Sūtra 47 (posted 12/2014, updated 09/2015) Book information on Home page
Thus I have heard:
At one time, the Buddha was staying in the Universal Radiance Hall, in His bodhimaṇḍa in the kingdom of Magadha. This Hall was made of His immeasurable merits, and whoever saw it felt great joy and forever discarded the maligning mind. The Buddha was seated on a lion throne from the Lotus Flower Store. He attained the pure samyak-saṁbodhi and ended the two kinds of actions. He abided where a Buddha abides and became an equal of all Buddhas. He arrived in the hindrance-free place and the no-regress position. His actions hindrance free, He constantly did Buddha work, never resting. With a perfect understanding that dharmas have no appearance, He abided in the inconceivable state. He understood that the three time frames [past, present, and future] have no difference, and manifested His body everywhere in all worlds. He possessed wisdom-knowledge of dharmas and had no confusion about them. Through His understanding of the processes of all dharmas, He destroyed the net of doubts and acquired a sublime body beyond comparison. He acquired the wisdom-knowledge of the non-duality of dharmas and arrived at the opposite shore, and was revered by Bodhisattvas. He achieved the same liberation achieved by all Tathāgatas and stood on the Buddha Ground of equality, the ground with neither middle nor edges, throughout the dharma realm and the domain of space. He will constantly turn the Dharma wheel throughout future kalpas.
He was together with 62 koṭi bhikṣus who all realized that the true reality of dharmas is that they are by nature equal and, like the open sky, free from attachments. Having forever discarded the fetters of their afflictions, they followed the wisdom and skillful means of all Tathāgatas. Through one dharma, they understood all dharmas. Having acquired the overall wisdom-knowledge, they diligently trained to acquire the discriminatory wisdom-knowledge, and their minds never regressed. Through skillful means and trainings for their mental states, all of them acquired the wisdom-knowledge to arrive at the opposite shore. At the head of these bhikṣus were His great disciples, including Śāriputra, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Mahākāśyapa, Nadīkāśyapa, Gayākāśyapa, Kapphiṇa, Revata, Aniruddha, Subhūti, Pūrna-maitrāyanīputra, Gavāṁpati, Cullapatka, Khadira, Cunda, Mahākauṣṭhila, Nanda, Rāhula, and Ānanda.
Also present were 60 koṭi bhikṣuṇīs who had long accumulated white dharmas [pure karmas]. Close to acquiring Buddha wisdom, they mastered skillful means and realized that all dharmas have no self-essence and no appearance, and abide in true suchness. They understood that all dharmas have neither birth nor death and have nothing to be removed. They abided in the Inconceivable Liberation Samādhi and tamed sentient beings ready to be tamed. They displayed various majestic deportments and physical appearances without differentiating them. At their head were Mahāprajāpatī and Yaśodharā.
Also gathered there were Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas from [worlds in] other directions, who were as numerous as ineffable hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of dust particles in ten Buddha Lands. All of them were in the holy position of waiting to attain Buddhahood in their next life. They could enter everywhere in worlds in the ten directions. They acquired applied wisdom-knowledge and the road to nirvāṇa, and abided in Bodhisattva meditation. Through all Dharma Doors of skillful means to bring sentient beings to [spiritual] maturity, they drew in sentient beings and enabled them to discard their attachments and ludicrous statements. They understood that a dharma has neither middle nor edges. They knew that sentient beings’ good or evil karmic requitals cannot be captured, yet never lost or destroyed, as they probed sentient beings’ preferences, afflictions, and sensory actions. They retained past, present, and future Tathāgatas’ Dharma words and their meanings, never forgetting or losing any. They fully understood all saṁskṛta, asaṁskṛta, worldly, and supra-worldly dharmas.
Having acquired the wisdom field of past, present, and future Buddhas, thought after thought they displayed disappearing from a celestial palace, being born [in the human world], renouncing family life, practicing asceticism, sitting under a bodhi tree, subjugating māras, attaining Buddhahood, turning the Dharma wheel, and entering parinirvāṇa. They never abandoned any sentient beings, and their enlightenment enabled sentient beings to activate the bodhi mind. Through the states of one sentient being’s mind, they could enter the states of all sentient beings’ minds. They acquired the natural wisdom and a Bodhisattva’s body, and their wisdom-knowledge never regressed. Although they constantly trained, they actually had nothing to do.
They could abide in the world for countless kalpas in order to expound the Dharma to even one sentient being. They protected and preserved the Dharma store, and continued the line of Buddhas. In worlds without Buddhas, they manifested as Buddhas and displayed attainment of true enlightenment. Seated cross-legged, they were everywhere in worlds in the ten directions. They perfected their wisdom, purified all impure worlds, and removed all hindrances to Bodhisattvas. They mastered dharmas as vast as the open sky and entered the hindrance-free dharma realm. They fully acquired all merits [required for Buddhahood], verified the true reality of dharmas hindrance free, and acquired the wisdom seal of the equality of all dharmas. Having verified that dharmas are equal by nature, they understood that whatever is seen is like illusions and whatever is heard is like echoes.
They abided in the Inconceivable Liberation Samādhi and playfully mastered the Śūraṅgama Samādhi. They acquired the dhāraṇī door of producing a Buddha’s excellent appearances, carried out the pure action vows of past, present, and present Buddhas, and fulfilled the universally worthy excellent aspirations. Whenever a Buddha appeared in a world, they went to His place and reverently requested Him [to expound the Dharma].
Each of them could manifest all worlds in one hair; manifest the ten directions in one hair; manifest the events from a Buddha’s birth to His parinirvāṇa; manifest one Buddha assembly from all Buddha assemblies in the ten directions, and all Buddha assemblies in the ten directions from one Buddha assembly; manifest worlds in the ten directions entering his body; manifest all sentient beings’ bodies in his body and expound to them the immeasurable essentials of the Dharma; manifest all Buddhas’ bodies entering one Buddha’s body, and one Buddha’s body entering all Buddhas’ bodies; manifest countless sentient beings’ bodies from one sentient being’s body, and one sentient being’s body from countless sentient beings’ bodies; manifest the bodies in past, present, and future lives from the body in one life, and the body in one life from the bodies in past, present, and future lives; manifest past entering future, future entering past, past entering present, and present entering past; manifest entering profound meditation in one body and exiting it in countless bodies, and entering profound meditation in countless bodies and exiting it in one body; manifest all sentient beings’ bodies in one Buddha’s body, and one Buddha’s body in all sentient beings’ bodies; manifest the pure dharma body in one sentient being’s body, and one sentient being’s body in the pure dharma body; manifest all pure Buddha Lands in one Buddha Land with its adornments, and one pure Buddha Land in all Buddha Lands with their adornments; manifest worlds in the ten directions entering one pore.
For sentient beings’ sake, they displayed the power of all Buddhas’ vows. To those in worlds in the ten directions who were ready to be delivered, they demonstrated attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. They took Bodhisattva actions in every world for countless kalpas, never resting. They put incalculable numbers of worlds into one dust particle, and their sentient beings were not crammed together. They changed countless inconceivable kalpas into a short while, and changed a short while into countless inconceivable kalpas. In one moment, for sentient beings in all worlds in the ten directions—such as those born through an egg, a womb, moisture, or miraculous formation; with shape or without shape; with form or without form; with two, four, multiple, or no feet; Brahma gods, the god-king Śakra, and the world-protecting god-kings; gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, and nonhumans—they displayed to those ready to be tamed various majestic deportments, but their bodies and minds did not make differentiations.
Bodhisattvas who acquired such skillful means and immeasurable asaṁkhyeya merits were headed by Universal Worthiness [Samantabhadra] Bodhisattva, Universal Eye Bodhisattva, Universal Manifestation Bodhisattva, Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva, Universal Flame Bodhisattva, Universal Light Bodhisattva, Universal Radiance Bodhisattva, Universal Illumination Bodhisattva, Universal Banner Bodhisattva, Universal Awareness Bodhisattva, Great Speed Bodhisattva, Sustained Great Speed Bodhisattva, Great Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva, King of Great Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva, Great Energetic Progress Bodhisattva, Great Valor Bodhisattva, Great Thrust Bodhisattva, Power of Great Thrust Bodhisattva, Master of Multitudes Bodhisattva, Great Fragrant Elephant Bodhisattva, Great Moon Bodhisattva, Wonderful Moon Bodhisattva, Virtuous Moon Bodhisattva, Treasure Moon Bodhisattva, Universal Moon Bodhisattva, Taint-Free Dharma Moon Bodhisattva, Solar Moon Bodhisattva, Renowned Moon Bodhisattva, Bright Moon Bodhisattva, Full Moon Bodhisattva, Brahma Sound Bodhisattva, Brahma God’s Thunder Sound Bodhisattva, Earth Sound Bodhisattva, Dharma Realm Sound Bodhisattva, Removing All Māra Sounds Bodhisattva, Thundering the Dharma Drum Sound Bodhisattva, Universal Enlightenment Sound Bodhisattva, Differentiation-Free Sound Bodhisattva, Above the Ground Sound Bodhisattva, Obscuring All Sounds Bodhisattva, Equality Store Bodhisattva, Taint-Free Store Bodhisattva, Merit Store Bodhisattva, Radiance Store Bodhisattva, Treasure Store Bodhisattva, Moon Store Bodhisattva, Sun Store Bodhisattva, Sun Birth Store Bodhisattva, Lotus Flower Store Bodhisattva, Wisdom Store Bodhisattva, Great Wisdom Bodhisattva, Superb Wisdom Bodhisattva, Renowned Wisdom Bodhisattva, Unsurpassed Wisdom Bodhisattva, Increasing Wisdom Bodhisattva, Immeasurable Wisdom Bodhisattva, Broad Wisdom Bodhisattva, Buddha Wisdom Bodhisattva, Endless Wisdom Bodhisattva, Ocean Wisdom Bodhisattva, Meru Lamp Bodhisattva, Great Lamp Bodhisattva, Dharma Lamp Bodhisattva, Illuminating the Ten Directions Lamp Bodhisattva, Universal Lamp Bodhisattva, Dispelling All Darkness Lamp Bodhisattva, Illuminating Everywhere Lamp Bodhisattva, Always Shining Lamp Bodhisattva, Moon Lamp Bodhisattva, Sun Lamp Bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, Great Might Arrived [Mahāsthāmaprāpta] Bodhisattva, Vajra Store Bodhisattva, Merit Store Bodhisattva, Leaving Evil Life-Paths Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, Medicine Superior Bodhisattva, Thunder Sound Bodhisattva, Lotus Flower Hand Bodhisattva, Sunlight Bodhisattva, Taint-Free Valiant Bodhisattva, Vajra Wisdom Bodhisattva, Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva, Subjugating Māras Bodhisattva, Treasure Topknot Bodhisattva, Thousand Beams of Light Bodhisattva, Subjugating the Massive Māra Bodhisattva, Hard to See Bodhisattva, Hard to Conquer Bodhisattva, Hard to Measure Bodhisattva, Excellent Knowledge Bodhisattva, Ending Evil Life-Paths Bodhisattva, and Maitreya Bodhisattva.
Also, from Buddha Lands in the ten directions, innumerable inconceivable gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, as well as Brahma-kings, god-kings called Śakra, and world-protecting god-kings gathered there.
In this world, from the six desire heavens, 100 koṭi gods, māra-kings, and god-sons headed by the god-son Merchant Leader, together with their retinues, went to the place where the Buddha was, to see the Tathāgata, make obeisance and offerings, and hear the Dharma. Moreover, from heavens ranging from the first form heaven to Akaniṣṭha Heaven, the top heaven in the form realm, 100 koṭi great Brahma-kings and 100 koṭi Brahma gods, headed by the Brahma-king Maheśvara, together with their innumerable retinues, went to the place where the Buddha was, to see the Tathāgata, make obeisance and offerings, and hear the Dharma.
Moreover, 100 koṭi Dharma protectors in the eight classes and innumerable humans, nonhumans, upāsakas, and upāsikās, together with their retinues, went to the place where the Buddha was, to see the Tathāgata, make obeisance and offerings, and hear the Dharma.
Moreover, all gods on earth—such as gods of grass, trees, forests, and mountains, including Mount Sumeru, Great Mount Sumeru, Mucilinda Mountain, Great Mucilinda Mountain, Snow Mountain [Himālaya], and Iron Mountain Range [Cakravāda]; gods of rivers, seas, and ponds; gods of countries, cities, and villages; gods of the abodes of the Dharma protectors in the eight classes—together with their retinues, went the place where the Buddha was, to see the Tathāgata, make obeisance and offerings, and hear the Dharma.
Moreover, 100 koṭi sun gods and moon gods, and the dragon-king Anavatapta, surrounded by their innumerable retinues, went the place where the Buddha was, to see the Tathāgata, make obeisance and offerings, and hear the Dharma.
Through the Buddha’s spiritual power, these multitudes did not hinder one another and were not crammed together.
The World-Honored One’s radiance illuminated the assembly. As the radiance of a full moon clears away the clouds and outshines the stars, likewise the Tathāgata’s radiance revealed His extraordinary majesty and outshined that of all gods, including the Brahma-king Śikhin and the god-king Śakra, and His body remained as motionless as Mount Sumeru.
Then Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī the Youth asked Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva, “The Tathāgata now abides here and His body remains motionless. Do you see this?”
Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva answered, “Mañjuśrī, although the Tathāgata abides here and remains motionless, in this assembly some see Him renouncing family life to practice asceticism; some see Him going to His bodhimaṇḍa, sitting under a bodhi tree, subjugating māra foes, and attaining true enlightenment. Some see gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four world-protecting god-kings jointly praising, ‘Very good! The great master triumphs over the foes.’ Some see the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four god-king world protectors requesting Him to expound the Dharma. Some see Him expounding to them the ten pāramitās, whether almsgiving, observing the precepts, developing endurance, making energetic progress, doing meditation, developing wisdom, acquiring skillful means, making earnest wishes, developing powers, or acquiring wisdom-knowledge; some see Him expounding to them on riding the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, or the Mahāyāna, the highest vehicle; some see Him expounding to them on how to be reborn as a hell-dweller, a subject of King Yama, a hungry ghost, an animal, a human, or a Wheel-Turning King; some see Him expounding to them on how to be reborn as a god in one of the six desire heavens or even as a Brahma god in one of the heavens in the form realm.
“Moreover, Mañjuśrī, in this assembly some see that the Tathāgata’s height is one fathom, one krośa, two krośas, half a yojana, one, two, ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, or five million yojanas, or beyond measurement in yojanas.
“Some see that the Buddha’s body is the color of gold, aquamarine, the god-king Indra’s sapphire [indranīla], a great blue jewel, a fire radiance jewel, a red lotus flower jewel, the śakrābhi-lagna jewel, a vajra radiance jewel, a gods’ radiance jewel, a sun-moon radiance jewel, a water radiance jewel, a crystal jewel, Maheśvara’s jewel, a radiance-gathering jewel, a lion’s mane jewel, a lion banner jewel, an ocean-in-pure-radiance jewel, or a wish-fulfilling jewel. Those who should be tamed by seeing a Tathāgata’s physical appearance see different appearances. Those who should come to attainment by hearing a Tathāgata’s teachings hear different teachings. However, whoever trains according to His teachings as heard will come to attainment.
“Mañjuśrī, countless inconceivable and immeasurable worlds in the ten directions are filled with gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, as well as Brahma-kings, god-kings called Śakra, world-protecting god-kings, humans, and nonhumans, like bamboos, sugarcanes, and sesame plants in a grove. Those who should be tamed by seeing a Tathāgata see Him in different appearances, facing them one fathom away and expounding the Dharma to them. Whoever trains according to His teachings as heard will come to attainment. As a Tathāgata does these things, His work is a natural response, free from differentiation.
“Mañjuśrī, at midnight with a full moon, although all sentient beings in Jambudvīpa [the southern continent] see the moon appearing before them, the moon never thinks, ‘I enable sentient beings to see me appear before them.’ This is a natural thing. Likewise, although a Tathāgata appears before sentient beings, he never thinks, ‘I enable sentient beings to see me appear before them.’ Those ready to be tamed see a Buddha appearing before them. Why? Because sentient beings do not have the same perceptions.
“Mañjuśrī, all sentient beings receive karmic requitals in three grades [good, evil, and neutral] because their karmas have three grades. Although karmas never differentiate themselves into three grades, they naturally have three grades. Each sentient being, because of its good karmic requitals, sees a Buddha in its own way. A Tathāgata never classifies anything into three grades, but they naturally appear to sentient beings.
“Mañjuśrī, a pure crystal placed on clothes in different colors takes on different colors. Placed on yellow clothes, it looks yellow; placed on purple clothes, it looks purple. A crystal takes on the color of clothes in any color, but never differentiates colors. Likewise a Tathāgata appears to be different colors to different sentient beings. Those who should be tamed by seeing Him in the color of gold will see Him in the color of gold; those should be tamed by seeing Him in the color of aquamarine, a pearl, Indra’s sapphire, a great blue jewel, a radiance-gathering jewel, an ocean-in-pure-radiance jewel, a lion’s mane jewel, a lion banner jewel, a lightning lamp jewel, or a water radiance jewel, will see a Tathāgata in the color of such a jewel. Those should be tamed by seeing a Brahma-king, the god-king Śakra, or a world-protecting god-king, will see a Tathāgata in the appearance of a Brahma-king, the god-king Śakra, or a world-protecting god-king. Those who should be tamed by seeing a sentient being on a certain life-path—whether a hell-dweller, a hungry ghost, an animal, a subject of King Yama, or a god in the form realm or the formless realm; a sentient being born through an egg, a womb, moisture, or miraculous formation; a sentient being with form or without form; a sentient being with perception, without perception, or neither with nor without perception—will see a Tathāgata in the appearance of such a sentient being. As a Tathāgata displays various appearances, He never thinks, ‘I enable this sentient being to see me in the color of gold only, not aquamarine; I enable that sentient being to see me in the color of a lion’s mane jewel only, not a lion banner jewel.’ Although He makes no differentiations, wherever He is, sentient beings naturally see Him in different appearances.
“Mañjuśrī, a place that produces the king of gems does not produce iron, and the king of gems never thinks, ‘This place produces only me, not iron.’ Any place that produces gems naturally does not produce iron. Likewise, in the world where a Tathāgata is born, naturally there are no non-Buddhist doctrines, thieves wreaking havoc, five rebellious acts, ten evil karmas, instituted rules, or violations of the law. Nor are there radiances of the sun, the moon, gods, gems, fire, or lightning. Nor are there minutes, days, months, or years. An exception is that a Buddha manifests such things to transform sentient beings. Although He makes no differentiations, because of sentient beings, various things naturally arise.
“Mañjuśrī, whatever touches the radiance of a great blue jewel becomes the color of the great blue jewel, but that jewel makes no differentiations. Likewise, whoever touches the radiance emitted by a Buddha becomes the color of all wisdom-knowledge. Although the Buddha makes no differentiations, this thing naturally arises.
“Mañjuśrī, a well-polished great aquamarine jewel can be inlaid in an ornament for one’s hand, foot, neck, or head. The ornament becomes magnificent because of the power of aquamarine. Likewise, whoever emulates a Tathāgata’s actions, deportments, and abode takes excellent actions, because of that Tathāgata’s power. Although a Buddha makes no differentiations, this thing naturally arises.
“Mañjuśrī, plants and trees depend on the earth to grow, but the earth makes no differentiations. Likewise a Tathāgata enables all sentient beings’ roots of goodness that depend on Him to grow. Although the Tathāgata makes no differentiations, this thing naturally arises.
“Mañjuśrī, a great cloud covers all grass, trees, and forests, and pours down sweet rains. Wherever the water in one flavor reaches, grass and trees will grow to have various colors and scents. Although that cloud never differentiates them, their various appearances naturally arise. Likewise a Tathāgata forms the cloud of true enlightenment. It covers everything and pours down the Dharma rain according to sentient beings’ different roots of goodness, preferences, levels of faith and understanding, and levels of liberation, enabling their roots of goodness to grow according their powers. However, the Tathāgata never thinks, ‘I will enable this sentient being’s roots of goodness to produce a voice-hearer’s wisdom, a Pratyekabuddha’s wisdom, or a Tathāgata’s wisdom; enable that sentient being’s roots of goodness to bring about its rebirth in the first desire heaven, the second desire heaven, or even one of the pure-abode heavens [in the form realm]; enable another sentient being’s roots of goodness to bring about its rebirth as a human king or a wealthy man.’ Although a Buddha makes no differentiations, various things naturally arise according to sentient beings’ preferences and accumulated roots of goodness. Why? Because a Buddha has discarded all attachments and makes no differentiations.
“Mañjuśrī, as soon as the sun appears, it emits countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of beams of light that dispel all darkness in Jambudvīpa. Although the sun makes no differentiations, such as saying, ‘I will dispel darkness,’ this event of dispelling darkness naturally occurs. Likewise a Tathāgata’s wisdom sun appears in the world and emits countless koṭis of beams of wisdom light that dispel the darkness in the world and bring sentient beings to [spiritual] maturity. Although a Buddha makes no differentiations, such as saying, ‘I enable sentient beings to see my radiance that dispels their darkness,’ this event naturally occurs everywhere. Why? Because a Buddha has discarded all attachments and makes no differentiations.
“Mañjuśrī, a magician conjures up various images. Although they appear in various shapes and kinds, they are illusions just the same and are indescribable. They have neither birth nor death, neither words nor sounds, neither directions nor places, neither self-essence nor perception, neither duality nor action, neither equals nor opposites, because they are conjured up by a magician. Likewise a Tathāgata, for sentient beings’ sake, displays various majestic deportments and actions, seen by all. However, a Tathāgata is indescribable, and has neither birth nor death, neither words nor sounds, neither directions nor places, neither self-essence nor perception. He is the true dharma realm, beyond touch and comparison.
“Mañjuśrī, as the sun shines on Mount Sumeru, sentient beings on the four continents see [the sun] differently, whether sunrise, midday sun, afternoon sun, sunset, midnight, or dawn. Although sentient beings on the four continents see the one sun differently, the sun makes no differentiations. Obstructed by Mount Sumeru, sentient beings on the four continents naturally see the sun differently. Likewise, as a Tathāgata appears in an assembly, some sentient beings see Him going to attain true enlightenment, having already attained true enlightenment, going to enter parinirvāṇa, or having already entered parinirvāṇa. Some see Him having attained Buddhahood for ten years or even an ineffable number of kalpas, or having entered parinirvāṇa for ten years or even 100,000 koṭi kalpas. Some see Him in the world expounding the Dharma for ten, twenty, or forty years. Some see His Dharma abiding or ending. However, a Buddha makes no differentiations. Because of sentient beings, such diverse things naturally arise.
“Mañjuśrī, when the great wind blows across Jambudvīpa, all grass and tree branches and leaves become disordered. As they rise or fall in the four directions, the grass and trees make no differentiations. Because of the wind, various appearances arise. Likewise a Tathāgata makes no differentiations, but sentient beings, thought after thought, see His countless majestic deportments and actions. If they emulate a Tathāgata’s actions, they will end countless kalpas of rebirths as hell-dwellers, animals, hungry ghosts, or subjects of King Yama. Mañjuśrī, a Tathāgata brings them such immeasurable wonderful merits. If someone directs his attention to thinking of a Tathāgata for one thought, even Bodhisattvas who abide in the Inconceivable Liberation Samādhi for countless hundreds of thousands of nayutas of kalpas cannot know the limit of his merits.
“Mañjuśrī, the sun rises from the immense ocean and abides in the open sky. It emits countless koṭis of nayutas of beams of light, illuminating all cities and villages. It dispels vast darkness, dries up filthy ponds, makes all grass and trees grow to maturity, and accomplishes many other things. Although the sun makes no differentiations, such things naturally arise. Although its light enters rivers and ponds, it never leaves its original place. Likewise a Tathāgata arises from the ocean of existences and abides in the Dharma, like the open sky. He emits countless koṭis of beams of wisdom light, illuminating everywhere in worlds in the ten directions. It eliminates sentient beings’ film of ignorance [that covers their eyes], dries up the turbid flows of their afflictions, and enables their roots of goodness, merits, and wisdom to grow to maturity. Although these things appear simultaneously, He clearly remains motionless in His original place. Because a Buddha has discarded thinking and differentiation, He naturally displays these appearances.
“Mañjuśrī, suppose that a good man or woman, for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, every day makes offerings of celestial garments, and food and drink in a hundred flavors, to Buddhas and voice-hearers, who are as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the ten directions. Suppose that, after each Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, he or she erects, in every world in the ten directions, memorial pagodas [stūpa] as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the ten directions. Each pagoda is made of Jambūnada gold, adorned with interlaced lightning jewels and radiance-gathering treasures, surrounded by jeweled railings, jeweled banners, and chiming jeweled bells. It is painted with wonderful solid perfume of sandalwood and covered with a net of kings of jewels. Above it hover the celestial jeweled canopies cloud, the jeweled banners cloud, the fragrant flowers cloud, the kings of jewels cloud, and the wish-fulfilling jewels cloud. These clouds scatter offerings in the sky as they wander throughout the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. Suppose that, for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, every day he or she makes such offerings during the three periods of the day [morning, midday, and afternoon], and teaches and transforms innumerable sentient beings. The merit acquired in this way is less than the merit acquired by hearing this Dharma Door of entering a Tathāgata’s inconceivable state of wisdom, and having faith in and understanding of it. The latter surpasses the former countless asaṁkhyeya times.
“Mañjuśrī, if a Bodhisattva believes in and understands this dharma, he will quickly achieve countless koṭis of nayutas of Bodhisattva pāramitās, enter countless koṭis of nayutas of Bodhisattva grounds, avoid countless koṭis of nayutas of birth and death, know the transcendental powers of countless koṭis of nayutas of Buddhas, destroy countless asaṁkhyeyas of mountains of self-arrogance, topple countless asaṁkhyeyas of banners of stinginess and jealousy, dry up countless asaṁkhyeyas of rivers of love of being, cross countless asaṁkhyeyas of oceans of birth and death, destroy countless asaṁkhyeyas of māra nets, and outshine all awesome radiance of the sun, the moon, the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the world-protecting god-kings. In one Buddha Land after another, he will rescue suffering sentient beings such as hell-dwellers, hungry ghosts, animals, and subjects of King Yama, and will constantly stay close to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
“Moreover, he will fully master hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of samādhis, including the Ocean Seal Samādhi, the Retaining the Entire Dharma Samādhi, the Command of Dharmas Samādhi, the Majestic Appearances Samādhi, the Treasure Birth Samādhi, the Peace and Joy Samādhi, the Splendid Lotus Flowers Samādhi, the Space Store Samādhi, the Entering the World Samādhi, the Wondrous Dharma Flower Samādhi, the Mastery of States Samādhi, the Great Thrust Samādhi, the Sky Mind Samādhi, the Lion’s Thrust Samādhi, the Sun Lamp Samādhi, the Countless Turns Samādhi, the Raining Sweet Dew Samādhi, the Vajra Banner Samādhi, the Vajra-Like Samādhi, the Center of a Vajra Samādhi, the Sustaining the Earth Samādhi, the Sumeru Lamp Samādhi, the Sumeru Banner Samādhi, the Treasure Store Samādhi, the Mind at Ease Samādhi, the Sentient Beings’ Minds at Ease Samādhi, the Increasing All Actions Samādhi, the Profound Secret Skillful Means Samādhi, the Various Kinds of Eloquence Samādhi, the Imperceptible Samādhi, the Observing Dharmas Samādhi, the Playful Samādhi, the Producing All Transcendental Powers Samādhi, the Subjugating Māras Samādhi, the Manifesting All Appearances Samādhi, the All Supreme Forms Samādhi, the Observing the Body Samādhi, the Taking All Actions Samādhi, the Wisdom Lamp Samādhi, the Bodhi Radiance Samādhi, the Unimpeded Eloquence Samādhi, the Acquiring All Merits Samādhi, the Expounding the True Reality of Dharmas Samādhi, the Quiet Transcendental Powers Samādhi, the Śūraṅgama Samādhi, and the Ocean Tide Samādhi.
“Moreover, he will master hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of dhāraṇīs, including the Countless Appearances of a Buddha’s Body Dhāraṇī, the Great Wisdom-Knowledge Dhāraṇī, the Pure Sounds Dhāraṇī, the Inexhaustible Treasure Chest Dhāraṇī, the Countless Turns Dhāraṇī, the Ocean Seal Dhāraṇī, the Entering Definitive Eloquence Dhāraṇī, and the Buddhas’ Majestic Positions of Authority Dhāraṇī. Through such dhāraṇīs, he will take excellent actions according all sentient beings’ preferences, acquire the teacher-free wisdom-knowledge of all dharmas, resolve all doubts about dharmas, acquire a Buddha’s transcendental powers, and possess the skillful means for Bodhisattva actions.
“Mañjuśrī, Mount Sumeru, king of mountains, is tall and beautiful, surpassing all other mountains. Likewise a Bodhisattva who believes in and understands this Dharma Door acquires pure merits that surpass all sentient beings’ roots of goodness.”
Then Mañjuśrī asked Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva, “Buddha-Son, are there other excellent dharmas that Bodhisattvas should believe in and understand, in order to acquire additional excellent merits?”
Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva answered, “A Bodhisattva can acquire additional immeasurable excellent merits if he believes in and understands five dharmas. What are these five? They are believing in and understanding that (1) all dharmas have neither birth nor death, cannot be described, and have neither equals nor opposites; (2) a Tathāgata makes no effort and no differentiation as He endlessly displays, from moment to moment, His majestic deportments and actions more numerous than the dust particles in Jambudvīpa; (3) Śākyamuni Tathāgata had already attained true enlightenment for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, though He, in a past life, to bring sentient beings to [spiritual] maturity, displayed His teaching of King Sudāsa; (4) Śākyamuni Tathāgata abided in a Buddha’s state as He displayed training in Bodhisattva actions between His receiving from Lamplighter [Dīpaṁkara] Buddha the prophecy of His becoming a Buddha and His attaining Buddhahood, because He had already attained samyak-saṁbodhi for countless kalpas; (5) Śākyamuni Tathāgata had already attained samyak-saṁbodhi for countless kalpas, though He, to bring sentient beings to [spiritual] maturity, displayed the annihilation of the Śākya clan [by King Virūḍhaka’s army].
“Mañjuśrī, if a Bodhisattva can believe in and understand these five dharmas, he can acquire additional excellent merits.
“Mañjuśrī, suppose that a good man or woman, for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, every day makes offerings of celestial garments, and food and drink in a hundred flavors, to Arhats as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the directions, who have achieved the six transcendental powers and the eight liberations. The merit acquired in this way is less than the merit acquired by giving food and drink to one Pratyekabuddha for one day. The latter surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times.
“Moreover, Mañjuśrī, suppose that a good man or woman, for an asaṁkhyeya Pratyekabuddhas in worlds in the ten directions, builds ashrams as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the ten directions. Each ashram is made of Jambūnada gold, with jeweled pillars and treasure-adorned stairs, railings, towers, doors, windows, and curtains, and painted with wonderful solid perfume of sandalwood. Suppose that he or she, for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, every day makes offerings of celestial garments, and food and drink in a hundred flavors, to these Pratyekabuddhas. The merit acquired in this way is less than the merit acquired by hearing the name of a Buddha, a World-Honored One, or a Tathāgata, or the mention of all wisdom-knowledge. The latter surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times. The merit acquired by seeing a Tathāgata’s image in a painting or a sculpture made of wood or clay surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times. The merit acquired by offering lamp oil, incense, flowers, and music [to a Buddha image] surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times. The merit acquired by observing even one precept in the Buddha Dharma for even one day surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times.
“Mañjuśrī, suppose that a good man or woman, for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, every day makes offerings of celestial garments, and food and drink in a hundred flavors, to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and voice-hearers, who are as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the ten directions. Then, after a Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, he or she erects memorial pagodas as numerous as the dust particles in worlds in the ten directions, each pagoda as large as the four continents, in wonderful designs, adorned with treasures, canopies, music, and offerings. The merit acquired by this man or woman who does not believe in or understand this Dharma Door of entering a Tathāgata’s inconceivable state of wisdom, is less than the merit acquired by whoever can believe in and understand this Dharma Door. The latter surpasses the former an asaṁkhyeya times, even if the believer gives only a grab of food to an animal.
“Mañjuśrī, suppose that a Bodhisattva believes in and understands this sūtra, and makes to Buddhas such offerings as just described. Then suppose that a Bodhisattva who believes in and understands this sūtra sees others rejoice and elicit pure faith after hearing this sūtra. He rises from his seat, joins his palms, salutes them, and makes offerings to them to his best ability. His merit surpasses that of the former Bodhisattva an asaṁkhyeya times, because he will soon acquire Buddha wisdom.”
After the Buddha pronounced this sūtra [through Removing the Coverings Bodhisattva], all in the assembly, such as Bodhisattvas, bhikṣus, gods, humans, and asuras, rejoiced. They believed in and accepted His words, made obeisance, and carried out His teachings.
1. On the fourteenth day after His perfect enlightenment, Śākyamuni Buddha (circa 563–483 BCE) gave definitive teachings to advanced Bodhisattvas in nine assemblies. These teachings are contained in the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra), the two Chinese versions of which are in text 278 (T09n0278) in 60 fascicles and text 279 (T10n0279) in 80 fascicles. Of the nine assemblies, the second, seventh, and eighth were convened in the Universal Radiance Hall. Text 304 (T10n0304) in one fascicle contains teachings likely given in the seventh assembly. For most of the teachings given in the seventh assembly, see the English translation of text 279, fascicles 40–52, in Rulu’s Two Holy Grounds (Rulu 2014, 33–256). (Return to text)
2. As soon as the Buddha attains perfect enlightenment under the bodhi tree, His bodhimaṇḍa changes into a splendid place like a world in Lotus Flower Store of Oceans of Magnificent Worlds, described in detail in text 279 (T10n0279), fascicles 8–10. (Return to text)
3. The two kinds of actions refer to the two kinds of afflictions, the thinking confusions and the view confusions (see “affliction” in the glossary). They can also refer to the actions of two kinds of hindrances: (1) affliction hindrances, which lead to another two kinds of hindrances: evil karmas and corresponding requitals; (2) hindrances to wisdom-knowledge (jñeyāvaraṇa), which are one’s ground-abiding ignorance, the root ignorance (see “two kinds of hindrances” in the glossary). (Return to text)
4. The opposite shore is that shore of nirvāṇa, opposite this shore of saṁsāra. (Return to text)
5. See “overall wisdom-knowledge” and “discriminatory wisdom-knowledge” in the glossary’s “three kinds of wisdom-knowledge.” (Return to text)
6. Mahāprajāpatī was Śākyamuni Buddha’s aunt, the sister of His mother, Mahāmāyā, who died seven days after His birth. Mahāprajāpatī raised the Buddha. Five years after the Buddha attained Buddhahood, His father, King Śuddhodana, died. Then Mahāprajāpatī, leading five hundred women in the Śākya clan, requested the Buddha’s permission to renounce family life, and they became the first Buddhist nuns. Three months before the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, to avoid her grief over His parinirvāṇa, she entered meditation, which deepened from the first dhyāna to the fourth dhyāna, and died. (Return to text)
7. Yaśodharā was the Buddha’s wife when He was Prince Siddhārtha, and the mother of Rāhula. Five years after the Buddha attained Buddhahood, she and Mahāprajāpatī, the Buddha’s aunt, became nuns, along with five hundred Śākya women. (Return to text)
8. See “applied wisdom-knowledge” in the glossary’s “two kinds of wisdom-knowledge.” (Return to text)
9. The Śūraṅgama Samādhi is attained only by a Bodhisattva on the tenth Bodhisattva ground. According to fascicle 1 of text 642, the 2-fascicle Chinese version of the Sūtra of the Śūraṅgama Samādhi, all Bodhisattva samādhis, meditation doors, eloquence doors, liberation doors, dhāraṇī doors, and transcendental powers are encompassed in this samādhi (T15n0642, 0632a3–6). According to fascicle 27 of text 374, the 40-fascicle Chinese version of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Śūraṅgama Samādhi has five names: (1) Śūraṅgama Samādhi, (2) Prajñā-Pāramitā, (3) Vajra Samādhi, (4) Lion’s Roar Samādhi, and (5) Buddha Nature (T12n0374, 0524c18–25). (Return to text)
10. See “five coverings” in the glossary. (Return to text)
11. Dragon-King Anavatapta is named after the lake where he resides. The Anavatapta (Heatless) Lake is mentioned in text 279, the 80-fascicle Chinese version of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment, fascicle 42, the English translation of which is in Rulu’s Two Holy Grounds (Rulu 2014, 61–74). (Return to text)
12. In each world, the Brahma-king Śikhin rules the gods in the first dhyāna heaven in the form realm, or the Brahma realm, where all gods are referred to as Brahma gods. The god-king Śakra rules the gods in the second desire heaven. The four god-kings rule the gods in the first desire heaven and protect the human world. (Return to text)
13. See “krośa” defined in the glossary’s “yojana.” (Return to text)
14. See “śakrābhi-lagna-ratna” in the glossary. (Return to text)
15. See “eight liberations” in the glossary. (Return to text)
16. Jambūnada gold is gold from the river that flows through the jambū (rose apple) grove. It is renowned for its supreme quality and red-golden color with a purple tinge. (Return to text)
17. See “six periods” in the glossary. (Return to text)