The Questions of Pūrṇa
The Possession of Roots of Virtue
Degé Kangyur, vol. 42 (dkon brtsegs, nga), folios 168.b–227.a..
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
In Veṇuvana, outside Rājagṛha, Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra asks the Buddha about the conduct of bodhisattvas practicing on the path to awakening. The Buddha replies by describing the attitudes that bodhisattvas must possess as well as their benefits. Then, at the request of Maudgalyāyana, the Buddha recounts several of his past lives in which he himself practiced bodhisattva conduct. At the end of the teaching, the Buddha instructs the assembly about how to deal with specific objections to his teachings that outsiders might raise after he himself has passed into nirvāṇa.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Benjamin Collet-Cassart and Nika Jovic translated the text from Tibetan into English and wrote the introduction. James Gentry then compared the translation with Kumārajīva’s Chinese translation. Finally, Andreas Doctor compared the draft translation with the original Tibetan and edited the text. Ryan Damron and Thomas Doctor also helped resolve several difficult passages.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
Work on this text would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of 王学文 and 马国凤, which is most gratefully acknowledged.
“Pūrṇa,” continued the Blessed One, “if bodhisattva great beings who are genuinely following the Great Vehicle constantly rely on and familiarize themselves with four qualities, they will gather all virtues in the most perfect manner, and they will possess all the roots of virtue. What are the four?
“Pūrṇa, (1) noble sons and daughters who have given rise to the mind set on awakening within the Great Vehicle should rely on and cultivate the practice of patience. As they cultivate patience, if their minds are in a state of equanimity, they will attain the perfections of that profound sameness, as well as the perfection of the sameness of all beings. When such bodhisattvas are endowed with the perfection of the sameness of the mind and the perfection of the sameness of wisdom—whether they are walking, standing, sitting, lying down, sleeping, or awake—if someone comes along carrying a vessel filled with urine, poison, hot liquid, garbage, fire, ashes, excrement, or embers and pours the content of the vessel on their heads, or strikes their limbs with full force, these bodhisattvas should avoid becoming angry or resentful, thus becoming distracted and aggressive. They should not even ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’ They should also not regard the other person with hostility. Instead, they should tame their minds by one-pointedly pursuing their Dharma practice, without losing a clear focus on the aim of their practice. Such bodhisattvas will think, ‘When that person comes to me carrying a vase filled with urine, poison, ashes, or embers and tries to harm my body, my body is not hurt or injured by those substances.’ [F.191.b] Thus analyzing things in terms of their multiple causes and conditions, bodhisattvas will then contemplate this matter in accordance with the way things really are, asking themselves, ‘Who is pouring these substances on me?’ ‘On whom are these substances poured?’ ‘What are the substances poured?’ At that time, they will not find anyone who is the pourer, anyone who is the recipient of this act, or anything that is poured. Contemplating and investigating in this way with proper mindfulness, they will not find any of these things, and they will therefore not apprehend or behold any phenomenon. Because they do not apprehend or behold any phenomenon, they will also not give rise to anger or resentment.
“Pūrṇa, despite the fact that they reflect in that way, if anger and resentment nonetheless arise in the minds of these bodhisattvas, they should think in this way, with genuine mindfulness: ‘Through the causes and conditions of what tactile objects is my body hurt? Where did those tactile objects touch me? Did they harm my body, or did they harm my mind? If it is the case that they have harmed my body, since my body is like grass, like a log, like gravel, like a stone, or like an image, it is devoid of concepts and consciousness, and it is neither self nor other. If it is the case that they have harmed my mind, since my mind has neither color nor shape, since it arises and ceases every moment, and since it does not remain the same for a single instant, it is also neither self nor other. Moreover, since it is always false conceptual imputations that express statements such as, “this is suffering,” “this is happiness,” and “this is neither suffering nor happiness,” I will no longer give rise to such false conceptual imputations. Instead, I will now perceive reality from the perspective of the genuine characteristic of sameness and perform the activities of noble beings. I will not engage in the activities of immature ordinary beings. What are the activities of noble beings? Keeping a distance from and being liberated from phenomena. [F.192.a] However, if I train in staying away from and avoiding phenomena, this will in fact connect me to all those false concepts. To what will this approach connect me? It will connect me to desire, anger, and ignorance. How will this connect me to desire, anger, and ignorance? When someone experiences physical pain, due to the delusion related to the body and to the view of the transitory collection, and due to a strong clinging to this view of the transitory collection, this person will become hostile to others. This is known as connecting with anger. Because of the delusion associated with the view of the transitory collection, and because of strongly clinging to this view combined with the experience of unpleasant circumstances, this person will become hostile to others. This is known as connecting with ignorance. Those who are bound by these three poisons and create the causes and conditions for such wrongdoing will not be protected by the thus-gone ones, so surely not by anyone else either. Hence I should think that I will now investigate these causal and circumstantial phenomena properly and view them as being emptiness.’
“When bodhisattvas investigate such phenomena in terms of their causes and conditions, by viewing them appropriately in this way, they will also not find anyone who gives, anyone who receives, or anything that is given. At that time, these bodhisattvas should think, ‘Since all phenomena arise from a variety of causes and conditions, they are naturally empty from the very beginning. So if they are empty and without any objective status whatsoever, why would I create karmic actions in relation to such untrue phenomena that cannot be apprehended? Why would I in this way create the causes and conditions for further formations by giving rise to anger? Without any anger or resentment, [F.192.b] I must instead realize that phenomena are unconditioned, nonarising, and unborn, and view them as having the nature of emptiness. I will not follow after my mind, but instead, from now on, behold unconditioned, nonarising, and unborn phenomena, without dwelling on conditioned and manifest phenomena. I will contemplate phenomena as they really are, and from now on I will ardently avoid perceiving that which is inauthentic and nonexistent as being a phenomenon. Anger and resentment consistently form what is inauthentic. Why is that? Because anger and resentment are present whenever one dwells on phenomena having an essence. However, within emptiness—the ultimately true characteristic of phenomena—there is primordially no essence of phenomena to dwell upon.’ When bodhisattvas contemplate phenomena in this way, their minds become completely disengaged, and anger and resentment will no longer arise in them.
“Furthermore, Pūrṇa, whenever bodhisattvas are walking, standing, sitting, lying down, sleeping, or awake, if someone scatters fragrant perfumes, fragrant powders, fragrant ointments, or the most sublime flowers upon their bodies; or if someone covers their bodies with perfumes, the most sublime types of flowers, necklaces, garlands of campaka, garlands of varṣika, or garlands made of many other types of flowers; or if someone covers their bodies with the most sublime, refined, and soft types of fabrics, like those from kāśī, kuśaka, kuśapa, kumapa, kuśayaśa, chuma, and kaba;20 or if someone hoists the most sublime types of silken streamers, parasols, victory banners, and flags above them; or if someone covers their bodies with divine flowers, perfumes, [F.193.a] sublime types of fabrics, and garlands of jewels; or if someone comes to them carrying the most delectable, divine food, as delicious as nectar, and offers it to them—in all such cases these bodhisattvas should not crave any of those offerings because they are fond of such things. They should also not keep company or become intimate with such people, walking around21 or conversing with them. They should also not become attached to those people with a biased attitude.
“Rather, bodhisattvas should maintain an attitude of equanimity toward such people. Realizing the sameness of all phenomena, they should think, ‘I will not become angry at sentient beings or become attached to them. Why not? Because both attachment and aversion are disturbing emotions. Therefore, I will now properly realize the actual nature of phenomena, without craving them. Why? Because, among all the disturbing emotions, those connected to craving are the heaviest of all. This disturbing emotion penetrates even to the bone and marrow, for among the things that can bind beings, craving is what causes clinging. Why is it so? Because if we are attached to something and our wishes are not fulfilled, we will also become angry. Since beings are attached to their bodies, if someone harms them, they become angry. Therefore, one should know that anger is a karmic ripening that results from craving, while clinging is a karmic ripening that results from ignorance. I will now discard this mind that is sullied by craving and stop clinging to phenomena. I will no longer perpetuate the manifestation of desire, anger, or ignorance. I will instead train intensively in realizing the suchness of phenomena, [F.193.b] thereby viewing the characteristics of phenomena as they really are. In accordance with the teachings, I will act properly and thus rely on the causes and conditions that lead to karmic ripening. Knowing that the circumstances of both veneration and hardship are conditioned by previous actions, I will delight in conducive factors and never give rise to craving. I will purify my mind without ever giving rise to anger, even toward those beings who oppose virtue. I will eliminate ill will from my mind and never follow desire, anger, or ignorance, or engage in negative actions.’ Pūrṇa, bodhisattvas who possess this first quality will achieve all excellent qualities.” At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses to explain this clearly:
“Furthermore, Pūrṇa, (2) because bodhisattva great beings have abandoned the five sense pleasures and are continuously inclined to renounce the world, they pursue the idea of going forth and apply themselves diligently to that purpose. As a consequence, they do not cling to the five sense pleasures. Once they have gone forth, they abandon all forms of distraction, remain in remote mountains and forests, and ensure that their virtues are not wasted. Bodhisattvas who possess this second quality will achieve all excellent qualities.” At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
“Furthermore, Pūrṇa, (3) because bodhisattvas constantly pursue and train in the Dharma, they read and recite it with great dedication. They pursue a pure discipline and the most refined forms of ascetic practices, not those that lead to many types of desire29 and discontentment. They seek to be at peace from their attachment, not to let it grow. They seek to overcome their anger, not to increase it. They seek to cut off their ignorance, not to cultivate it. They seek to eliminate their arrogance, not to encourage it. They seek to overcome pride, not to increase it. They seek to abandon clinging to I and mine, not to let this clinging become stronger. They pursue the Dharma that teaches selflessness, not the Dharma that bases its view on a self, a person, a sentient being, and a life force. They always pursue the Dharma that will make them attain great insight, not the Dharma that will make such insight decline. They always pursue the Dharma that will make them attain incomparable insight, not the Dharma that will make them attain minor insight. They pursue the Dharma that will make them attain all that is excellent, not the Dharma that will prevent them from attaining excellent qualities. Pursuing the Dharma in this way, they do not look for worldly profit, even though they read the Dharma, recite it, [F.196.a] contemplate it correctly in accordance with the way it is taught, practice it, and teach it to others. Since they also do not seek to be even so much as praised by others, they establish many sentient beings in that Dharma. Pūrṇa, bodhisattvas who possess this third quality will achieve all excellent qualities.” At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
“Pūrṇa, if bodhisattva great beings carefully guard their discipline and observe ascetic practices, they will possess all the roots of virtue—the most excellent merit. Pūrṇa, in the past, countless eons ago, so long ago that the length of time cannot be measured, fathomed, or conceived, a thus-gone one, a worthy one, a perfect buddha appeared in the world. He was endowed with perfect knowledge and conduct. [F.196.b] He was a bliss-gone one, a knower of the world, an unsurpassed guide who tames beings, a teacher of both gods and men. This blessed buddha was named Merugandha. He lived for sixty years. Whenever he taught the Dharma to a gathering, eight hundred million hearers attained the fruition of a worthy one.
“Pūrṇa, after the thus-gone one Merugandha had passed into complete nirvāṇa, the sublime Dharma remained for five hundred years. Within seven days after the Thus-Gone One had passed into complete nirvāṇa, most of the great hearers followed in his footsteps and also nirvāṇa. Pūrṇa, just like me, that thus-gone one appeared in the world at a time of the five degenerations. After the great hearers had passed into complete nirvāṇa, most beings thought, ‘If the Dharma of the mendicants is so pleasant and enjoyable, shouldn’t we all go forth as monks?’ So each of them shaved their heads and beards, dressed in saffron-colored Dharma robes, and went forth from their households into homelessness. However, even though they had gone forth, they exclusively engaged in three types of wrong behaviors: they constantly visited and gathered in the houses of householders, they sustained themselves based on strong clinging to profit, and they indulged only in harmful types of livelihood, without ever accumulating merit and wisdom. In that way, they only engaged in those three types of behaviors, without accomplishing anything else.
“After one hundred years, when all the great hearers without exception had passed into complete nirvāṇa, these monks were acting like householders. Most of them had discarded the profound discourses of that buddha. They no longer observed their discipline and had abandoned the excellent and refined ascetic practices. None of them were reading and reciting the discourses. Pūrṇa, at that time, as these monks were interested in fulfilling their many desires, [F.197.a] and were thus attached to the pleasures of food and drink, there also lived an extremely kind and caring prince called Damaśrī. While staying in solitude, he began to doubt: ‘What kind of Dharma did the thus-gone one Merugandha realize? These days, his great hearers act carelessly, and it has become impossible to distinguish them from householders!’
“At that very moment, a god who had made himself invisible arrived in front of the prince and said, ‘Listen—the Dharma that the thus-gone one Merugandha realized is extremely profound, pure, and definitive!’
“ ‘Well,’ inquired the prince, ‘what is this extremely profound, pure, and definitive Dharma that the thus-gone one Merugandha realized?’
“ ‘Prince,’ answered the god, ‘this Dharma is beyond form, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness. It is beyond the aggregates, elements, and sense sources. It is beyond the five sense desires, and it is free from any form of attachment. What the thus-gone one Merugandha taught to sentient beings was this extremely profound, pure, and definitive Dharma, which he had realized.’
“The prince then asked, ‘Would it be possible for me to hear and comprehend this Dharma, and then to put it into practice in accordance with the way it is taught?’
“ ‘O prince,’ replied the god, ‘strive one-pointedly with persistent diligence, and it will not be hard for you to receive it!’
“Pūrṇa, at that moment, the prince made a commitment: ‘Since I have received such clear encouragement from this god, I must take it to heart, go forth as a monk, and pursue the profound Dharma.’ So he went before his parents, bowed to them, and said, ‘Father and mother, I wish to go forth under the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha and pursue his path.’ [F.197.b]
“His parents answered, ‘What is the point of abandoning us and going forth? Nowadays, there is not the slightest difference between those who have gone forth under the teachings of that buddha and householders.’ At that moment they spoke these verses:
“Pūrṇa, after Damaśrī had uttered this verse, he prostrated and supplicated his parents for permission to go forth—which they gave, although in silence. Next, he went directly to the monks, whereupon he shaved his head and facial hair, [F.198.a] donned the saffron-colored Dharma robes, and went forth. After having taken the precepts, he respectfully asked the monks, ‘What are the teachings that the thus-gone one Merugandha gave to his disciples? If I hear those teachings, I will put them into practice in accordance with the way they were taught.’
“Pūrṇa, after he said those words, the monks answered, ‘We have not heard the Dharma from the Thus-Gone One. Instead, we simply emulate the preceptors and teachers, and you should also practice this same Dharma!’
“The monk Damaśrī said to the other monks, ‘It is obvious that you have gone forth after renouncing lives in poverty among the low castes. For that reason, you now strive only for food and clothing, and there is not the slightest difference between your behaviors and those of householders. However, from now on you must join me in pursuit of the profound and pure Dharma of the Buddha!’
“At that moment, the many monks replied to the monk Damaśrī in verses:
“Pūrṇa, when he heard those verses spoken by the group of monks, an intense feeling of distress arose in the mind of the monk Damaśrī, and he began to shed tears. He went to other temples and asked many other monks the same question: [F.198.b] ‘What are the teachings that the thus-gone one Merugandha gave to his disciples? If I can receive those teachings, I will put them into practice in accordance with the way they were taught.’ Everywhere, the monks answered in the same manner as the first monks had done. Finally, the monk Damaśrī left the monks behind and went alone into the solitude of the mountains and forests, where he yearned to practice one-pointedly the profound Dharma.
“At that time, among the hearers who had previously followed the thus-gone one Merugandha, there was a great hearer called Supratiṣṭhita. He practiced the conduct of total seclusion, remained alone in solitary caves, had few desires, and was content. He was very enthusiastic about renunciation, his tasks were completed, and he possessed the six higher perceptions as well as the three types of knowledge. In these ways, he was a great worthy one, similar to Mahākāśyapa who is following my teachings today. At that time, the monk Supratiṣṭhita wrote these verses on the rock surface in the cave where he was staying:
“Pūrṇa, after a long time had passed since he had left for isolated caves, the monk Damaśrī came across those four verses that had been written by the monk Supratiṣṭhita on the rock surface in the cave where he had been staying. Seeing them, he studied them in his daily recitations, [F.199.a] contemplated their meaning, and soon he developed the five higher perceptions. Then he came to the place where the thus-gone one Merugandha had previously been cremated, and he prostrated to it. He circumambulated the place three times, sat down cross-legged, and vowed not to arise from his seat until he had seen the Thus-Gone One and received the Dharma from him.
“Pūrṇa, Śakra, the lord of the gods, knew by heart the discourse taught by the thus-gone one Merugandha called The Eight Hundred Thousand Gateways. Perceiving the extraordinary resolve of the monk Damaśrī, he descended from the Heaven of the Thirty-Three to meet him and expounded to him the discourse of The Eight Hundred Thousand Gateways. He also offered him the dhāraṇīs known as The Four Statements on the Basis of Erudition, The Seven Statements on the Various Aspects, and The Fourteen Statements on the Gateways. The monk Damaśrī, having heard these dhāraṇīs, recited them in his daily recitations, and by memorizing them, obtained the illumination of insight into phenomena. Because of this, the discourses taught by the thus-gone one Merugandha became perfectly clear, and all the discourses that were most auspicious, profound, in accord with emptiness, and in accord with freedom naturally appeared to his mind. He also saw the thus-gone one Merugandha with his saṅgha of monks, the perfumed chamber where he resided, his throne, and his fourfold retinue, as well as all the assemblies, including those of the gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, humans, and nonhumans. Since he had obtained the illumination of insight into phenomena, the monk Damaśrī arose from his seat, set out on the journey back to his homeland, and finally arrived in front of his parents. He then expounded to them those pure discourses that were in harmony with emptiness and freedom, [F.199.b] those most excellent and profound discourses. He then proclaimed praises of the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha.
“Pūrṇa, upon hearing that Dharma, the parents of the monk Damaśrī, court ladies, ministers, and retinues all developed deep-felt trust, and respectfully said to the monk Damaśrī, ‘Venerable One, please protect us and let us go forth under the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha!’ Pūrṇa, at that time, eighty-four thousand beings followed the example of the king and queen and went forth at the same time. They became known collectively as the saṅgha of monks in the assembly of Damaśrī. Pūrṇa, in that way, the monk Damaśrī propagated the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha again and established a great number of sentient beings in happiness. Because of the aspirations to protect the sublime Dharma that he had formed in his past lives out of love and compassion, the monk Damaśrī now wandered from region to region, city to city, and country to country, proclaiming the praises of the thus-gone one Merugandha and his hearers. He also extensively taught beings those pure discourses that were in harmony with emptiness and freedom, those most excellent and profound discourses. During that time, the monk Damaśrī was worshiped, venerated, respected, honored, and praised by all beings, and he became highly renowned.
“Pūrṇa, after the monk Damaśrī had accomplished the benefit of so many beings on such a vast scale, he eventually passed away. At that point all his students—monks and nuns, as well as male and female lay practitioners—came together, piled up fragrant wood, and cremated him with reverence. Then they built a reliquary measuring two leagues, [F.200.a] which they respectfully worshiped, venerated, honored, and praised by offering various kinds of flowers, perfumes, ointments, fragrant powders, parasols, victory banners, and flags. Pūrṇa, just before the monk Damaśrī had passed away, he had made the aspiration to be reborn again within this world. In accordance with his aspiration, he was reborn within the warrior class and received the name Smṛtipratilabdha. He went forth under the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha three hundred years after the latter had passed into complete nirvāṇa. Recollecting his previous life and aspirations, he once again spontaneously reached the attainment of the dhāraṇī known as The Statements of the Gateways. Through the power of the attainment of this dhāraṇī, he taught on a vast scale to sentient beings discourses that had never been heard before—not those that had already been expounded in previous lives.
“Pūrṇa, when, among the many monks of Damaśrī, those who had profound insight, were bright and sharp, and had created massive roots of virtue heard the discourses taught by Smṛtipratilabdha, they rejoiced, developed intense trust in them, and eagerly adopted them. They worshiped him respectfully and looked after him. When, among those monks, those with no charisma or qualities, who had dull faculties and were not bright, and had only created minor roots of virtue heard for the first time the Dharma teachings expounded by Smṛtipratilabdha, they did not develop any trust in them, and they did not eagerly adopt them. Instead, they opposed those teachings and criticized them in these words: ‘We have never heard such discourses from preceptors or teachers. We have not even heard them from the great teacher of the past, Damaśrī!’
“Pūrṇa, however, those among the disciples with profound insight who relied on the authentic meaning did not get caught up in mere words, but instead relied on their meaning. Because of this, they did not oppose these discourses, [F.200.b] but instead guarded the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha and respectfully looked after the monk Smṛtipratilabdha. Pūrṇa, at that time, eight billion monks and nuns, as well as male and female lay practitioners, became followers of the Dharma expounded in the discourses taught by the monk Smṛtipratilabdha.
“Pūrṇa, during that time, all the disciples of Damaśrī were thus split into two groups, known respectively as ‘the saṅgha of monks following Damaśrī’ and ‘the saṅgha of monks following Smṛtipratilabdha.’ However, the monk Smṛtipratilabdha never mentioned that he was in fact Damaśrī. Why not? It was because, at that time, everyone claimed that the monk Damaśrī had reached the fruition of a worthy one but not the fruition of a bodhisattva, and he would therefore have created doubts by mentioning who he was; everyone claimed that the monk Smṛtipratilabdha was a bodhisattva and not a worthy one.
“Pūrṇa, after the monk Smṛtipratilabdha had benefitted many sentient beings on a vast scale, he passed away. All his many students piled up fragrant wood and cremated him with reverence. His four retinues came together and built a reliquary measuring one league to worship that bodhisattva, that great teacher. They then worshiped that reliquary, respected it, honored it, and praised it by offering various kinds of perfumes, flowers, fragrant powders, ointments, garlands, parasols, banners, and standards. Pūrṇa, just before the monk Smṛtipratilabdha had passed away, he had made the aspiration to be reborn again within this world. In accordance with his aspiration, he was reborn into an important family of householders, and he received the name Yaśas. Then, as he attained recollection of his past lives through the power of his previous aspirations, [F.201.a] he went forth under the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha. This happened when he was seven years old, four hundred years after the thus-gone one Merugandha had passed into complete nirvāṇa. Yaśas also reached the attainment of dhāraṇīs, and with this power he was able to teach genuinely to sentient beings discourses that they had never heard before.
“When, among all the monks following Smṛtipratilabdha and all the monks following Damaśrī, those who had created massive roots of virtue heard the teachings taught by the monk Yaśas, they became extremely pleased, and all of them experienced joy in the Dharma. Pūrṇa, since those many monks relied on the authentic meaning and were not caught up in the words, upon hearing from the monk Yaśas those extremely profound discourses that they had never heard before and that were in harmony with emptiness and the ultimate, they developed strong trust in them, adopted them eagerly, accepted them without opposition, recited them, and practiced them in accordance with the way they were taught. Pūrṇa, when, among those monks, those who had dull faculties, lacked mental brilliance, and had not previously created massive roots of virtue, heard for the first time those extremely profound discourses taught by the monk Yaśas that were in harmony with emptiness and the ultimate, they did not develop any trust in them, and they did not adopt them eagerly. Instead, they opposed them, denigrated them, and criticized them in these words: ‘We have never heard such Dharma from preceptors or teachers. We have not even heard it from the great teacher of the past, the bodhisattva Smṛtipratilabdha!’
“Pūrṇa, at that time, this latter group of monks among those who followed Damaśrī and Smṛtipratilabdha began, out of hostility and jealousy, to criticize the other monks who were utterly pleased by the teachings they had heard from the monk Yaśas and who felt strong trust in them and earnestly adopted them. They did not allow those monks to live with them, nor were they allowed to read, recite, or expound the Dharma together with them. Looking down on the other monks, [F.201.b] they said, ‘This is not the Dharma of the Buddha; these are not the teachings of the great teacher!’ Pūrṇa, at that time, the monk Yaśas propagated the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha on a vast scale. When he wandered from city to city, he taught the Dharma to sentient beings and benefitted many of them. As a consequence, eight billion beings gave rise to the mind set on unsurpassed and perfect awakening.
“After the monk Yaśas had benefitted many sentient beings in that way, he passed away. At that time seventy thousand of his followers built for him seventy thousand reliquaries that they worshiped, respected, honored, and praised by offering various kinds of perfumes, flowers, fragrant powders, ointments, garlands, parasols, banners, and standards. Pūrṇa, just before the monk Yaśas had passed away, he had formed the aspiration to be reborn again within this world. In accordance with his aspiration, he was reborn within the warrior class. When he was born, many gods proclaimed, ‘Hark! This newborn prince will bring great benefits to sentient beings!’ He therefore became known as Pariṇāyaka.30 When he was fourteen, he went forth under the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha, five hundred years after the latter had passed into complete nirvāṇa. The monk Pariṇāyaka recited a great many discourses and treatises, engaged in extensive and profound studies, became an expert in letters, developed perfect eloquence, and mastered the skills of teaching the Dharma.
“Pūrṇa, as the monk Pariṇāyaka wandered from town to town, city to city, and country to country, he propagated the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha on a vast scale and benefitted many beings. [F.202.a] At that time, the assemblies of monks following Damaśrī, those following Smṛtipratilabdha, and those following Yaśas planned to group together and go meet Pariṇāyaka to refute and disparage his teachings. When he saw those many monks approaching, the monk Pariṇāyaka asked them, ‘What arguments are you planning to use to oppose my teachings? What are you planning to inquire about?’ When they heard those words, the monks were overcome by distress and sorrow, and they did not answer. As such they were unable to oppose the monk Pariṇāyaka.
“Pūrṇa, as long as that bodhisattva remained in the world, the teachings of the Buddha spread and flourished. However, after he passed into complete nirvāṇa, the teachings of the Buddha started to vanish. Toward the end, when the Dharma was about to disappear, the monk Pariṇāyaka wandered from town to town, from city to city, and from country to country, teaching the pure and profound discourses that are in harmony with emptiness, in order to benefit many sentient beings. As a consequence, eight hundred million beings gave rise to the mind set on unsurpassed and perfect awakening. After they passed away, all those beings were reborn in the heavens within the world of the gods. Pūrṇa, after having benefitted beings in that way, on the first day following the night when the monk Pariṇāyaka passed away, the teachings of the Buddha vanished. Pūrṇa, since the teachings of the thus-gone one Merugandha had vanished, the teachings of the profound and pure discourses that were in harmony with emptiness also vanished. Pūrṇa, that being so, bodhisattva great beings guard the teachings of the buddhas and perfect their roots of virtue and their accumulations of merit by propagating such profound discourses. [F.202.b]
“Pūrṇa, after the bodhisattva Pariṇāyaka passed away, he was reborn in the tenth universe in the direction of the zenith. The buddha residing in that realm at that time was the thus-gone one, the worthy one, the perfect buddha called Sunetra. He went forth under this buddha’s teachings and, due to the roots of virtue and merit he had accumulated in his previous lives, his insight was profound, brilliant, and sharp, and his eloquence was inexhaustible, swift, and unobstructed. For eighty-four thousand years, the monk Pariṇāyaka created virtue by practicing under the teachings of the thus-gone one Sunetra. After he passed away, he was born once again within that same realm, where he encountered the thus-gone one called Expanding Arm, and he subsequently went forth under his teachings. Having created roots of virtue, he pursued unsurpassed and perfect awakening. After he passed away, he was reborn yet again within the same field, only this time in the presence of the thus-gone one, the worthy one, the perfect buddha Fruitful Conduct. He then went forth under his teachings, and for the next seventy thousand years he created roots of virtue with persistent diligence and pursued unsurpassed and perfect awakening. He was then called Śula. The thus-gone one Fruitful Conduct prophesied, ‘After I pass into complete nirvāṇa, this monk Śula will awaken to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood. He will become a thus-gone one, a worthy one, a perfect buddha called Unimpeded Vision.’
At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses to explain this clearly: [F.203.a]
“Furthermore, Pūrṇa, (4) since bodhisattva great beings engage in perfect conduct, this sublime conduct will also perfect their roots of virtue and develop excellent merit. What is meant by conduct? Pūrṇa, relying on their virtuous friends, bodhisattvas practice generosity, guard their discipline, cultivate patience, undertake diligence, rest in concentration, and develop their insight as well as their skillful means. Who are the virtuous friends of bodhisattvas? They are those from whom bodhisattvas receive the skillful means taught in the discourses. All the buddhas, hearers, and bodhisattvas who pursue awakening through their extraordinary resolve [F.203.b] are referred to as the virtuous friends of bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas who possess this fourth quality will achieve all excellent qualities.”
At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
This was the fourth chapter, The Possession of Roots of Virtue.
’phags pa gang pos zhus pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo (Pūrṇaparipṛcchāsūtra). Toh 61, Degé Kangyur vol. 42 (dkon brtsegs, nga), folios 168b.1–227a.6.
———. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 42, pp. 168b.1–227a.6.
———. Stok Palace Kangyur (stog pho brang bris ma bka’ ’gyur). Vol. 38 (dkon brtsegs, nga), folios 319v–411v.
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