The Great Cloud (1)
Degé Kangyur, vol. 64 (mdo sde, wa), folios 113.a–214.b
Translated by the Mahamegha Translation Team
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2022
Current version v 1.1.11 (2023)
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The Great Cloud features a long dialogue between the Buddha Śākyamuni and a bodhisattva named Great Cloud Essence, who are periodically joined by various additional interlocutors from the vast audience of human and divine beings who have assembled to hear the Buddha’s teaching. The topics of their conversation are diverse and wide-ranging, but a central theme is the vast conduct of bodhisattvas, which is illustrated through the enumeration of the various meditative states and liberative techniques that bodhisattvas must master in order to minister to all sentient beings. This is followed by a conversation with the brahmin Kauṇḍinya concerning the Buddha’s cousin Devadatta, who is revealed to be a bodhisattva displaying the highest level of skillful means. Kauṇḍinya then inquires about the possibility of obtaining a relic from the Buddha, and another member of the audience responds with an explanation of how truly rare it is for a buddha relic to appear within the world. Finally, the discourse ends with the Buddha delivering a series of detailed prophecies describing the principal interlocutor’s future attainment of buddhahood, and he further explains the benefits and powers that can be obtained through the practice of this sūtra itself.
This translation was produced by Joshua Capitanio for the Mahamegha Translation Team. The translator is grateful to Christopher Jones (University of Cambridge) and Susan Roach for offering several helpful suggestions.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The translation of this text has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of an anonymous donor, who would like to dedicate it in memory of Lin, Zai-He and Lin Lee, Wan-Zhi.
Great Cloud Essence then said, “In order to tame the minds of unawakened and foolish sentient beings, I beseech you to shine the subtle light rays of the lamp of understanding the concealed intent of the Bhagavān Tathāgata’s speech upon all those who have entered great darkness.”
The Bhagavān replied, “Great Cloud Essence, you must broadly ignite the twenty-three liberation gateways of the continuous flow of skillful methods of Dharma for those who are ignorant of how to enter into the fundamental divisions of the concealed intent of the Tathāgata’s speech.
“Great Cloud Essence, within this Great Cloud discourse there is the liberation gateway of the continuous flow of skillful methods of Dharma for those who are ignorant of how to enter the fundamental divisions of the concealed intent of the Tathāgata’s speech. It is called having no grasping at ‘I’ and ‘mine’ amid the grasping for ‘I’ and ‘mine.’ There is the liberation gateway called having no fear amid involvements in dangerous or mundane ways of being. There is the liberation gateway called freedom from desire amid involvement in desires. There is the liberation gateway called having no faults in the midst of faults and egregious faults. There is the liberation gateway called having no delusion in the midst of delusion and acute delusion. There is the liberation gateway called freedom from desire in the midst of desire and acute desire. There is the liberation gateway called having no attachment in the midst of attachment and acute attachment. There is the liberation gateway called having no clinging while in the midst of clinging and acute clinging. There is the liberation gateway called having no defilement in the midst of defilement and acute defilement. There is the liberation gateway called fully illuminated in the midst of darkness and acute darkness. There is the liberation gateway called being very sharp in the midst of dullness and acute dullness. There is the liberation gateway called having great love in the midst of cutting and dividing.
“There is the liberation gateway called possessing kindness and so forth in the midst of abusiveness or heinous conduct. There is the liberation gateway called praising generosity amid condemning or strongly condemning generosity. There is the liberation gateway called not being slanderous amid slander or egregious slander. There is the liberation gateway called purifying karma amid constant self-praise and disparagement of others. There is the liberation gateway called having no attachment in the midst of attachment or acute attachment. There is the liberation gateway called not lacking balance in the midst of what is unbalanced or acutely unbalanced. [F.160.a] There is the liberation gateway called being satisfied amid dissatisfaction and unhappiness. There is the liberation gateway called not being vacuous amid vacuousness and acute vacuousness. There is the liberation gateway called consummate permanence amid impermanence and acute impermanence. There is the liberation gateway called consummate selfhood amid the absence of self. And there is the liberation gateway called consummate happiness amid unhappiness and acute unhappiness. These twenty-three are the liberation gateways of the continuous flow of skillful methods of Dharma for those who are ignorant of how to enter the basic divisions of the concealed intent of the Tathāgata’s speech.”
At that time, a devaputra named Delight of All Beings set forth from the great assembly and, after having made divine offerings to the Bhagavān, uttered this verse:
This concludes the fourth chapter, on the topic of the concealed intent of the Tathāgata’s speech.
sprin chen po’i mdo (Mahāmeghasūtra). Toh 232, Degé Kangyur vol. 64 (mdo sde, wa), folios 113.a–214.b.
dri med grags pa’i bstan (Vimalakīrtinirdeśa). Toh 176, Degé Kangyur vol. 60 (mdo sde, ma), folios 175.a–239.a. English translation in Thurman 2017.
yongs su mya ngan las ’das pa chen po (Mahāparinirvāṇa). Toh 120, Degé Kangyur vol. 54 (mdo sde, tha), folios 1.b–151.b.
gser ’od dam pa mdo sde’i dbang po’i rgyal po (Suvarṇaprabhāsottamasūtrendrarāja). Toh 556, Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud, pa), folios 151.b–273.a; Toh 557, vol. 90 (rgyud, pha), folios 1.b–62.a.
Denkarma (pho brang stod thang ldan[/lhan] dkar gyi chos ’gyur ro cog gi dkar chag). Toh 4364, Degé Tengyur vol. 206 (sna tshogs, jo), folios 294.b–310.a.
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