The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī
Degé Kangyur, vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 195.b-200.b.
Translated by the Sakya Pandita Translation Group (International Buddhist Academy Division)
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
In the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, Buddha Śākyamuni, surrounded by a large audience, presents to his disciple Śāriputra a detailed description of the realm of Sukhāvatī, a delightful, enlightened abode, free of suffering. Its inhabitants are described as mature beings in an environment where everything enhances their spiritual inclinations. The principal buddha of Sukhāvatī is addressed as Amitāyus (Limitless Life) as well as Amitābha (Limitless Light).
Buddha Śākyamuni further explains how virtuous people who focus single-mindedly on Buddha Amitābha will obtain a rebirth in Sukhāvatī in their next life, and he urges all to develop faith in this teaching. In support, he cites the similar way in which the various buddhas of the six directions exhort their followers to develop confidence in this teaching on Sukhāvatī.
The sūtra ends with a short dialogue between Śāriputra and Buddha Śākyamuni that highlights the difficulty of enlightened activity in a degenerate age.
Translation by the Sakya Pandita Translation Group, International Buddhist Academy Division, Kathmandu, under the supervision of Khenpo Ngawang Jorden. This sūtra was translated into English by the monk Ngawang Rinchen Gyaltsen, Julia Stenzel, and Tsewang Gyaltsen.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī is the shortest of three sūtras that expound the Land of Delight, the pure realm of Amitābha, called Sukhāvatī. The Kangyur includes Tibetan translations of two of these texts: this one, often called the “shorter” Sukhāvatī, and the “longer” sūtra, with the formal title The Array of Amitābha (Toh 49 in the Heap of Jewels section).1 The third, The Amitāyus Meditation Sūtra,2 is only extant in Chinese.
The shorter sūtra, according to the Sanskrit scholar Luis Gomez, first appeared in its written form during the first century ᴄᴇ, possibly in what was then Northwest India and is now Pakistan.3
A Sanskrit version of the smaller Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī is extant today, as well as Tibetan and Chinese translations. All the translations show some variation from the Sanskrit source in content and style, which can be attributed in part to cultural and geographic conditions in Tibet and China.4. The translations have become more influential than the original itself, for which we presently lack any contextual information.
There are several Chinese translations of this sūtra, dating from between 240 and 400 ᴄᴇ, but only one Tibetan version, translated in the eighth or ninth century. The Chinese versions of the sūtra spread through China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam and played an important role in the formation of the Pure Land schools in these countries. These versions appear to embellish the description of the wonders of the realm of Sukhāvatī,5 whereas the Tibetan version is more subdued and shows its main variations from the Sanskrit original in the names and the number of buddhas presiding over the different buddha realms. The various editions in the Tibetan canon, i.e., the Degé, Narthang, Peking, and Lhasa editions, show no major differences that would alter the meaning.
For the present translation, we have followed the Tibetan text, while comparing it with the Sanskrit original. Concerning the enumeration of names of the buddhas presiding over the various buddha realms, we have retained their original Sanskrit names, unless the Tibetan text had names without a known Sanskrit equivalent, in which case we chose to translate those names into English. The differences are further commented on in notes.
The sūtra’s overall subject is revealed in the title. The Sanskrit term sukhāvatī, in Tibetan Dewachen (bde ba can), designates a realm of delight, a place where no suffering is experienced. The inhabitants of this realm are spiritually advanced beings who enjoy the presence of buddhas, bodhisattvas, and arhats, and engage exclusively in wholesome activities. The principal buddha of this realm has two names, Amitāyus (Limitless Life) and Amitābha (Limitless Light). Even though it is not explicitly stated in this particular sūtra, Amitāyus is, in Vajrayāna contexts, sometimes considered a sambhogakāya form of Buddha Amitābha.6
The term vyūha (Tib. bkod pa) means “display,” indicating that the sūtra is to a large extent a description of this buddha realm and its characteristics. It is a land with lakes and forests full of jewels, with magical birds, and with little bells producing lovely sounds. Its ideal environment enhances the spiritual practice of Sukhāvatī’s inhabitants.
The narrative of the sūtra takes place in the Jeta Grove of Śrāvastī, where Buddha Śākyamuni, in the presence of a large audience consisting of arhats and bodhisattvas, addresses his disciple Śāriputra and tells him about the realm of Sukhāvatī. The sūtra is in large part a discourse spoken by the Buddha. Even though the Buddha regularly asks the question, “Śāriputra, what do you think about this?” Śāriputra speaks only at the very end of the sūtra and praises the Buddha.
The sūtra ends with a short dialogue between Śāriputra and Buddha Śākyamuni that highlights the difficulty of Buddha Śākyamuni’s attaining enlightenment and preaching in a degenerate age.
The notion of innumerable buddha realms coexisting with our reality became popular with the emergence of Mahāyāna Buddhism around the first century ᴄᴇ. They have been interchangeably translated as buddhafields, buddha realms, or pure lands.
In The Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī, the Land of Delight is described as a realm beyond space and time. The two larger sūtras elaborate on the history of its emergence. According to those sūtras, the Land of Delight is the result of the powerful vows of Buddha Amitābha, who out of great compassion created a safe environment for fortunate beings to progress toward spiritual maturity. The smaller sūtra, however, refers only to the existence of such a realm and its characteristics.
In the sūtra, Buddha Śākyamuni explains the manner in which beings take birth in this realm: fortunate sons and daughters are told to accumulate a significant amount of merit and direct their faith single-mindedly toward Buddha Amitābha.
The various sūtras of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī have inspired Tibetan masters to write prayers and practice rituals that allow adepts to enter Amitābha’s realm. There are numerous Sukhāvatī-related compositions available in the Tengyur and in different collected works (gsung ’bum).
The Collection of Prayers for Sukhāvatī (bde smon phyogs bsgrigs) is a collection of prayers, practice rituals, and commentaries concerning the pure land of Amitābha. An edition was published in Chengdu in 2007 by Sichuan Minorities Publishing House (Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang).
One of the Tibetan masters who made Sukhāvatī a particular focus of attention was Chagmé Rinpoché (’chags med, 1610-1678). He composed The Long Prayer of Sukhāvatī (mkhas grub rā ga a syas mdzad pa’i rnam dag bde chen zhing gi smon lam), among others.
Furthermore, the well-known Noble King of Prayers for Good Conduct (’phags pa bzang po spyod pa’i smon lam gyi rgyal po), recited by adherents of all Tibetan schools, concludes with the aspiration for rebirth in the pure realm of Sukhāvatī. Praying to be born in the pure realm of Amitābha has become a major practice in Mahāyāna Buddhism.
There appears to be no translation of the Tibetan Display of the Pure Land of Sukhāvatī prior to the one published here. However, the Sanskrit version of the sūtra was translated into English and edited by Max Müller and Bunyiu Nanjio in Müller and Nanjio (1883).
Luis O. Gomez has published a non-literal, poetic translation of the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the smaller and larger sūtras and gives an introduction to the main topics (Gomez 1996). His literal translation of the same sūtras is forthcoming. Hisao Inagaki has translated the three Pure Land sūtras on the basis of their Chinese versions; this translation appears in the BDK English Tripiṭaka Vol. 12, Berkeley, 1995. An earlier translation from the Chinese was published in Utsuki (1924).
Nakamura (1987) presents an historical introduction to the beginnings of Pure Land Buddhism and its textual sources in Indian Buddhism.
Thus did I hear at one time. The Bhagavān was dwelling in Anāthapiṇḍada’s park in the Jeta Grove in Śrāvastī, along with a large monastic saṅgha of 1,250 bhikṣus,7 all of them great elders, śrāvakas, and arhats, such as the Elder Śāriputra, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Mahākāśyapa, Mahākātyāyana,8 Mahākapphiṇa, Mahākauṣṭhila, Revata, Śuddhipaṃthaka, Nanda, Ānanda, Rāhula, Gavāṃpati, Bharadvāja, Kālodāyin, Vakula, and Aniruddha. He dwelt with these and other great śrāvakas and with many bodhisattva mahāsattvas, such as the youthful Mañjuśrī, [F.196.a] the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Ajita, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Gandhahastin, the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Nityodyukta, and the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Anikṣiptadhura, along with many other bodhisattva mahāsattvas. He was also accompanied by Śakra, the lord of gods, and Brahmā, the ruler of the Sahā world, along with many myriads9 of gods.
On that occasion, the Bhagavān said to the venerable Śāriputra, “Śāriputra, if you go from this buddha realm past 100,000 myriad buddha realms toward the western direction, there is a world known as Sukhāvatī (The Delightful). In that place the Tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly and fully enlightened buddha known as Amitāyus (Immeasurable Life), dwells, lives, and abides, teaching the Dharma.
“Śāriputra, in the Sukhāvatī world, sentient beings experience neither physical pain nor mental suffering and the causes for their happiness are limitless. For this reason, this world is called Sukhāvatī. Furthermore, Śāriputra, the Sukhāvatī world is surrounded on all sides by seven layers of terraces, seven rows of palm trees, and filigrees of chimes. It is radiantly beautiful. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned with displays of the excellences of buddha realms, such as the four kinds of jewels, namely, gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. Furthermore, Śāriputra, the Sukhāvatī world has ponds adorned with seven kinds of jewels. The ponds are full of water possessing the eight qualities. They are covered by jeweled lotuses, [F.196.b] are filled to the top to enable crows to drink, and are lined with golden sand. All around, on the four sides of the ponds are four radiantly elegant staircases, each made of one of the four precious substances: gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. By the banks of the ponds grow jeweled trees of the seven radiantly beautiful jewels: gold, silver, beryl, crystal, rosy pearls, emerald, and coral. From all those ponds grow lotuses that bloom as large as chariot wheels.
“The golden lotuses have a golden hue, a golden sheen, and manifest as gold. The blue ones have a blue hue, a blue sheen, and manifest as blue. The yellow ones have a yellow hue, a yellow sheen, and manifest as yellow. The red ones have a red hue, a red sheen, and manifest as red. The white ones have a white hue, a white sheen, and manifest as white. The iridescent ones have an iridescent hue, an iridescent sheen, and manifest as iridescence. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms. Furthermore, Śāriputra, in the Sukhāvatī world, the sound of divine cymbals is always heard. The vast ground is magnificent, as if golden in color. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, in that buddha realm a shower of divine flowers, divine mandārava flowers, descends three times every day and three times every night. In a single morning, the sentient beings that are born there proceed from one buddha realm to the next, paying homage to hundreds of thousands of buddhas. They also toss hundreds of thousands of bouquets of flowers toward each tathāgata. After making offerings, they return to that same world for their daily rest. [F.197.a] Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, in the Sukhāvatī world there are swans, cranes, and peacocks that assemble three times during the day and three times at night and perform a concert, each singing its own melody. When they sing, the sounds of the powers, strengths, and branches of enlightenment emerge. Upon hearing those sounds, the sentient beings born there are moved to contemplate the Buddha, to contemplate the Dharma, and to contemplate the Saṅgha. Now what do you think about this, Śāriputra? Have those sentient beings taken birth as animals? You should not think so. Why is that so? Śāriputra, in this buddha realm there are not even words for birth as a hell being, birth as an animal, or birth in the world of the Lord of Death. Those flocks of birds were manifested by the Tathāgata Amitāyus himself to voice the sound of Dharma. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, when the wind blows in that buddha realm it sways the rows of palm trees and the filigree net of chimes, creating sweet, enchanting, and delightful sounds, like the myriad subtleties of divine cymbals when played by a skilled musician. The people there, upon hearing those sounds, settle into the recollection of the Buddha, the recollection of the Dharma, and the recollection of the Saṅgha. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms.
“Now what do you think, Śāriputra, [F.197.b] why is that tathāgata called ‘Amitāyus’ (Immeasurable Life)? Śāriputra, the lifespan of Tathāgata Amitāyus is immeasurable. For this reason, he is called ‘Tathāgata Amitāyus.’ Furthermore, Śāriputra, why is that tathāgata called ‘Amitābha’ (Immeasurable Light)? Śāriputra, the light of Tathāgata Amitābha shines unimpeded throughout all buddha realms. For this reason, he is called ‘Tathāgata Amitābha.’ The Bhagavān Tathāgata Amitābha fully awakened to unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment ten eons ago.
“Furthermore, Śāriputra, this bhagavān has an immeasurable saṅgha of śrāvakas, who are all pure arhats; their number cannot be easily expressed. Furthermore, Śāriputra, the sentient beings born in this buddha realm are all pure bodhisattvas who will not regress and are bound by only one more birth.10 Śāriputra, one cannot express the total number of bodhisattvas except to say that they are immeasurable or countless. Śāriputra, this buddha realm is beautifully adorned by such displays of the excellences of buddha realms.
“Therefore Śāriputra, sons and daughters of good family should completely dedicate all roots of virtue in a respectful manner to be born in that buddha realm. Why? Because by doing so, they will be able to meet holy beings similar to themselves. Śāriputra, one cannot take birth in the realm of Bhagavān Tathāgata Amitāyus merely with minimal roots of virtue.
“Śāriputra, if those sons and daughters of good family hear the name of the Bhagavān Tathāgata Amitāyus and keep it in mind unwaveringly for one, two, three, four, five, [F.198.a] six, or seven nights, when the hour of their death arrives, they will depart in an undeluded state. After they have passed away, the Tathāgata Amitābha will stand before them, entirely surrounded by a śrāvaka assembly and honored by a congregation of bodhisattvas. These sons and daughters of good family will be born in the Sukhāvatī world, the buddha realm of the Bhagavān Tathāgata Amitābha. Therefore, Śāriputra, having seen its real point, sons and daughters of good family, I declare, ought to respectfully make prayers to reach that buddha realm.
“O Śāriputra, I, the Tathāgata, at present praise [this Sukhāvatī].11 So, likewise, Śāriputra, in the east, the Tathāgata Akṣobhya, the Tathāgata Merudhvaja, the Tathāgata Meru,12 the Tathāgata Mahāmeru, the Tathāgata Mahāmeruprabhāsa,13 the Tathāgata Harmonious Speech, the Tathāgata Harmonious Voice,14 and the other bhagavān buddhas of the east, who are as numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech15 and proclaim, ‘You should place your trust in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,”16 which praises inconceivable qualities.’
“Likewise, in the south, the bhagavān buddhas of the south, such as the Tathāgata Candrasūryapradīpa, the Tathāgata Renown,17 the Tathāgata Yaśaḥprabha, the Tathāgata Mahārciskandha, [F.198.b] the Tathāgata Merupradīpa, the Tathāgata Anaṃtavīrya, and others, who are as numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech and proclaim, ‘You should place your trust in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,” which praises inconceivable qualities.’
“Likewise, in the west, the bhagavān buddhas of the west, such as the Tathāgata Amitāyus, the Tathāgata Amitaskandha, the Tathāgata Amitadhvaja, the Tathāgata Mahāprabha, the Tathāgata Illuminating Light Rays,18 the Tathāgata Ratnaketu,19 the Tathāgata Śuddharaśmiprabha, and others, who are as numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech and proclaim, ‘You should place your trust in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,” which praises inconceivable qualities.’
“Likewise, in the north, the bhagavān buddhas of the north, such as the Tathāgata Mahārciskandha, the Tathāgata Vaiśvānaranirghoṣa, the Tathāgata Duṣpradharṣa, the Tathāgata Ādityasaṃbhava, the Tathāgata Jālinīprabha, the Tathāgata Prabhākara, and others,20 who are as numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech and proclaim, [F.199.a] ‘You should place your trust in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,” which praises inconceivable qualities.’
“Likewise, in the nadir, the bhagavān buddhas of the nadir, such as the Tathāgata Siṃha, the Tathāgata Yaśas, the Tathāgata Yaśaḥprabhāsa, the Tathāgata Dharma, the Tathāgata Dharmadhara, the Tathāgata Dharmadhvaja, and others, who are numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech and proclaim, ‘You should place your trust in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,” which praises inconceivable qualities.’
“Likewise, in the zenith, the bhagavān buddhas of the zenith, such as the Tathāgata Brahmaghoṣa, the Tathāgata Nakṣatrarāja, the Tathāgata Gandhottama, the Tathāgata Gandhaprabhāsa, the Tathāgata Heap of Incense,21 the Tathāgata Ratnakusumasaṃpuṣpitagotra, the Tathāgata Sālendrarāja, the Tathāgata Ratnotpalaśrī, the Tathāgata Sarvārthadarśa, the Tathāgata Sumerukalpa, and others22 who are as numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, pervade their own buddha realms with the power of their speech and proclaim, ‘You should place your trust [F.199.b] in this Dharma discourse called “Complete Embrace by all Buddhas,” which praises Sukhāvatī’s inconceivable qualities.’
“What do you think about this, Śāriputra, why is this Dharma discourse called ‘Complete Embrace by All Buddhas’? Śāriputra, those sons and daughters of good family who have heard, now hear, or will hear this Dharma discourse and the names of those bhagavān buddhas will all be embraced completely by the bhagavān buddhas.23 Śāriputra, of all those sentient beings who aspire, who have made, are making, or will make aspirations to the Sukhāvatī world, the buddha realm of the Bhagavān Tathāgata Amitābha, none has turned away, is turning away, nor will ever turn away from the pursuit of unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment. Śāriputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable qualities of those bhagavān buddhas, likewise, Śāriputra, those bhagavān buddhas also praise my inconceivable qualities.”
Śāriputra declared,24 “Bhagavān Śākyamuni, king of the Śākyas, you have fully awakened to unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment in this Sahā world. You have taught the Dharma that the whole world was reluctant to accept at the time of the degeneration of the eon, the degeneration of afflictions, the degeneration of beings, the degeneration of views, and the degeneration of lifespan.25 How marvelous indeed!”
The Bhagavān replied, “Śāriputra, having fully awakened to unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment in this world, the Sahā world, at the time of the five degenerations, I have taught the Dharma that the whole world was reluctant to accept. This is the supreme feat I have accomplished.”
After the Bhagavān [F.200.a] had thus spoken, the whole world, including the venerable Śāriputra, the great śrāvakas, bodhisattvas, gods, humans, demigods, and gandharvas were delighted and praised highly the words spoken by the Bhagavān.
This completes the Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Display of Sukhāvatī.”
’phags pa bde ba can gyi bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo. Toh 115, Degé Kangyur vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 195b–200b.
’phags pa bde ba can gyi bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 51, pp. 532–542.
Ha’o wun zhon and To’u tshun chi, eds. bod rgya shan sbyar gyi shes bya’i rnam grangs kun btus tshig mdzod. Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang (Minorities Publishing House), 1987.
bde smon phyogs bsgrigs [The Collection of Prayers for Sukhāvatī], Chengdu: si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang (Sichuan Minorities Publishing House), 2007.
mkhas grub rā ga a syas mdzad pa’i rnam dag bde chen zhing gi smon lam [Long Prayer for Sukhāvatī], Chengdu: si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang (Sichuan Minorities Publishing House), 2007.
’phags pa bzang po spyod pa’i smon lam gyi rgyal po [Noble King of Prayers for Good Conduct], Toh 1095, Degé Kangyur, vol. 101 (gzungs ’dus, waM), folios 262a–266b.
Āryasukhāvatīvyūhanāmamahāyānasūtra. http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de. Accessed August 25, 2010.
Epstein, Ronald, trans. The Amitābha Sūtra. Hsüan Hua, A General Explanation of the Buddha Speaks of Amitābha Sūtra. San Francisco: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 1974. online.sfsu.ed.
Fujita, Kōtatsu. “Textual Origins of the Kuan Wu-liang-shou ching,” in Robert E. Buswell, Jr., ed., Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1990, pp. 149–173.
Gomez, Luis O. Land of Bliss: The Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light; Sanskrit and Chinese Versions of the Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtras. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1996.
Hapatsch, Hischam A., trans. and ed. Die Heiligen Schriften des Amitābha-Buddhismus: Das große Sukhāvatī-vyūha-Sūtra, Das kleine Sukhāvatī-vyūha-Sūtra, Das Meditationssūtra. Berlin, 2007. www.littera.de. Accessed 2010.
Müller, Max, and Bunyiu Nanjio, trans. “Āryasukhāvatīvyūhasūtra.” Anecdota Oxoniensia: Aryan Series. Vol. I, part II. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1883.
Nakamura, Hajime. Indian Buddhism: A Survey with Bibliographical Notes. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publications, 1987.
Roberts, P. and Bower, E., trans. The Aparimitāyurjñāna Sūtra. 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, 2016 (read.84000.co).
Utsuki, Nishu. The Smaller Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra or The Sūtra on the Buddha Amitāyus: Translated from the Chinese Version of Kumārajīva. Kyoto: Educational Department of the West Hongwanji, 1924. web.mit.edu.
- mi pham
Name of a bodhisattva. Not to be confused with mgon po mi pham, Maitreya.
- ’od dpag med
Buddha associated with Sukhāvatī; buddha of the western direction; principal buddha of the Pure Land tradition; as the bodhisattva Dharmākara, he made fourty-eight original vows (praṇidhāna) to bring beings to enlightenment, thus establishing Sukhāvatī for their benefit; in tantrism he is one of the five dhyāni-buddhas and is associated with the aggregate of notions (saṃjñāskandha).
- mgon med zas sbyin
A principal benefactor of the Buddha; he was the wealthy banker who acquired the grove of Prince Jeta, i.e., Jeta Grove, and donated it to the Buddhist community.
Bandé Yeshé Dé
- ban de ye shes sde
The monk Yeshé Dé, the translator of the Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra.
- bai dU rya
Precious/semiprecious stone; sometimes translated as lapis lazuli.
- bcom ldan ’das
Epithet of a buddha.
- byang chub sems dpa’
Someone who has the intent to achieve full enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings.
- tshangs pa
Lord of the Sahā world (q.v.). Buddhists see Brahmā as a god occupying a high position in cyclic existence, with a very long life and a great deal of power.
Branches of enlightenment
- byang chub kyi yan lag
The branches of, respectively, (1) authentic mindfulness; (2) authentic discrimination of dharmas; (3) authentic perseverance; (4) authentic joy; (5) authentic serenity; (6) authentic meditative absorption; and (7) authentic equanimity.
- nyi zla sgron ma
Name of a tathāgata.
- spug gi shing
- dA na shI la
Translator of the Sukhāvatīvyūhasūtra.
- gnas brtan
The term is used to designate a senior monk. The sixteen great arhats, or sixteen noble elders (āryasthavira), were the successors of the Buddha’s teaching after he passed. They promised to preserve the teaching until the coming of the future Buddha Maitreya. They are on the path of seeing of the arhat path. Each arhat lived in a specific place: (1) Aṅgaja on Mt. Kailash; (2) Ajita in the Crystal Wood of Sages; (3) Vanavāsin on Mt. Saptaparṇa; (4) Mahākālika in Tāmradvīpa; (5) Vajrīputra in Siṃhaladvīpa; (6) Śrībhadra on Yamunādvīpa; (7) Kanakavatsa in Kashmir; (8) Kanakabharadvāja in the Western continent of Godānīya; (9) Bakula in the northern continent of Uttarakuru; (10) Rāhula in Priyaṅgudvīpa; (11) Cūḍapanthaka on Mt. Gṛdhrakūṭa; (12) Piṇḍolabharadvāja in the eastern continent of Pūrvavideha; (13) Mahāpanthaka in Trayatriṃśa; (14) Nāgasena on Mt. Meru; (15) Gopaka on Mt. Bhihula; (16) Abhedya in the Himālayas.
- rdo’i snying po
- snyigs ma lnga
The five degenerations are: (1) degeneration of life span, (2) degeneration of views, (3) degeneration of the afflictions (4) degeneration of beings, and (5) the degeneration of the era.
- mngon par rdzogs par sangs rgyas
A person who has manifested the complete enlightenment of a buddha of the greater vehicle.
- dri za
A class of spirit who lives on scents. Also, a type of celestial musician living on the rim of Mt Sumeru.
- rgyal bu rgyal byed kyi tshal
The grove of Prince Jeta in Śrāvastī; the Buddha taught many of his discourses there, especially during the rainy season retreat.
Lord of Death
- gshin rje
Lord of Death.
- lhun po chen po snang ba
Name of a tathāgata.
- ’od ’phro’i phung po chen po
Name of a tathāgata.
- man dA ra ba
A heavenly tree.
- phyir mi ldog pa
The third stage on the path to arhat-ship; a non-returner who will no longer be reborn into saṃsāra.
- shing ta la
Perfectly and fully enlightened Buddha
- yang dag par rdzogs pa’i sangs rgyas
A term used to emphasize the superiority of buddhahood when contrasted with the achievement of the arhats and pratyekabuddhas. A samyaksaṃbuddha is considered superior by virtue of his compassionate activity, his omniscience and his ten special powers.
- dbang po
The five powers, or faculties, are those of (1) faith; (2) perseverence; (3) mindfulness; (4) meditative absorption or samādhi; and (5) wisdom or prajñā.
- rin chen me tog shin tu rgyas pa’i rigs
Name of a tathāgata.
- rin chen ud pa la’i dpal
Name of a tathāgata.
- mi mjed
- mi mjed kyi ’jig rten
This universe of ours, presided over by Brahmā. The term is variously interpreted as meaning the world of suffering, of endurance, of fearlessness, or of concomitance (of karmic cause and effect).
- brgya byin
Chief of the gods of the Thirty-Three, who presides over the desire realm heaven.
- sA la’i dbang po’i rgyal po
Name of a tathāgata.
- nyan thos
Hīnayāna practitioner of the first turning of the wheel of the Dharma on the four noble truths, who realizes the suffering inherent in saṃsāra and focuses on understanding that there is no independent self. By conquering disturbing emotions, he liberates himself, attaining first the stage of stream enterer at the path of seeing, followed by the stage of once-returner who will be reborn only one more time, and then the stage of non-returner who will no longer be reborn into saṃsāra. The final goal is to become an arhat. These four stages are also known as the “four results of spiritual practice.”
- mnyan yod
The capital city of Kosala where Buddha lived in the later years of his life.
- de bzhin gshegs pa
Epithet of the Buddha.
Unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment
- bla na med pa yang dag par rdzogs pa’i byang chub
An enlightenment that is authentically complete.
- thams cad sgrol ba’i dbyangs sgrol
Name of a tathāgata.
Water possessing the eight qualities
- yan lag brgyad dang ldan pa’i chu
The eight qualities of water: (1) sweet-tasting; (2) cool; (3) soft; (4) light; (5) transparent; (6) clean; (7) not harmful to the throat; and (8) beneficial to the stomach.