha said: “O good man! What there is is the best expediency. Conforming to the way of life of beings, we say that there are two truths. O good man! If we follow the way of statements, there are two kinds. One is secular dharma, and the other is supramundane Dharma. O good man! What is known by those who have abandoned the world is “Paramartha-satya”; what worldly people know is secular dharma. O good man! The conjoined condition of the five skandhas is a certain person. What is said by common mortals and the world is secular dharma. In the skandhas there is no person or name to be designated; and other than the skandhas there can be no individual person. The world-fleeing person [“shramana”] knows the nature and characteristics [of things] just as they are. This is “Paramartha-satya”.

“Also, next O good man! A thing has at times a name and a true form; or, at other times, a thing has a name but no true form. O good man! Anything that has a name but [is not possessed of] true form is of secular [relative] truth. Having [both] name and true form is “Paramartha-satya”. O good man! I call such as the following secular truth: a being’s life, knowledge, growing up, manhood, the doer [of deeds], the recipient [of karmic consequences], a mirage in the hot season, a gandharvan castle, the hairs of a tortoise [i.e which do not exist], the horns of a hare [which again do not exist], a circle of flame, all such things as the five skandhas, the eighteen realms, and the twelve spheres. And suffering, the cause of suffering, extinction [of suffering], and the Way to extinction are “Paramartha-satya”. O good man! There are five kinds of secular dharma, which are: 1) the world of names, 2) the world of sentences, 3) the world of bonds, 4) the world of law 5) the world of clinging. O good man! What is the world of names? [Things] such as man, female, pot, clothing, vehicle and house are all of the world of names. A thing such as a gatha of four lines is of the world of sentences. What are the things of the world of bonds? Things such as joining, binding, restraining and folding of the hands are of the world of bonds. What is the world of law? Calling in bhiksus by hammering, warning soldiers by drumming, announcing time by sounding a horn are of the world of law. What is of the world of clinging? Seeing from afar a person who puts on coloured clothes, one imagines that this is a shramana and not a Brahmin; seeing a person with knotted cords, one thinks that this is a Brahmin, and not a shramana. This is what pertains to the world of clinging. O good man! Thus does it stand with the five kinds of things in the world. O good man! If beings’ minds, [when confronted with these] five worldly phenomena, do not get turned upside down, but recognise things just as they are, this is the truth of “Paramartha-satya”. Also, next, O good man! Things such as burning, dividing, death and destruction belong to secular truth. That which knows no burning, dividing, death or destruction is the truth of “Paramartha-satya”. Also, next, O good man! That which possesses the eight aspects of suffering is called secular truth. Where there is no birth, age, illness, death, the sorrow of parting from what one loves, the sorrow of encountering what one hates, not being able to possess what one desires, or the burning urge of the five skandhas, that is where the truth of “Paramartha-satya” lies. O good man! A person, for example, does many things. When running, he is [called] a runner; when harvesting, he is one who harvests, when cooking a meal, he is a cook; when working with wood, he is a carpenter; when at work on gold and silver, he is a goldsmith. Thus, a man has many names. The same is the case with Dharma. “Truth is one, but names are many.” When [a person] is said to have come about through the union of his parents, this expresses the truth of the secular world. When [he is] said to have come about through the truth of the twelve links of causation, this expresses the truth of “Paramartha-satya”.

Bodhisattva Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! What does the real truth mean?” The Buddha said: “O good man! By “real truth” is meant Wonderful Dharma. O good man! If a thing is not true, we do not say “real truth”. O good man! There is nothing inverted in the real truth. When there is nothing inverted, we speak of real truth. O good man! There is no falsehood in the real truth. If falsehood resides [there], we do not speak of real truth. O good man! The real truth is Mahayana. If not Mahayana, we do not say “real truth”. The real truth is what the Buddha says and is not what Mara says. If of Mara and not of the Buddha, we do not say “real truth”. O good man! The real truth is a pure, single path, and not two paths. O good man! “That which is Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Pure is the real truth.”

Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! If what is true is the real truth, Wonderful Dharma is the Tathagata, the Void and the Buddha-Nature. This means that there cannot be any difference between the Tathagata, the Void, and the Buddha-Nature.” The Buddha said to Manjushri: “There are suffering, truth, and the real; there are the cause of suffering, truth and the real; there are the Way, the truth and the real. O good man! The Tathagata is no suffering, no truth, but the real. O Manjushri! Suffering is an aspect of the non-eternal. It is an aspect of segregation [that which is subject to dissolution]. This is the real truth. The nature of the Tathagata is non-suffering, not the non-eternal, nor any aspect of segregation. That is why we say real. The same is the case with the Void and the Buddha-Nature. Also, next, O good man! So-called causation arises from the union of the five skandhas. Also, we call it suffering, or the non-eternal. This is a case that can be segregated. This is the real truth. O good man! The Tathagata is no cause of suffering, no cause of the skandhas, no aspect that can be segregated. So this is the real. So, too, with the Void and the Buddha-Nature. O good man! So-called extinction is the extinction of defilement. Also, it is the eternal and the non-eternal. What the two vehicles gain is the non-eternal. What all Buddhas attain is the Eternal. Also, it is the attainment of Dharma. This is the real truth. O good man! The nature of the Tathagata is non-extinction, which thoroughly extirpates defilement. It is not eternal and not non-eternal. It is no attaining of Dharma; it is that which is eternal and that which does not change. For this reason, it is the Real. The Void and the Buddha-Nature are also the same. O good man! The Way thoroughly cuts away defilement. It, too, is the eternal, the non-eternal, and the law that can be practised. This is the real truth. It is not the case that the Tathagata is the Way and he cuts away defilement. He is not eternal and not non-eternal. He is no law that can be practised. He is eternal and unchanging. Hence, he is the Truth. The same with the Void and the Buddha-Nature. O good man! “The Truth is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is the True; the True is the Void; the Void is the True; the True is the Buddha-Nature; the Buddha-Nature is the True.” O Manjushri! There is suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the opposite of suffering. The Tathagata is not suffering and no opposite. That is why he is the real and no truth. The same with the Void and the Buddha-Nature. Suffering is what is created, what leaks [i.e. what is characterised by the “asravas”], and what has no bliss. “The Tathagata is not what is created or what leaks; he is full and peaceful”. This is the real and not the true.”

Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! You the Buddha say: “What is not upside down is the real truth.” If that is so, could there be the four inversions in the four truths? If so, how can you say that what is not possessed of anything inverted is the real truth and that anything inverted is not the real?” The Buddha said to Manjushri: “Anything that is inverted is the truth of suffering. All beings have inversions [distortions of truth] in their minds. So they are upside down. The case is thus. O good man! Imagine, for example, a man who receives no injunctions from his parents or those above him. Even on receiving, he cannot follow and practise the Way. Such a person is called upside down. It is not the case that such inversion is not suffering; it is suffering itself.”

Manjushri said: “You the Buddha say that what is not false is the real truth. If so, what is false is not the real truth.” The Buddha said: “O good man! All falsehood falls into the category of the truth of suffering. Any being who cheats others falls into the realms of hell, animals, and hungry pretas. It is thus. Such dharmas are what is false. Such falsehood is nothing other than what is suffering. It is suffering. Sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One keep away from such and do not do such. Hence, false. As such falsehood is what all Buddhas and the two vehicles do away with, this is the real truth.”

Manjushri said: “You, the Buddha, say that Mahayana is the real truth. From this we can know that what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas say must be the non-real.” The Buddha siad: “O Manjushri! Those two are the real and the non-real. If sravakas and pratyekabuddhas cut away all defilement, they are the real. Things which are non-eternal and non-abiding are the things of change. So, they are the non-real.”

Manjushri said: “If what the Buddha says is, as he says, the real, we can know that what Mara says must be the non-real. O World-Honoured One! Do we take in what Mara says as the Noble Truths [is what Mara says part of the Noble Truths]?” The Buddha said: “What Mara says can be taken into [included in] the two Truths, which are those of suffering and the cause of suffering. They [the words of Mara] are all non-Dharma and non-precepts, and cannot benefit beings. [If Mara should] talk the whole day, there could be no seeing off of suffering and the cause of suffering, no attaining of extinction or the practising of the Way. They [the words of Mara] are false. What is false is what Mara says.”

Manjushri said: “The Buddha said that the single path is what is pure and that there cannot be two. All tirthikas also say that they have a single path and that there are not two. If the single path is the real truth, what difference is there here from what the tirthikas say? If there is no difference, there cannot be a single path that is pure.” The Buddha said: “O good man! The tirthikas all have the two truths of suffering and the cause of suffering. They do not have the truths of extinction and the Way. They think of extinction where there is no extinction; they think of the Way where there is no Way; they think of result where there is no result; they think of cause where there is no cause. Thus, they have no single path that is pure.”

Manjushri said: “You the Buddha say that there are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, and that these are the Real. If so, all tirthikas, too, must have real truths. This may not be in the Buddhist teaching. Why so? All tirthikas say too that all things are eternal. How are they eternal? Because all the results of thinking and not thinking remain. “Thinking” answers to [relates to] the ten good karma results, and “not thinking” to the ten karma results of non-good. If we say that all things are non-eternal, how can it be that, if the doer dies here, there can be a person who gains the karmic results on the other side? For this reason, we may well say that all created things are eternal. The circumstantial factors of killing are always eternal. O World-Honoured One! If we say that all things are non-eternal, the killer and what can be killed must both be non-eternal. If they are non-eternal, who receives retribution in hell? If there surely is retribution in hell, know that all things cannot be non-eternal. O World-Honoured One! To be mindful and exclusively to think are also eternal. We think up to ten years or up to 100 years, and yet we do not forget. Hence, eternal. If non-eternal, who remembers or thinks of what one has seen? Because of this, all things are not non-eternal. O World-Honoured One! All remembrances, too, are eternal. We see the hands, feet, face and nape of a person for the first time. Later, we see that person again and recognise him. If non-eternal, the original form would have to die out. O World-Honoured One! We study something for a long time, from the first year up to the third year, and to the fifth year, and we come to see things well. So, we have to say that things are eternal. O World-Honoured One! In arithmetic, we proceed from one to two, from two to three, and to 100, and to 1,000. If non-eternal, the one that a person has first learned would have to first die out. Once one has gone, how can a person proceed to two? Thus, one is always one; there cannot be any two. As one does not die out, it can be two, 100, or 1,000. Therefore, it is eternal. O World-Honoured One! In reciting, one recites one agama [scripture], and goes to two agamas, and three and four agamas. If non-eternal, recitation cannot proceed up to four agamas. By reason of the augmentation that applies to recitation, we can say eternal. O World-Honoured One! A pot, clothes and a vehicle are like debt. What the great earth displays – mountains, rivers, forests, trees, plants, leaves, and the curings of beings – is all eternal. The same is the case here. O World-Honoured One! All tirthikas say the same. All things are eternal. If eternal, these must be real truths.

“O World-Honoured One! All tirthikas say: “There is bliss. How so? Because one who has received has gained a return to his thinking.” O World-Honoured One! One who receives bliss unfailingly gains this, such as so-called Great Brahma, Mahesvara, Sakrodevanamindra, Vishnu, and all humans and devas. Because of this, there must surely be bliss. O World-Honoured One! All tirthikas say: “There is bliss. Beings indeed call forth the desire to have. Likewise, a person who is hungry seeks food; a person who is thirsty looks for something to drink; a person who feels cold seeks warmth; a person who feels hot seeks coolness; a person who is tired seeks rest; a person who is sick seeks a cure; a person who is sensual seeks lust. If there were no bliss, who would seek [thus]? From what is sought, we see that there is bliss.” O World-Honoured One! There are tirthikas who say: “Dana [generous giving] calls forth bliss. People like to give [the following] to shramanas, Brahmins, the poor and the unfortunate: clothes, drink, bedding, medicines, elephants, horses, vehicles, such incense as powdered or smearing incense, all kinds of flowers, houses, shelter for the night, and lamps. They give various things. This is done to gain recompense in kind regarding what a person desires to have in days to come. For this reason, there assuredly arises happiness. This we should know.” O World-Honoured One! Many tirthikas also say: “Through causal relations there surely is bliss. This we should know. As there are causal relations with a person who feels bliss, we say “touch of bliss”. If no bliss is felt, how can such be done. The hare has no horns, so there cannot be any causal relations [generating horns]. There is bliss, because there is a cause for it thus to arise.” O World-Honoured One! Many tirthikas say: “Know that there are the grades of top, middle, and low, by which one gets blessed. One who gets the lowest grade of bliss is Sakrodevanamindra; one who gets blessed with middle-grade blliss is Great Brahma; one who gets blessed with top-grade bliss is Mahesvara. That there are such grades of top, middle, and low tells us that there is bliss.”

“O World-Honoured One! Many tirthikas say: “There is purity. Why so? If there were no purity, no desire for it could come about. If the desire comes about, this indicates that there is purity.” They also say: “Gold, silver, rare gems, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, red pearl, carnelian, jade, horse-shoe shell, streams, springs, bathing pools, food, clothing, flowers, such incense as powdered incense or that for smearing, and the brightness of light are things which are pure. Also, next, there are pure things. The five skandhas are the utensils [vessels] of purity. They hold what is pure, such as humans, devas, rishis, arhats, pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, and all Buddhas. Because of this, we say that they are pure.”

“O World-Honoured One! The tirthikas also say: “There is the Self, which can well be seen, because it certainly makes things. For example, one enters the house of a potter. One does not see the potter. But when one sees the wheel and the rope, one knows that one is in the house of a potter. The case is the same with the Self, too. When one sees colour through the eyes, one knows that there surely is a Self. If there is no Self, how can a person see colour? The same with hearing sound and touching what can is tangible. Also, further, there is the Self. Why? From external expressions. What are these external expressions? They are gasping, winking, life, mental worry, and all kinds of sorrow and joy, greedy seeking, and angry faces, all of which are none but the expressions of the Self. From this, one can know that there surely is the Self. Also, next, we see that there is the Self because we experience taste. One eats fruit; one eats and registers the taste. For this reason, we should know that there surely is the Self. Also, next, we say that there is the Self because man does things. A person holds a sickle and mows; another takes a hatchet and cuts; another takes a pot and pours water into it; a person gets a vehicle and drives it. All such things are sought after and done untiringly. This indicates that there surely is the Self. Also, next, there is the Self. How do we know? When one is born, one desires to have milk, due to long habit. So, we may know that there surely is the Self. Also, next, there is the Self. How do we know? Because one mixes with others, gets harmonized [joins together], and gives benefit. For example, if pot, clothing, vehicle, field, house, mountain, forest, tree, elephant, horse, cow, sheep, and others get harmonized, there is surely profit. The same is the case with the five skandhas of these. When there is the harmony of the eye, etc., there is the beautiful. Hence, one should know that there surely is the Self. Because there is hindering [obstruction]. As there is a thing that hinders, there can be hindering. If there is nothing, there cannot be any hindering. From hindrance, we see that there surely is the Self. Because of this, we see that there surely is the Self. Also, next, we say that there is the Self. How do we know? By accompaniment and non-accompaniment Familiarity and non-familiarity are not accompaniments. Wonderful Dharma and wrong dharma are not accompaniments. Wisdom and non-Wisdom do not accompany. Shramana and non-shramana, Brahmin and non-Brahmin, son and non-son, end and non-end, night and non-night, Self and non-Self, and others are accompaniments and non-accompaniments. This tells us that there surely is the Self.” O World-Honoured One! All tirthikas speak variously of the Eternal, Bliss, Self and the Pure. O World-Honoured One! Because of this, all tirthikas also say that there is the truth of Self.”

The Buddha said: “O good man! If there are shramanas and Brahmins who say that there are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, they are no shramanas and Brahmins. Why not? Because they are lost in birth and death and are far away from the Great Guide. Because such shramanas and Brahmins are sunk in all the desires and despoil Wonderful Dharma. All these tirthikas are chained to the prison-house of greed, anger and ignorance, and assiduously love and take pleasure in these. All these tirthikas know that karma results are of their own making and that they have to reap them, and yet they cannot segregate themselves from them. What all these tirthikas practise is not Wonderful Dharma, not right living, and is not self-support. Why not? If not by the fire of Wisdom, one cannot put things out [extinguish what is bad]. All these tirthikas desire to be immersed in the best of the five desires, and yet they are unable to covet and practise Wonderful Dharma. Though all these tirthikas desire to attain true emancipation, they cannot, since they are lacking in the upholding of the precepts. All of these tirthikas desire to attain bliss, but they are unable to do so, since they fail to amass the causes of bliss. All these tirthikas hate suffering, but they are not away from the causal concatenations of suffering. All of these tirthikas are sought after by the four great vipers, yet they are indolent and do not know how to be mindful of what they do. All these tirthikas are the servants of ignorance, are distant from good friends, and are lost in pleasures amidst the great fire of the non-eternal, and yet they cannot get out of it. All these tirthikas suffer from tough diseases which are hard to cure. Yet they do not seek great Wisdom or a good doctor. All these tirthikas will have to take the lanes which are hard to pass along in days to come. Yet they also do not know how to adorn their bodies with good dharmas. All these tirthikas are poisoned by lust and suffering, and yet they uphold the frosty poison of the five desires. All these tirthikas burn with anger, and yet they associate with evil friends. All these tirthikas are overspread by ignorance and yet they pursue evil dharmas. All these tirthikas are lured by defilement, and yet they entertain familiar thoughts. All these tirthikas sow bitter seeds, and yet they seek to harvest sweet fruit. All these tirthikas have already shut themselves up in the dark room of defilement and have parted from the light of Great Wisdom. All these tirthikas suffer from the thirst of defilement, and yet they repeatedly drink the brackish water of all desires. All these tirthikas are floundering in the boundless waters of the great river of birth and death, and yet they are far away from the best master mariner. All these tirthikas are suffering from the inversions, and they say that all things are eternal. There can be no such saying as that all things are eternal.”

“O good man! I take [i.e. view] all things as non-eternal. How do I know? Because of their causal relations. If anything arises out of causality, I see it as non-eternal. With all these tirthikas, a thing is always what has come out of something else. O good man! Buddha-Nature is birthlessness and deathlessness; it is not going, not coming. It is not past, not future, and not present. It is not something that arises out of a cause; it is not the making of any cause. It is not something made; it is not a maker. It is not any outer form, nor is it not any form; it is not something with a name, nor is it something with no name; it is no name and no matter. It is not long, not short. It is not something that has come out [arisen] in the five skandhas, the 18 realms, and the 12 spheres. Hence, we say eternal. O good man! “The Buddha-Nature is the Tathagata; the Tathagata is Dharma, and Dharma is the Eternal.” O good man! Eternal is the Tathagata, the Tathagata is the Sangha, and the Sangha is Eternal. With tirthikas, there is nothing that does not arise from a cause. O good man! All these tirthikas do not see the Buddha-Nature, the Tathagata and Dharma. Thus what the tirthikas say is all false; there is no truth [in it].

“All common mortals first see all such things as pots, clothing, vehicles, houses, castles, rivers, forests, men, women, elephants, horses, cows and sheep, and they see that they resemble [seem to stay the same] and say that they are eternal. Know that they are not anything eternal. O good man! All that is made is not eternal. The Void is not anything made. So, it is eternal. The Buddha-Nature is not what is made. So, it is eternal. “The Void is the Buddha-Nature; the Buddha-Nature is the Tathagata; the Tathagata is not what has been made. What has not been made is Eternal. Dharma is Eternal; Dharma is the Sangha; the Sangha is not what has been made; what has not been made is Eternal.”

“O good man! There are two kinds of created thing, which are: 1) physical and 2) non-physical The non-physical is the mind [“chitta”] and the mental faculties [“caitta”]. The physical elements are earth, water, fire, and wind. O good man! The mind is non-eternal. Why so? Because its nature is driven by things external [to it] ever to answer and discriminate things. O good man! The nature of what the eye sees is different [various], and this applies all the way down to that of what the mind thinks, which is different. Hence, non-eternal. O good man! The field of cognition of matter [“rupa”] is different, and this applies to where the field of cognition of dharmas is different. Hence, non-eternal. O good man! The concomitant elements of visual consciousness are different, and this applies down to the concomitant elements of mental consciousness, which are different. Hence, non-eternal. O good man! If the mind were eternal, visual consciousness alone could call forth all elements O good man! If visual consciousness is different and if this applies down to mental consciousness which is different, we see that it is non-eternal. The aspects of the elements look alike, and these come about and die out moment after moment. So, common mortals look and conclude that they are eternal. As all causal relations work against and break up [do not endure unchanged], we say non-eternal. We gain visual consciousness by means of the eye, matter, light, and thinking. When gustatory consciousness arises, place and cause differ. This is not the causal relation of visual consciousness. Things are thus all the way down to consciousness of thinking, in which things differ. Also, next, O good man! Because the causal relations of all things dissolve, we say that the mind is non-eternal. The way to practise the non-eternal differs. If the mind were eternal, one would have to practise the non-eternal always. And one could not meditate on suffering, the Void, and selflessness. And how could one meditate on the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure? For this reason, the teachings of the tirthikas are unable to take in [embrace, include] the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Purity. O good man! You should know that the mind is definitely non-eternal. Also, next, O good man! As the nature of the mind is different, we say non-eternal. This is as in the case of the so-called nature of the sravaka’s mind, which is different; as in the case of the pratyekabuddha, which is different; and the mind of all Buddhas, which is different. There are three kinds of mind [attitude, mental stance] amongst the tirthikas, namely: 1) mind of renunciation, 2) mind of home life, and 3) mind that works against and departs from home life. There are differences of the concomitant mind, such as bliss, sorrow, non-sorrow and non-bliss, greed, anger, and ignorance. Also, there are different mental aspects with the tirthikas, which are those of the concomitant mind of ignorance, doubt, twisted views, mind of deportment regarding walking and stopping. O good man! If the [state of] mind were eternal, one could not discriminate all such colours as blue, yellow, red, white, and purple. O good man! If the mind were eternal, there could be no forgetting of anything committed to memory. O good man! If the mind were eternal, there could be no increase in reading and recitation. Also, next, O good man! If the mind were eternal, we could not say that one has done, is doing, or will be doing [something]. If there is what has been done, what is being done, or what will be done, know that this [mode of] mind is definitely non-eternal. O good man! If the mind were eternal, there could be no enmity, friendliness, or non-enmity and non-friendliness [i.e. because the state of the mind would never change]. If the mind were eternal, there could be no mind, no what-belongs-to-others, no death or birth. If the mind were eternal, no actions could accumulate. O good man! For these reasons, know that the nature of [any given state of] mind is different in each case. This difference tells us that what we have here is non-eternal.

“O good man! I have expounded the transitoriness of what is non-physical, and the meaning is now established. Also, for your sake, I shall explain the transience of physical existence. This physical [existence] does not have any eternal quality about it; basically, it has no life. Born, it must die. When a person’s body is still in the womb, in the kalala stage, there is nothing of the life entity [there]. Because it changes when born. Such things of the objective world as buds, stems and stumps also do not have any entity, since when born, each changes. Thus we know that all physical things are transitory. O good man! All a man’s sense-faculties change over time; his sense-faculties [“adhyatman-rupa”] are different at the time of kalala [foetal stage, 7 days after conception], arbuda [second week], ghana [4th stage], pesi [3rd week], pustule, at the time of birth, in childhood, in boyhood, and up to the time of old age. Thus does it stand with the “things of the objective world”. Differences are seen [become manifest] in such as: bud, stem, branch, leaf, flower, and fruit. Also, next, O good man! Mental taste also differs. Change occurs at the time of kalala up to the days of old age. The taste of objective things also differs. The taste differs at such times as: bud, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit. Strength differs at the time of kalala up to old age; form and appearance differ at the time of kalala and through to old age; the results of karma differ from the time of kalala to the time of old age; name differs from the time of kalala up to old age. Man’s so-called sense faculties break up, return, and conjoin [into their former state]. We know that this is impermanent. Such things of the objective world as trees break and join together. So, we view them as impermanent. A thing gradually comes about. So, we know it to be non-eternal. As it gradually emerges from the time of kalala through to the time of old age, bud, fruit and seed arise. So we see that a physical thing dies out. Thus, what we see is non-eternal. Differences are seen from the time of the death of the kalala [stage] up to the time of the death of old age, and at the time of death of the bud and up to the time of death of the fruit. Thus, we see that what there is is impermanence. Common mortals do not know this. As things carry on alike [seemingly the same], they conclude and say that what is there is eternal. For this reason, I say non-eternal. If there is the non-eternal, what there is is suffering. If there is suffering, this is nothing but what is impure. O good man! When Kasyapa once asked me about this, I already answered [his question] at that time.

“Also, next, O good man! All things have no Self. O good man! All things are physical and non-physical. The physical is non-Self. Why? Because it can be broken asunder and desroyed, beaten and split. Because there is birth, growing up and becoming big. The Self cannot have any breaking asunder, destruction, beating or splitting; it cannot grow up and become big. Because of this, we know that what is physical is also non-Self. Why? Because of the fact that it is something that has come about from causes and conditions. O good man! The tirthikas may say that there must be a Self because there is exclusiveness of thought. But exclusiveness is, truth to tell, not of the nature of the Self. We might well think that there is Self because we can think exclusively [all to ourselves]. But we [are prone] to forget what was in the past. This forgetting tells us that there surely is no Self [here]. O good man! The tirthikas may say that there is Self because man remembers. But the fact that man does not remember tells us that there surely is no Self. Seeing a man with six fingers, one asks: “Where might I have seen such as this before?” If there were a Self, how could one ask this? Such asking indicates that there surely is no Self. O good man! The tirthikas may say that there is Self because of hindrance [obstruction, boundaries]. O good man! There surely is no Self precisely because of hindrance. This is like saying that as Devadatta, to the end, does not say out, he is not Devadatta. The same is the case with Self. If there definitely is Self, there will be no hindrance to Self. As self is hindered, we surely can know that there is no Self. If it is the case that one knows there definitely is Self due to hindrance, this will lead us to conclude that there can be no Self, as you now do not hinder. O good man! If tirthikas say that they know there is Self by accompaniment and non-accompaniment, this indicates that there is no Self because there is no accompaniment. There is a case in which there is no accompaniment in the law [Dharma], as in the cases of the Tathagata, the Void, and the Buddha-Nature. The same with Self. Truth to say, there is none that accompanies. Hence we may know that there definitely is no Self. Also, next, O good man! If tirthikas say that they know there is Self because of the name, we should know that even in “selfless” there is the name [the word], as in the case of a poor man who may have a name which means ” rich”. We speak of “dead self”. If Self is dead, this is tantamount to saying that Self kills Self. But, truly, the Self cannot be killed. For the time being, we say “dead self”. This is as with a short man being called a tall man. From this we can definitely know that there is no Self. Also, next, O good man! All tirthikas may say that as one, after birth, seeks milk, there is the Self. O good man! If there were Self, no child would take hold of dung, fire, serpents or poison [i.e. because they would know these are unpleasant or dangerous]. From this, we can definitely know that there is no Self. Also, next, O good man! All beings, in the three phases, have equal shares of knowing, as: lust, food, drink, and fear. So, there is no Self. Also, next, O good man! The tirthikas say that from the countenance one can say that there is Self. But for this reason we could say that there is no Self. We say that there is no Self because there is no countenance. When asleep, one cannot walk, stand still, lie with one’s face down or up, see or wink, and cannot know suffering or bliss. So there can be no Self. If one knows that there is Self by reason of going and stopping, facing downwards or upwards, or sleeping or winking, any engine or wooden man must possess Self. O good man! The same is the case with the Tathagata. He does not go, stop, look up or down, see or wink. He has no suffering or bliss, no greed or anger, no ignorance and no action. The Tathagata thus has the Self. Also, next, the tirthikas may say that when one sees a person eating some fruit, one’s mouth waters and that, therefore, one has a Self. But by thinking back, too, one dribbles. But the saliva is not the Self. It is not joy, not sorrow, not weeping, not laughing, not falling down or standing up, not being hungry, not being full. From this, one may know that one definitely does not have the Self.”

“O good man! The tirthikas are ignorant and are like children. They do not have the expedients of Wisdom. They cannot truly see what is meant by eternal, non-eternal, suffering, bliss, pure, not-pure, Self, not-Self, life, non-life, being, non-being, real, non-real, what is or what is not. They partake of only a little of the Buddhist teaching. In a false way they say that there are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Purity. A person congenitally blind does not know what the colour of milk is like. He asks: “What is the colour of milk like?” Another says: “It is as white as the colour of a shell.” The blind man further asks: “Is the colour of milk like the sound of a horn?” “No” is the reply. “What colour is the colour of a shell like?” The answer comes back: “It is like the colour of rice powder.” The blind man asks: “Is the colour of milk as soft as rice powder? And what is the colour of rice powder like?” The answer comes: “It is like snow.” The blind man says: “Is rice powder as cold as snow? And what is it like?” The answer comes back: “It is like a crane.” Even though this congenitally blind man receives four similes in reply, he cannot arrive at the true colour of milk. It is the same with the tirthikas. To the end, they cannot arrive at what is meant by the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Purity. The same is the case [here]. O good man! For this reason, the real truth rests with the Buddhist teaching. Things do not stand thus with the tirthikas.”

Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O Rare World-Honoured One! The Tathagata, now facing Parinirvana, further turns the unsurpassed wheel of the Dharma. And thus he clearly presents “Paramartha-satya”. The Buddha said to Manjushri: “Why do you particularly gain the thought of Nirvana? O good man! You may presume and think that I am the Buddha and have achieved unsurpassed Enlightenment; that I am Dharma and that Dharma is what I possess; that I am the Way and the Way is what I possess; that I am the World-Honoured One and the World-Honoured One is what I am; that I am the sravaka and the sravaka is what I am; that I indeed teach others and make others give ear to me; that I truly turn the wheel of Dharma and others cannot. The Tathagata does not abide in such presumptions. Hence, the Tathagata does not turn the wheel of Dharma. O good man! There may be cases in which people make wrong assumptions and say: “The Self is the eye, and the eye is what the Self possesses. The same with ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The Self is matter, and matter is what the Self possesses. And this may extend down to dharma. The Self is the earth, and the earth is what the Self possesses. The same applies to water, fire and wind.”

“O good man! People may speculate and say: “The Self is faith and faith is what the Self possesses. The Self is multiple knowledge and multiple knowledge is what the Self possesses. The Self is danaparamita [perfected giving] and danaparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is shilaparamita [perfected moral precepts] and shilaparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is ksantiparamita [perfected patience] and ksantiparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is viryaparamita [perfected exertion] and viryaparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is dhyanaparamita [perfected meditation] and dhyanaparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is prajnaparamita [perfected Wisdom] and prajnaparamita is what the Self possesses. The Self is catvarismrty- upasthana [mindfulness] and catvarismrtyupasthana is what the Self possesses. The same with the four right efforts, the four at-willnesses, the five sense-organs, the five powers, the seven elements of Enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path.” O good man! The Tathagata does not, to the end, make such assumptions. Hence, the Tathagata does not turn the wheel of Dharma. O good man! If we say that he is eternal and unchanging, how could we say that the Buddha-Nature turns the wheel of Dharma? So you should not say: “The Tathagata now turns the wheel of Dharma.”

“O good man! There is the situation, for example, where we get visual consciousness through the harmonious combination of eye, colour, light, and thinking. O good man! The eye does not think: “I shall cause consciousness to arise.” Colour, down to thinking, do not ever say: “I shall cause visual consciousness to arise.” Neither does consciousness say: “I shall arise by myself.” O good man! Such a harmonization of the causal relations of the law [i.e. of dharmas] is drsti [seeing, view]. O good man! It is the same with the Tathagata. Through the harmonious combination of the causal relations of the six paramitas, we gain drsti. O good man! The same with the Tathagata. He reaches the bottom of all things by means of the six paramitas and the 37 elements assisting towards Enlightenment. Also, we call it the turning of the wheel of Dharma, as he, using throat, tongue, teeth, lips and mouth, and through speech and voice, speaks of Dharma to Kaundinya and others. That is why we do not say that the Tathagata turns the wheel of Dharma. O good man! What is not turned is Dharma. Dharma is the Tathagata. O good man! Through the use of flint, by means of striking, by means of using the hands, and through using autumnal, dried-up grass, we obtain fire. But the flint does not say: “I shall cause fire to come about.” The [act of] striking, the hand, and the dried-up grass also do not think: “I shall cause fire to arise.” Nor does the fire say: “I shall come about by myself.” It is the same with the Tathagata. Through the six paramitas, down to speaking to Kaundinya, there occurs the turning of the wheel of Dharma. But the Tathagata, too, does not think and say: “I turn the wheel of Dharma”. O good man! We speak of “non-coming-out” [non-arising, non-acting]. This is the right turning of the wheel of Dharma. This turning of the wheel is the Tathagata.

“O good man! An example: from cream, water, churning, a pot, and a person’s hand holding it, we obtain butter. The cream does not think to itself: “I will call forth butter.” Nor, even, does the person’s hand think to itself: “I will call forth butter.” And the butter, too, does not think to itself: “I wll come about by myself.” By means of the coming together of the various causal relations, butter comes into being. The same with the Tathagata. He does not think and say: “I turn the wheel of Dharma.” O good man! This non-coming-out [non-deliberation of one’s acts; spontaneity] is but the turning of the wheel of Wonderful Dharma. This turning of the wheel is at once the Tathagata.

“O good man! Through the combinations of such conditions as body, earth, water, fire, wind, and the fertility of the soil and the season, a bud comes out. O good man! The seed also does not say: “I shall call forth the bud.” Nor does the labour itself think and say: “I shall call forth the bud.” Nor does the bud say: “I shall come about.” It is the same with the Tathagata. To the end, he does not think and say: “I do turn the wheel of Dharma.” This turning of the wheel of Dharma [“Dharmacakra-pravartana”] is the Tathagata.

“O good man! As an example: through the conjoining of a drum, emptiness, leather, man, and drum-stick, we get the sound of the drum. The drum does not think and say: “I call forth sound.” The same with the drum-stick. Nor does the sound say: “I shall come out”. O good man! It is the same with the Tathagata. He does not, to the end, think and say: “I turn the wheel of Dharma.” O good man! Turning the wheel of Dharma means “not-doing”. Non-doing is turning the wheel of Dharma. Turning the wheel of Dharma is the Tathagata.

“O good man! Turning the wheel of Dharma is what takes place in the world of the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One. It is not something that can be known by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. O good man! Space is no being-born, not coming-out, non-doing, not construing, or not what is created. It is the same with the Tathagata. He is no being-born, no coming-out [arising], no construing, and not what has been created. Like unto the nature of the Tathagata is the Buddha-Nature. It is not a being-born, not an arising, not a making, not a construing, and is not what is created.

“O good man! In what the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One says, there are two kinds [categories]. One is of the mundane, and the other is of the supramundane world. O good man! For the sake of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, the Tathagata speaks about what is mundane. For the sake of Bodhisattvas, he speaks about what is supramundane. O good man! In this great congregation, there are, again, two kinds. One is the [type of] person who seeks the smaller vehicle, and the other is he who seeks the larger vehicle. In days gone by, at Varanasi, I turned the wheel of Dharma to all sravakas, and first at Kusinagara I turn the larger wheel for Bodhisattvas. Also, next, O good man! There are again two kinds of people, who are of: 1) middle grade and 2) higher grade. For those of the middle grade, I turned the wheel of Dharma at Varanasi. And for those of the higher grade, for the elephant king, Bodhisattva Kasyapa, and others, I now, here, at Kusinagara, turn the larger vehicle [wheel] of Dharma. For those of the very lowest grade, the Tathagata, to the end, does not turn the wheel of Dharma. The lowest is the icchantika. Also, next, O good man! There are two kinds of person who seek the Buddhist teaching. One is he who makes middling effort, and the other is the person who makes higher effort. At Varanasi, I turned the wheel of Dharma for the sake of those of the middle grade, and here at this castle I turn the larger wheel of Dharma for those of the higher grade. Also, next, O good man! In days gone by, at Varanasi, when I first turned the wheel of Dharma, 8,000 devas attained the level of shrotapanna; and here at this castle, 800,000 people will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment and will not retrogress. Also, next, O good man! At Varanasi, Great Brahma fell to his knees and begged me to turn the wheel of Dharma. Now, here at this castle, Bodhisattva Kasyapa falls to his knees, begging me to turn the wheel of Dharma. Also, next, O good man! “When, in days gone by, I turned the wheel of Dharma, I spoke of the non-eternal, suffering, Void, and selflessness. Now, here in this castle, I turn the wheel of Dharma. I speak of the Eternal, Bliss, Self and Purity as true as can be.” Also, next, O good man! When I turned the wheel of Dharma in the past at Varanasi, my voice reached Brahma. When, now, the Tathagata turns the wheel of Dharma here at Kusinagara, my voice reaches and fills all the Buddha-lands to the east, whose number is as great as the sands of 20 Ganges. The same applies to the lands in the south, west and north.

“Also, next, O good man! The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One speaks of the Dharma. In all cases, we say that he turns the wheel of Dharma. O good man! It is just as the chakravartin’s chakraratna [Jewel Wheel] thoroughly subdues those not yet come under his banner and gives peace to those already subdued. O good man! So does it stand with the delivering of sermons by the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One. The countless defilements not yet subdued will be conquered, and the root of good will shoot forth amongst those [people] already conquered. For example, O good man! It is just as the chakravartin’s chakraratna truly makes away with all enemy robbers. The same with the sermons of the Tathagata. They thoroughly subdue all the hostile defilements, and peace reigns. Also, next, O good man! It is similar to the chakravartin’s chakraratna, which rotates up and down. It is the same with the Tathagata’s sermons. They indeed make the people of the lower world come up and gain rebirth in the worlds of humans, gods, or up to the Buddha world. O good man! That is why you should not utter praise, saying: “The Tathagata now, here, further turns the wheel of Dharma.”

Then Manjushri said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! It is not that I did not know this. It was merely for the benefit of beings that I put this question. O World-Honoured One! I have long known this. Turning the wheel of Dharma is truly what obtains in the world of the All-Buddha-Tathagata, and this is something that cannot be attained by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas.”

Then the World-Honoured One said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa: “O good man! This is why we say that a Bodhisattva abides in the teaching of the Great Nirvana Sutra of Mahayana and performs holy actions.” Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! Why do we say “holy action?” “O good man! “Holy” refers to the All-Buddha-Tathagata. Hence, we say “holy action.” “O World-Honoured One! If this refers to the works of all Buddhas, it cannot come within the reach of practice of sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas.” “O good man! The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One abides in Mahaparinirvana and thus opens out, discriminates and explains the meaning. For this reason, we say “holy action”. The sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas, as soon as they hear [the Buddha’s words], practise well. Hence, “holy action”. O good man! As soon as this Bodhisattva-mahasattva has done this work, he attains the stage of fearlessness. O good man! If a Bodhisattva attains the stage of fearlessness, he then has no fear of greed, anger, ignorance, birth, age, illness and death. Also, he does not fear the unfortunate realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. O good man! Of evil, there are two kinds. One is of the asura, and the other is of man. Of man, there are three kinds, which are: 1) icchantika, 2) slandering of the vaipulya sutras, and 3) the four grave offences [for a monk: killing; stealing; sexual misconduct; and lying]. O good man! All Bodhisattvas of this stage do not have fear of falling into evil. Also, they are not afraid of sramanas, Brahmins, tirthikas, the evil-minded, and Marapapiyan; also, they are not afraid of being born into the 25 existences. That is why this stage is called that of fearlessness.”

“O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva abides in the soil of fearlessness. He gains the 25 samadhis and breaks [destroys, liberates himself from, does away with] the 25 existences. O good man! When he attains the non-defilement samadhi, he does away with existence in hell. On gaining the non-retrogressive samadhi, he does away with existence as an animal. Gaining the blissful-mind samadhi, he does away with existence as a hungry ghost. Gaining the all-joy samadhi, he crushes out existence as an asura. Gaining the sunlight samadhi, he destroys existence in Aparagodaniya. Gaining the burning-flame samadhi, he does away with existence in Uttarakuru. Gaining the phantom samadhi, he does away with existence in Jambudvipa. Gaining the immovable samadhi of all things, he does away with existence in the four heavens. Gaining the unbeaten samadhi, he does away with existence in Rayastrimsa Heaven. Gaining the glad-will samadhi, he crushes out existence in Yama’s heaven. Gaining the blue-colour samadhi, he does away with existence in Tushita Heaven. Gaining the yellow-colour samadhi, he destroys existence in Nirmanarati Heaven. Gaining the red-colour samadhi, he crushes out existence in Paranirmitavasavartin Heaven. Gaining the white-colour samadhi, he does away with existence in the first-dhyana Heaven. Gaining the varied samadhi, he does away with existence as Great Brahma. Gaining the twin samadhi, he destroys existence in the second dhyana. Gaining the thunder-sound samadhi, he destroys the third dhyana. Gaining the rain samadhi, he does away with the fourth dhyana. Gaining the akasha-like [space-like] samadhi, he does away with avrha existence. Gaining the bright-mirror samadhi, he does away with the existences of the Suddhavasa Heaven and the anagamin. Gaining the unhindered samadhi, he destroys akashanantayatana existence. Gaining the non-hindrance samadhi, he destroys akashanantayatana existence. Gaining the eternity samadhi, he does away with vijnananantayatana existence. Gaining the bliss samadhi, he crushes out the akincanyayatana. Gaining the Self samadhi, he does away with the naivasamjnanasamjnayatana. O good man! This is how we say that a Bodhisattva, on gaining the 25 samadhis, destroys the 25 existences. O good man! These 25 samadhis are called the king of all samadhis.

“O good man! If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva gains the all-samadhi king and wishes to blow away or crush Mount Sumeru, he can do so as he wills. If he desires to know what the minds of the beings of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds are thinking, he can do this as he wishes. If he desires to put the beings of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds into the pores of his skin, he can indeed do so as he desires. And he can do so without the beings’ having any sense of being constricted. If he desires to transform innumerable beings and fill the 3,000 great-thousand worlds, he can do so as he desires. He can easily make one body into many, and many into one. Though he can do this, he does not cling to it. This is like the case of the lotus flower.

“O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, having thus entered the [king] samadhi, can indeed go anywhere. The Bodhisattva, abiding in this unmolested [i.e. unlimited, free] state, gains unmolested power and can be anywhere he desires to be. O good man! For example, this is like a chakravartin who, having gained four lands, finds nothing that obstructs him and he can act as he desires. The same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. Wherever he desires to go and live, he can do so as he desires. If a Bodhisattva- mahasattva sees any being in hell who can be taught and made to do good, he can immediately go there. The Bodhisattva is not originally born as a result of karma, but gains the unmolested soil through the causal relations of thus being born. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, even though in hell, does not suffer from the pain of being burned or slashed. O good man! It is difficult fully to explain all the virtues which the Bodhisattva-mahasattva has cultivated within himself and which are as innumerable and boundless as 100 thousand million billion. And how could one explain all the virtues of all Buddhas?”

Then, among those gathered there, was a Bodhisattva whose name was “King-who-Abides-in-the-Undefiled-Storehouse”. He had achieved great virtue and possessed divine power, great dharanis, was perfect in samadhi and fearlessness. He stood up and, baring his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, prostrated himself and said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! As you the Buddha say, the virtues and Wisdom perfected by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are as innumerable as 100 thousand million billion. It is impossible to explain [them]. I think to myself that nothing can supercede this Mahayana sutra. Why not? Because through the power of this Mahayana vaipulya sutra, there appear the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One and unsurpassed Enlightenment.”

Then the Buddha praised him and said: “Well said, well said! O good man! It is thus, it is thus! It is as you say. All the innumerable Mahayana vaipulya sutras accomplish innumerable virtues. But compared with this, the simile fails. It [the virtue of this sutra] exceeds [the virtue of other sutras by] more than 100 times, more than 1,000 times, more than 100,000 million times, and no number can express it. O good man! For example, a cow brings forth milk; the milk produces cream, the cream produces fresh butter, the fresh butter produces clarified butter, and the clarified butter produces sarpirmanda. Sarpirmanda is the best. When it is partaken of, all illnesses die away. All medicines are contained in this. O good man! It is the same with the Buddha. From the Buddha come about the 12 types of sutra [scripture]. From the 12 types of sutra there come about the sutras [proper]. From the sutras come about the vaipulya sutras. From the vaipulya sutras there arise the prajnaparamita [Perfection of Wisdom sutras], and from the prajnaparamita comes about the Great Nirvana. The case is as that of sarpirmanda. Thus, sarpirmanda can well be likened to the Buddha-Nature. The Buddha-Nature is the Tathagata. O good man! For this reason, I say that the virtues of the Tathagata are immeasurable. They stand beyond number.”

Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: “O World-Honoured One! You the Buddha say: “The Great Nirvana Sutra is like sarpirmanda and is the best. When partaken of, it cures all illnesses. All medicines are contained in this.” On hearing this, I think to myself: “If any person cannot get to hear this sutra, such a person is the greatest of the ignorant and has no good mind.” O World-Honoured One! I shall now peel off my skin, turn it into paper; take out my blood and turn it into ink; get water from my marrow, crack a bone to have it serve as a pen, and with all of these copy out the Great Nirvana Sutra. Having copied it out, I shall read and recite it, understand it well, and then, later, I shall patiently expound it to others. O World-Honoured One! If beings are dying for wealth, I shall give it to them, and later recommend this Nirvana Sutra and have them read it. With the nobility, I shall use loving words, follow them and later, by degrees, recommend this Mahayana Great Nirvana Sutra to them and get them to read it. With the dull, I shall force them to read it; with the arrogant, I shall become their servant, comply with their will, gladden them, and then guide them into the Great Nirvana Sutra. If there should be anyone who slanders the vaipulya, I shall crush him down, and after having subdued him, I shall recommend this Great Nirvana Sutra [to him] and have him read it. To any person who loves the Mahayana sutras, I shall myself pay homage, I shall make him offerings, and I shall respect and praise him.”

Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Kasyapa: “Well said, well said! You love the [this] Mahayana sutra very much. You covet it, you love the Mahayana sutra, you understand it, believe in and respect Mahayana, and you make offerings [to it]. O good man! Through the causal relations of the good mind, you will rise above Bodhisattvas whose number is as countless and as boundless as the sands of the River Ganges, and you will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. Before long, you too, like me, for the sake of beings, will expound Great Nirvana, the Tathagata, the Buddha-Nature, and all the hidden teachings of all Buddhas. O good man! In days past, when the sun of the Buddha had not yet risen, I was born as a Brahmin and was practising the Way of a Bodhisattva. I was versed in all sutras and in the sutras of the tirthikas, and was practising the Way of silent extinction. And I was perfect in my deportment. My mind was pure. Even if others came and urged [tempted, attacked] me, I was not beaten. Having relinquished the fire of anger, I upheld the law of the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. I went about and looked for Mahayana sutras, but had not yet heard the name of the vaipulya. At that time I lived in the Himalayas. The mountains were pure; there was a plenitude of running rivers, ponds, forests, medicinal trees all around. Here and there, between the rocks, ran clear streams; beautiful flowers adorned everywhere. There were innumerable birds and animals. Sweet were the fruits and countless their varieties. Also, there were lotus roots, sweet roots, blue trees, and fragrant roots. I lived alone at that time, on fruit. After partaking of the fruit, I concentrated my mind and sat in meditation. It took an immeasurably long time, but I never heard of the appearance of the Tathagata or of the Mahayana sutras. O good man! I thus practised the Way through all difficulties, and Sakrodevanam and all the devas wondered at my practising of the Way. They all gathered together and spoke to each other, saying in a gatha:

“Each of us points and says

That in this pure quarter of the Himalayas

There lives a master, alone

And parted from all greed,

The king of all virtues.

Removed is he already

From greed, anger, and arrogance;

Long since has he done away with

Flattery and ignorance.

His mouth does not speak

What is rough or evil.”

“At that time, there was a deva among those present whose name was “Joy”, and who also said in a gatha:

“One like this who is apart from greed

Is pure and makes effort. Is not such a person

One who looks up to Shakra [chief of gods] or the devas?

If such a person is one who seeks the Way,

Such a one will undergo penance.

Such a person will desire to gain

The place where Shakra sits.”

“At that time, there was a rishi who spoke to Shakra in a gatha:

“O Kausika [i.e. Shakra], master of heaven! Do not conceive things this way.

The tirthikas undergo penance.

Why do they need necessarily

To seek the place where Shakra lives?”

“Speaking thus, he also said: “O Kausika! There is a great person here who, for the sake of beings, does not conceive things for his own good. To benefit beings, he practises penance in innumerable ways. Such a person sees in the world of birth and death all kinds of wrong, so that he does no covet any treasure, even if it filled this earth, all the mountains and the great seas. He sees all such things as being equal to tears and spit. Such a great person gives up his treasures, his wife and children, whom he loves, his head, eyes, marrow, hands, feet, the house where he lives, his elephant and horse, his vehicle, his male or female servants or pages; and he does not desire to be born in heaven. What he desires is solely to gain all happiness. What is evident to me is that such a great person is pure, has no defilements; he has done away with all the bonds of the “asravas”. Possibly he is bound for unsurpassed Bodhi.”

“Sakrodevanamindra says: “What you say seems to refer to one who desires to save all beings of the world. O great sage! If there is to be a Buddha tree in this world, he will uproot all the serpents of illusion of all such as Brahma, the beings of the world, and the asuras. If beings live in the cool shade of this Buddha tree, all poison will go away. O great rishi! If this person, in days to come, becomes a Sugata [Buddha], all of us will be able to extinguish the innumerable burning fires of illusion. Such a thing is hard to believe. Why? Innumerable beings gain unsurpassed Bodhichitta [resolve to gain Enlightenment], but as their causal relations [for this] are meagre, the Bodhichitta shatters. This is like the moon reflected in water, which moves if the water moves, or it is as difficult as trying to draw pictures in water, pictures which easily disperse. It is the same with Bodhichitta. It is difficult to attain it and it easily breaks apart. O great rishi! There are many people decked out in armour and with arms, who proceed to beat the enemy. But if the mind has fear while on the battle-field, that person is forced to draw back. It is like this with all beings. A person may be strongly armed with Bodhichitta and be adorned with it. But on seeing the works of birth and death, the mind feels fear, at which the person has to pull back. O great rishi! I have seen the minds of innumerable beings being thus shattered and shaken after they gained [initial] Bodhichitta. For this reason, though I now see this person intent upon penance, and though he has no worry or heat, and even though on a precipitous path his pursuit is pure, yet I still cannot believe in him. I shall now go and see for myself whether he is decidedly worthy of shouldering the heavy burden of unsurpassed Enlightenment. O rishi! It is like a wagon, which, if it has two wheels, can well stand carrying weight, or like a bird which, if it has two wings, can indeed fly. It will be the same with this person who is practising penance. Now, he is intent on upholding the prohibitive precepts, but I do not know if this person has deep Wisdom. If he has, he will indeed be able to shoulder the great weight of unsurpassed Enlightenment. O great rishi! A fish, for example, may have many eggs, but only a few fish will manage to emerge from them. The mango tree has many flowers, but the fruits are small in number. Many are the people who aspire to Enlightenment, but so few are those who attain that end that it is not worth mentioning. O great rishi! I shall go along with you and see for myself how matters stand. For example, O great rishi! One can distinguish true gold if one performs three types of test, which are: burning, beating, and polishing. This must be the way to test penance.”

“Then Shakrodevanamindra transformed himself into a rakshasa [flesh-eating demon] who was very fearful to behold. He came down to the Himalayas. And he stood there, not far away. At that time, the rakshasa had no fear in his mind; he looked brave, with none to compare to him. His oratory was in order, with his voice clear. He spoke half of a gatha from the Buddhas of days past:

“All things change.

This is the law of birth and death.”

“Thus saying, he stood before the person. He looked very frightening, and looked all around him. The person who was practising penance heard these [words] and was happy. It was like a merchant who, while travelling on a difficult path through the dark night and losing sight of his companions, becomes full of fear, but when he meets up with his comrades again feels no end of joy; or it was like a person who has long been ill, without encountering a good doctor, good treatment or good medicine, who later comes across such; or it was like a person at sea who falls into the sea water and suddenly encounters a boat; or like a thirsty person who comes across water; or like a person who is being pursued by an enemy and who suddenly escapes; or like a person who has long been chained up in prison, who suddenly obtains release. Or it was like a farmer who encounters rain during the days of drought, or like a traveller who returns home again, and whose people at home are overjoyed. O good man! I, at that time, heard this one half of the gatha and was likewise joyous. I immediately got up from my seat, lifted up my hair with my hand, looked around me and said: “From whom was that gatha which I heard just now?”

“At that time, as I looked around, I could see nobody except a rakshasa. I said: “Who is it that so opens the gate of emancipation and so thunders out the voice of all Buddhas? Who is it who, amidst the sleep of birth and death, alone awakes and utters such words? Who is it who shows beings, facing birth and death and famine-stricken, this unsurpassed Way? Innumerable beings flounder in the sea of birth and death. And who is it who is going to become a great master mariner? All these beings are always greatly stricken by the illness of the “asravas”. Who is it who is able to become the best of doctors? This half of the gatha teaches me, opens up and awakens my mind. It is as when the half-moon causes the lotus to open up its petals.” I then, O good man, saw none but the rakshasa. Also, I thought thus: “Did the rakshasa speak this gatha?” Again I doubted: “Maybe he did not. Why not? The appearance of the man is so very frightful. Anyone who heard this gatha would do away with all fear and ugliness. How could a man like this, who looks so ugly, deliver a gatha such as this? A lotus cannot come out of fire; there cannot be cool water where the sunlight falls.”

“O good man! I then said to myself: “I am now ignorant. This rakshasa may have seen all the Buddhas in the past. On seeing them, he may have had a chance of hearing this half of the gatha. I shall ask.” Going up to where he was, I said: “Well, O great one! Where did you get this half of the gatha from a Fearless One of the past? O great one! Where did you get this half of a cintamani [wish-fulfilling jewel] of a gatha? O great one? This half of the gatha is the right path of the All-Buddha-World-Honoured Ones of the past, future, and present. The innumerable beings of the world are always overshadowed by all wrong actions, and all life through they stand amidst the teachings of the tirthikas and do not have the chance of hearing the supramundane words spoken by the World’s Hero [Buddha], who is possessed of the ten powers.” O good man! When I thus asked, the answer came back: “O great Brahmin! Do not ask of me the meaning of this. Why not? I have not eaten anything for days. I have looked all around, but I cannot find anything to eat. Due to thirst, hunger and worry, my mind is deranged and my words do not come out in order. My mind itself does not know [what is what]. I have flown through the sky. I have been to Uttarakuru, to heaven, and to all other places, but I cannot get food anywhere. So, I speak thus.” O good man! I then said to the rakshasa: “O great one! If you tell me about this gatha, I shall be your disciple to the end of my life. O great one! What you spoke was not entire and the meaning was not complete. Why do you not wish to speak? Now, there is an end even to wealth, but there is no end to the dana [giving] of Dharma. The dana of Dharma knows no ending. The benefit it bestows is great. Now that I have heard this half of the gatha, my mind is surprised, and I also have doubt. Now, ease my mind! If you complete this gatha, I shall be your disciple until the end of my days.” The rakshasa answered: “You have penetrated deeply into Wisdom. Only, you care solely for your own self and miss what was meant. I am now oppressed by hunger. I cannot carry on talking.” I asked: “What do you eat?” The rakshasa replied: “Do not ask. If I say, people get frightened.” I further said: “I live alone, there is nobody else here. I, now, am not afraid of you. Why will you not say?” The rakshasa said: “What I eat is the soft flesh of man; what I drink is man’s warm blood. It is an unfortunate destiny of mine that I have to sustain my life in this way. I go round and look about, but I cannot get any of these things. There are many men in the world. But all have virtue; all are protected by heaven. Besides, I have no strength and cannot kill.” O good man! I further said: “Tell me the meaning of the gatha in full. After hearing it, I shall offer you my body. O great one! I may die, but such a body as mine is of no use to me. It could get devoured by a tiger, wolf, owl or eagle, without my being blessed with a hair’s amount of gain on my side. I am now intent upon unsurpassed Enlightenment. I shall discard a body which is not hard enough, and I mean to trade it for an indestructible one.” The rakshasa answered: “Who could believe what you say? Abandoning the beloved body for the sake of eight [=in English, eleven] words [i.e. the final words of the poem]?” O good man! I replied: “You are really ignorant. Imagine a man here. It would be like giving up an earthenware [pot] for a vessel containing seven jewels. The same with me. I shall cast away my body which is not strong enough, in order to obtain an Adamantine Body. You say: [How can I believe you] I have witnesses such as Great Brahma, Shakrodevanamindra, and the four guardians of the earth, who will all bear witness to me. Also, all Bodhisattvas who wish to benefit countless beings and who all study Mahayana and who are perfect in the six paramitas will attest [to my sincerity]. And there are the All-Buddha-World-Honoured Ones of the ten directions who desire to benefit all beings. They, too, will bear witness that I shall indeed cast aside my body for the sake of those eight words.” The rakshasa said further: “If you wish to throw away your body thus, then listen well, listen well! I shall now recite the remaining half of the gatha for your sake.” O good man! Then, on hearing his words, I was glad at heart. I took off the deer-skin clothing that I had on and spread it on the ground for the rakshasa to preach [upon], and said: “O Honoured One! Please sit on this. I shall fold my hands and prostrate myself on the ground before you and say: [O Please, Honoured One! Speak well for me the remaining half of the gatha and bring things to completion].” The rakshasa said:

“When birth and death are done away with,

Quietude is bliss.”

“Having said this, the rakshasa further said: “O Bodhisattva-mahasattva! You have now gained the complete meaning of the gatha and you must be satisfied. If you desire to benefit all beings, give me your body now!” O good man! I, at that time, pondered greatly upon the [gatha’s] meaning. So I later wrote this gatha upon stones, walls, trees, and upon the path. Then I put my clothes on. For possibly after death my body might be exposed [to someone]. I climbed a tall tree. Then the tree god said: “O you! What do you intend to do?” O good man! I answered: “I shall now cast away my body, so as to repay the value I have obtained from the gatha.” The tree god asked: “What benefit does the gatha bestow?” I answered: “This gatha is what the Buddhas of the past, future and present have had for the opening up of the doctrine of the All-Void. I give my body up for this. It is not for profit, fame or treasure; not for the bliss of the chakravartin, the four guardians of the earth, Great Brahma, or man or heaven. I cast this away for the benefit of all beings.” O good man! I also vowed to myself: “Let all miserly people come and see how I relinquish this body. If there is a person who gives little and asks for much, let such a person see how I, merely for this gatha, cast my body away, just as a person might discard grass or wood.”

“As I said this, I flung my body down from the tree to the ground. It had not yet reached the ground when several voices sounded in the air. The voices reached as far as Akanistha Heaven. Then the rakshasa displayed his original form as Shakra, took hold of me in mid-air, and deposited me upon the ground. Then, Skakrodevanamindra, all the devas, and Great Brahma fell to the ground. They touched my feet, raised me up, and said: “Well done, well done! It is good, it is good! This truly is a Bodhisattva who benefits innumerable beings and who, in the blackness of the gloom, desires to set up a great torch. As I love the Tathagata’s great Dharma, I beautifully ponder and worry. Please give ear to how I repent of my sins. You shall assuredly, in days to come, achieve unsurpassed Enlightenment. Please condescend to succour me.”

“Then, Shakrodevanamindra and the devas touched my feet. Then they disappeared and were seen no more. O good man! Since I discarded my body in days gone by for the sake of a gatha, in consequence I was able to hope to attain unsurpassed Enlightenment after twelve kalpas before Maitreya. O good man! I had accomplished such innumerable virtues. All arise from making offerings to the Tathagata’s Wonderful Dharma. “O good man! It is the same with you. If you aspire to unsurpassed Bodhichitta [Mind of Enlightenment], this will place you above Bodhisattvas as innumerable as the sands of innumerable, boundless Ganges. This is what we mean when we say that a Bodhisattva abides in the teaching of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana and practises the holy Way.”