Sūtra 48 (posted 01/2015, updated 09/2015) Book information on Home page
fascicle 1 fascicle 2
At that time various kinds of sentient beings no longer had greed, anger, delusion, or jealousy in their minds. Instead, they had benevolence, lovingkindness, peace, and joy in their minds, and regarded one another as parents, brothers, or sisters. Their mental activities were peaceful and joyful. Joy and exuberance pervading their bodies, they did not feel hot, cold, anxiety, or sorrow, nor did they hear raucous or arguing sounds. Thus, all sentient beings had joyful minds.
Moreover, the great earth became level like a palm and became made of aquamarine [vaiḍūrya]. There appeared deep and wide ponds made of the seven treasures and filled with pure water with the eight virtues. Covering their beds was gold dust. Some ponds manifested countless lotus flowers as large as carriage wheels, with soft petals in the colors of the seven treasures. Some ponds manifested countless lotus flowers, each one yojana across. These flowers in various colors emitted wonderful fragrance, and their petals were soft, like garments made of the kācilindi bird’s feathers. Some ponds manifested, as adornment, 100,000 koṭi nayuta kinds of lotus flowers. Some ponds manifested countless lotus flowers, each two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, or even one thousand yojanas across.
Meanwhile the sky of this Sahā World sprinkled great fragrant rains onto the ground. The water’s fragrance was gentle and subtle, and made sentient beings joyful and exuberant. Gentle winds blew down onto the ground various wonderful celestial flowers, such as māndarāva flowers, great māndarāva flowers, mañjūṣaka flowers, great mañjūṣaka flowers, moon flowers, great moon flowers, mind flowers, and great mind flowers.
As rains of powdered incense fell, the fragrant smoke of burning tagara incense, agalloch, black agalloch, and cow-head sandalwood [gośīrṣa-candana] pervaded everywhere. There appeared countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of asaṁkhyeyas of great wish-fulfilling trees made of the seven treasures, each tree one yojana or even one hundred yojanas tall and wide. They were straight and majestic, and delightful to behold. These jeweled trees were adorned with various jeweled garments, silks, white tassels, hanging feathers, and nets with hanging bells. They rained down the finest seven treasures—gold, silver, aquamarine, conch shells, pearls, emerald, and ruby. They also rained down various soft garments in diverse colors, such as kāśa [grass] garments, kuśa [sacred grass] garments, kauśeya [silk] garments, and kāśika garments. They also rained down various ornaments made of Jambūnada gold inlaid with diverse treasures, ornaments such as rings, bracelets, earrings, tiaras, armlets, strands of pearls, gold lockets, and necklaces of precious stones.
Under these jeweled wish-fulfilling trees rose 100,000 koṭi nayuta lion thrones made of the seven treasures, each throne the height of seven men. Seated on them were Bodhisattvas adorned with the thirty-two physical marks [of a great man]. Their bodies were translucent and their features were majestic, a delightful sight to all. Before these Bodhisattvas appeared 100,000 koṭi nayuta couches made of the seven treasures. Seated on each couch were a thousand god-sons playing celestial music in the five tones and singing songs of praise. The wonderful sounds made the hearers joyful and exuberant. These sounds produced songs of praise in verse:
In unequaled equality,
Dharmas have no self and its belongings.
Adorned with merits
Extraordinary in the world,
The World-Honored One energetically practiced asceticism
And mastered the pure Dharma.
Hence wonderful and majestic things
Are displayed in the world.
All suffering in realms of existence
And on all life-paths,
Such as hell,
All afflictions, such as
Greed, anger, and delusion, are removed.
Hence all wonderful things
Are displayed in the world.
This world has now become level
Its pure ground, level like a palm,
Is made of aquamarine.
There are no mountains, no rivers,
No seas, and no Mount Sumeru.
There are trees made of varicolored treasures,
And all are delighted to see them.
This world is adorned
With pure flaming radiance
In golden color,
Which obscures the sun and moon.
There are seats made of various treasures.
Seated on them are Bodhisattvas
Adorned with excellent physical marks.
Their awesome radiance is like that of a hundred suns.
Are made of treasures
And filled with pure water
With the eight virtues.
A hundred thousand kinds of lotus flowers
Adorn these ponds.
Some are as large as carriage wheels,
And others are larger and even progressively larger.
There are sturdy seats
Made of all kinds of treasures.
Seated on them
Are 100,000 koṭi magnificent god-sons
Playing wonderful music
And singing songs of praise.
These wonderful sounds
Arise through the Tathāgata’s spiritual power.
These sounds of music and songs praised the Buddha in countless asaṁkhyeyas of Dharma phrases.
At that time, in this Buddha assembly, gods and humans who rode the Mahāyāna, delighted in the Mahāyāna, and believed in its great tenets, through the power of the boundless radiance, saw this Buddha Land adorned with pure virtues. Gods and humans who followed the ways of voice-hearers or Pratyekabuddhas neither saw nor knew the majestic virtues of this Buddha Land. All Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas in this Buddha Land acquired countless asaṁkhyeyas of samādhis, dhāraṇīs, and Dharma phrases. Great voice-hearers entered the Samādhi of Nirvāṇa.
Then a lion throne naturally appeared. It was a hundred koṭi nayutas in length, width, and height, and covered with celestial garments made of the seven treasures. Seated cross-legged on this throne was the Tathāgata in a boundless body. It was fully adorned and majestic beyond analogy. Before the Buddha appeared a great lotus flower made of the seven treasures, 84,000 yojanas tall and wide. It was surrounded by 100,000 koṭi nayuta beautiful and wonderful lotus flowers and by countless asaṁkhyeyas of banners and canopies made of various interlaced treasures. Suspended in the open sky were hanging strands of pearls, varicolored silks, and nets with hanging jeweled bells. Such magnificent virtues naturally adorned this Buddha Land! Such countless indescribable unprecedented things appeared in this Sahā World! Such indescribable immeasurable transcendental powers, never before seen or heard, manifested such great, supreme, and extraordinary dharmas in this Sahā World!
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva had this thought, “Why are these inconceivable magnificent things displayed in this Buddha Land, such as transcendental powers that made the multitude feel exuberant? I should ask the Buddha, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, to resolve my doubts.”
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva rose from his seat, facing the Buddha, bared his right shoulder, knelt with his right knee on the lotus flower, joined his palms, and asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I request your permission to ask questions and ask the Tathāgata to destroy my web of doubts.”
The Buddha answered, “You have my permission to ask questions at your pleasure. The Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, will resolve your doubts.”
With the Buddha’s permission, Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked, “World-Honored One, what is the reason for displays of such rare, extraordinary, and exuberant dharmas in this Sahā World? Why do You use Your transcendental powers to manifest virtues such as adorning this Buddha Land with purity and radiance, removing all evil minds, and displaying even things that are indescribable and never before seen or heard? World-Honored One, when this multitude of Bodhisattvas sees such displays of transcendental powers in the world, all are bewildered. World-Honored One, what do these displays presage?”
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha in verse:
Why does the great World-Honored One
Display these extraordinary dharmas in the world?
Astonished by these unprecedented displays,
I have doubts.
As the great earth quakes like a ship in an immense ocean,
The world abides in purity.
A web of pure golden radiance covers everywhere
And dispels all darkness in the world.
There are countless hundreds of thousands of lotus flowers
And jeweled trees with various flowers.
There are koṭis of banners and canopies,
Hanging strands of pearls, and nets with hanging bells.
This immeasurable radiance of merit and wisdom
Removes the suffering on all evil life-paths.
Why does the World-Honored One
Display these wonderful signs in this Sahā Buddha Land?
After Maitreya Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva spoke these stanzas, the Buddha said, “You may sit down. I will explain to you in detail the reason for these great extraordinary dharmas displayed in the world.
“Maitreya, in the east, beyond Buddha Lands as numerous as the sands of an asaṁkhyeya Ganges Rivers, is a Buddha Land called Pure Orb of the Radiance of the Virtue-Adorned Place. That Buddha Land has a Buddha called Opening Superb Majestic Transcendental Powers in the Dharma Realm under One Cover Roaring Vairocana’s Store Sovereign King Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. He is now traveling and expounding the Dharma. That world is pure and has no evil life-paths or afflictions, such as greed, anger, and delusion. It is the abode of Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas on the ten Bodhisattva grounds. In that Buddha Land resides a Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva called Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers. He is foremost in mastery of all Bodhisattva dhyānas, samādhis, dhāraṇīs, and transcendental powers. Holding a palace adorned with all treasures, he, together with innumerable other Bodhisattvas, is coming across the open sky to this Sahā Buddha Land. Because of this awe-inspiring good man, I display transcendental powers to adorn this world as a sign of his visit here.”
After the World-Honored One explained this matter, Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and his retinue forthwith manifested a great orb of awesome radiance, which comprised countless koṭis of webs of radiance. As they, in the midst of this radiance, traveled across the open sky to this Sahā Buddha Land, they played 100,000 kinds of music, sang songs of praise, rained down celestial flowers, and emitted 100,000 koṭi nayuta beams of light. Upon arrival, they set their treasure-adorned palace in the sky between the desire realm and the form realm. Then he and his retinue descended from the sky to the place where the Buddha was and joined their palms, facing the Buddha. Then they prostrated themselves at the Buddha’s feet and circled Him three times.
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and his retinue reverently joined their palms and asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, we pray that the Tathāgata will, out of pity for us, accept this treasure-adorned palace. World-Honored One, please sit in this treasure-adorned palace and expound to the multitude of Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas the peerless profound Dharma.”
The World-Honored One answered, “Very good, very good! Good man, you now offer that treasure-adorned palace to the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. Good man, you offer that treasure-adorned palace to past, present, and future Buddhas, such as Vipaśyin Buddha in the preceding Majestic Kalpa and the one thousand Buddhas in the present Worthy Kalpa. Good man, you now can adorn this Sahā Buddha Land with that great treasure-adorned palace.”
Then the dragon-king Sāgara asked the Buddha, “Where is that treasure-adorned palace and what is its size?”
The World-Honored One answered, “Dragon-King, that treasure-adorned palace is now set in the sky between the desire realm and the form realm, and its size is that of a Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. Dragon-King, that treasure-adorned palace is produced by the samādhis and transcendental powers of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It is the place where all Bodhisattvas enjoy peace and joy and is a worthy offering to a Tathāgata. Dragon-King, it is a Buddha’s abode produced by the power of a Tathāgata’s merits. It purifies a Bodhisattva’s mind, illuminates worlds in the ten directions, delights all sentient beings, and obscures all celestial palaces. It has countless ineffable adornments and welcomes all Bodhisattvas in worlds in the ten directions to assemble there.
“Dragon-King, that treasure-adorned palace has floors made of white beryl, walls made of Jambūnada gold, short garden walls made of treasures from the store of merits, watch towers made of emerald, staircase handrails made of jewels, staircase balusters made of pure radiant treasures, halls made of universal radiant treasures, seats made of all treasures, and 84,000 koṭi nayuta pillars made of varicolored treasures. Various half-moon-shaped treasures with boundless radiance cover that palace. That palace is exquisite and is a superb offering, fit for a Tathāgata.
“Dragon-King, in that treasure-adorned palace hang various treasures, countless strands of pearls, silks, and nets with hanging gold bells. Erected there are wonderful banners and canopies. Ground cow-head sandalwood is spread on the floors. Permeating the air is the fragrance of burning sandalwood, agalloch, and the choicest incense. Various celestial flowers and flowers made of dragon jewels are scattered on the floors. Dragon-King, in that treasure-adorned palace, seated on pillars are countless thousands of koṭis of god-sons playing celestial music in the five tones and exuberantly singing most wonderful songs of praise. Their music produces illumination doors of the Dharma.
“Dragon-King, that treasure-adorned palace is supported by huge whirling winds. There are 1,000 koṭi wonderful ponds made of the seven treasures. They have gold dust spread on their beds and are filled with pure water with the eight virtues. In each and every pond, there are countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of lotuses in bloom. The lotus flowers are made of the seven treasures in wonderful colors. They are beautiful and radiant, each lotus flower as large as a carriage wheel.
“Dragon-King, that treasure-adorned palace is surrounded by a garden of jeweled trees, such as wish-fulfilling trees adorned with various flowers and fruits made of treasures. From the trees hang, as adornment, strands of pearls, layered silks, and nets with hanging bells. They emit wonderful fragrance that exhilarates the mind. The garden is also adorned with various majestic towers made of treasures in wonderful colors.
“Dragon-King, under each and every tree is a tall and wide lion throne made of the seven treasures. Celestial garments are used as its cushion. It is fully adorned, fit to be the seat of any Buddha or Bodhisattva. Dragon-King, all splendid adornments and rains of flowers and treasures in all Buddha Lands in the ten directions appear in that treasure-adorned palace. Dragon-King, now you know the whereabouts and the size of that treasure-adorned palace.”
Then the World-Honored One said to the multitude of Bodhisattvas, “Good men, follow me to that treasure-adorned palace. To fulfill the wish of Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva, I will sit in that palace.”
Then the World-Honored One rose from His seat. Surrounded by innumerable Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, He had Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva on His right and Maitreya Bodhisattva on His left. They serenely went across the open sky to that treasure-adorned palace. Upon arrival, the World-Honored One and the multitude of Bodhisattvas entered that palace. On the east side of the palace hall was a lion throne countless yojanas in height, length, and width. Then the World-Honored One sat down on it. When He sat on the throne, that treasure-adorned palace quaked in six different ways and emitted a web of vast radiance in 100,000 koṭi nayuta colors, such as blue, yellow, red, white, crimson, purple, and golden. The god-sons played music and sang songs of praise, rained down great celestial flowers, and ceaselessly burned celestial incense to send fragrance flowing everywhere.
Then the World-Honored One said to the multitude of Bodhisattvas, “Good men, you may each sit on lotus flower seats.”
At the World-Honored One’s command, the Bodhisattvas sat down on lotus flower seats. After they took their seats, Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva thought, “I now will make offerings to the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, and ask about the Buddha Ground.”
Then he rose from his seat and manifested countless asaṁkhyeyas of flowers, fragrances, solid perfumes, powdered incense, wreaths, garments, jeweled banners and canopies, music, and songs of praise. He made these offerings to the World-Honored One and the multitude of Bodhisattvas, and reverently attended them with gratitude for this rare opportunity. After making these offerings, he manifested other superb offerings, such as strands of precious pearls, cow-head sandalwood, flowers made of the seven treasures, and a pure and translucent great jewel called lion’s hindrance-free treasure store. He held these superb offerings in his hands and showered them on the World-Honored One. Then he prostrated himself at the World-Honored One’s feet and circled Him a thousand times.
Then, facing the Buddha, he joined his palms and praised Him in verse:
He appears in a well-proportioned sublime body adorned with immeasurable wonderful marks,
Without faults. His topknot is the color of peacocks and black bees.
His forehead is smooth, wide, and lustrous.
The white hair between his eyebrows is radiant like a blooming flower,
His eyebrows are shaped like a new moon.
His nose is tall and straight, wonderful beyond analogy.
His eyes are the color of a blue lotus flower in the sun.
His earlobes are soft like the stem of a plantain tree.
His teeth are well arranged and white like a kumuda [white lotus] flower.
His tongue is broad and red, and tastes excellent flavors.
His lips are thick, full, and red.
His shoulders are broad and rounded, without faults.
His arms sway gracefully, like palm trees in the wind.
His fingernails are long and copper colored.
His fingers are webbed like the toes of the goose-king.
The mark of a thousand-spoke wheel on each sole
Is produced by His great almsgiving in His past lives.
His lion chest is produced by His great merits.
His body is majestic and well proportioned.
His waist is like the middle of a vajra.
His male organ is hidden like that of a horse.
His buttocks and shins are rounded like an elephant’s trunk.
His ankles are straight and full.
With the mark of a wheel on each sole and with webbed toes like those of the goose-king,
He serenely walks the lion’s steps.
The Tathāgata has all these marks,
So I bow down to the King of Virtues.
After Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva praised the Buddha, he asked, “World-Honored One, I have questions to ask the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha. I dare to ask them only if the Buddha-Bhagavān gives me permission.”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, you may ask questions at your pleasure. I will explain in detail to delight your heart.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha, “How many Buddha grounds are there, on which no Bodhisattva, voice-hearer, or Pratyekabuddha can walk?”
The Buddha answered, “Very good, very good! Good man, you ask the Tathāgata about this matter because you want to enable all Bodhisattvas to acquire Buddha wisdom and want to bring them great benefits and great peace and joy. Hearken, hearken, and ponder well. I will explain to you in detail.
“Good man, there are ten Buddha grounds, on which no Bodhisattva, voice-hearer, or Pratyekabuddha can walk. What are these ten? Their names are (1) Profound and Hard to Know Vast Radiant Wisdom and Virtue, (2) Majestic Inconceivable Radiant Virtues of the Pure Body, (3) Good Moon Banner of the Precious Ocean Store, (4) Wonderful Golden Radiance of Virtues and Transcendental Powers, (5) Flaming Wheel of the Awesome Store of Radiant Virtues, (6) Radiating Pure Flaming Light in the Open Sky, (7) Radiant Virtues Stored in the Vast Dharma Realm, (8) Store of the Purest Universal Wisdom That Purifies All Wisdom and Transcendental Powers, (9) Illuminating Transference of Immeasurable Majesty, and (10) Vairocana’s Ocean Store of Wisdom. Good man, these are the names of the ten Tathāgata grounds, but a Buddha’s wisdom can never be fully described.
“Good man, on the first ground, a Buddha removes all tiniest habits and achieves command of all dharmas. On the second ground, He turns the Dharma wheel to expound the profound Dharma. On the third ground, He expounds the voice-hearer precepts and establishes the Three Vehicles. On the fourth ground, He expounds 84,000 Dharma Doors and subjugates the four kinds of māras. On the fifth ground, He refutes all evil doctrines and subjugates all those on the evil paths. On the sixth ground, He establishes innumerable sentient beings in the six transcendental powers and displays six great transcendental powers: (1) manifesting countless pure Buddha Lands adorned with virtues; (2) manifesting His being surrounded and attended by innumerable Bodhisattvas; (3) manifesting countless vast Buddha Lands; (4) manifesting Himself in countless Buddha Lands; (5) displaying in countless Buddha Lands His descending from Tuṣita Heaven [the fourth desire heaven] to enter His mother’s womb, His parinirvāṇa, and even the disappearance of the Dharma; (6) displaying countless transcendental powers. On the seventh ground, He expounds to Bodhisattvas that the Seven Bodhi Factors have no self-essence and no attachment to anything. On the eighth ground, He bestows, in four ways, on all Bodhisattvas the prophecy of their attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. On the ninth ground, He displays skillful means to Bodhisattvas. On the tenth ground, He expounds to Bodhisattvas that all dharmas have no self-essence and that they have always been quiet, in great nirvāṇa.”
After the World-Honored One explained the names of the ten Buddha grounds, this Sahā Buddha Land and countless Buddha Lands in the ten directions displayed eighteen appearances: moving in small scale, moving in medium scale, moving in large scale; shaking in small scale, shaking in medium scale, shaking in large scale; quaking in small scale, quaking in medium scale, quaking in large scale; sounding in small scale, sounding in medium scale, sounding in large scale; roaring in small scale, roaring in medium scale, roaring in large scale; lifting in small scale, lifting in medium scale, lifting in large scale. All Buddha Lands swirled, displaying twelve characteristics: sinking in the east, rising in the west; sinking in the west, rising in the east, sinking in the south, rising in the north; sinking in the north, rising in the south; sinking in the middle, rising at the edges; sinking at the edges, rising in the middle. However, not a single sentient being was distressed or harmed.
Also, vast radiance illuminated all Buddha Lands, dispelling the darkness in each world and bringing light everywhere. All Buddha Lands, whether or not they had Buddhas, whether they were in formation or destruction, appeared in this Buddha Land. The skies in an ineffably ineffable number of Buddha Lands in the ten directions rained down everywhere great celestial flowers, such as māndarāva flowers, great māndarāva flowers, mañjūṣaka flowers, great mañjūṣaka flowers, locana flowers, great locana flowers, moon flowers, and great moon flowers. Even music in all worlds sounded without being played. Because such extraordinary great things appeared in Buddha Lands, the attendants of the Buddhas there rose from their seats and asked their Buddhas about these extraordinary things. Then those Tathāgatas fully answered their questions.
Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and other Bodhisattvas, seated in that treasure-adorned palace, spoke in amazement, “How extraordinary! The World-Honored One expounded such profound levels of a Tathāgata’s actions, which are hard to know and see, beyond the action range of all Bodhisattvas, not to mention voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas? Why? Because we have never before heard of the ten Tathāgata grounds, a Buddha’s inconceivable states. We together would like to pursue this great matter and ask the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, to extensively expound the Buddha grounds.”
Then the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas rose from their seats, facing the Buddha, joined their palms, and asked in verse:
The unsurpassed World-Honored One
Revealed the names of the ten Buddha grounds.
We are amazed
By this teaching never before heard.
Having heard the names of the Buddha grounds,
We are exuberant,
Like the hungry thinking of delectable food,
Like the thirsty thinking of sweet spring water.
We pray that the Buddha
Will fully expound the Buddha grounds.
After speaking these stanzas, the Bodhisattvas circled the Buddha three times and prostrated themselves at His feet. Then they each sat down on lotus flower seats.
Then the World-Honored One, like a lion-king, serenely observed worlds in the ten directions. Then He said to Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva, “Good man, the Tathāgata grounds are profound and hard to know. They are bottomless and hard to detect, beyond the description of words. Why? Because, good man, even the voice-hearer grounds and the Pratyekabuddha grounds are ineffable, not to mention the Bodhisattva grounds and the Tathāgata grounds.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, how many voice-hearer grounds are there?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, there are ten voice-hearer grounds. What are these ten? Their names are (1) Ground of Taking the Three Refuges, (2) Ground of Developing Faith, (3) Ground of Following the Dharma, (4) Ground of Insider Ordinary Beings, (5) Ground of Learning the Precepts, (6) Ground of Developing the Eight Endurances, (7) Ground of Srotāpannas [Stream Enterers], (8) Ground of Sakṛdāgāmins [Once Returners], (9) Ground of Anāgāmins [Never Returners], and (10) Ground of Arhats [Foe Destroyers]. Good man, these are the names of the ten voice-hearer grounds.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, how many Pratyekabuddha grounds are there?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, there are ten Pratyekabuddha grounds. What are these ten? Their names are (1) Ground of Completing Past Good Actions, (2) Ground of Realizing the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising, (3) Ground of Realizing the Four Noble Truths, (4) Ground of Acquiring Profound Keen Wisdom, (5) Ground of Walking the Eightfold Right Path, (6) Ground of Realizing the Dharma Realm, the Domain of Space, and the Realm of Sentient Beings, (7) Ground of Realizing Nirvāṇa, (8) Ground of Acquiring the Six Transcendental Powers, (9) Ground of Entering the Secret [State], and (10) Ground of Diminishing Habits. Good man, these are the names of the ten Pratyekabuddha grounds.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, how many Bodhisattva grounds are there?”
The Buddha answered, “There are ten Bodhisattva grounds. Their names are: (1) Joyful Ground [pramuditā-bhūmi], (2) Taint-Free Ground [vimalā-bhūmi], (3) Radiant Ground [prabhākarī-bhūmi], (4) Flaming Wisdom Ground [arciṣmatī-bhūmi], (5) Hard-to-Conquer Ground [sudurjayā-bhūmi], (6) Revealing Ground [abhimukhī-bhūmi], (7) Far-Going Ground [dūraṁgamā-bhūmi], (8) Motionless Ground [acalā-bhūmi], (9) Good Wisdom Ground [sādhumatī-bhūmi], and (10) Dharma Cloud Ground [dharmamegha-bhūmi]. These are the names of the ten Bodhisattva grounds.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, where do all these grounds come from?”
The Buddha answered, “All these grounds come from the Buddha Ground.”
Then he asked, “Are there differences in liberation?”
The Buddha asked him, “Good man, what is the difference between river water and ocean water?”
He answered, “World-Honored One, river water and ocean water are different in volume.”
The Buddha said, “Indeed, indeed. Good man, the liberation achieved by a voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha is like river water. The liberation achieved by a Tathāgata is like ocean water.”
Then he asked, “World-Honored One, do large and small rivers flow into the ocean?”
The Buddha answered, “Indeed, indeed. Good man, as you say, all Dharmas, whether the Voice-Hearer Dharma, Pratyekabuddha Dharma, Bodhisattva Dharma, or Buddha Dharma, flow into the ocean of Vairocana’s wisdom store.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I pray that the World-Honored One will display the first Buddha ground and the states of all Tathāgatas, in order to delight and inspire voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas.”
Then the World-Honored One displayed His own Buddha Land, the inconceivable majestic king of Buddha Lands, called Jeweled Canopy of Countless Asaṁkhyeyas of Virtues. It was as vast as Buddha Lands as numerous as the dust particles in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that are as numerous as the sands of 100,000 koṭi nayuta Ganges Rivers. Then all Buddha Lands entered this inconceivable majestic king of Buddha Lands, called Jeweled Canopy of Countless Asaṁkhyeyas of Virtues. In this king of Buddha Lands, there were no black mountains, small Mount Sumeru, medium Mount Sumeru, or large Mount Sumeru; no small rivers, medium rivers, large rivers, or immense seas; no mountains, forests, valleys, boulders, cliffs, deserts, filthy places, or perilous places. There were no evil life-paths, such as those of hell-dwellers, animals, and hungry ghosts. There were no gods, dragons, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, mahoragas, humans, or nonhumans. All old adornments of these Buddha Lands were gone.
The entire ground of this Buddha Land was made of aquamarine [vaiḍūrya], and was level, like a palm. Its center was made of the god-king Indra’s vajra in reddish blue and adorned with supreme wonderful jeweled flowers. There rose an aśoka tree, called the king of bodhi trees, made of the varicolored seven treasures. Its height was on the same scale as that of worlds as numerous as the dust particles in Buddha Lands that are as numerous as the sands of countless Ganges Rivers, and its foliage spread was equally so. The branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits of this king of bodhi trees were made of various wonderful treasures. This tree was adorned with various hindrance-free lion jewels, aquamarine, and strands of red pearls, and covered with silks and nets with hanging bells. It ceaselessly emitted flaming lightning, golden radiance, radiance of jewels, radiance of the god-king Indra’s sapphire [indranīla], radiance of crystals, sunlight, or moonlight. This king of bodhi trees emitted supreme fragrances, such as the scent of burning agalloch, black agalloch, tagara incense, tamāla, black sandalwood, dragon sandalwood, and cow-head sandalwood, fragrances that permeated this Buddha Land. This bodhi tree also emitted songs of praise and rained down treasures everywhere in all worlds.
Under this bodhi tree, on its east side was a pure pond, called the king of great bodhi ponds, made of the seven treasures. Its depth was on the same scale as that of worlds as numerous as the sands in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, and its length and width were equally so. It had Jambūnada gold dust spread on its bed and was filled with pure water with the eight virtues. On the four sides of the pond were staircases filled with treasures, with railings made of various treasures.
From this pond rose a great lotus flower, called the king of blooming bodhi lotus flowers, made of the seven treasures. It was as vast as worlds as numerous as the dust particles in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. It was surrounded by countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of jeweled lotus flowers. Their petals were made of the wonderful seven treasures, and they were soft, fragrant, and lovable to all.
On the platform borne by this king of lotus flowers was the king of bodhi halls, called Countless Precious Adornments, made of the seven treasures. Its height was on the same scale as that of worlds as numerous as the dust particles in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that are as numerous as the sands of an asaṁkhyeya Ganges Rivers, and its length and width were equally so. The superb adornments, garments, and transcendental powers in this king of bodhi halls surpassed those of that treasure-adorned palace more than 100 or 1,000 times, or even 100,000 koṭi times. As an analogy, a firefly’s glow is obscured by sunlight. Indeed, indeed. Likewise that treasure-adorned palace disappeared before this king of bodhi halls, called Countless Precious Adornments. The radiance of the countless magnificent necklaces, garments, and transcendental powers displayed in this king of bodhi halls obscured all radiance of the sun and moon. Before this king of bodhi halls, the radiance and splendor of all god-kings called Śakra, all Brahma gods, and all gods in the pure-abode heavens disappeared.
In this bodhi hall was the king of great bodhi lion thrones, called illuminating the majesty of the hindrance-free lion. It was made of the seven treasures with unequaled radiance and colors, and covered with celestial garments. Its height was on the same scale as that of worlds as numerous as the dust particles in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that are as numerous as the sands of a hundred koṭi Ganges Rivers, and its length and width were equally so.
Seated on this lion throne was Śākyamuni Buddha, whose name was changed to Taint-Free Awesome Virtue Lion Moonlight Vairocana’s Store of Aquamarine Banner Perfect Radiant Virtue Sun-Moon Wisdom Light Tathāgata. His body was as vast as worlds as numerous as the dust particles in Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds that were as numerous as the sands of a hundred koṭi Ganges Rivers. It was fully adorned with splendid marks, such as the thirty-two marks of a great man and the eighty excellent characteristics. The crown of his head had an invisible bulge and was adorned with a halo behind His neck. His body was pure, like sunlight shining on a clear mirror. It had no flesh, blood, or bone marrow, because it was not created from a kalala [embryo] through parents, but was born through miraculous formation. It was as radiant as Jambūnada gold and as translucent as aquamarine and the god-king Indra’s sapphire [Indranīla]. His body was so pure that it did not have even the tiniest habits. Fully adorned with all marks, the Buddha-Bhagavān possessed all wisdom-knowledge and command of dharmas. He had crossed to the opposite shore and attained the unsurpassed saṁbodhi. With supreme great compassion, He was the greatest man, a lion among men. Having ended all afflictions and their discharges, He had an adamantine vajra body, an aggregate of merits. He possessed the Ten Powers, the Four Fearlessnesses, and the Eighteen Exclusive Dharmas, and roared the right lion’s roar. His lifespan was immeasurable in His pure Buddha Land. His attainment of bodhi there was with ease and His radiance was natural.
He was surrounded by innumerable Bodhisattvas with magnificent bodies. Under jeweled trees in this bodhi hall on the lotus flower in the jeweled pond, they were seated on lion thrones that fit their bodies. Each Bodhisattva was well adorned just as the Tathāgata was fully adorned. Thus, this Buddha Land was adorned with pure virtues, the Buddha’s body was pure, and His retinue was pure. The pure kalpa was called Boundless Majestic King of Great Kalpas.
It is impossible to describe in words this vast Buddha Land and the Buddha’s actions. Whoever attains saṁbodhi in this way is called a Tathāgata abiding on the first Buddha ground.
Then the World-Honored One asked Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva, “Good man, do you see this grand display of a Tathāgata’s wisdom and transcendental powers?”
Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva answered, “World-Honored One. I see this. Tathāgata, I see this.”
The Buddha said, “Good man, this is the first Buddha ground, called Profound and Hard to Know Vast Radiant Wisdom and Virtue. Good man, know that in the Joyful World, gods and men revere Tathāgatas such as True Vows Adorning Virtue under One Cover Thundering Mighty King Tathāgata, Precious Radiant Store of Virtues of the Pure Body Tathāgata, Motionless Hindrance-Free Radiance Tathāgata, Transcendental Powers of Virtues Born from a Lotus Flower Superb Necklace of Jewels King Tathāgata. There are other Buddhas who attained bodhi in pure Buddha Lands, such as Amitābha Tathāgata, Blooming Lotus Flower Constellation King Tathāgata, Dragon Sovereign King Tathāgata. When those Tathāgatas born in pure Buddha Lands acquired the first Buddha ground, the transcendental powers They displayed were the same as those I just displayed, without any difference.”
Then he asked, “World-Honored One, in the present or future, if Buddha-Tathāgatas attain bodhi in an impure world with the five turbidities, will They acquire the Tathāgata grounds?”
The Buddha answered, “Yes, good man, Buddhas can use skillful means to acquire them. Why? Because They elicit great compassion for sentient beings. They see sentient beings imprisoned in the dense forest of the Three Realms of Existence, covered by the darkness of ignorance, and entangled in the net of thirsty love [tṛṣṇā] of being. Sentient beings believe in the wrong views and transmigrate through the six life-paths, undergoing immeasurable suffering, especially on the three evil life-paths. As their afflictions without a beginning continue from one life to another, they do not know their true state. Sentient beings do not know Buddhas, the Buddha Dharma, or the Bodhisattva Dharma, nor do they truly know the paths of liberation.
“Good man, out of compassion for all suffering sentient beings, a Buddha manifests a response body in an impure world with the five turbidities. He displays descending from Tuṣita Heaven, entering His mother’s womb, being born, enjoying pleasures in His palace, renouncing family life, practicing asceticism, entering His bodhimaṇḍa, subjugating māras, attaining Buddhahood, turning the great Dharma wheel, subjugating arrogant multitudes of non-Buddhists by debates, and entering parinirvāṇa. After entering parinirvāṇa, through the power of samādhi, He manifests Himself and distributes His relics [śarīra], the size of mustard seeds, to delight gods, dragons, humans, and nonhumans. To make offerings to His relics, they erect countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of memorial pagodas [stūpa] as relic stores. Some sentient beings renounce family life to follow His Dharma and to practice asceticism; some plant bodhi seeds in order to cross to the opposite shore of the ocean of existence with afflictions. Good man, all Buddhas can use such skillful means to enable innumerable sentient beings to cross to that opposite shore. Good man, know that transcendental powers displayed in an impure world are produced by a Buddha’s response body or a Bodhisattva’s skillful means.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, how many bodies does a Buddha have?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, in brief, a Buddha has three bodies. What are these three? They are (1) the reward body [saṁbhogakāya], (2) the response body [nirmāṇakāya], and (3) the truth body.”
He asked, “World-Honored One, what is a Tathāgata’s reward body?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, a Buddha’s reward body is like the body you now see that I have displayed. Also, Tathāgatas who attain Buddhahood, in the present or future, in pure Buddha Lands are in Their reward bodies.”
He asked, “World-Honored One, what is a Tathāgata’s response body?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, all Tathāgatas who demonstrate attainment of Buddhahood, in the present or future, in impure worlds are in Their response bodies, such as a Tathāgata walking energetically, a Tathāgata subjugating māras, a Tathāgata eliciting great compassion, a Tathāgata descending from Tuṣita Heaven, or a Tathāgata entering parinirvāṇa in order to sustain His Dharma in the true Dharma age, the Dharma-likeness age, and the Dharma-ending age. Good man, know that a Buddha’s response body displays such things.”
He asked, “World-Honored One, what is a Tathāgata’s dharma body [dharmakāya]?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, a Tathāgata’s truth body is invisible. It has no form, no appearance, no hindrance, no indication, no dependency, no grasping, no birth, no death, and no analogy, and abides nowhere. Thus, good man, a Tathāgata’s ineffable body, dharma body, wisdom body, unequaled body, peerless body, Vairocana body, sky body, endless body, indestructible body, boundless body, ultimate reality body, no-falsity body, and no-analogy body are called His truth body.”
He asked, “World-Honored One, if a Buddha’s truth body has no form, no appearance, and is even ineffable, is it nonexistent?”
The Buddha asked, “Good man, what is your opinion? Is the open sky nonexistent or existent?”
He answered, “World-Honored One, the open sky never ends and has no appearance. Why? Because, if it were nonexistent, it could not be described as hindrance free. If it were existent, it would have components, a boundary, a form, and matter. Therefore, World-Honored One, the open sky is neither nonexistent nor existent, and pervades everywhere.”
The Buddha said, “Very good, very good, good man! Indeed, indeed, good man! A Tathāgata’s truth body is neither nonexistent nor existent. Why? Because, good man, if it were nonexistent, no Buddha could appear in the world or display His immeasurable transcendental powers. If it were existent, then it would have components and a place that can be found, and all ordinary beings [by capturing it] could attain Buddhahood simultaneously, not successively according to their readiness. Therefore, good man, a Tathāgata’s truth body is neither nonexistent nor existent. Yet it does Buddha work for all sentient beings’ sake.”
He asked, “World-Honored One, of the merits acquired by making offerings to a Tathāgata’s truth body, reward body, and response body, which is the greatest?”
The Buddha answered, “Good man, by making offerings to one of a Buddha’s bodies, one makes offerings to all His bodies. Why? Because, good man, all radiance can dispel darkness and bring brightness, and because radiance does not coexist with darkness. Indeed, indeed, good man. If one makes an offering to any of a Buddha’s bodies, the merit one acquires can dispel all darkness of ignorance and illuminate the road of liberation hindrance free.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I pray that You will display the second Buddha ground.”
The Buddha asked, “Good man, can you see it?”
He answered, “World-Honored One, I would like to see its appearance.”
Then the World-Honored One emitted from one pore vast radiance called illuminating without appearance, illuminating an ineffably ineffable number of Buddha Lands, and all their forms disappeared. Then He asked the multitude of Bodhisattvas, “What do you see now?”
They answered, “World-Honored One, we see nothing but radiance.”
The Buddha asked, “Good men, what is this radiance that you see like?”
They answered, “World-Honored One, we see Buddha Lands as numerous as the sands of countless hundreds of thousands of koṭis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers only as an expanse of radiance.”
Then the World-Honored One withdrew the radiance, and all those Buddha Lands became visible as before. He told this multitude of Bodhisattvas, “Even if the Tathāgata described the second Buddha ground, it would be hard for all of you to understand what you heard, not to mention your coming to see the third through the tenth Buddha ground. Good men, as an analogy, the radiance of the sun and moon brings great benefits to all sentient beings, and their power enables sentient beings to know day and night, one day and half a day, one month and half a month, years, and seasons. However, sentient beings cannot see the physical forms of the sun and moon, and can see only the shape of a disk of light. Indeed, indeed. Likewise, a Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, brings great benefits to all sentient beings. Because of Him, they come to know dharmas, whether good or evil, worldly or supra-worldly, with afflictions or without afflictions. Then they can realize the truth and cross the wilderness of all existences. However, sentient beings cannot see the physical form of a Tathāgata’s reward body, and they can only see His response body and its displays of transcendental powers. Therefore, all of you should know that Buddha grounds are beyond description using all sounds and words. Only their names can be told.”
Then Ocean-Deep Mastery Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, who can be delivered from all evil life-paths?”
The Buddha answered, “Good men, whoever enters Vairocana’s store of all Buddha wisdom to hear the ten Tathāgata grounds in this profound Sūtra of Achieving a Clear Understanding of the Mahāyāna and, after hearing it, elicits faith, accepts and upholds it, reads and recites it, copies and teaches others to copy it, widely expounds it, and upholds the name of this sūtra, will be delivered from any evil life-path, even if he should go down it [because of his karma].”
“World-Honored One, who will activate the bodhi mind?”
“Good man, whoever upholds this sūtra or even only its name.”
“World-Honored One, who will take Bodhisattva actions?”
“Good man, whoever upholds this sūtra.”
“World-Honored One, who will quickly achieve the six pāramitās?”
“Good man, whoever upholds this sūtra.”
“World-Honored One, who will encounter a Buddha?”
“Good man, whoever hears this sūtra.”
“World-Honored One, who will encounter a Buddha and receive from Him the prophecy of his attaining Buddhahood?”
“Good man, whoever keeps this secret of a Tathāgata.”
“World-Honored One, who will be a great guiding teacher of sentient beings?”
“Good man, whoever upholds this profound Tathāgata store.”
“World-Honored One, who will be a Buddha-son?”
“Good man, whoever believes in this sūtra.”
“World-Honored One, who will acquire all Bodhisattva grounds?”
“Good man, whoever hears this sūtra.”
“World-Honored One, who will acquire the Dharma of all Buddhas?”
“Good man, whoever makes offerings to this wonderful Dharma torch.”
“World-Honored One, who knows the ways of voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas but does not ride either of their vehicles to nirvāṇa?”
“Good man, whoever accepts this wondrous Dharma store.”
“World-Honored One, what is the name of this sūtra? How should we uphold it?”
“Good man, this sūtra is called Achieving a Clear Understanding of the Mahāyāna, also called Entering Vairocana’s Store of All Buddha Wisdom. Uphold it as such.”
Then the World-Honored One spoke in verse:
If one wants to attain Buddha bodhi,
To make unsurpassed energetic progress,
To turn the holy affliction-free
Inconceivable Dharma wheel,
To erect the Dharma banner,
To beat the Dharma drum,
To light the Dharma lamp,
To blow the Dharma conch,
To acquire radiant wisdom,
To dispel the darkness of ignorance,
To deliver sentient beings,
To establish bodhi wisdom,
To subjugate māra legions,
To make offerings to all Buddhas,
To illuminate the world,
To bring superb purity,
To remain untainted by worldly dharmas,
To acquire the affliction-free wisdom,
To take every action to benefit sentient beings,
And to be reborn in a pure Buddha Land,
One should hear, copy, and uphold
This wondrous sūtra treasure.
One should read, recite, ponder, and propagate it,
In order to understand the Buddha Ground.
After the Buddha pronounced this sūtra, Ocean-Deep Mastery of Wisdom and Transcendental Powers Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva and all other Bodhisattvas, having heard the Buddha’s words, rejoiced and carried out His teachings.
1. Kācilindi bird is a lovely water fowl with feathers fine and light, like cotton. A Wheel-Turning King wears clothing made with its feathers. (Return to text)
2. Cow-head sandalwood is the most fragrant kind of sandalwood. The wood of this evergreen tree can be ground into powder as incense, and fragrant oil can be extracted from it. According to fascicle 67 of text 279, the 80-fascicle Chinese version of the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Buddhāvataṁsaka-mahāvaipulya-sūtra), cow-head sandalwood trees grow on the Malaya Mountain (T10n279, 0361a20–22). According to fascicle 69 of text 721 in 70 fascicles, the Chinese version of the Sūtra of Places of Memory of the True Dharma (Saddharma-smṛty-upasthāna-sūtra), the second of the five peaks of the fifth mountain in Uttarakuru, the northern continent, is shaped like a cow’s head; hence the sandalwood of trees that grow on this peak is called cow-head sandalwood (T17n0721; 0409c9–11, c17–25). (Return to text)
3. Kāśika is fine cotton produced in Kāśi, present-day Benares, India. (Return to text)
4. Jambūnada gold is gold from the river that flows through the jambū (rose apple) grove. It is renowned for its supreme quality and red-golden color with a purple tinge. (Return to text)
5. Vipaśyin Buddha is one of the last three Buddhas in the Majestic Kalpa, which preceeds the present Worthy Kalpa. See “past seven Buddhas” in the glossary. (Return to text)
6. According to Hīnayāna teachings, voice-hearer sages who practice the five meditations—(1) impurities of a corpse, (2) lovingkindness and compassion, (3) dependent arising of dharmas, (4) the eighteen spheres composed of the six domains, and (5) inhalation and exhalation—or the Four Abidings of Mindfulness are outsider ordinary beings; voice-hearer sages who develop the Four Roots of Goodness (see Four Preparatory Trainings in the glossary) are insider ordinary beings. According to Mahāyāna teachings, Bodhisattva sages who cultivate the ten faithful minds are outsider ordinary beings; Bodhisattva sages who train at the ten levels of abiding, the ten levels of action, or the ten levels of transference of merit (see “stages of the Bodhisattva Way” in the glossary) are insider ordinary beings. (Return to text)
7. Eight endurances comprise the endurance in the dharma wisdom-knowledge (法智) acquired by observing each of the Four Noble Truths in the desire realm, and the endurance in the similar wisdom-knowledge (類智) acquired by observing each of the Four Noble Truths in the form realm and the formless realm. Through these eight endurances, one discards one’s wrong views and sees bodhi. (Return to text)
8. The Sanskrit word abhimukhī means turned toward. On the sixth ground, because a Bodhisattva’s main practice is the wisdom pāramitā (prajñā-pāramitā), prajñā and all samādhis are revealed to him. (Return to text)
9. The Sanskrit word sādhumatī means good or honorable intention. However, it is translated as good wisdom (善慧), in this text 673 (T16n0673) and many other Chinese texts. (Return to text)
10. Details of the ten Bodhisattvas grounds are in the Sūtra of the Garland of a Bodhisattva’s Primary Karmas (T24n1485) and the Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (T10n0279), fascicles 34–39, the English translation of which is in Rulu’s The Bodhisattva Way (Rulu 2013; 33–88, 111–244). (Return to text)
11. The Sanskrit word aśoka means carefree. The aśoka is an evergreen tree, important in the cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent and adjacent areas. It is prized for its beautiful foliage and fragrant bright red flowers in heavy, lush bunches (Wikipedia.com). (Return to text)
12. The tamāla, Cinnamomum nitidum, is a dark-barked tree with fragrant barks and leaves, in China, South India, and Sri Lanka. (Return to text)
13. The opposite shore is that shore of nirvāṇa, opposite this shore of saṁsāra. (Return to text)
14. See “three ages of the Dharma” in the glossary. (Return to text)