Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
First published 2020 Current version v 1.2.16 (2021) Generated by 84000 Reading Room v2.8.1
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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.
Thus did I hear at one time: The Blessed One was residing at the Veṇuvana in Rājagṛha, together with a great saṅgha of many monks and with countless bodhisattva great beings. At that time, the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra arose, draped his shawl over one shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. With his palms joined together in the direction of the Blessed One he said, “Blessed One, I have a few questions to ask you. Thus-Gone One, please consider me with love and grant me this request.”
“Blessed One,” said the venerable Pūrṇa, “I have questions about the bodhisattva great beings who have accomplished the highest qualities and attained superior and far-reaching renown, and who pursue the happiness of sentient beings at all times.” And the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra then put his questions in these verses:
“Blessed One,” continued Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, [F.169.a] “I have questions about these holy beings. How do bodhisattvas amass great knowledge, such that it will not be exhausted, like the ocean? Having amassed a precious treasure of erudition, how is it that, by comprehending the meaning that is definitive with regard to all phenomena, they correctly penetrate the meaning of words?” He then spoke again in verse:
“Blessed One,” continued the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, “I have another question for the Thus-Gone One about the force of the wisdom that follows from the attainment of the bodhisattva levels. How is it that bodhisattva great beings’ progress toward unsurpassed and perfect awakening will be irreversible?” He then went on in verse:
“Blessed One,” continued the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, “the thus-gone ones have reached perfect omniscience. They have mastered all miraculous powers and are the supreme beings within the three realms. [F.169.b] Having achieved incomparable, sublime wisdom, they know how to put the Dharma into action in an unhindered manner. These are the reasons why I ask you these questions.” He again spoke in verse:
In response, the Blessed One said to the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, “These questions you ask of the Thus-Gone One are excellent, excellent! Listen carefully and pay attention. I will now teach you how bodhisattvas give rise to their intention and then accomplish the immeasurable qualities of a buddha.” The Blessed One then uttered these verses:
The Blessed One then said to the venerable Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra, “Through these different causes and conditions, bodhisattva great beings teach the Dharma to sentient beings; yet they do not dwell on just some Dharma teachings. Why is that? Because it is after having correctly trained in all Dharma teachings [F.170.b] that bodhisattvas will later become perfect buddhas.
“Bodhisattvas have four amazing and marvelous attitudes, compared to which they see no other Dharma teaching as more important. What are the four? (1) That which makes bodhisattvas cultivate diligence with regard to lazy beings; this is the first amazing and marvelous attitude. (2) That which makes them cultivate patience while they are among obstinate sentient beings full of aggression; this is the second amazing and marvelous attitude. (3) That which makes them persevere on the correct path themselves, seeing sentient beings practicing on mistaken paths; this is the third amazing and marvelous attitude. (4) That which makes them give rise to the mind set on unsurpassed and perfect awakening with the extraordinary resolve to liberate sentient beings from saṃsāra; this is the fourth amazing and marvelous attitude. Pūrṇa, these four amazing and marvelous attitudes are known as the supreme, amazing, and marvelous attitudes of bodhisattvas.” At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
“Pūrṇa,” continued the Blessed One, “if bodhisattvas possess four qualities, joy will be born in their minds. What are the four? (1) When bodhisattvas see that sentient beings remain in saṃsāra and do not cultivate diligence, but see that they themselves remain on the path of the buddhas and do cultivate diligence, joy will be born in their minds. (2) When bodhisattvas see that sentient beings are constantly overwhelmed by laziness, but they see that they themselves diligently follow the teachings of the buddhas, joy will be born in their minds. (3) When bodhisattvas see that sentient beings are aggressive, resentful, and jealous, yet they see that they themselves are free from aggression, resentment, and jealousy and always manifest an attitude of love, joy will be born in their minds. (4) When bodhisattvas see that no one matches their diligence in accomplishing the qualities of the buddhas, joy will be born in their minds.”
At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
“Pūrṇa,” continued the Blessed One, “if bodhisattvas possess four qualities, they will be free from the unfree states, and having obtained the complete freedom to do so they will attain the qualities of a buddha without wasting that opportunity. What are the four? (1) Since the minds of bodhisattvas are humble and gentle, they always express the wish for sentient beings to be happy when they see them, and they always speak sincerely and smile while engaging in conversation with someone. (2) Since bodhisattvas pursue the Dharma one-pointedly and are always strongly dedicated to investigating it, they insatiably pursue virtue and exert themselves toward it. (3) Bodhisattvas are attracted to isolated places and enjoy remaining in solitude. (4) Bodhisattvas follow the path of awakening and encourage others to follow the same path. If bodhisattvas possess these four qualities, they will be free from the states that lack freedom, and having obtained the complete freedom to do so they will attain the qualities of a buddha without wasting that opportunity.” At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses:
’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.
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