The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines
- Daṃṣṭrasena (Diṣṭasena)?
- Yeshé Dé
Degé Tengyur, vol. 93 (sher phyin, pha), folios 1.b–292.b
Translated by Gareth Sparham
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Long Explanation of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand, Twenty-Five Thousand, and Eighteen Thousand Lines is a detailed explanation of the Long Perfection of Wisdom sūtras, presenting a structural framework for them that is relatively easy to understand in comparison to most other commentaries based on Maitreya-Asaṅga’s Ornament for the Clear Realizations. After a detailed, word-by-word explanation of the introductory chapter common to all three sūtras, it explains the structure they also all share in terms of the three approaches or “gateways”—brief, intermediate, and detailed—ending with an explanation of the passage known as the “Maitreya chapter” found only in the Eighteen Thousand Line and Twenty-Five Thousand Line sūtras. It goes by many different titles, and its authorship has never been conclusively determined, some Tibetans believing it to be by Vasubandhu, and others that it is by Daṃṣṭrāsena.
This commentary was translated by Gareth Sparham under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
I thank the late Gene Smith, who initially encouraged me to undertake this work, and I thank all of those at 84000—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the sponsors, and the scholars, translators, editors, and technicians—and all the other indispensable people whose work has made this translation possible.
I thank all the faculty and graduate students in the Group in Buddhist Studies at Berkeley, and Jan Nattier, whose seminars on the Perfection of Wisdom were particularly helpful. At an early stage, Paul Harrison and Ulrich Pagel arranged for me to see a copy of an unpublished Sanskrit manuscript of a sūtra cited in Bṭ3. I thank them for that assistance.
I also take this opportunity to thank the abbot of Drepung Gomang monastery, Losang Gyaltsen, and the retired director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Kalsang Damdul, for listening to some of my questions and giving learned and insightful responses.
Finally, I acknowledge the kindness of my mother, Ann Sparham, who recently passed away in her one hundredth year, and my wife Janet Seding.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous sponsorship of Kelvin Lee, Doris Lim, Chang Chen Hsien, Lim Cheng Cheng, Ng Ah Chon and family, Lee Hoi Lang and family, the late Lee Tiang Chuan, and the late Chang Koo Cheng. Their support has helped make the work on this translation possible.
and so on. Because he has been charged with protecting the form body and the true collection of teachings,40 the great noble bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, asked in the assembly, says to noble Maitreya that this is the explanation of the perfection of wisdom that he has heard, with “Thus did I hear.”
It is because the Lord’s tremendous teaching is not within his own range. The Lord teaches [F.2.a] with a single knowledge and in a single instant, simultaneously explaining to trainees of various statuses, intentions, behaviors, beliefs, and faculties, brought together from various world systems, the particulars of the impermanent, suffering, empty, selfless, unproduced, and unceasing, in a state of primordial calm, and naturally in nirvāṇa and so on; the particulars of aggregates, constituents, sense fields, dependent originations, and noble truths and so on; the particulars of the applications of mindfulness, right efforts, legs of miraculous power, and faculties and so on; and the particulars of the ten powers, four fearlessnesses, and eighteen distinct attributes of a buddha and so on—in various languages, and with various headings, various words, various miraculous powers, various appearances, and various attainments of results. As it says:41
Śāntamati, the earth element is not as big as the amount of beings known by a buddha’s knowledge, [F.2.b] beings in infinite, innumerable world systems in the ten directions all gathered together—a huge amount. Śāntamati, if all those beings were to gain a human form all at once, and all those beings were to become endowed with the wisdom and knowledge of the elder Śāriputra, and all that Śāriputra-like wisdom and knowledge of all those beings were to be in a single being—if all beings were to become endowed with the wisdom and knowledge as in that analogy, and if, Śāntamati, all those beings were to entertain, judge, and ferret out questions and doubts for an eon, or more than an eon, and all the doubts one person had were not to be the doubts of a second, and, Śāntamati, were they, having in mind all the different doubts of all the beings as in that analogy, to go before the Lord and voice in a finger snap those doubts and questions, the Lord would, with one thought, become mindful of them all, and grasping all the doubts would, by uttering one statement, remove all the doubts and questions. They would all know their own different doubts and questions, and they would all be overjoyed at the Lord’s answers to all their questions.
Given that such a sequence of teachings to trainees by a tathāgata is not totally within the range of bodhisattvas, those who recite42 the Dharma are not able, with their branch sequence, to teach the full range. So those who recite the Dharma expound whatever Dharma is within their range, and based on that say “thus did I hear” to reveal the sequence that came into their hearing, concluding the discourse with [F.3.a] “the Lord said this.” They do not say, “Thus has the Lord said.”
Ultimately the perfection of wisdom is inexpressible, so the lord buddhas do not teach dharmas to others with collections of names, phrases, and speech sounds. The tathāgatas are without thought construction, are spontaneous, are always absorbed in meditative equipoise. Nevertheless, one knows that through the force of earlier prayers, and based on the karma of beings, there are Dharma teachings in this way or that way given to trainees in their own languages. As it says:43
Śāntamati, on the night the Tathāgata fully awakens to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening, and up until the night he enters into nirvāṇa, he has not spoken and will not speak even a single syllable. And why? Because, Śāntamati, the Tathāgata is always absorbed in meditative equipoise. The Tathāgata does not breathe in and does not breathe out; he does not have applied thought and does not have sustained thought. Without applied and sustained thought there is no speech. The Tathāgata does not think discursively and does not sustain thought, does not make representations, does not make projections, and does not speak, utter, or make pronouncements, but still beings think, “The Tathāgata is speaking.” Again, the Tathāgata is totally absorbed in meditative equipoise and does not represent anything in verbal projections in any way, but still beings think about the spontaneous words, “The Tathāgata is teaching us the Dharma.”44 When the sounds of the Tathāgata’s statements come from space, beings think, “This sound has come from the mouth of the Tathāgata,”
and so on. It originates from the dharma body. Therefore, [F.3.b] in conclusion, when it comes in that way to a definite end, it says “that is what [the Lord] said” as an act of reverence for the good Dharma.
means “at one time, whenever that might be.”
Why does it not say an exact time?
Because there is no need to do so. About this, there is no need at all to say words to the effect that it was on this day, on this date, in this month, at this time; and if it is unnecessary it is not right to say it. As for revealing the place, which is a place of worship, it is right to reveal the place in order that beings will increase their merit accumulation by being able to go there, and because there are no disputes about it.
Alternatively, it is so there will be no disputes. Thus, the Tathāgata, appearing in various forms, during just the time span of a single instant, discourses on Dharma in various world systems, in various places, to a variety of trainees—bodhisattvas or others. But given that the wanderers to be trained—bodhisattvas or others—are all gathered as one,45 if you say “at that time the Tathāgata in world system X, in region X…,” this could lead to arguments or uncertainty that “he was in our place Y,” or “he was in our place Z.” Since they were worried about that happening, those who recite the Dharma did not state an exact time.
is one who has destroyed (bhagnavat) the four Māras. Or [he is a blessed one] who “has” (vat) an “endowment” (bhaga). Take the endowment as these six: sovereignty, wisdom, fame, glory, merit, and perseverance. Insofar as only a tathāgata ultimately has them all, that one is called “the Lord” or “Blessed One.” [F.4.a]
there are four dwellings: the dwellings of behavior, teaching, absorption, and retreat.
Any verbal work is the dwelling of the Lord’s teaching.
And any mental work is the other two dwellings: he is always absorbed in meditative equipoise because of being fully absorbed in the meditative stabilizations and the four absorptions, and he is in retreat when he views the world with great compassion, and when the gods and so on arrive.46
To demonstrate that the retainers are complete, it says
and so on. The retainers are the monks and the bodhisattvas and so on. Both are indeed very worthy of donations, but it announces the monks first because they are honored in the world, because the Lord does not separate from them, and because they are common to all the world. It makes the prior general statement, “a great community of monks.” After that it specifies
because there is a good connection when you teach the general and then the specific.
Having taught that he had many retainers, to teach their greatness it says about their perfect qualities that they were
and so on.
It says all of them were worthy ones since they were all “worthy ones,” that is to say, it is teaching that there were no trainees or ordinary persons. [F.4.b] They are “worthy ones” because they have destroyed [from han, “to destroy”] the foe (ari); or [from rah, “to leave”: arahat, “one who has left”] because they will not take rebirth in saṃsāra;48 or they have completed their own purpose (svārtha); or because they are worthy [from arh, “to be worthy”] or capable of being a teacher for others, worthy of being in the Saṅgha Jewel, worthy of many kinds of worship by those foremost in the three realms, and because they uninterruptedly worship and reverence the Tathāgata by offering their practice. Hence, they were all worthy ones.
they are “outflows” because as four phenomena they seep onto the unwholesome roots or soak you with filthy afflictions. The four are the five objects, form and so on, that are sense object outflows; the three causes of existence that are outflows that cause existence; innate and acquired ignorance that are ignorance outflows; and the sixty-two wrong views that are view outflows. Sense object outflows are dried up by the aggregates of nontrainee morality and meditative stabilization; view outflows are dried up by the aggregate of nontrainee wisdom. The aggregate of nontrainee liberation dries up outflows that cause existence. The aggregate of nontrainee knowledge and seeing of liberation dries up ignorance outflows. Alternatively, right view at the path of seeing level, when morality is complete, dries up view outflows; right meditative stabilization at the non-returner path level, when meditative stabilization is complete, dries up sense object outflows; right knowledge and liberation at the worthy one path level, when wisdom is complete, dry up ignorance outflows; and knowledge that they are extinct and will not arise again at the level when liberation is complete dries up outflows that cause existence.
Another alternative is that on the worthy one path, sense object outflows dry up because of comprehending the cause of desire for sense objects; ignorance outflows dry up because of comprehending the cause of volitional factors, because it is said “ignorance is the condition for volitional factors”; view outflows dry up because of comprehending the cause of afflictions; [F.5.a] and outflows that cause existence dry up because of comprehending the causes of the aggregates.
Another alternative is that comprehending the truth of suffering dries up view outflows because all views arise with the five aggregates for appropriation as the objective support; the elimination of the truth of origination dries up sense object outflows; realization of the truth of cessation dries up outflows that cause existence; and the development of the true path dries up ignorance outflows.
Eliminating sense object outflows vanquishes Māra as a god; eliminating outflows that cause existence vanquishes Māra as death; eliminating ignorance outflows vanquishes Māra as afflictions; and eliminating view outflows vanquishes Māra as aggregates. They have conquered the four Māras, so their “outflows are dried up.”
means without defilement.49 The defilement of action is an affliction because it causes affliction; the defilement of afflictive emotion is because it afflicts; the defilement of aggregates that have come about from karmic maturation is an affliction in the sense of the afflictions to come; and the defilement of birth is because with that as a cause the afflictions come about.
Of these, when ignorance stops, volitional factors stop50 is the absence of the defilement of action; when volitional factors stop, consciousness, name and form, the six sense fields, contact, and feeling stop is the absence of the defilement of karmic maturation;51 and when existence stops, birth, old age, and death stop is the nonexistence of the defilement of birth. Therefore, this teaches that they have eliminated what makes suffering,52 that on account of which there is suffering,53 that which is suffering,54 and what are the causes of suffering.55
Furthermore, by eliminating the defilement of action they reach the happiness of full awakening; by eliminating the defilement of afflictive emotion they reach the happiness free from immorality; [F.5.b] by eliminating the defilement of karmic maturation they reach the happiness of tranquility; and by eliminating the defilement of birth they reach the happiness without aggregates—that is, they reach what makes happiness,56 that on account of which there is happiness,57 that which is happiness,58 and what is the cause of happiness.59 Thus, they are “without afflictions.”
“Worthy ones” teaches their quality of being objects worthy of donations; “with outflows dried up” their quality of purity; and “without afflictions” the absence of suffering. These are the differences among these three.
they are “fully controlled” because the world has come under their control; or because they themselves are shown deference by the world because they are a delight; or because they have taken control of their minds; or they have gained the controls. The controls are four: control over miraculous powers, control over their faculties, control over meditative stabilization, and control over wisdom. Their control over miraculous powers gives them control over the world of beings, and over the world that is their container. Their control over their faculties calms their conduct and produces the world’s delight; their control over meditative stabilization brings their mind under control; and their control over wisdom cuts afflictions, action, and maturation, freeing them from bonds so that, in control of themselves, they gain control. Because they control their faculties, they gain the dwelling60 of the level of conduct; because they control meditative stabilization, they gain the dwelling of the gods and the dwelling of Brahmā; because they control miraculous powers, they gain the dwelling with the play of clairvoyance; and because they control wisdom,61 they gain the dwelling of noble beings. Because they control their faculties, they have a complete attainment of the aggregate of morality; because they control miraculous powers, they have a complete attainment of the aggregate of meditative stabilization; because they control meditative stabilization, they have a complete attainment of the aggregate of wisdom; and because they control wisdom [F.6.a] they have a complete attainment of the aggregate of liberation. Morality emancipates from the bonds of bad conduct; meditative stabilization emancipates from the bonds of craving;62 wisdom emancipates from the bonds of bad views; and liberation emancipates from the bonds of what causes existence. So, because they are emancipated from bonds they have self-control; and because they have self-control they gain autonomy, hence they are “fully controlled.”
teaches that they are without any defilement on the side of ignorance. Thus, they are “with their minds well freed and their wisdom well freed.” Because they are free from attachment they have mental freedom and hence “their minds are well freed”; because they are free from ignorance they have the freedom of wisdom and hence “their wisdom is well freed.” Mental freedom is the meditative stabilizations and absorptions gained from eliminating primary and secondary afflictions on the side of craving; the freedom of wisdom is the path of the worthy one gained from eliminating all afflictions on the side of ignorance. There, when they gain mental freedom they are freed from obstructions to absorption; when they gain the freedom of wisdom they are freed from obstructions that are afflictions. Those free in both ways are “with their minds well freed and their wisdom well freed.”
on account of being fearless.63 Because of their fearlessnesses, a sūtra says “there are five thoroughbreds: a dominant bull in a herd, free from the anxiety caused by terror of lightning strikes and so on; an elephant and a thoroughbred horse that do not fear battle; a thoroughbred lion that does not fear another’s attack; [F.6.b] and a thoroughbred worthy one without fear of death. In short, there are four terrors: being in terror of suffering, in terror of the fearsome, in terror of worldly dharmas, and in terror of ignorance. Those in whom those terrors are absent gain ease, gain a state without terrors, gain fearlessness, and gain relief,” respectively. Because they have no pain, lamentation, suffering, mental anguish, and so on, they have no pain and hence are not in terror of suffering. Because they have no fear of self-criticism, criticism from another, bad rebirth, penury,64 chastisement, no epitaph, or death, they are not in terror of the fearsome. Because they are not tainted with attaining and not attaining, fame and infamy, praise and blame, pleasure and pain they are not in terror of fearsome worldly dharmas. Because they are not blocked by ignorance, doubt, and wrong understanding they are not in terror of ignorance. Hence they are without terror and therefore “thoroughbreds.”
that is, they have a magnificent bearing. Some have the three knowledges, some have gained detailed and thorough knowledge, some have gained the six clairvoyances, some have a prediction of knowledge,65 and some have a single focus—that is, they have obtained an attribute through which they have gained a special state and hence are “great bull elephants.”66
teaches the state of full completion. What they definitely have to do is their “work”; ancillary work is their “task.” Their main work is freedom from all suffering, by fully completing morality, meditative stabilization, and wisdom.67 They are those “with their work done” when those are fully completed. [F.7.a] The work of fully completing the different ways of gaining a livelihood—the livelihood of those desiring little, the livelihood of those with contentment, the livelihood of those doing the ascetic practices, the livelihood of those who cause perfect delight and so on—is the “task,” in the sense that it is connected with what one personally wants to do. They are those with “their task accomplished” when those are fully completed. Thus “with their work done, their task accomplished” teaches the state of full completion of all that has to be accomplished.
They are those
There are four “burdens”: the burden of the aggregates, the burden of afflictions, the burden of an avowed aim, and the burden of practice. They are burdens because they have to be laid down, eliminated, carried out, and completed, respectively. They lay down the burden of the aggregates by understanding suffering; they lay down the burden of afflictions by removing origination; they lay down the burden of an avowed aim by having meditated on the path; and they lay down the burden of practice by actualizing cessation. There, they gain the happiness where there are no aggregates by forsaking the burden of the aggregates; they gain the happiness of liberation by forsaking the burden of afflictions; they gain the happiness of full awakening by perfectly completing the burden of an avowed aim; and they gain the happiness of tranquility by fully completing the burden of practice. Hence “with their burden laid down” teaches the attainment of happiness when the burdens have been laid down.
They are those
There are two “goals” of “their own” that are “accomplished”: eliminating harm and reaching the goal. The elimination of all the defiling obscurations that comes about from eliminating ignorance is eliminating harm; the nirvāṇa that is gained from the production of all knowledge is gaining the goal.
They are those
The fetters68 that cause birth in existence are “cause-of-existence fetters.” They fetter or bind one to existence and to being human. [F.7.b] From the nine of them, correct view without outflows eliminates three (the fetters of wrong view, grasping-as-absolute, and doubt); attainment of absorption into the meditative stabilization without outflows eliminates three (the fetters of envy, jealousy, and anger), and, of the attachment that fetters to existence, the single side included in the desire realm; and the knowledge of the worthy one’s path eliminates three (the fetters of pride, ignorance, and attachment to existence). Therefore, it says “with the fetters that bound them to existence broken.”
They are those
Knowing is fully understanding and realizing, which is to say, they are those “with their heart well freed by perfect realization.” Alternatively, construe “freed” as belief in the teaching of the doctrine of the three vehicles, in the four truths, in the dharmas on the side of awakening and so on, or, alternatively, their minds are well freed by the eight deliverances.
are those who have perfect mastery over all the absorptions. Alternatively, those with perfect mastery over the nine successive absorption stations71 are “in perfect control of their whole mind,”72 being “in” a state of mastery over becoming absorbed in, abiding in, emerging from, and remaining dispassionate in cessation and meditative stabilization, by becoming absorbed and so on where they want, into what they want, and for as long as they want; becoming absorbed in and emerging in conforming order and nonconforming order, direct and reverse order, going and returning; bringing together the factors of concentration, having the objects of absorption, [F.8.a] and having the factors and objects;73 uniting factors, uniting objects, and uniting factors and objects; and combining one, combining two, not combining two, and so on, respectively.74
Construe the stated qualities as follows:
They are all worthy ones. Why? Because their outflows are dried up. Their outflows are dried up because they are without afflictions. They are without afflictions because they are fully controlled. They are fully controlled because their minds are well freed. Their minds are well freed because their wisdom is well freed. Their wisdom is well freed because they are thoroughbreds. They are thoroughbreds because they are great bull elephants. They are great bull elephants because their work is done. Their work is done because their task is accomplished. Their task is accomplished because their burden is laid down. Their burden is laid down because their own goal is accomplished. Their own goal is accomplished because they are those with the fetters that bound them to existence broken. They are those with the fetters that bound them to existence broken because their hearts are well freed by perfect understanding. And their hearts are well freed by perfect understanding because they are in perfect control of their whole mind.75
Having thus taught about the monk retainers,
and so on teaches about the retinue of nuns, laymen, and laywomen,
that is, they have witnessed the state beyond suffering. This indicates that the laymen and laywomen are trainees.
The teaching about their good qualities is
and so on. There are five types of bodhisattvas: those with a surpassing intention, those who stand in signlessness with effort, those who effortlessly stand in signlessness, those who have entered into the certain course of conduct, and those obstructed by just a single birth.76 They are all included in these. Those with a surpassing intention are on the first bodhisattva level; those who stand in signlessness with effort are up to the seventh level; those who effortlessly stand in signlessness are on the eighth level; those who have entered into the certain course of conduct77 are up to the tenth level; and from then on they are obstructed by just a single birth. They are all included in these.
It is a dhāraṇī because it causes them to bear the meaning in mind. There are four dhāraṇīs: a dhāraṇī that causes bodhisattvas to obtain forbearance, secret mantra dhāraṇī, word or doctrine dhāraṇī, and meaning dhāraṇī.
Bodhisattvas who have earlier completed the causes on the devoted course of conduct level by always leading a life of isolation, eating in moderation, restraining their senses, not starting up a conversation with just anybody, and trying not to fall off to sleep in order to produce a bodhisattva’s forbearance bear in mind those secret mantra base78 letters, or words—tadyathā | i ṭi mi ṭi | ki ṭi vi kṣānti | pā da ni svā hā and so on—that they say. They wonder, “What do these secret mantra bases mean? What are the actual meanings of the expression and what’s expressed?” After thus contemplating for a long time they see no meaning in what is being expressed. Seeing no meaning, they ascertain perfectly, “There is no meaning at all being expressed [F.9.a] in those secret mantra bases. It is certain that just the absence of an expressed meaning is the meaning of those secret mantra bases. The intrinsic absence of an expressed meaning is their meaning.” They meditate on those secret mantra bases as free from an essential expression and what is expressed. Having meditated well on those secret mantra bases free from expression and what is expressed, they perfectly ascertain that in the same fashion all dharmas are free from an essential expression and what is expressed. They think, “Just as these secret mantra bases are free from an essential expression and what is expressed, all dharmas are similarly inexpressible, so their basic nature is inexpressible.” Thus, they determine that all dharmas, in their basic nature free from an essential expression and what is expressed, are by nature inexpressible. When they have determined that, they see that all dharmas are empty of a falsely imagined nature. When they see that, they realize the essential inexpressible nature of all dharmas, on account of which a great joy arises. Because of that, they are then those who have “acquired the dhāraṇis.” Then just because of acquiring the dhāraṇīs, with that as the cause, there immediately comes into being for the bodhisattva a great forbearance in harmony with the production of the first Pramuditā level, a forbearance so called because it is able to bear the ultimate. Such a forbearance, when it arises, is dhāraṇī knowledge. Not long after they have produced that dhāraṇī forbearance they reach the Pramuditā level of those with surpassing aspiration. Therefore, you should know that this dhāraṇī forbearance is included in the devoted course of conduct level.
The mastery of meditative stabilization capable of exerting controlling power [F.9.b] is secret mantra dhāraṇī. Thus, bodhisattvas have to accumulate knowledge during the first incalculable eon. After the passing of that incalculable eon they reach the first level. On that level they engage in the purification80 for knowledge, and gain mastery over the attainment of practiced meditative stabilizations and absorptions. The force produced by the meditative stabilization faculty and the force produced by earlier prayers exert controlling power over the secret mantra bases, so the force of the meditative stabilization, concentrating on “may these secret mantra bases stop all the plagues, problems, diseases, and strife of beings,” stops plagues and problems. That is the way those secret mantra bases exerting controlling power are accomplished, becoming supreme and solidly efficacious. Similarly, bodhisattva great beings stationed on the higher levels fully accomplish for the sake of this or that need of beings the secret mantra words exerting controlling power in whatever way necessary. Since this is the case, they are “secret mantra dhāraṇīs,” because with such mastery of the meditative stabilization they bear the secret mantras in mind. The secret mantra bases that are objects of those dhāraṇī faculties are also “dhāraṇīs” because they are the objects of those dhāraṇīs.
Doctrine dhāraṇī is the recollection81 and wisdom that bear in mind and do not forget, even after a long time, the infinite, incalculable, immeasurable doctrines included in the collection of words, the collection of phrases, and the collection of speech sounds that bodhisattvas never understood or heard before, when they have reached the levels and are listening to the doctrines of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. [F.10.a]
Meaning dhāraṇī is recollection and wisdom, taken as one, that bear in mind and do not forget the infinite, incalculable, immeasurable meanings of the doctrines those bodhisattvas have borne in mind like that for an immeasurable time.
Among them, the aforementioned dhāraṇī in the form of forbearance is of those who have earlier completed the causes, so they gain it on the devoted course of conduct level. They gain the remaining three on the first level and so on, having passed beyond the first countless eon. About them a sūtra says, “Bodhisattva great beings who possess four dharmas are perfect in dhāraṇī.” Those who have “acquired the dhāraṇīs” have the four dharmas. The four dharmas are “disdain for sense objects, absence of envy, giving up everything, and joy in the Dharma in the Bodhisattvapiṭaka and so on, which stop the four on the side opposing the equality of self and others—excessive attachment to sense objects, envy, miserliness, and lack of enthusiasm for the joy of the Dharma.” According to the sequence set forth in another sūtra,82 on the first level they have acquired the superior location dhāraṇī because through its force they have become a location for all holy, special qualities; on the second, the stainless, because through its force they have pure morality; on the third, the extremely stable, because through its force the perfect power of patience free from all mental disturbances is stabilized; on the fourth, the hard to conquer, because through its force one is unconquerable by all Māras and opponents; on the fifth, the good quality mind ornament dhāraṇī; on the sixth, [F.10.b] the lamp for the knowledge maṇḍala; on the seventh, the becoming distinguished; on the eighth, the nonconceptual; on the ninth, the infinitely-doored; and on the tenth, the inexhaustible basket dhāraṇī. Hence, they have “acquired the dhāraṇīs” because on each of those different levels they gain a myriad of infinite, incalculable, immeasurable dhāraṇīs. Therefore, because such good qualities as these are shared in common with the devoted course of conduct level, it speaks of them like this.
Alternatively, when they have become familiar with all the syllables in this perfection of wisdom, they become causes for the realization of all dharmas. Thus, a is the first letter in anutpannatva, “nonproduction,” in “all dharmas are unproduced.” When, having superimposed the meaning of nonproduction on the a, bodhisattvas consider that it means nonproduction, and through the practice of calm abiding and special insight their meditation becomes perfect, then just the single letter a appears, through the force of habituation, in the form of the nonproduction of all dharmas. In this manner a is the cause of the realization of all dharmas. Thus, when they meditate on just this a based on its meaning of nonproduction, nonorigination, the intrinsic nature of a nonexistent thing, noncessation, and so on, it is the cause of the analytic realization of each dharma. Thus it says,83
What are the dhāraṇī doors? The sameness of all letters and syllables, the sameness of all spoken words, the syllable-doors, the syllable-entrances. What then are the syllable-doors, the syllable-entrances? The syllable a is the door to all dharmas being unproduced from the very beginning (ādy-anutpannatvād); ra is a door to the insight that all dharmas are without dirt (rajas), P25k P18k
and so on.
Thus, based on those syllables, wisdom and recollection arise that realize all dharmas. Because they bear the meaning of those in mind they are “dhāraṇīs.” The forbearance that takes the ultimate as its objective support is produced from those dhāraṇīs as its cause. [F.11.a] Both that recollection and wisdom are called the forbearance dhāraṇī.
Again, when bodhisattvas become very familiar with all the combinations of just those syllables strung together, they become the causes for perfectly bearing in mind the streams of Dharma expounded swiftly and continuously by buddhas and bodhisattvas, and their meanings. When they have become extremely familiar with those collections of words, collections of phrases, and collections of speech sounds, that recollection and wisdom is called doctrine dhāraṇī and meaning dhāraṇī.
Furthermore, when bodhisattvas have perfectly meditated on just those syllables, they bestow everything like a wish-fulfilling gem. Thus, when the force of meditative stabilization and the force of earlier prayers exert sustaining power over those syllables, they become the means to do everything that has to be done—the necessary stopping of all problems and purifying of all wrongs and so on. At that time, just that knowledge that exerts sustaining power over the syllables is called secret mantra dhāraṇī.84 Because they are those dhāraṇīs’ necessary objective supports, the syllables are also called dhāraṇīs.
The explanation of the man [in mantra] is “knowledge” [from the root man], and the tra is “protect” [from the root trai], so knowledge and compassion are mantra. The syllables are also mantra because they are in harmony with just them as their cause.
Again, because they eliminate ignorance (avidyā) and produce knowledge, just those are also called knowledge (vidyā).
They are bases [ādhāraṇī] for the stage of the knowledge of all aspects, hence they are bases. And so they get the names dhāraṇī secret mantra bases [mantrādhāraṇī] and vidyā secret mantra bases [vidyādhāraṇī].
Among those, bodhisattvas obtain the aforementioned forbearance dhāraṇī through the force of effort when the devoted course of conduct level is completed.85 The remaining three dhāraṇīs are produced through the power of prayer. On the first level, even though small they are still stable.86 [F.11.b] From then on, all those dhāraṇīs are produced at a greater and greater level of excellence. Hence they have “acquired the dhāraṇīs.”
Those bodhisattvas who have acquired the dhāraṇīs, having meditated well on the noble truths and the dependent originations, gradually, on the first and second level and so on as explained in the noble sūtra The Ten Bhūmis,87 with that as the cause, become
of a person and in the emptiness of dharmas. When they have thus grasped and meditated on that emptiness marked as omnipresent and so on,88 the emptiness gateway to liberation opens. When they have mastered emptiness, the earlier things such as water, wind, fire, moon, sun, mountains, oceans, lakes, woods, regions, districts, and so on that each appeared separately as a causal sign of a phenomenon, whatever they are, do not appear separately—they appear in the form of signlessness. At that point the signlessness gateway to liberation opens.
For those who thus dwell in the gateway of signlessness free from all causal signs there is no appearance of all three realms as three realms, and they do not desire anything there. Free from any desire for these, they do not wish for them in their minds, at which point the wishlessness gateway to liberation opens for them. When they have thus taken up in meditation the emptiness door to liberation, they dwell in the emptiness meditative stabilization. When they have thus taken up in meditation the signlessness gateway to liberation, they are free from any other experiential domain, so their range is the signless. When they see the three realms as do those who have no wishes, they do not fashion the three realms as worth wishing for. Thus, they are
Those who thus dwell well in the meditative stabilizations that are the gateways to liberation calm all elaborations,89 so for them four types of forbearance for sameness come about. They have no conception of self and other, so they have forbearance for self and others being the same; they have no attachment or aversion, so they have forbearance for compounded phenomena being the same; because they are nothing more than suchness, they have forbearance for all phenomena being the same; and because they think nirvāṇa and saṃsāra are the same, they have forbearance for nonabiding sameness.
From having thus produced and become habituated to the four forbearances for sameness, ten further samenesses gradually, as explained in The Ten Bhūmis, occur:90 signless sameness; markless sameness; unproduced sameness; unoriginated sameness; isolated sameness; calm-from-the-beginning sameness; unelaborated sameness; no forsaking or appropriating sameness; sameness as an illusion, a dream, an apparition, an echo, the reflection of the moon in water, a reflection in a mirror, or a magical creation; and existent and nonexistent sameness.
The unelaborated dharma-constituent free from imaginary aspects is not within the range of any consciousness with causal signs or conceptualization; it is within the range of nonconceptual knowledge. Hence all dharmas are said to be signless. Therefore, because all phenomena have the thoroughly established for their nature, there is signless sameness.91
Imaginary phenomena in the form of language and subject matter, the subject as the one who grasps and the object that is grasped are totally nonexistent so the imaginary mark is no mark, hence all are the same [F.12.b] insofar as they have no mark.
The subject of that ultimate nature is unelaborated perfect knowledge because it has that as its object. All phenomena are unelaborated, hence there is an unelaborated sameness.
That ultimate nature is unmade. Ultimately there is no forsaking of one form of life and one set of aggregates and appropriating another set of aggregates. So, because there is no forsaking or appropriating, there is a no forsaking or appropriating sameness.
The thoroughly established nature does not exist as a falsely imagined existent nature and is not something nonexistent like a rabbit’s horns and so on either. Therefore, it is neither, hence there is an existent and nonexistent sameness.
Those dwelling in the three meditative stabilizations that are gateways to liberation, endowed with a realization of the tenfold sameness, behold beings without a protector and feel great [F.13.a] compassion for them. Thus, those learned in the ultimate are yet seized by compassion and confront cyclic existence when they are inclined toward nirvāṇa. And so those who avoid cyclic existence and mentally confront nirvāṇa with the practice of wisdom, and avoid nirvāṇa and confront cyclic existence with the practice of compassion, gradually, as explained in The Ten Bhūmis,95 come to have a proper way of paying attention. This naturally weak and unowned compounded aggregate comes about because of possessing afflictions, and conditions being complete, but it cannot come about when there is no possession of afflictions and when conditions are not complete. Hence they think, “I have to make possession of the afflictions and completion of the conditions nonexistent; but beings who have no protector would then come to be ignored, so, in order to be of benefit to beings, I should not completely and totally put an end to the compounded aggregate.” In regard to those endowed with such wisdom and compassion dwelling in this attention, they actualize by way of appearance “standing unattached in the perfection of wisdom.”96 This knowledge is “forbearance conforming to the practice.”97 Thus standing in the perfection of wisdom, an appearance marked by standing without attachment, standing completely in this dhāraṇī knowledge, they even rule as wheel-turning emperors for the sake of beings, even as they pursue life without attachment. They demonstrate many types of enjoyment of sense pleasures, again doing so without attachment to them. They accumulate a wealth of worldly belongings for the sake of beings, without attachment to them. They cultivate the thirty-seven dharmas on the side of awakening, cultivating them without attachment to nirvāṇa. They meditate on uncompounded suchness, again meditating [F.13.b] without attachment to it. Because they have thus acquired the special knowledge of dhāraṇī that makes such skillful means paramount, they are those who
When they thus stand by standing without attachment, thinking that both cyclic existence and nirvāṇa are the same, exerting themselves totally for the sake of beings alone, they enter into the concentrations, deliverances, meditative stabilizations, and absorptions in order to help beings, but they do not take birth through their force. They transform those concentrations, deliverances, meditative stabilizations, and absorptions into just what will be of help to beings. Having thus transformed them for the sake of beings they produce the six clairvoyances: knowledge of the performance of miraculous powers, the divine eye, the divine ear, knowledge of the ways of thinking, knowledge that recollects previous existences, and knowledge that makes directly known the extinction of outflows.98
Among these, knowledge of the performance of miraculous powers is of two types: transformative and magically creative. Among these, the transformative is causing the act of [the earth] moving, the act of [fire] burning, the act of the rain raining, and the act of [space] being pervasive;99 the act of changing one thing into something else; going, coming [through walls, etc.], shrinking or expanding; swallowing any physical object;100 appearing before anyone suitable, the act of appearing, the act of disappearing, or the act of controlling; eclipsing an opponent’s miraculous powers; and giving confidence, giving recollection, giving happiness, giving light, and anything else like those. The bodhisattvas do whatever beings require.
As for the magically creative, they are of three types: magically created bodies, magically created speech, and magically created [F.14.a] objects.
Among them, magically created bodies are any of the many types of magical creations that bodhisattvas demonstrate for the sake of beings: the appearances of gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, animals, ghosts, and hell beings, and of śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and buddhas. They succeed in magically creating these different appearances for the sake of an infinite, incalculable number of beings instantaneously and simultaneously in an infinite, incalculable number of worlds in the ten directions.
What is magically created speech? Here bodhisattvas make magically created sounds that are heard by gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, śrāvakas, and bodhisattvas assembled and arrayed as a retinue within the encircling girdle of mountains, up to as far away as the first thousandfold world system, the millionfold and the billionfold world systems, and an infinite, incalculable number of worlds in the ten directions. With those sounds they teach the Dharma to all beings in many ways. With other magical creations they set them to work, cause the sky to emit the sound of Dharma teachings, and exhort those who incline toward various objects.
What are magically created objects? For the sake of poverty-stricken beings, bodhisattvas magically create food, drink, transportation, clothes, jewels, pearls, vaiḍūrya,101 and so on. To the extent they are needed, to that extent they come about, lasting as long as the power sustaining their truth is exerted. Thus, through their knowledge of miraculous powers [F.14.b] they help beings. Having motivated them with miraculous wonder-working powers, they introduce them to Buddhist doctrine. And they also help suffering beings in many other ways.
With knowledge that recollects previous existences they recollect the earlier behavior of beings, know what agrees with them, and teach them Buddhist doctrine. Alternatively, they recollect the supreme, marvelous behavior of bodhisattvas and demonstrate it perfectly, to perfectly engender faith in beings. They demonstrate to proponents of eternalism and nihilism what happened previously and destroy their views. With that knowledge they recollect their own previous existences; they also recollect the previous suffering existences of others, and they also cause others to recollect their previous suffering existences.
With their divine ear they hear the pitiful sounds of suffering beings in hell, among the animals, the ghosts, and humans, and work to relieve their pains; or they hear different Dharma teachings in various buddhafields, or right here; or they hear many different sounds urging them on.
With their divine eye bodhisattvas see the variety of wholesome and unwholesome behaviors of beings in the ten directions and do what is appropriate. They also behold many teachings of Dharma in many retinues of tathāgatas in the many different buddhafields.
With knowledge of others’ thoughts they know others’ greed, hatred, and so on accompanying their thoughts and do what is appropriate. They know the different faculties, behaviors, dispositions, propensities, [F.15.a] and so on of beings and teach the Dharma appropriately.
With knowledge of the extinction of outflows bodhisattvas know perfectly and properly that their own and others’ afflictions are extinguished, and they know perfectly and properly whether or not they have attained the extinction of their own afflictions, and whether or not others have attained the extinction of their afflictions. They also know perfectly what is and is not the means to extinguish their own and others’ afflictions and outflows. They know perfectly whether others’ attainment of the extinction of outflows is an unfounded conceit or is true. Perfectly knowing all that, bodhisattvas themselves realize the extinction of outflows. Bodhisattvas know perfectly things with and without outflows, and with just the knowledge of the extinction of outflows they stay together with all the afflicted dharmas with outflows, without themselves becoming defiled.
Bodhisattvas who have these six clairvoyances make an effort to help beings, and those beings they have helped experience a simultaneously arising pleasure, so they listen to the bodhisattva’s speech. Even at the cost of their life they do not go against the advice and instruction. Furthermore, they skillfully get Māra’s minions or tīrthikas and so on who bear ill will toward them to take their advice and instructions to heart. They even get those who are unwilling to listen to what they have to say by threatening them with splitting headaches and so on. [F.15.b] Bodhisattvas always see when it is the right time and it is not the right time and so on. Among the classes of beings there are none who are offended by the speech of the bodhisattvas. This is the very nature of the power of the dedication of the merit from the four ways of gathering a retinue and the merit of the perfections. Hence they are
To teach that bodhisattvas with these good qualities have a pure practice it says they are
and so on.104
It is impossible that those who have earlier entered onto a bodhisattva level would pursue wrong livelihoods, and this is particularly more so the case on the Vimalā level and so on.105 So why teach here that on the seventh level there is no pursuit of wrong livelihoods?
There is no fault. Even though on lower levels they have already eliminated them, behavior that is pursued with effort is perfected here, so it has to be taught at the end.106 You should not take bodhisattvas standing on the seventh level as “with afflictions” and you should not take them as “without afflictions” either, because right there they absolutely eliminate afflictive behavior. Thus, the purity of their surpassing aspiration informs their physical actions, verbal actions, and mental actions. This total nonarising of all the physical, verbal, and mental actions that the tathāgatas criticize is a quality of the seventh level. Hence, to demonstrate that they do not engage in the physical actions of wrong livelihood it says they are “not hypocrites.” Because of wanting to gain something, the demonstration of a physical action that is a way of impressing another is called hypocrisy.107
To demonstrate that they have no impure verbal actions it says they are
Acts of speech connected with gaining something, [F.16.a] speaking to gain something you really want, is fawning.
To demonstrate that they have no impure mental actions it says they are
Praise, citation, renown, and “reputation” are synonymous. They are so called because they are without thoughts of gain or respect.
Having taught that they have no impure practices, to teach that they have purified practices it says they are
Thus, having taught in these ways the qualities of those from the seventh level on down who practice signlessness with effort, now it says they are
and so on, to teach the quality of standing effortlessly in signlessness. Thus, from the eighth level on up bodhisattvas cut the continuum of all effort and pass beyond all causal signs and conceptualization. They do so in a carefree way, without any effort at all. But even though they are totally at peace and expend no energy, they live a life for the sake of others because of the force of their previous prayers, and they realize the practices on the side of awakening.
completely free from the conceptual discriminations of mind, thinking mind, and consciousness, unhindered like space, with the comprehension of the wide-open nature they have gained forbearance for the nonproduction of dharmas. O bodhisattvas! The moment bodhisattvas with such a forbearance for that have reached the Acalā level, they gain the bodhisattva’s deep stations [F.16.b] that are hard to understand,111 undifferentiated, free from all causal signs,
Wherever they go, bodhisattvas who have gained such forbearance go with fearlessness112 and without trepidation, be it into a retinue of persons of royal caste, brahmins, persons of business caste, persons of low caste, gods, or Brahmās, or into a retinue of monks, nuns, tīrthikas, or Māras, and speak without feeling shy.113 And why? It is because they have gained forbearance for the nonproduction of dharmas and therefore fully realize the nonproduction aspect of all dharmas. Therefore, they do not have the fear that comes from not knowing something when in the midst of a retinue. Apart from their residual impressions, they have eliminated all affliction, seeing it has not been produced, so they do not have the fear that comes from the afflictions. Hence it says they
To teach that they are indomitable it says they
When it comes to their future lives, apart from the sorts of births they demonstrate because of compassion, as soon as they have attained this forbearance they have cut the continuum of the karmic obscurations that ripen into good or bad forms of life.
“Phenomena” are the aggregates, constituents, and so on, or dharmas known by special insight; [F.17.a] the applications of mindfulness, the right efforts, and so on, or the dharmas on the side of awakening; the ten powers, four fearlessnesses, and so on, or the buddhadharmas; and the result of the stream enterer path and so on, or gained dharmas. “Investigations” of them are into marks, functions, causes, results, number, proper meditative experiences, faulty ones, elements, defilements, purifications, comprehensions of suffering, eliminations of origins, cessations to be actualized, and cultivations of paths. They are also investigations into the outer dharmas: world systems arise like this, will perish like this, have perished like this; they form like this, they perish for that length of time, they stay like that,115 they last this length of time; these are hell beings, these are birthplaces of animals, these are ghosts, these are humans, these are in the desire realm, these in the form realm, these in the formless realm; these are how many of the smallest earth, water, fire, and wind atoms there are; just this is the measure of the height, breadth, width, and depth of the earth and so on; and just these are the four continents, just this is a thousand of them, just this is a million, and just this a billion. Similarly, the investigations are the sort that investigate the intentions, propensities, behaviors, beliefs, and faculties of all the worlds: who is less at fault, who more; who is in a lineage, who is not; who is definitely in a lineage, who is not; who is a candidate, who is not; who is mature, who is not; and who is free and who is not. These are [F.17.b] the “investigations into phenomena.” To “analyze” is to divide those phenomena described earlier into specific categories: “these are the aggregates, these the constituents, these the sense fields,” and so on. There are the categories116 when they have all been categorized, when they have been divided into many specific types. To “expound” is to teach them and make them understandable to others. “Skill” is intelligence. “Investigation into phenomena” is detailed and thorough knowledge of phenomena; “categorization,” or analysis, is detailed and thorough knowledge of content; “expounding” is detailed and thorough knowledge of languages; and “skill in expounding” is detailed and thorough knowledge of ready speech. Thus, it says they are “skillful in expounding the analysis of investigations into phenomena.”
Having thus taught the eighth level qualities, to teach the qualities of the practice on the levels above, on the levels of those who are destined,117 it says they are those
What is this teaching? There are no appearances of inner physical bodies anywhere at all after the forbearance for the nonproduction of dharmas has been gained. The body of names119 does not operate in the form of intention, thinking mind, and consciousness; it remains perfectly in the form of emptiness. External dharmas—the three realms—do not appear at all; they are in a state of liberation that is the element of signlessness. For those who thus abide perfectly extinguished in suchness, no effort, movement, false projection, or thought construction occurs.
If those great beings thus dwell totally in nirvāṇa, [F.18.a] in the nonexistence of an intrinsic nature, in primordial calm, in the intrinsic nature of the dharma-constituent, they would subsequently veer away from the attributes that would make them a buddha and from the welfare of beings.
Response: The perfection of prayer that has been made complete during two incalculable eons, together with skillful means, becomes a concordant cause of compassion on account of which, at that time, in order not to veer away the maturation is developed,120 and those bodhisattvas again enter into the conventional. Those bodhisattvas who have entered into the conventional apprehend all inner and outer worlds just as at an earlier time. At that time, they practice the bodhisattva’s course of conduct and so on.
Qualm: In that case, since at this level all affliction that is the origin of suffering does not exist, they do not accumulate the karma that gives rise to future lives. The force of the karma they accumulated previously is extinguished, as it is for worthy ones, so, given that a maturation cannot be apprehended in the absence of karma, how are they going to appropriate another future life? And given that above that level they are sure to swiftly and effortlessly reach the Tathāgata level in a single countless eon, how, in that case and during that period of time, will they abide in the form of anyone?
Response: There is no fault, because here the commentators say that those perfections that bodhisattvas have previously completed during the two incalculable eons—the ones they have previously, through the perfection of skillful means, fully established in a form that is inexhaustible, and that they have through the perfection of prayer dedicated for the benefit of beings and perfect awakening—they all, after forbearance has been attained, are from then on developed into the form of a maturation.121 Thus, through those maturations bodhisattvas spontaneously, for as long as cyclic existence remains, [F.18.b] accomplish the welfare of others and perfect complete awakening. In just those forms that are developments of the maturations of their wholesome roots they take other rebirths; in just those forms of the maturations of their wholesome roots give many teachings in those lifetimes; and their many various types of magical creations work for the welfare of living beings, ripen the buddhadharmas, and cause them to reach the Tathāgata level.
Therefore, this course of conduct is “a certain course of conduct”122 because it has been brought about through the force of a prayer that is a vow. The second course of conduct is certain in regard to the welfare of beings, because it is in the form of a maturation, and entering into it is not purposeless. Beings who have been brought to maturity by this course of conduct123 are certain in regard to the three vehicles, so it is said that all the courses of conduct done previously for the welfare of others do not amount to even a hundredth or even a thousandth part, and so on, of a bodhisattva’s certain course of conduct entered into even just for the length of a single day. Therefore, because they achieve that through the force of a prayer that is a vow it says that they are those “with the prayer that is a vow made during an asaṃkhyeya of eons124 really fully carried out.”
“Really fully carried out” teaches “the concordant cause that is remaining on account of the immeasurables for beings, and the concordant cause that is standing in the clairvoyances by those who travel to buddhafields” and so on—the good qualities that are the concordant causes taught in other sūtras.
Among these, in regard to the concordant cause that is love, it says they are
because it is in the nature of things that those who have entered into the certain course of conduct have smiling faces in lifetime after lifetime. That is, in order that undisciplined beings will believe in them their countenances never ever change.
To teach the concordant cause that is compassion it says they are
To teach the concordant cause that is joy it says they are
It is in the nature of things that they do not feel the kind of irritation that makes them frown, no matter what happens. When making an effort they do not get upset like that. They do not become impatient like that with others; they do not get disturbed.
and so on, it teaches the good quality of the concordant cause that is the clairvoyances of those who travel to buddhafields. When bodhisattvas travel to buddhafields, along the way, either in their own form or in a magically created form, they teach and inspire others with the Dharma by chanting it in verse. Furthermore, having come into the presence of the tathāgatas they chant praises of them in verse and respond to their questions in verse. This demonstrates that they have attained perfect speech.
To teach that they have attained perfect thought it says
This is to teach that some bodhisattvas stationed on lower levels who have not completed the accumulations, and still have thought constructions when they pay attention, feel depressed in the presence of bodhisattvas stationed on higher levels and by tathāgatas, because their qualities are superior. These, however, gain ten controls over lifespan, mind, necessities, action, birth, prayer, belief, the miraculous powers, knowledge, Dharma, and absolute purity,126 and never have thoughts that feel depressed. Thus it says “without feelings of depression.” [F.19.b]
To teach the matured four detailed and thorough knowledges obtained by those with correct understanding it says
Stationed on the Sādhumatī level, bodhisattvas act as great Dharma preachers, guarding the Dharma treasury of the tathāgatas. Having reached the rank of a Dharma preacher, in possession of an immeasurable skill in knowledge they teach the Dharma with words produced by the four detailed and thorough knowledges. The four unbroken detailed and thorough knowledges are continuously and always operating in them.
Thus it says “without losing the confidence giving a readiness to speak.”
To teach that they have gained the skill of going into assemblies, it says they are
Thus, following the order in The Ten Bhūmis,130 there is an immeasurable skill in the workings of miraculous power, immeasurable skill in knowledge, immeasurable skill in confidence giving a readiness to speak, immeasurable skill in the manifestation of light rays, immeasurable skill in providing answers to questions, immeasurable skill in speaking in a voice with special properties, immeasurable skill in teaching the Dharma, immeasurable skill in the meditative stabilizations and dhāraṇī doors, immeasurable skill in a secret course of conduct, immeasurable skill in the divisions of the doors of the Dharma, immeasurable skill in miracles, immeasurable skill in the ten controls,131 immeasurable skill in objects under a buddha’s controlling power, immeasurable skill in speaking about practices on the side of awakening, [F.20.a] immeasurable skill in speaking about world systems, immeasurable skill in speaking about the mass of beings, immeasurable skill in speaking about the mass of those to be trained, immeasurable skill in speaking about the dharma-constituent, immeasurable skill in purifying buddhafields, and immeasurable skill in all objects within the range of the buddhas that they should enter into. Bodhisattvas extremely skilled in these twenty skills do not get anxious whatever the assembly they go into, proceeding as the seven: as lions, brahmins, and tathāgatas; fearless like the sky; with confidence; as the dominant bull; and without attachment to anything. No one eclipses them, and there is no one whom they do not eclipse, so it says of them that they are “endowed with fearlessness when surpassing endless assemblies.”
It says they are
This teaches the concordant cause that is the perfection of perseverance in its matured form. Thus, bodhisattvas who have gained the matured perfection of perseverance do not entertain the idea that what is difficult to do is indeed difficult to do. They do not feel oppressed by what is beneficial for beings. While they strive and make an extremely great vigorous attempt many eons pass, up to a hundred thousand million billion eons pass, as in the statement, “When our Lord Śākyamuni was a bodhisattva he passed nine eons serving the buddha called Puṣya.” Thus, while making an extremely great effort a hundred thousand million billion eons pass, [F.20.b] but no one can go beyond an asaṃkhyeya of eons. Hence it says they are “skilled in going forth during an ananta of one hundred million eons.”
It teaches these good qualities of the practice of the certain course of conduct in that way. In order to teach the supreme qualities of the level above, it says they are
This teaches that they have gained the sarvadharmapravicaya meditative stabilization, the concordant cause that is the matured perfection of wisdom. Thus, they have realized that just as illusions and so on are totally nonexistent, yet can be apprehended, similarly all phenomena are just like that. Since trainees have a variety of beliefs and aspirations it teaches with eight illustrations that are numbered relative to certain people,132 or in order to eliminate eight doubts.133
However, there is a qualm: If you have taken phenomena to be nonexistent, how could you apprehend them through the power of their shapes and so on; and having apprehended phenomena that are not apprehendable, how could minds and mental factors come about? If phenomena do not exist, how could they appear to arise and disintegrate? If phenomena are nonexistent, how do the conventions of eating, drinking, giving, receiving, happiness, suffering, and so on become accepted; how could a collection of words and a collection of sentences and so on come about; how could things come about from causes and conditions; how could resultant features similar to the causes come about; and how could the activities of going and coming and so on come about?
The illusion illustration is for this: “If phenomena are nonexistent how could there be shapes and so on?” To illustrate, just as a magician makes a show of a herd of elephants, a herd of horses, chariots, [F.21.a] and infantry, mountains, food and drink and so on through the power of shapes, even though they do not actually exist, similarly with all phenomena.
To illustrate, just as mistaken minds and mental factors operate when beings apprehend a mirage, similarly with all phenomena.
But how do they arise and disintegrate?
This poses no problem, because all phenomena are unproduced and unceasing. To illustrate, just as there is the appearance of a reflection of the moon in water when the moon appears in the sky, and just as there is no appearance when it does not appear, even though it has no actual reality at all, similarly with all phenomena that appear when there are residual impressions left by the imagination of the unreal. They do not appear when they are not there, and hence are all unproduced and unceasing.
How do ordinary conventions come about?
How do collections of words and collections of sentences come about?
To illustrate, an echo has no essential reality as a sound, but just as one apprehends sounds from mountains and ravines that do not speak, similarly with the issuing forth of language.
How do things come about from causes and conditions?
To illustrate, when the sense faculty is harmed, even though there are no matted falling hairs, they appear; from a place with certain particular features the city of the gandharvas and so on appears; because of the special features of a meditation the signs of extinction and so on appear; and because of the special features of thought constructions overcome by desire, sorrow, fear, and so on there are the particular appearances of conceptualized forms and so on. Even though they come about from causes, they do not exist. Similarly, all phenomena [F.21.b] come about from causes but do not exist.
Given that they do not exist, how is a son produced from a father, fruit from the pits of the fruit of mango trees and so on—how do results similar to causes come about?
To illustrate, just as you apprehend a reflection in a mirror from the appearance of a face and so on that is its cause, even though it does not exist, similarly with all phenomena.
How do activities come about?
Just as magical creations appear to have physical activities—going, coming, and so on—and verbal activities, even though they do not exist, similarly with all phenomena.
Alternatively, there are eight marks: the mark of emptiness, the mark of signlessness, the mark of wishlessness, the mark of the absence of an intrinsic nature, the mark of a dependent origination, the mark of an apparition, the mark of a falsely imagined phenomenon, and the mark of a dependent phenomenon. Among these, the nonexistence of the illusory elephants and so on is emptiness; a mirage and so on that is mistaken for water and so on is signlessness; a reflection of the moon in water that has no standing anywhere is wishlessness; a dream is the absence of an intrinsic nature; an echo arises dependent on space, mountains, caves, and so on; apparitions are appearances out of the void; reflections in the mirror have a standing in the face alone—they appear as if they are standing in the mirror over there. Similarly, imaginary phenomena appear as if they are standing over there away from the consciousness. Dependent phenomena are produced dependent on conditions, like, as an analogy, magical creations that are produced dependent on the magician. You should construe them like that.
This teaches that by means of the concordant cause that is the perfection of knowledge, the sarvasattvacittacaritānugata and the dharmadhātupraveśa meditative stabilizations are produced.135 [F.22.a] With the former of these meditative stabilizations they “comprehend,” with a single act of knowledge and in a single instant, the different “thoughts,” “conduct,” and “beliefs” in all their variety136 of as many beings as there are included in the category of being, in all world systems all gathered together. Having comprehended them, they understand in a single instant the means to train them and cause them to practice accordingly.
they understand the many kinds of “subtle knowledge”138 of the tathāgatas, worthy ones, perfectly complete buddhas; that is, knowledge that enters into subtle conduct, knowledge that enters into subtle death and rebirth,139 knowledge that enters into subtle conception,140 knowledge that enters into the subtle leaving of the womb,141 knowledge that enters into the subtle sports education as a young boy,142 knowledge that enters into subtle renunciation, knowledge that enters into subtle full awakening, knowledge that enters into the subtle turning of the wheel of Dharma, knowledge that enters into the subtle employment of sustaining power over the lifespan,143 knowledge that enters into subtle complete nirvāṇa, knowledge that enters into maintenance of the doctrine,144 and knowledge that enters into the subtle secrets of the tathāgatas. These subtle secrets of the tathāgatas are as follows: secret of body, secret of speech, secret of mind, secret insight into when is and is not the right time, secret prediction of bodhisattvas, secret attracting and subjugation of beings, secret division of vehicles, secret distinguishing of the conduct and faculties of beings, secret entry into doing and what is to be done, secret conduct and full awakening, and secret [F.22.b] comprehension of the basic nature.
teaches obtaining the concordant cause that is the perfection of power. Thus, when they have gained power in its essential matured form their minds become unobstructed by anything. What are those powers? They are146 the power of intention because they are without the origination of all afflictions; the power of surpassing intention because they have purified the levels’ knowledge;147 the power of dhāraṇī because they possess the quality of nonforgetfulness; the power of meditative stabilization because they never waver; the power of clairvoyance because they are skillful in analyzing conduct in limitless world systems; the power of faculties because they have gained the fulfillment of all their desires; the power of confidence giving a readiness to speak because they are skilled in the examination and analysis of all the buddhadharmas; the power of prayer because they practice without forsaking the conduct for all the buddhadharmas; the power of perfection because they do not forsake the conduct that will bring their own buddhadharmas to maturity, that will mature all beings, and that will benefit all beings; the power of great love because they do not forsake the effort to rescue all beings; the power of great compassion because they relieve all the suffering of all beings; the power of the true nature of dharmas because they come face to face with the true nature of dharmas that are like illusions and so on; and the power of the sustaining power of all the tathāgatas because omniscience in all its aspects has become manifest. They are in possession of just these powers that the Sūtra has described, so they have gained the true nature of dharmas that is unobstructed [F.23.a] by anything, and therefore it says “with unobstructed thoughts.”
Immediately after they have gained the sarvajñajñānaviśeṣābhiṣekavat148 meditative stabilization, bodhisattvas stationed on the Dharmameghā level receive consecration with the light rays of the tathāgatas of the ten directions on the precious great king of lotuses.149 Immediately after that all the patience they have gained earlier becomes extremely purified, and the hundred thousand meditative stabilizations—śūraṃgama and so on—the hundred thousand dhāraṇī doors—akṣayakaraṇḍā and so on—and the forbearance for the immeasurable objects within the range of the buddhas arise. This is “just a sample” of omniscience because those have arisen.150
They understand perfectly correctly and well the knowledges that cause entry because they understand the many kinds of knowledge of the tathāgatas, worthy ones, perfectly complete buddhas that cause entry—that is, the knowledge that causes entry through the way of a child, the knowledge that causes entry through dust atoms, the knowledge that causes entry through complete comprehension of the collection of buddhafields, the knowledge that causes entry through the complete comprehension of the thoughts of the collection of beings, the knowledge that causes entry through the complete comprehension that has gone everywhere, the knowledge that causes entry by demonstrating conduct opposite to what is expected, the knowledge that causes entry by demonstrating conduct that goes with the grain, the knowledge that causes entry by demonstrating conduct that goes against the grain, the knowledge that causes entry by demonstrating inconceivable conduct the worldly can understand and inconceivable conduct,153 and the knowledge that causes entry by demonstrating conduct śrāvakas can understand, pratyekabuddhas [F.23.b] can understand, bodhisattvas can understand, and tathāgatas can understand. Children of the Victor! Therefore, since the omniscience154 of the lord buddhas is vast and immeasurable, the knowledge that causes entry of those standing here is immeasurable too.
This all means “skillful in the reality just as it is of all that is unsurpassed.”
Because of the prayers they have previously made—“The endless arrays that there are in all the buddhafields such as the Sukhāvatī, Padmavatī, and Arciṣmatī buddhafields, may mine be like them! Or, may mine surpass them!”—and what they have caused to occur with their great perseverance because of making those prayers, it has now been appropriated within the form of a maturation.156
teaches the concordant cause that is the perfection of meditative concentration. It means that because of the force of having earlier cultivated the meditative stabilization that recollects the buddhas, now they are everywhere, always; they are not separated from the presence of all those buddhas in countless, infinite world systems and effortlessly, in a mere instant, are face to face with them.
This means that they are skilled in going into the presence of the lord buddhas abiding in countless, infinite world systems and requesting them to turn the wheel of the Dharma, and in requesting those who want to pass into complete nirvāṇa [F.24.a] to stay for a long time.
teaches the concordant cause that is in harmony with the perfection of skillful means. They see the different aspirations, propensities, conduct, beliefs, and faculties of beings and are skilled in persistently eliminating their views and so on as appropriate. Hence it teaches that they know the range of the tathāgata’s powers as well.157
teaches that they have gained mastery over the matured clairvoyances. through the power of their meditative stabilization they are skilled in playing with the clairvoyant knowledges in one hundred thousand ways. It says:158
Having gained mastery over such knowledge, with well-examined knowledge and clairvoyant knowledge, as they wish, they make world systems that have contracted expand with their sustaining power, and make world systems that have expanded contract. With their sustaining power, as they wish, they make defiled world systems pure, and make pure world systems defiled; similarly, as supreme leaders, they produce world systems that are spacious, huge, immeasurable, fine, gross, inverted, upside-down, uniformly flat, and so on, and sustain them with their sustaining power. With their sustaining power, as they wish, they put an entire world system and its encircling girdle of mountains into a single dust atom, and they display that performance without making the dust atom any bigger. With their sustaining power they put two, three, four, or five world systems, up to an inexpressible [F.24.b] world system, into a single dust atom, all with their encircling girdles of mountains; and without making the dust atom increase they demonstrate that performance [in reverse].159 As they wish, they display the array of two world systems, up to the array of inexpressible world systems, in one world system. As they wish, they display the array of one world system in two world systems, up to inexpressible world systems. They display in one world system as many beings as there are160 in world systems up to the inexpressible, but without injuring the beings. They display as many beings as there are in one world system in inexpressible world systems, but without injuring the beings. As they wish, they array beings arrayed in inexpressible world systems on a single strand of hair, but without injuring the beings. As they wish, they display a single array of the objects of all the buddhas on a single strand of hair; as they wish, they display up to inexpressible arrays of the objects of all the buddhas. They, as they wish, magically create in a single instant as many bodies as there are dust atoms in inexpressible world systems. They display on each of those bodies that many arms, offer worship to the buddhas in the ten directions with them, and with each of them strew handfuls of flowers over the lord buddhas, as many as the grains of sand in the Gaṅgā River, and, as with the flowers, similarly perfumes, [F.25.a] flower garlands, creams, powders, robes, parasols, flags, and banners. Through their sustaining power they sustain on each of those bodies that many heads, and through their sustaining power they sustain in each head that many tongues. With each of those tongues they extol the buddhas. Having produced the thought of awakening, each goes pervading the ten directions.161 They also, just by the production of the thought, sustain with their sustaining power infinite, perfect full awakening, up to the great arrays of parinirvāṇa. With their sustaining power they sustain infinite bodies in the three periods of time; they sustain infinite arrays of buddhafields of infinite lord buddhas in their bodies; they sustain in their bodies all the destruction and unfolding of world systems. They emit the wind firmaments162 from a single pore of their bodies, but still without injuring beings. As they wish, with their sustaining power they sustain the world system as far as the waters as a single mass of water,163 and on that sustain the great lotus, pervade endless world systems with the array of light that shines from that lotus, and display the great branched-tree of awakening, up to exhibit the omniscience endowed with all the finest aspects. With their sustaining power they sustain in their bodies the light of jewels, lightning, the sun, and the moon of the ten directions, up to all shining light. With a single puff of breath they shake endless world systems in the ten directions but without scaring164 beings. And with their sustaining power they sustain in the ten directions destruction by wind, fire, and water; and in line with their intentions, they sustain, as they wish, the adornment of [F.25.b] the physical form-bases of all beings. With their sustaining power they sustain their body in the body of the tathāgata; sustain the body of the tathāgata in their body; sustain their own buddhafield in the body of the tathāgata; and sustain the body of the tathāgata in their own buddhafield. Thus they demonstrate a hundred thousand immeasurable and innumerable, endless amusements such as these.165
Therefore, it says that they are “skillful in accomplishing a hundred thousand feats through meditative concentration.”
and so on. The arrangement of the seating posture has two parts: the arrangement of the lion throne, and the arrangement of the cross-legged posture.166 “Thereupon the Lord, having himself arranged the lion throne” teaches the lion throne.
and so on, teaches the cross-legged posture.
Why does he himself arrange the lion throne? Because of two things: he does so to demonstrate that a unique discourse is greatly worthy of worship, and he does so to tame the retinues.167 In many other sūtras it is as follows: they say that when the Lord is teaching to those in the Śrāvaka Vehicle he sits on a seat arranged by śrāvakas; when teaching to those in the Great Vehicle he sits on a seat arranged [F.26.a] by bodhisattvas. When it comes to this Dharma discourse, the Lord himself arranges the seat because it is a unique discourse. It shows: “Only I myself can be comfortable on this, so it goes without saying only I can give the discourse.” Furthermore, here he tames many who have to be tamed. They have different beliefs and aspirations, so he himself arranges his seat to make a seating arrangement in harmony with them all.
It also explains the Dharma posture in three parts: in harmony with physical meditation he sits cross-legged because physical pliancy has to be produced; in harmony with mental meditation the body is erect because mental pliancy has to be produced; and in harmony with meditative stabilization there is a direct application of mindfulness because there has to be single-pointedness.
He is not in fact focusing his mind. It is in the nature of tathāgatas that they abide in this way, not otherwise. Even though tathāgatas are always in equipoise they demonstrate this conduct for those to be trained, so it has a purpose because it causes others to think, “If even the lords abide in such a practice it goes without saying that we should do so as well.”
This introduction, furthermore, teaches in three ways:169 with miraculous powers of meditative stabilization, miraculous wonder-working powers, and miraculous dharma-illuminating powers. Among these, the miraculous power of meditative stabilization is twofold based on two meditative stabilizations: the miraculous power of the meditative stabilization called the samādhirāja, and the miraculous power of the meditative stabilization called the siṃhavikrīḍita. There are also two miraculous wonder-working powers: wonder-working by means of magical creation and wonder-working by means of sustaining power. [F.26.b] And there are two miraculous dharma-illuminating powers as well: the miraculous power of teaching in many world systems, and the miraculous power of assembling a retinue.
Among these, starting from
and so on teaches wonder-working by means of magical creation; then, from
Now, in regard to these, the teaching about the miraculous power of the samādhirāja meditative stabilization [F.27.a] is a teaching in four parts: radiating light from the major and minor parts of the body, radiating light from the pores of the body, radiating natural light, and radiating176 light from the tongue.
In regard to “entered into the meditative stabilization, samādhirāja by name,” why does the Tathāgata enter into meditative equipoise? Does he accomplish anything while not in meditative equipoise? Does he not practice?
It is not that tathāgatas do not practice, but tathāgatas do not delight in distraction, which is not becoming, so they are always in meditative equipoise. Thus, being absorbed in meditative stabilization like this is their natural state. And why has he entered into just this meditative stabilization and not some other? Because this meditative stabilization accomplishes all aims. Therefore, it says
They are “included” because of their intrinsic nature; they “come to meet” because of their work. The good qualities of this meditative stabilization can be known in detail from the sūtra called The King of Samādhis Sūtra. Hence, with the name king of meditative stabilizations it is taught through a creative explanation as well.177
With what is such a meditative stabilization accompanied? What kind of mark does it have? It is free from applied and sustained thought, and from joy and happiness;178 it is accompanied by equanimity; and its mark is immovability.
The “fourth” is just an expression contingent on a first, second, and third. [F.27.b] In the absence of anything higher that has to be produced, tathāgatas do not enter absorption into meditative equipoises in a series, so there is no “first” and so on, and hence it does not get the name “fourth.” The samādhirāja is stated to be “not moving” because it is marked by the mere partial immovability.180 That meditative stabilization is not enjoyed in the form, desire, or formless realms. It is called “meditative stabilization” because it is accompanied by equanimity without outflows and is in the form of a single-pointed mind. Furthermore, based on specific actions they are simply given different names such as śūraṅgama, siṃhavikrīḍita, samādhirāja, sarvadharmātikramaṇa, vilokitamūrdhan, and so on. There is no division into different entities.
Having thus taught the entrance into meditative stabilization, to teach that light radiates out from the major and minor limbs of the body it says
Here, take “beamed” as unfurled, in the sense of making it possible for light rays to emerge and radiate out from all the major and minor limbs. Tathāgatas do not exert themselves by thinking, “I am going to do it,” but rather, when there is a need for something, they accomplish it through the force of their meditative stabilization. The force of the previous prayer that is a vow has fully taken hold of the meditative stabilization. You should know that those who recite the Buddha’s words have such knowledge and use such locutions as “the Tathāgata did that” and “the Tathāgata said that” just to make it conventionally acceptable.
the “sixty” is repeated twice because there are the two soles of his feet.
But why does it say exactly sixty? [F.28.a] There are so many light rays, so many to train, so many needs that it would be right to say “a hundred thousand one hundred million billion.” So why does it specify exactly sixty?
Understand as follows. It is said that the light rays of a tathāgata are, by nature, in six colors: blue, yellow, red, white, saffron, and clear light, and when light rays of those six colors radiate out into the ten directions, because of the ten different directions they become sixty.
But the emergence of a single light ray is capable of accomplishing all aims, is it not? So why do light rays emerge from all the major and minor limbs? Indeed. But still a great exertion is exhibited in order to demonstrate a great show of respect for the discourse.
this too is just to show respect, because faith-followers who come afterward will think, “The Tathāgata radiates light rays like this from each of his hair pores, that is, he gives this discourse having shown it great respect.” So, it is helpful to those at a later time because it gives rise to faith. You should know these light rays also do two types of work.182
Light rays come from within; splendor comes from the outer skin. Alternatively, light rays come when knowledge radiates out; splendor comes when color radiates out, because the treatises also say that a buddha’s light rays arise when the Dharma is perfectly understood at the site of awakening. And a sūtra says, “The moment they are stirred by the thought, ‘When lord buddhas teach the Dharma, most previously have explained such a Dharma as this,’ light rays emerge.” So, you should know that when the light of knowledge emerges from within, light rays also arise. And you should be aware that natural light also does the two types of work.
The miraculous power of illumination with the tongue is demonstrated to presage the teaching of Dharma. The radiance from the tongue also signifies the teaching of Dharma. The emergence of lotuses from those light rays is a sign that bodhisattvas [who listen to the teaching] have definitely entered into flawlessness. The buddhas emerging from them and teaching Dharma signifies that those lotus bodhisattvas, when they bloom and grow into right and perfect complete awakening, will teach such Dharma in the different directions.
and so on teaches the two miraculous powers of meditative stabilization. These miraculous powers, furthermore, show the twin aspects of cleansing the container world and helping the world of inhabitant beings.
The activity of cleansing the container world is for worship of the discourse. The demonstration of this cleansing is in five parts:185 shaking, quaking, stirring, rising, and sinking. Among these is shaking. Just as the human body does not shake, but still the legs and the arms [F.29.a] and so on quake, so too there is shaking when a region stirs. That same person [who has a human body] turns like a turning wheel. Like that, when the whole disk rotates it is quaking.
With the force of wind, the trees stir. Like that, when everything stirs on its own it is stirring. Each of those is subdivided into three: small, middling, and large. Of them, first there is a gentle shaking, then one more forceful than that, a great shaking, then one even more forceful than that, a violent shaking. Then, after that there is a quaking, but not rapidly, then more rapidly, a great quaking, and after that very rapidly and for a long time, a violent quaking. You should apply and explain them like that.
Then, when the mountains at the edges—the girdle of mountains, the great encircling girdle of mountains, and so on—became elevated and the middle remained as it was, the edges rose up while the middle sank; when the middle became elevated and the mountains remained as they were, the middle rose up while the edges sank.
It then says
that is, produced amazement: the huge mountains and so on became soft; all the branches of the trees and so on became oily; the wind made all beings feel at ease. Construe it like that.
Then, because it was a benefit for all worlds, it says
and so on. It also says
all the places that preclude a perfect human birth disappeared P18k
and so on. The meaning of a good situation and the freedoms is the same because “places that preclude a perfect human birth” are situations precluding clear realization. There are, furthermore, eight of these: birth in hell; birth as an animal; [F.29.b] birth as a ghost; birth as a barbarian in a border area; birth in a formless and thought-free existence; birth as a blind, deaf, or mute person and so on; birth with a wrong view; and birth during an eon when there is no buddha.
Those reborn in just that place that does not preclude a perfect human birth are not born there. Therefore they are also “places precluding a perfect human birth.” They have “disappeared.” It is not that their continuum has been cut.
That all the beings acquire eyes and so on in this way comes about through the power of the previous prayers of the buddhas.
“Cries of delight” (udāna) are words stirred by delight. To illustrate, just as the upward-rising vital wind (udāna) comes out involuntarily,186 similarly, words stirred through delight in the increase in Dharma are caused to rise up, as it were, so they are “cried out.”187 Seeing in this buddhafield that the lazy, the disadvantaged, and those born in states of woe have become perfectly endowed with such excellent knowledge, “Ah!”—the buddhas “cried out cries of delight” that the self-discipline, calming, restraint, observance of celibacy, and so on, engaged in when they themselves were bodhisattvas, are amazing, because through the force of dedicating them, even those who are disadvantaged like that have become
is being bound by the code of the confession and restoration observance;
is to exercise restraint where it is expected of a monastic and so on; and [F.30.a]
is to cultivate love and so on. The result of restraint of the sense faculties is that there are no people who are blind, deaf, dumb, and so on;188 the result of meditative stabilization and so on is that
and so on. The result of being bound by the code of the confession and restoration observance and so on is that
and so on. The result of observing celibacy is giving up the ten unwholesome paths of action and completing the ten wholesome paths of action and hence being free from stain and so on. The result of cultivating love and so on is they
and so on, gained
in assemblies, and gained
When it says
it is that his light is shining and blazing, the color is of his beautiful skin, the brilliance his force, and glory his pleasing shape and so on.
At that time, the Tathāgata thinks about such a great spectacle to produce respect for the Dharma discourse. The idea is that this is said because at that time such an attitude is produced in the minds of all beings.
Towering over with light he is
towering over with color he is
towering over with brilliance he is
and towering over with glory he is
he towers over the Brahmās because they feel proud of their light. With
he towers over the gods; with
he towers over humans.
This means there was not even a single unfortunate being within this encircling range of a billion mountains, no Brahmā, god, Māra, or human, in front of whom the Tathāgata did not appear. “Like that of…” means that, to set them at ease, he appeared in front of them the same size as they were. An “ordinary bodily form” means a “natural bodily form.”190 What sort of natural bodily form is it? It is
And what is “the body of the Tathāgata you can never see enough”? The body of the Tathāgata is one whose color is unlike the color of human or celestial bodies; it is one whose color is unlike anything that exists anywhere in the world. Everybody understands that even though its color appears, it is not like the color of their own bodies. And so too with the flesh, bones, hair, and nails—they are not like those of other beings. Even though they appear similarly, all ordinary beings are unsure. That body thus appears to be a body, but ordinary persons are not sure what kind of thing it is. So, this extremely radiant and vast body, a body similar to all other bodies in shape and color and so forth but whose nature is not known, “can never be seen enough.” Furthermore, even if it is known to have the nature of a diamond, the nature of gold, jewel, pearl, or beryl and so on, or that it is in the class of human bodies, in the class of celestial or Brahmā bodies, [F.31.a] or not even classifiable as a body, still it cannot be known how, and it cannot be categorized or reckoned. That is the meaning.
and so on demonstrates the miraculous dharma-illuminating powers, so those standing in different world systems will be illuminated for each other, and in order to assemble a retinue. It is so that they will be pleased, delighted, and have faith.
World systems are limitless, so take “at the very limit” as the limit on account of those adjacent to it.192 By teaching the limit of all world systems, it teaches that the bodhisattvas standing in all the world systems up to that one come to see Śākyamuni.
Why don’t all of them come?
It is because the radiance of the Buddha illuminates those for whom there is a purpose in coming, not others. This teaches that radiance-messengers exhort those who, when our Tathāgata was a bodhisattva, made a prayer that is a vow together with the Tathāgata and so on, even if they have been born in other buddhafields, because they are trainees of our Tathāgata.
that is to say, because [Ratnākara] has not passed into complete nirvāṇa, his life-faculty continuum remains;194 because he has no physical sicknesses he “stays”; and he “maintains himself” because he has no sudden sicknesses and lives out his span. Alternatively, because it persists, the dharma body “stands”; [F.31.b] the complete enjoyment body “stays”; and the magically created body “maintains itself.”
there are two sorts of those “in the form of the young”: those based on celibacy and those based on the Bodhisattva level. Those bodhisattvas who naturally have fewer defilements and are celibate, starting from their first production of the thought of awakening up to when they stand on the tenth level, are “in the form of the young.” Those on the eighth level are also “in the form of the young”—because those who reach that level are free from all effort and conceptualization, they are “in the form of the young.”
why do buddhas give offerings of lotuses and why do they inquire about health?196
This is the conventional custom of buddhas. When ordinary faith-followers see and hear this they feel a serene confidence: “Ah! They are without arrogance and envy.” And it lets them know there are buddhas who stand in other buddhafields as well. The masters say, “They are disciplined, but not fully accomplished. He dispatches the lotuses so it will be known that the bodhisattva and his retinue are in fact trainees.”
So, because they are not perfectly, fully accomplished, he gives the instruction, “Child of a good family, be careful in that buddhafield.” Furthermore, he says this because there are five degenerations in this buddhafield: degeneration because of afflictions, degeneration because of the time in the eon, degeneration in lifespan, degeneration in views, and degeneration in beings.197
Among these, degeneration because of afflictions is because greed, hatred, confusion, and so on are more prevalent in this buddhafield, not less. Therefore, beings engage in the ten unwholesome actions and very many wickednesses other than those as well. [F.32.a] And those cause the appearance of beings in hell, as animals, as ghosts, in the class of asuras, and much suffering among humans as well. Usually buddhafields are not like that.
The time of the eon is also bad; many difficulties come about because of the time: the famine sub-eon’s198 force brings about a world with the excruciating suffering of recurrent famine; the sickness sub-eon’s force brings about many diseases; the armament sub-eon’s force brings about many who are violent toward one another; the force of the time during an eon when there is destruction by water makes afflictions on the side of suffering existence strong; the force of destruction by fire makes the hatred side strong; and the force of destruction by wind makes the confusion side strong, and so on.
Degeneration in lifespan makes it uncertain how long beings live. Sometimes the lifespan is immeasurable, sometimes the lifespan is for ten years—it is never definite. Some die in the womb, some right after birth or when still an infant, others in their teens, others in the prime of life, others when half their life is over, and others when they are old and so on. Death is uncertain, and on account of that there is much pain, lamentation, suffering, mental anguish, and so on in the world.
Degeneration in views is that extremely vile views destroy all that is wholesome. When subdivided there are the sixty-two of them.
There, even a thousand buddhas do not engage in curing those who have become confirmed in wrong views. All the absolute tīrthikas naturally prone to deprecate the Dharma, without serene faith, not found in the assembly, extremely disparaging, and in their nature not receptacles for the Dharma usually have mindstreams like salty soil,199 usually have mindstreams that have become like white garlic, minds that the good Dharma [F.32.b] cannot perfume. So, because this world system has been so corrupted by those five flaws all the other lord buddhas forsake it and awaken to complete awakening in other buddhafields. Our own Tathāgata, previously, when engaging in the bodhisattva’s career, made a prayer: “Having with great vigor, great patience, and great skillful means disciplined beings in just that world system others have forsaken, may I awaken fully to unsurpassed, perfect, complete awakening right there.” So, even though all the other lord buddhas have given it up, for our sake our Lord Buddha accepts a terribly burdensome body. Great, therefore, is his compassion.
These “five degenerations” are, to illustrate, like food with an extremely bitter taste that causes suffering and is inedible. Alternatively, they are like the bitter dregs of medicinal herbs extracted from butter that have to be thrown away and are unusable. Alternatively, those beings are also like cloth200 boiled in saffron and so on that cannot take another dye for as long as the power of the saffron has not gone. It is because of these [meanings of the word kaṣāya] that they are called “degenerations.”
So, because this world system has such great flaws, all the buddhas give instructions and advice to bodhisattvas going there who are not yet fully accomplished. To illustrate, if people traveling over a vast flat plain are not warned when approaching an area with dangerous thorns, clods, rocks, and so on, because they are used to the earlier ground they proceed in exactly the same fashion and experience great suffering. [F.33.a] Similarly, buddhas instruct these bodhisattvas, worried that something like that will happen.
The statement that
is not intended mainly as a criticism of those bodhisattvas, but mainly as a criticism of the world system. In such a terrible world system as this it is said “even bodhisattvas feel worried.” Having heard that such is the case those born there become disenchanted with this world and feel great faith in the Tathāgata. With
“to respect” is to verbally praise; “to revere” is to mentally respect and value; “to honor” is to do so physically with folded hands, bowing, and circumambulating; and “to worship” is to bestow material things—flowers, incense, and so on.
he is “well” because he has no sudden illness; is “free from sickness” because of possessing the four conditions;202 and is “alert and buoyant,”203 set apart by having a physical constitution not weakened by old age and so on. “Eating well” is the result of being “well”; being “strong” is the result of being “free from sickness”; and being “comfortable” is the result of being “alert and buoyant.”
Question: Why among all the many who have arrived does he speak to him alone? It contradicts what has been said above, namely, [F.33.b] that they think, “The Tathāgata is seated in front of me explaining the Dharma.” All those gathered there see the Tathāgata from their own personal perspective and think, “The Tathāgata is explaining the Dharma.” If the Lord has singled out one from among them all, and specifically speaks to him, why does this not conflict with the experience of the rest of the retinue?
Response: Let me explain. It is true that the Tathāgata manifests and explains everything to everyone. Still, he speaks to Śāriputra, and in that instant he also speaks to all. Insofar as in that one spoken instant he makes all sorts of different statements to all, those who recite the Buddha’s words are not able to recite all the dimensions of the discourse. So, summoning a stupendously brilliant knowledge of the explanation, they have recited it, having taken one dimension of the discourse suited to all the beings.
Alternatively, the Tathāgata begins by teaching Śāriputra because just this way causes the good Dharma to last for a long time and therefore the Tathāgata has permitted it. So, those who recite the Buddha’s words recite based on just that permission.
Response: You should understand this as follows. The perfection of wisdom is a shared discourse. It is not a discourse for the sake of just bodhisattvas. And why? Because the perfection of wisdom exists as all-knowledge, the knowledge of path aspects, the knowledge of all aspects, and the three doors. There, if the Lord had set the scene by addressing any bodhisattva [F.34.a] it is possible that others might have thought, “This profundity is not going to be within our range,” and been ill at ease. By setting the scene with Śāriputra, the explanation becomes one shared by all beings. The others think, “This is not too profound.” So, he sets the scene with Śāriputra. It is similar later on as well, where we find the monks and others in the retinue clearly realizing the Dharma and each reaching their own goals.
Again, Śāriputra, at a future time, after immeasurable, inconceivable, incalculable eons, when you have learned the good Dharma from many hundred thousand one hundred million billion tathāgatas, have showed devotion in various ways, and completed just this bodhisattva practice, you will become in the world, in the buddhafield called Viraja, a tathāgata, worthy one, perfectly complete buddha called Padmaprabha.
Qualm: How could a monk with outflows dried up, who has cut the continuum of afflictions and karma, link up with another existence and practice this bodhisattva practice for immeasurable, inconceivable eons? It does not make any sense, because, were even worthy ones to link up with rebirths, then all the worthy ones would be reborn yet again, and the unwelcome consequence would be that they have not achieved liberation.
Response: This too is not certain. It would be correct to say that were worthy ones to have karma and afflictions they would through the power of karma [F.34.b] and afflictions be reborn in suffering existence and would not achieve liberation, but not to say that worthy ones, as worthy ones, have karma and afflictions and will be reborn because of that.
Those in the lineage that is not certain meet with certain conditions and in line with those conditions become destined for the three awakenings.213 The tathāgatas see that and want to deliver them gradually into buddhahood. Seeing that they have stronger afflictions and duller faculties and therefore do not have the capacity to practice the bodhisattva’s excellent practices, the tathāgatas, therefore, first lead them onto the path that acts to cause the pacification of afflictions. The two, suchness and nirvāṇa, are not different, so the tathāgatas lead them to the realization of suchness-nirvāṇa. After they have been led in that way they train in morality, meditative stabilization, and wisdom again and gradually realize suchness-nirvāṇa.214 This is known as the “Darśana level” and also as the “stream enterer path.” Then they lead them into eliminating both attachment to sense objects and malice. By refining away their attachment to sense objects and malice, noble beings realize suchness, so this is known as the “Tanū level,”215 and also as the “once-returner path.” Then they lead them to the complete elimination of just that attachment and malice [F.35.a] whereby they realize suchness and achieve the third, “Vītarāga level.” That is also called the “non-returner’s path.” Then they further lead them to eliminate the remaining form and formless realm attachment, pride, agitation, and ignorance. Just through realizing suchness they realize the “Kṛtāvin level.” That is also called the “worthy one’s path.” Further, having led them to all those, they teach the Dharma to them in whatever way they can to produce a great desire for buddhahood.
Then on the Kṛtāvin level, those who desire just buddhahood have eliminated all of the afflictions because of their desire for buddhahood, but they still have not eliminated the residual impressions left by ignorance. Because they have not eliminated those, they216 have not eliminated all the residual impressions left by the afflictions.
Then the tathāgatas explain the Bodhisattva Vehicle to them. That explanation thoroughly purifies their faculties and they become endowed with the intention capable of bringing all the bodhisattva practices to completion, and gradually gain forbearance for the deep dharmas as well.
Thus, the tathāgatas predict the buddhahood of those217 with a fixed intention for the Buddha level who have eliminated all afflictions, who have total realization of the dharma-constituent, and who have gained forbearance for the deep dharmas. From that point on those standing on the eighth level218 become nonconceptual, effortless great bodhisattvas. When219 they become like that they appropriate another existence, practice the bodhisattva practices, do the work of maturing beings, and bring their own buddhadharmas to maturity.
This has two parts: the power of the condition and the power of the cause. Among these, not having eliminated the residual impressions left by the afflictions is the condition for linking up with another existence; the wholesome roots without outflows that have emerged from the causal wholesome roots with outflows [F.35.b] are the cause that produces another existence. You should know them from the explanation in a sūtra:220
“Sāgaramati, what are these afflictions accompanying the wholesome roots that keep saṃsāra going? They are never being satisfied with the accumulation of merit, taking up birth in existence having the intention to do so, aspiring to meet with buddhas, not getting depressed when bringing beings to maturity, endeavoring to grasp the good Dharma, being enthusiastic for whatever work beings do, not forsaking thoughts of desire for the Dharma, and not giving up the practice of the perfections. Sāgaramati, those are the afflictions accompanying the wholesome roots that keep saṃsāra going. Bodhisattvas are afflicted221 by them, but they are not stained by the faults of the afflictions.”
The Lord said, “Sāgaramati, it is because these sorts of afflictions afflict bodhisattvas in the three realms, and the three realms come about from afflictions. Bodhisattvas are afflicted in the three realms intentionally through the power of their skillful means and production of wholesome roots. That is why they are called ‘afflictions accompanying the wholesome roots.’ They are afflictions to the extent that they connect them to the three realms, but not because they afflict their minds.222
“As an illustration, suppose, Sāgaramati, that a businessman householder has only one son, and this son, much valued, loved, a delight, and a natural joy to behold becomes a toddler, gets up to something or other, and falls into a filthy cesspool. His mother and close and distant relatives then see [F.36.a] the child has fallen into the filthy pit. They see him and feel a surge of adrenalin, are tormented and scream, but still do not dive into the cesspool and get the son out. Then the boy’s father arrives and sees his only son fallen into this filthy cesspool. As soon as he sees his only son his love and attachment are so intense he immediately feels no sense of repulsion, dives into the filthy cesspool, and gets him out.
“This, Sāgaramati, is the analogy I have given so you will understand the meaning. And what should you see as the meaning here? Sāgaramati, ‘cesspool’ is a word for the three realms; ‘only son’ words for all beings (bodhisattvas see all beings as an only son); ‘mother and close and distant relatives’ words for persons in the Śrāvaka and Pratyekabuddha Vehicles (when they see beings fallen into saṃsāra they are tormented and scream but do not dare to get them out); and ‘businessman householder’ words for the bodhisattvas.”
When those wholesome roots that have been entirely changed into their ripened form flourish, through the power of the residual impressions left by ignorance as condition, they become the cause for producing a body. As a sūtra also says:223