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Sūtra 51 (posted 06/2015, updated 02/2017)  Book information on Home page

勝鬘師子吼一乘大方便方廣經
Vaipulya Sūtra of Śrīmālā’s Lion’s Roar
That Reveals the Great Skillful Means of the One Vehicle

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


Chapter 1 – A Tathāgata’s Virtues

Thus I have heard:
    At one time the Buddha was outside Śrāvastī [the capital city of Kauśala], staying in the Jetavana garden, which was purchased for the Buddha from Prince Jeta by Anāthapiṇḍika the Elder. At that time King Prasenajit and his queen Mallikā[1] had not been believers in the Dharma for long. He said to his queen, “Queen Śrīmālā [Superb Garland] is our daughter. She is kind, intelligent, and endowed with a keen capacity. If she sees the Buddha, she will quickly understand the Dharma without harboring doubts. We should send her a letter at the right time to inspire her to seek the Dharma.”
    The queen said, “Now is the time.”
    Then the king and queen wrote a letter, briefly praising the Tathāgata’s immeasurable virtues. They ordered a palace attendant named Candra to deliver the letter to Śrīmālā. Upon arriving in the kingdom of Ayodhyā, Candra entered the palace and respectfully handed the letter to Queen Śrīmālā. She joyfully accepted it with the highest reverence by touching it to the crown of her head. After reading it, inspired by its rare information, Śrīmālā spoke to Candra in verse:

I have heard that a Buddha’s voice
Is hard to encounter in the world.
If this letter reveals the truth,
I should make an offering to you [the messenger].[2]

If that Buddha-Bhagavān
Has appeared in the world to benefit all,
He should pity me
And enable me to see Him.

    As soon as she had this thought, the Buddha appeared in the sky, in His unparalleled body, and emitted vast radiance. Śrīmālā and her retinue prostrated themselves at His feet. With a pure mind, they praised the Buddha’s virtues as she spoke in verse:

The Tathāgata’s sublime body
Is unequaled, unparalleled,
And inconceivable in the world.
So I now pay homage.

As the Tathāgata’s physical form is endless,
So too is His wisdom,
And His Dharma is ever abiding.
So I now take refuge.

You have removed the faults of Your mind
And the four faults of Your body,[3]
And arrived on the inconceivable ground [the Buddha Ground].
So I now pay homage to the Dharma King.

You have learned jñeya [all there is to know],
And Your wisdom body is hindrance free
And encompasses all dharmas.
So I now pay homage.

I pay homage to Your immeasurable virtues.
I pay homage to Your unequaled virtues.
I pay homage to Your boundless Dharma.
I pay homage to Your inconceivable [state].

I pray that You will pity and protect me,
And enable the Dharma seeds to grow in me.
I pray that You will accept and support me
In this life and future lives.

I have performed meritorious works
And will continue in this life and future lives.
With these roots of goodness,
I pray that You will accept and support me.

    After Śrīmālā spoke these stanzas, she and her retinue prostrated themselves at the Buddha’s feet. Then the World-Honored One spoke to Śrīmālā in verse:[4]

I set you [in the Dharma] long ago,
And you came to realization [of the truth] in your previous life.
Again I accept and support you now
And in your future lives.

    Then Śrīmālā and her retinue bowed down to the Buddha. In their midst, the Buddha bestowed upon her a prophecy, “Because of the roots of goodness you have acquired by praising the Tathāgata’s virtues, you will be reborn as a commanding king of gods and humans for countless asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas. Wherever you will be reborn, you will always see me and praise me as you do now. You will make offerings to innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of Buddhas. After 20,000 asaṁkhyeya kalpas, you will become a Buddha called Universal Light, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. In His Buddha Land, there will be no evil life-paths and no suffering, such as old age, illness, deterioration, distress, or unpleasant experiences, nor will there be evils or the names of evil karmas.[5] Sentient beings in that world will have good appearances and strength, live long lives, and enjoy the five desires. Their happiness will surpass that of gods in Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven [the sixth desire heaven in this world], and they will ride only the Mahāyāna [the Great Vehicle]. Those in the Three Realms of Existence who cultivate roots of goodness will gather there.”
    When Śrīmālā received this prophecy, innumerable sentient beings, such as gods and humans, aspired to be reborn in that world. Then the World-Honored One bestowed upon them the prophecy of their rebirth there.

Chapter 2 – Accepting Ten Precepts

After Śrīmālā received the prophecy, she stood respectfully and accepted ten vast precepts. She vowed:

    (1) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never entertain the thought of violating the precepts I have accepted.
    (2) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never harbor arrogance toward my teachers.
    (3) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never harbor anger toward sentient beings.
    (4) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never harbor jealousy of others’ appearances or things.
    (5) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never harbor stinginess about giving away internal or external things.
    (6) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will never accept or accumulate things for myself. Anything I accept will be for relieving sentient beings in need.
    (7) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will practice the Four Drawing-in Dharmas, never for receiving good requitals, but for benefiting all sentient beings. My mind free from greedy desire, complacency, and hindrances, I will draw in sentient beings.
    (8) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, when I see sentient beings in forlornness, confinement, shackles, sickness, tribulation, or hardship, I will not abandon them even for a short while, but will properly benefit them until they are free from suffering.
    (9) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, when I see those who make an evil livelihood, such as hunting or raising animals [for slaughter], or those who violate a Tathāgata’s pure precepts, I will not abandon them. Wherever I see such sentient beings, if I have the power [of authority], I will tame those who should be tamed and draw in those who should be drawn in. Why? Because taming them and drawing them in will enable the Dharma to abide in the world for a long time. If the Dharma abides in the world for a long time, there will be more gods and humans, and fewer sentient beings taking the evil life-paths. Then all will be able to follow the Dharma wheel a Tathāgata turns. Because I see this benefit, I will draw them in, not abandoning them.
    (10) World-Honored One, from now on until I attain bodhi, I will uphold the true Dharma [saddharma] and never forget or lose it. Why? Because forgetting or losing the Dharma means forgetting the Mahāyāna. Forgetting the Mahāyāna means forgetting the pāramitās.[6] Forgetting the pāramitās means not wanting to ride the Mahāyāna. If a Bodhisattva is indecisive about riding the Mahāyāna, he has no motivation to accept the true Dharma and enter it with delight. Then he will never be able to transcend the ground of ordinary beings. As I see this immeasurable loss, I also see the immeasurable benefits received by a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva who accepts the true Dharma. Therefore, I accept these ten vast precepts.[7]

    “May the Dharma King, the World-Honored One, be my present witness, because at present only the Buddha-Bhagavān knows [my truthfulness]. Sentient beings have small and weak roots of goodness. They form a web of doubts because these ten vows are hard to carry out, or they do evil karmas in the long night and suffer the dire consequences. To settle their minds, before the Buddha I now make a truthful vow: ‘If I fully observe these ten vast precepts, this multitude will see a rain of celestial flowers and hear celestial sounds.’”
    As soon as she spoke these words, the open sky rained down celestial flowers, and wonderful sounds were heard saying, “Indeed, indeed! What you say is true, not false.”
    Upon seeing the celestial flowers and hearing the celestial sounds, all in the assembly removed their doubts. They rejoiced exuberantly and said that they wished always to be with Śrīmālā and to do the same as she would. Then the World-Honored One bestowed upon the multitude the prophecy of the fulfillment of their wish.

Chapter 3 – The Three Vast Vows

Then Śrīmālā made three vast vows before the Buddha. She said, “I will benefit endless innumerable sentient beings through the power of these true vows:

    (1) In all my lives, I will use my roots of goodness to acquire the wisdom-knowledge [jñāna] of the true Dharma. This is my first vast vow.
    (2) After I have acquired the wisdom-knowledge of the true Dharma, I will tirelessly expound it to sentient beings. This is my second vast vow.
    (3) I accept the true Dharma and will relinquish my body, life, and wealth to protect and uphold it. This is my third vast vow.

    Then the Buddha said to Śrīmālā, “Your three vast vows are like the domain of space, which encompasses all dharmas. Hence a Bodhisattva’s vows as numerous as the sands of Ganges are all encompassed in these three vast vows. These three vast vows are truly vast.”

Chapter 4 – Accepting the True Dharma

Then Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “Through the Buddha’s awesome power, I would like to condense my vast vows into what they truly are.”
    The Buddha said, “You have my permission to speak.”
    Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “All vows as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, which are made by a Bodhisattva, are encompassed in one vast vow, the vow of accepting the true Dharma. Accepting the true Dharma is truly a vast vow.”
    The Buddha praised Śrīmālā, “Very good, very good! Your wisdom and skill are profound and wonderful because you have planted roots of goodness in the long night. Among future sentient beings, only those who have long planted roots of goodness can understand your words. You can expound [the meaning of] accepting the true Dharma, just as past Buddhas expounded it, present Buddhas do expound it, and future Buddhas will expound it. As I now have attained the unsurpassed bodhi, I too often expound [the meaning of] accepting the true Dharma. Indeed, I say that as the merit acquired by accepting the true Dharma is boundless, so too a Tathāgata’s wisdom and eloquence are boundless. Why? Because accepting the true Dharma has great virtues and great benefits.”

The Vast Meaning of Accepting the True Dharma

    Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “Through the Buddha’s spiritual power, I would like to expound the vast meaning of accepting the true Dharma.”
    The Buddha said, “Speak.” Śrīmālā said, “The vast meaning of accepting the true Dharma is immeasurable. Accepting the true Dharma means acquiring the entire Buddha Dharma and gathering 84,000 Dharma Doors [dharma-paryāya]. As an analogy, when a new kalpa begins, vast clouds form and send down colorful rains and various treasures. Likewise, accepting the true Dharma rains down immeasurable fortunate requitals and countless roots of goodness.
    “World-Honored One, as another analogy, when a new kalpa begins, vast waters gather and form a Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World with 400 koṭi continents of different kinds. Likewise, accepting the true Dharma gives rise to the Mahāyāna’s store of immeasurable realms, the transcendental powers of all Bodhisattvas, worldly security, happiness, gratification, and ease, supra-worldly peace and joy, and even virtues that gods and humans have never before had.
    “As another analogy, the great earth bears four heavy burdens. What are these four? They are (1) vast seas, (2) mountains, (3) grass and trees, and (4) sentient beings. Likewise a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma can, like the great earth, perform four heavy tasks. What are these four? They are (1) giving a god’s or human’s roots of goodness to bring to [spiritual] maturity those who stay away from beneficent learned friends, do not hear the Dharma, or engage in non-dharmas [evil karmas]; (2) giving the Voice-Hearer Vehicle to those who seek it; (3) giving the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle to those who seek it; (4) giving the Mahāyāna to those who seek it. These are the four heavy tasks that a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma can, like the great earth, perform. Indeed, World-Honored One, a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma can, like the great earth, perform these four heavy tasks, befriend sentient beings unasked,[8] pity and comfort sentient beings with great compassion, and become a Dharma mother of the world.
    “As another analogy, the great earth has four treasure stores. What are these four? They are treasures of (1) low price, (2) medium price, (3) high price, and (4) pricelessness. These are the great earth’s four treasure stores. Likewise a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma has, like the great earth, four supreme treasures. What are these four? They are (1) giving a god’s or human’s roots of goodness to those who do not hear the Dharma but engage in non-dharmas; (2) giving the Voice-Hearer Vehicle to those who seek it; (3) giving the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle to those who seek it; (4) giving the Mahāyāna to those who seek it. From a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma, a sentient being can receive such great treasures, which are extraordinary and rare benefits.
    “World-Honored One, producing great treasure stores is accepting the true Dharma. World-Honored One, what is meant by accepting the true Dharma? [The action of] accepting the true Dharma is no different from the true Dharma. The true Dharma is [the action of] accepting the true Dharma.

Practicing the Pāramitās Is Accepting the True Dharma

    “World-Honored One, practicing the pāramitās is no different from accepting the true Dharma. Accepting the true Dharma means practicing the pāramitās. Why? Because a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma practices the six pāramitās in the following way.
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through almsgiving, he or she gives them alms, not even sparing his or her body parts, to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called dāna-pāramitā [the almsgiving pāramitā].
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through observing the precepts, he or she protects his six faculties, purifies his or her body, voice, and mind karmas, and displays the four majestic deportments [walking, standing still, sitting, and lying down], to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called śīla-pāramitā [the precept pāramitā].
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through enduring adversity, he or she endures their abusive words, insults, slanders, and threats with an altruistic mind and the foremost endurance, without anger or even changing color, to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called kṣānti-pāramitā [the endurance pāramitā].
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through making energetic progress, he or she helps them with a tireless mind, makes the foremost energetic progress with great aspirations, and displays the four majestic deportments, to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called vīrya-pāramitā [the progress pāramitā].
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through practicing meditation, he or she uses an undisturbed mind, an undistracted mind, and the foremost right mindfulness that never forgets what he or she did or said long ago, to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called dhyāna-pāramitā [the meditation pāramitā].
    “For those who should be brought to [spiritual] maturity through developing wisdom, he or she uses a fearless mind to answer their questions about all meanings of the Dharma and expounds to them all doctrines, all studies,[9] and even various technical skills, to bring them to [spiritual] maturity according to their mentalities and enable them to abide in the true Dharma. This is called prajñā-pāramitā [the wisdom pāramitā].
    “Therefore, World-Honored One, practicing the pāramitās is no different from accepting the true Dharma. Accepting the true Dharma means practicing the pāramitās.

Relinquishing Three Things to Accept the True Dharma

    “World-Honored One, through the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, I would like to further expound the vast meaning [of accepting the true Dharma].”
    The Buddha said, “Speak.”
    Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “What is meant by accepting the true Dharma? [The action of] accepting the true Dharma is no different from the person who accepts the true Dharma. A good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma is [the action of] accepting the true Dharma.[10]
    “Why? Because to accept the true Dharma, a good man or woman relinquishes three things. What are these three? They are (1) body, (2) life, and (3) wealth. He or she relinquishes his or her body throughout future births and deaths, leaving behind old age, illness, and death, to acquire a Tathāgata’s indestructible, ever-abiding, and changeless dharma body [dharmakāya][11] with inconceivable virtues. He or she relinquishes his or her life throughout future births and deaths, to become absolutely free from death, acquire the limitless, ever-abiding, and inconceivable virtues, and fully understand the entire profound Buddha Dharma. He or she relinquishes his or her wealth to acquire the endless, never-diminishing, ever-abiding, and inconceivable virtues unavailable to other sentient beings, and to receive excellent offerings from other sentient beings. World-Honored One, a good man or woman who relinquishes these three things to accept the true Dharma is remembered by all Buddhas and respected by all sentient beings.
    “World-Honored One, when the Dharma is ending, while bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās will destroy the Saṅgha, split into factions, dispute, and disperse, a good man or woman who accepts the true Dharma without sycophancy, deceit, or falsity will delight in the true Dharma and join Dharma friends. Joining Dharma friends means that he or she will definitely receive a good prophecy from Buddhas.
    “World-Honored One, I see the great power of accepting the true Dharma. I also know and see that the Buddha is the true eye, the one with true wisdom-knowledge, the root of the true Dharma, the imparter of the true Dharma, and the reliance of the true Dharma.”

Immeasurable Virtues and Benefits of Accepting the True Dharma

    Then the World-Honored One expressed sympathetic joy over Śrīmālā’s words about the great awesome power of accepting the true Dharma. He said, “Indeed, Śrīmālā, indeed as you say, accepting the true Dharma has great awesome power. As an analogy, whoever is even lightly touched by a strong man feels a great deal of pain. Likewise, Śrīmālā, accepting even a little of the true Dharma can distress māras. Indeed, Śrīmālā, I do not see any other good dharmas that can worry māras as can accepting even a little of the true Dharma.
    “As another analogy, the shape and color of the ox-king are unparalleled and surpass those of all other oxen. Likewise the roots of goodness of a rider of the Mahāyāna who accepts even a little of the true Dharma surpass those of riders of the Two Vehicles. Why? Because accepting the true Dharma has vast virtues.
    “As another analogy, Mount Sumeru, king of mountains, surpasses all other mountains in size and majesty. Likewise the roots of goodness of a new rider of the Mahāyāna who accepts the true Dharma with an altruistic mind, not even sparing his life or wealth, surpass those of longtime riders of the Mahāyāna who are attached to their lives and wealth, not to mention those of riders of the Two Vehicles. Why? Because accepting the true Dharma has vast virtues.
    “Therefore, Śrīmālā, you should expound [the vast meaning of] accepting the true Dharma to teach and establish sentient beings. Indeed, Śrīmālā, accepting the true Dharma brings such great benefits, such great blessings, and such great spiritual fruits. Śrīmālā, for countless asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas, I expounded the virtues and benefits of accepting the true Dharma but never reached their limit. Indeed, accepting the true Dharma has immeasurable and limitless virtues.”

Chapter 5 – The One Vehicle

The Buddha told Śrīmālā, “You now should further expound [the meaning of] accepting the true Dharma, as expounded by all Buddhas.”
    Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “Very good, World-Honored One, I gladly obey Your command.”

Accepting the True Dharma Is Accepting the Mahāyāna

    Then she said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, accepting the true Dharma is accepting the Mahāyāna. Why? Because the Mahāyāna brings forth all voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and worldly and supra-worldly good dharmas. World-Honored One, as Lake Anavatapta [Heatless] issues eight great rivers,[12] likewise the Mahāyāna brings forth all voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and worldly and supra-worldly good dharmas. World-Honored One, as all seeds depend on the ground to grow, likewise all voice-hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, and worldly and supra-worldly good dharmas depend on the Mahāyāna to grow. Therefore, World-Honored One, abiding in and accepting the Mahāyāna are abiding in and accepting the Two Vehicles and all worldly and supra-worldly good dharmas.
    “World-Honored One, You have expounded six things. What are these six? They are (1) abiding of the true Dharma, (2) end of the true Dharma, (3) prātimokṣa [liberation achieved severally by observing the precepts], (4) the Vinaya,[13] (5) renouncing family life [to take the spiritual path], and (6) accepting the complete monastic precepts. To expound the Mahāyāna, You have expounded these six things.
    “To expound the Mahāyāna, You have expounded the abiding of the true Dharma because the abiding of the Mahāyāna is the abiding of the true Dharma. To expound the Mahāyāna, You have expounded the end of the true Dharma because the end of the Mahāyāna is the end of the true Dharma. Prātimokṣa and the Vinaya have the same meaning but have different names. The Vinaya is Mahāyāna teachings. Why? Because one relies on a Buddha to renounce family life and accept the complete monastic precepts. Therefore, Mahāyāna precepts encompass the Vinaya, renouncing family life, and accepting the complete monastic precepts. However, an Arhat has no need to renounce family life and accept the complete monastic precepts. Why? Because an Arhat has taken refuge in a Tathāgata to renounce family life and accept the complete monastic precepts.

Only a Tathāgata Has Attained Nirvāṇa

    “An Arhat takes refuge in a Buddha because he has fear. Why? Because an Arhat has fear even as he abides in freedom from actions [i.e., nirvāṇa], as if someone would harm him with a sword. Therefore, an Arhat has no ultimate joy. Why? Because he relies on the one who never seeks refuge [i.e., a Buddha]. Just as sentient beings that have no reliance have various fears, and seek refuge because of their fears, likewise an Arhat has fear, and relies on a Tathāgata because of his fear.
    “World-Honored One, an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has fear. Because his changeable birth and death are not ended, his rebirth continues. Because his Brahma way of life is not fully established, his training on the path is not entirely pure. Because his undertaking to attain nirvāṇa is not fully accomplished, he still has something to do [to end his suffering]. Because he has not fully crossed the ocean of birth and death, he still has something [his changeable birth and death] to end. Because he has not ended certain afflictions, he is still far from the realm of nirvāṇa.
    “Only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has attained nirvāṇa[14] because He has acquired all merits, while an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has not acquired all merits. Saying that he has attained nirvāṇa is a Buddha’s skillful means of expression. Only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has attained nirvāṇa because He has acquired immeasurable merits, while an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has acquired measurable merits. Saying that he has attained nirvāṇa is a Buddha’s skillful means of expression. Only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has attained nirvāṇa because He has acquired inconceivable merits, while an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has acquired conceivable merits. Saying that he has attained nirvāṇa is a Buddha’s skillful means of expression. Only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has attained nirvāṇa because He has removed all faults that should be removed and has achieved the foremost purity, while an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has remaining faults and has not achieved the foremost purity. Saying that he has attained nirvāṇa is a Buddha’s skillful means of expression. Only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has attained nirvāṇa and is revered by all sentient beings, and His state surpasses that of any Arhat, Pratyekabuddha, or Bodhisattva. Therefore, an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha is still far from the realm of nirvāṇa. Saying that an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha observes his level of liberation, acquires the four kinds of wisdom-knowledge,[15] and arrives at the reviving rest place [nirvāṇa] is also a Tathāgata’s skillful means of expression, which has something remaining unsaid, and is not definitive.

The Two Kinds of Birth and Death

    “Why? Because there are two kinds of birth and death. What are these two? They are (1) karmic birth and death through successive lifespans; (2) changeable birth and death, which are inconceivable. An ordinary being undergoes karmic birth and death. An Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, or a holy Bodhisattva[16] undergoes the inconceivable changeable birth and death in his mind-created bodies [manomaya-kāya] until his eventual attainment of the unsurpassed bodhi.
    “Because an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has ended his karmic birth and death, he declares that his rebirth is ended. Because he has attained nirvāṇa with remnants,[17] he declares that his Brahma way of life is established. Because he has ended certain afflictions, which all ordinary beings cannot end and voice-hearers in the first seven ranks[18] have not yet completely ended, he declares that his undertaking is accomplished. Because has ended the afflictions that drive his karmic rebirths, he declares that he will not undergo a subsequent existence. However, although he declares that he will not undergo a subsequent existence, he has ended neither all afflictions nor all rebirths. Why? Because there are certain afflictions that an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha cannot end.

The Ground-Abiding Afflictions and Their Ensuing Afflictions

    “There are two kinds of afflictions. What are these two? They are (1) the ground-abiding afflictions and (2) their ensuing afflictions. There are four kinds of ground-abiding afflictions. What are these four? They are (1) ground-abiding views, (2) ground-abiding love of desire, (3) ground-abiding love of form, and (4) ground-abiding love of existence.[19] From these four kinds of ground-abiding afflictions ensue all afflictions, which respond to one’s mind from moment to moment. [Underlying these four kinds of ground-abiding afflictions is] ground-abiding ignorance [avidyāvāsa-bhūmi] without a beginning,[20] the root affliction, which does not respond to one’s mind. World-Honored One, the power of these four kinds of ground-abiding afflictions is the relied-upon seed for all ensuing afflictions to grow. However, it cannot compare with the power of ground-abiding ignorance by any measure or analogy.
    “Indeed, World-Honored One, ground-abiding ignorance is far more powerful than the four ground-abiding afflictions.[21] As an analogy, the appearance, strength, lifespan, retinue, accouterments, and transcendental powers of the celestial māra-king Pāpīyān surpass those of gods in Paranirmita-vaśa-vartin Heaven [the sixth desire heaven]. Likewise the power of ground-abiding ignorance surpasses that of the four ground-abiding afflictions. Ensuing afflictions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges depend on ground-abiding ignorance to arise, and it enables the four ground-abiding afflictions to abide for a long time. The wisdom of an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha cannot end it. Only a Tathāgata’s bodhi wisdom can end it. Indeed, World-Honored One, ground-abiding ignorance is the strongest.
    “World-Honored One, through grasping[22] as the condition, and affliction-driven karmas as the cause, an ordinary being transmigrates in different karmic bodies in the Three Realms of Existence. Likewise, through ground-abiding ignorance as the condition, and affliction-free karmas as the cause, an Arhat’s, a Pratyekabuddha’s, or a holy Bodhisattva’s three kinds of mind-created body appear.[23] His affliction-free karmas and three kinds of mind-created body depend on his ground-abiding ignorance to arise, not without conditions. Indeed, World-Honored One, his ground-abiding ignorance is the condition for his affliction-free karmas and three kinds of mind-created body to arise.

Only a Tathāgata Can End His Ground-Abiding Ignorance

    “Indeed, World-Honored One, the four ground-abiding afflictions and affliction-driven karmas are different from ground-abiding ignorance. Because ground-abiding ignorance is apart from the four ground-abiding afflictions, it can be ended only on the Buddha Ground by a Buddha’s bodhi wisdom. Why? Because an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has ended his four kinds of ground-abiding afflictions but has not completely ended all his afflictions, has not acquired the power to end them, and has not attained nirvāṇa. That his afflictions are not completely ended means that his ground-abiding ignorance remains.
    “World-Honored One, because an Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, or a holy Bodhisattva in his final body [which is for attaining Buddhahood] is still hindered by his ground-abiding ignorance, he does not clearly know or see the truth of various dharmas. Because he does not clearly know or see it, he cannot completely end what should be ended. Therefore, he achieves liberation with remaining faults, not liberation free from all faults; he achieves purity with remnants, not total purity; he acquires merits with remnants, not all merits. Because he achieves liberation with remnants, achieves purity with remnants, and acquires merits with remnants, his knowledge of suffering has remnants [is incomplete], the end of his accumulation of afflictions has remnants, the cessation of his suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa has remnants, and the completion of his training on the path has remnants. Therefore, he attains lesser nirvāṇa, called toward the realm of nirvāṇa.
    “If one knows all suffering, ends all one’s accumulations of afflictions, ends all one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa, and completes one’s training on all paths, one will attain the ever-abiding nirvāṇa in a world plagued by destruction through impermanence and by the disease of impermanence, and become the protection and refuge for a world without protection and refuge. Why? Because one attains nirvāṇa when one sees that dharmas are equal [in their emptiness], neither good nor bad; wisdom is equal [in all]; liberation is equal [for all]; purity is equal [in all]. Therefore, nirvāṇa has one flavor, the same flavor, called the liberation flavor.
    “World-Honored One, if one’s ground-abiding ignorance is not completely ended, one cannot attain nirvāṇa, which has one flavor, the same flavor, the liberation flavor. Why not? Because if one’s ground-abiding ignorance is not completely ended, afflictions that should be ended, which are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges, cannot be completely ended. Because these afflictions that should be ended are not completely ended, one cannot acquire or attain virtuous dharmas that should be acquired or attained, which are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges.
    “One’s ground-abiding ignorance accumulates, and brings forth all afflictions and their ensuing afflictions, both of which should be ended through one’s spiritual training. It brings forth afflictions that arise from one’s mind, śamatha, vipaśyanā, meditation, samāpatti, skillful means, wisdom-knowledge, spiritual fruit, attainment, power, and fearlessness. Such ensuing afflictions more numerous than the sands of the Ganges can be ended only by a Tathāgata’s bodhi wisdom [when one attains Buddhahood]. All ensuing afflictions are established on one’s ground-abiding ignorance, arise from one’s ground-abiding ignorance as their cause and condition, and respond to one’s mind from moment to moment. World-Honored One, one’s ground-abiding ignorance without a beginning does not respond to one’s mind.
    “World-Honored One, all one’s afflictions, which are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges and can be ended only by a Tathāgata’s bodhi wisdom [when one attains Buddhahood], are established on and sustained by one’s ground-abiding ignorance. As an analogy, all seeds depend on the ground to arise, establish themselves, and grow. If the ground is destroyed, the seeds are destroyed as well. Likewise one’s afflictions, which are more numerous than the sands of the Ganges and can be ended only by a Tathāgata’s bodhi wisdom [when one attains Buddhahood], depend on one’s ground-abiding ignorance to arise, establish themselves, and grow. If one’s ground-abiding ignorance is ended, one’s afflictions are ended as well. When all one’s ground-abiding afflictions[24] and all their ensuing afflictions are ended, one acquires all virtuous dharmas acquired by a Tathāgata, which are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, acquires hindrance-free transcendental powers, acquires all wisdom-knowledge and views, removes all faults, acquires all merits, becomes a Dharma King, a Dharma Master, masters all dharmas, and ascends to the ground where all dharmas are hindrance free. One roars the lion’s roar of a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, declaring, ‘My rebirth is ended; my Brahma way of life is established, my undertaking is accomplished; I will not undergo a subsequent existence.’ Indeed, World-Honored One, this lion’s roar based on the definitive meaning has always been remembered and expounded [by Buddhas].

Two Kinds of Wisdom-Knowledge of Freedom from a Subsequent Existence

    “World-Honored One, there are two kinds of wisdom-knowledge that one will not undergo a subsequent existence. [The first kind belongs to] a Tathāgata, who uses an unsurpassed tamer’s power to subjugate the four māras, transcends the world, and is revered by all sentient beings. He realizes the inconceivable dharma body, and acquires mastery of all dharmas on the jñeya [all-there-is-to-know] ground, above which there is nothing more to do or to attain. Equipped with the Ten Powers, He valiantly ascends to the foremost unsurpassed fearless ground [Buddha Ground], and uses His hindrance-free wisdom to observe all dharmas, without others’ help. With the wisdom-knowledge that He will not undergo a subsequent existence, He roars a lion’s roar.
    “World-Honored One, [the second kind belongs to] an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha, who overcomes his fear of birth and death and, step by step, comes to enjoy the happiness of liberation. He thinks, ‘I have left behind my fear of repeated birth and death, and will no longer undergo the suffering of repeated birth and death.’ World-Honored One, as he observes his freedom from a subsequent existence, he also observes the foremost reviving rest place, the nirvāṇa ground. World-Honored One, abiding on the ground he has reached before,[25] he is neither ignorant of the Dharma nor dependent on others. He knows that he has reached the ground with remnants but will definitely attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi someday.

The One Vehicle

    “Why? Because both the Voice-Hearer Vehicle and the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle are encompassed in the Mahāyāna. The Mahāyāna is the Buddha Vehicle. Therefore, the Three Vehicles are the One Vehicle. Whoever rides the One Vehicle to seek bodhi will attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi is the realm of nirvāṇa. The realm of nirvāṇa is a Tathāgata’s dharma body. Realizing the ultimate dharma body is reaching the ultimate destination of the One Vehicle. A Tathāgata is no different from the dharma body. A Tathāgata is the dharma body. [Therefore] realizing the ultimate dharma body is reaching the ultimate destination of the One Vehicle. ‘Ultimate’ means boundless and endless [across space and time].

The One Refuge in a Tathāgata

    “World-Honored One, the abiding of a Tathāgata has no time limit because a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, abides throughout the endless future. As a Tathāgata’s abiding has no limit, so too His compassion for the world has no limit. His limitless great compassion limitlessly comforts the world. These words are a good description of a Tathāgata. If someone says that a Tathāgata is the endless dharma, the ever-abiding dharma, and the refuge for the whole world, his words are also a good description of a Tathāgata. Therefore, for a world that has not been delivered and has no refuge, the one who serves as its endless, ever-abiding, and ultimate refuge throughout the endless future is a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha.
    “The Dharma is the path of the One Vehicle. The Saṅgha is the multitude that rides the Three Vehicles. The two refuges, the Dharma and the Saṅgha, are not the ultimate refuge. They are called the lesser refuge. Why? Because the Dharma, which is the path of the One Vehicle, leads to realization of the ultimate dharma body, which does not address the Dharma affairs of the One Vehicle [when one was riding it].[26] And the Saṅgha, which is the multitude that rides the Three Vehicles, has fear, takes refuge in a Tathāgata to seek liberation, and trains and learns to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Therefore these two refuges are not the ultimate refuge, but a limited refuge.
    “Suppose that a sentient being tamed by a Tathāgata takes refuge in Him and tastes the Dharma flavor. Faith and delight arising in his mind, he takes refuge in the Dharma and the Saṅgha. His two refuges are not merely these two refuges, but the refuge in a Tathāgata. Taking refuge in the highest sense [paramārtha] is taking refuge in a Tathāgata. The two refuges in the highest sense are the ultimate refuge in a Tathāgata. Why? Because a Tathāgata is no different from the two refuges. The refuge in a Tathāgata is the Three Refuges.
    “How is the path of the One Vehicle revealed? A Tathāgata, who has acquired the Four Fearlessnesses, reveals it in a lion’s roar. If a Tathāgata gives provisional teachings by skillful means according to sentient beings’ desires, they are in essence Mahāyāna teachings. There are no Three Vehicles because they are encompassed in the One Vehicle.[27] The One Vehicle is the vehicle in the highest sense.

Chapter 6 – The Boundless Holy Truth

“World-Honored One, when a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha first observes the holy truth, he does not use only one kind of wisdom-knowledge to end his four ground-abiding afflictions by meeting the four conditions[28]—knowing the suffering of repeated birth and death, completing his virtuous training on the path, ending his accumulation of afflictions, and attaining nirvāṇa to end all his suffering—although he knows well their meaning. World-Honored One, he does not have the highest supra-worldly wisdom-knowledge. While his four kinds of wisdom-knowledge come gradually as he gradually meets the four conditions, a Tathāgata’s highest supra-worldly wisdom-knowledge comes immediately, not gradually.
    “World-Honored One, the wisdom-knowledge of the highest truth is likened to vajra [an adamantine substance]. It is not the initial wisdom-knowledge of the holy truth acquired by a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha, who cannot end his ground-abiding ignorance. World-Honored One, only a Tathāgata’s wisdom-knowledge of the non-dual holy truth can end all His ground-abiding afflictions. World-Honored One, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, whose state is not that of a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha, uses His inconceivable wisdom-knowledge of the emptiness of dharmas to destroy His store of all afflictions. World-Honored One, the ultimate wisdom-knowledge that destroys one’s store of all afflictions is called the wisdom-knowledge of the highest truth. The initial wisdom-knowledge of the holy truth is not the ultimate wisdom-knowledge, but is the wisdom-knowledge that leads to anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.
    “World-Honored One, what is meant by holy? It does not describe a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha, though he is called a holy being, because of the measurable and meager virtue [of his attainment]. The holy truth is not the truth realized by a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha, nor is it founded on the meager virtue [of his attainment].[29] World-Honored One, the holy truth is first realized by a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, and then He reveals it to a world shrouded in the store of ignorance. That is why it is called the holy truth.

The Tathāgata Store

    “The holy truth reveals the profound meaning of dharmas, which is subtle, hard to know, and beyond the thinking mind. Only a wise man [a Buddha] knows it, and the whole world cannot believe it. Why? Because it reveals the profound Tathāgata store [tathāgata-garbha]. The Tathāgata store is a Tathāgata’s state, unknown to any voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha. The Tathāgata store reveals the meaning of the holy truth. Because the Tathāgata store is profound, the holy truth revealed is also profound, subtle, hard to know, and beyond the thinking mind. Although a wise man knows it, the whole world cannot believe it.

A Tathāgata’s Dharma Body

    “If one has no doubts about the Tathāgata store being sheathed in one’s store of immeasurable afflictions, one will have no doubts about a Tathāgata’s dharma body leaving behind one’s store of immeasurable afflictions [when one realizes that they are empty]. If one has no doubts about one’s Tathāgata store, a Tathāgata’s dharma body, a Buddha’s inconceivable state, and a Buddha’s provisional teachings by skillful means, one will believe in and understand the two ways to realize the holy truth, which are hard to know and hard to understand. What are these two? They are (1) through an undertaking and (2) not through an undertaking.
    “The holy truth realized through an undertaking reveals the measurable meaning of the Four Noble Truths. Why? Because one relies on another [a Buddha] and fails to (1) know all suffering, (2) end all one’s accumulations of afflictions, (3) end all one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa, and (4) complete one’s training on all paths. One does not know that there are saṁskṛta birth and death versus asaṁskṛta birth and death, nor that there is nirvāṇa with remnants versus nirvāṇa without remnants.[30]
    “The holy truth realized not through an undertaking reveals the immeasurable meaning of the Four Noble Truths. Why? Because one uses one’s own power [as does a Buddha] to (1) know all suffering, (2) end of all one’s accumulations of afflictions, (3) end all one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa, and (4) complete one’s training on all paths.
    “Of these two ways to realize the Four Noble Truths, a Tathāgata reveals only the first way because only a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, can fully verify the Four Noble Truths not through an undertaking, which is beyond the ability of an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha. Why? Because nirvāṇa is not attained gradually through practicing low, middle, and high dharmas. Why? Because a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, fully verifies the meaning of the Four Noble Truth not through an undertaking. He fully knows all future suffering, ends all His accumulations of afflictions and their ensuing afflictions, eliminates all His mind-created bodies [because He has ended His changeable birth and death], and ends all His suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa.
    “World-Honored One, cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa does not destroy anything, but reveals one’s ever-abiding inherent pure nature [Buddha nature], which has no beginning, no action, no arising, no end, and no expiring, and is apart from one’s store of all afflictions. World-Honored One, what is not separate, detached, or different from the inconceivable Buddha Dharma [with teachings] more numerous than the sands of the Ganges is called a Tathāgata’s dharma body. World-Honored One, when a Tathāgata’s dharma body is not free from one’s store of afflictions, it is called the Tathāgata store.

A Limited Understanding of Emptiness Conceals the Truth

    “World-Honored One, the wisdom-knowledge of the Tathāgata store is a Tathāgata’s wisdom-knowledge of the emptiness of dharmas. World-Honored One, no Arhat, Pratyekabuddha, or holy Bodhisattva has ever seen his Tathāgata store or realized that he possesses it.
    “World-Honored One, there are two kinds of wisdom-knowledge of the emptiness of one’s Tathāgata store. The first kind is the wisdom-knowledge of the empty Tathāgata store, which is separate, detached, or different from one’s store of all afflictions. The second kind is the wisdom-knowledge of the not-empty Tathāgata store, which is not separate, detached, or different from the inconceivable Buddha Dharma [with teachings] more numerous than the sands of the Ganges.
    “World-Honored One, only great Arhats can believe in a Tathāgata’s teachings on these two kinds of wisdom-knowledge of the emptiness of one’s Tathāgata store. For all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas, their wisdom-knowledge of emptiness revolves around the four inverted views.[31] Therefore, they have never known or realized [that they possess the Tathāgata store]. Only a Buddha has verified the cessation of all His suffering, destroyed His store of all afflictions, and completed His training on all paths to end all His suffering.

One of the Four Noble Truths Is the One Truth and the One Reliance

    “World-Honored One, of the Four Noble Truths, three are impermanent, and one is permanent. Why? Because three noble truths have the appearances of a saṁskṛta dharma,[32] and anything with the appearances of a saṁskṛta dharma is impermanent. Impermanent dharmas are destructible, not a place of refuge. Therefore, the three noble truths—suffering, accumulation of afflictions, and the path—are not the highest truth, because they are impermanent and are not a place of refuge.
    “The noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa is free from the appearances of a saṁskṛta dharma, and anything free from the appearances of a saṁskṛta dharma is permanent. A permanent dharma is indestructible. This noble truth is permanent and a place of refuge. Therefore, it is the highest truth to rely on.

Wrong Views Invert the Truth

    “The noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa is inconceivable, beyond the capacity of all sentient beings’ minds and beyond the wisdom of all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas. As an analogy, the born-blind cannot see sights, and a seven-day-old infant cannot see the sun. Likewise the noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa is not an object in an ordinary being’s mind, nor is it an item in the wisdom-knowledge of riders of the Two Vehicles. An ordinary being’s consciousness is dictated by two opposite views, while the [limited] wisdom-knowledge of all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas is pure.
    “An ordinary being holds the wrong view that there is a self [ātman] in the five aggregates that constitute a sentient being and, from that view, derives two opposite views, perpetuity and cessation. When he sees that all processes are impermanent, he holds the view of cessation [uccheda-dṛṣṭi], which is not the right view. When he seeks nirvāṇa, he holds the view of perpetuity [śāśvata-dṛṣṭi], which is not the right view. These two opposite views arise from deluded thinking. When he sees that the faculties of the body presently expire, he does not know that it will be succeeded by a new body [at rebirth]. His view of cessation is based on deluded perception. When he sees that his thinking continues, he does not know that each thought instantly expires. His view of perpetuity is based on deluded perception. Following deluded perception, he cannot see the truth because he shuttles between this view of perpetuity and that view of cessation, according to his differentiation. Thus a deluded sentient being entertains four inverted perceptions of the five aggregates, taking impermanence as permanence, suffering as joy, a nonexistent self as a self, and impurity as purity. The pure wisdom-knowledge of all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas has never known a Tathāgata’s wisdom state or dharma body.
    “If a sentient being, because of his belief in a Buddha’s words, perceives a Tathāgata as eternity, bliss, a [true] self, and purity,[33] this is not an inverted view, but the right view. Why? Because a Tathāgata’s dharma body is the eternity pāramitā, the bliss pāramitā, the true-self pāramitā, and the purity pāramitā.[34] This view of a Buddha’s dharma body is the right view. Whoever holds the right view is a Buddha’s true son, born from His mouth [i.e., from hearing the Dharma], from pondering the Dharma, and from being transformed by the Dharma, who will acquire the remaining wealth of the Dharma.
    “World-Honored One, what is meant by pure wisdom-knowledge? It is the wisdom-knowledge pāramitā [jñāna-pāramitā] of all Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas. However, their wisdom-knowledge, though called pure wisdom-knowledge, cannot know the true meaning of the noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa,[35] much less can his four kinds of wisdom-knowledge that depend on [receiving teachings on] the Four Noble Truths. Why? Because if novice riders of the Three Vehicles were not ignorant of the Dharma, they would realize and acquire the true meaning of this noble truth. Therefore, the World-Honored One has expounded the Four Noble Truths for them to rely on. However, the Four Noble Truths [at their level] are worldly dharmas. The one reliance for all, the supreme supra-worldly reliance in the highest sense, is the noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa.

One’s Tathāgata Store and Inherent Pure Nature

    “World-Honored One, one’s birth and death depend on one’s Tathāgata store, but the beginning of one’s Tathāgata store is unknowable. World-Honored One, saying that one has birth and death because of one’s Tathāgata store is a good explanation. World-Honored One, birth and death mean that one’s faculties expire and one’s new faculties have not arisen. World-Honored One, one’s birth and death depend on one’s Tathāgata store. According to worldly descriptions of death and rebirth, death means the expiring of one’s old faculties; rebirth means the arising of one’s new faculties. However, one’s Tathāgata store has neither birth nor death. It does not have the appearances of a saṁskṛta dharma, and is ever abiding and changeless. Therefore, dharmas depend on the Tathāgata store to establish themselves, and are sustained by it. Not only the inconceivable Buddha Dharma, which is not separate, detached, split, or different from the wisdom-knowledge of liberation, depends on the Tathāgata store to establish itself, but all saṁskṛta dharmas, which are separate, detached, split, and different from the wisdom-knowledge of liberation, depend the Tathāgata store to establish themselves.
    “World-Honored One, without one’s Tathāgata store, one cannot come to tire of suffering and to delight in seeking nirvāṇa. Why not? Because, World-Honored One, one’s seven dharmas—one’s first six consciousnesses and their perceptions[36]—neither abide for a single moment nor retain one’s experience of suffering. Then one cannot come to tire of suffering and to delight in seeking nirvāṇa. World-Honored One, one’s Tathāgata store has no beginning, neither arising nor expiring, but retains one’s experience of suffering.[37] Then one can come to tire of suffering and to delight in seeking nirvāṇa.
    “One’s Tathāgata store is not a self, not a person, not a sentient being, and not an everlasting soul.[38] It is incomprehensible to those who hold the wrong view that one has a self, those who hold inverted views, and those who misunderstand the emptiness of dharmas.
    “World-Honored One, one’s Tathāgata store is the store of the dharma realm [dharma-dhātu], the store of the dharma body, the supreme store of supra-worldly dharmas, and the store of one’s inherent pure nature [Buddha nature]. How one’s Tathāgata store, the store of one’s inherent pure nature, is tainted by one’s visitor-like afflictions [āgantuka kleśa][39] and their ensuing afflictions can be known only through a Tathāgata’s inconceivable wisdom. Why? Because one’s good or evil mind arising from moment to moment is not tainted by one’s afflictions. One’s afflictions do not touch one’s mind, and one’s mind does not touch one’s afflictions. Then how can one’s mind be tainted without touching anything? Yet, World-Honored One, one has afflictions, and one’s mind is tainted by afflictions. It is hard to know why one’s inherent pure mind can be tainted. Only a Buddha-Bhagavān, who has the true eye and true wisdom-knowledge, is the root and the reliance of the true Dharma, and has a full understanding of the Dharma, can truly know it.”
    After Śrīmālā raised this hard-to-answer question, the Buddha expressed His sympathetic joy, saying, “Indeed, indeed! The reason why one’s inherent pure mind is tainted is hard to know. There are two things that are hard to know: (1) one’s inherent pure mind and (2) its being tainted by afflictions. Only you and Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas with great attainments can hear and accept these two hard-to-know things. Voice-hearers can only believe in a Buddha’s words.

A Buddha’s True Son

    “If a disciple of mine follows his growing faith, he can rely on his right faith to follow the dharma wisdom-knowledge[40] to master it. Following the dharma wisdom-knowledge means that he makes five observations, which are observations of (1) his sense faculties, sense consciousnesses, and sense objects, (2) his karmic requitals, (3) an Arhat’s lurking afflictions,[41] (4) the joy of his unconstrained mind and the joy of his meditation, and (5) the transcendental powers of an Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, and a holy Bodhisattva. He should become accomplished in these five skillful observations [to be called my true son].
    “After I have entered parinirvāṇa, if my disciples in the future follow their growing faith and rely on their right faith to follow the dharma wisdom-knowledge, they will fully understand that an ordinary being’s inherent pure mind is tainted by his afflictions. This full understanding will be the cause of their entering the path of the Mahāyāna. Believing in a Tathāgata brings such great benefits that they will not malign the profound meaning of the Dharma.”

Śrīmālā’s Lion’s Roar

    Then Śrīmālā said to the Buddha, “There are other great benefits. I would like to expound them through the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power.”
    The Buddha said, “Speak.”
    Śrīmālā said, “There are three kinds of good men and women who will never malign the profound meaning of the Dharma and, with this great merit, will enter the path of the Mahāyāna. Who are these three? They are (1) those who acquire the profound dharma wisdom-knowledge on their own, (2) those who are accomplished in following the dharma wisdom-knowledge, and (3) those who do not know the profound Dharma but rely on a World-Honored One. It is not my place to know how they rely on a Tathāgata, because only the Buddha knows. Aside from these good men and women, for other sentient beings who, like rotten seeds, obstinately misinterpret the profound Dharma, go against the true Dharma, and follow the wrong paths, they should be tamed by the power of the king and Dharma protectors, such as gods, dragons, and ghosts.”
    Then Śrīmālā and her retinue prostrated themselves at the Buddha’s feet. The Buddha said, “Very good, very good! You protect and safeguard the profound Dharma by skillful means, and appropriately subjugate its enemies. You can expound this meaning because you have stayed close to 100,000 koṭi Buddhas.”
    Then the World-Honored One emitted vast radiance that illuminated the multitude. He rose into the open sky to the height of seven tāla [palm] trees and walked across the open sky back to Śrāvastī.
    Meanwhile Śrīmālā and her retinue joined their palms and insatiably gazed at the Buddha, without moving their eyes even temporarily, until He was out of their sight. Then they exuberantly rejoiced and praised the Tathāgata’s virtues.
    Intently thinking of the Buddha, they entered the city of Ayodhyā and persuaded King Mitrayaśas to establish the Mahāyāna. He used the Mahāyāna to transform, in his kingdom, men and women over seven years of age. All subjects in his kingdom turned toward the Mahāyāna.

Chapter 7 – Entrusting This Sūtra with Fifteen Names

At that time the World-Honored One returned to the Jetavana garden. He summoned the venerable Ānanda and thought of the god-king Śakra. In response to His thought, Śakra and his retinue immediately arrived and stood before the Buddha. Then the World-Honored One broadly expounded this sūtra to the venerable Ānanda and the god-king Śakra.
    After He finished expounding it, He told Śakra, “You should accept, uphold, and read and recite this sūtra. Kauśika,[42] suppose that a good man or woman trains to attain bodhi and practices the six pāramitās for kalpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Then suppose that a good man or woman hears, accepts, reads and recites, and upholds this sūtra. The merit acquired by the latter surpasses that of the former, not to mention that the latter widely expounds it to others. Therefore, Kauśika, you should read and recite this sūtra, and widely expound it to gods in your Thirty-three Heavens [Trayastriṁśa Heaven].”
    Then He told Ānanda, “You too should accept, uphold, and read and recite this sūtra, and widely expound it to my four groups of disciples.”
    Then the god-king Śakra asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, what is the name of this sūtra? How should we uphold it?”
    The Buddha said to him, “This sūtra has immeasurable boundless virtues. No voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha can fully observe, know, or see them. Kauśika, know that this sūtra is an aggregate of profound wondrous great virtues. I now will reveal some of its names. Hearken, hearken. Ponder them well.”
    The god-king Śakra and the venerable Ānanda said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, we gladly accept your instruction.”
    The Buddha said, “This sūtra praises a Tathāgata’s virtues in the highest sense. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals accepting ten vast precepts. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals a great vow that encompasses all vows. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals accepting the inconceivable true Dharma. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals the One Vehicle. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals the boundless holy truth. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals one’s Tathāgata store. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals a Tathāgata’s dharma body. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals that a limited understanding of the emptiness of dharmas conceals the truth. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals the one noble truth. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals the one ever-abiding secure reliance. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals that wrong views invert the truth. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals that one’s inherent pure mind is concealed by one’s afflictions. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals a Tathāgata’s true son. Accept and uphold it as such. It reveals Queen Śrīmālā’s lion’s roar. Accept and uphold it as such.
    “Moreover, Kauśika, the teachings in this sūtra end all doubts and reveal the definitive meaning of entering the path of the One Vehicle. Kauśika, I now entrust you with this Sūtra of Queen Śrīmālā’s Lion’s Roar. You should accept, uphold, and read and recite it as long as the Dharma abides in the world.”
    The god-king Śakra said to the Buddha, “Very good, World-Honored One, I accept your instruction with the highest reverence.”
    Then the god-king Śakra, the venerable Ānanda, and all others in this huge assembly, such as gods, humans, asuras, gandharvas, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and carried out His teachings.

Vaipulya Sūtra of Śrīmālā’s Lion’s Roar That Reveals the Great Skillful Means of the One Vehicle
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T12n0353)


Notes


    1. Queen Mallikā was from Kapilavastu, the city in which the Śākya clan resided. After her father died, she became a maid in Mahānāma’s household, in Śrāvastī. She tended a mallikā (jasmine) garden and made garlands. Hence she was called Mallikā. When King Prasenajit, returning from a hunting trip, stopped by the garden, she led him to shade, prepared his seat, and served him attentively. The king married her, and she became his foremost wife. They had a daughter named Śrīmālā and a son named Virūḍhaka. Pincess Śrīmālā married Mitrayaśas, king of Ayodhyā, and propagated the Dharma. When Prince Virūḍhaka was eight, he and five hundred youths went to Kapilavastu to learn archery. At that time the Śākya clan built a new lecture hall for the Buddha. When Virūḍhaka entered it, he was driven away because he was the son of a maid. After King Prasenajit died, Virūḍhaka and his army massacred the Śākya clan. As predicted by the Buddha, seven days later he and his army rested by a river and were killed by a flood in a windstorm. Then he fell into Avīci Hell (Buddha’s Light Dictionary 1988, 3853). (Return to text)
    2. According to text 310, fascicle 119, sūtra 48, which is another Chinese version of this sūtra, she says, “I should bestow a robe upon you” (T11n0310, 0672c27). Text 310 in 120 fascicles is the Chinese version of the Great Treasure Pile Sūtra (Mahā-ratnakūṭa-sūtra), which comprises forty-nine sūtras, translated from Sanskrit by several translators in a long period from the Cao Wei Dynasty (220–265) through the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Of these forty-nine sūtras, twenty-six sūtras in 39 fascicles, including sūtra 48 in fascicle 119, were translated in the Tang Dynasty by Bodhiruci (菩提流志, 562–727) from central India. (Return to text)
    3. The three faults of one’s mind are greed, anger, and the wrong views. The four faults of one’s body are killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and false speech. See “ten evil karmas” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    4. This paragraph is based on text 310, fascicle 119, sūtra 48 (T11n0310, 0673a19–20). (Return to text)
    5. See “ten evil karmas” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    6. See “six pāramitās” and “ten pāramitās” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    7. These ten precepts are examples of Bodhisattva precepts in the three clusters. The first five precepts belong in the cluster of exercising self-restraint. The next four precepts belong in the cluster of benefiting sentient beings. The last belongs in the cluster of doing good dharmas. See “Bodhisattva precepts” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    8. A Bodhisattva benefits sentient beings without being asked. (Return to text)
    9. For “all studies,” See “five studies” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    10. In a preceding passage, Śrīmālā says that the action of accepting the true Dharma is no different from the true Dharma. Here, she says that the action of accepting the true Dharma is no different from the person who accepts the true Dharma. Therefore, she is revealing the truth that subject, object, and action are equal in their emptiness. (Return to text)
    11. See “dharma body” defined in the glossary’s “three bodies of a Buddha.” (Return to text)
    12. Lake Anavatapta (Heatless) and its four major rivers are described in fascicle 42 of text 279, the 80-fascicle Chinese version of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra). The English translation of this fascicle appears in Two Holy Grounds (Rulu 2014, 61–74). Here, the eight rivers issuing from this lake probably include four tributaries of some of the four major rivers. (Return to text)
    13. See Vinaya in the glossary’s “Tripiṭaka.” (Return to text)
    14. Text 353 uses the word “parinirvāṇa,” while the corresponding word in text 310, fascicle 119, sūtra 48, is “nirvāṇa” (T11n0310, 0675a29–b1). Here, the latter is followed because a Buddha enters parinirvāṇa at death. (Return to text)
    15. An Arhat has acquired four kinds of wisdom-knowledge, which are the wisdom-knowledge of (1) the end of his accumulation of afflictions, (2) the completion of his virtuous training on the path, (3) the cessation of his suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa, and (4) all his suffering through repeated birth and death. Hence he declares, “My rebirth is ended; my Brahma way of life is established; my undertaking is accomplished; I will not undergo a subsequent existence.” See Four Noble Truths in the glossary. (Return to text)
    16. A holy Bodhisattva is a Bodhisattva on the first Bodhisattva ground or above. See “stages of the Bodhisattva Way” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    17. According to the definitions of “nirvāṇa” in the glossary, “nirvāṇa with remnants” means that an Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha, who has attained nirvāṇa, is still living in his body, the remnants of his karmic existence. Here, “nirvāṇa with remnants” means that his nirvāṇa is imperfect, whether he is still living in or has abandoned his body. (Return to text)
    18. Voice-hearers in the first seven ranks are still learning (śaikṣa, 有學). See “eight holy ranks” defined in the glossary’s “voice-hearer fruits.” (Return to text)
    19. Of the four ground-abiding afflictions, ground-abiding views are also called view confusions (見惑), which are ended at once when one sees bodhi, i.e., when a voice-hearer achieves the first fruit or a Bodhisattva enters the first Bodhisattva ground. The other three ground-abiding afflictions are also called thinking confusions (思惑), which are ended gradually through spiritual training. Ground-abiding love of desire pertains to love of sense objects in the desire realm; ground-abiding love of form pertains to love of one’s body in the form realm; ground-abiding love of being pertains to love of one’s existence in the formless realm. (Return to text)
    20. Ground-abiding ignorance is the fifth ground-abiding affliction, the root of all afflictions. (Return to text)
    21. Ground-abiding ignorance is the hindrance to wisdom-knowledge (jñeyāvaraṇa, 智障), and the four ground-abiding afflictions are the affliction hindrances (kleśāvaraṇa, 煩惱障). See “two kinds of hindrances” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    22. Grasping [upādāna, 取] desire objects is the ninth of the glossary’s Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, which generates the karmic force for being. In other contexts, upādāna means acceptance of worldly views, useless precepts, or theories that claim that one has an autonomous self. (Return to text)
    23. According to fascicle 3 of text 670, the 4-fascicle Chinese version of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, the three kinds of mind-created body (manomaya-kāya, 意生身) are (1) a body that arises from the joy of samādhi and samāpatti, (2) a body that arises from the realization of the illusory nature of dharmas and enters all Buddha Lands at will, and (3) a body that arises from the realization that all doctrines are the Buddha Dharma and instantly manifests, without action, countless bodies of various kinds (T16n0670, 0497c20–22). A Bodhisattva on any of first five Bodhisattva grounds can create the first kind of body; a Bodhisattva on any of the next three grounds can create the second kind of body; a Bodhisattva on the ninth ground or above can create the third kind of body. (Return to text)
    24. Here, “all one’s ground-abiding afflictions” means one’s five ground-abiding afflictions, i.e., one’s ground-abiding ignorance and four ground-abiding afflictions. (Return to text)
    25. One can interpret that this ground is the Cause Ground on which he activated the bodhi mind under past Buddhas. It implies that he has encountered Mahāyāna teachings and hence is not ignorant of the Dharma. However, the corresponding passage in text 310, fascicle 119, sūtra 48, states otherwise. It states, “As he observes his freedom from a subsequent existence, he does not attain the nirvāṇa ground, the foremost reviving rest place, because he has not encountered the Dharma to reach the ground he has not reached” (T11n0310, 0676b3–4). This statement implies that he has not encountered Mahāyāna teachings. (Return to text)
    26. As stated in text 235, one of the six Chinese versions of the Diamond Sūtra, following the Dharma and training accordingly are like paddling a raft to cross the ocean of suffering to the shore of enlightenment. Upon arrival, the raft should be discarded (T08n0235, 0749b10–11). (Return to text)
    27. In the Lotus Sūtra, fascicle 2, chapter 3, the Buddha likens the Voice-Hearer Vehicle, the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, and the Mahāyāna respectively to a goat carriage, a deer carriage, and an ox carriage, all of which are then replaced by the One Vehicle, likened to a great jeweled carriage drawn by a giant white ox (T09n0262, 0012c16–24). (Return to text)
    28. Text 353 states that he uses only one kind of wisdom-knowledge to end his four ground-abiding afflictions by meeting the four conditions. However, the corresponding passage in text 310, fascicle 119, sūtra 48, states that he does not use only one kind of wisdom-knowledge to end his four ground-abiding afflictions by meeting the four conditions (T11n0310, 0676c4–5). Here, the latter is followed because the last sentence of this paragraph states that he gradually acquires the four kinds of wisdom-knowledge, which are described in note 15. (Return to text)
    29. The virtue of an Arhat’s or Pratyekabuddha’s attainment is ending his karmic birth and death and acquiring certain wisdom-knowledge. See “ten kinds of wisdom-knowledge” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    30. Saṁskṛta birth and death mean karmic birth and death, and asaṁskṛta birth and death mean changeable birth and death. An Arhat or a Pratyekabuddha has ended his saṁskṛta birth and death, not knowing that his asaṁskṛta birth and death remain. He has attained nirvāṇa with remnants, which is imperfect, not knowing that there is nirvāṇa without remnants, which is perfect. Although an earlier passage states that changeable birth and death have ground-abiding ignorance as their condition, and affliction-free karmas as their cause, they are free from affliction-driven karmas, hence they are called asaṁskṛta birth and death. (Return to text)
    31. An Arhat’s or a Pratyekabuddha’s wisdom-knowledge of the emptiness of dharmas arises from his observation of impermanence, suffering, the nonexistence of a self in a person, and impurity. He does not have the wisdom-knowledge of the Tathāgata store, and can hold inverted views, taking (1) the eternity of a Tathāgata as impermanence, (2) the bliss of a Tathāgata as suffering, (3) the true self, which symbolizes a Tathāgata, as no self, and (4) the purity of a Tathāgata as impurity. See “inversion” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    32. A saṁskṛta dharma is anything subject to causes and conditions. Its appearances are arising, continuing, changing, and ending. See “four appearances” in the glossary. (Return to text)
    33. The four virtues of a Tathāgata’s dharma body are (1) eternity, (2) bliss, (3) a [true] self, and (4) purity. In fascicle 30 of text 374, the 40-fascicle Chinese version of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha says, “Speaking of a self, it must be a Tathāgata. Why? Because His body is boundless, without doubts. He is eternity because He neither does nor experiences anything. He is bliss because He has neither birth nor death. He is purity because He has no afflictions. He is emptiness because He does not have the ten appearances. Therefore, a Tathāgata is eternity, bliss, a [true] self, and purity, free from appearances” (T12n0374, 0544c15–19). In different fascicles of text 374, these four virtues variously belong to nirvāṇa, Buddha nature, a Tathāgata, or His dharma body. (Return to text)
    34. The Sanskrit word pāramitā means gone across to that shore of bodhi (enlightenment), opposite this shore of birth and death. It also means transcendental virtue. One’s ultimate destination is the realization of a Tathāgata’s dharma body, with the four pāramitās (four virtues). They are mentioned in text 277, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of the Dharma Procedure to Visualize Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, in another way: “Śākyamuni Buddha is called Vairocana, who is everywhere, and whose abode is called eternal silent radiance. It is formed by the eternity pāramitā and established by the true-self pāramitā; it is where the purity pāramitā ends all appearances of existence, and where the bliss pāramitā never abides in the appearances of one’s body and mind” (T09n0277, 0392c15–19). (Return to text)
    35. The true meaning of the noble truth of cessation of one’s suffering upon attaining nirvāṇa is that a Tathāgata, or a Tathāgata’s dharma body, is revealed. (Return to text)
    36. See “twelve fields” in the glossary.” (Return to text)
    37. According to the Consciousness-Only School (Yogācāra), ālaya consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna), the storehouse consciousness, one’s eighth consciousness, stores all pure, impure, and neutral seeds of one’s experience without a beginning. Here, this sentence implicitly equates the Tathāgata store to ālaya consciousness. (Return to text)
    38. See a sentient being’s four self-images in the glossary’s “four appearances.” (Return to text)
    39. The literal translation of the Sanskrit term “āgantuka kleśa” is adventitious afflictions, which is widely used by scholars. However, adventitious means coming from outside or occurring by chance. As explained in chapter 5 of this sūtra, underlying one’s ground-abiding afflictions and their ensuring afflictions is one’s root affliction, one’s ground-abiding ignorance. Therefore, there is nothing external or accidental about one’s afflictions, though they are illusory. Here, this term is translated from Chinese as visitor-like afflictions. In text 844 in the Extension of the Chinese Canon (the Shinsan Zokuzōkyō), Kuiji (窺基, 632–82), the first patriarch of the Consciousness-Only School of China, gave an explanation. To the question of why one’s afflictions are called visitors if one’s inherent pure mind has always been tainted by one’s afflictions, Kuiji answered, “As one trains to attain bodhi, one’s afflictions end but one’s pure nature remains. That is why one’s afflictions are called visitors” (X53n0844, 0860c10–12). Therefore, one’s afflictions are visitor-like only to the extent that they can be removed through spiritual training and awakening, like visitors being removed. (Return to text)
    40. Dharma wisdom-knowledge (dharma-jñăna, 法智) is an Arhat’s wisdom-knowledge that accords with the Four Noble Truths and ends his desire-realm afflictions. It is one of the glossary’s “ten kinds of wisdom-knowledge.” (Return to text)
    41. “An Arhat’s lurking afflictions” refers to his ground-abiding ignorance and subtle afflictions. (Return to text)
    42. Kauśika is the god-king Śakra’s family name. See Śakro-Devānām-Indra in the glossary. (Return to text)

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