The King of Samādhis Sūtra
The Entranceway to the Samādhi That Is
Taught by Many Buddhas
Degé Kangyur, vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 1.b–170.b
Translated by Peter Alan Roberts
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2018
Current version v 1.45.25 (2022)
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This sūtra, much quoted in later Buddhist writings for its profound statements especially on the nature of emptiness, relates a long teaching given by the Buddha mainly in response to questions put by a young layman, Candraprabha. The samādhi that is the subject of the sūtra, in spite of its name, primarily consists of various aspects of conduct, motivation, and the understanding of emptiness; it is also a way of referring to the sūtra itself. The teaching given in the sūtra is the instruction to be dedicated to the possession and promulgation of the samādhi, and to the necessary conduct of a bodhisattva, which is exemplified by a number of accounts from the Buddha’s previous lives. Most of the teaching takes place on Vulture Peak Mountain, with an interlude recounting the Buddha’s invitation and visit to Candraprabha’s home in Rājagṛha, where he continues to teach Candraprabha before returning to Vulture Peak Mountain. In one subsequent chapter the Buddha responds to a request by Ānanda, and the text concludes with a commitment by Ānanda to maintain this teaching in the future.
Translated from the Tibetan, with reference to Sanskrit editions, by Peter Alan Roberts. The Chinese consultant was Ling-Lung Chen. Edited by Emily Bower and Ben Gleason.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous donation of an anonymous donor, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
The Entranceway to the Samādhi That Is Taught by Many Buddhas
When the Bhagavān had finished speaking, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya, who was seated there, in his mind recited this verse to the Bhagavān.637
The Bhagavān knew the thoughts that were in the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya’s mind, and from his own mind sent this verse to the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya:
So the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya, having received in his mind that verse from the Bhagavān, paid homage to the Bhagavān in his mind and, again in his mind, circumambulated him three times. He then left the assembly and went to Gṛdhrakūṭa, the king of mountains, which has been the residence of countless buddhas, as numerous as the grains of sand in the ocean, and where there is a great caitya.
The moment he arrived there, for the enjoyment of the Bhagavān, he magically transformed the king of mountains to become level and vast, without any tree stumps, thorns, stones, pebbles, or gravel, and with a surrounding wall made of the seven jewels. The ground was composed of countless shining sapphire jewels and was adorned by divine adornments and jewels, all of them beyond compare, and beautified by an array of innumerable, different kinds of jewels. All the area was decorated by the clothing of Tuṣita devas, [F.54.b] pervaded by the aroma of incense from a variety of censers, adorned by garlands and wreaths, scattered with various flowers; it resounded with the sound of divine music, was filled with erect and fluttering banners and flags, and over it canopies were suspended.
In the center of this area a divine lion throne made from the seven jewels was emanated. It was draped in cloth that was not woven, and covered with divine clothing from Tuṣita that was as soft and pleasant to the touch as down. A central awning hung above, and there were two red cushions placed upon it. It was a yojana wide and a yojana high.
Its beautiful footstool, made of Jambu River gold, transcended that of humans and devas. It was covered with a net of strings of pearls, and it was draped in divine, precious cottons.
Strung upon the lion throne were strings of divine, precious bells from which came clear, beautiful, gentle sounds. In all directions there were great shining jewels. And there was emanated a precious, vast parasol, with a handle made of a great, precious jewel of stainless beryl.
The bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya now emanated an inconceivable, adorning array of various jewels on Gṛdhrakūṭa, the king of mountains, and in its entire environs. Then, in an instant, he returned to the home of the youth Candraprabha.
Once he was back there, in his mind he paid homage to the Bhagavān, and in his mind circumambulated him three times. He then sat on his seat.
It was said:
Then the Bhagavān taught the Dharma to the great assembly that was like an ocean. He inspired them, he filled them with joy, and he guided them. Then he rose from his seat and departed. And with the miraculous power of a buddha he emerged through Rājagṛha’s gate of the hot springs and proceeded toward Gṛdhrakūṭa, the king of mountains. When he arrived he went to the site created by Maitreya, and having arrived there he sat upon the great lion throne that Maitreya had manifested.642
He was encircled by the assembly of bhikṣus, and the saṅgha of bodhisattvas gazed upon him from the front. The devas, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, rishis, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, and nonhumans paid homage to him. Within the ocean-like assembly, he taught the Dharma.
Then the youth Candraprabha arrived together with a hundred thousand quintillion beings, and many millions of bodhisattva mahāsattvas who had come from other worlds. They were holding flowers, incense, and garlands; playing musical instruments and percussion; holding parasols, banners, and divine flags; and holding great garlands as offerings.
In order to make this offering to the Bhagavān they left the great city of Rājagṛha through the gateway of peace,643 and went to Gṛdhrakūṭa, to the Bhagavān. They bowed down their heads to the Bhagavān’s feet, circumambulated him three times, made a great offering to him of flowers, incense, perfume, garlands, ointments, powders, clothes, food, parasols, banners, and flags, playing music and percussion, and then they sat down in one place. In order to ask about the Dharma they sat in that place with veneration and with respect while the youth Candraprabha, kneeling on his right knee, [F.55.b] with palms placed together, bowed toward the Bhagavān644 and said to him, “If the Bhagavān will give me an opportunity to seek answers to them, I have a few questions for the Bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened Buddha.”
The Bhagavān addressed the youth Candraprabha, saying, “Young man, the Bhagavān will always give you the opportunity. Ask whatever question you wish to the Tathāgata, the arhat, the perfectly enlightened Buddha.”
The Bhagavān having given him this opportunity, the young man Candraprabha asked, “Bhagavān, it is through possessing what qualities that bodhisattva mahāsattvas attain the samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena?”
The Bhagavān replied to Candraprabha, “Young man, if bodhisattva mahāsattvas possess four qualities, they will attain the samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena.
“What are those four qualities? Young man, one is that bodhisattva mahāsattvas are calm, and pleasant company. They have self-restraint, and have attained a level of self-restraint such that when others abuse them or insult them, they will be patient with the abuse and the insults that are spoken, for it is their nature to have endurance; they have the view of karma, have overcome pride, and their desire is for the Dharma. Young man, if bodhisattva mahāsattvas have this first quality, they will attain this samādhi.645
“Another, young man, is that bodhisattva mahāsattvas have correct conduct. They have pure conduct, conduct that is not impaired, conduct that is free of faults, conduct that is unshakable, conduct that is unstained, conduct that has not declined, conduct that is unattached, [F.56.a] conduct that is inviolate, conduct that is beyond conceptualization, conduct that is praised by the āryas, and conduct that is praised by the wise. Young man, if bodhisattva mahāsattvas have these two qualities, they will attain this samādhi.646
“Another, young man, is that bodhisattva mahāsattvas are frightened of the three realms. They are terrified of them, saddened by them,647 do not value them, take no delight in them,648 and have no attachment or clinging to them.649 Because they are distressed by the three realms they are dedicated to the thought, ‘I shall deliver other beings from their suffering, to somewhere other than the three realms!’ and they thus proceed to the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood. Young man, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have these three qualities will attain this samādhi.650
“Moreover, young man, bodhisattva mahāsattvas have faith.651 They insatiably seek the Dharma. They listen to many teachings. They have confidence. They long for the Dharma. They are devoted to the Dharma. They are not devoted to obtaining material gain or honors. They are not devoted to attaining success through knowledge. They think first of what will benefit others, and they teach and explain extensively to others the Dharma that they have received. They have no desire for material gain through their reputation. They think, ‘If these beings can hear this Dharma then they will proceed irreversibly to the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood.’652 Young man, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have these four qualities will attain this samādhi.
“Young man, bodhisattva mahāsattvas who have these four qualities will attain the samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena, and they will quickly attain the highest, complete enlightenment of perfect buddhahood.
“Young man, the samādhi has been taught through this Dharma discourse by many buddhas, has been commended by many buddhas, [F.56.b] has been explained by many buddhas, and has been praised653 by many buddhas.
“Young man, I have entered homelessness in the presence of many buddha bhagavāns. I heard extensively from them this samādhi, the revealed equality of the nature of all phenomena. I obtained it, asked questions about it, preserved it, recited it to others, promoted it, meditated on it with unadulterated meditation, promulgated it,654 and made it widely known to others.”655
Thereupon the Bhagavān taught extensively in verse what he had previously said about the samādhi doorway taught by many buddhas.
Then the Bhagavān, through many verses, taught extensively to the youth Candraprabha the samādhi entranceway accomplished by many buddhas in the past.667
Conclusion of the seventeenth chapter, “The Entranceway to the Samādhi That Is Taught by Many Buddhas.”719
The Indian preceptor Śrīlendrabodhi, and the chief editor Lotsawa Bandé Dharmatāśīla, translated and revised this work. It was later modified and finalized in terms of the new translation.
|BHS||Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit.|
|Chinese||Sixth century Chinese translation by Narendrayaśas (see introduction, i.7).|
|Commentary||Mañjuśrīkīrti (see bibliography).|
|Gilgit||Sixth to seventh century Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Hodgson||Later Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Matsunami||Matsunami’s Sanskrit edition (see bibliography).|
|Shastri||Later Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript (see introduction i.9 and bibliography under Dutt).|
|Vaidya||Vaidya’s Sanskrit edition (see bibliography).|
Tibetan Editions of the Samādhirājasūtra
chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid rnam spros pa ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po’i mdo (Sarvadharmasvabhāvasamatāvipañcitasamādhirājasūtra). Toh 127, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 1.a–175.b.
———. 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. 55, pp. 3–411.
———. Lhasa Kangyur (lha sa bka’ ’gyur) vol. 55 (mdo sde, ta), folios 1.b–269.b.
———. Narthang Kangyur (snar thang bka’ ’gyur) vol. 55 (mdo sde, ta), folios 1.b–273.b.
———. Shelkar Drima Kangyur (shel mkhar bris ma bka’ ’gyur) vol. 54 (mdo sde, ja), folios 157.a–436.a.
———. Stok Palace Kangyur (stog pho brang bris ma bka’ ’gyur) vol. 58 (mdo sde, ja), folios 145.a–405.a.
———. Urga Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), 1.b–170.a.
Sanskrit Editions of the Samādhirājasūtra
Dutt, Nalinaksha. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part I. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1941. [This Sanskrit edition in three volumes is based on the Gilgit manuscript but also includes and represents the two Nepalese manuscripts of Hodgson and Shastri, see Introduction i.9 and n.4.
———. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part II. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1953.
———. Gilgit Manuscripts Vol. II, part III. Calcutta: J. C. Sarkhel, 1954.
Matsunami, Seiren (ed.). “Bonbun Gattō Zanma kyō.”.in TDKK [Memoirs of Taisho University, Department of Buddhism and Literature] vol. 60 (1975), pp. 188–244.
———. “Bonbun Gattō Zanma kyō.” in TDKK [Memoirs of Taisho University, Department of Buddhism and Literature] vol. 61 (1975), 761–796.
Vaidya, P. L., ed. Samādhirājsūtra. Darbhanga, India: The Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, 1961.
Other canonical references
da ltar gyi sangs rgyas mngon sum du bzhugs pa’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Pratyutpanna-buddha-samukhāsthita-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra, The Samādhi of Being in the Presence of the Buddhas of the Present]. Toh 133, Degé Kangyur vol. 56 (mdo sde, na), folios 1.a–70.b.
dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po’i mdo (Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the White Lotus of the Good Dharma]. Toh 113, Degé Kangyur vol. 67 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1.a–180.b. English translation in Roberts 2018.
de bzhin gshegs pa’i ye shes kyi phyag rgya’i ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Tathāgata-jñāna-mudrā-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Samādhi of the Seal of the Wisdom of the Tathāgatas]. Toh 131, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 230.b–253.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020b.
dge ba’i rtsa ba yongs su ’dzin pa’i mdo (Kuśala-mūla-saparigraha-sūtra) [The Sūtra of Possessing the Roots of Goodness]. Toh 101, Degé Kangyur vol. 48 (mdo sde, nga), folios 1.a–227.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020c.
de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi sku gsung thugs kyi gsang chen gsang ba ’dus pa zhe bya ba brtag pa’i rgyal po chen po (Sarva-tathāgata-kāyavākcitta-rahasyo guhyasamāja-nāma-mahā-kalparāja) [The Great King Entitled the Union of the Great Secrets: the Secret of the Body, Speech, and Mind of all the Tathāgatas]. Also known as the Tathāgataguhyaka Sūtra [The Sūtra of the Secret of the Tathāgatas] and the Guhysamaja-tantra. Toh 442, Degé Kangyur vol. 81 (rgyud, ca), folios 90.a–157.b.
gser ’od dam pa mdo sde’i dbang po’i rgyal po’i mdo (Suvarṇa-prabhāsottama-sūtrendrarāja-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the King Who Is the Lord of Sūtras: The Supreme Golden Light]. Toh 556, Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud, pa), folios 151.b–273.a.
lang kar gshegs pa’i mdo (Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra) [Entry into Laṅka Sūtra]. Toh 107, Degé Kangyur vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 56.a–191.b.
sangs rgyas rjes su dran pa (Buddhānusmṛti) [Being Mindful of the Buddha]. Toh 279, Degé Kangyur vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 55.a-55.b.
rab tu zhi ba rnam par nges pa’i cho ’phrul gyi ting nge ’dzin gyi mdo (Praśanta-viniścaya-prāthihārya-samādhi-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Absorption of the Miraculous Ascertainment of Peace]. Toh 129, Degé Kangyur vol. 55 (mdo sde, da), folios 174.b–210.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020.
rgya cher rol pa’i mdo (Lalitavistara-sūtra) [The Play in Full]. Toh 95, Degé Kangyur vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2013.
sa bcu pa’i mdo (Daśabhūmika-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Ten Bhūmis]. Chapter 31 of the Avataṃsaka, Toh 44. Degé Kangyur vol. 36 (phal chen, kha), folios 166.a–283.a. English translation in Roberts 2021b.
sdong po bkod pa (Gaṇḍavyūha) [The Stem Array]. Chapter 45 of the Avataṃsaka, Toh 44-45. Degé Kangyur vols. 37 and 38 (phal chen, ga-a), folios ga 274.b–363.a. English Translation in Roberts 2021a.
shes rab pha rol tu phyin pa brgyad stong pa (Aṣṭa-sāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra) [The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines]. Toh 12, Degé Kangyur vol. 33 (brgyad stong pa, ka), folios 1.b–286.a.
’od dpag med kyi bkod pa’i mdo (Amitābhavyūhasūtra) [The Array of Amitābha]. Also known as The Longer Sukhāvatīsūtra. Toh 49, Degé Kangyur vol. 39 (dkon brtsegs, ka), folios 237.b-270.a.
’od zer kun du bkye pa’i bstan pa’i mdo (Raśmisamantamuktanirdeśasūtra) [The Teaching on the Effulgence of Light]. Toh 55, Degé Kangur vol. 40 (dkon brtsegs, kha), folios 195.a–255.b.
tshong dpon bzang skyong gyis zhus pa’i mdo (Bhadrapāla-śreṣṭhi-paripṛccha-sūtra) [The Sūtra of the Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant]. Toh 83, Degé Kangyur vol. 44 (dkon brtsegs, cha), folios 71.a–94.b.
yang dag par spyod pa’i tshul nam mkha’i mdog gis ’dul ba’i bzod pa’i mdo (Saṃyagacārya-vṛtta-gagana-varṇa-vinaya-kṣānti-sūtra) [The Sūtra on Patience with the Discipline Through Practicing in a Way that is Like The Colour of the Sky]. Toh 263, Degé Kangyur vol. 67 (mdo sde ’a), folios 90.a–209.b.
Candrakīrti. dbu ma la ’jug pa (Madhyamakāvatāra) [Entering the Middle Way]. Toh 3861, Degé Tengyur vol. 102 (dbu ma ’a), folios 201.b–219.a.
———. dbu ma rtsa ba’i ’grel pa tshig gsal ba (Mūlamadhyamakavṛttiprasannapadā) [Clear Words: A Commentary on the Root Middle Way]. Toh 3860, Degé Tengyur vol. 102 (dbu ma, ’a), folios 1.a–200.a.
Dārika. ’khor lo sdom pa’i dkyil ’khor gyi cho ga de kho na nyid la ’jug pa (Cakrasaṁvaramaṇḍalavidhitattvāvatāra) [Entering the Truth: A Maṇḍala Rite of Cakrasamvara]. Toh 1430, Degé Tengyur vol. 20 (rgyud ’grel, wa), folios 203.b–219.b.
Kamalaśīla. sgom pa’i rim pa (Bhāvanākrama) [Stages of Meditation]. Toh 3915, 3916, and 3917, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 22.a–41.b, 41.a–55.b, and 55.b–68.b.
Mañjuśrīkīrti. ’phags pa chos thams cad kyi rang bzhin mnyam pa nyid rnam spros pa ting nge ’dzin gyi rgyal po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo’i ’grel pa grags pa’i phreng ba zhes bya ba (Ārya-sarva-dharma-svabhāva-samatā-vipañcita-samādhi-rāja-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra-ṭika-kīrti-mālā-nāma) [The Garland of Fame: A Commentary on The Mahāyāna Sūtra Entitled The King of Samādhis: The Revealed Equality of the Nature of All Phenomena]. Toh 4010, Degé Tengyur vol. 117 (mdo ’grel, nyi), folios 1.b–163.b.
———. Idem, in bstan ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Tengyur], 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). 120 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 1994–2008, vol. 117 (mdo ’grel, nyi), 752–1181.
Prajñākaramati. byang chub kyi spyod pa la ’jug pa’i dka’ ’grel (Bodhisattvacaryāvatārapañjikā) [Commentary on Difficult Points in Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas]. Toh 3872, Degé Tengyur vol. 105 (dbu ma, la), folios 41.b–288.a.
Śāntideva. byang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ’jug pa (Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra) [Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas]. Toh 3871, Degé Tengyur vol. 105 (dbu ma, la), folios 1.a–40.a.
———. bslab pa kun las btus pa (Śikṣasamuccaya) [Compendium of Training]. Toh 3939, Degé Tengyur vol. 111 (dbu ma, khi), folios 3.a–194.b.
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———, trans. (2020a). The Absorption of the Miraculous Ascertainment of Peace (Praśāntaviniścayaprātihāryasamādhi, Toh 129). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
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