The Questions of Sāgaramati
Chapter Ten: A Tale of What Came Before
Toh 152, Degé Kangyur, vol. 58, (mdo sde, pha), folios 1.b–115.b.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
Heralded by a miraculous flood, the celestial bodhisattva Sāgaramati arrives in Rājagṛha to engage in a Dharma discussion with Buddha Śākyamuni. He discusses an absorption called “The Pristine and Immaculate Seal” and many other subjects relevant to bodhisattvas who are in the process of developing the mind of awakening and practicing the bodhisattva path. The sūtra strongly advises that bodhisattvas not shy away from the afflictive emotions of beings—no matter how unpleasant they may be—and that insight into these emotions is critical for a bodhisattva’s compassionate activity. The sūtra deals with the preeminence of wisdom and non-grasping on the path. In the end, as a teaching on how to deal with māras, the sūtra illuminates the many pitfalls possible on the path of the Great Vehicle.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. The translation was produced by Timothy Hinkle, who also wrote the introduction. Andreas Doctor checked the translation against the Tibetan and edited the text.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Zhou Tian Yu, Chen Yi Qin, Zhou Xun, and Zhao Xuan, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Then the bodhisattva Sāgaramati said to the Blessed One, “Blessed One, even though bodhisattvas guard against confusion to this extent, they must work hard to be free from confusion. Blessed One, for that reason bodhisattvas are continuously skilled in dedication and skilled in means. Why is this? Blessed One, through skillful means, when bodhisattvas practice concentration, freedom, absorption, and equipoise, they are not disturbed by the concentration, freedom, absorption, and equipoise. Through skill in means, they demonstrate all these deeds but do not fall prey to doing things. [F.84.b] They sustain the sameness of phenomena and teach the Dharma in order to bring beings who have gone astray to the fixed state of reality. Until they complete their intention, they do not themselves fall into that state.”
The Blessed One responded to bodhisattva Sāgaramati, “That is how it is, Sāgaramati. You have described it accurately. Bodhisattvas must desire to be completely skilled in means. Why is this? Sāgaramati, awakening is possible for bodhisattvas who are skilled in means but not for those who are not.
“Sāgaramati, to draw an analogy, imagine that a single container is used to dye three pieces of cloth three different colors (blue, red, and golden yellow). One full measure of cloth is dyed blue, one half measure of cloth is dyed red, and one piece of exquisite and priceless cloth is dyed golden yellow. As they are put into the container and worked over, the cloth will assume the color of the dye that is applied. The cloth that is dyed blue becomes blue, the one that is dyed red becomes red, and the piece that is dyed golden yellow becomes golden yellow. However, the container entertains no concepts about this whatsoever.
“Similarly, Sāgaramati, one could insert three types of people in the container of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness: a person of the hearer vehicle, a person of the solitary buddha vehicle, and someone who has entered the Great Vehicle. The ‘color’ of wisdom will then adhere to them according to the ‘color’ of their intentions and minds; yet the container of emptiness, signlessness, [F.85.a] and wishlessness entertains no concepts about this whatsoever. In this regard, the full measure of cloth represents the person of the hearer vehicle, the half measure of cloth represents the person of the solitary buddha vehicle, and the piece of exquisite and priceless cloth represents the person who has entered the Great Vehicle.
“Sāgaramati,26 look how phenomena, being without an essence, a creator, a self, a being, a life force, a person, or an owner, may therefore be deployed as whatever might be wished for, yet their being so deployed does not involve intention or deliberation. Sāgaramati, bodhisattvas who are sure about phenomena being deployed in that way27 do not become weary with any phenomenon. In this manner their wisdom vision is entirely purified, and so there is nothing that can either benefit or harm them. Knowing thus the nature of phenomena as it really is, they will not abandon the armor of great compassion.
“Sāgaramati, to draw an analogy, imagine that a priceless, refined, pure, and immaculate beryl stone is cast into the mud and remains there for a thousand years. If after a thousand years it is removed from the mud and washed, cleansed, and wiped down, its pure and immaculate nature will not have been lost. Sāgaramati, likewise, while bodhisattvas know that the nature of all beings’ minds are luminosity, they can see that they are disturbed by adventitious afflictions. Bodhisattvas will think, ‘These afflictions do not affect the luminosity that is the nature of beings’ minds. The afflictions are not themselves genuine; they merely arise from conceptual superimpositions. I will develop the capacity to teach the Dharma so that I may eliminate these adventitious afflictions of beings!’ [F.85.b] They cannot be discouraged from this attitude and, much further than that, they develop the mind that seeks to free all beings. They will also think, ‘The afflictions do not even have much power or strength. The afflictions are weak and feeble. These afflictions that do not have even the slightest truth are false conceptual superimpositions. They cannot disturb as long as one investigates them with accurate mental engagement. So, I must by all means avoid associating with them. I will investigate them in this manner. Dissociating from the afflictions is excellent. Associating with them is not. If I associate with the afflictions, how could I teach the Dharma in order to eliminate the afflictions of beings who are bound by them? I will dissociate from the afflictions so that I can teach the Dharma to beings such that they may eliminate the afflictions that bind them. In order to ripen beings I will associate with those afflictions that are connected with roots of virtue regarding the continuation of saṃsāra.’28
“What afflictions are connected with roots of virtue yet perpetuate saṃsāra?29 They are: being insatiable in the pursuit of roots of virtue, being willing to take rebirth in existence voluntarily, aspiring to encounter buddhas, not getting discouraged about ripening beings, being diligent about upholding the sublime Dharma, enthusiasm about considering beings’ actions, not discarding one’s tendency to yearn for the Dharma, and not discarding the trainings in the perfections. Sāgaramati, even if bodhisattvas [F.86.a] associate with these afflictions that are connected with roots of virtue, they are not marred by any faults of the afflictions.”
“Sāgaramati,” responded the Blessed One, “these afflictions associate a bodhisattva with the three realms. However, although the three realms arise from the afflictions, a bodhisattva who is skilled in means and has developed roots of virtue can voluntarily associate with the three realms. Therefore, it is because they cause association with the three realms that they are called the afflictions that are connected with roots of virtue; it is not because they afflict the mind.
“Sāgaramati, to draw an analogy, imagine that a merchant or a householder has a single son—a beloved, esteemed, pleasing, and agreeable son. Given that he is a child, while he is prancing about he might fall into a pit full of filth. When the child’s mother, friends, and relatives find him having fallen into the pit full of filth, they will scream and lament and cry out, yet they cannot rescue him from that pit. Then, the boy’s father arrives and sees his son in the pit full of filth. He would immediately feel deep love and care, and without blaming the boy, he would swiftly and without delay plunge into that pit full of filth to free his only son. Sāgaramati, I am relating this analogy just so that the point it illustrates can be understood, so what are the meanings to be seen in it? Sāgaramati, the pit full of filth represents the three realms. The only son represents all beings, whom bodhisattvas regard as their only child. The mother, friends, and relatives [F.86.b] represent people on the vehicles of the hearers and solitary buddhas. When they see that beings fall into saṃsāra, they cry out and lament, but they cannot free them. The merchant or householder represents bodhisattvas, whose minds are pure, immaculate, and stainless. They intentionally take birth in the three realms in order to ripen beings even though they directly experience the unconditioned Dharma. Sāgaramati, this is the great compassion of the bodhisattvas: even though they themselves are absolutely free from the bonds of the afflictions, they elect to be reborn in existence through their skill in means. Because they master insight, they are not harmed by their own afflictions and they teach the Dharma to beings in order to eliminate all binds of the afflictions.”30
“Blessed One, bodhisattvas have stainless and immaculate minds,” remarked the bodhisattva Sāgaramati. “Even though they accurately realize profound phenomena without denigrating saṃsāra, it must be challenging to avoid attaining the fruition and falling into the unconditioned.”
“Sāgaramati,” replied the Blessed One, “in this regard, the two aspects of the path of the bodhisattvas are the perfection of insight and skill in means. When bodhisattvas have a pure, immaculate, and stainless mind, Sāgaramati, they have the perfection of insight. Sāgaramati, when bodhisattvas do not blame saṃsāra and elect to take rebirth in order to ripen beings, they have skill in means. Additionally, Sāgaramati, when bodhisattvas realize that all conditioned phenomena are emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness, unconditioned, [F.87.a] unborn, and non-arising, they have the perfection of insight. When their minds are moved by great compassion, such that they avoid attaining the fruition and falling into the unconditioned, they have skill in means.
“Moreover, Sāgaramati, when bodhisattvas, not seeing, because of the sameness of the three times, any phenomena whatsoever to differentiate, enter sameness by entering the realm of phenomena—that sameness of the realm of phenomena being the same as the realm of beings, that sameness of the realm of beings being the same as the realm of nirvāṇa, and that sameness of the realm of nirvāṇa being the same as the realm of phenomena—that is their perfection of insight. When they do not manifest the realm of nirvāṇa despite knowing it to be one with the realm of beings, and when they look to the realm of beings yet do not lose sight of the realm of phenomena, that is their skill in means.
“Moreover, noble son, pure generosity is insight, and pure dedication is means. Pure discipline, patience, diligence, and concentration are insight, and their dedication is means. Basically, all their roots of virtue are insight, and dedication is means.”
“Sāgaramati,” answered the Blessed One, “pure roots of virtue are roots of virtue that are gathered free from viewing in terms of a self, a being, a life principle, an individual, a human, or a person. Pure dedication is dedicating roots of virtue to awakening while experiencing emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness. [F.87.b] Pure insight is the wisdom that knows the faculties of beings, whether supreme or otherwise. Pure means is skill in teaching Dharma to beings according to what is appropriate for them individually.
“Moreover, Sāgaramati, pure roots of virtue are those roots of virtue that are gathered without being based in any birth that perpetuates existence. Pure dedication is to pursue all vehicles while being free from the mental engagement of hearers and solitary buddhas, and dedicate the roots of virtue to the Great Vehicle. Pure insight is to defeat the afflictions that manifest due to habitual tendencies. Pure means is to ripen beings and encourage them to uphold the Great Vehicle by showing a good example.
“Moreover, pure roots of virtue are like inexhaustible resources and jewels in one’s hand. Pure dedication is to remember and embrace the roots of virtue of all beings, practitioners, non-practitioners, solitary buddhas, bodhisattvas, and buddhas through dedication. Pure insight is to remember and retain that which is taught by the buddhas by sealing it with recollection. Pure means is to satisfy all beings with excellent speech consisting of unceasing eloquence, unobstructed eloquence, and meaningful Dharma teachings.
“Moreover, Sāgaramati, pure roots of virtue consist of not forgetting the mind of awakening throughout all one’s lifetimes. Pure dedication is dedicating all one’s roots of virtue, gathered without forgetting the mind of awakening, to omniscience. [F.88.a] Pure insight is knowing groundless roots of virtue as the mind of awakening. Pure means is causing others to uphold the sameness of the mind of awakening in order to make others understand it.”
Then, the bodhisattva Sāgaramati said to the Blessed One, “If I were to explain what I understood of what the Blessed One just expressed, then, Blessed One, I think that the awakening of those bodhisattvas who have pure skill in means and pure perfection of insight is comprehensive. Blessed One, for them there are no phenomena that are not awakening. Why is this? Blessed One, realizing all phenomena as sameness is awakening. Blessed One, for this reason bodhisattvas do not conceive of awakening as being something distant. Awakening is the accurate understanding of any phenomenon that appears among the six sense objects. Blessed One, bodhisattvas who confident in this way will attain pure skill in means and pure perfection of insight.”
Then the Blessed One expressed his approval of Sāgaramati: “Excellent, Sāgaramati, excellent. It is like that. You have described it accurately. Awakening is the accurate understanding of any phenomenon that appears among the six sense objects to bodhisattvas who have pure skill in means and pure perfection of insight. Sāgaramati, that is how you should understand this teaching.
“Sāgaramati, countless, limitless, unfathomable, innumerable eons ago there was an eon called Star-Color. At that time, in a world called Emanation, the blessed buddha Infinite Light appeared. He was a thus-gone, worthy, perfect buddha, [F.88.b] someone learned and virtuous, a blissful one, a knower of the world, a charioteer who guides beings, an unsurpassed being, and a teacher of gods and humans. Why was he called Infinite Light? Before that blessed one attained omniscience and was still a bodhisattva, he sat at the seat of awakening and light issued forth from his body. The light illuminated immeasurable, countless, and incalculable buddha realms throughout the ten directions with a brilliant glow. All the bodhisattvas who are irreversibly destined for awakening, as well as the bodhisattvas in their last lives, in those buddha realms beheld the bodhisattva seated at the seat of awakening and threw flowers in his direction. Through the power of the buddhas, when they threw those flowers, they landed on the bodhisattva’s body. The flowers formed a single pile of flowers the height of seven men in the world Emanation. The gods renowned for their power and the bodhisattvas in that world saw the light. Upon seeing this pure light, they exclaimed, ‘He will become the Thus-Gone Infinite Light!’ Thus this thus-gone one’s name became known as Infinite Light.
“Why was the world called Emanation? The wealth and enjoyments possessed by the people in this world were like those of the gods in the Heaven of Making Use of Others’ Emanations. Thus this world was called Emanation.
“Why was the eon called Star-Color? [F.89.a] Ten thousand eons earlier, Sāgaramati, a thus-gone one called Lover of the Stars had appeared. Since the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light attained awakening following that thus-gone one, the eon was called Star-Color after his name. Sāgaramati, one hundred forty million thus-gone ones appeared in that eon.
“Sāgaramati, the world called Emanation was well-off, peaceful, had abundant harvests, was filled with gods and humans, was vast and open, and consisted of 960 trillion continents, each of which measured 8,400,000 leagues. In each of these continents that measured 8,400,000 leagues were eighty-four thousand cities. Eighty-four thousand villages, markets, and outlying settlements surrounded each city. In each city were ten trillion people. In each village, market, and outlying settlement were eighty million people. There is of course no need to mention that they were powerful people. The world was formed of gold, silver, crystal, beryl, and four types of jewels. Food, drink, clothing, jewelry, and enjoyments were available at one’s wish. The gods and humans were free from grasping and had no thoughts of personal possession. The lifespan of the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light was ten intermediate eons. There were 300 trillion hearers in his great saṅgha of hearers. There were one billion and two hundred million bodhisattvas in his great assembly of bodhisattvas. [F.89.b] The birthplace of the Blessed One was the royal palace known as Pure City. Having left the palace, the Blessed One now lived in the city called Source of Happiness.
“At that time, Sāgaramati, there was a universal monarch named Pure Domain in that city, who ruled over the worlds of the trichiliocosm and controlled the seven precious possessions. His seven precious possessions were: the precious wheel, the precious elephant, the precious horse, the precious queen, the precious jewel, the precious steward, and the precious minister. King Pure Domain had set forth toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening. He was without aggression toward any being because of the abundance of his altruism. There were forty million women in King Pure Domain’s assembly of queens. Every single one of them had an excellent body; was gorgeous, beautiful, and looked like a goddess; and had also set forth toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening. The king had one thousand sons, each of whom was brave and courageous, had a fine body with excellent features, was capable of defeating his adversaries, had the strength of Nārāyaṇa, was adorned with the twenty-eight marks of a great individual, and had set forth toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening. He had eight hundred thousand daughters, each of whom had an excellent body; was gorgeous, beautiful, and looked like a goddess; and had set forth toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening.
“Sāgaramati, King Pure Domain invited the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light and his assemblies by offering clothing, food, bedding, healing medicine, and provisions to last for two intermediate eons. The offerings were of virtuous origin, fit for mendicants, and pleasing. [F.90.a] As an act of veneration of the Blessed One, the king prepared a courtyard, which was vast and open, measured five hundred thousand leagues square, had a patio that was made of precious jewels and set with beryl, and was surrounded with a perimeter fence made of the seven precious substances. He prepared arrangements of red sandalwood and uraga sandalwood. It was beautiful and like a celestial palace. He also built millions of homes for the use of the monastic saṅgha. Sāgaramati, in this manner King Pure Domain was fully committed to pure conduct with no exceptions. He upheld the five trainings. He and his queens, children, and servants served the Blessed One for two intermediate eons.
“At that point he approached the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light. He bowed to the Blessed One’s feet, circumambulated him seven times, and sat off to one side. King Pure Domain then asked the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light, ‘Blessed One, how do bodhisattvas come to be free of others’ influence regarding the Great Vehicle? Blessed One, how are bodhisattvas unique such that they do not get attached? Blessed One, how are the minds of bodhisattvas unmoving, unchanging, and stable? Blessed One, how are the means and insight of bodhisattvas pure? [F.90.b] Blessed One, how do bodhisattvas take the long-term perspective without losing their roots? Blessed One, how do bodhisattvas enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance? Blessed One, how are bodhisattvas not afraid of the meaning of the profound Dharma? Blessed One, how are bodhisattvas called true bodhisattvas?’
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they come to be free of others’ influence regarding the Great Vehicle. What are these four? (1) A transcendent and noble faith that is born from trust; (2) persistence in ripening beings through a blazing, unswerving diligence; (3) sporting in clairvoyant wisdom through a highly analytical mind; and (4) realizing all phenomena through insight replete with discriminating cognition. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, they come to be free of others’ influence regarding the Great Vehicle.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they will be distinguished such that they do not get attached. What are these four? (1) Skill in leaving the states of concentration through mental pliancy; (2) being unattached to their own happiness through giving happiness to others; (3) maintaining great compassion and great love; and (4) aspiring to the vast by wishing to continuously excel. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, [F.91.a] they will be distinguished such that they do not get attached.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, their minds will be unmoving, unchanging, and stable. What are these four? (1) A mind free from hypocrisy or pretense, (2) actions based on a pure mind, (3) altruism that manifests in unswerving endeavor, and (4) practicing without ever losing that altruism. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, their minds will be unmoving, unchanging, and stable.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, their means and insight are pure. What are these four? (1) Ripening beings with the four means of attraction while seeing all beings to be without a self; (2) teaching beings the sublime Dharma and upholding it using letters and words, while knowing the inexpressibility of all phenomena; (3) having an unrelenting diligence in order to achieve the major and minor marks of perfection while trusting that all buddhas consist of the Dharma body; and (4) applying continuous effort to purify buddha realms while realizing that all buddha realms have the essence of space. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, their means and insight are pure.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they take the long-term perspective without losing their roots. What are they? (1) Not giving up the mind of awakening while keeping sight of the seat of awakening; (2) never letting their minds become discouraged while keeping sight of the wisdom of buddhahood; [F.91.b] (3) being tireless in teaching the Dharma according to how they heard it, while keeping sight of the turning of the wheel of Dharma; and (4) not disparaging life, death, or rebirth while keeping sight of the great parinirvāṇa. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, they take the long-term perspective without losing their roots.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance. What are these four? (1) They enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance by realizing conditioned things to be impermanent, while acting as a universal monarch to ripen human beings; (2) they enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance by realizing conditioned things to be dissatisfying, while taking the role of Śakra, lord of the gods, to ripen gods; (3) they enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance by realizing phenomena to be without a self, while displaying themselves as Māra in order to ripen gods of the class of the māras; and (4) they enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance by realizing nirvāṇa to be peace, while receiving coronation as Brahmā in order to ripen gods of the brahmā classes. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, they enjoy sense objects without losing their vigilance.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they need not be afraid of the meaning of the profound Dharma. What are these four? (1) Always following the teaching of the profound awakening of buddhahood without disregarding authentic spiritual teachers, (2) being willing to walk a hundred leagues to hear these profound sūtras, (3) properly examining the meaning of the Dharma teachings that they have heard, and (4) relying on the meaning rather than on the words. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, [F.92.a] they need not be afraid of the meaning of the profound Dharma.
“ ‘Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have four qualities, they are called true bodhisattvas. What are these four? (1) Diligence that strives in the pursuit of the perfections, (2) great compassion that strives to ripen all beings, (3) being humbled by the power of striving to perfect all buddha qualities, and (4) gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom without tiring in their embrace of limitless saṃsāra. Great King, if bodhisattva great beings have these four qualities, they are called true bodhisattvas.’
“Sāgaramati, when the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light gave this teaching on the fourfold achievements, eight hundred billion beings developed the mind directed toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening, and the minds of eighty million monks were liberated from defilement with no further grasping. The princes, princesses, and queens developed the lesser acceptance of phenomena concurring with reality. The great king Pure Domain himself developed the sharper acceptance of phenomena concurring with reality. The king was satisfied, happy, delighted, and joyful. With such joy and happiness, he offered the entirety of his dominion to the Blessed One for his use. [B9]
“Then, Sāgaramati, the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light commanded King Pure Domain, ‘Great King, given that you have now offered your entire dominion to the Thus-Gone One for his use, [F.92.b] you should leave your home and faithfully go forth in the well-spoken Dharma-Vinaya. Why so? Great King, going forth in the well-spoken Dharma-Vinaya is more meaningful and beneficial. Great King, there are twenty great achievements of bodhisattvas who have gone forth that perfect the unsurpassed attainment of omniscience. What are they? (1) The achievement of giving up one’s dominion, wealth, servants, and power so that they are not thought of as “mine” or grasped for. (2) The achievement of escaping the afflictions due to the leaving the household life. (3) The achievement of a limpid mind through donning the saffron robes. (4) The achievement of being easily satisfied and having few requirements out of the contentment of belonging to the noble lineage. (5) The achievement of abandoning great desire, and desire for evil deeds, due to taking up the ascetic practices and a having few possessions. (6) The achievement of rebirth as a human or god due to maintaining pure discipline. (7) The achievement of the six perfections due to not giving up the mind of awakening. (8) The achievement of independence from distractions due to living in remote wilderness. (9) The achievement of the happiness of a religious mind that comes from doing no harm. (10) The achievement of mental pliancy that comes from accomplishing the branches of concentration. (11) The achievement of great insight through the pursuit of learning. (12) The achievement of great wisdom due to giving up pride. (13) The achievement of discriminating among phenomena due to having few aims and activities. (14) The achievement of great love due to having an unbiased mind toward all beings. (15) The achievement of great compassion due to the intention to free all beings. (16) The achievement of upholding the sublime Dharma without regard for one’s life and limb. (17) The achievement of great super-knowledge by thoroughly training the mind. (18) The achievement of seeing the buddhas through the recollection of the buddhas. (19) The achievement of the acceptance that phenomena are unborn due to accurately discerning phenomena. [F.93.a] (20) The achievement of swift omniscience due to the conduct that upholds all qualities. Great King, these twenty achievements are not difficult to gain for bodhisattvas among the ordained. Great King, for these reasons you should go forth into the well-spoken Dharma-Vinaya.’
“Then, Sāgaramati, as the Blessed One had caused King Pure Domain go forth, the king abandoned his dominion and the glories of his domain. He turned his mind from the household life, shaved his head and facial hair, and donned the saffron-colored robes. Leaving his home, he faithfully went forth in the teachings of that blessed one. Seeing that he had done so, his queens, princes, and princesses also went forth. Seeing that he had done so, ninety-nine trillion beings who lived in the king’s land also went forth. Once they all had gone forth, they applied great effort in diligently pursuing virtuous qualities.
“Sāgaramati, consider what a credit to that blessed one’s teachings these beings were as they became firmly grounded in the pursuit of merit. After the great king Pure Domain went forth, Sāgaramati, he went before the blessed thus-gone Infinite Light and requested of him, ‘Blessed One, please grant me an instruction and a teaching that will be meaningful and applicable as I go to collect alms in the countryside.’ [F.93.b] The Blessed One answered the monk Pure Domain, ‘Monk, your name is Pure Domain. You should go forth and seek to purify your domain. Realize your domain correctly. By all means, out of the six sense objects, you must completely master any phenomenon that appears to you, exactly as it is. By doing so you will see awakening. You must understand it in this way. Do not conceive of awakening as something far away or as something nearby.’
“Sāgaramati, with this practical instruction given by that blessed one to the monk Pure Domain, he diligently went into solitude and with awareness and carefulness correctly understood his domain. What was his correct discrimination?
“The domain of the eye is the domain of emptiness. The domain of emptiness is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of emptiness are the domain of buddhahood. The domain of the ear is the domain of emptiness. The domain of emptiness is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of emptiness are the domain of buddhahood. Similarly, the domains of the nose, tongue, body, and mind are the domain of emptiness. The domain of emptiness is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of emptiness are the domain of buddhahood. The domain of the eye is the domain of signlessness. The domain of signlessness is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of signlessness are the domain of buddhahood. The domains of the sense faculties up to and including the mind are the domain of signlessness. The domain of signlessness is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of signlessness are the domain of buddhahood. [F.94.a] Likewise, the domain of the eye is the domain of wishlessness, the unconditioned, the unborn, and non-arising. The domain of nonarising is the domain of all beings. The domain of all beings and the domain of non-arising are the domain of buddhahood. The same should be applied to the domains up to and including that of the mind.
“By understanding his domains in this way, Sāgaramati, the monk Pure Domain achieved physical and mental pliancy. Thus he cultivated the bases of miracles concerning motivation, diligence, conscientiousness, and analysis, and before long he developed the five super-knowledges. Through such careful conduct, he attained the dhāraṇī called ‘amassing the meaning and all manifest words.’ Sāgaramati, if you are wondering, doubting, or of two minds about whether he, who was then the monk called Pure Domain, who renounced the wealth and dominion of a universal monarch and went forth in the teachings of the Blessed One, is somebody unknown to you, do not think any further. Why so? Because, Sāgaramati, you were at that time the monk Pure Domain! Sāgaramati, if you are thinking that the many trillions of beings who followed him into going forth might be someone else, think no further. They are these bodhisattvas who have followed you to hear the Dharma.”
After the Blessed One had told this tale from the past, eighty million beings developed the mind directed toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening, and eight thousand bodhisattvas attained the acceptance that phenomena are unborn.
This was translated, proofed, and finalized according to the new terminological register by the Indian preceptors Jinamitra, Dānaśīla, and Buddhaprabhā, as well as the editor-translator Bandé Yeshé Dé.
’phags pa blo gros rgya mtshos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo. Toh 152, Degé Kangyur vol. 58 (mdo sde, pha), folios 1.b–115.b.
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