The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Translated into English by Kosho Yamamoto, 1973
The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Thus have I heard. At one time, the Buddha was staying at Kusinagara in the land of the Mallas, close to the river Ajitavati, where the twin sal trees stood. At that time, the great bhiksus [monks] as many as 80 billion hundred thousand were with the Blessed One. They surrounded him front and back. On the 15th of the second month, as the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, he, with his divine power, spoke in a great voice, which filled the whole world and reached the highest of the heavens. It said to all beings in a way each could understand: "Today, the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] the Alms-deserving and Perfectly Awakened One, pities, protects and, with an undivided mind, sees beings as he does his [son] Rahula. So, he is the refuge and house of the world. The greatly Awakened Blessed One is about to enter Nirvana. Beings who have doubts may all now put questions to him."
At that time, early in the morning, the World-Honoured One emitted from his mouth rays of light of various hues, namely: blue, yellow, red, white, crystal, and agate. The rays of light shone all over the 3,000 great-thousand Buddha lands. Also, the ten directions were alike shone upon. All the sins and worries of beings of the six realms, as they were illuminated, were expiated. People saw and heard this, and worry greatly beset them. They all sorrowfully cried and wept: "Oh, the kindest father! Oh, woe is the day! Oh, the sorrow!" They raised their hands, beat their heads and breasts, and cried aloud. Of them, some trembled, wept, and sobbed. At that time, the great earth, the mountains, and great seas all shook. Then, all of them said to one another: "Let us for the present suppress our feelings, let us not be greatly smitten by sorrow! Let us speed to Kusinagara, call at the land of the Mallas, touch the feet of the Tathagata, pay homage and beg: "O Tathagata! Please do not enter Parinirvana, but stay one more kalpa [aeon] or less than a kalpa." They pressed their palms together and said again: "The world is empty! Fortune has departed from us beings; evil things will increase in the world. O you! Hurry up, go quickly! Soon the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] will surely enter Nirvana." They also said: "The world is empty, empty! From now on, no one protects us, and we have none to pay homage to. Poverty-stricken and alone! If we once part from the World-Honoured One, and if doubts arise, whom are we to ask?"
At that time, there were many of the Buddha’s disciples there, such as Venerable Mahakatyayana, Vakkula, and Upananda. All such great bhiksus, when they saw the light, shook and were greatly stirred, so much so that they could not hold themselves well. Their minds became muddled, and chaos ruled. They cried aloud and displayed variegated grief. There were present, at that time, 8 million bhiksus. All were arhats [saints]. They were unmolested [unlimited] in mind and could act as they willed. They were segregated from all illusions, and all their sense-organs were subdued. Like great naga [serpent] kings, they were perfect in great virtue. They were accomplished in the wisdom of the All-Void and perfect in the attainments of their own [in inner attainments]. They were like the sandalwood forest with sandalwood all around, or like a lion king surrounded by lions. They were perfect in all such virtues. They were the true sons of the Buddha. Early in the morning, when the sun had just risen, they were up from their beds in the places where they lived and were about to use their toothbrushes, when they encountered the light that arose from the Buddha’s person. And they said to one another: "Hurry up with bathing and gargling, and be clean." So did they say, and their hair stood on end all over their body, and their blood so ran that they looked like palasa flowers. Tears filled their eyes, which expressed great pain. To benefit and give peace to beings, to establish the Transcendent Truth of the All-Void of Mahayana, to reveal what the Tathagata had by expediency latently taught so that all his sermons would not come to an end, and to subjugate the minds of all beings, they sped to where the Buddha was. They fell down at the Buddha’s feet, touched them with their heads, walked around him a 100 thousand times, folded their hands, paid homage, stepped back and sat on one side.
At that time, there were present such women as Kuddara and such bhiksunis [nuns] as Subhadra, Upananda, Sagaramati, and 6 million bhiksunis. They were all great arhats. All "’asravas"’ [inner defilements] having been done away with, they were unmolested in mind and could act as they willed. They were parted from all illusion and all their sense-organs were subdued. Like great nagas, they were perfect in virtue. They were accomplished in the Wisdom of the All-Void. Also, early in the morning, after the sun had just risen, their hair stood on end all over their body and their blood so ran through their vessels that they looked like palasa flowers. Tears filled their eyes, which bespoke great sorrow. They desired to benefit beings, to give peace and bliss, and establish the Transcendent Truth of the All-Void of Mahayana. They meant to manifest what the Tathagata had by expediency latently taught, so that all his sermons would not disappear. In order to subjugate the minds of all beings, they sped to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him a 100 thousand times, folded their hands, paid homage, stepped back and sat on one side.
Of the bhiksunis, there were again those who were the nagas of Bodhisattvas and humans. They had attained the ten stages [of Bodhisattvic development], where they abided unmoved. They were born as females so as to teach beings. They always practised the four limitless minds [of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity], thereby attaining unlimited power and acting well in place of the Buddha.
At that time there were also Bodhisattva-mahasattvas [great Bodhisattvas] who were as plentiful as the sands of the river Ganges and who were all nagas of men, attaining the level of the ten stages and abiding there unmoved. As an expedient, they had gained life as men and were called Bodhisattvvas Sagaraguna and Aksayamati. Such Bodhisattva-mahasattvas as these headed the number. They all prized Mahayana, abided in it, deeply understood, loved and protected it, and well responded to the call of the world. They took vows and each said: "I shall pass those who have not yet attained the Way to the other shore [i.e. of salvation]. Already over innumerable past kalpas, I have upheld the pure precepts [of morality] and acted as I should have acted. I made the unreleased gain the Way so that they could carry over the seed of the Three Treasures [i.e. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha]. And in the days to come, I shall turn the wheel of Dharma [i.e. teach Buddhism], greatly adorn myself, accomplish all innumerable virtues, and see beings as one views one’s only son." They likewise, early in the morning, encountered the light of the Buddha. All their hair stood on end, and all over their body their blood so ran that they looked like palasa flowers. Tears filled their eyes, which spoke of great pain. Also to benefit beings, to give bliss, to manifest what the Tathagata had out of expediency latently taught, and to prevent the sermons from dying out, and to subjugate all beings, they sped to where the Buddha was, walked around him 100 thousand times, folded their hands, paid homage, stepped back and took their seats on one side.
At that time, there were present upasakas [lay followers of Buddha] who were as many as the sands of two Ganges. They had accorded with the five precepts, and their deportment was perfect. These were such upasakas as Untainted-Virtue-King, Highly-Virtuous and others, who headed their number. They deeply cherished the thought of combating such opposites as: sorrow versus bliss, eternal versus non-eternal, pure versus non-pure, self versus non-self, real versus not-real, taking refuge versus not taking refuge, beings versus non-beings, always versus not-always, peace versus non-peace, created versus non-created, disruption versus non-disruption, Nirvana versus non-Nirvana, augmentation versus non-augmentation, and they always thought of combating such opposites of the Dharma elements as stated above.
They also always loved to listen to the unsurpassed Mahayana, acted upon what they had heard and desired to teach others. They upheld well the untainted moral precepts and prized Mahayana. Already they were well contented within themselves and they made others feel well contented who prized Mahayana. They imbibed the unsurpassed Wisdom very well, loved and protected Mahayana. They accorded well with the ways of the world, passed those who had not yet gained the Way to the other shore of life, emancipated those not yet emancipated, and protected the seed of the Three Treasures so that it would not die out and so that, in days to come, they could turn the wheel of Dharma, adorn themselves greatly, deeply taste the pure moral precepts, attain accomplishment in all such virtues, have a great compassionate heart towards all beings, being impartial and not-two, and see all beings just as one views one’s own only son.
Also, early in the morning when the sun had just risen, in order to cremate the Tathagata’s body, people each held in their hands tens of thousands of bundles of such fragrant wood as sandalwood, aloes, goirsa sandalwood, and heavenly wood, which had annual rings and heart and which all shone out in the wonderful hues of the seven treasures. For example, the various hues were like painted colours, all of which wonders having arisen out of the power of the Buddha, and which were blue, yellow, red, and white. These were pleasing to beings’ eyes. All the wood was thickly smeared with such various incense as saffron, alo wood, sarjarasa, etc. Flowers were strewn as adornments, such as the utpala [blue lotus], kumuda, padma [red lotus] and pundarika [white lotus]. Above all the fragrant wood were hung banners of five colours. They were soft and delicate, like such heavenly veils as kauseya cloth, ksuma, and silken twill. All these fragrant woods were laden onto bejewelled wagons, which shone in such various colours as blue, yellow, red, and white. The thills and spokes were all inlaid with the seven treasures. Each of these wagons was drawn by four horses, which ran like the wind. In front of each wagon stood 57 hanging ensign plants, over which were spread thin nets of true gold. Each wagon had 50 wonderful bejewelled parasols, each having on it the garlands of utpala, kumuda, padma, and pundarika. The petals of these flowers were of pure gold, and the calyxes were of diamond. In the flowers was many a black bee, which gathered there, played and amused themselves, sending forth wonderful music. These spoke of non-eternal, sorrow, All-Void, and non-Self. Also, this sound spoke of what the Bodhisattva originally does. Dances, singing, and mask dances went on, and such musical instruments were played as the "’cheng"’, the flute, harp, "’hsiao"’ and "’sh¯o. "’And from the music arose a voice, which said: "Oh, woe is the day, woe the day! The world is empty!" In front of each wagon stood upasakas who were holding bejewelled tables, which were laden with various flowers such as the utpala, kumuda, padma, pundarika, and such various incense as kunkuma and others, and fumigating incense, which were all wonderful. They carried in various utensils, to prepare meals for the Buddha and the Sangha. The cooking was done with sandalwood and aloe wood as fuel, done up with the water of eight virtues. The dishes were sweet and beautiful in six tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, hot, salty, and plain. Also the virtues were three: 1) light and soft, 2) pure, and 3) true to cuisine. Equipped with such things, they sped to the land of the Mallas, to the sal forest. They also strew sand all over the ground, spreading kalinga and kambala cloths and silken cloths on it. Such covered all about, for a space of 12 yojanas [yojana= 15-20 kilometres]. For the Buddha and the Sangha, they erected simhasana seats [lions’ seats], which were inlaid with the seven treasures. The seats were as high and large as Mount Sumeru. Above these seats were hung bejewelled screens. Garlands of all kinds hung down, and from all the sal trees also hung down wonderful banners and parasols. Wonderful scents were dispersed amongst the trees and various wonderful flowers were set in between. The upasakas all said to one another: "O all beings! If you feel the need, meals, clothing, heads, eyes, limbs and everything awaits you; all will be yours." While giving, greed, anger, defilement, and poisonous [states of] mind fled; no other wish, no thought of any other blessing or pleasure was entertained. Their minds were bent solely upon the unsurpassed, pure Bodhi-mind [Enlightenment mind]. All these upasakas were well established in the Bodhisattvic state. They also said to themselves: "The Tathagata will now take our dishes and enter Nirvana." As they thought this, all their hair stood on end; all over their body their blood so ran that their bodies looked like palasa flower. Tears filled their eyes, expressing great pain. Each carefully carried in the utensils of the meals on bejewelled wagons. The incense wood, banners, bejewelled parasols, and meals were all sped to where the Buddha was. They touched the feet of the Buddha, made offerings to the Buddha on these, walking around him 100 thousand times. They cried aloud. The earth and heaven melted in sympathy and shook. They beat their breasts and cried. Their tears ran like rain. And they said to one another: "O you! Woe is the day! The world is empty, is empty!" They threw their bodies to the ground before the Tathagata and said to him: "O Tathagata! Please have pity and accept our offerings!"
The World-Honoured-One, aware of the occasion, was silent, and did not take [their offerings]. Thrice they beseeched him, but their supplications went unheard. Failing in their purpose, the upasakas were sad and sat silently. This was as in the case of a compassionate father who has but an only son. This son, of a sudden, becomes ill and dies. The cremation over, the father goes back home and is sunk in great grief. The same was the case with all the upasakas, who wept and were grief-stricken. With all their utensils positioned in a safe place, the upasakas stepped back and sat silently on one side.
At that time, there were upasikas [female lay followers] present, as many as the sands of three Ganges, who were perfect in the five precepts and in deportment. They included such as Ayusguna, Gunamalya, and Visakha who headed the 84,000 and could well protect the True Dharma. In order to carry over innumerable 100 thousand beings to the other shore, they were born as females. They severely checked their own selves in the light of household laws and meditated on their own persons. Like the four vipers [the four great elements of earth, air, fire and water], this carnal body is ever pecked at and supped by innumerable vermin. It smells ill and is defiled. Greed binds. This body is hateful, like the carcass of a dog. This body is impure, from which nine holes leak out defilements. It is like a castle, the blood, flesh, spine, bone and skin forming the outer walls and the hands and legs serving as bastions, the eyes as gunholes, and the head as donjon. The mind-king [citta-raja] is seated within. Such a carnal castle is what the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One abandons and what common mortals and the ignorant always love and cling to. Such rakshasas [flesh-eating demons] as greed, anger and ignorance sit within. This body is as frail as reed, eranda [foul-smelling "recinus communis" plant], foam, and plantain. This body is non-eternal and does not stay stable even for a second. It is like lightning, madding water, and a mirage. Or it is like drawing a picture on water, which no sooner done than disappears. This body breaks just as easily as a big tree hanging over a river precipice. It does not last long. It is pecked at and devoured by foxes, wolves, owls, eagles, crows, magpies and hungry dogs. Who with a good mind finds joy in such a carnal self? One might sooner fill a cow’s footprint with water than fully explain the non-eternal, the non-pure, the ill-smell and defilement of this body; or one could sooner split the great earth and crush it into the size of a pickpurse [weed] seed or even the size of a dust-mote, but never could one fully explain the wrongs and ills of this body. This being so, one ought to discard it like tears or spittle. Because of this, all upasikas train their mind in such dharmas as the Void, formlessness and desirelessness. Thus they very much desire to inquire into and abide in the teaching of the Mahayana sutras. Having listened, they expound them to others. They guard and uphold their vows and deprecate the female form. It is much to be detested and is by nature not unbreakable. Their mind thus ever rightly sees things and crushes the endless wheel of birth and death. They look to Mahayana and are themselves well nourished by it. They feed the minds of those who prize it. They greatly cherish, defend and protect it. Though female in form, they are, truth to tell, none but Bodhisattvas. They accord well with the ways of the world and help those who have not yet gained the other shore and emancipate those not yet emancipated. They uphold the heritage of the Three Treasures, so that it will not die out and so that they can turn the wheel of Dharma in the days to come. They greatly adorn their own persons, living ever true to the prohibitions and accomplishing such virtues. Their compassionate heart extends towards all beings. They are impartial and not-two, just as one would regard one’s only son. They also, early in the morning when the sun had just risen, said to one another: "Let us hasten today to the forest of the twin trees!" The upasikas’ utensils were twice as many. They took these to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times and said: "O World-honoured One! We have with us here meals for the Buddha and the Sangha. O Tathagata! Please have pity and accept our offerings!" The Tathagata was silent and did not take [the offerings]. Their supplication not met, all the upasikas were sad. They stepped back and sat down on one side.
At that time, the Licchavis of Vaisali Castle were present and others as numerous as the sands of four Ganges, who were males, females, big and small, wives and children, relatives, and those of the kings of Jambudvipa [India]. Seeing the Way, they were true to the prohibitions and perfect in deportment. They crushed out the people of other teachings who acted against the Wonderful Dharma. They always said to one another: "We shall have stores of gold and silver for the service of upholding the sweet and endless depths of the Wonderful Dharma, so that it will flourish. Let us hope always to learn Dharma. We shall draw out the tongues of those who slander the Buddha’s Wonderful Dharma." They also prayed: "Should there be any bhiksu who transgresses against the prohibitions, we shall turn him back to secular life and have him for labour; if anyone abides in the Wonderful Dharma, we shall esteem and serve him as we do our parents. If priests well practise the Wonderful Dharma, we shall participate in their joy and support them, so that they will increase." They were always glad to lend an ear to the Mahayana sutras. Having listened, they widely expounded to others what they had heard. All were accomplished in such virtues. They included such Licchavis as [the following persons]: Pure-andUntainted-Store, Pure-and-Non-Indulgent, Ganges-Water-of-Pure-and-Untainted-Virtue. All of these said to themselves: "Let us now speed to where the Buddha is!" Various were their utensils of offerings. Each Licchavi had 84,000 elephants all decorated, along with 84,000 four-horse wagons of treasures, 84,000 bright moon gems. There were also bundles of fuel such as heavenly wood, sandalwood, and aloes, all to the number of 84,000. In front of each elephant hung bejewelled hanging ensigns, banners and parasols. Even the smallest of parasols was as wide as one yojana crosswise and lengthwise. Even the shortest of the banners measured 32 yojanas. And the lowest of the bejewelled hanging-ensigns was 100 yojanas high. With these objects of offerings, they went to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times and said to him: "O World-Honoured One! We are now here with offerings for you, the Buddha, and the Sangha. Please have pity and accept ours!" The Tathagata was silent and did not accept [the offerings]. Not having gained what they desired, the Licchavis were all sad. By the Buddha’s power, they were raised up into the sky seven talas high, where they remained in silence.
At that time, there were, further, ministers and rich laymen as numerous as the sands of five Ganges. They prized Mahayana. If there were any of other teachings slandering the Wonderful Dharma, they would crush such down just as hail and rain do grass and plants. They were Sunlight, World-Protecting, and Dharma-Protecting. These headed their number. Five times as many were their utensils as those who had preceded them. They carried these to the forest of the twin sal trees, touched the Buddha’s feet, walked around the Buddha 100 thousand times, and said: "O World-Honoured One! We have brought you and the Sangha utensils of offerings. Please have pity and accept our [gifts]!" The Tathagata was silent and did not accept [them]. Their wish not granted, the rich elders were sad. By the Buddha’s divine power, they were raised up seven talas from the ground into the sky, where they remained in silence.
At that time, there were present the King of Vaisali and his consort, the people of the harem, and all the kings of Jambudvipa, excepting Ajatasatru and those of the castle town and villages of his kingdom. They included such as King Taintless-as-the-Moon and others. They took along with them the four military forces [of elephants, horses, infantry and chariots] and desired to go to where the Buddha was. Each king had people and relatives as many as 180 million billion. The chariots and soldiers were drawn by elephants and horses. The elephants were six-tusked and the horses ran like the wind. Their adornments and utensils of offerings were six times as many as those which had preceded them. Of all the bejewelled parasols, even the smallest filled a diameter of 8 yojanas. The smallest of the banners measured 16 yojanas. All these kings abided peacefully in the Wonderful Dharma and detested twisted laws [teachings]. They esteemed Mahayana and felt deep joy in it. They loved beings as one loves an only son. The fragrance of the meals and drinks which they were holding filled the air for four yojanas all around. They too, early in the morning when the sun had just risen, carried forth all these sweet dishes and went to the forest of twin sal trees where the Tathagata was and said: "O World-Honoured One! We wish to offer these to the Buddha and Sangha. Please have pity, O Tathagata! and accept our final offerings!" The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, would not take [the offerings]. Their wishes unanswered, all these kings were sad. They stepped back and took their seats on one side.
At that time, there were the consorts of the kings as numerous as the sands of seven Ganges, excepting those of King Ajatasatru. So as to save beings, they manifested as females. They always were mindful of their bodily actions and perfumed their minds with the dharmas of the Void, formlessness and desirelessness. They included such as the ladies WonderfulThree-Worlds and Virtue-Loving. All consorts such as these abided peacefully in the Wonderful Dharma and observed the prohibitions and were perfect in their deportment. They behaved towards beings as one does to one’s only son. They all said: "Let us all speed to where the World-Honoured One is." The offerings of these royal consorts were seven times as many as those that had preceded them, and these were: incense, flowers, bejewelled hanging-ensigns, silken cloths, banners, parasols, and the best meals and drinks. Even the smallest of the bejewelled parasols measured 16 yojanas. The lowest of the bejewelled hanging-ensigns measured 68 yojanas. The fragrance of the meals and drinks filled an area of eight yojanas all around. Bearing all these offerings, they went to where the Tathagata was. They touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times, and said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! We have with us offerings for the Buddha and the bhiksus. Please have pity and accept our final offerings!" The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [the offerings]. Their requests ungranted, all the consorts were sad. They pulled out their hair, beat their breasts and wailed as though a compassionate mother had newly lost her only son. They stepped back, and sat silently to one side."
"At that time, there were also devis [goddesses] as numerous as the sands of eight Ganges. Virupaksa headed their number and said: "O sisters! See clearly, see clearly! The best offerings of all these beings are for the Tathagata and the bhiksus. We ought to be serious and make offerings to the Tathagata with all such wonderful utensils as these. He will partake of our offerings and enter Nirvana. O sisters! It is hard to encounter the appearance into the world of the All-Buddha-Tathagata. It is also difficult to make the last offerings. Should the Buddha enter Nirvana, the world will become empty." All these heavenly females loved Mahayana and desired to hear it. Having heart it, they expounded it widely to [other] people. Much prizing Mahayana, they also satisfied those who were dying for it. They protected Mahayana very well. If there were any of other teachings who opposed or were jealous of Mahayana, they severely crushed them out, just as hail does grass. They were observant of the prohibitions and their deportment was perfect. They accorded well with the world, passed across those who had not yet gained the other shore, and turned the wheel of Dharma. They upheld the heritage of the Three Treasures so that it would not die out. They studied Mahayana and greatly adorned themselves. Perfect in all these virtues, they loved beings equally, just as one would love one’s only son. They also, early in the morning when the sun had just risen, all took up incense of heavenly wood twice as great in number as those of the human world. The fragrance of all this incense blew away all bad human smells. Their wagons had white roofs and were pulled by four horses. Each wagon had curtains, and on each of the four corners were hung golden bells. Of diverse kind were the incense, flowers, the hanging-ensigns, banners, parasols, wonderful dishes, and mask dances. There were simhasanas [lion thrones], the four legs of which were of pure blue beryl. Behind the simhasanas were couches inlaid with the seven treasures. In front of each couch was an arm-rest of gold. The tree of light was of the seven treasures, and various gems served as lamps. Wonderful flowers were spread on the ground. And having made their offerings, all these devis were sad at heart. Tears welled up and great was their sorrow. In order to benefit beings and make them happy, they had accomplished the unsurpassed practice of the All-Void of Mahayana and they purposed to reveal the Tathagata’s undisclosed teaching of expediency. And in order to prevent the various sermons from dying out, they came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times, and said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Please accept our final offerings." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. All these devis, their wishes unanswered, were sad. They stepped back, took their seat on one side, and sat [there] silently.
At that time, there lived various naga kings in the four quarters, as many of them as sands of nine Ganges. They were Vasuki, Nanda, and Upananda, who headed up their number. All these naga kings too, early in the morning when the sun had just risen, took up their utensils of offerings, as numerous as those of man and heaven. Carrying these to where the Buddha was, they touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times, and said to him: "O Tathagata! Please accept our final offerings." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. All the naga kings, their wishes not met, were sad. They stepped back and sat to one side.
At that time, there were demon kings as numerous as the sands of ten Ganges. Vaisravana headed their number. They said to one another: "Let us all hasten to where the Buddha is!" Carrying with them various things of offering, twice as many as those of the naga kings, they went to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him 100 thousand times, and said to him: "O Tathagata! Please have pity and accept the last of our offerings!" The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept. Their wishes unfulfilled, they felt sad, stepped back, and sat on one side.
At that time, there were also garuda [mythical bird] kings, as numerous as the sands of 20 Ganges. King Victor-over-Resentment headed their number.
At this time, the forest of sal trees of Kusinagara changed colour and looked like white cranes. In the sky, a hall of seven treasures spontaneously appeared. Detailed decorations were engraved [upon it]. There were balustrades all round, with gems studded into them. Down [round] the buildings were streams and the bathing places of ponds, where wonderful lotuses floated. It looked as if one were in Uttarakuru, in the pleasance of Trayastrimsa Heaven. That is how things were in the sal forest, the adornments all lovely and wonderful. The devas, asuras and others all witnessed the scene of the Tathagata’s entering Nirvana, and were sunk in sorrow, sad and woebegone."
"Then the four guardian angels of the earth and Sakrodevendra said to one another: "See! All devas, human beings, and asuras are making preparations and intend to make their final offerings to the Tathagata. We, too, shall do the same. If we can make our final offerings, it will not be hard to be perfect in danaparamita [perfected giving]." At that time, the offerings of the four guardian angels of the earth were twice as many as those that had preceded them. They carried in their hands all such flowers as mandara, mahamandara, kakiruka, makakakiruka, manjusaka, mahamanjusaka, santanika, makasantanika, loving, greatly-loving, samantabhadra, mahasamantabhadra, time, great time, fragrant castle, greatly-fragrant castle, joy, great joy, desire-calling, great desire-calling, fragrant-intoxicating, greatly-fragrant-intoxicating, all-fragrant, greatly-allfragrant, heavenly-golden leaves, nagapuspa, paricitra, kovidara, and also, carrying wonderful dishes, they came to where the Buddha was and touched his feet with their heads. All the light of these devas outshone the light of the sun and moon, so that these could not be seen. With these utensils, they intended to make offerings to the Buddha. The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. Their wishes not granted, the devas were sad and worried, and they stepped back, and sat to one side.
At that time, Sakrodevendra and the beings of Trayastrimsa Heaven carried up the vessels of their offerings, which were twice as many as those that had preceded them. The flowers which they carried were equally as many. Wonderful was the fragrance, very lovely to smell. They carried the victory hall, Vaijayanta [palace of Sakrodevendra], and many small halls and came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet with their heads, and said to him: "O World-Honoured One! We greatly love and protect Mahayana. O Tathagata! Please accept our dishes." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their dishes]. Shakra [Indra, chief of the gods] and all the devas, their wishes not fulfilled, were sad. They stepped back and sat on one side.
The offerings of those up to the sixth heaven increased in size one after the other. There were bejewelled hanging-ensigns, banners, and parasols. Even the smallest of the bejewelled parasols covered the four lands; the smallest of the banners covered the four seas; even the shortest of the hanging-ensigns reached Mahesvara’s heaven. Soft breezes blew and sweet sounds arose. Carrying up the sweetest of dishes, they came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet with their heads, and said to him: "O World-Honoured One! Pray, O Tathagata! have pity and accept our last offerings!" The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent, and did not accept [their offerings]. Their wishes not answered, all the devas were sad. They stepped back, and sat to one side."
All the devas up to the highest heaven were gathered there. At that time, Great Brahma and other devas put forth light which shone over the four lands. To the men and devas of the world of desire, the lights of the sun and moon were all hidden. They had bejewelled hanging-ensigns, banners and parasols of coloured silk. Even the smallest banner which hung on Brahma’s palace came down to where the sal trees stood. They came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet with their heads, and said to him: "O World-Honoured One! Pray, O Tathagata! have pity and accept our last offerings." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. At this, the devas, their wishes unfulfilled, were sad. They stepped back and sat on one side.
At that time, Vemacitra, the king of asuras, was present with innumerable great relatives. The light that shone [here] was brighter than that of Brahma. He had bejewelled hanging-ensigns, banners, and parasols. Even the smallest banner covered a thousand worlds. Carrying the sweetest dishes, they came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet with their heads, and said to him: "Pray, O Tathagata! have pity and accept our last offerings!" The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. Their wishes were not answered, so all the asuras were sad. They stepped back and sat on one side.
At that time, there was present Mahesvararaja with his innumerable kindred and other devas. They carried in their vessels of offerings, which were far more than those of Brahma and Indra, and those of the guardian angels of the earth, men and devas, the eight beings, and non-humans. The preparations which Sakrodevendra had made looked like black against white as when the white of horse-shoe shell is taken up for comparison, and all glory disappears. Even the smallest of the bejewelled parasols covered the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. Carrying such vessels of offerings, they came to where the Buddha was, touched his feet with their heads, walked around him innumerable times, and said to him: "O World-Honoured One! What paltry things we now have with us may [be] equal to offerings made us by mosquitoes and sawflies, to a man throwing a scoop of water into the great ocean, or to trying to assist with a small light that of 100 thousand suns, or trying, in spring and summer when there are so many flowers, with just a single flower to add to the glories of all the flowers, or to the splendour of Mount Sumeru with just a pickpocket seed. How could there be any augmenting of the great ocean, of the brightness of the sun, of all the flowers, and of Sumeru? O World-Honoured One! What little we carry in [to you] here may well be likened to this. We could indeed offer you incense, flowers, mask dances, banners, and parasols of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds, but these are still not worthy of mention. Why not? Because you always undergo pains in the unfortunate realms of hell, hungry pretas, and animals. Because of this, O World-Honoured One! Please have pity and likewise accept our offerings."
Now, in the east, there is a Buddha-land, as many lands far out as the sands of uncountable, innumerable asamkhyas of Ganges, one called Easy-in-Mind-and-Beautiful-in-Sound, and the Buddha [there] is called Equal-to-the-Void, the Tathagata, Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, and the Buddha-World-HonouredOne. At that time, the Buddha spoke to his foremost great disciple: "Go now to the land in the west, called "’saha"’ [Endurance - i.e. our world of hardship!] There is a Buddha in that land called Tathagata Shakyamuni, who is the Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, and the Buddha-World-Honoured-One. He will enter Parinirvana before long. O good man! Carry to him the fragrant dishes of this world, the ones fragrant and beautiful, which give peace. Offer this to him. Havivaisaling taken this, he will enter Parinirvana. O good man! Also, bow before the Buddha, put questions to him, and do away with whatever doubt you have." Then, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva of boundless body, at that, stood up from his seat, touched the Buddha’s feet with his head, walked around the Buddha three times, took with him innumerable asamkhyas of Bodhisattvas, left that country and came to this land of Saha [endurance]. At this, the 3,000 great-thousand worlds shook in six ways, the hair of those congregated there - Brahma, Indra, the four guardian angels of the earth, Marapapiyas, and Mahesvara - at this great shaking of the great earth stood up on end, and their throats and tongues dried up in fear. They were so frightened that they shook and wanted to flee in all directions. As they looked at their own bodies, their light was lost, and gone was all their divine appearance. Then, Dharmarajaputra Manjushri stood up and spoke to those congregated there: "Good people! Do not fear, do not be afraid! Why not? To the east, as many as the sands of innumerable, uncountable asamkhyas of Ganges away, there is a land called Easy-in-Mindand-Beautiful-in-Sound. The Buddha’s name in that land is Tathagata-Equal-to-the-Void, the Alms-deserving, the All Enlightened One. He possesses the ten epithets of the Buddha. There is a Bodhisattva there, of boundless body. Accompanied by innumerable Bodhisattvas, he desires to come here and make offerings to the Tathagata. By the power of that Buddha, your body now does not shine out. So, gladden yourselves; do not fear!" Then, those congregated saw far off a great number of people from that Buddha whom they saw as though they were their own forms reflected in a mirror. Then, Manjushri said to those congregated there: "You now see the people of that Buddha just as you see the Buddha himself. By the Buddha’s power, you can clearly see all the innumerable Buddhas of the nine other Buddha countries." At that, the people congregated there said to one another: "Oh, woe is the day, woe the day! The world is empty. The Tathagata will before long enter Parinirvana."
Then, the Bodhisattva of boundlesss body, followed by innumerable Bodhisattvas and with wonderful divine power, carried out innumerable and various containers of offerings filled with wonderfully fragrant sweet dishes. On encountering the fragrance of these meals, all the taints of illusion died out. Because of the Bodhisattva’s divine power, the people saw all such transformations. The size of this Bodhisattva of boundless body was limitless and like space. Excepting the Buddha, none indeed could see the bodily size of this Bodhisattva. The offerings of this Bodhisattva of boundless body were double those that had preceded them and they came to where the Buddha was. They touched the Buddha’s feet, folded their hands, paid him homage, and said: "O World-Honoured One! Please have pity and accept our offerings." The Tathagata, aware of the occasion, was silent and did not accept [their offerings]. Three times they asked, but he would not accept. So the Bodhisattva of boundless body and his retinue stepped back and sat on one side. The same was the case with the Bodhisattvas of boundless body of all the Buddha-lands to the south, west and north. They carried in offerings twice as many as those which had preceded them. They came to where the Buddha was, stepped back, and sat on one side. All proceeded in this manner.
Then, there did not remain a space left in the auspicious ground of weal between the sal trees and within 32 yojanas square which was not full of people. At that time, all the space around the persons of the Bodhisattva of boundless body and his retinue who were gathered there from the four quarters looked [merely] like the point-size of a mote, or awl or needle. All the great Bodhisattvas of all the innumerable Buddha lands of the ten directions were gathered together there. In addition, all the people of Jambudvipa were assembled there, except for the pair, Mahakasyapa and Ananda, and also Ajatasatru and his retinue, and the poisonous serpents that harm people, the dung-beetles, haly-vipers, scorpions, and the doers of evil of sixteen kinds. The danavats and asuras had all forsaken their evil designs and had become compassionate-minded. Like fathers, mothers, older and younger sisters, all the people of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds came together and spoke to one another with the same compassionate heart, except for the icchantikas [those most spiritually alienated from Dharma].
Then, by the power of the Buddha, the 3,000 worlds became soft to the touch. There were [no longer] any hills, sand, gravel, thistles or poisonous plants there, but all was [instead] adorned with various treasures as in the case of the Western Paradise of peace and happiness of Buddha Amitayus. At that time, all those congregated there saw the innumerable number of Buddha lands as though seeing their forms reflected in a mirror. The same was the case when they saw the lands of all the Buddhas.
The light that issued from the Tathagata’s face was fivefold in colour, and it shone and covered all the great congregation, so that it blotted out the light that came out of the body. Having done this, it again turned back to the Buddha, back to him through his mouth. Then, the heavenly beings and all those congregated there, asuras and others, became greatly afraid, as they saw the Buddha’s light entering him through his mouth. Their hair stood on end. And they said: "The light of the Tathagata, having appeared, goes back and enters [him again]. This is not without reason. This indicates that the Buddha has done what he intended to do in the ten directions and now will enter Nirvana as his last act. This must be what it mean to indicate to us. Woe is the world, woe the world! Why is it that the World-Honoured One so forsakes the four limitless minds and does not accept the offerings of man and heaven? The light of Wisdom is now going out eternally. The unsurpassed boat of Dharma is now sinking. Ah, the pain! Woe is the world!" They held up their hands, beat their breasts, and sorrowfully cried out and wept. Their limbs shook, and they did not know how to support themselves. Blood came from their bodies and ran over the ground."
Chapter Two : On Cunda
At that time there was present among the congregation an upasaka who was the son of an artisan of this fortress town of Kusinagara. Cunda was his name. He was there with his comrades, fifteen in number. In order that the world should generate good fruit, he abandoned all bodily adornments [to indicate his respect and modesty], stood up, bared his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground and, folding his hands, looked up at the Buddha. Sorrowfully and tearfully, he touched the Buddha’s feet with his head [i.e. in sign of respect] and said: "O World-Honoured One and bhiksus! Please have pity and accept our last offerings and succour innumerable beings. O World-Honoured One! From now on, we have no master, no parents, no salvation, no protection, no place wherein to take refuge, and no place to go. we shall be poor and hunger-ridden. Following the Tathagata, we desire to gain food for the days to come. Please have pity and accept our petty offerings, and, then, enter Nirvana. O World-Honoured One! This is as in the case of a Kshatriya, Brahmin, Vaishya or Sudra, who, being poor, goes to a far-off country. He works at farming and indeed gains a trained cow. The land is good, flat and square. There is no poor, sandy soil, no harmful weeds, no barrenness and no defilements [there]. What is needful is awaiting the rain from heaven. We say "trained cow". This may be likened to the seven actions of the body and mouth, and the good field flat and square to Wisdom. Doing away with the poor soil, harmful weeds, barrenness and defilements refers to Illusion, which we must do away with. O World-Honoured One! I now have with me the trained cow and good soil, and I have tilled the land and done away with all the weeds. I am now only awaiting the Tathagata’s sweet rain of Dharma to visit me. The four castes of poverty are none but the carnal body that I possess. I am poor, as I do not possess the superb treasure of Dharma. Pray have pity and cut away our poverty and hardships and rid us innumerable beings of our sorrow and worries. What offerings I make are paltry. But what I may think is that they will satisfy the Tathagata and Sangha. I now have no master, no parents, and no refuge. Please have pity on us, as you have on Rahula [the Buddha’s son]."
Then the World-Honoured One, the All-Knowledge [“sarvajnana”], the Unsurpassed Trainer, said to Cunda: "This is good, good indeed! I shall now cut off the roots of your poverty and let fall on your field of carnal life the unsurpassed rain of Dharma and call forth the bud of Dharma. You now desire to have from me life, body, power, peace, and unhindered speech. And I shall give to you undying life, body, power, peace, and unhindered speech. Why? O Cunda! In offerings of meals there are two fruits that know of no distinction. What are the two? Firstly, one attains “anuttarasamyaksambodhi” [unsurpassed, complete Enlightenment] when one receives it [a meal-offering]; secondly, one enters Nirvana after receiving it. I will now receive your last offering and let you accomplish danaparamita [perfected giving]."
At that, Cunda said to the Buddha: "You say that there is no difference between the results of these two offerings. But this is not so. Why not? Because in the former case of receiving dana [a charitable gift], illusion is not yet done away with [in the recipient] and he is not yet perfect in all-knowledge. And he cannot yet cause beings to enjoy danaparamita. As to the latter category of receiving dana, illusion has gone and he is accomplished in all-knowledge and can let all beings be blessed equally with danaparamita. The former man who receives offerings is still a common being, but the latter the heaven of heavens. One that receives dana in the former category is one with 1) a body supported by various kinds of food, 2) a body of illusion, 3) a body where there yet remains the result of illusion, and 4) a non-eternal body. A person who receives dana in the second category has 1) the body of no illusion, 2) the adamantine body, 3) the Dharma body 4) the eternal body, and 5) the boundless body. How can one say that the results of the dana performed in the two categories are one and do not differ? The person who receives dana in the former category is one not yet accomplished in danaparamita [and other paramitas] up to prajnaparamita [perfected Wisdom]. He only has the fleshly eye, but not the Buddha-eye, nor the eye of Wisdom. The case of the person receiving dana in the latter category is that of one perfect in danaparamita up to prajnaparamita, and also in the fleshly eye up to the eye of Wisdom. How can we say that the results of the two danas are the same and that there is no difference? O World-honoured One! In the case of the former, one who receives dana takes meals which get into his abdomen and get digested, and he gains life, carnal body, power, ease, and unhindered speech. In the case of the latter, the person does not eat, digest, and there are no results of the five things. How can we say that the results of the two danas are one and the same and not different?"
The Buddha said: "O good man! The Tathagata, already, since innumerable, boundless asamkhyas of kalpas [aeons] ago, has had no body supported by food and illusion, and he has no body where there yet remains the result of illusion. He is the Eternal, the Dharma Body, and the Adamantine Body. O good man! One who has not yet seen “Buddhata “[Buddha-Nature, Buddha-Essence, Buddha-ness] is called the illusion-body, the body supported by various kinds of food, and the body where there yet remains the result of illusion. The Bodhisattva, as he partakes of the food [offered to him just before Enlightenment] enters the adamantine samadhi [deepest meditative state]. When that food is digested, he sees “Buddhata” and attains unsurpassed Bodhi [Enlightenment]. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. The Bodhisattva, at that time, crushes the four Maras [Illusion, skandhas, death, and the heavenly Mara]. Now, entering Nirvana, he crushes the four Maras. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. The Bodhisattva, at that time, does not widely speak about the twelve types of Buddhist sutras [categorisation of the Buddhist scriptures into 12 types], but he is versed in these already. Now, upon entering Nirvana, he speaks expansively of them for beings’ sake. That is why I say that the results of the two danas are equal and that they are not different. O good man! The body of the Tathagata has not partaken of food and drink for innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas past. But for all sravakas’ ["listeners" to the Buddha’s teachings] sake, I say that I took the milk-cooked porridge offered by Nanda and Nandabala, the two shepherd women, and that, thereafter, I attained unsurpassed Bodhi. But, in truth, I did not take it. Now, for the sake of the people congregated here, I shall accept your offerings. But, in truth, I do not partake of it."
Then, hearing that the Buddha-World-Honoured One, for the sake of the people congregated there, would take Cunda’s last offerings, they were glad and overjoyed, and said in praise: "How wonderful, how wonderful! It is rare, O Cunda! You now have a name; your name is not for nothing. Cunda means "understanding wonderful significations"! You have now established such great signification. You build up what is true, you accord with the signification, and gain your name. That is why you are Cunda. You, now, in this life, will gain great name, profit, virtue, and vows. It is rare, O Cunda, to be born as a man and attain the unsurpassed profit which is the most difficult to achieve. It is good, O Cunda! You are the udumbara [plant], which is said to put out flowers only on very rare occasions. It is very rare that the Buddha appears in the world. It is also hard to meet with the Buddha, gain faith, and hear [his] sermons. It is harder still to be able to make the final offerings to him at the time of his entering Nirvana and well attain all this. Well done, well done, O Cunda! You are now perfect in danaparamita. This is as on the 15th of the autumnal month, when the moon is pure and full, when there is not a speck of cloud in the heavens, and all beings look up and [utter] praise. The same is the case with you, whom we look up to and praise. The Buddha now takes your last offerings and makes you perfect in danaparamita. Oh, well done, O Cunda! We say that you are like the full moon, which all people look up to. Well done, O Cunda! Though a man, your mind is of the Buddha. O Cunda! You truly are like the Buddha’s son, Rahula. There is no difference."
The Buddha said to Cunda: "It is thus, it is thus! All is as you say. It is rare that the Buddha appears in the world. It is as in the case of the udumbara. It is, again, hard to meet with the Buddha and gain faith. To be present at the moment of the Buddha’s entering Nirvana, to offer him food and thus accomplish danaparamita is as difficult. O Cunda! Do not be sorry now. Be glad that you now give the final offerings to the Tathagata and accomplish well danaparamita. Do not ask the Buddha to remain long in life. You now should meditate on the world of all Buddhas. All is non-eternal. It is the same with all created things and their natures and characteristics." For the sake of Cunda, he said in a gatha:
And they easily break up. Resentment attacks one;
Then Cunda said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is so, it is so. All is as you, Holy One, say. What wisdom I possess is paltry and of low grade. I am like a mosquito or sawfly. How can I contemplate the deepest ground of the Tathagata’s Nirvana? O World-Honoured One! I am now like any great naga or elephant of a Bodhisattva-mahsattva who has cut off the bond of illusion. I am like Dharmarajaputra Manjushri. O World-Honoured One! It is like one who enters the Order at a young age. Though upholding the precepts, that person is still just of the class of ordinary monks. I, too, am one such. Due to the power of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, I am now one of the number of such great Bodhisattvas. That is why I beseech the Tathagata to stay long in life and not enter Nirvana. This is similar to a hunger-stricken man who has nothing more to put out. I only pray that the same will be the case with the World-Honoured One and that he will stay long in life and not enter Nirvana."
"Also, next, O Manjushri! It is as in the case of a poor woman who has no house to live in and nobody to take care of her. Added to this, she is very ill and hungry. So she roams about, begs for food, stays in another’s house, and gives birth to a child. The owner of the house drives her away. She holds this child and decides to go abroad. On the way, she meets with a bad storm and rain; cold presses down upon her. Mosquitoes, gadflies, bees and poisonous insects noisily attack her. She carries her child and means to cross the Ganges. The water moves quickly, but she holds the child and does not let go her grip on him. The mother and child both drown. This woman, because of her compassionate deed, is born after her death in Brahma’s heaven. O Manjushri! Any good man who desires to guard Wonderful Dharma should not say: "The Tathagata is like all things"or "he is not so." One should only reproach one’s own self and think: "I am but ignorant; I do not have the eye of Wisdom." The Tathagata’s Wonderful Dharma cannot at all be conceived. Because of this, it is not fitting for us to say that the Tathagata is truly a thing definitely made, or a thing which is not made. What it is right to say is: "The Tathagata is definitely an Uncreate [that which was not made]. Because [of this] good arises for us beings and out of the compassionate heart. This is as in the case of the poor woman who, out of love for her child, sacrificed her own self. O good man! With the Bodhisattva who guards Dharma, it is thus. One might well sacrifice one’s own self, but one cannot say that the Tathagata is equal to the created. One must say that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. By saying that the Tathagata is an Uncreate, one gains unsurpassed Enlightenment. This is as in the case of the woman born in Brahma’s heaven. Why? Through protecting Dharma. What do we mean by protecting Dharma? That is, saying that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. O good man! Such a one does not seek emancipation, yet it comes of itself. It is as in the case of the poor woman who does not seek to be born in Brahma’s heaven, and yet Brahma responds. It is like this. O Manjushri! A person may be going on a long journey. On the way, he becomes very tired and puts up at another person’s house. While he is asleep, a great fire breaks out. At once he gets up and thinks: "I shall now surely die." As he repents, he puts on his clothing. He dies and gets reborn in Trayastrimsa Heaven. Then, after 80 lives, he becomes Great Brahma. After 100 thousand lives, he gets reborn as a man and becomes a chakravartin [world’s greatest monarch]. This person does not gain life in the three unfortunate realms. Life is repeated, and he is born in places where peace always reigns. This is how things go. Because of this, one possessing repentance should, O Manjushri, meditate on the Buddha, but not regard him as the same as that which is created. O Manjushri! The tirthikas and those of bent mind may say that the Tathagata is the same as the created. The bhiksu who upholds the precepts should not think that the Tathagata is a created existence. Should one say that the Tathagata is one created, this is nothing but a false statement. After death, such a person will fall into hell, as surely as one is in one’s own house. O Manjushri! The Tathagata is truly an Uncreate. One must not say that he is a created being. You should henceforth in this life of birth and death abandon ignorance and take to right Wisdom. Know well that the Tathagata is an Uncreate. One who meditates well on the Tathagata will be perfect in the 32 signs of perfection and will attain unsurpassed Enlightenment."
Then Dharmarajaputra Manjushri praised Cunda and said: "Well spoken, well spoken, O good man! You have already done what will beget you an endless life. You well know that the Tathagata is one eternal and unchanging, and is an Uncreate. You now well shield the Tathagata’s created-form existence. One who encounters fire covers his body with clothing because of repentance. This good mind gains him birth in Trayastrimsa Heaven. He becomes Brahma and a chakravartin, and he does not get born into the unfortunate realms and thus will always enjoy peace. That is how things will go with you. As you well shield the created form of the Tathagata, you will in the days to come gain the 32 signs of perfection, the 80 minor marks of excellence, and the 18 characteristics peculiar solely to the Buddha. Your life will become endless, with no more bonds of samsara. There will always be an eternal flow of peace and happiness, and before long a day will come when you will awaken in the light of the Alms-deserving and the All-Enlightened One. O Cunda! The Tathagata himself will speak more expansively later on. And you and I shall shield the created body of the Tathagata. Set aside, for the present, questions of the created and the non-created.
"You should, as you see proper, quickly offer meals. To offer thus is the best of all offerings. The bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas may have undergone a long journey; they may be extremely tired. Give the purest things as required. Thus speedily giving is the fundamental thing, to be perfect in danaparamita. O Cunda! Give the final offerings to the Buddha and Sangha, more or less, full or not full, quick as the occasion requires. The Tathagata will rightly be entering Parinirvana" Cunda said: "O Manjushri! Why is it that you so greedily care about the meal and make me give more or less, full or not full, in answer to the requirement of the occasion? O Manjushri! The Tathagata in the past practised penance for six years and supported himself. Why could he not now when it is just a matter of a moment? O Manjushri! Do you say that the Tathagata, the Right-Enlightened One, truly means to accept this meal? But I definitely know that the Tathagata is the Dharma-Body and that he is no carnal body that partakes of food."
Then the Buddha said to Manjushri: "It is thus, it is thus. It is as Cunda says. Well said, O Cunda! You have already attained the delicate point of great Wisdom and you now master the Mahayana sutras." Manjushri said to Cunda: "You say that the Tathagata is an Uncreate; the Tathagata’s body is of long life. If this is said, the Tathagata will be pleased." Cunda answered: "The Tathagata is not pleased with me alone; he is also pleased with all beings." Manjushri said: "The Tathagata will be pleased with you and with all of us beings." Cunda answered: "Do not say that the Tathagata is pleased. Now, to get pleased is an inverted mind. An inverted mind is birth and death. Birth and death are of created existence. So, O Manjushri! Do not say that the Tathagata is a created existence. If you say that the Tathagata is a created existence, I and you commit an inversion [of truth]. O Manjushri! The Tathagata has no thought of love [attachment]. Now, love is like the case of a milking cow which, loving her own child, feels hunger and thirst, goes and seeks water-grass, and whether satisfied or not, suddenly turns back. The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One does not have such a mind. He sees all as equally as he sees Rahula. To think thus is what applies in the world of Wisdom of the All-Enlightened One. O Manjushri! For example, a carriage drawn by a donkey cannot stand comparison with one drawn by the four trained horses of a king. The case with me and you is also like this. It is impossible to fathom the minute and hidden depths of what is with the Tathagata, even if we try. O Manjushri! The garuda flies innumerable yojanas in the sky.He looks down on the great sea and sees such things of the water as fish, soft-shelled turtles, snapping turtles, crocodiles, tortoises, and nagas, and also his own shadow reflected in the water. He sees all these just as one sees all visible forms in a mirror. The petty wisdom of the common mortal cannot well weigh what comes to his eye. The same is the case with me and you too. We cannot weigh the Tathagata’s Wisdom." Manjushri said to Cunda: "It is thus, it is thus. It is as you say. It is not that I do not see this. I only meant to test you regarding what belongs to the world of a Bodhisattva."
Also, he said to the great assembly: "Let us all cast down our whole body to the ground and beseech the Buddha not to enter Parinirvana." Then the Buddha said to Cunda: "Do not cry and unsettle your mind. Think that this body is like a plantain, a mirage in the hot season, watery foam, a phantom, a transformed body, the castle of a gandharva, an unfired brick, lightning, a picture drawn on water, a prisoner facing death, ripe fruit, a piece of meat, the warp on a loom which is about to end, and the ups and downs of a mortar. You should think that all created things are like poisonous food and that anything made is possessed of all worries."
Then Cunda again said to the Buddha: "It is thus, it is thus! All is as you kindly teach me. The Tathagata enters Nirvana for expediency’s sake. But I cannot help being sad. Be this as it may, I bethink me and feel glad." The Buddha praised Cunda and said: "Well said, well said! You well know that the Tathagata, following the way of all beings, enters Nirvana for expediency’s sake. Hear me well! It is as in the case in which sarasa [eastern bean goose] birds all gather at Lake Anavatapta [Manasarwar] in the spring months. The same is the case with all Buddhas. All gather here. O Cunda! Think not long or short regarding the life of all Buddhas. All things are like phantoms. The Tathagata lives in between. What he has is expediency; he does not cling. Why not? It is thus with the Dharma of all Buddhas. O Cunda! I now take what you offer. This is to allow you to cross the river of birth and death. Man or heaven who make offerings [to Buddha] for the last time, all gain an unshakable recompense and will be blessed with happiness. Why? Because I am the best field of weal for all beings. If you desire to become a field of weal for all beings, take whatever is given you. Do not tarry long."
Then Cunda, for the sake of the emancipation of all beings, hung his head and suppressed his tears, and said to the Buddha: "Very well, O World-Honoured One! When I am worthy of becoming a field of weal, I shall be able to fathom the Nirvana or non-Nirvana of the Tathagata. Now we and all sravakas and pratyekabuddhas are like mosquitoes or sawflies, and cannot well weigh the Nirvana or non-Nirvana of the Tathagata."
Then Cunda and his relatives all wept sorrowfully and walked around the body of the Tathagata, burnt incense, strew flowers, and most sincerely paid homage to the Buddha, and then stood up together with Manjushri, and brought forward the utensils of offerings."
Chapter Three: On Grief
Of shaking, there are two kinds: one is a shaking and the other a great shaking. The little shaking is a [mere] shaking and the one that shakes greatly is a great shaking. The one that generates a small sound is a shaking, and the one that generates a great sound is a great shaking. The shaking where only the earth shakes is a shaking, and that where the mountains, forests, rivers, seas and everything else shakes is a great shaking. That which shakes in one direction is a shaking, and that which shakes round and round is a great shaking. The type that moves is a shaking, and the type where beings’ minds get shaken is a great shaking. The shaking which occurs when the Bodhisattva comes down from Tushita Heaven to Jambudvipa is a great shaking. The shakings when the Bodhisattva takes birth on this earth, when he leaves home, attains unsurpassed Enlightenment, turns the wheel of Dharma, and enters Parinirvana are great shakings. Today the Tathagata was about to enter Nirvana. That is why the earth shook.
Then, all the heavens, nagas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, humans, and non-humans heard this and their hair stood on end and, in one voice, they cried out and wailed. They said in a gatha:
"O Trainer of men! We now bow and beseech you!
Then the World-Honoured One spoke in a gatha for all the congregation: "All of you! Open your mind, do not greatly distress yourselves.The teachings of all Buddhas are thus. So, keep silence. Try not to be indolent, Guard your mind, abide in right thought, Segregate your own selves from unlawful acts; Console yourselves and be happy.
"Also, next, O bhiksus! If you have any doubts, ask now. If you have doubt as to Void versus non-Void, Eternal versus non-Eternal, Suffering versus non-Suffering, dependent versus non-dependent, gone versus not-gone, refuge versus non-refuge, always versus not-always, impermanence versus the Eternal, beings versus non-beings, "is" versus "not-is", the Real versus the not-Real, the True versus the not-True, extinction versus non-extinction, esoteric versus non-esoteric, and the dual versus the non-dual, I shall speak to you accordingly. For your sake, too, I shall first speak of the manna and then enter Nirvana.
"O bhiksus! It is hard to encounter the appearance of the Buddha in the world. It is hard to be born human. It is hard, too, to encounter the Buddha and gain faith. It is also hard to hear the unhearable. It is hard again to uphold and be perfect in the prohibitive injunctions and to attain arhatship. This is like trying to find gold in sand. It is as in the case of the udumbara. O Bhiksus! It is hard to be born a human, by segregating one’s self from the eight inopportune situations [vices that bar the way to meeting the Buddha and hearing his teachings].
"O you! Having now met me, do not go away empty-handed. I underwent hardships in the past, and now I gain all such unsurpassed expedients. For your sake, innumerable kalpas ago, I cast away my body, hands, feet, head, eyes, marrow, and brain. In view of this, do not subject your selves to indolence. O Bhiksus! How do we adorn the treasure-castle of Wonderful Dharma? By adorning our own selves with various virtues and rare gems, and being protected by the bulwarks and moats of the precepts [shila], meditation [dhyana] and Wisdom [prajna]. Now, you have met with this castle of Buddhist teaching. Do not take what is false. For example, a merchant may come across a castle of true treasures, yet gather up such rubbish as tiles and gravel, and return home. The same with you. You have come to a castle of treasures, and yet you take what is false. O all you Bhiksus! Do not be satisfied with a low mind. You are now ordained, but you do not love Mahayana that much. O you Bhiksus! You wear on your bodies the kasaya and dyed robes of a priest, but your mind is still not dyed in the pure Dharma of Mahayana. O you Bhiksus! You go to many places and beg alms, but you do not seek the dishes of the Dharma of Mahayana. O Bhiksus! You shave your hair, but you do not shave off the bond of illusion. O you Bhiksus! I now teach you truly. Now I see that all is in harmony and the Dharma nature of the Tathagata is true and unshakable. So, make effort, all of you! Pick yourselves up, be brave and make away with all the bonds of illusion! If the sun of Wisdom of the 10 powers [of Buddhahood] sinks, darkness will reign over you. O you Bhiksus! It is as when the great earth, mountains, and medicinal herbs all become of use to beings. The same is the case with the Dharma of which I speak. It calls forth wonderfully good and sweet dishes of Dharma and provides the best cure for beings’ illnesses of illusion. I shall now make all beings my disciples and the four classes of the Buddhist Sangha abide in the undisclosed teaching of Dharma. I, too, abide in this and enter Nirvana. What is the undisclosed storehouse? It is like the three dots [in Sanskrit] of the letter "i". If they are in a crosswise line, they make no "i". Placed vertically, they again serve no purpose. But when set like the three dots on the brow of Mahesvara, this is "i". If the three dots are written separately, this again serves no purpose. So is it also with me. The Dharma of emancipation is also [by itself] not Nirvana. The Tathagata’s body is also not Nirvana. Great Wisdom is also not Nirvana. The three things may exist separately, but this does not constitute Nirvana. I now peacefully abide in the three and say that, for the sake of all beings, I enter Nirvana. This is as in the case of the letter "i".
Then all the bhiksus, on hearing that the Buddha-World-Honoured One would definitely enter Nirvana, were sad. Their hair stood on end and their tears and noses ran. They fell to the ground, touched the Buddha’s feet, walked around his person innumerable times, and said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You explain very well to us the Eternal, Suffering, the All-Void, and non-Self. Just as all beings leave behind footprints and the best of all footprints are those of the elephant, so with this thought of the non-Eternal: it heads all thoughts. One who makes effort and practises well, does away with all love of greed, of the worlds of rupadhatu and arupadhatu, ignorance, arrogance, and the thought of the non-Eternal in this world of desire. O World-Honoured One! If the Tathagata is away from the thought of the non-Eternal, he should not enter Nirvana now. If not, how can you say: "If one practises the meditation upon the non-Eternal, one cuts off from oneself love [craving], ignorance, arrogance, and the non-Eternal of the three worlds?" O World-Honoured One! As a farmer, in autumn, deeply tills the land and thus removes all harmful weeds, so it is the same with this thought of the non-Eternal. It thoroughly rids one of the love of greed, the love of the things of the rupadhatu, arupadhatu, ignorance, arrogance, and the thought of the non-Eternal in the world of desire. O World-Honoured One! Of all tillings of the field, that done in autumn is the best. Of all footprints, that of the elephant is best. And of all thoughts, that of the non-eternal is the best. O World-Honoured One! Analogously, when an emperor is to pass away, amnesty is granted to all prisoners. Then he passes away. The same now with the Tathagata. Please cut off the illusions of the bond of ignorance and non-brightness of all beings, give them emancipation, and then enter Nirvana. We are not yet emancipated. Now, does the Tathagata desert us and enter Nirvana? O World-Honoured One! One may be caught by a demon. But as one comes across a good charmer, by dint of incantation, one can well gain one’s release. The same is the case with the Tathagata. For the sake of all sravakas, he expels the devil of ignorance, and lets them abide peacefully, as in the case of the letter "i", in such Laws as the great Wisdom, emancipation, and others. O World-Honoured One! For example, people may bind up a gandhahastin, but even a good trainer cannot get him under control. All of a sudden, it snaps off the rope and chain and walks away as it wills. The same is the case here. We are not yet rid of the 57 illusions. Why does the World-Honoured One desire to abandon us and enter Nirvana? O World-Honoured One! A person suffering from ague obtains a cure for his ailments by encountering a good doctor. The same with us. There are all ailments and sorrows, ill ways of living, fevers, etc. [here]. We have met with the Tathagata, but the illnesses have not gone, and we have not obtained supernal peace and bliss. How can the Tathagata desire to abandon us and enter Nirvana? An intoxicated person does not himself know who is near or not, mother or sister, and is lost in rudeness and lust, and lacks the faculty of speech, and sleeps in defiled places. There happens to be a good doctor [nearby], who gives him medicine. After taking it, he vomits and regains his health; consciousness [conscience] asserts itself and repentance catches him. He reproaches himself very much and regards drink as the root of all vile acts. If he could cut himself free from drinking, his ill acts would cease. The same here. O World-Honoured One! For long, we have been repeating birth and death. We were lost in sensual pleasures and greedily took up the five desires. One who is not mother is taken as mother, not sister as sister, not female as female, and not beings as beings. Because of this, transmigration proceeds and one suffers from birth and death. This is like one intoxicated lying in defilement. O Tathagata! Please give us the medicine of Dharma, and let us vomit up the vile drinks of illusion. We are not yet awakened. Why, O Tathagata, do you mean to abandon us and enter Nirvana?
"All things have no Self and nothing belonging to Self. O you Bhiksus! Learn and practise [this]!" Once this is practised, self-conceit goes away. Self-conceit gone, one enters Nirvana. O World-Honoured One! No tracks of birds exist in the sky. Such can never be. One practising selflessness meditation can have no various views of life. Nothing such as this is possible."
Then, the World-Honoured One praised all the bhiksus and said: "It is good, it is good, that you practise the selflessness meditation." Then all bhiksus said to the Buddhha: "We not only practise the selflessness meditation, but even other meditations, to wit, all those on Suffering, the non-Eternal, and Selflessness. O World-Honoured One! When intoxicated, the mind spins round, and all mountains, rivers, castles, palaces, the sun, moon and stars appear to spin round too. O World-Honoured One! Any person who does not practise the meditation of the non-Eternal and Selflessness cannot be called a sage. Due to indolence, one repeats birth and death. O World-Honoured One! Because of this, we all practise such meditations."
Then the Buddha said to all the bhiksus: "Hear me well, hear me well! Now, you mention the case of an intoxicated person. This refers to knowledge, but not the signification. What do I mean by signification? The intoxicated person sees the sun and moon, which do not move, but he thinks they do. The same is the case with beings. As all illusion and ignorance overhang [the mind], the mind turns upside down and takes Self for non-Self, Eternal for non-Eternal, Purity as non-Pure, and Bliss as sorrow. Overhung by illusion, this thought arises. Though this though arises, the meaning is not gained [realised]. This is as in the case of the intoxicated person who takes what does not move as moving. The Self’ signifies the Buddha; ’the Eternal’ signifies the Dharmakaya; ’Bliss’ signifies Nirvana, and ’the Pure’ signifies Dharma. Bhiksus, why is it said that one who has the idea of a Self is arrogant and haughty, traversing round Samsara? Bhiksus, although you might say, ’We also cultivate impermanence, suffering, and non-Self, these three kinds of cultivation have no real value/ meaning. I shall now explain the excellent three ways of cultivating Dharma. To think of suffering as Bliss and to think of Bliss as suffering, is perverse Dharma; to think of the impermanent as the Eternal and to think of the Eternal as impermanent is perverse Dharma; to think of the non-Self [anatman]as the Self [atman] and to think of the Self [atman] as non-Self [anatman] is perverse Dharma; to think of the impure as the Pure and to think of the Pure as impure is perverse Dharma. Whoever has these four kinds of perversion, that person does not know the correct cultivation of dharmas. Bhiksus, you give rise to the idea of Bliss with regard to phenomena associated with suffering; the idea of Eternity with regard to phenomena associated with impermanence; the idea of the Self with regard to phenomena without Self; and the idea of Purity with regard to phenomena that are impure. Both the mundane and also the supramundane have the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and Purity. Mundane teachings [dharmas] have letters and are without meaning [referents]; the Supramundane [teachings] have letters and meaning. Why? Because mundane people have these four perversions, they are unacquainted with the [true] meaning/ referents. Why? Having these perverse ideas, their minds and vision are distorted. Through these three perversions, mundane people see suffering in Bliss, impermanence in the Eternal, non-Self in the Self, and impurity in the Pure. These are called perversions/ inversions. Because of these perversions/ inversions, mundane people know the letters but not the meaning [referents]. What is the meaning/referent? Non-Self is Samsara, the Self is the Tathagata; impermanence is the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, the Eternal is the Tathagata’s Dharmakaya; suffering is all tirthikas, Bliss is Nirvana; the impure is all compounded [samskrta] dharmas , the Pure is the true Dharma that the Buddha and Bodhisattvas have. This is called non-perversion/ non-inversion. By not being inverted [in one’s views], one will know [both] the letter and the meaning. If one desires to be freed from the four perverse/ inverted [views - catur-viparita-drsti], one should know the Eternal, Blissful, the Self and the Pure in this manner."
Then, all the bhiksus said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! As you say, if we segregate ourselves from the four inversions, we shall know the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. As you have eternally cut off the four inversions, you know well the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. If you know well the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, why not stay here a kalpa or half a kalpa, and teach us and turn us away from the inversions? And yet you abandon us and desire to enter Nirvana. If you look back at us and teach us, we shall surely listen and practise the Way with all attention. If the Tathagata must at all costs enter Nirvana, how would we be able to remain with this poisoned body and carry out the actions of the Way? We would also follow the Buddha-World-Honoured One and enter Nirvana."
Then the Buddha said to all the bhiksus: "Do not say this. I now leave all the unsurpassed Dharma in the hands of Mahakasyapa. This Kasyapa will henceforth be the one upon whom you may rely. This is as in the case where the Tathagata becomes the one to whom all beings can turn. The same is the case with Mahakasyapa. He will now become your refuge. This is as in the case of a king who has many territories and who goes on a tour of inspection, leaving all affairs of state in the hands of his minister. The same with the Tathagata. All right teachings are left in the hands of Mahakasyapa. Know that all that you have learned up to now about the non-eternal and suffering is not true. In spring, for example, people go bathing in a big pond. They are enjoying themselves, sailing in a boat, when they drop a gem of beryl into the depths of the water, after which it can no longer be seen. Then they all get into the water and search for this gem. They competitively scoop up all such rubbish as tiles, stones, bits of wood, and gravel, and say that they have the beryl. They are glad and take the things out, and see that what they hold in their hands is not true. The gem is still in the water. By the power of the gem itself, the water becomes clear and transparent. As a result, the people see that the gem is still in the water, as clearly as when they look up and see the form of the moon in the sky. At that time, there is a wise man there who, working out a power, slowly gets into the water and gains the gem. O you Bhiksus! Do not abide in the thought of the non-Eternal, Suffering, non-Self, and the not-Pure and be in the situation of those people who take stones, bits of wood, and gravel to be the true gem. You must study well the Way, how to act, wherever you go, and “meditate on the Self, the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure”. Know that the outer forms of the four items which you have learnt up to now are inversions and that anyone who desires to practise the Way should act like the wise man who deftly gets hold of the gem. This refers to the so-called thought of Self, and that of the Eternal, Bliss, and Pure."
Then all the bhiksus said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You, the Buddha, said before that all things have no Self, that we should practise this and that, when practised, the thought of Self goes away, and that once the thought of Self is done away with, one does away with arrogance and that, arrogance once done away with, one gains Nirvana. Thus did you say "How might we understand this?"
The Buddha said to all the bhiksus: "Well said, well said! You ask this question and intend to dispel your doubt. Imagine: there is a king, who is dull-witted. He has little wisdom. And there is a doctor, who is obstinate. But the King does not know this and pays him a salary. This doctor uses the products of milk to cure all illnesses. Also, he does not know where the illnesses come from. He may be versed in the medicine of milk, but for him there exists no difference between a cold and a fever. He prescribes milk for all illnesses. This King was unaware that this doctor was ignorant of the pleasing and non-pleasing, the good and bad aspects of milk. But there was a Doctor who knew eight different treatments for illnesses and who was able to cure all diseases. This Doctor was versed in prescription and medicines and had come from a far-off place. And the King’s doctor did not know how to ask and learn. He was rash and haughty. So the learned Doctor cordially invited the King’s doctor and looked up to him [as an expedient] as his master and asked of him the secret of treatment. He said to the King’s doctor: "I now invite you and make you my teacher. Please be good enough to teach me." The King’s doctor said: "If you serve me for 48 years, I will teach you the art of medicine. " Then, at these words, the learned Doctor said: "I shall do as you tell me. I shall do my best and run errands." Then the King’s doctor, taking the learned Doctor along with him, went to see the King. At this, the visiting Doctor explained to the King the various ways of treatment and even other things. He said: "Please know, O great King! Know well! This Dharma is like this and you will well cure illnesses." On hearing this, the King recognised the ignorance and lack of knowledge of his own doctor. He at once drove him out of the country. And he respected the new Doctor all the more. Then the new Doctor said to himself: "It is now time to teach the King." He said to the King: "O great King! If you truly love me, please make me a promise!" The King replied: "I shall give you, should you desire it, even my right hand or any part of my body." The new Doctor said: "You may give me all statuses, but I myself do not wish to have much. What I desire you to do for me is to proclaim to the people of every corner of your land that henceforth they are not to use the milk medicine, which the former doctor told them to use. Why not? Because much harm and poisonous results arise [from it]. Any person who still takes this medicine should be beheaded. If the milk medicine is not used, there will be no untimely deaths; all will go in peace. That is why I ask this of you." Then the King said: "What you ask me to do is a trifle. I shall at once issue an order and see to it that anyone who is ill does no take milk as a medicine. Any person who does will be beheaded." At this, the learned Doctor made several kinds of medicine, which tasted pungent, butter, salty, sweet, and sour. With these, treatment was given, and there was no case in which illness could not be cured.
"After some time, the King himself became ill, and the Doctor was called in. The King said: "I am now ill. How am I to be cured?" The Doctor thought about the illness of the King and saw that the milk medicine was good [here]. So he said to the King: "What you are now suffering from can very well be cured by milk. What I said before about the milk medicine was not true. If you take it now, you will be cured. You are now suffering from a fever. It is right that you should take milk." Then the King said to the Doctor: "Are you mad? Is it a fever? And you say that if I take milk, it will cure me? Before, you said it was poison. Now you tell me to take it. How is this? Do you mean to cheat me? What the former doctor said was good, [yet] you despised it and said that it was poison, and you made me drive him away. Now you say that it well cures illness. From you you say, the former doctor ought to excel you."
"Then the learned Doctor said to the King: "O King! Do not say this, please. A worm eats on [a piece of] wood and [the shape of] a letter comes out. This worm does not know anything of letters. A wise person sees this. But he does not say that this worm understands letters. And he is not overcome by surprise. O great King! Please know: so was it also with the former doctor. To all illnesses he gave medicine made from milk. This is as in the case of the worm that eats on wood, as a result of which a form like a letter emerges. The former doctor did not know how to distinguish between the pleasing and non-pleasing aspects, the good and the bad." Then the King wanted to know: "What do you mean he did not know?" The guest Doctor answered the King: "This milk medicine is harmful, but it is also a manna." "How can you say that this milk is manna?" "If you milking cow has not taken the lees, the slippery grass and the wheat refuse, and if the calf fares well, and if the cow was not grazed too high up on the land or in a low and wet place, if the cow is given pure water and not made to run or made to live among the bulls, and if feeding is done regularly, and if the place it lives in is fit, the milk gained from such a cow well does away with all illnesses. This can well be called the manna of medicine. Any other milk is poison."
"On hearing this, the King praised the great Doctor: "Well said, well said, O great Doctor! Today, for the first time in my life, I know of the pleasing and non-pleasing, that which is good and not good in the milk medicine. Taking this, I am now well. I shall at once proclaim to the people that they may well take the milk medicine." On hearing this, the people of the country, angry and resentful, said: "The great King is now caught by a devil. Is he mad? He cheats us and makes us take milk." All the people, angry and resentful, came to the King. The King said to them: "Be not angry, and have no resentment. To take milk or not to take it all comes from the science of medicine. I am not to blame." At this, the great King and the people all jumped for joy. They all the more respected and honoured the Doctor, and made offerings to him. That is how all the people took the milk medicine and regained their health.
"Know, O you Bhiksus! The same is the case with the Tathagata, the Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened-One, the Unsurpassed Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, the Buddha-World-Honoured One. He comes as a great Doctor and subdues all tirthikas and bad doctors. In the presence of kings and all people, he says: "I shall become the King of doctors and subdue tirthikas." Thus we say: "There is no self, no man, no being, no life, no nurturing, no knowing, none that does, and none that receives." O Bhiksus! Know that what the tirthikas say is like the case of a worm that eats upon [a piece of] wood, from which, by chance, there appears what looks like a letter. Because of this, the Tathagata teaches and says no-self. This is to adjust beings and because he is aware of the occasion. Such non-self is, as occasion arises, spoken of, and it is [also] said that there is the Self. This is as in the case of the learned Doctor, who knows well the medicinal and non-medicinal qualities of milk. It is not as with common mortals, who might measure the size of their own self. Common mortals and the ignorant may measure the size of their own self and say, ’It is like the size of a thumb, like a mustard seed, or like the size of a mote.’ When the Tathagata speaks of Self, in no case are things thus. That is why he says: ’All things have no Self.’
Even though he has said that all phenomena [dharmas] are devoid of the Self, it is not that they are completely/ truly devoid of the Self. What is this Self? Any phenomenon [dharma] that is true [satya], real [tattva], eternal [nitya], sovereign/ autonomous/ self-governing [aisvarya], and whose ground/ foundation is unchanging [asraya-aviparinama], is termed ’the Self’ [atman]. This is as in the case of the great Doctor who well understands the milk medicine. The same is the case with the Tathagata. For the sake of beings, he says "there is the Self in all things" O you the four classes! Learn Dharma thus!"
Chapter Four: On Long Life
The Buddha said to all the bhiksus: "If you have any doubt about the moral precepts, you are free to ask questions. I shall now explain and fully satisfy you. I have already practised the Way and clearly attained the true nature of the All-Void of all things. O Bhiksus! Only the Tathagata has practised the true nature of the All-Void of all things." He also said to the bhiksus: "If you have any doubts, ask me, all of you!" Then the bhiksus said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! With the wisdom that we have, we can put no questions to the Tathagata, the Alms-deserving and All-Enlightened One. Why not? The world of the Tathagata cannot be known by us. All samadhis cannot be thought of. Whatever is said is not within the compass of our comprehension. So, with what wisdom we have, there can be no posing of questions to the Tathagata. O World-Honoured One! There is a man, for example, who is 120 years old. Suffering from a long illness, he is in bed and cannot get up. His vitality has gone, so that he cannot live long. There is a rich man there who is on his way to far-off places on business. He gives this man a hundred pounds of gold and says: "I intend to go on a journey and entrust this treasure to you. After 10 or 20 years, I shall come back, when my business is concluded. When I am home again, give this back to me." The sick old man receives it. And he has none to succeed him. After some time, the illness develops and he dies, and what was entrusted to him cannot be found. The person who entrusted the treasure to him comes back from his journey, looks around, but cannot find the man. One like this, being ignorant, cannot think and weigh the good and bad of entrusting a thing to the hands of another person. So, on coming back, he does not know where to look. Thus the treasure gets lost. O World-honoured One! It is the same with us sravakas. We hear the kind admonition of the Tathagata, but we cannot hold it long. It is as with the old man who is entrusted with treasure. We are ignorant now and do not know what to ask regarding the precepts." The Buddha said to the bhiksus: "If you question me now, it will benefit all beings. That is why I say that you should ask about any doubts you may have." Then, all the bhiksus said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Imagine, for example: there is a man here of 25, full of vitality and right and proper. He has many treasures, such as gold, silver, beryl, etc. He has his parents, wife, children, relatives, and all his family. Then a man comes and hands over a treasure to him, saying: "I have things to do and am about to go on a long journey. My business concluded, I shall be back. When I am back home, return this to me." After this, the young man guards the treasure well, as though it were his own. The [young] man falls ill and says: "All this gold was entrusted to my care. When the man gets back home, give this to him. " One who is wise knows how to act and weigh things. His business concluded, the man returns, and what he had entrusted [to the other] is all safe, with nothing lost. The same with the World-Honoured One. If the treasure is entrusted to Ananda and the bhiksus, it cannot survive long. Why not? Because all sravakas and Mahakasyapa must pass away and the situation will inevitably be like that of the old man who receives the entrusted goods of the other person. Because of this, all the unsurpassed Buddhist teachings must be entrusted to the hands of all Bodhisattvas. They discuss well and the treasure will live long and flourish for infinite thousands of ages and benefit all beings enormously. This is like the case of the man in the prime of his life who receives the entrusted goods of the other person. Because of this, all Bodhisattvas can well pose questions. What wealth we have may be likened to a mosquito or sawfly. How can we question the Tathagata on the depths of the teaching?" At this, all the sravakas sank into silence.
Then, the Buddha, praised all the bhiksus and said: "It is good, it is good that you have all attained the unleakable [undefiled, asrava-free] mind of the arhat. I also thought of this once myself. Because of these two circumstances [i.e. that the sravakas cannot and the Bodhisattvas can pose questions], I entrust the Mahayana to all the Bodhisattvas and allow this Wonderful Dharma to live long". Then the Buddha said to all the congregation: "O all good men and women! You cannot calculate the length of my life. No unhindered speech of a Bodhisattva can fully express this. You may, if you will, ask me about the precepts or how to take refuge. You may do this a second or third time."
note i.e. the word as a composite, made from joining the Sanskrit alphabets and possessing meaning, and the alphabetical letters and phonetic symbols in the case of Sanskrit"
At that time, among those congregated, there was a Bodhisattva-mahasattva of the stage of the boyhood abode [ie. on the 9th of the 10 Bodhisattva levels]. He had been born into a Brahmin family in a hamlet called Tara. His family name was Mahakasyapa. By the divine power of the Buddha, he rose from his seat, bared his right elbow [shoulder] and walked around the Buddha 100 thousand times, and placing his right knee on the ground and folding his hands, said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! I would now like to ask something of the Buddha. If you will allow me, I desire to speak." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "The Tathagata, the Alms-deserving and All-Enlightened One allows you to say anything. I shall expound for you, clarify your doubt, and gladden you." Then Bodhisattva Kasyapa again said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Tathagata, pitying me, gives me permission. I now shall ask. But the wisdom that I have is petty, like that of a mosquito or sawfly. You, Tathagata-WorldHonoured One, are exalted in personal virtue and are surrounded by a retinue as fragrant as sandalwood and as difficult to subdue and as invincible as a lion. The Tathagata’s person is like a true diamond. You shine like beryl. All [about you] is true and difficult to break and is surrounded by a great sea of Wisdom. All the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas congregated here are perfect in infinite and boundless depths of virtue. They are like gandhahastins. How can I put questions before such a congregation? Only now, guarded by the Buddha’s divine power and by dint of the great dignity of moral virtue of the people congregated here, shall I put some questions to you." He spoke in a gatha:
"How do we gain long life, the Adamantine and Invincible body?
Like Jambunada gold, in which no flaw can ever be detected?
Then, praising Bodhisattva Kasyapa, the Buddha said : "Well said, well said, O good man! You have not yet arrived at All-Knowledge, but I am he who has attained it. You now ask about the deepest depths of the undisclosed doctrine. Now, O good man! I, sitting under the Bodhi Tree, first attained right Enlightenment. At that time, in all Buddha-lands as numerous as the sands of countless asamkhyas of Ganges, there were Bodhisattvas. They too asked of me the meaning of this deepest doctrine. And what they said and the virtue thereof were thus, the same, not different. Asking thus, great benefits accrue to all beings." Then Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The power of my wisdom does not extend thus far as to put such deep questions to the Tathagata. O World-Honoured One! This is like a mosquito or sawfly that cannot fly over a great sea or fly round in the high heavens. The same with me. I have no power to ask the Tathagata about this great sea of Wisdom or the meaning of the great depths of space-like extension of “Dharmata”. O World-Honoured One! This is like a king who hands over to the hands of the officer in charge of treasures a bright gem that was housed in the knot of his hair, and the officer, on receiving it, increases the guard. The same is the case with me. Having received the depths of the Tathagata’s Mahayana teaching, I shall guard it all the more carefully. Why? This is but to make me attain the great depths of Wisdom."
Then the Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good man! Listen clearly, listen clearly! I shall now tell you the cause of the Tathagata’s longevity of life. The Bodhisattva, through this action, gains long life. For this reason, listen with your best attention. Having listened, speak of it to others. O good man! Having thus practised, I attained unsurpassed Bodhi. I, for all beings’ sake, now speak of this. O good man! As an example: a prince transgresses against state law and is chained up in prison. The king pities him and, riding on a palanquin, goes himself to the prison because he loves the prince. The same with the Bodhisattva. If he desires to have a long life, he should guard and protect beings and view them as one would one’s only son, and abide in great loving-kindness, great compassion, great joy, and great equanimity. Also, he should impart the precept of non-harming to them and teach them to practise all good things. Also, he must let all beings abide peacefully in the five moral precepts and the ten good deeds. Furthermore, he will get into such realms as hell, hungry preta, animal, and asura, and free all these beings from where they are suffering, emancipate those not yet emancipated, pass over those who have not yet gained the other shore, give Nirvana to those who have not yet attained it, and console all who live in fear. Acting thus, the Bodhisattva gains longevity of life and unmolested [unlimited] freedom in knowing. And when the end comes, he gains life in the high heavens." Then Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You say that the Bodhisattva-mahasattva regards all beings just as one views one’s only son. The thought is too deep, and I cannot fathom it. O World-Honoured One! You say that the Bodhisattva views beings with an all-equal mind and views them as he would look upon his only son. But things are not so. Why not? Amongst the Buddhists, there are those who break the moral precepts, those who commit deadly sins, and those who transgress against Wonderful Dharma. How can it be that he [the Buddha] can have the same [attitude of] mind towards them as towards his only son?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "It is so, it is so! I view all beings as I view my own Rahula."
note 3 Sharpened bar, a double-headed weapon, or a diamond
This was but to repress breaking of the precepts and transgression against Buddha-Dharma, and to remould beings. Even the vajra and also Guhyapada were transformed existences. O Kasyapa! There are in the world those who slander Wonderful Dharma, icchantikas, those who harm others, those who abide in twisted views, those who purposely act contrary to the moral precepts. I pity all and have loving thought, just as one has towards one’s only son, as in the case of Rahula. O good man! To illustrate: when the officers of the royal court break state law, the king punishes according to the rules relating to the sins committed and does not leave the officers unpunished. The Tathagata does not act thus. He makes those who violate the precepts undergo such procedures as being driven out, reprimanded, put under surveillance, impeached or banished for non-confirming of the sins committed, for non-repentance, and for non-forsaking of twisted views. The reason, O good man, why the Tathagata imposes the suppressive moral precepts on those who slander Dharma arises from the fact that he desires to show those who transgress that karmic consequences ensue for what one has done. O good man! Know that the Tathagata desires to bestow on evil beings what need not be feared. He emits one, two, or five beams, so that those who encounter this light will be rid of all evil acts. Now, the Tathagata has so many uncountable means of such power. O good man! If you desire to see Dharma which cannot be seen, I will now explain to you all about what you can see. When I have entered Nirvana, a bhiksu who is perfect in the deportment of a bhiksu and who observes Wonderful Dharma may come across one who transgresses. If this bhiksu drives away, reproaches, impeaches, or remoulds such an evil-doer, he will be blessed with weal which one cannot measure or tell of. O good man! To illustrate: there is a tyrant king who does evil things and happens to suffer very seriously from illness. The king of a neighbouring state, hearing of this, mobilises the army to overthrow the state. At this, the king, having no power to resist the attack, repents and tries to do good. And the weal of the king of this neighbouring state will be uncountable. The same with the precept-observing bhiksu. If he drives away or reproaches those who act against Dharma and makes them do good, an incalculable [amount of] weal will be his. O good man! As an illustration: in the fields and around the houses where a rich man dwells grow many poisonous tree. Seeing this, he fells all of them and there is no more of them. Or white hair appears on the head of a young man. He feels ashamed of it, cuts it off and does not allow his hair to grow long. The same is the case with a precept-upholding bhiksu. If he sees any person who breaks the precepts and transgresses against Wonderful Dharma, he should drive away, reproach or impeach such a person. If a good bhiksu, seeing one who transgresses against Dharma, does not drive away, reproach or impeach such a person, know that this bhiksu is the enemy of the Buddhist teaching. If he drives away, reproaches or impeaches such a one, he is my disciple, a true disciple."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha; "O World-Honoured One! You may say that you look upon all beings equally and treat them as you would an only son such as Rahula. This is not so. O World-honoured One! A person may try to harm you with a sword. Or there may be someone who tries to paint the Buddha’s body with sandalwood paste. If it is is the case that you view both persons with the same eye, how could you cure moral offences? If it is the case that this cures moral offences, this does not make sense." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "An illustration, O good man! The king, minister and prime minister may desire to bring up their sons who are right-set in countenance and sharp in intellect. One of those fathers takes one, two, three, four such sons and hands them over to a strict teacher and says to him: "Please teach my sons deportment, good behaviour, the arts, writing and reckoning. These my four sons will study under your guidance. Even if three of my sons die of goading, teach the last with whatever means you may think fit. I may lose the three, but I shall not be vexed." O Kasyapa! Are the father and the teacher responsible for killing?" "No, O World-Honoured One! Why not? Because a loving mind was at the bottom [of their actions]. What there is [here] is accomplishment, but not an evil mind. Such teaching will be met with good, to a limitless extent." "O good man! The same is the case with the Tathagata. He views those who transgress
Dharma as he views his only son. The Tathagata now entrusts unsurpassed Wonderful Dharma to the hands of kings, ministers, prime ministers, bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas. All of these kings and the four classes of the Buddhist Sangha will encourage those who practise the Buddhist teaching and enable them increasingly to observe the moral precepts, practise meditation and wisdom. If there are any who miscarry these three phases [aspects] of Dharma and if there are those who are indolent and who break the moral precepts, the kings, ministers, and the four classes of the Buddhist Sangha will work hard and remould such people. O good man! Should all these kings and the four classes of the Buddhist Sangha be blamed or not?" "No, indeed, O World-Honoured One!" "O good man! These kings and the four classes of the Buddhist Sangha are not to be blamed. How could it be that the Tathagata is to be blamed? O good man! The Tathagata well observes such impartiality, looking upon all people as one would one’s only son. Such a one who practises the Way is called one who practises the all-equal mind of a Bodhisattva and one who possesses a mind that loves an only son. O good man! The Bodhisattva, practising thus, gains a long life and is now able to see what took place in the past." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You say that a Bodhisattva, practising impartiality, can well view beings just as one views one’s only son and that such a person gains a long life. But you should not say this. Why not? One who knows Dharma indeed speaks well of filial duty. But back home, he beats his parents with tiles and gravel, [in defiance of] the fact that one’s parents are the best field of weal, where much weal comes about, such as is the most difficult of difficult to encounter. Where the person should be making offerings, he performs evil. There is a distinction between what this person knows and what he does. What the Tathagata says is also like this. The Bodhisattva practises impartiality and views beings as an only son, and he gains a long life, can look into the past, and live eternally and there cannot be any change. Now, why is it that the World-Honoured One is like a person with the shortest life in the world? Does not the Tathagata entertain hatred against all beings? O World-Honoured One! What evil acts did you perform in the past? How many evil acts did you commit, so as to gain the shortest life, which does not even extend to 100 years?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good man! Under what circumstances do you bring across your lips all such rough-hewn words against the Tathagata? The life of the Tathagata is the longest and most superior of longest lives. His eternal Dharma is the unsurpassed of all eternal things." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! How did you, the Tathagata, gain eternal life?" The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa: "O good man! There are eight great rivers, which are 1) Ganges, 2) Yamuna, 3) Sarabhu, 4) Ajitavati, 5) Mahi, 6) Indus, 7) Pasu, and 8) Sita. All these eight rivers and other small rivers drain into the great ocean. O Kasyapa! All the great rivers of life of all people, heaven, earth and sky drain into the Tathagata’s sea of life. Hence, the length of life of the Tathagata is incalculable. Also, next, O Kasyapa! As an illustration: it is like the case of Lake Anavatapta, which gives rise to four rivers. The same with the Tathagata. He gives rise to all long life-spans (emphasis added). O Kasyapa! As an example: of all eternal things, that of space is the foremost. The same is the case with the Tathagata. He is the foremost of all eternal things. O Kasyapa! This is as in the case of sarpirmanda [most delicious and efficacious medicine], the first of all medicines. The same is the case with the Tathagata. He is the one possessed of the longest life." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "If the life of the Tathagata is thus, you mast live for a kalpa or [just] less than a kalpa and be delivering sermons in the way the great rain falls." "O Kasyapa! Do not entertain the thought of extinction regarding the Tathagata. O Kasyapa! There may be amongst the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, or even among the tirthikas a person who possesses the five divine powers or the unmolested [unlimited] power of a rishi. He may live a kalpa or less than a kalpa; he may be able to fly through the air, and be unmolested [unconstrained] whether he is reclining or sitting. He emits fire from the left side of his body or water from his right side. His body emits smoke and flames like a fire ball. If he desires to live long, he can do as he wills. He can freely lengthen or shorten his life. With such divine power, he has such freedom of power. And how could this not be possible with the Tathagata, whopossesses unmolested [unlimited] power in all things? How could it not be that he can live for half a kalpa, a kalpa, 100 kalpas, 100 thousand kalpas, or innumerable kalpas? On account of this, know that “the Tathagata is an eternal and unchanging existence”. The Tathagata’s body is a transformed body and not one supported by various kinds of food. In order to pass beings to the other shore, he manifests himself amidst poisonous trees. Hence he manifests himself discarding his carnal body and entering Nirvana. Know, O Kasyapa, that the Buddha is an eternal and unchanging existence. O all of you! Practise the Way in this Paramartha-satya [Truth of the Transcendent Reality], make effort, and practise the Way with one mind; having practised the Way, expound it widely to others."
note 4 i.e. in Chinese, “Nyo-rai” - consisting of two syllables or characters - means 'Tathagata', 'One come from Thusness'
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "What might the “Dharmata” of the Tathagata mean? O World-Honoured One! I now desire to know about “Dharmata”. Have pity and expound this to me extensively. Now, “Dharmata” means "abandoning one’s body". To abandon means "not to possess". If not possessed, how can the body exist? If the body exists, how can we say that there is “Dharmata” in the body? If the body possesses “Dharmata”, how can the body exist? How can I know of this?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good man! Do not speak thus - that extinction is “Dharmata”. Now, “Dharmata” knows no extinction. O good man! This is as with the no-thought heaven [the fourth dhyana heaven of the rupadhatu - Realm of Form], where there is no thought of matter, though matter is perfectly equipped [provided]. One might ask: "How, then, can devas live there, please and amuse themselves, and have peace, and how do they think, see, and ask?" O good man! The world of the Tathagata is not one which sravakas and pratyekabuddhas can know. Do not so explicate and say that the body of the Tathagata is extinction. O good man! The Tathagata and extinction are matters for the world of Buddhas. It is not within sravakas’ and pratyekabuddhas’ reach of knowing. O good man! Do not entertain such thoughts as where the Tathagata lives, where he works, where he is to be seen, where he enjoys himself. O good man! Such, too, are things which do not come within the compass of your knowing. Everything regarding the Dharma-Body of all Buddhas and everything regarding the various expedients are beyond the range of [worldly] knowing.
"Also, next, O good man! Practise the teaching of the Buddha, Dharma and the life of the Sangha, and abide in the thought of the Eternal. These three things do not contradict one another. There is no form of the non-eternal [there], no change. Any person practising these three as things which differ fails in the Three Refuges which are pure. This we should know. This is to say that such a person lacks a place to abide in. No precept is fully learned; no fruit can come about of sravakas or pratyekabuddhas. Anyone who abides in the thought of the Eternal in this All-Wonderfulness has a place to take refuge in. O good man! It is like the shadow accompanying a tree. The same is the case with the Tathagata. As there is the Eternal, there is a refuge that can be taken. It is not non-eternal. If it is said that the Tathagata is non-eternal, he cannot be a refuge for all the heavens and people of the world."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is, for example, like the case of a tree in the darkness, where there is no shadow." "O Kasyapa! Do not say that there is a tree and that it has no shadow. It is merely that the fleshly eye cannot see it. The same with the Tathagata. His nature is eternal; it does not change. One cannot see [it] without the eye of Wisdom. This is as in the case where no tree-shadow appears in the darkness. Common mortals, after the death of the Buddha, may well say: "The Tathagata is non-eternal." This is the same. If one says that the Tathagata is other than Dharma and Sangha, there cannot be the Three Refuges. This is as in the case in which, as your parents are different from each other, there is the non-eternal." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Henceforth, I, for the first time, shall, with the Eternalism of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, enlighten parents for ages, down to seven generations. It is wonderful indeed! O World-Honoured One! I shall now learn the All-Wonderfulness of the Tathagata, Dharma and Sangha. Having satisfied myself, I shall expound this widely to all others. If they do not have faith in the teaching, I will know that they have long practised the non-Eternal. To such as these I shall be like frost and hail."
Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Kasyapa and said: "Well said, well said! You now indeed protect and uphold Wonderful Dharma. Such protection of Dharma is no cheating of people. By the good act of not cheating [deceiving] others, one obtains a long life and becomes well able to read one’s past lives."
Chapter Five: On the Adamantine Body
Then the World-Honoured One said to Kasyapa: "O good man! The body of the Tathagata is one that is eternal, one that is indestructible, and one that is adamantine, one that is not sustained by various kinds of food. It is the Dharma-Body." Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! We do not see such a body as you speak of. What we see is one which is non-eternal, destructible, of dust, one sustained by various kinds of food. How? In that you, the Tathagata, are now about to enter Nirvana." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say that the body of the Tathagata is not strong, can easily be broken, and is the same as that of common mortals. O good man! Know that the body of the Tathagata is as indestructible as that which stands for countless billions of kalpas. It is neither the body of man or heaven, not one that fears, not one sustained by various kinds of food. The body of the Tathagata is one that is not a body and yet is a body. It is one not born and one that does not die. It is one that does not learn or practise. It is one innumerable and boundless and one that does not leave any tracks behind. It knows not and has no form to represent it. It is one ultimately pure. It does not shake. It does not receive, nor does it do [act]. It does not abide, does not make. It is tasteless and unmixed. It is an "is" and yet is not something created. It is neither action nor fruition [i.e. it is beyond Karma]. It is not one made, not one that dies. It is no mind; it is one not countable [whose dimensions can be reckoned]; It is the All-Wonderful, the one Eternal, and the one not presumable. It is not consciousness and is apart from mind. And yet it does not depart from mind. It is a mind that is all-equal. It is not an "is"; yet it is what is "is". There is no going and no coming [with it]; and yet it goes and comes. It does not break up. It is one indestructible. It does not snap and does not cease. It does not come out, nor does it die out. It is no master and yet a master. It is not one that exists; nor does it not exist. It awakes not, nor does it see. It is no letter, and is not no letter. It is no dhyana [meditation] and is not no dhyana. It cannot be seen and can be well seen. It is no place and yet is a place. It is no abode and yet is an abode. It is not dark and not bright. There is no quietness and yet there is quietness [in it]. It is non-possession, non-receiving, and non-giving. It is pure and untainted. It is no quarrelling and is never fighting. It is what is living and is not what is living. It is no taking and no falling. It is no thing and is not no thing. It is no field of weal and is not no field of weal. It is non-ending and does not end. It is separating and is a total ending. It is Void and is apart from Void. Though not eternal, it is not the case that it dies out moment after moment. There is no defilement and muddling [contamination]. There is no letter and it is apart from letters. It is no voice and no talking. It is no practising and learning. It is no praising and no weighing. It is not one and is not different. It has no form or characteristics. All is grand adornment. It is not brave and is not afraid. It is no quietness and is not quiet. It is heatless and is not hot. It cannot be seen; there is no form to represent it. The Tathagata succours all beings. While not emancipating, he yet indeed emancipates beings. There being no emancipation, there is the awakening of beings. There being no enlightening, he truly delivers sermons. There being not two, he is immeasurable and is incomparably equal. Being as flat as space, there is no form to represent [him]. Being equal to the nature of beings, he is not the "not-is", nor is he the "is". He always practises the One Vehicle. He sees the three of beings and does not retrogress, does not change, and cuts off all the roots of illusion. He does not fight or touch. He is non-nature and yet abides in nature. He does not merge and does not disperse. He is not long and not short. He is not round and not square. He is no skandha, sphere or realm, and yet he is the skandha, sphere, and realm. He is non-increasing and is not a lessening. He is no victor, and yet is one not vanquished. The body of the Tathagata is perfect in such innumerable virtues. There is none that he knows, none not known. There is none that is seen and none that is not seen. It is not that there is any creating and not that there is no creating. It is non-world and is not non-world. He does not do and is not non-doing. He is none to depend upon and is not none to depend upon. He is not the four great elements, nor is he not the four great elements. He is no cause and is not no cause. He is no being and is not no being. He is no sramana, no Brahmin. He is the Lion, the Great Lion. He is nobody and not nobody. We cannot express. Other than the oneness of Dharma, no counting is possible. At the time of the Parinirvana, he does not enter parinirvana. The Dharma-Body of the Tathagata is perfect in all such innumerable, wonderful virtues. O Kasyapa! Only the Tathagata knows all such phases [aspects, modalities] of existence. All [this] is beyond what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas can know. O Kasyapa! The body of the Tathagata is composed of all such virtues. It is not a body maintained or nourished by various foodstuffs. O Kasyapa! The virtue of the true body of the Tathagata is such. How could it suffer from illnesses, the pain of illness, and insecurity? How could it be as brittle as an unfired piece of earthenware? O Kasyapa! The reason why the Tathagata manifests illness and pain all comes from his desire to subdue beings. O good man! Know now that the Tathagata’s body is one that is adamantine. From now on, think exclusively of this signification. Never think of a body sustained by food. Also, tell all beings that the body of the Tathagata is the Dharma-Body."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Tathagata is perfect in all such virtues. How could it be that such a body could suffer from illness and pain, impermanence, and destruction? Henceforth I shall regard the Tathagata’s body as of the eternal Dharma-Body and the body of peace. Also, I shall speak of it to all others as such. Yes, indeed, the Tathagata’s Dharma-Body is adamantine and indestructible. And yet, I do not know how it could come to be thus." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "By correctly upholding Wonderful Dharma, one obtains this adamantine body. O Kasyapa! As I have in the past well guarded Dharma, I am now blessed with perfecting this adamantine body, which is eternal and indestructible. O good man! One who upholds Wonderful Dharma does not receive the five precepts and practise deportment, but protects with the sword, bow, arrow, and halberd those bhiksus who uphold the precepts and who are pure." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! If a bhiksu is unprotected, living alone in the open, in a graveyard, or under a tree, I say that such a one is a true bhiksu. Any bhiksu whose eyes turn to protection is, we may know, a bogus priest." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say "bogus". There may be a bhiksu who goes where he will, satisfies his personal needs, recites sutras, sits, and meditates. Should anyone come and ask about the Way, he will bestow sermons. He will speak about giving, observing the precepts, virtuous acts, and say that one should desire little and be satisfied. But he is not able to raise the lion’s roar of the doctrine, is not surrounded by lions, and is not able to subdue those who do evil. Such a bhiksu cannot realise his own profit, nor is he able to assist others. Know that this person is indolent and lazy. Though he may well uphold the precepts and stick to pure actions, such a person, you should know, can do nothing. Or there may be a bhiksu whose utensils may be full. And he upholds the prohibitive precepts, and always utters the lion’s roar, and delivers wonderful sermons on such as the sutras, geya, vyakarana, gatha, udana, itivrttaka, jatakas, vaipulya, and adbutadharma. He thus expounds these nine types of Buddhist sutras. He bestows benefit and peace upon others. Thus he says: "Prohibitions are given in the Nirvana Sutra to bhiksus which say that they should not keep menials, cows, sheep, or anything contrary to the prohibitions. Should bhiksus keep such defiled things, they must be taught not to. The Tathagata has stated in the sutras of various schools that any bhiksu who keeps such things must be corrected, just as kings correct bad acts, and must be driven back into secular life." When a bhiksu raises such a lion’s roar, anyone who breaks the precepts, on hearing this, will get all angry and harm this priest. If this person dies as a result of this, he is to be called one who upholds the precepts and who benefits both his own self and others. For this reason, kings, ministers, prime ministers and upasakas protect those who deliver sermons. Any person who protects Wonderful Dharma should learn things thus. O Kasyapa! Any person who thus breaks the precepts and who does not protect Wonderful Dharma is to be called a bogus priest. One who is strict in observance of the rules does not gain such a name. O good man! In the past - innumerable, boundless, asamkhyas of kalpas past - there appeared in this town of Kusinagara a Buddha who was the Alms-deserving, the All‑ Enlightened One, the All-accomplished One, the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher of Heaven and Earth, the Buddha-World-Honoured One, and whose name was "Tathagata of Joy-and-Benefit-Augmentation." At that time, the world was wide and gloriously pure, rich and peaceful. The people were at the height of prosperity and no hunger was felt. He [They] looked like the Bodhisattvas of the Land of Peace and Happiness. That Buddha-World-Honoured One stayed in the world for an innumerable length of time. Having taught the people, he entered Parinirvana between the twin sal trees. The Buddha having entered Nirvana, the teaching remained in the world for countless billions of years and in the last part of the remaining 40 years the Buddhist teaching had still not died. At that time, there was a bhiksu called "Enlightened-Virtuous", who upheld the precepts well and was surrounded by many of his relatives. He raised the lion’s roar and preached all the nine types of sutras. He taught, saying: "Do not keep menials, men or women, cows, sheep or whatever might go against the precepts." At that time there were many bhiksus who were acting contrary to the precepts. On hearing this, they entertained ill-will and came upon this bhiksu, brandishing swords and staffs. At that time, there was a king called "Virtuous". He heard of this. To protect Dharma, he came to where the bhiksu was delivering his sermons and fought against the evil doers so that the bhiksu did not suffer. The king, however, received wounds all over his body. Then the bhiksu, Enlightened-Virtuous, praised the king, saying: "Well done, well done, O King! You are a person who protects Wonderful Dharma. In days to come, you will become the unsurpassed utensil of Dharma." The king listened to his sermon and rejoiced. Then he died and was born in the land of Buddha Akshobhya and became his foremost disciple. The subjects of this king, his relatives and soldiers were all glad and did not retrogress in their Bodhichitta [resolve to gain Enlightenment]. When the day came to depart the world, they were born in the land of Buddha Akshobhya. At the time when Wonderful Dharma is about to die out, one should act and protect Dharma like this. O Kasyapa! The king at that time was I; the bhiksu who delivered the sermon was Buddha Kasyapa. O Kasyapa! One who guards Wonderful Dharma is recompensed with such incalculable fruition. That is why I today adorn my body in various ways and have perfectly achieved the indestructible Dharma-Body."
"How is one a precept-breaking mixed-up priest? A bhiksu may be upholding the precepts, but for profit he sits, stands up, goes and comes with precept-breaking people and is on friendly terms with them and does things together with them. This is precept-breaking, hence, "mixed-up".
"Why do we call a priest ignorant? A bhiksu may be living in a quiet place, but all his sense-organs are not proper [controlled], his mind is dark and slow at working. He desires little and begs alms. On the day of admonition and freedom [pravarana], he does not teach pure confession to all the people; seeing many people breaking the precepts, he does not teach them pure confession. Yet he sits with others, talks about the precepts and seeks to be free. Such a one is an ignorant priest.
"Who is the pure priest? There is a bhiksu, a priest whom 100 thousand-billion Maras cannot break. Now, this Bodhisattva is pure in his nature and can train the two types of priest referred to above and make them live among those who are pure. He is the unsurpassed great teacher, who protects Dharma well, who well upholds the precepts. He knows well what is light or grave in the keeping of the precepts and adjusts and benefits people. He does not know anything that is not [characterised by] upholding the precepts; what he knows is what concerns the precepts.
"What does he do to adjust beings? For example, in order to adjust people, the Bodhisattva always enters a village any time and visits the places where widows and prostitutes live. He lives there for many years. This is what sravakas cannot do. This is what is called adjusting and benefiting beings.
"How does he know what is grave? Now, if one sees that the Tathagata admonishes and prohibits something, one should not do it thereafter. Things such as the four grave offences [killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, telling lies] are what the priest must not do. If, contrary to this, he purposely does [such things], this indicates that such a person is no longer a bhiksu, no son of the Shakya [Buddha]. This is what is "grave".
"What is "light"? A person commits light ill deeds and is thrice admonished. Then, he stops doing such again. This is "light". We say "non-vinaya which is not proved". A person praises and says that one may receive and take impure things, and says that one accords with the word, and one does not stop doing [this].
"We say "right vinaya which is rightly responded [observed]." This is correctly learning the vinaya [rules of monastic discipline], not drawing near to what is contrary to the vinaya, and spiritually sharing pleasure. Thus one ensures that the vinaya is observed. Thus one well understands what one ought to do as a Buddhist and one expounds it well. This is what the vinaya refers to as well understanding the one letter [i.e. the Chinese written character for vinaya]. The same applies to upholding the sutras. O good man! The Buddha-Dharma is incalculable and hard to fathom The same is also the case with the Tathagata. He is beyond knowing." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is so, it is so. It is as you, the Holy One, say. Unbounded and incomprehensible is Buddha-Dharma. Thus, too, is the Tathagata. All stands beyond comprehension; so too the Tathagata. Thus, I know now that the Tathagata is eternal and indestructible and that there is no change with him. I shall now study well and expound it widely to people."
Then the Buddha praised Bodhisattva Kasyapa and said: "Well said, well said! The body of the Tathagata is adamantine and indestructible. You, Bodhisattva, now have the right view and right understanding. If you see clearly thus, you will see the adamantine and indestructible body of the Tathagata just as you see things reflected in a mirror."
Chapter Six : On the Virtue of the Name
Then the Tathagata spoke again to Kasyapa: "O good man! You should now uphold all the words, chapters, clauses and all the virtues thereof of this sutra. Any good man or woman who hears the name of this sutra will never get born into the four realms [of hell, hungry ghost, animal, and asura]. Why not? I shall now expound to you all the virtues of this sutra and all that is practised by innumerable boundless Buddhas."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! What is this sutra to be called? How should Bodhisattva-mahasattvas uphold this sutra?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "The name of this sutra is to be “Mahaparinirvana”. The foremost word betokens "good", the middle also "good", and the final "good" too. The signification [of this sutra] is extremely deep, and what is written [in it] is good. The pureness of its arrangement is perfect, its action is pure, and its adamantine treasure-house is all-satisfying. Listen well, listen well! I shall now speak. O good man! The word "maha" betokens "eternal". This is like all the great rivers draining into the great ocean. The same with this sutra. It crushes out all the bonds of illusion and all the qualities of Mara, and then body and life drain into Mahaparinirvana". Hence we say "Mahaparinirvana." O good man! This is like a doctor who has a secret treatment embracing all medical treatments for disease. O good man! It is the same with the Tathagata. All the various wonderful doctrines taught and all the secret depths of meaning find their way into this Mahaparinirvana. That is why we say Mahaparinirvana. O good man! It is like a farmer who sows seed in spring. He entertains a rare wish. When he has finished the harvesting, all his longing is at an end. O good man! The same is the case with all beings. If we study other sutras, we always long for beautiful tastes. When one once hears this Mahaparinirvana, [however], one long ceases to covet the beautiful tastes mentioned in other sutras. This great Nirvana well enables all beings to cross the sea of all existences. O good man! Of all footprints, that of the elephant is the best. The same with this sutra. Of all the samadhis of the sutras, that of this sutra is the best. O good man! Of all the tillings of the field, that done in autumn is best. The same with this sutra. It is the best of all sutras. It is like sarpirmanda, which is the best of all medicines. It thoroughly cures the feverish worries and madding minds of beings. This Great Nirvana is the foremost of all. O good man! It is like sweet butter which contains the eight tastes. The same also applies to this sutra. It contains the eight tastes. What are the eight? These are: 1) it is eternal, 2) it always is, 3) it is peaceful, 4) it is pure and cool, 5) it does not grow old, 6) it does not die, 7) it is taintless, and 8) it is pleasing and happy. These are the eight tastes. It possesses these eight tastes. This is why we say "Mahaparinirvana". Now, all Bodhisattva-mahasattvas peacefully abide in this and manifest Nirvana in all places. That is why we say "Mahaparinirvna". O Kasyapa! All good men and women who desire to enter Nirvana by this Mahaparinirvana must study well the fact that the Tathagata is eternal and that the Dharma and Sangha are eternal."
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "All is wonderful, O World-Honoured One! We cannot conceive of the Tathagata’s depths of virtue. The same is the case with the virtues of Dharma and Sangha. This Mahaparinirvana is also inconceivable. One who studies this sutra will gain the right eye of Dharma and become a good doctor. Anybody who has not studied this sutra, we should know, is [like] a blind person, not possessing the eye of Wisdom and overshadowed by ignorance."
Chapter Seven: On the Four Aspects
The Buddha again spoke to Kasyapa: "O good man! There are four aspects about which a Bodhisattva-mahasattva discriminates and expounds Mahaparinirvana. What are these four? They are: 1) rightness in one’s own self, 2) correcting others, 3) complying well [with the teachings] and discussing, and 4) understanding well causal relations.
"O Kasyapa! What is rightness in one’s own self? This is as when the Buddha Tathagata expounds Dharma, seeing well the causal relations. This is like a bhiksu seeing a great fire. He says: "I would sooner throw myself into this ball of burning fire than ever say that all the twelve types of sutras and the undisclosed teachings are from Mara [the devil]. If one says that the Tathagata, Dharma and Sangha are non-eternal, this is cheating one’s own self and also others. I would sooner cut out my tongue with a sharp sword than ever say that the Tathagata, Dharma and Sangha are non-eternal. I might indeed hear others saying this, but I will never believe it. I shall even pity a person who says such as this. The Tathagata, Dharma and Sangha are inconceivable." One should uphold one’s own self well like this. One looks to one’s own self as if seeing a fire ball. This is how one sees rightness in one’s own self.
"O Kasyapa! How does one correct others? When I was once talking about Dharma, there was a woman nursing a child with milk. She came up to where the Buddha was. She touched my feet with her head and paid homage to me. As she was worried, she was absorbed in herself and took her seat on one side. Fathoming her mind, I especially said to her: "Out of love for your child, you have given the child too much cream. You did not weigh up the [matters of] digestion and indigestion." At that, the woman said to me: "How wonderful that the World-Honoured One thus reads my mind. Please, O World-Honoured One! Teach me how to give. O World-Honoured One! I gave [my child] too much cream this morning. Possibly it cannot digest it well. Will this not take the child’s life? O Tathagata! Please explain things to me." I said: "What you gave will be digested by and by and then will enhance life." The woman, on hearing this, was very glad. She spoke again, saying: "What the Tathagata speaks is [always] true. So I am glad. The World-Honoured One, in order to teach all beings, makes distinctions and expounds digestion and indigestion, the non-Self and non-eternal of all existences. If the World-Honoured One were to talk first about the Eternal, a person hearing this might say that what he says is the same as what the tirthikas [heterodox believers] say, and discount what he says and go away." I then said to the woman: "When the child grows up and becomes big, and when it can come and go by itself, whatever is eaten will be digested, even when indigestible [previously]. The cream that was taken before will not be enough to support [that person]. The same is the case with all my sravaka disciples. It is as in the case of your child. They cannot digest this eternal Dharma. That is why I speak about suffering and impermanence. When all of my sravakas are already perfect in virtue and can stand learning the Mahayana sutras, I then, in this sutra, speak about the six tastes.
"What are the six tastes? Suffering is the taste of vinegar; the non-Eternal that of salt; non-Self that of bitterness; Bliss has the taste of sweetness; Self is of pungent taste; and the Eternal is light in taste. In secular life, too, there are three tastes, which are: 1) non-Eternal, 2) non-Self, and 3) non-Bliss. Illusion is the fuel, and Wisdom is the fire. By this means, we gain the meal of Nirvana. This is the Eternal, Bliss, and Self. All of my disciples taste these as sweet." I also said to the woman: "If you happen to go to other places, drive away bad boys from the house and give treasure to good boys." The woman said to me: "Indeed, as you instruct me, the rare treasures that I have will be shown to good sons, and not to bad ones." "O sister! The case is the same with me. At the time of entering Parinirvana, the Tathagata’s undisclosed and unsurpassed storehouse of Dharma will not be given to sravaka disciples. Just as you do not reveal your treasures to bad sons, it [my storehouse of Dharma] will by all means be entrusted to the Bodhisattvas. This is just like your revealing your treasures to good sons. Why is that? Because the sravaka disciples abide in the thought of change and say that the Tathagata truly dies. But actually I do not. This is like your going to far-away places and not yet coming back home, at which your bad sons say that you have died, whereas you have not died. All Bodhisattvas say that the Tathagata never changes. This is similar to your good sons, who do not say that you are dead. Hence, I entrust the unsurpassed, undisclosed treasure to all Bodhisattvas." O good man! If any person says that the Buddha is Eternal and does not change, know that the Buddha is present in that house. This is corrcting others.
"O Kasyapa! What is "complying well and discussing"? For example, a person comes and puts a question to the Buddha-World-Honoured One: "How can I be a great danapati [giver], not throwing my money away?" The Buddha says: "Should there be any sramana, Brahmin, or any person who seeks to posess [but] little and is fully contented and will not accept or store any impure things, give such a person a maid or servant. To one who practises pure actions, give him the lust of a female, and to one who does not drink [alcohol] or eat meat, give drink and meat; to one who does not take meals after noon, give him a meal after noon; to one who does not use flowers and incense, give flowers and incense. Such donations give rise to rumour and the fame will fill the world. Not a penny is spent. This is "complying well and discussing."
Then Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! To one who eats flesh, we should not give flesh. Why not? I see a great virtue arising out of abstention from eating flesh." The Buddha praised Kasyapa and said: "Well said, well said! You now come to know my mind well. A Bodhisattva who protects Dharma should be thus. O good man! From now on, I do not permit my sravaka disciples to eat meat. When receiving from a danapati a pristine dana [gift] of faith, think that one is eating the flesh of one’s own son." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said further to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Why is it that the Tathagata does not allow us to eat meat?" "O good man! “One who eats meat kills the seed of great compassion."
Kasyapa said again: "Why did you first allow the bhiksus to eat three kinds of pure meat?" "O Kasyapa! These three kinds of pure meat were so instituted following the need of the occasion." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! In what circumstances do you not allow the ten impurities or the nine kinds of what is pure?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "This also is permitted by gradual steps following the need of the occasion. This is what applies in the actual segregation from eating meat." Bodhisattva Kasyapa said further to the Buddha: "Why is it that the flesh of fish is praised and called beautiful?" "O good man! I do not say that the flesh of fish is a beautiful food. I say that sugar can, non-glutinous rice, rock candy, black rock candy, all kinds of wheat, honey, milk, cream, and oil are beautiful foods. Various kinds of clothing material can be stocked, but what can be stocked is those whose colour has faded. How could one greedily stick to [crave after] the flesh of fish?" Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "If the Tathagata means to prohibit the eating of meat, such things as the five kinds of flavours as milk, cream, fresh butter, clarified butter, and sarpirmanda, all kinds of clothing, silk cloth, horse-shoe shell, hide and leather, bowls of gold and silver should not be received." "O good man! Do not muddle things up with what the Nirgranthas [Jains] say. Each of the prohibitions which the Tathagata lays down has a different meaning. By this, three pure meats are permitted standing on different grounds and the ten kinds of meat are prohibited by different standpoints. By different standpoints, all are prohibited, until the time of one’s death. O Kasyapa! “I, from now on, tell my disciples to refrain from eating any kind of meat”. O Kasyapa! When one eats meat, this gives out the smell of meat while one is walking, standing, sitting or reclining. People smell this and become fearful. This is as when one comes near a lion. One sees and smells the lion, and fear arises. O good man! When one eats garlic, the dirty smell is unbearable. Other people notice it. They smell the bad smell. They leave that person and go away. Even from far off, people hate to see such a person. They will not come near him. It is the same with one who eats meat. It is a similar situation with all people who, on smelling the meat, become afraid and entertain the thought of death. All living things in the water, on land and in the sky desert such a person and run away. They say that this person is their enemy. Hence the Bodhisattva does not eat meat. In order to save beings, he shows [pretends] that he eats meat. Though he [seems to] eat meat, in actual fact he does not. O good man! Such a Bodhisattva does not even take pure food. How could he eat meat? One hundred years after my death, all the holy sages of the four fruitions [the four stages leading to "arhatship"] will enter Nirvana. The age of Wonderful Dharma will be over, and there will appear the age of Counterfeit Dharma, when the bhiksu will keep the precepts [only] as a matter of form, will recite [only] a little of the sutras, will greedily take food and drink and [excessively] nourish his body. What he wears on his body will be ugly and coarse. He will look wearied and show no dignity. He will feed [farm] cows and sheep and carry fuel and grass. His beard, nails and hair will be long. He will don the kasaya [priestly robe] but look like a hunter. He will narrow his eyes, walk slowly and look like a cat who is after a rat. He will always mutter: "I have attained arhatship". He will suffer from all kinds of diseases, lie and sleep on dung. Outwardly he will look wise, but inside he will be greedy and jealous. He practises mute like a Brahmin. Truth to tell, he is no shramana [monk], but only tries to appear as such. He is burning with perverted views, ever slandering Wonderful Dharma. One such as this transgresses against the precepts, right action and deportment instituted by the Tathagata. He talks about the fruit of emancipation, but his actions depart from what is pure and he violates Dharma, which is profound and hidden. Each such person, following his own interpretation, will speak contrary to what the sutras and vinaya rules state, saying: "The Tathagata allows all of us meat". They will talk thus and say that the Buddha has so spoken. They will dispute and say that they are shramanas and successors to the Buddha’s teaching. O good man! At that time, again, there will be shramanas who store cereals, receive fish and meat, prepare meals themselves, and keep oil pots. They will be around bejewelled parasols, leather footgear, kings, ministers and rich people. They will indulge in astrological practices and medical treatments; they will keep servants, gold, silver, beryl, musaragalva, agate, crystal, coral, amber, jade, horse-shoe shell, and many kinds of melons [seeds]. They will learn all arts, painting, plastering, book-making, and all kinds of science, all kinds of seed- sowing and planting of roots, placing of curses, charming, preparation of medicines, theatrical art, music, adorning of their body with fragrances and flowers, gambling, "go" game, and various kinds of handiwork. If any bhiksu rejects such evils, one can say that he is truly my disciple." Then Kasyapa said further to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas may have to live depending on people. At the time of the alms-round, one may be given food containing meat. How can one take it and yet be pure?" The Buddha said: "Use water, wash away the meat, and then eat it [the rest of the food]. The utensil may be defiled by meat. But if no taste of meat remains, this may be used. There will be no harm done. If one sees that there is a lot of meat, one should not accept such a meal. One must never eat the meat itself. One who eats it infringes the rule. I now set this rule of segregating one’s self from eating meat. If we go into detail, there will be no end of explanations. It is now time that I enter Nirvana. So I must dispense with explanations. This is "answering well what is enquired about."
"O Kasyapa! What does "well understanding causal relations" mean? The four classes of the Sangha may come to me and say: "This is the first time, O Tathagata, that you have told us such a thing. Why is this? You did not tell King Prasenajit about the deeper part of the teaching, and said, at times, that it was "deep", and, at other times, "shallow"; at times, you said that one infringes, and, at other times, that one did not. Why do we say "parajayika" [parajika, means grave, extremely serious], precepts and "pratimoksha" [the rules of monastic life, which "set one free"]?
The Buddha said: "Pratimoksha means feeling content. There is then perfection of deportment; there is no receiving and storing. This is also called "pure life".
"Pratimoksha" does away with the evil and perverted actions of body, mouth and mind.
Then, good men and women said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! The Tathagata knew all such things. Why did you not previously suppress [them]? Or, O World-Honoured One, does this not mean all beings’ falling into Avichi Hell? For example, many people, desiring to go to other places, miss the right way and take the wrong. These people, not knowing what is wrong, say that they are taking the right way. This is as in the case of one who does not ask about right or wrong. In the same way, people take the wrong path regarding the Buddhist teaching. The Tathagata ought first to show the right path and let all bhiksus know how this violates the injunctions and what is right. You should thus show the prohibitions. Why? Because we say that the Tathagata, the Right-Enlightened One, is one who is true [truthful]. He sees the right path. And the Tathagata is the god of gods, and he indeed talks about the superb virtues of the ten good deeds and the meanings thereof. Thus we respectfully beseech you first to institute the precepts." The Buddha said: "O good man! If you say that the Tathagata, for the sake of beings, talks about the superb virtues of the ten good deeds, this indicates that he sees beings like his son, Rahula. How can you reproach him and ask if he lets beings not fall into hell? Should I see but one person falling into Avichi Hell, I would, for the sake of that person, stay in the world for a kalpa or less than a kalpa. I have great compassion for all beings. How could I cheat one whom I regard as my son and let him fall into hell? O good man! It is like a person in the land of a king who dons the kasaya. There is a hole in it, and he sees and later repairs it. The same with the Tathagata. Seeing a person falling into hell, he causes repairs [to be made] and bestows the precepts for good deeds. O good man! This is like a chakravartin who, for the sake of beings, first speaks about the ten good deeds. Later, the time comes when he occasionally sees people doing evil. Then the king passes a law and roots it out. Having rooted out all evil, the king effects the administration of a chakravartin. O good man! The same with me. I have things to say, but I do not set laws first. Always, first, the bhiksu does wrong; then, accordingly, admonition is given. And the people who love the Way are pleased to practise [accordingly]. Such people can well see the Dharma-Body of the Tathagata. This is like the chakraratna [wheel treasure], the all-wonderful quality of a chakravartin, which is hard to conceive. The same in the case with the Tathagata. He is beyond knowing. The two treasures of Dharma and Sangha are also beyond conceiving. The one who talks and those who listen are also beyond knowing. This is how to understand causal relations well. Thus the Bodhisattva discriminates and explains the meaning of the four aspects. This is the causal relations referring to the Great Nirvana of Mahayana. "And next: "correcting oneself" is to gain this Mahaparinirvana. "Correcting others" is what I say to bhiksus, telling them that the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging. "Answering questions", O Kasyapa, by your question, I now explain this all-wonderful doctrine for the sake of Bodhisattvas, bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas. By "causal relations" I open the eyes of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, as they do not comprehend the deep meaning of such as the above, and as they do not have occasion to hear about the fact that the three dots of the "i" accomplish emancipation, Nirvana, and Mahaprajna, and also the hidden store. I now make the sense clear and discriminate and, for the sake of all sravakas, open the eye of Wisdom.
"People may say: "How could all such four things be merged into one? Isn’t that nonsense?" Then one may say back: "Could there be any difference in the following four of space, non-possession, immovability, and unhinderedness?" Can we say that it is nonsense?" "No, O World-Honoured One! All the four expressions amount to one and the same. They mean but the Void. The same is the case with what is made by "correctness in oneself", "correcting others", "answering questions put to one", and "well understanding causal relations". That is to say that what there is here is the oneness of Great Nirvana and that nothing is different [i.e. there is no dualism or differentiation]."
The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Or there may be good men and women who may say: "The Tathagata is non-eternal. How can we know that he is non-eternal? The Buddha says that when the fire of illusion is extinguished, there is Nirvana. This is as when there is nothing [left over] to be seen when the fire is extinguished. The same is the case when all illusions are annihilated. This, he says, is Nirvana. How can the Tathagata claim that he is the Dharma eternal and unchanging? The Buddha says that when we part from existence, there is Nirvana. In this Nirvana, there cannot be anything that exists. How, then, can the Tathagata be eternal and unchanging? When a piece of clothing is torn, we do not call it anything. The same with Nirvana. When all illusions are done away with, there can be no thing. How can the Tathagata be eternal and unchanging? The Buddha says that separation from desire and arrival at quietude is Nirvana. If a person’s head is cut off, there is no head any more. The same with separation from desire and arrival at quietude. What there is is Voidness. There is nothing there. Hence, Nirvana. How can the Tathagata be eternal and unchanging? The Buddha says :
[This is as in the case of heated iron.
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: "If the flame of illusion dies out, the Tathagata must also die out. This indicates that there can be no ground where the Tathagata is eternal. This is similar to the situation in which hot iron slag can no longer be seen when the red colour disappears. The same with the Tathagata and illusion. Gone, there is no other pace to go to. And it is like the case of iron. The heat and the red colour gone, there remains nothing to be seen. The same with the Tathagata. Once extinguished, what remains is non-eternal. The fire of illusion done away with, he enters Nirvana. This tells us that the Tathagata is non-eternal." "O good man! The iron you speak of refers to common mortals. Illusion done away with, the common mortal comes about again. That is why we say non-eternal. This is not the case with the Tathagata. Gone, there is no coming about. Hence, eternal." Kasyapa further said to the Buddha: "If we place the colour-robbed iron back into the fire, the red colour will return. It it is thus with the Tathgata, illusion will again form. If illusion again forms, this is nothing but the non-eternal." The Buddha said: "O Kasyapa! Do not say that the Tathagata is non-eternal. Why not? Because the Tathagata is one Eternal. O good man! When wood is burnt, extinction comes about, and there remain behind the ashes. When illusion is done away with, there remains Nirvana. All such parables as of the torn garment, beheading and broken earthenware enunciate the same truth. All such things have such names as torn garment, beheading, and broken earthenware. O Kasyapa! The iron that has become cold can be made hot again. But this is not the case with the Tathagata. Illusion once done away with, what there is is utmost purity and coolness. The blazing flame never comes back again. O Kasyapa! Know that the situation of innumerable beings is like that of the iron. With the blazing fire of Wisdom free from the “asravas” [defilements], I now burn off the bonds of illusion of all beings." Kasyapa said further: "It is good, it is good that I now clearly see what the Tathagata means when he says that all Buddhas are eternal." The Buddha said: "O Kasyapa! Imagine, for example, a chakravartin [world-ruler] in the back of his palace. At one time he is in the back garden. Though this king is not among the attendant females, we cannot say that his life is at an end. O good man! The same is true of the Tathagata. Though not in Jambudvipa [this world], but in Nirvana, we cannot say that he is non-eternal. He is now out of the world of innumerable illusions and is now in the all-wonderful world of peace and happiness. He sits amidst the flowers of Enlightenment; he sees and amuses himself."
Kasyapa again asked the Buddha: "The Buddha says that you have already crossed over the great ocean of illusion. If you are beyond the sea of illusion, why did you take in [marry] Yasodhara and beget Rahula? From this, we can know that the Tathagata has not yet severed himself from the bonds of illusion and crossed the sea. Please, O Tathagata! Enlighten me upon this point." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say that if the Tathagata had long crossed the great sea of illusion, there could be no reason for him to take Yasodhara [as his wife] and bring forth Rahula and that, in consequence, the Tathagata could not have yet severed himself from the bonds of illusion and crossed the great sea of illusion. O good man! This Great Nirvana calls forth a thing of great significance. Listen to me with your best attention. I shall speak for all the world. Do not become surprised and entertain doubt. If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva reaches Great Nirvana, such a high and wide thing as Mount Sumeru could indeed be placed inside a mustard seed. If beings are standing on Mount Sumeru [at that time], they will feel neither narrowed down nor oppressed. There will be no sense of having come or gone anywhere. All will be just as before, with nothing different. Only one who has himself crossed the ocean [of illusion] will be able to see that this Bodhisattva has put the 3,000 great-thousand worlds into a mustard seed and is back in his own abode again. O good man! Also, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva may enter into Great Nirvana and place the 3,000 great-thousand worlds into a pore of his skin, and yet the original place may ever be like this [may remain unchanged]. O good man! Also, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva may enter into Nirvana, cut off the 3,000 great-thousand Buddha-lands of all directions, place them on the point of a needle and strike the other Buddha-lands as though passing them through a jujube leaf, and the living beings therein would not entertain any thought of going or coming. Only one who is emancipated could see this and also the original place. Such is the case. O good man! Also, there could be a Bodhisattva-mahasattva who abides in Great Nirvana and who cuts off the 3,000 great-thousand Buddha-lands and puts them on his right-hand palm and as in the case of the potter’s wheel throws them onto other mote worlds. And not a single being would entertain any idea of having gone or come. Only one who is emancipated would be able to see this. And so it is too with the original place. O good man! Also, a Bodhisattva-mahasattva who has attained Great Nirvana can snip off innumerable Buddha-lands of all the ten directions and put them all into his own body. And the people living therein do not feel narrow or oppressed or have any feeling of having been moved or of where they are standing. Only one who has been saved can see this. The same with the original abode. O good man! There might also be a Bodhisattva-mahasattva who has entered Nirvana and who has placed the lands of the ten directions into a dust-mote. The beings inside also do not feel constricted or oppressed or have any sense of going or coming. Only one emancipated sees this well. It is the same with what happens in the original abode. O good man! When this Bodhisattva abides in Great Nirvana, he well manifests various innumerable transformations. Hence, Mahaparinirvana. All such divine miracles which this Bodhisattva-mahasattva displays can never be weighed or known by any [ordinary] being. How could you know why the Tathagata committed himself to a life of love and desire and begat Rahula? O good man! It is now a long time since I [first] experienced this Great Nirvana and manifested many divine miracles. It is as alluded to in the “Surangama Sutra”, in which I have already variously manifested such in ten million suns and moons and in ten million Jambudvipas of the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. And I attain Nirvana in the 3,000 great-thousand worlds and in Jambudvipa. I do indeed attain it. And I find my way into the mother’s womb and make the parents think of me as their child. But I am never one who was born through the conjoining of love and desire; I have been far removed from [sensual] love for innumerable kalpas. This body of mine is the Dharma-Body. Following the way of the world, I manifest myself in a motherly womb. O good man! In this Jambudvipa, in the Lumbini gardens, I manifested birth from the womb of Mother Maya. After birth, I took seven steps to the east and proclaimed: "I am the most honoured and best of all men, devas and asuras." My parents and men and devas, on witnessing this, were joyous beyond words and wonderstruck. All these people said that I was a child. But, for innumerable kalpas past, I had been segregated from any such thing. Such a body as this is the Dharma-Body, not one born of flesh and blood, sinews, bones and marrow. Following the way of the world, I appeared as a child. I took seven steps to the south and proclaimed that I would become the best field of weal for the sake of innumerable beings. Taking seven steps to the west, I indicated that life was now ended, that I would part from age and death, and that this was the last of my bodies. Taking seven steps to the north, I manifested that I would cross all the seas of birth and death of all existences. Taking seven steps to the east, I revealed that I would become the guide to all beings. Taking seven steps to the four corners, I revealed that I would cut off the roots of various illusions and the natures of the four Maras, becoming the Tathagata, the Alms-deserving, the All-Enlightened One. Taking seven steps heavenwards, I proclaimed that I would never be tainted by impurities. Taking seven steps netherwards, I proclaimed that the rain of Dharma would extinguish the fire of hell, so that beings born there would be blessed with peace and bliss. To a person who violated the prohibitions, I manifested myself as frost and hail. After 7 days of life in Jambudvipa, I manifested shaving my head. All said I was the first child to have his head shaved. All men and devas, the king of Marapapiyas, shramanas and Brahmins can never see the usnisa [protuberance on top of the Buddha’s head] of my head. How could they possibly take a blade and shave it? There can never be any person who could take a blade and reach my head. I shaved my head innumerable kalpas past. But to follow the ways of the secular world, I showed that I shaved it [as a young Prince]. After my birth, my parents took me to the temple of the gods and showed me to Mahesvara, who, on seeing me, folded his hands and stepped to one side. I had already, since innumerable kalpas past, done away with any such ceremony as entering the devas’ temple. But just to follow the ways of secular life, I manifested this. In the life of Jambudvipa, I let people make a hole in my ear lobe. Nobody in the world can make a hole in my ear lobe. To follow the way of secular life, I manifested this. Also, they made hanging lion earrings out of all the gems and adorned my ear lobes. But since innumerable kalpas past, I had already dispensed with adornments. Just to follow what obtains in secular life, I manifested this. I went to school and showed that I learnt reading and writing. But I had already been accomplished in all such for innumerable kalpas past. As I passed my eyes through all the beings of the three worlds, I saw none who could be my teacher. But to comply with the ways of secular life, I displayed myself going to school. That is why I am called Tathagata, the Alms-deserving, and All-Enlightened One. The same with driving an elephant, riding round on a horse, wrestling, and the learning of various arts, too. In Jambudvipa, I manifested myself as a young prince. All beings saw me as a royal prince enjoying and pleasing himself amidst the life of the five desires. But innumerable kalpas past, I had already discarded such as the five desires. Just to comply with what obtains in secular life, I manifested this. The augur saw me and said that if I did not abandon home and seek the Way, I would become a chakravartin and king of Jambudvipa. All beings believed this. But I had already discarded the throne of a chakravartin and was the Dharma-King. In Jambudvipa I renounced female attendants and the five desires, saw age, illness, death, and the shramana, and abandoned home and sought the Way. All beings said that Prince Siddhartha then for the first time abandoned home and became a shramana. But already innumerable kalpas before, I had abandoned home, become a shramana, practised the Way, merely to comply with what obtained in secular life. And I manifested this. I had already abandoned home in Jambudvipa and received upasampada [full ordination]. I made effort, practised the Way and attained such fruitions of the Way as the shrotapanna ["stream-enterer" - a monk who will only be born between two and seven more times before gaining liberation], sakridagamin [once-returner], anagamin ["never-returner" to this world], and arhat [saint]. I manifested this. Everybody said it was easy and not difficult to attain arhatship. But I had already, innumerable kalpas in the past, attained arhatship. In order to pass beings to the shore of Enlightenment, I sat under the Bodhi Tree on the Bodhimanda [seat of Enlightenment] of grass and defeated all the Maras [demons]. But I had already, innumerably long kalpas back in the past, defeated the Maras. In order to subdue strong beings, I manifested this scene. I also display answering the calls of nature of the two kinds and breathing in and out. All beings say that I answer the calls of nature and breathe in and out. But with this body of mine, I have no fruition of karma and no worries. I merely accord with the way of worldly life. That is why I manifest such. I also show that I receive offerings made to me by the faithful. But I have no hunger or thirst in this body of mine, and I [just] comply with the worldly way of life. I display myself thus. I also follow the worldly way of life of all others and sleep. But I accomplished the depths of Wisdom innumerable kalpas past and did away with such actions as going and coming, all such pains as of the head, eye, stomach, and back, and the whole of my body, and hard-to-cure carbuncles, all of which are the results of past karma, and washing my hands and feet in a basin, washing my face, gargling, using the toothbrush and all such things as apply in the world. People say that I do all these things. But I do not. My hands and feet are as pure as lotuses and my mouth is clean, and smells like an utpala [lotus]. Everyone says that I am a man. But I am now no man. I also manifest receiving pamsukula [discarded clothes], washing, sewing and mending. But I have long since not used such clothing. Everybody says that Rahula is my son, that Suddhodana was my father and Maya my mother, that I carried on a secular career in my life, that I enjoyed peace and happiness [as a young prince], and that I abandoned all such things and sought the Way. People further say: "The prince of this king, of the great clan of Gautama, renounced worldly pleasures and sought the supramundane." But I had long since been away from worldly love and desire. I merely displayed all such things. Everybody says that I am a man. But truth to tell, I am not. O good man! I manifest myself in Jambudvipa and often enter Nirvana. But in truth I do not enter Nirvana at all. Yet all people say that the Tathagata is now dying. But the nature of the Tathagata, truth to tell, eternally does not die out. So you should know that I am one Eternal and Unchanging. O good man ! Great Nirvana is none but the Dharma world of the All-Buddha-Tathagatas. I also manifest myself in this Jambudvipa. People say that I first [as Siddhartha] attained Buddhahood. But since innumerable kalpas past, I had done what needed to be done and I only accorded with the way of the world. That is why I, in this Jambudvipa, displayed renunciation and attainment of Buddhahood. I also [seemingly] did not accord with the prohibitions and committed the four grave offences. People saw me and said I transgressed. But for innumerable kalpas past I have been according with the prohibitions, and nothing was amiss. Also, in Jambudvipa I was an icchantika. People all saw me as an icchantika. But truth to tell, I was no icchantica. If I had been an icchantika, how could I have attained unsurpassed Enlightenment? I also showed myself in Jambudvipa as disturbing the peace of the Buddhist Sangha. People said that I was a Buddhist priest who was breaking the peace of the Sangha. I also manifested myself in Jambudvipa as protecting Wonderful Dharma. People see this and say that this is protection of Dharma. They are all surprised. All Buddhas do this and there is nothing [here] to be surprised about. I also in this Jambudvipa manifested myself as Marapapiyas. People said that this was Marapapiyas. People said that this was "papiyas" ["very wicked"]. But I had been away from evil for innumerable kalpas past; I am pure, I am not defiled and am like the lotus. I also manifest myself in Jambudvipa as a female Buddha. People see this and say that it is strange that a female should attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. The Tathagata, after all, has never once been a female. In order to subdue people, I manifested as a female. As I pity beings, I also manifest in various coloured images. I also manifest myself amidst the four unfortunate realms of Jambudvipa. How could I be born in the unfortunate realms through evil actions? In order to pass beings to the other shore, I get born as such. I also get born as Brahma in Jambudvipa and make those who serve Brahma abide in Wonderful Dharma. But, truth to tell, I am not Brahma. But all people say that I am truly Brahma. I also manifest myself as devas and fill all the temples of the devas. But the same is the case [here too]. I also manifest myself as visiting brothels in this Jambudvipa. But my mind knows no lust; I am as pure and untained as the lotus. To teach those steeped in desire and lust, I stand on the crossroads and speak about the wonderful Doctrine. But in truth I have no lust or defiled mind. People say that I guard females. I also in Jambudvipa manifest myself in the house of menials and maids. All this is to lead them onto the path of Wonderful Dharma. But truth to tell, I never once debased myself and performed evil deeds and became [intimate with] menials and maids. And in Jambudvipa I manifest myself as a teacher and lead children into Wonderful Dharma. In Jambudvipa I also enter various drinking houses and gambling dens. This is to participate in the games and quarrels and all to succour beings. And yet I have no experience of such evil relations. And yet all people say that I do such things. I also lived long amidst the tombstones as a great eagle, so as to succour flying birds. And yet people said I was a true eagle. But I have long since been separate from such a life. All this was to succour such birds and eagles. I also manifested myself in Jambudvipa as a great rich man. This was to make innumerable people be blessed with peace and abide in Wonderful Dharma. Furthermore, I become a king, minister, prince or prime minister. Amongst such people, I rank first in all cases. In order to practise Wonderful Dharma, I become a king. Also, there was a time in Jambudvipa when numerous epidemics arose and many people suffered. First, I gave medicine and later spoke about Wonderful Dharma, and made them attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. Everybody said that there was then, at that time, a time of illness. Also, there was a time in Jambudvipa when a famine broke out. I gave people the food they needed, I spoke about All-Wonderful Dharma and led them into unsurpassed Enlightenment. Also, to an "is"-minded person, I speak about the non-eternal; to one "pleasure-minded", I speak about suffering. To one who clings to self, selflessness is expounded. To one who clings to purity, impurity is expounded. To one who clings to the three worlds, Dharma is expounded, to make him renounce the world. To pass beings to the other shore, the wonderful medicine of Dharma is prescribed. In order to fell the trees of illusion, those of the unsurpassed medicine of Dharma are planted. To save all tirthikas, Wonderful Dharma is expounded. Although I act as a teacher to beings, no thought of a teacher to all beings resides
in me. Since I intend to succour all those of lower social status, I gain life amongst them and talk about Dharma. And no evil acts will react within me. The Tathagata-Right-Enlightened One is ever in Parinirvana. Hence, I say "Eternal and Unchanging". As in Jambudvipa, so do things also obtain in Purvavideha, Aparagodana and Uttarakuru. As in the four lands, so also in the 3,000 great-thousand worlds. As to the 25 existences, things are as stated expansively in the “Surangama Sutra”. Hence, "Parinirvana". The Bodhisattva-mahasattva who abides in Parinirvana can well display such miracles and transformations and has no fear. O Kasyapa! Say not, therefore, that Rahula is the son of the Buddha. Why not? Because innumerable kalpas ago I had already done away with all existences of desire. That is why we say that the Tathagata is Eternal and Unchanging."
Then Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You, the Buddha, say that the All-Buddha-World-Honoured One has an undisclosed storehouse. But this is not so. Why not? The All-Buddha-World-Honoured One has privately-spoken words, but not an undisclosed storehouse [a teaching not made known]. For example, this is analogous to the case of a magician, his mechanical appliances, and his wooden image. One may see the motions of bending, stretching, and looking up and down, but one does not know that inside there is a man who makes things proceed thus. But with the Buddha’s teaching, it is not like this. His teaching enables all beings to know and see. How can one say that the All-BuddhaWorld-Honoured One has anything undisclosed?" The Buddha praised Kasyapa and said: "Well said, well said, O good man! It is just as you say. The Tathagata, truth to tell, does not keep anything hidden. How so? It is as in the case of the full moon in autumn, when it is all open, bare, clear, pure and cloudless, so that all people can see it. What the Tathagata says is also the same. It is open, bare, clear, pure and cloudless. Dull people do not understand and speak of a secret in connection with it. The wise, understanding the matter, do not say that there is anything secretly stored away. O good man! There is a man here who stores gold and silver amounting to “yis” and “yis”1. Being a miser, he does not give to the poor and help them. Anything stored in this fashion could be called "secretly stored" [secretly withheld]. It is not thus with the Tathagata. Over the course of innumerable long kalpas, he stores wonderful laws [doctrines, truths] and rare treasures. He does not begrudge [anything]; he always gives to all beings. How [then] can we say that he secretly stores [truths away]? O good man! There is a man here who is lacking a part of his body, such as an eye, hand or leg. He feels shy and does not allow others to see. As all people do not see it, they say "secretly concealed". It is not so with the Tathagata. He is perfect in Wonderful Dharma and lacking in nothing, allowing all others to see. How could one say that the Tathgata secretly stores [conceals/ withholds] things? O good man! A poor man, for example, has debts. He fears the man to whom he owes money. He hides and does not wish to show himself. Here we may speak of hiding. The case is not the same with the Tathagata. He does not shoulder the mundane laws [phenomena, truths] of all beings, but does their supramundane laws. But he does not hide such. Why not? Because he always thinks of beings as his own only son and expounds [to them] unsurpassed Dharma. O good man! There is a rich man, for example, who has much wealth. He only has one son. He loves this son very much and cannot forget him. He shows all his wealth to his son. So is it with the Tathagata. He views all beings as his own only son. O good man! This is as in the case of worldly people. Men and women conceal their genitalia behind clothing, because such are ugly things to look upon. Here we speak of "concealing". It is not thus with the Tathagata. He has long since done away with genitalia. As he does not have such, there is no reason for concealment. O good man! The Brahmins do not like to have their words and what they say heard by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras. Why not? Because there are many things in their words that are wrong and wicked. But the Tathagata’s Wonderful Dharma is such that it is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its conclusion. So we cannot speak here of a thing hidden or stored away. O good man! For example, there is here a rich man who only has a single son. He always thinks of, and loves, this boy. He takes the boy to a teacher to be taught. Apprehensive that things might not progress quickly, he takes the boy back home. As he loves him, he teaches him the alphabet day and night very patiently. Yet he does not teach him the vyakarana [a popular work for language study; a kind of grammar]. Why not? Because the child is small and is not up to such lessons. O good man! Now, the rich man finishes teaching the alphabet. But is the boy ready to be taught the vyakarana?" "No, O World-Honoured One!" "Is the rich man concealing anything from the child?" "No, O World-Honoured One! Why not? Because the child is too young. So he does not teach [him the more advanced matters]. It is not that the boy is not taught because the man begrudges him [such lessons]. Why not? If there is any jealousy or grudging [involved], we may say he conceals things. It is not thus with the Tathagata. How could we say that he hides and conceals?" The Buddha said: "Well said, well said, O good man! It is as you say. If there is any anger, jealousy or begrudging, we can well say that he is concealing things. The Tathagata has no anger or jealousy. How can you say that he hides things away? O good man! The great rich man is the Tathagata himself. The only child is [all] beings. The Tathagata views all beings as he views his only son. Teaching his only son relates to the sravaka disciples, the alphabet, and the nine types of sutras; the vyakarana relates to the vaipulya [extensive] Mahayana sutras. Since all the sravaka disciples do not possess the power of Wisdom, the Tathagata teaches them the alphabet, i.e. the nine types of sutra. And he does not yet speak of the vyakarana, i.e. the vaipulya Mahayana. O good man! When the rich man’s son has grown up and is able to cope with the lessons, if the vyakarana is not taught then, we may well speak of "concealment".
note : a Chinese unit of number
If all sravakas are grown up and can indeed cope with the Mahayana vyakarana lessons, but the Tathagata begrudges [them this] and does not teach them [the vyakarana], we could well say that the Tathagata begrudges, hides and conceals the teaching. But this is not so with the Tathagata. The Tathagata does not conceal [anything]. This is as with the rich man who, having taught the alphabet, next teaches the vyakarana. I also do the same. To all my disciples I have spoken about the alphabet and the nine types of sutra. Having done so, I now, after this, talk about the vyakarana. This is none other than the Tathagata’s eternal and unchanging nature.
"O good man! Of priests, there are two kinds. One is of the created, and the other is of the non-created. The priest of the created is the sravaka. The sravaka priest does not hoard. Male or female menials are unlawful things; so is storing rice, bean paste, sesame and large and small beans in a storehouse. If someone were to say that the Tathagata permits the keeping of servants, male or female, and such other things, his tongue would shrink. I say that all my sravaka disciples are "non-storing". Or they are those satisfied with their food. If a person greedily seeks food, such a person is not satisfied.
"O World-Honoured One! What can Nirvana be?" "O good man! Nirvana is emancipation [“vimukti” - liberation]." Kasyapa again said: "Is emancipation a thing or not a thing?" The Buddha said: "What is no thing is the emancipation of the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas; what is a thing is the emancipation of the All-Buddha-Tathagata. The case being thus, O good man, emancipation is a thing and not a thing. The Tathagata speaks to all sravakas and presents it as no thing." "O World-Honoured One! If it is not a thing, how can sravakas and pratyekabuddhas live?" "O good man! That which is such as Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness Heaven is also both a thing and not a thing. The Self, too, is not a thing. One might argue, saying: "If Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness Heaven is not a thing, how can a person live and come and go, advance and stand still?" All such matters relate to the world of all Buddhas; they are not what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas can rightly know. It is thus. The same with emancipation. We also speak of matter [“rupa” = matter, form, body] and non-matter [“arupa” = non-matter, non-form, non-body], and it is presented as not a thing. Also, we speak of thought and thoughtlessness, and this is presented as thoughtlessness. All such things belong to the world of all Buddhas and are not what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas may know."
"Also, emancipation means ill-lessness. By illness is meant the 404 diseases, and all other [ailments] which come to one from without and spoil the body. When such do not come about, we say emancipation. When no illness arises, there is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. The Tathagata has no illness. Thus there comes about no illness in the Dharma-Body. This state of no illness is the Tathagata. Death is the breaking up of the body and the ending of life. There is no death here [in emancipation]. What there is is the deathless ["’amrta"’ - the state of immortality], which is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is accomplished in such virtues [blessings]. How could we [ever] say that the Tathagata is non-eternal? Anything such as the non-eternal can never exist there. It is an Adamantine Body. How could it be non-eternal? As a result, we do not say that there is any ending of life with the Tathagata. With the Tathagata, what there is is purity; there is no defilement. The Tathagata’s body does not get defiled by the womb. It is like the pundarika-lotus, whose nature is pure. The same with the Tathagata and emancipation. Thus, emancipation is at once the Tathagata. That is why the Tathagata is pure and undefiled.
"And with emancipation, such things as the "’asravas"’ [defilements, "leakings"], the pox and warts, and all other such things, are done away with. The same with the Tathagata. He has no defilements and no pox or warts.
"Also, with emancipation, there can be no fighting or refutation [confrontation, disputation]. For example, the hunger-ridden entertain the thought of greed and grabbing when they see others taking food. With emancipation, the case is not thus.
"Also, emancipation is peace and quietude. Ordinary people say that peace and quietude are of Mahesvara. But such is a lie. True quietude means utmost emancipation. Utmost emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation means peace and safety. The place where robbers are present has no peace and safety. The place where purity and peace reign is a place of peace and quietude. As there is no fear in this emancipation, we say peace and quietude. Hence, peace and quietude are true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is Dharma."
"Also, emancipation has no equal. By equal, we may take up the case of a king who has equals in the neighbouring kingdoms. The case of true emancipation is not such. Having no equal is like the case of a chakravartin, who has no equal. The same with emancipation. There is nothing equal to it. To have no equal is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata-chakravartin. Thus, there is none who is his equal. There can be no talk [here] of an equal.
"Also, emancipation is non-apprehension. One who has apprehension may be likened to a king who fears and slanders the strong neighbouring state, and has apprehension. Now, with emancipation there is nothing of the kind. This is like annihilating enmity, as a consequence of which there is no longer any apprehension. The same is the case with emancipation. It has no apprehension or fear. Non-apprehension is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation is non-apprehension or non-joy. For example, a woman has an only son. As a result of war, he goes to a far-off place. News comes, saying that the boy has met with ill fortune, as a consequence of which the mother is worried. Later, she hears of his safety and because of this is glad. Now, with emancipation there is nothing of the kind. When there is no apprehensioon or joy, there is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, there is no dust or defilement in emancipation as when in the spring months, after sundown, the wind raises up a cloud of dust. Now, in emancipation, nothing of this kind obtains. Where there is no cloud of dust, there is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. This is like a bright gem resting in the knot of dressed hair on the head of a chakravartin, where there is no fleck of defilement. The nature of emancipation is thus: it has no defilement. Non-defilement can be likened to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. True gold does not contain any sand or stone. This is true treasure. When one gains this, one feels [one has gained true] wealth. The nature of emancipation is also such a true emancipation. This true treasure can be likened to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. When an unglazed pot breaks, there issues a neighing [cracking] sound. With the adamantine treasure pot, things are otherwise. Now, emancipation emits no neighing [cracking] sound. The adamantine treasure pot is like true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. Hence, the body of the Tathagata cannot be destroyed. We say that it neighs [crackles]. This is as when castor seeds are put into a blazing fire, which flames up and sends forth a popping sound. It is like that. Now, emancipation has nothing of the kind. The adamantine pot of true treasure emits no cracking or breaking sound. Even if innumerable hundreds of thousands of people were to shoot arrows at it, none caould break this pot. What emits no cracking or breaking sound is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. A poor man is in debt to other people. So he gets bound up and chained in fetters and is punished by whipping, and has to suffer from all [kinds of] worries and pains. Now, with emancipation, there is nothing of this kind. There is no debt to pay. This is like a rich person who possesses innumerable "’yis"’ of treasure and whose power is unbounded, who owes nothing to other people. The case of emancipation is thus. It has a countless stock of wealth of Dharma and rare treasures, having full power and owing nothing to others. Owing nothing to others may be likened to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation is "not being oppressed". This may be contrasted with spring, when one walks in the heat, with summer, when one tastes what is sweet, and with winter, when one encounters the cold. In true emancipation there is nothing of any kind that does not appeal to one’s wishes.The absence of anything to oppress one may be likened to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. As to non-oppression, we may take up the case of a man who, having greedily partaken of fish, drinks milk again. Such a man as this is not far from death. In true emancipation, there is nothing of the kind. If he obtains ambrosia ["amrta"] or good medicine, worry leaves him. True emancipation is like that. Ambrosia and good medicine can be likened to emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. How can we speak of being oppressed or not oppressed? For example, a common mortal is arrogant and self-important. And he thinks: "Of all things, nothing can harm me". And he holds in his hand a serpent, a tiger, or a noxious insect. The destined time of death not coming, this person meets with an untimely death. In true emancipation, there comes about nothing of the kind. We say "not being oppressed". This can be likened to a chakravartin’s divine gem, which kills all noxious insects, such as the dung-beetle and the 96 noxious insects [i.e. the total number of tirthikas thought to be existing at the time of the Buddha]. As one comes into contact with the glow of this divine gem, all poison dissipates. Things are thus with true emancipation. All die away from the 25 existences. The annihilation of poison is analogous to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. Also, "not being oppressed" is like space, for example. Thus is emancipation. Space is comparable to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. Also, being oppressed is like holding a lamp close to dry grass. When it is too close, the grass catches fire. The case is thus. There is nothing of the kind in true emancipation. Also, "non-oppressed" is like the sun and moon, which do not come too close to all beings. Such is the situation with emancipation. It does not come pressing down upon beings. Non-oppression is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation is the immovable Dharma. It is in contrast to enmity and friendliness, which do not exist in true emancipation. Also, immovability can be likened to a chakravartin. There will be no one who will befriend him. None becomes his friend. That the king has no friend can be likened to true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. The Tathagata is Dharma. Also, the "immovable" may be contrasted with white cloth, which can easily be dyed. It is not thus with emancipation. Also, this "immovable" may be likened to varsiki [jasminum sambac]. Also, making it smell badly and blue in colour is impossible. The same with emancipation. Try as we might, we cannot make it smell badly or change colour. For this reason, emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation is what is rare. There is nothing rare, for example, about a water lily growing in water. When it grows in fire, this is something rare. People see this and are gladdened. What is rare can be likened to true emancipaiton. True emancipation is the Tathagata. This Tathagata is the Dharma-Body. Also, "rare" may be compared with a baby. It has no teeth, but as it grows up, these appear. It is not so with emancipation. There is no birth and no non-birth.
"Also, emancipation is what is "empty and quiet". There can be no indefiniteness. By indefinite is meant the situation of saying that the icchantika never shifts and that one committing grave offences never attains Buddhahood. Such can never apply. Why not? When that [icchantika] person gains pristine faith in the Buddha’s Wonderful Dharma, at that time the person annihilates the icchantika [within himself]. On becoming an upasaka, the icchantika [in that person] dies away; the person who has committed grave offences also attains Buddhahood when his sins have been expiated. Thus we can never say that there is no shifting at all and that no Buddhahood can be attained. With true emancipation, there can be no such case of annihilation. Also, "emptiness and quietude" are things of the Dharma world. The nature of the Dharma world is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata. Also, once the icchantika has died out, we can no more talk of the icchantika.
"What is an icchantika? An icchantika cuts off [within himself] all the roots of good deeds and his mind does not call forth any association with good. Not even a bit of a thought of good arises. Nothing such as this ever occurs in true emancipation. As there is nothing of this kind, we say true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata.
"Also, emancipation is called "immeasurable". For example, we can measure the volume of cereal. But true emancipation is not like this. It is like the great ocean, whose volume we cannot measure. Emancipation is like that. We cannot measure [it]. True emancipation is immeasurable. True emancipation is the Tathagata."
"Also, true emancipation is called "immeasurable" [innumerable, boundless]. It is like the varied karma results which a single person has. The same is the case with emancipation. It has innumerable returns. Innumerable returns means true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata.
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! If it is the case that Nirvana, the Buddha-Nature, definiteness, and the Tathagata are one and the same, why do we say "three Refuges?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "All beings fear birth and death. So they take the three Refuges. By the three Refuges, we mean Buddha-Nature, Definiteness, and Nirvana. O good man! There are cases in which the name, Dharma, is one, but the meaning differs. There are cases in which the names of Dharma and the meanings are both different. We say that the name is one, but the meaning differs. This refers to the situation where we say that the Buddha is eternal, Dharma is eternal, and the bhiksu is eternal. Also, Nirvana and space are eternal. This is a case where the name [word] is one, but the signification is different. We say that both the word and the signification differ. The Buddha is called "Enlightenment", Dharma is called "No-Awaking", the Sangha "Harmony", and Nirvana "Emancipation". Space is called "non-good", and also "not-covered". There are cases in which the word and the signification both differ. O good man! The case of the three Refuges is also like this. The world and the signification both differ. How can we say one? That is why I said to Mahaprajapati [the Buddha’s aunt, who raised him]: "O Gautami! Do not make offerings to me; make them to the Sangha! If offerings are made to the Sangha, this amounts to offerings being made to the three Refuges." Mahaprajapati answered, saying: "Among the priests, there are no Buddha and no Dharma. How can we say that offerings made to the Sangha constitute offerings made to the Three Refuges?" I said: "If you do as I say, this will mean that you have made offerings to the Buddha. For the purpose of emancipation, offering is made to Dharma. When all priests receive this, this is an offering made to the Sangha." O good man! At times the Tathagata speaks about one thing and makes it refer to three; he speaks about three and makes it one. All such things are what have to do with the world of all Buddhas. They are not what sravakas and pratyekabuddhas can know."
Kasyapa said further: "You, the Buddha, say that utmost peace is Nirvana. How can this be? Now, Nirvana means relinquishing the body and intellect. If one relinquishes the body and intellect, who is it that can become blessed with peace?" The Buddha said: "O good man! As an example: there is a man here. He eats some food. After partaking of it, he feels sick, desires to go out and vomit. After vomiting, he comes back. A person who was with him asks: "Have you got rid of the trouble you had? You have come back here again. " Such may be the case. The same applies to the Tathagata. He fully segregates himself from the 25 existences and eternally gains Nirvana, which is peace and bliss. There can [then] be no more of the topsy-turvy inversions, no ending and no extinction. All feeling is done away with. This is the bliss of non-feeling. This non-feeling is eternal Bliss. We can never say that the Tathagata feels Bliss. So, utmost Bliss is none but Nirvana. Nirvana is true emancipation. True emancipation is the Tathagata."
Fin du chapitre 7 (sur 44)
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