Sūtra 44 (posted 08/2014, updated 09/2015) Book information on Home page
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[Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva asked] “185. Why does a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva display staying in his mother’s womb?”
[Samantabhadra Bodhisattva answered] “Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays staying in his mother’s womb for ten reasons. What are these ten?
(1) He wants to bring to [spiritual] attainment sentient beings with small minds and poor understanding [of the Dharma]. He does not want them to think, ‘This Bodhisattva is naturally born through miraculous formation, and his wisdom and roots of goodness do not come from his training.’ This is his first reason.
(2) He wants to ripen the roots of goodness of his parents and retinues, and those who walked with him in their past lives. When they see him in his mother’s womb, their roots of goodness will ripen. This is his second reason.
(3) He enters his mother’s with right mindfulness and right thinking, without any confusion. When he stays his mother’s womb, his mind constantly abides in right mindfulness undistracted. This is his third reason.
(4) When he stays in his mother’s womb, he develops unimpeded eloquence and puts it to excellent use as he constantly expounds the Dharma to great Bodhisattvas from worlds in the ten directions, the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four world-protecting god-kings, enabling them to acquire immeasurable spiritual power and boundless wisdom. This is his fourth reason.
(5) When he stays in his mother’s womb, he calls Bodhisattvas to a huge assembly, and teaches and transforms them through the power of his original vows. This is his fifth reason.
(6) For a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva to demonstrate attainment of Buddhahood amid humans, he must have a supreme birth in the human world. This is his sixth reason.
(7) When he stays in his mother’s womb, all sentient beings in this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World see him, as clearly as if seeing their own faces in a mirror. Meanwhile, great-minded gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, and nonhumans come to visit him and reverently make offerings to him. This is his seventh reason.
(8) When he stays in his mother’s womb, from worlds in other directions, all Bodhisattvas in their mother’s wombs ready to display their final birth come to his assembly and expound the great collective Dharma Door called the store of vast wisdom. This is his eighth reason.
(9) When he stays in his mother’s womb, he enters the Samādhi of Discarding the Store of Impurities. Through the power of this samādhi, he manifests in his mother’s womb a great palace with various wonderful adornments, with which the palace of Tuṣita Heaven [the fourth desire heaven] cannot compare, and he enables his mother’s body to be peaceful and trouble free. This is his ninth reason.
(10) When he stays in his mother’s womb, he uses his awesome spiritual powers to manifest offerings, called opening the taint-free store of great merits, which pervade all worlds in the ten directions. He makes these offerings to all Buddha-Tathāgatas, and They reveal to him the store of countless Bodhisattva abodes in the dharma realm. This is his tenth reason.
“Buddha-Sons, these are the ten reasons a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays staying in his mother’s womb. If a Bodhisattva understands them, he will be able to display hard-to-discern actions.”
“186. What hard-to-discern actions does he display?”
“Buddha-Sons, when he stays in his mother’s womb, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays ten hard-to-discern actions. What are these ten? They are (1) training from his initial activation of the bodhi mind to his arrival on the Bodhisattva ground where he receives blessings with nectar poured on his head [by Buddhas], (2) abiding in Tuṣita Heaven, (3) being born, (4) training as a youth, (5) living in a royal palace, (6) renouncing family life, (7) practicing asceticism, going to his bodhimaṇḍa, and attaining samyak-saṁbodhi, (8) turning the Dharma wheel, (9) entering parinirvāṇa, and (10) other hard-to-discern actions, such as taking all Bodhisattva actions and using countless different doors of all Tathāgatas’ commanding spiritual powers. Buddha-Sons, these are the ten hard-to-discern actions a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays, while in his mother’s womb. If a Bodhisattva displays them, he will be able to display hard-to-discern actions of a Tathāgata’s unsurpassed great wisdom.”
“187. How does he display his birth?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays his birth in ten ways. What are these ten? When he is born, (1) he has right mindfulness and right thinking, free from delusion; (2) he emits a web of vast radiance that illuminates the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World; (3) his body is his final body, which will not lead to a subsequent birth; (4) his birth [in true reality] is no birth and no arising; (5) he knows that the Three Realms of Existence are like illusions; (6) he manifests his body throughout worlds in the ten directions; (7) his body will acquire [sarvajña-jñāna] the knowledge of all wisdom-knowledge; (8) his body emits all Buddhas’ radiance to enlighten all sentient beings; (9) he enters the Samādhi of Observing with Great Wisdom; (10) he shakes all Buddha Lands, liberates all sentient beings, destroys all evil paths, and eclipses the radiance of all māras, and innumerable Bodhisattvas assemble at his birth. Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays his birth in these ten ways because he wants to tame sentient beings.”
“188. Why does he display smiling at birth?”
“Buddha-Sons, at birth a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays smiling and makes vows for ten reasons. What are these ten?
(1) He thinks, ‘All in the world are sunk in the mire of desire. No one can rescue them except me.’ Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(2) He then thinks, ‘All in the world are blinded by their afflictions, while I now possess wisdom. I will open their wisdom eye.’ Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(3) He then thinks, ‘Using this false body and this false name, I will realize a Tathāgata’s unsurpassed dharma body, which pervades the three time frames [past, present, and future].’ Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(4) He uses his hindrance-free eye to observe all Brahma-kings and all Maheśvaras in worlds in the ten directions, and thinks, ‘These sentient beings claim that they have the power of great wisdom.’ Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(5) He sees that sentient beings with long-developed roots of goodness have regressed, and resolves to enable them to abide on the no-regress ground. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(6) He sees that sentient beings do few meritorious deeds but expect immeasurable returns. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(7) He sees that all sentient beings taught by Buddhas definitely benefit. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(8) He sees that Bodhisattvas who walked with him in their past lives are attached to worldly affairs and fail to acquire the vast virtues of the Buddha Dharma. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(9) He sees that gods and humans in the same Dharma assemblies in their past lives are still abiding on the ground of ordinary beings, and that they neither leave it nor tire of it. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
(10) He is touched by all Tathāgatas’ radiance and feels increasing joy and comfort. Knowing this, he joyfully smiles and makes vows.
“Buddha-Sons, at birth a Bodhisattva displays smiling to benefit sentient beings.”
“189. Why does he display walking seven steps at birth?”
“Buddha-Sons, at birth a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays walking seven steps for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to display a Bodhisattva’s strength, (2) to symbolize his giving away the seven treasures as alms, (3) to fulfill the wish of the god of earth, (4) to display the sign of his transcending the Three Realms of Existence, (5) to display a Bodhisattva’s supreme walk that surpasses that of the elephant-king, the ox-king, and the lion-king, (6) to reveal the appearance of the vajra ground, (7) to show his desire to give sentient beings the power of valor, (8) to symbolize his completing the Seven Bodhi Factors, (9) to show that his mastery of the Buddha Dharma is not taught by others, and (10) to show that he is supreme and unsurpassed in the world. These are the ten. Buddha-Sons, at birth a Bodhisattva displays walking seven steps to tame sentient beings.”
“190. Why does he display training as a youth?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays training as a youth for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to show his mastery of all worldly pursuits, such as literature, mathematics, and making seals; (2) to show his mastery of all military training, such as using elephants, horses, chariots, arrows, swords, and halberds; (3) to show his mastery of all worldly skills, such as writing, speaking, playing chess, and playing games; (4) to show his staying far away from the faults of his body, voice, and mind karmas; (5) to show his entering samādhi and abiding in nirvāṇa throughout countless worlds in the ten directions; (6) to show that his strength surpasses that of all gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, nonhumans, the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four world-protecting god-kings; (7) to show that his physical appearance and awe-inspiring radiance surpass those of the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four world-protecting god-kings; (8) to enable sentient beings attached to their desires, pleasures, and self-gratification, to delight in the Dharma; (9) to show that he esteems the true Dharma and diligently makes offerings to Buddhas in all worlds in the ten directions; (10) to show that he receives Buddhas’ support and abides in Dharma radiance. These are the ten.”
“191. Why does he display living in a royal palace?”
“Buddha-Sons, after a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva has displayed training as a youth, he displays living in a royal palace for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to ripen the roots of goodness of those who walked with him in their past lives, (2) to display the power of a Bodhisattva’s roots of goodness, (3) to display to gods and humans attached to their pleasure objects a Bodhisattva’s stateliness and wealth, (4) to conform to the minds of sentient beings in a world with the five turbidities, (5) to show that he has the awesome power to enter samādhi in the palace, (6) to enable those who walked with him in their past lives to fulfill their vows, (7) to fulfill the wishes of his parents, relatives, and retinues, (8) to use music composed of wonderful Dharma tones as an offering to all Tathāgatas, (9) to abide in wondrous samādhi that displays scenes from his attaining Buddhahood to his entering parinirvāṇa, and (10) to follow and protect the Dharma of Buddhas. These are the ten. A Bodhisattva in his final body, after displaying living in a royal palace, displays renouncing family life.”
“192. Why does he display renouncing family life?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays renouncing family life for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to show his tiring of family life, (2) to inspire sentient beings attached to family life to renounce it, (3) to trust and follow the path of sages and holies, (4) to praise and promote the virtues of renouncing family life, (5) to enable sentient beings to end their wrong views, such as the opposite view of perpetuity or cessation, (6) to enable sentient beings to discard their desires, pleasures, and self-gratification, (7) to display the sign of his transcending the Three Realms of Existence, (8) to show that his free will is beyond others’ control, (9) to show that he will acquire a Tathāgata’s Ten Powers and Four Fearlessnesses, and (10) to show what a Bodhisattva in his final body naturally does. These are the ten.”
“193. Why does he displays practicing asceticism?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva displays practicing asceticism for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to bring those with poor understanding of the Dharma to [spiritual] maturity, (2) to eradicate sentient beings’ wrong views, (3) to enable sentient beings that disbelieve karmic requitals to see karmic requitals, (4) to conform to the ways of an impure world, (5) to show that he can endure toils to train for bodhi, (6) to inspire sentient beings to seek the Dharma, (7) to rescue sentient beings attached to their desires, pleasures, and self-gratification, (8) to show that a Bodhisattva, having begun his excellent training, does not cease making energetic progress even in his final life, (9) to enable sentient beings to delight in quietness and expanding their roots of goodness, and (10) to inspire gods and humans with immature roots of goodness to bide their time for their maturity. These are the ten. A Bodhisattva displays practicing asceticism as a skillful means to tame all sentient beings.”
“194. Why does he go to his bodhimaṇḍa?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva goes to his bodhimaṇḍa for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to illuminate all worlds, (2) to shake all worlds, (3) to manifest his body in all worlds, (4) to enlighten all Bodhisattvas and all those who walked with him in their past lives, (5) to manifest all adornments of his bodhimaṇḍa, (6) to display his majestic deportments and manifest the adornments of the bodhi tree according to sentient beings’ desires, (7) to see all Tathāgatas in worlds in the ten directions, (8) to enter samādhi as he walks each step and to attain Buddhahood thought after thought without interruption, (9) to receive wonderful offerings from all gods, dragons, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, and the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, and the four world-protecting god-kings, each not knowing what the others are doing, (10) to use his hindrance-free wisdom to observe that Buddha-Tathāgatas in all worlds attain true enlightenment through training in Bodhisattva actions. These are the ten. In this way a Bodhisattva teaches and transforms sentient beings.”
“195. What does he do while sitting in his bodhimaṇḍa?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva sitting in his bodhimaṇḍa does ten things. What are these ten? They are (1) shaking all worlds in various ways, (2) illuminating all worlds equally, (3) ending the suffering on all evil life-paths, (4) changing all worlds into being made of vajra, (5) observing all Buddha-Tathāgatas’ lion thrones, (6) keeping his mind free from making differentiations, like the open sky, (7) displaying his majestic deportment to sentient beings ready to be delivered, (8) abiding in the Vajra Samādhi, (9) accepting the pure seat supported by all Tathāgatas’ spiritual powers, and (10) using the power of his roots of goodness to support all sentient beings. These are the ten.”
“196. When he sits in his bodhimaṇḍa, what extraordinary things transpire?”
“Buddha-Sons, when a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva sits in his bodhimaṇḍa, ten unprecedented extraordinary things transpire. What are these ten?
(1) All Tathāgatas from worlds in the ten directions appear before him. They raise their right hands and praise, ‘Very good, very good! Unsurpassed Guiding Teacher!’ This is the first unprecedented thing.
(2) All Tathāgatas protect and think of him, and give him awesome power. This is the second unprecedented thing.
(3) All Bodhisattvas who walked with him in their past lives surround him and respectfully present to him various adornments as an offering. This is the third unprecedented thing.
(4) Grass, trees, thickets, and other non-sentient things in all worlds bend in the direction of his bodhimaṇḍa. This is the fourth unprecedented thing.
(5) He enters the samādhi called Observing the Dharma Realm. It has the power to enable all his actions to come to completion. This is the fifth unprecedented thing.
(6) He acquires the dhāraṇī called Ocean Store of the Supreme Taint-Free Radiance, which enables him to receive all Buddha-Tathāgatas’ great Dharma rains. This is the sixth unprecedented thing.
(7) He uses the power of his awesome virtues to manifest wonderful offerings and present them to Buddhas in all worlds. This is the seventh unprecedented thing.
(8) He abides in the supreme wisdom-knowledge, which knows all sentient beings’ capacities, minds, and actions. This is the eighth unprecedented thing.
(9) He enters the samādhi called Excellent Awareness. It has the power to enable his body to fill all worlds in the entire domain of space throughout the three time frames. This is the ninth unprecedented thing.
(10) He acquires the radiant hindrance-free great wisdom-knowledge, which enables his body karmas to pervade the three time frames. This is the tenth unprecedented thing.
“Buddha-Sons, when a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva sits in his bodhimaṇḍa, these ten unprecedented extraordinary things transpire.”
“197. Why does he display subjugating māras?”
“Buddha-Sons, when a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva is sitting in his bodhimaṇḍa, he displays subjugating māras for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to display a Bodhisattva’s awesome power to sentient beings, in a world with the five turbidities, who delight in fighting, (2) to resolve the doubts of gods and humans, (3) to teach, transform, and tame māra legions, (4) to tame the minds of gods and humans who delight in observing military formations, (5) to show that his awesome power is invincible, (6) to activate all sentient beings’ power of bold valor, (7) to pity future sentient beings in the Dharma-ending age, (8) to show that māra legions can harass even a bodhimaṇḍa, in order to transcend māras’ states, (9) to show that the power of afflictions is weak while the power of great lovingkindness and roots of goodness is strong, and (10) to conform to the ways of a world with the five turbidities. These are the ten.”
“198. What powers does he use to become a Tathāgata?”
“Buddha-Sons, a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva uses ten kinds of powers to become a Tathāgata. What are these ten? They are (1) discarding all māra karmas and all his afflictions, (2) completing all Bodhisattva actions and playfully entering and exiting all Bodhisattva samādhis, (3) mastering all vast Bodhisattva dhyānas, (4) fully using all aids to attain bodhi, (5) acquiring radiant wisdom-knowledge of all dharmas through pondering and differentiating them, (6) manifesting his body throughout all worlds, (7) emitting tones as immeasurable as sentient beings’ minds, (8) using his spiritual powers to support all sentient beings, (9) doing the same body, voice, and mind karmas as those of past, present, and future Buddhas, and entering the three time frames in one thought, and (10) attaining the Samādhi of Excellent Awareness and acquiring a Tathāgata’s Ten Powers, from the wisdom-knowledge of right or wrong in every situation to the wisdom-knowledge that all his afflictions have ended forever. These are the ten. If a Bodhisattva uses these ten powers, he is called a Tathāgata, an Arhat, and a Samyak-Saṁbuddha.”
“199. How does he turn the Dharma wheel?”
“Buddha-Sons, after a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva has become a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, He does ten things to turn the Dharma wheel. What are these ten? They are (1) using the pure wisdom-knowledge of the Four Fearlessnesses, (2) emitting sounds in tune with the four kinds of unimpeded eloquence, (3) capably expounding the Four Noble Truths, (4) following Buddhas’ hindrance-free liberation, (5) enabling sentient beings to elicit pure faith, (6) giving teachings that never fail to pull out the poisonous arrows that have pierced sentient beings’ minds, (7) using the support of the power of his great compassion and vows, (8) emitting sounds that pervade all worlds in the ten directions, (9) ceaselessly expounding the Dharma for asaṁkhyeya kalpas, and (10) expounding the Dharma to bring forth the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Factors, the Eightfold Right Path, dhyāna, liberation, and samādhi. Buddha-Sons, Buddhas do these immeasurable things to turn the Dharma wheel.”
“200. Why can he plant pure white dharmas as he turns the Dharma wheel?”
“Buddha-Sons, as a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, turns the Dharma wheel, because of ten things, without fail he plants pure white dharmas in sentient beings’ minds. What are these ten? They are (1) the power of his past vows, (2) the support of his great compassion, (3) his never abandoning sentient beings, (4) his expounding the Dharma with masterly wisdom according to sentient beings’ preferences, (5) his expounding the Dharma at the right times, (6) his giving apt teachings without false words, (7) his wisdom-knowledge of the three time frames, (8) his unequaled sublime body, (9) his immeasurable command of words, and (10) his using words of masterly wisdom to enlighten sentient beings. These are the ten.”
“201. Why does a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, display entering parinirvāṇa?”
“Buddha-Sons, after a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, has finished His Buddha work, He displays entering parinirvāṇa for ten reasons. What are these ten? They are (1) to show that all processes are impermanent, (2) to show that all saṁskṛta dharmas are unstable, (3) to show that great parinirvāṇa is a peaceful place without fear, (4) to show that a physical body is impermanent and enable all gods and humans attached to their bodies to wish to abide in their pure dharma bodies, (5) to show that the power of impermanence is unchangeable, (6) to show that no saṁskṛta dharmas abide in one’s mind because they have no command, (7) to show that the Three Realms of Existence are like illusions because they are not firm, (8) to show that nirvāṇa is by nature firm because it is indestructible, (9) to show that all dharmas have neither birth nor death because they are appearances of convergence and divergence [of conditions], and (10) to show that it is natural for Buddha-Bhagavāns to enter the changeless great parinirvāṇa after They have finished Their Buddha work, fulfilled Their vows, turned the Dharma wheel, delivered those ready to be delivered, and conferred upon Bodhisattvas their honorific future titles [when they become Buddhas]. Buddha-Sons, These are the ten reasons a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, displays entering parinirvāṇa.”
[Samantabhadra Bodhisattva continued] “Buddha-Sons, this Dharma Door, called a Bodhisattva’s vast pure actions, is expounded by innumerable Buddhas. It can enable the wise to understand and delight in its immeasurable meaning, and enable all Bodhisattvas’ great vows and great actions to continue. Buddha-Sons, if sentient beings come to hear this dharma and if, after hearing it, they believe it, understand it, and train accordingly, they will quickly attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Why? Because they train according to its teachings. Buddha-Sons, if a Bodhisattva does not train accordingly, know that he will forever be far away from attaining Buddha bodhi. Therefore, all Bodhisattvas should train accordingly.
“Buddha-Sons, this chapter on the Dharma Door of transcending the world reveals the splendor of its definitive meanings and all Bodhisattvas’ areas of virtuous training. Inaccessible to all sentient beings, it leads to all dharmas, reveals all wisdom-knowledge, transcends the world, leaves the path of the Two Vehicles behind, illuminates all Dharma Doors, and expands sentient beings’ roots of goodness for them to transcend the world. All of you should esteem it, hear and accept it, recite and retain it, ponder its meanings, delight in it, and train accordingly. Whoever does so will quickly attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi.”
As this chapter was being expounded, through the Buddha’s spiritual power and because of the way this Dharma Door naturally is, countless asaṁkhyeyas of worlds in the ten directions quaked tremendously and vast radiance illuminated everywhere. Then all Buddhas from worlds in the ten directions appeared before Samantabhadra Bodhisattva and praised, “Very good, very good! Buddha-Son, only you can expound this chapter on the Dharma Door of transcending the world, which reveals the splendor of its definitive meanings and Bodhisattvas’ areas of virtuous training, and enters the entire Buddha Dharma. Buddha-Son, you have learned and expounded this dharma well. As you use your awesome power to protect this dharma, we Buddhas express our sympathetic joy over your meritorious work. As we Buddhas express sympathetic joy, so too do all other Buddhas. Buddha-Son, we Buddhas, with one mind, protect and uphold this sūtra and enable future Bodhisattvas who have not heard it to come to hear it.”
At that time Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, through the Buddha’s spiritual power, observed all multitudes [in worlds] in the ten directions throughout the dharma realm, and spoke in verse:
Practicing asceticism for countless kalpas,
A true Buddha-son is born from the true Dharma of innumerable Buddhas,
And enables innumerable multitudes to abide in bodhi.
Hear me describe his unequaled actions.
He makes offerings to innumerable Buddhas with no attachment to Them
And widely delivers sentient beings without perceiving them [as sentient beings].
Seeking to acquire a Buddha’s merits, he mind relies on nothing.
I now describe his excellent actions.
Subjugating all māras and ending his afflictions,
He acquires higher merits by taking the most excellent actions
To end his ignorance [of the truth] and abide in the quiet mind.
I now describe the path that he walks.
Having forever left behind the deceptions and illusions in the world,
He produces various manifestations to show sentient beings that
Things manifest because one’s thoughts appear, continue, and disappear.
To delight multitudes, I now describe his abilities.
Seeing sentient beings undergo birth, old age, and death,
Fettered and oppressed by their afflictions and anxieties,
To enable them to achieve liberation, he teaches them to activate the bodhi mind.
Hear me describe his meritorious actions.
For billions of kalpas, he constantly trains in
The six pāramitās
And cultivates the Four Immeasurable Minds
Hear me describe his merits.
For billions of kalpas, with no concern for his body and life,
He seeks bodhi
To benefit sentient beings, not just himself.
I now describe his loving-kind and compassionate actions.
Should someone describe his merits for countless koṭis of kalpas,
It would be like a drop in the ocean
Because his unparalleled merits are beyond analogy.
Through the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, I now briefly describe them.
His mind does not differentiate between high and low,
And he tirelessly seeks bodhi
To enable sentient beings
To abide in goodness and do more pure dharmas.
Benefitting all, his wisdom is
Like a tree, like a river,
And like the great earth,
Upon which everything relies.
A Bodhisattva is like a lotus flower.
Compassion is its roots, peace is its stem,
Wisdom is its stamens,
And the precepts are its fragrance.
Buddhas emit Dharma radiance
To open this flower,
Which, untouchable by the water of causality,
Delights all viewers.
A Bodhisattva is like a tree of the wondrous Dharma.
The upright mind is its ground, from which it grows,
Faith is its seed, lovingkindness and compassion are its roots,
Wisdom is its trunk,
Skillful means are its branches,
The six pāramitās are its twigs,
Samādhis are its leaves, transcendental powers are its flowers,
And all wisdom-knowledge is its fruit.
The supreme powers are birds perched in this tree,
Whose shade covers the Three Realms of Existence.
A Bodhisattva is like a lion-king.
Pure white dharmas are its body,
The Four Noble Truths are its feet,
Right mindfulness is its neck,
Lovingkindness is its eyes, and wisdom is its head,
Which wears the scarf of liberation.
In the deep valley of excellent meanings,
It roars Dharma tones and terrifies māras.
A Bodhisattva is like a merchant leader.
He sees all sentient beings
Following their afflictions to perilous evil places
In the wilderness of birth and death.
In their delusion and blindness, they have lost the right path
And are captured by māra bandits.
He shows them the right path
And guides them to enter the city of fearlessness.
A Bodhisattva sees that sentient beings
Are afflicted with the three poisons [greed, anger, and delusion]
And undergo all kinds of suffering,
Tormented and oppressed in their long night.
He elicits great compassion for them
And dispenses the antidote to them,
Using 84,000 ways
To end their myriad suffering.
A Bodhisattva is a Dharma King.
He uses the right way to transform sentient beings,
Enabling them to stay away from evil, cultivate good,
And intently seek Buddha bodhi.
From all Buddhas
He receives the honored prophecy of his attaining Buddhahood,
As he widely gives away as alms noble treasures
And, like precious jewels, the elements of bodhi.
A Bodhisattva turns the same Dharma wheel
That a Buddha turns.
The precepts are its hub, and samādhi is its rim.
Wisdom-knowledge is his adornment, and wisdom is his sword.
He annihilates affliction bandits
And māra foes,
And scares away all those on the wrong paths
When they see him.
A Bodhisattva is like an ocean of wisdom,
Deep, vast, and boundless.
It is filled with the flavor of the true Dharma
And replete with treasures, such as the Seven Bodhi Factors.
The vast mind is its boundless shore,
And all wisdom-knowledge is its tide.
No one can measure it
Or finish describing it.
A Bodhisattva is like Mount Sumeru,
Which towers over the world.
His transcendental powers and samādhis are its peak,
And his vast mind is immovable.
Those who stay close to him
Will acquire the same wisdom as his.
Free from any states,
It sees everything.
A Bodhisattva is like vajra,
Because he adamantly seeks all wisdom-knowledge.
His faith and practice of asceticism
Are unwavering and immovable.
He benefits sentient beings,
And annihilates all māras
And all his afflictions.
A Bodhisattva’s great lovingkindness and compassion
Are like thick and dense clouds.
His Three Clarities flash lightning,
And his power of instant arrival anywhere claps thunders.
Using the four kinds of unimpeded eloquence,
He showers down water with the eight virtues
To nurture all sentient beings
And extinguish the flames of their afflictions.
A Bodhisattva is like a city of the true Dharma.
Prajñā [wisdom] is its walls,
And a sense of shame and a sense of dishonor are its deep moat.
Wisdom is its defense against foes,
And its Three Liberation Doors open wide.
Right mindfulness is its guard,
The Four Noble Truths are its smooth thoroughfare, and
The six transcendental powers are its weapons.
The great Dharma banners
Are erected everywhere,
And no māra in the Three Realms of Existence
Can enter it.
A Bodhisattva is like a garuḍa.
The Four Ways to Attain Samādhi are its sturdy feet,
Skillful means are its brave wings,
And lovingkindness and compassion are its bright pure eyes.
It abides in the tree of all wisdom-knowledge
And observes the immense ocean of the Three Realms of Existence.
It snatches gods and humans, just as it snatches dragons,
And settles them on the shore of nirvāṇa.
A Bodhisattva’s true Dharma is like the sun
Rising in the world.
The precepts are its perfect orb,
And it has the power of instant arrival anywhere.
It radiates wisdom light
To grow the medicinal tree that develops sentient beings’ capacities and strengths,
To dispel the darkness of their afflictions,
And to dry up the ocean of their loves and desires.
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom-knowledge is like the moon,
And the dharma realm is its orb.
As it travels across ultimate emptiness,
All in the world see it.
It illuminates the Three Realms of Existence,
Where one’s conscious mind fluctuates.
It eclipses the stars, i.e., the Two Vehicles,
And nothing can compare with it.
A Bodhisattva is a great Dharma King,
Adorned with his merits.
Gods and humans respectfully gaze upon
His body adorned with excellent marks.
Skillful means are his pure eyes,
And wisdom is his vajra.
At ease with dharmas,
He transforms sentient beings in accordance with the Dharma.
A Bodhisattva is a great Brahma-king,
Who transcends the Three Realms of Existence with ease.
Having ended all his afflictions and karmic requitals,
He is equipped with the Four Immeasurable Minds.
He manifests his body everywhere
And uses Dharma tones to enlighten sentient beings.
In the Three Realms of Existence,
He uproots the wrong views.
A Bodhisattva is the Brahma-king Maheśvara,
Who transcends the ground of birth and death.
His [mental] states are always pure,
And his wisdom never regresses.
Never taking the path of the lowly vehicles,
He receives blessings with nectar poured on his head [by Buddhas].
He possesses merit and wisdom,
And his good name is heard by all.
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom mind is pure,
Like the open sky.
It has no nature and relies on nothing
Because nothing can be captured.
He has the power of command,
And can accomplish worldly things.
As he takes pure actions,
He enables sentient beings to do the same.
A Bodhisattva’s skillful means are like the earth,
Which benefits all sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva’s lovingkindness and compassion are like water,
Which washes off their afflictions.
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom is like fire,
Which burns away the firewood of their habits.
A Bodhisattva’s non-abiding is like wind,
Which sweeps across the emptiness of the Three Realms of Existence.
A Bodhisattva is like a treasure
That can relieve the hardship of poverty.
A Bodhisattva is like a vajra
That can destroy inverted views.
A Bodhisattva is like a garland
That can adorn a body in the Three Realms of Existence.
A Bodhisattva is like a [wish-fulfilling] jewel
That can complete all actions.
A Bodhisattva’s merits are like flowers
That are opened by the elements of bodhi.
A Bodhisattva’s vows are like chaplets
That adorn sentient beings’ heads.
A Bodhisattva’s precepts are fragrant,
Because they are observed without violation.
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom is like perfume
That suffuses the Three Realms of Existence.
A Bodhisattva’s powers are like a tent
That keeps out the affliction dust.
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom-knowledge is like a cylindrical banner
That can destroy the arrogance foe.
A Bodhisattva uses his wonderful actions as varicolored silks,
To adorn his wisdom.
A Bodhisattva uses his sense of shame and sense of dishonor as a garment,
To cover all sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva is like a hindrance-free vehicle
That carries all riders to transcend the Three Realm of Existence.
A Bodhisattva is like a strong elephant
That has a well-tamed mind.
A Bodhisattva’s ability of instant arrival anywhere is like a horse
That gallops to transcend the Three Realms of Existence.
A Bodhisattva’s expounding of the Dharma
Is like a dragon’s pouring down rains to nurture sentient beings’ minds.
A Bodhisattva is like the udumbara flower,
Which is hard to encounter in the world.
A Bodhisattva is a great valiant general
Who subjugates all māras.
A Bodhisattva turns the same Dharma wheel
That a Buddha turns.
A Bodhisattva is like a lamp that dispels darkness
And enables sentient beings to see the right path.
A Bodhisattva’s merits are like a river
That flows along the right path.
A Bodhisattva’s energetic progress is like a bridge
That provides crossing for all sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva’s great wisdom-knowledge and vast vows
Serve as a sturdy ship,
To carry sentient beings
And settle them on the shore of bodhi.
A Bodhisattva’s playful displays [of transcendental powers] are like a garden
That truly delights sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva’s liberation is like a flower
That adorns the palace of wisdom.
A Bodhisattva is like wonderful medicine
That cures the affliction disease.
A Bodhisattva is like a snow mountain
That produces the wisdom medicine.
A Bodhisattva equals a Buddha,
Who enlightens sentient beings.
What is in a Buddha’s mind
Is only attaining true enlightenment and enlightening the world.
However a Buddha comes,
A Bodhisattva comes in the same way.
He acquires all wisdom-knowledge
To enter the universal door.
A Bodhisattva capably guides
All sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva naturally attains
The state of all wisdom-knowledge.
A Bodhisattva’s immeasurable strength
Is indestructible in the world.
A Bodhisattva abides in fearlessness
And knows dharmas and sentient beings.
He can know
All different forms and appearances
In the world,
And their sounds and names.
Although he has transcended names and forms,
He displays various appearances.
No sentient being can measure
A Bodhisattva has acquired
Knowing that dharma nature is no nature,
He is attached to neither existence nor nonexistence.
Is endless and relies on nothing.
I now will describe his profound actions,
To delight sentient beings.
Although he knows that dharma appearances
Are like illusions and are empty,
Using his compassionate vows and
Buddhas’ awesome spiritual powers,
He displays his transcendental powers
And manifests countless different things.
Such are his merits that
You should hearken to my description.
He can use one body to
Manifest countless different bodies.
Using no mind and no [special] state,
He responds to all multitudes.
He uses one sound to
Produce all speech sounds,
And speaks the languages of
All kinds of sentient beings.
Having forever left behind a body laden with afflictions,
He manifests bodies with ease.
Knowing that the Dharma is ineffable,
He gives various teachings.
Although his mind is always quiet,
Pure like the open sky,
He adorns all worlds
And manifests all multitudes.
With no attachment to his body,
He manifests bodies.
He displays his rebirths in worlds
In response to sentient beings’ needs.
Although he is reborn everywhere,
He does not abide in any rebirth,
Because he knows that his body is like the empty sky
And appears as various bodies according to his mind.
A Bodhisattva’s body is boundless
And appears everywhere.
He reverently makes offerings
To the supreme one among all beings standing on two feet.
Presenting incense, flowers, music,
Banners, and jeweled canopies,
Always using his profound pure mind,
He makes these offerings to Buddhas.
Without leaving any Buddha’s assembly,
He is present before all Buddhas.
In Their huge assemblies,
He asks questions, and hears and accepts the Dharma.
Because he hears the Dharma,
He enters samādhi and countless Dharma Doors.
As he rises from samādhi,
He produces countless manifestations.
Equipped with wisdom and skillful means,
He knows that the world is like an illusion.
Yet he manifests countless illusions
In the world.
He produces various forms,
Sounds, and words.
He enters sentient beings’ web of perceptions
And has no attachment to them.
He displays his initial activation of the bodhi mind
To benefit the world,
Or his doing for a long time
Vast and endless training.
He displays his almsgiving, observing the precepts, enduring adversity,
Making energetic progress, doing meditation, and developing wisdom,
Or his training in all excellent dharmas,
Such as the Four Immeasurable Minds and the Four Drawing-in Dharmas.
He displays completing his training,
Acquiring endurance in making no differentiation,
Waiting to become a Buddha in his next life,
Or receiving blessings with nectar poured on his head by Buddhas.
He manifests as a voice-hearer
Or as a Pratyekabuddha,
Or displays entering parinirvāṇa everywhere
Without abandoning Bodhisattva actions.
He manifests as the god-king Śakra
Or as the Brahma-king Śikhin.
He displays being surrounded by goddess-daughters
Or sitting alone.
He manifests as a bhikṣu
Quietly taming his mind,
Or as the Brahma-king Maheśvara,
Who rules the world.
He manifests as a woman with skills
Or as an ascetic practicing asceticism.
He displays enjoying the five desires
Or entering meditation.
He displays being born,
Young, old, or dead.
Those who attempt to understand [his displays]
Will harbor doubts and go wild.
He displays abiding in a celestial palace,
Descending to the world,
Entering or staying in his mother’s womb,
Attaining Buddhahood, or turning the Dharma wheel.
He displays being born, entering parinirvāṇa,
Going to school [as a youth],
Staying amid beautiful maidens,
Or renouncing family life to practice meditation.
He displays sitting under a bodhi tree,
Naturally attaining true enlightenment,
Turning the Dharma wheel,
Or resolving for the first time to seek bodhi.
He manifests as a Buddha,
Who sits in meditation in countless worlds,
Or displays training on the no-regress path,
Using all aids to attain bodhi.
He enters deep into countless kalpas
And arrives at the opposite shore.
He enters all kalpas in one thought,
And one thought encompasses countless kalpas.
Although kalpas are no kalpa,
He manifests kalpas to the world.
Neither coming anywhere nor accumulating anything,
He accomplishes things for kalpas.
In one dust particle
He sees all Buddhas,
Who are everywhere
In worlds in the ten directions.
He sees that
Worlds and sentient beings
Throughout countless kalpas.
A Bodhisattva knows that
The realm of sentient beings is vast and boundless,
And that a sentient being’s body arises
Through countless causes and conditions.
As they are countless for one sentient being,
So too are they for all sentient beings.
He teaches the uneducated
According to his understanding.
He knows that sentient beings’ capacities
Are high, middling, or low.
He knows the changes in their capacities
And whether they are ready to be transformed.
All capacities are interdependent
Through causes and conditions.
He knows in a systematic way even their subtle differences
Without making any mistakes.
He knows sentient beings’ desires, understandings,
Afflictions, and habits,
As well as their past, present, and future
Knowing all their mental activities,
He expounds to them the unsurpassed Dharma.
He understands that all actions
Neither come nor go.
He knows their pure
And impure actions,
Because he attains bodhi in one thought
And acquires all wisdom-knowledge.
Abiding in a Buddha’s
Inconceivable ultimate wisdom mind,
He knows in one thought
All sentient beings’ actions.
A Bodhisattva’s has the wisdom-knowledge of transcendental powers
And uses them with ease.
In one thought
He goes to countless worlds.
Although he quickly goes everywhere
In all worlds
For countless kalpas,
He never leaves his seat.
As a magician
Manifests various forms,
In his illusions
One can find neither form nor non-form.
In a similar way
A Bodhisattva uses his wisdom-knowledge and skillful means,
And produces various manifestations
To fill the world.
The pure sun or moon
Is like a clear mirror in the open sky.
Its reflection appears in all bodies of water,
But untainted by the water.
In a similar way
A Bodhisattva turns the pure Dharma wheel
That appears in mental waters in the world,
But untainted by the world.
A person in slumber
Can fabricate many things in his dream.
He passes a thousand koṭi years
Before the night ends.
A Bodhisattva who abides in dharma nature
Manifests all things.
Although countless kalpas will end,
His wisdom-knowledge, even in one thought, never ends.
Various echoes, whether they sound
In mountain valleys
Or palace halls,
Have no differences.
Likewise, a Bodhisattva who abides in dharma nature
Uses his wisdom-knowledge to emit different sounds
According to the kinds of sentient beings.
Such sounds have no differences.
He who perceives a mirage
And pursues it for a drink
Will become thirstier.
Likewise are sentient beings
Driven by their afflictions.
A Bodhisattva elicits lovingkindness and compassion for them
And rescues them from suffering.
Form is like froth,
Sensory reception is like bubbles on water,
Perception is like a mirage in hot air,
Mental processing is like a plantain tree,
And consciousness is like an illusion
That manifests various things.
Knowing the five aggregates [of a sentient being] in this way,
The wise have no attachment to them.
The twelve fields [of a sentient being] are empty
And move like the parts of a machine.
The eighteen spheres [of a sentient being] have no real nature
But falsely appear in the world.
A Bodhisattva abides in the true reality of dharmas,
Which is nirvāṇa.
He widely declares this highest truth,
His mind relying on nothing.
Dharmas neither come nor go
However, karmas driven by afflictions are the cause of suffering,
And the three kinds of suffering constantly flow.
Dependent arising of dharmas is neither existent nor nonexistent,
Neither real nor unreal.
Thus he enters the Middle Way
And expounds it with no attachment to it.
A Bodhisattva can enter
The three time frames in one thought
And all kinds of things
In the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm.
He observes the three kinds of precepts
And expounds the Three Liberation Doors.
He reveals the paths of the Three Vehicles
And acquires all wisdom-knowledge.
He knows the right or wrong action in every situation,
All stages of meditation, sentient beings’ karmas, capacities,
Natures, and understandings,
And the consequences of all actions.
He has the god eye, knows his and others’ past lives,
And ends all his afflictions.
He knows a Buddha’s Ten Powers,
Though he has not yet acquired them.
He understands that dharmas are empty,
Yet constantly seeks the wondrous Dharma.
He is never driven by his afflictions,
Yet does not end them completely.
He fully knows the path to transcend the world
And uses it to deliver sentient beings [to the opposite shore].
He abides in fearlessness
And never ceases taking Bodhisattva actions.
He trains in accord with bodhi without making mistakes
And never loses right mindfulness.
His aspiration, samādhi, energetic progress,
And wisdom arising from observation never diminish.
He observes with purity the three clusters of Bodhisattva precepts
And clearly understands the three time frames.
He elicits great lovingkindness and compassion for sentient beings,
And all his actions are hindrance free.
It is through these Dharma Doors that
He completes such actions.
I can describe only a small part of
The magnificence of his merits.
Throughout countless kalpas, one can never finish describing
His meritorious actions.
The small part I now have described
Is like one dust particle of the vast earth.
Relying on a Buddha’s wisdom,
A Bodhisattva thinks extraordinary thoughts.
He trains in the most excellent actions
And possesses great lovingkindness and compassion [for sentient beings].
Diligently and serenely
He teaches and transforms sentient beings.
Abiding in the precepts with purity,
He receives blessings with nectar poured on his head.
He acquires a Buddha’s virtues
And knows worlds, sentient beings, and their actions.
He differentiates past, present, and future kalpas
Without tiring or becoming bored.
Using differentiation wisdom-knowledge and the power of dhāraṇī,
He achieves profound understanding of the true meanings [of the Dharma].
He ponders and expounds the unparalleled Dharma,
And attains nirvāṇa and true enlightenment.
He activates the universally worthy mind
And trains to fulfill his universally worthy action vows.
Through his lovingkindness and compassion, and the power of causes and conditions,
He strives to attain bodhi with a pure mind.
He practices the pāramitās
And acquires the wisdom-knowledge arising from enlightenment.
He achieves mastery of powers
And attains the unsurpassed bodhi.
He acquires the wisdom-knowledge of the equality [of dharmas],
And expounds the supreme Dharma.
Upholding the Dharma with unimpeded eloquence,
He reaches the place of a Dharma King.
Staying far away from attachments,
He expounds the impartiality of the true mind.
His wisdom is born
And turns into the unexcelled bodhi.
Upholding the Dharma throughout all kalpas,
This wise one feels great comforting joy.
He enters deep into and relies on the profound Dharma
Without fear or doubt.
He understands the inconceivable truth
And skillfully differentiates dharmas.
He capably enters samādhi
And acquires all wisdom-knowledge.
He fully achieves liberation
And playfully displays his transcendental powers and Three Clarities.
Having cut off all fetters forever,
He plays in the taint-free garden.
White dharmas being his palace,
He takes various enjoyable actions.
As he manifests countless adornments,
His mind remains immovable by the world.
His profound mind capably observes sentient beings’ minds,
And he expounds the Dharma with wonderful eloquence.
His bodhi seal is pure,
And his wisdom light illuminates all.
He abides in what is unequaled,
And his mind is exalted.
He makes his resolve like a huge mountain
And accumulates merits like a deep ocean.
He abides in the Dharma like a treasure
And dons the armor of his vows.
He accomplishes great things
That are indestructible.
He receives the prophecy of his attaining Buddhahood
And abides in his vast mind.
He acquires a Buddha’s endless store [of wisdom]
And realizes [the true reality of] all dharmas.
He masters worldly knowledge
And uses it hindrance free.
He manifests in the world
Sentient beings, worlds,
Wisdom, and transcendental powers
By the countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis.
His playful displays of his states and transcendental powers
Are masterly and hindrance free.
His powers and fearlessness are unavailable to sentient beings,
And his karmas are his adornments.
Because he guards
His body and body karmas,
And his voice and voice karmas,
He accomplishes ten great things.
A Bodhisattva activates the bodhi mind,
Which pervades everywhere.
His faculties never wandering,
He acquires the most excellent faculties.
His profound and aspiring mind
Is free from deception and sycophancy.
With various kinds of definite understandings,
He enters everywhere in the world.
He discards his afflictions and habits,
And takes the supreme path.
He skillfully completes his training
And acquires all wisdom-knowledge.
Without regress he enters the right position
And definitely realizes nirvāṇa.
He establishes the path of the Buddha Dharma
And receives virtuous titles.
Abiding in profound wisdom,
He successively walks one path, countless paths,
And even the majestic path,
With no attachment [to any path].
His hands, feet, internal organs, abdomen are stores of wisdom,
And his heart is made of vajra.
He dons the armor of lovingkindness and compassion
And uses wisdom as weapons.
Wisdom-knowledge being his head, the Three Clarities being his eyes,
Bodhi actions being his ears,
And pure precepts being his nose,
He dispels the darkness [of his afflictions] hindrance free.
Unimpeded eloquence being his tongue,
The power of instant arrival anywhere being his body,
And the supreme wisdom being his mind,
He trains in doing good karmas as he walks or stands still.
He walks to his bodhimaṇḍa, sits on a lion throne,
Lies down in the Brahma way of life, and stands still in emptiness.
His actions and observations
Illuminate a Tathāgata’s states.
He observes all sentient beings’ actions,
As he thrusts forward and roars a lion’s roar.
He discards greed and does pure almsgiving,
And discards arrogance and observes the precepts with purity.
He discards anger and endures adversity,
And discards indolence and makes energetic progress.
He achieves mastery of meditation,
And his wisdom spontaneously arises.
He tirelessly relieves sentient beings using lovingkindness and compassion,
Delights in the Dharma, and discards all his afflictions.
In the midst of various dharmas,
He knows their meanings and that they are the Dharma.
He completes his accumulation of merits,
And acquires wisdom like a keen sword.
He delights in hearing much of the Dharma
And strives to master the Dharma.
He knows māras and the māra path
And vows to stay away from them.
He sees Buddhas and Buddha karmas
And resolves to follow Them.
He discards arrogance to develop wisdom,
Never under the control of māras’ powers.
He is supported by Buddhas
And by the Dharma.
He displays abiding in Tuṣita Heaven
And disappearing from it.
He displays staying in his mother’s womb,
Where he takes hard-to-discern actions.
He displays being born, smiling,
And walking seven steps.
He displays learning various skills
And living in the palace.
He displays renouncing family life, practicing asceticism,
And going to his bodhimaṇḍa.
He displays sitting properly, emitting radiance,
And enlightening sentient beings.
He displays subjugating māras, attaining true enlightenment,
And turning the unsurpassed Dharma wheel.
These displays finished,
He displays entering the great parinirvāṇa.
The Bodhisattva actions in which he trains
For countless kalpas
Are vast and boundless.
I now have described only a small part.
Although he enables innumerable multitudes
To abide in a Buddha’s virtues,
He has no attachment
To sentient beings or his Dharma actions.
Having completed his training,
He playfully displays his transcendental powers
And puts countless worlds on the tip of one hair.
He holds countless worlds in his hand
And travels to all other worlds
For countless kalpas, without tiring.
Then he returns and puts these worlds in their original places
Without detection by their sentient beings.
A Bodhisattva uses various things
To adorn Buddha Lands.
He puts them into one pore
And enables sentient beings to see them.
As he puts all seas
Into one pore,
They neither increase nor decrease,
And sentient beings are not harmed.
He uses his hand to crush
Countless Iron Mountain Ranges into dust particles.
He drops one dust particle onto one world
Until he finishes all dust particles.
Then he crushes into dust particles
The worlds that have received the dust particles.
While the number of all these dust particles can be known,
A Bodhisattva’s wisdom-knowledge can never be measured.
He emits from one of his pores
That eclipses the radiance of
The sun, the moon, the stars,
The flaming jewels,
To end the suffering on the evil life-paths,
He expounds the unsurpassed Dharma to sentient beings.
There are various different sounds
In the world of all existences.
A Bodhisattva can use one sound
To produce all sounds.
He gives different definitive teachings
On the Dharma of all Buddhas,
Enabling all sentient beings to delight in
What they hear.
He puts all past kalpas
Into the present and the future.
He puts all present and future kalpas
Into the past.
He manifests countless worlds
In formation, continuation, or destruction by fire.
He puts all sentient beings
Into one pore.
All past, present, and future Buddhas
In worlds in the ten directions
In his body.
He deeply knows how to produce manifestations
In response to sentient beings’ minds,
And he manifests various bodies
With no attachment to them.
He manifests the bodies of
All sentient beings taking the six life-paths,
The bodies of the Brahma-king Śikhin, the god-king Śakra, or the god-king world protectors,
The bodies of gods,
The bodies of voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas,
The bodies of Buddha-Tathāgatas,
Or the bodies of Bodhisattvas,
As he trains to acquire all wisdom-knowledge.
He capably enters the web of perceptions of
Sentient beings with high, middling, and low capacities.
He manifests Buddha Lands
And his attaining bodhi there.
He knows the web of perceptions
And masters his perception.
He displays training in Bodhisattva actions
And doing all things by skillful means.
Such vast miraculous manifestations,
And the entire world
Cannot know such states.
However, his manifestations are no manifestation
As he multiplies them
According to sentient beings’ minds,
Enabling them to walk the true path.
His body, voice, and mind
Equal the open sky.
He uses the pure precepts as solid perfumes,
Great actions as garments,
The Dharma as a silk scarf that adorns his topknot,
And all wisdom-knowledge as a jewel.
Fully adorned with his merits,
He receives blessings with nectar poured on this head and ascends to the king’s throne.
A Bodhisattva is a Wheel-Turning King [who possesses seven precious things].
He uses the pāramitās as the gold wheel,
Transcendental powers as the elephant,
The power of instant arrival anywhere as the horse,
Wisdom as the divine jewel,
Wonderful actions as the exquisite maidens,
The Four Drawing-in Dharmas as the treasure minister,
And skillful means as the military minister.
He uses samādhi as his city,
Emptiness as his palace,
Lovingkindness as his armor, wisdom as his sword,
Mindfulness as his bow, and clarity as his arrows.
He sets up the transcendental-power canopy
And erects the wisdom banner.
The power of his endurance [of adversity] being immovable,
He annihilates the legions of the māra-king.
He uses dhāraṇī as the level ground,
Actions as river waters,
Pure wisdom-knowledge as a gushing spring,
Wondrous wisdom as a cool forest,
Emptiness as a pure pond
And the elements of bodhi as lotus flowers.
He adorns himself with transcendental powers
And enters samādhi for recreation.
He uses pondering the Dharma as beautiful maidens,
Sweet dew [of the Dharma] as fine food,
And the flavor of liberation as syrup,
As he playfully rides the Three Vehicles.
For countless kalpas,
He trains in Bodhisattva actions
That subtly multiply,
Never tiring or feeling that he has done enough.
He makes offerings to all Buddhas,
Purifies all worlds,
And enables all multitudes
To abide in all wisdom-knowledge.
The number of the dust particles in all worlds
Can be known.
A grain of sand in the entire domain of space
Can be measured.
The number of thoughts in
All sentient beings’ minds can be counted.
One can never finish describing
The merits of a Buddha-son.
If you want to acquire such merits
And the wondrous Dharma,
If you want to enable sentient beings
To end their suffering and have peace and joy,
And if you want your body, voice, and mind
To equal those of Buddhas,
You should activate the vajra mind
And take such meritorious actions.
When Samantabhadra Bodhisattva spoke these words, this Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World quaked in six different ways and emitted radiance that illuminated [the sky in] the ten directions. Musical instruments sounded without being played. Gods and humans celebrated, voice-hearer disciples came to take refuge in him, and Bodhisattvas praised his sincerity. All in the assembly rejoiced and activated the unsurpassed bodhi mind.
Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “Does one attain bodhi through words or without words?”
The Buddha answered, “One attains bodhi both through words and without words. Sentient beings undergo repeated birth and death through the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, as they transmigrate through the five life-paths. Each is fettered by the five aggregates and the six sense objects, and misguided by the sixty-two wrong views. Drifting in the ocean of twelve kinds of birth and death, they cannot cross to the opposite shore. They are afflicted with hundreds and thousands of diseases [which cause their suffering].
“To cure their affliction diseases, a Buddha dispenses the Dharma medicine in sūtras in the twelve categories. He teaches them the Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths, the six pāramitās, the Three Learnings [precepts, meditation, and wisdom], the right views, the Four Immeasurable Minds, the fourfold kindness, the Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi, and the Three Liberation Doors [emptiness, no appearance, and no wish]. Medicine is dispensed to cure a disease. If there is no disease, no medicine is needed. Sentient beings’ afflictions, such as the three poisons, are grave diseases. They can declare that they are not ill only when they have acquired true wisdom. However, they are fettered by certain causes and conditions that prevent them from attaining bodhi. Therefore, a Buddha uses words to describe dharmas as froth, bubbles on water, reflections, echoes, illusions, dreams, trances, a plantain tree, a wild horse, and the moon in the water, enabling sentient beings to understand that dharmas are false and arise from delusion.
“If they turn away from worldly affairs and take the Dharma medicine to train to attain bodhi, practicing the six pāramitās, cultivating the Four Immeasurable Minds, and requiting the fourfold kindness, they will attain bodhi and understand that teachings in words are wordless. Because they are no longer fettered by the five aggregates, the six sense objects, and the three poisons, they no longer need teachings in words. Realizing that there is no body, no words, and no Three Realms of Existence, they abide in quietness, in neither saṁskṛta nor asaṁskṛta dharmas nor in between. This is called attaining bodhi without words.”
Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva then asked, “A huge multitude is gathered here. Those of high capacity have a profound understanding, those of middling capacity may progress or regress, and those of low capacity do not know where they are headed. The first group has no doubts, but the last two groups harbor doubts. Why? I asked Samantabhadra Bodhisattva 200 questions, and he gave 2,000 answers. They would think, ‘There are so many things. I do not know which to follow and which to discard.’ I pray that the Buddha will explain his meaning. Why did he give 2,000 answers to 200 questions?”
The Buddha answered, “Very good, very good! Your question is apropos. I will resolve their doubts and enable future students not to misunderstand his meaning.”
The Buddha said, “Hearken and ponder my words. I will explain the meaning to you.”
“I gladly accept your teachings.”
The Buddha said, “You asked 200 questions because of duality. What is duality? Those attached to their bodies imagine that one has a self, and perceive inside and outside, and existence and nonexistence. Hence you asked 200 questions.”
Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva then asked, “If such imagination causes one’s repeated birth and death, why did I solemnly ask 200 questions?”
The World-Honored One answered, “These 200 questions were intended to rid one’s perception of having a self, of inside and outside, and of existence and nonexistence. They arise from applied wisdom to teach and transform all sentient beings for them to attain bodhi.”
Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva asked Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, “Why did you give 2,000 answers?”
The World-Honored One said, “Bodhisattvas assembled from worlds in the ten directions have different minds and mental states. The wise can strive to attain bodhi when they hear the essentials of the Dharma. For those unable to do so, more words and analogies are used to explain the meanings for their understanding. As an analogy, a heavily soiled garment should be washed several times to get it clean. Then you can dye it a bright color. As an analogy, someone wants to build a house, but the ground is not level, and has filth and venomous snakes and insects. He must level the ground, clean up the filth, and remove the snakes and insects. Then he builds garden walls, lays the foundation, and builds the house. In the same way, a Bodhisattva removes sentient beings’ fetters, such as their imagination that they have a self, and their attachment to the five aggregates, the six sense objects, and the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising. Using great lovingkindness, compassion, wisdom, and skillful means, he serves as a Dharma abode, a [Dharma] platform, and a [Dharma] protector.”
Universal Wisdom then asked, “What is a Dharma abode?”
The World-Honored One answered, “He who delivers sentient beings by teaching them to acquire the wisdom of emptiness to be free from love and hate, and the wrong views, is called a Dharma abode.”
Universal Wisdom then asked, “What is a [Dharma] platform?”
The World-Honored One answered, “He who uses the six transcendental powers to see sentient beings in worlds in the ten directions, to know their thoughts, to see all those with or without form, to be everywhere in the ten directions without coming or going, to see that all dharmas in true reality have no place, to abide in neither existence nor nonexistence, neither saṁsāra nor nirvāṇa, and to open all sentient beings’ minds for them to attain the great bodhi, is called a [Dharma] platform.”
“What is a [Dharma] protector?”
The World-Honored One answered, “A [Dharma] protector teaches and transforms sentient beings at the right times. He enters the five life-paths and opens sentient beings’ five eyes. What are these five? They are (1) the physical eye, because in the world he displays his body, composed of the four domains [earth, water, fire, and wind], to teach and deliver sentient beings; (2) the god eye, because, for gods and humans who do not know the right path, he reveals to them the Three Vehicles for their choice; (3) the wisdom eye, because for those who do not understand the wisdom pāramitā [prajñā-pāramitā], he teaches and transforms them, enabling them to acquire great wisdom; (4) the dharma eye, because for those with narrow minds, he makes them understand that the dharma body neither comes nor goes, and remains the same in past, present, and future; (5) the Buddha eye, because for those who are confused and ignorant of the truth, as if asleep, with their minds covered by the five aggregates, he teaches them to cultivate the Four Immeasurable Minds, requite the fourfold kindness, and practice almsgiving, observing the precepts, enduring adversity, making energetic progress, doing meditation, and developing wisdom. Using skillful means, he transforms them at the right times according to their minds, enabling them to activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind.”
Universal Wisdom then asked, “Why is this sūtra called Transcending the World?”
The Buddha answered, “All sentient beings are fettered in the world. What is meant by fetter? Covered by the five aggregates and the six sense objects, they remain in their cycles of birth and death, unable to free themselves. Using skillful means and the wisdom pāramitā, this sūtra enables them to end their attachment to the five aggregates and the six sense objects, to discard the wrong view that one has a self, and to abide in neither saṁsāra nor nirvāṇa. Like the sun and moon, shining day and night, the virtues of applied wisdom, though invisible, are as vast as the open sky and beyond analogy. Therefore, this sūtra is called Transcending the World.”
After hearing the Buddha’s words, Universal Wisdom Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, and all others in the assembly, such as gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, and asuras, rejoiced and made obeisance to the Buddha.
1. Miraculous formation through the power of karma is one of the glossary’s “four modes of birth.” (Return to text)
2. In each world, the Brahma-king Śikin 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)
3. See “dharma body” defined in the glossary’s “three bodies of a Buddha.” (Return to text)
4. In Hinduism, Maheśvara evolved from Śiva, his predecessor, into the highest god, creator and ruler of the universe. He is later admitted into Buddhism. According to text 279 (T10n0279), fascicle 39, Maheśvara is the Brahma-king of the fourth dhyāna heaven, and rules a small world’s Three Realms of Existence. The English translation of this statement is in Rulu’s The Bodhisattva Way (Rulu 2013, 237). (Return to text)
5. Text 279, fascicle 58, chapter 38, states that “he sees that a few seeds planted in the world can yield abundant harvests (T10n0279, 0311c3–4). The corresponding passage in text 278, fascicle 43, chapter 33, states that “he resolves to enable sentient beings to plant a few roots of goodness but harvest many fruits (T09n0278, 0667b5). Here, the corresponding passage in text 292, fascicle 6 (T10n0292, 0651b19–20), is followed. (Return to text)
6. Here, the Vajra Samādhi means the Vajra-Like Samādhi (vajropamā-samādhi, 金剛喻定). On the uninterrupted path (ānantarya-mārga, 無間道), one enters this samādhi and eliminates all one’s afflictions. Then, without interruption one enters the liberation path and eliminates all remaining traces of afflictions, thus attaining bodhi. A voice-hearer becomes an Arhat; a Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha (Buddha’s Light Dictionary 1988, 5123a). (Return to text)
7. See “Dharma-ending age” in the glossary’s “three ages of the Dharma.” (Return to text)
8. See “four kinds of unimpeded wisdom-knowledge” in the glossary. (Return to text)
9. See Five Roots, Five Powers, Seven Bodhi Factors, and Eightfold Right Path, listed in the glossary’s Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi. (Return to text)
10. See “seven noble treasures” in the glossary. (Return to text)
11. See Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi in the glossary. (Return to text)
12. See Four Ways to Attain Samādhi, listed in the glossary’s Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi. (Return to text)
13. A vajra is a Buddhist ritual object, which can be used as a weapon and symbolizes skillful means. (Return to text)
14. See “inversion” in the glossary. (Return to text)
15. See Thirty-seven Elements of Bodhi in the glossary. (Return to text)
16. Udumbara, the ficus glomerata, a tree that produces fruit with hidden flowers. Hence the appearance of its bloom is likened to the rare appearance of a Buddha. (Return to text)
17. The opposite shore is that shore of nirvāṇa, opposite this shore of saṁsāra. (Return to text)
18. The trunk of a plantain tree peels off into nothing, like a cabbage without a core. (Return to text)
19. See “three kinds of suffering” in the glossary’s “suffering.” (Return to text)
20. The Middle Way [madhyamaka] means that emptiness is non-dual, above the plane of polar opposites, which are illusory appearances of dharmas through illusory causes and conditions, all under false names. Emptiness is also a false name. Although the Buddha often likens emptiness to the open sky, one should not take emptiness as nothingness or as a metaphysical base for saṁskṛta dharmas (Rulu 2012a, 25). (Return to text)
21. The three kinds of precepts given in Rulu’s Bodhisattva Precepts are prātimokṣa precepts, meditation precepts, and affliction-free precepts (Rulu 2012c, 4). (Return to text)
22. A Bodhisattva uses his subtle afflictions to continue his rebirths in order to benefit sentient beings. (Return to text)
23. See “Bodhisattva precepts” in the glossary. More details are provided in “the three clusters of pure precepts” in Rulu’s Bodhisattva Precepts (Rulu 2013c, 12–14). (Return to text)
24. As stated in the Sūtra of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Attainment of Buddhahood, in Rulu’s Teachings of the Buddha, a Wheel-Turning King possesses these seven precious things, from the gold wheel to the military minster (Rulu 2012a, 82). (Return to text)
25. This concluding section is based on text 292, fascicle 6 (T10n0292, 0658c17–0659c5). This text in 6 fascicles is the Chinese version of the Sūtra of Transcending the World, translated from Sanskrit in the Western Jin Dynasty (265–316) by Dharmarakṣa (竺法護, circa 239–316) from Dunhuang (敦煌), a major stop on the ancient Silk Road, in present-day Gansu Province, China. It is comparable to chapter 33 of text 278 (T09n0278) and to chapter 38 of text 279 (T10n0279). While the former two end with similar summarizing stanzas, text 292, after its summarizing stanzas, provides a concluding passage. (Return to text)
26. See “six sense objects” in the glossary’s “twelve fields.” (Return to text)
27. See “sixty-two views” in the glossary. (Return to text)
28. The six pāramitās are summarized into precepts, meditation, and wisdom. They are called the Three Learnings: (1) the learning in higher precepts [adhiśīla-śikṣa], (2) the learning in higher mind [adhicitta-śikṣa], and (3) the learning in higher wisdom [adhiprajñā-śikṣa]. Details are given in Rulu’s Bodhisattva Precepts (Rulu 2012c, 5). (Return to text)
29. Actually, chapter 33 of text 278, chapter 38 of text 279, and text 292 each contain 201 questions and answers, each answer comprising ten things. However, they are referred to as 200 questions and 2,000 answers because question and answer 83 are omitted from the count. The reason is that answer 83 lists ten kinds of things but does not explain them, and that they are covered in questions and answers 84 through 93. (Return to text)
30. See “applied wisdom-knowledge” in the glossary’s “two kinds of wisdom-knowledge.” (Return to text)