The Questions of Pūrṇa
The Power of Miraculous Displays
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.
Then, through the power of the Blessed One’s miraculous abilities, many trillions of light rays radiated from the pores of his skin. Masses of blazing fire as huge as Mount Sumeru also emerged from each of his pores; and thus-gone ones teaching the Dharma, as numerous as all the grains of sand in the Ganges river, also emerged from each pore. The entire assembly present witnessed these miraculous displays. After the Blessed One had manifested them, he asked the venerable Pūrṇa, “Pūrṇa, did you see the power of the miraculous displays coming from the pore of each body hair of the Thus-Gone One?”
“Pūrṇa,” continued the Blessed One, “the Thus-Gone One always possesses, uninterruptedly, the power of such miraculous displays. Nevertheless, the hearers perceive only the Thus-Gone One sitting here and explaining the Dharma. But right now, he is genuinely performing the deeds of a buddha uninterruptedly, within all the universes of the ten directions, as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges river. Similarly, he is teaching the Dharma within all the universes of the ten directions. Pūrṇa, someone may say, correctly, ‘That peerless and matchless being, that supreme human, that extremely profound and immeasurable field of merit, whose conduct is measureless, and of whom, even as he takes but a single step, no other being is able to fathom the motive and conduct involved in that act of lifting his foot and placing it down—who is that?’ If someone were to ask that question, I would have to answer, ‘I am.’ Pūrṇa, no sentient being is able to assess the intent, motive, or conduct involved in the Thus-Gone One’s act of lifting and setting down a single foot.”
At that moment, the Blessed One uttered these verses to explain this clearly:
Then the Blessed One said to the venerable Ānanda, “Ānanda, I entrust this discourse to you. Why? Because, as long as this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection remains within the world, [F.206.a] the entire Dharma of the Buddha will also remain. Ānanda, if such a profound discourse were to vanish, all the Dharma teachings that must be practiced as they are taught would also vanish. Because the Dharma teachings that must be practiced as they are taught would vanish, the teachings of the buddhas would also vanish. Ānanda, you should now worship me with the most sublime offerings. In what manner should the hearers worship me with the most sublime offerings? You should not think that the most sublime flowers, perfumes, fragrant powders, ointments, parasols, banners, standards, garments, and music, as well as the proclamation of the Thus-Gone One’s praises, are the most sublime types of offerings. Ānanda, they are not what is meant by the most sublime offerings. Rather, hearing such a profound discourse and adopting, memorizing, reading, reciting, and practicing it as it is taught—this is what is meant by ‘worshiping, venerating, respecting, honoring, and praising the Thus-Gone One with the most sublime offerings.’ Why is that? Because all the thus-gone ones also worship, venerate, and revere the Dharma, but they do not hold worldly offerings in high esteem.
“Therefore, Ānanda, I now insist on entrusting this discourse to you. Why? Because, Ānanda, by training in this discourse genuinely, I have awakened to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood, and I am now turning the unsurpassed Dharma wheel. When the buddhas of the past practiced bodhisattva conduct, they also trained in this discourse genuinely, and thus awoke to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood and turned the unsurpassed Dharma wheel. Likewise, the buddhas of the future will also train in this discourse genuinely, and thus will awaken to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood [F.206.b] and turn the unsurpassed Dharma wheel. Also, all the buddhas who presently reside within the universes of the ten directions have also trained in this discourse genuinely, and thus they have awoken to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood and are now turning the Dharma wheel.
“Therefore, Ānanda, you should remember this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection as The Sūtra of Turning the Wheel of Dharma.37 It is with this teaching that I turned the wheel of Dharma for the hearers in the Deer Park38 in Vārāṇasī. Ānanda, today, within Veṇuvana, I have also turned this irreversible Dharma wheel, this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection, and the doubts of all sentient beings have been eliminated. Ānanda, here, at the edge of space,39 the thus-gone ones of the past also taught this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection. The future thus-gone ones will also teach this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection here, at the edge of space. After awakening to unsurpassed and perfect buddhahood, I have also expounded this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection here, at the edge of space. For those reasons, you should know that this place has become a great reliquary of the thus-gone ones, which is to be worshiped by all the worlds with their gods and humans. Ānanda, this is so because this is the only place that has the unique quality of being the location where the thus-gone ones of the past have taught this profound discourse. Ānanda, any sentient being afflicted by desire, anger, and ignorance who enters Veṇuvana, will, without exception, no longer give rise to desire, anger, and ignorance.
“Ānanda, [F.207.a] thus-gone ones have certainly resided in other temples, but those places do not have the same qualities as this one. Why is it so? Because, Ānanda, when animals enter Kalandaka Forest and Veṇuvana, desire no longer arises in them; and when flocks of birds enter this forest, they no longer sing at inappropriate times. Why is it so? Because when Bimbisāra, the king of Magadha, visited his kingdom for the first time after being enthroned, he came to this forest, together with his retinue of queens, to frolic with them. However, as soon as he entered here, he felt that his desire for passionate frolicking had disappeared. Everyone in the retinue of queens also felt that any desire for passionate frolicking had disappeared. At that moment, the king became utterly delighted and thought, ‘If a buddha appears in the world and comes to my country, may I meet him face to face. Upon meeting him, may I develop sincere trust in him. Having developed sincere trust, may I worship him. I will offer this forest to that thus-gone one. May he reside in this place, and may I hear the Dharma from him. Why? Because this forest is a place for those who are to be worshiped, not for those who are bound by the five sense desires.’
“Ānanda, when King Bimbisāra entered this forest, he had such virtuous thoughts. In the past, thus-gone ones resided in this forest and taught this discourse of the Bodhisattva Collection. Therefore, none of the qualities associated with this forest are found in other places, and all the worlds with their gods, humans, and demigods are respectfully paying homage to it. Ānanda, in this forest, there are no poisonous snakes, lizards, horseflies, mosquitos, or the like. Beings who reside here do not entertain any evil thoughts: [F.207.b] this is also an extraordinary quality of Veṇuvana. Even if I attempted to express the qualities of this grove for one hundred years, this task would never come to an end. Why is it so? Because, Ānanda, this perfumed chamber of Veṇuvana possesses all those immeasurable qualities, while other places do not.”
“Blessed One,” said the venerable Ānanda, “I did not know that Veṇuvana possessed such qualities! Blessed One, I want to confess today my previous negative attitude of not wanting to serve the Blessed One as his attendant.”
“Ānanda,” replied the Blessed One, “that negative attitude was purified the very moment you attained the pure eye of Dharma with respect to phenomena.”
This was the fifth chapter, The Power of Miraculous Displays. [B5]
’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.
富樓那會 (Fu lou na hui). Taishō shinshū daizōkyō (大正新脩大藏經). Vol. 11, 310 (大寶積經), scrolls 77–79.
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