The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1)
Degé Kangyur, vol. 42 (dkon brtsegs, nga), folios 227.a–257.a
Translated by the Vienna Buddhist Translation Studies Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2021
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The newly ordained monk Rāṣṭrapāla questions the Buddha about the proper conduct of a bodhisattva. The Buddha proceeds to explain its features in detail, giving as examples his own conduct in his multiple past lives. He tells the story of his past life as prince Puṇyaraśmi, who abandoned pleasure, a kingdom, and riches to follow the bodhisattva path to enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings.
This translation was made by the Vienna Buddhist Translation Studies Group (Konstantin Brockhausen, Jamie Gordon Creek, Susanne Fleischmann, Daniel Gratzer, Georgi Krastev, Katrin Querl, and Julika Weber) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes (Vienna University).
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) is one of the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras and belongs to the Ratnakūṭa collection of the Chinese Tripiṭaka and the Tibetan Kangyur.1 Among the forty-nine works that constitute this collection, The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) is one of the few texts for which Indian originals are extant. The earliest available complete Sanskrit text is from a Nepalese manuscript dated to 1661, which was edited by Louis Finot and first published in St. Petersburg by the Académie Impériale des Sciences in 1901. The Nepalese manuscript is preserved at Cambridge University. Two other similar manuscripts are held in Paris and Tokyo. In addition, no less than four copies of the original Sanskrit text dated to the eighteenth to the twentieth century have surfaced from the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP).2
Beginning in the third century ᴄᴇ, The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) was translated into Chinese at least three times. The earliest extant translation, the Deguang taizi jing (德光太子經, Taishō 170), was prepared by Dharmarakṣa (c. 233–310) and completed in the year 270. In the late sixth century, The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) was translated a second time by Jñānagupta and Dharmagupta under the title of Huguo pusa hui (護國菩薩會, Taishō 310, pp. 457–78). Finally, the text was translated a third time into Chinese in 994 by Dānapāla and given the title Huguo zunzhe suowen dacheng jing (護國尊者所問大乘經, Taishō 321).3
In the early ninth century ᴄᴇ, The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) was translated into Tibetan by the Tibetan translator Yeshé Dé in cooperation with the Indian scholars Jinamitra, Dānaśīla, and Munivarman. In the Degé Kangyur, this text comprises thirty folios. It was critically edited and compared to the Lhasa, Narthang, and Peking recensions in 1952 by Jacob Ensink in the context of his study and translation of the Sanskrit text.4
The first Western-language translation was a translation from Sanskrit into French by Louis Finot, in 1901, based on the above-mentioned seventeenth-century Nepalese manuscript.5 Finot’s edition was the basis for an English translation made by Jacob Ensink in 1952. The most recent translation of the text was an English translation by Daniel Boucher in 2008. Boucher also provided an extensive study of the sūtra, basing his translation on the Tibetan, Sanskrit, and Chinese versions. In addition to the Peking and Narthang Kangyurs, he used the Stok Palace manuscript and the London (Shelkar) manuscript Kangyurs. Boucher utilized all three Chinese texts, the Deguang taizi jing, the Huguo pusa hui, and the Huguo zunzhe suowen dacheng jing.
For our present translation, we have relied mainly on the Tibetan translation from the early ninth-century as preserved in the Degé edition, comparing it to the Peking edition whenever passages were unclear. For some passages in which the Tibetan was misleading or unintelligible on its own, we relied on the Sanskrit text and marked these instances in the footnotes to our translation. In addition, we consulted Daniel Boucher’s English translation and study of The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1).
The Historical Background and Dating of the Text
Based on the extant Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan recensions of the sūtra, at least two strata of the text can be identified:6 (1) passages that have parallels in Dharmarakṣa’s earliest Chinese translation (270 ᴄᴇ), and (2) passages that are found only in the later Chinese and Tibetan versions as well as the extant Sanskrit translation from the late seventeenth century.7 About fifty percent of the content of the extant Sanskrit and Tibetan editions is missing in the earliest Chinese translation. The later parts consist of some two hundred forty-eight verses out of a total of three hundred fifty-three, and merely a few passages in prose. They are mostly located at the beginning of the text and focus on the extensive praise of the body of the Buddha in verse form,8 a typical feature of later Mahāyāna discourses. This challenges the widely-held assumption that in Mahāyāna scriptures, verse tends to be older than prose.
The earlier layer of the text is largely in prose. Only one of the tetrads praising the qualities of bodhisattvas is followed by verses (namely, verses 72–81, which concern things that thoroughly purify the enlightened conduct of bodhisattvas). The short section condemning the conduct of corrupt monks is an even mix of prose and verse. The story of Puṇyaraśmi contains four passages written in verse. By contrast, all passages that were introduced into the text later are written in verse (except for short sections at the beginning of the sūtra describing the assembly and the acts of bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja).9 Comparing the earlier with the later translation, the following observations can be made:
The older parts of the text feature a number of themes that are considered representative of early Mahāyāna development.10 There is an emphasis on retreating into the wilderness,11 engaging in austere discipline, and dedicating all efforts to a correct way of practice, i.e., with the mindset of a renunciant.12 Such measures reflect a resistance on the part of many early Mahāyāna proponents to the increasing interactions of monasteries with society, which was accompanied by their strong determination to retreat into the wilderness, in order to return to the original path taught and exemplified by the Buddha. Because of the utmost importance accorded to the topic of retreating into the forests in this text, the Sanskrit term araṇya has been rendered literally as “forest” in this translation, although the equivalent Tibetan term is dgon pa, which is normally rendered as “solitude” or “monastery.” In reaction to perceived dangers of worldly interactions, fellow monks, in the earlier parts of the text, are criticized for their pretentious and inappropriate behavior and perfidious intentions,13 and even more so in some of the parts added later, where these corrupt monks are also held responsible for the decline of the Dharma.14
The narrative of Puṇyaraśmi, who is the Buddha in one of his previous lives, forms the largest part of the text and the narrative centerpiece of the sūtra. It also belongs to the older layer of the text, as does its central theme of renunciation entailing abstinence from all kinds of sensual pleasure.15 The text concludes with a praise of the sūtra itself, underscoring its authenticity and beneficent powers, and describes the immense merit that follows from reciting it, along with severe drawbacks that befall those who reject it.
Supplementing the earlier material, and in some cases contrasting with it, the later additions include a list of bodhisattvas present in the assembly and a long set of verses summarizing most of the Jātakas—recounting fifty previous lives of the Buddha and his accumulation of merit as a bodhisattva—as well as verses that recount the recalcitrance of certain fellow monks16 and that expose corruption in the monastic community.17 Many of these parts seem to be responding to hostile reactions toward the Mahāyāna movement and contain sharp exhortations to follow the proper path and the footsteps of the Buddha.
The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1) can be roughly divided into two sections. The first section mainly revolves around the Buddha addressing the questions about the nature of bodhisattva conduct posed by Rāṣṭrapāla, a newly ordained monk who had joined the Buddha’s assembly in Rājagṛha on Vulture’s Peak. In the second section, the Buddha proceeds to provide an illustration of exemplary conduct by recalling an episode in one his former lives, during the time of the Buddha Siddhārthabuddhi. As prince Puṇyaraśmi, the son of the influential and wealthy king Arciṣmān, he renounced his luxurious and extravagant life in his father’s estate to devote himself to the path of the Dharma and practice in the solitude of the forest for the benefit of all beings.
The sūtra opens in typical fashion, setting the scene with the Buddha presiding over an assembly of thousands of monks, bodhisattvas, and celestial beings. As the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja praises his splendid, awe-inspiring appearance, the Buddha proclaims all phenomena to be empty. The narrative then shifts to Rāṣṭrapāla, a newly ordained monk who has just received his vows after spending the rainy season in Śrāvastī. Together with a group of monks, Rāṣṭrapāla travels toward Rājagṛha, where the Buddha has been staying. On his arrival, the newly ordained monk approaches the Buddha and, having offered glorifying praises to him, addresses a series of questions to him concerning the qualities and conduct of a genuine bodhisattva and the path to attain inexhaustible wisdom and enlightenment. The Buddha, welcoming Rāṣṭrapāla’s queries, then responds in the form of a discourse—alternating between prose and verse—in which he presents sets of four points that outline how a bodhisattva should comport himself. These highlight the virtue of qualities such as renunciation, mendicancy, perseverance, impartiality, pure discipline, and unworldliness, and extol the benefits of meditating on emptiness.
To exemplify such qualities, the Buddha proceeds to recount his past lives in a manner typical of the Jātaka tales. The stories portray his renunciation during his lives as wealthy kings, highlighting his benevolence and compassion for the sake of others, qualities totally free of any self-concern. Prominently featured in most Jātaka tales are the Buddha’s heroic acts of self-sacrifice, in which he cuts off his limbs or even offers his whole body to benefit others. In many of these stories, he is an animal displaying various noble behaviors, such as rescuing other animals or people. The introduction concludes with the Buddha’s prediction that there will be monks who, although they know about the Buddha’s virtuous deeds in his past lives, will be corrupt and will indulge in all sorts of negative behaviors, such as transgressing their vows, drinking, overeating, engaging in sexual behavior, speaking ill of the Dharma, behaving badly toward women, having wives and children, and generally demonstrating selfish motivations.
The second section focuses on the Buddha’s former life as prince Puṇyaraśmi during the era of Siddhārthabuddhi, a buddha of a past era when human lifespans reached a hundred million years. Puṇyaraśmi’s father was Arciṣmān, the king of a vast empire on the continent of Jambudvīpa, who resided in the city of Ratnaprabhāsa, the capital of his kingdom. The Buddha relates how the birth of the good-looking young prince Puṇyaraśmi was accompanied by various miraculous signs heralding the arrival of a buddha. Mirroring the life of the Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama, Puṇyaraśmi swiftly mastered all worldly arts.
One night, the gods of the pure realm Śuddhāvāsa awaken Puṇyaraśmi from his sleep, urging him to be conscientious and to think about the impermanence of all things. They remind him of the brevity and evanescence of human life, exhorting him to practice the Dharma in the manner of a compassionate bodhisattva—by dwelling in solitude and by renouncing his luxurious, lavish lifestyle. The young prince follows their advice and, like a proper renunciant, shuns all the pleasurable activities available to him as a prince.
Puṇyaraśmi’s father, Arciṣmān, had built an enormous city called Ratipradhāna (“City in Which Pleasure Is the Main Concern”), beautifully decorated with various garlands and jewels, where he invites his son to fulfill all his desires. The city is decorated with flowers and gold, and exotic birds fly about, singing melodiously. For his sensual gratification, Puṇyaraśmi is presented with forty million young maidens—whom he nobly rejects, along with everything else. Arciṣmān, wondering why his son has rejected all these abundant gifts, approaches him to ask why he has refused everything; he encourages him to enjoy himself with the young maidens while he is still in the full bloom of his youth. But Puṇyaraśmi responds that he has other goals in mind, the foremost being liberation from saṃsāra. Knowing about the deceptive nature of such enjoyments, the impurity of the human body, and the unsatisfactory nature of desire, he no longer feels attracted to such things. Instead, he declares that he wants to become a Buddha for the sake of all beings, pledging that he will from now on follow in the footsteps of the bodhisattvas, going to practice in a forest.
In another nocturnal episode, Puṇyaraśmi hears the Śuddhāvāsa gods praising the Three Jewels in the sky above his palace. Climbing onto the roof, he asks them about their praise, whereupon they introduce the Buddha Siddhārthabuddhi. The next day, King Arciṣmān finds the maidens at Puṇyaraśmi’s palace weeping because they can’t find him anywhere. Searching in vain, a local deity informs Arciṣmān that Puṇyaraśmi has left to follow the Buddha Siddhārthabuddhi. Arciṣmān finds them and approaches Siddhārthabuddhi, who then gives a Dharma teaching. Having invited Siddhārthabuddhi to take his meal in Ratipradhāna on the following day, Puṇyaraśmi and Arciṣmān transform the whole city, embellished with all its riches, into an offering for Siddhārthabuddhi.
Sometime later—after Siddhārthabuddhi has passed into parinirvāṇa—Puṇyaraśmi, his family, and all the inhabitants of the country finally become renunciants and build eight hundred and forty million stūpas for Siddhārthabuddhi’s relics. The sūtra concludes with the Buddha Śākyamuni revealing to Rāṣṭrapāla that king Arciṣmān was in fact an emanation of Buddha Amitāyus, and that the Buddha himself was prince Puṇyaraśmi. He finally urges him to follow the example of Puṇyaraśmi if he wants to reach enlightenment. In his conclusion, the Buddha reiterates that there will always be corrupt practitioners, with various types of negative behavior, who stray from the path of genuine Dharma. He exhorts Rāṣṭrapāla to avoid such shortcomings and to remain in solitude, abandoning all nonvirtuous forms of behavior. He finally assures him that those who practice according to what has been explained in this sūtra will have no difficulty in attaining enlightenment.
The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1)
Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas! [F.227.b]
Thus have I heard at one time. In Rājagṛha, on the Vulture’s Peak, the Bhagavān was residing together with a great assembly of one thousand two hundred fifty monks and five thousand bodhisattvas, whose eloquence was unimpeded, who were endowed with patience, who had conquered the hostile māras, who were very close to realizing all the buddha qualities, who were impeded by only one birth, who had attained concentration and retention, who had reached limitless eloquence and unimpeded fearlessness, who had obtained magical power and the ultimate perfection of power,18 and who had appropriated all inexhaustible collections of good qualities without exception. The bodhisattvas present included the bodhisattva mahāsattvas Samantabhadra, Samantanetra, Samantāvalokita, Samantaraśmi, Samantaprabha, Uttaramati, Vardhamānamati, Anantamati, Vipulamati, Akṣayamati, Dharaṇīdhara, Jagatīṃdhara, Jayamati, Viśeṣamati, and Dhāraṇīśvararāja. In addition, the sixty unequaled bodhisattvas headed by Mañjuśrī; the sixteen noble men headed by Bhadrapāla; Brahmā, lord of the Sahā world; Śakra, lord of the gods; the four guardians of the world; the god Susīma; and the god Susthitamati—along with all lords of the gods, lords of the nāgas, lords of the kinnaras, lords of the gandharvas, lords of the yakṣas, lords of the asuras, and lords of the garuḍas, all with their retinues of hundreds of thousands—had assembled and taken their seats. [F.228.a]
The Bhagavān was seated on the lion throne at the seat of enlightenment,19 towering above the whole assembled retinue like Mount Meru. Illuminating the entire world like the sun, and all beings like the moon, he remained perfectly at peace like Brahmā. His body was difficult to approach like the body of Śakra, and he was endowed with the seven precious branches of enlightenment like a cakravartin. Like a lion, he proclaimed that all phenomena have no self and are empty. He was endowed with a body that illuminates the whole world like a huge mass of flames, his radiance blazing brightly like the king of precious jewels among the entire assortment of precious jewels, which is the splendor of all gods.20 Pervading the trichiliocosm with his splendor, he had become swift21 in determining the meaning, and had perfectly attained all excellent qualities. He resided in the assembly, intoned the melodious Brahmā voice, and taught the Dharma, endowed with a speech that makes all sentient beings understand. He accurately taught pure conduct, the Dharma that is22 good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, which is of good meaning, in good words, unadulterated, completely perfect, completely pure, and completely purified.
Then the bodhisattva mahāsattva named Prāmodyarāja joined the assembly, was seated, and beheld the Bhagavān seated on the lion throne—the one abiding in splendor outshining the whole gathering of the retinue, with rays of light surpassing a thousand suns. With a happy, delighted, and faithfully yearning mind, Prāmodyarāja rose from his seat, joined his palms, and praised the Bhagavān with the following appropriate verses:
Then, having praised the Bhagavān with these verses, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Prāmodyarāja joined his palms and, without blinking, gazed at the body of the Tathāgata. This caused him to investigate the dharmadhātu itself. He penetrated the dharmadhātu, which is profound, difficult to fathom, difficult to see, difficult to internalize, impossible to analyze, not reached by reasoning, peaceful, and subtle. He investigated the inconceivable experiential sphere of the Buddha.
He was made to fully understand that the wisdom of the Tathāgata extends to all phenomena. He accurately observed that the sphere of the buddhas equals the unequaled. He penetrated the experiential sphere, which is the object of the Tathāgata’s skillful means. He realized that the illustrious buddhas are immersed in the unique nature of the dharmadhātu, and he accurately observed the illustrious buddhas whose experiential spheres are like space, without a basis.
He became convinced that all phenomena are contained in the limit of existence, whose nature is without limit, and he came to strongly desire the unobscured liberation of a buddha. He understood that the bodies of the illustrious buddhas are permanent, peaceful, and eternal, and that the bodies of the tathāgatas completely pervade all the limitless buddhafields and manifest to all sentient beings. He was made to recall that the qualities of the illustrious buddhas do not reach an end, even at the endpoints of future eons. [F.229.b] Investigating the dharmadhātu itself, the bodhisattva mahāsattva Prāmodyarāja stood in silence.
Meanwhile, the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla had promised to dwell in Śrāvastī for the three months of the rainy season. When the three months had passed and his robes had been made and received, he took up his bowl and robes, and together with the assembly of fully ordained monks and the new ones—beginners who had recently become renunciants—he proceeded to roam the country, walking toward the great city of Rājagṛha and Vulture’s Peak.
The venerable Rāṣṭrapāla proceeded to the Bhagavān’s dwelling place, and having reached him, he bowed with his head to the Bhagavān’s feet. After circumambulating the Bhagavān three times, he sat down to one side. Seated to one side, the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla joined his palms and praised the Bhagavān with the following verses:
Then, having praised the Bhagavān with these verses, the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla joined his palms. [F.231.a] Rising from his seat, he draped his upper garment over one shoulder and placed his right knee on the ground. He then bowed toward the Bhagavān with joined hands and made a request to the Bhagavān, “If you, Bhagavān, allowed me the opportunity to approach you with a question, I would like to ask you, the bhagavān, the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfect and complete Buddha, about certain issues.”
Having thus been petitioned, the Bhagavān said to the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla, “Rāṣṭrapāla, ask whatever you like! I will please your mind by clarifying whatever questions you may have.”
Having said these words, the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla asked the Bhagavān, “Bhagavān, how many qualities has a bodhisattva mahāsattva—one who obtains the excellence of all qualities and virtues, who obtains knowledge not depending on others, who gains swift insight, who obtains the ascertainment of eloquence, who obtains illumination, who realizes omniscience, who causes beings to ripen, who eliminates doubt, who eliminates desire, who obtains the ascertainment of omniscience, who is skillful in guiding beings, who acts as he speaks, whose speech is based on genuine intentions, who is skillful in dealing with all sentient beings, who attains the recollection of the Buddha, who asks all questions, who retains all Dharma teachings, and who swiftly obtains omniscience?”
Then the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla uttered the following verses:
Having thus been petitioned, the Bhagavān said the following to the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla: “You are right, Rāṣṭrapāla! You, Rāṣṭrapāla, have gone forth for the benefit of many living beings. And it is good that you, Rāṣṭrapāla, [F.232.a] have well considered this topic you queried Tathāgata about, for the happiness of many people, for the sake and benefit of gods and men, and so that I will take care of the bodhisattva mahāsattvas present and future. Therefore, Rāṣṭrapāla, listen closely and keep it in your mind! I will explain it to you.” The venerable Rāṣṭrapāla answered, “Very well, Bhagavān!” and as he listened carefully to each of the Bhagavān’s words, the Bhagavān uttered the following words to him:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva mahāsattva endowed with four qualities attains the following types of purity. What are these four? They are making efforts in accordance with beings’ aspirations and highest intent, being impartial toward all sentient beings, meditating on emptiness, and acting just as one speaks. Rāṣṭrapāla, if bodhisattva mahāsattvas are endowed with these four qualities, they will attain purity. This is how it is. In this regard, the following is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four reassurances for bodhisattvas. What are these four? They are attaining retention, finding a spiritual friend, being receptive to the profound Dharma, and the correct application of completely pure discipline. Raṣṭrapāla, these four are the reassurances for bodhisattvas. This is how it is. About that, it is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the qualities that cause delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra. What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, seeing the Buddha is a quality that causes delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra. Rāṣṭrapāla, hearing appropriate instructions is a quality that causes delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra. Rāṣṭrapāla, complete abandonment of possessions is a quality that causes delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra, and, Rāṣṭrapāla, being receptive to the Dharma of non-apprehension is a quality that causes delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are things that cause delight in the bodhisattvas dwelling in saṃsāra. [F.233.a] This is how it is. About this, the following is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, bodhisattvas should have no concern for four things. What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, bodhisattvas should have no concern for living in households. Rāṣṭrapāla, having become renunciants, bodhisattvas should have no concern for gain or honor. Rāṣṭrapāla, bodhisattvas should not be concerned with becoming acquainted with householders. And Rāṣṭrapāla, bodhisattvas should have no concern for their bodies or lives. Rāṣṭrapāla, for these four things bodhisattvas should have no concern. This is how it is. About this, the following is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four things that cause bodhisattvas to be free from distress. What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, unimpaired discipline is something that causes bodhisattvas to be free from distress. Rāṣṭrapāla, not giving up life in the forest is something that causes bodhisattvas to be free from distress. Rāṣṭrapāla, following the four noble lineages is something that causes bodhisattvas to be free from distress. And Rāṣṭrapāla, obtaining great erudition is something that causes bodhisattvas to be free from distress. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are things that cause bodhisattvas to be free from distress. This is how it is. About this, the following is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four points that bodhisattvas should know to be states of noble ones.36 What are these four? They are obtaining the higher realms—that is to say, meeting with buddhas that appear; serving the gurus—that is to say, tending to them with minds free from worldly concerns; taking delight in remote dwellings—that is to say, without having concern for gain or honor; and obtaining courage—that is to say, being receptive to the profound. Rāṣṭrapāla, bodhisattvas should know that these four points are states of noble ones. This is how it is. About this, the following is said:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four things that thoroughly purify the enlightened conduct of bodhisattvas. What are these four? [F.234.b] The conduct of a bodhisattva, for those whose minds are without hostility, is as follows: For those who have abandoned hypocrisy, flattery, and extortion of property, it consists in dwelling in the forest. For those who have renounced all possessions, it consists in having no expectations concerning ripening. It further consists in longing for the Dharma day and night, and in not looking for the faults in those who teach the Dharma. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the things that thoroughly purify the enlightened conduct of bodhisattvas.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four pitfalls for bodhisattvas. What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, disrespect is a pitfall for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, being ungrateful and dishonest is a pitfall for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, attachment to gain and honor is a pitfall for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, obtaining gain and honor by means of hypocrisy and flattery is a pitfall for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the pitfalls for bodhisattvas.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four things that obstruct the enlightenment of bodhisattvas. [F.235.b] What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, laziness is something that obstructs the enlightenment of bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, lack of faith is something that obstructs the enlightenment of bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, pride is something that obstructs the enlightenment of bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, entertaining jealous and avaricious thoughts when others are honored is something that obstructs the enlightenment of bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the things that obstruct the enlightenment of bodhisattvas.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four persons that a bodhisattva should not attend to. Who are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva should not attend to a person who is a nefarious friend. Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva should not attend to a person who entertains an objectifying view. Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva [F.236.a] should not attend to a person who abandons the true Dharma. And Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva should not attend to a person who craves material things. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the persons that a bodhisattva should not attend to.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, there are four things that result in suffering for bodhisattvas. What are these four? Rāṣṭrapāla, conceit due to knowledge is something that results in suffering for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, a jealous and avaricious mind is something that results in suffering for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, lack of devotion is something that results in suffering for bodhisattvas. [F.236.b] Rāṣṭrapāla, seeking out enjoyments based on knowing and enduring impure things is something that results in suffering for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four are the things that result in suffering for bodhisattvas.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, four things are fetters for bodhisattvas. What are these four? Despising others is a fetter for bodhisattvas. Engaging in meditation by worldly methods and forming notions about characteristics are a fetter for bodhisattvas. Staying close to someone whose mind clings to everything, who lacks wisdom, and who is careless is a fetter for bodhisattvas. Associating with householders with mental attachments is a fetter for bodhisattvas. Rāṣṭrapāla, these four things are fetters for bodhisattvas.”
Conclusion of the first chapter: “The Introduction.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, persons who have boarded the bodhisattva vehicle will generally make the following mistakes: Those without diligence will worship those without diligence; the deceitful will worship the deceitful; and the ignorant ones will think that the ignorant ones73 should be respected. They will take pleasure in material things and have numerous attachments. They will envy households, be deceitful, talk nonsense like crows, be hypocritical, and attach importance to relatives. They will enrich themselves by means of praising each other, and they will enter villages to gain profit—not for the sake of assisting beings, or out of kindheartedness. They say,74 ‘How can others, those ignorant ones who consider themselves to be knowledgeable, have an opinion about me, the learned one endowed with virtuous qualities?’
“Thus, they make claims to being knowledgeable. They are not—similarly, they do not make any effort. They will be like broken vessels, looking for mistakes in one another, their practice corrupted. They will be ignorant and lazy. Because of their mutual collaboration in reciting broken Dharma together, [F.242.b] they will give little thought to understanding, while fancying their own ideas. They will be unremittingly hostile75 and filled with ill will, and they will train others in their teaching by advising them with inappropriate discourse.76 They will not be fond of asking questions and will not be interested in listening to the Dharma. Through improper conduct, they will take rebirth in poor households. Renouncing their lives in poor households, they will pretend to take pleasure in this teaching, only for the sake of profit. They will not even confess their faults, let alone realize wisdom. Rejecting the good qualities of the buddhas, they themselves will claim to be ascetics—merely for the sake of public reputation and profit.
“Rāṣṭrapāla, I cannot say that such people have even the acceptance that accords with reality,77 let alone the wisdom of the buddhas. If even the higher realms are far away for them, how much more so is enlightenment?
“Rāṣṭrapāla, I speak of eight things that cause obstacles to enlightenment for persons like those. What are these eight? Taking rebirth in the three lower realms, taking rebirth among people of the borderlands, taking rebirth in poor households, taking rebirth in low-caste families, being ugly and blind, associating with nefarious friends, having many diseases, and dying without relinquishing distress. Rāṣṭrapāla, I say that these eight things cause obstacles to enlightenment. Why is that?
“Rāṣṭrapāla, I do not speak of the enlightenment of someone who acknowledges it only verbally. I do not speak of the completely pure conduct of someone who is hypocritical. I do not speak of the conduct conducive to enlightenment of someone who is deceitful. I do not speak of buddha worship of someone who attaches importance to worldly concerns. I do not speak of the completely pure insight of someone who is conceited. I do not speak of the removal of doubt of someone who has faulty knowledge. I do not speak of the completely pure intention of someone who is avaricious. I do not speak of retention in the case of someone who has little diligence. I do not speak of the attainment of the higher realms of someone who does not seek pure qualities. [F.243.a] I do not speak of the completely pure body of someone who envies households.
“I do not speak of meeting the Buddha in the case of someone whose noble path78 is contrived. I do not speak of the complete purity of speech of someone who is attached to a household. I do not speak of the complete purity of mind in the case of someone who is not respectful. I do not speak of the longing for the Dharma in the case of someone who is unrestrained. I do not speak of the quest for the Dharma in the case of someone who is overly concerned with body and life. Rāṣṭrapāla, I do not reproach even the six heretical teachers to the extent that I reproach those fools. Why is that? They speak in one way and act another. They deceive the whole world, including the gods.”
“Formerly, Rāṣṭrapāla, at a time in the past, truly innumerable, innumerable, very long, inconceivable, incomparable, measureless, immeasurable eons ago, there appeared in the world the illustrious buddha known as Siddhārthabuddhi. He was a tathāgata, an arhat, a perfect and complete buddha endowed with perfect knowledge and conduct, a sugata, knower of the world, an unsurpassed guide of those to be trained, a teacher of gods and men. At that time, Rāṣṭrapāla, there was a king called Arciṣmān. Rāṣṭrapāla, King Arciṣmān ruled over a kingdom in Jambudvīpa extending over sixteen thousand yojanas. At that time, Rāṣṭrapāla, there were twenty thousand cities and ten billion households in Jambudvīpa.
“Rāṣṭrapāla, King Arciṣmān had a city named Ratnaprabhāsa, the capital where he lived. From east to west it was twelve yojanas in length, and from south to north it was seven yojanas in breadth. It was decorated with seven successive concentric outer walls made of the seven precious substances [F.244.a] and ornamented with painted checkered patterns. At that time, the beings’ lifespans reached a hundred million years.
“Rāṣṭrapāla, king Arciṣmān had a son called Puṇyaraśmi, who had a beautiful body and was handsome, pleasant to look at, and magnificently endowed with a most excellent, splendid complexion. As soon as he was born, a thousand treasuries of the seven precious substances manifested. In the king’s court, too, manifested a treasury of seven precious substances that was about the height of ten men. Rāṣṭrapāla, as soon as young prince Puṇyaraśmi was born, all the beings of Jambudvīpa rejoiced. The prisoners were released from jail.
“Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi mastered all the worldly arts, as many as there are, in seven days. Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, in the middle of the night, the gods of the Śuddhāvāsa realm roused young prince Puṇyaraśmi saying, ‘Young prince, be conscientious! Become skilled in the thorough analysis of impermanence! Young prince, the life of men is not long. You will have to depart from this life. Behold the other world with fear, and do not act in contradiction with your duties.’ At that time, the gods also uttered the following verses:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, from then on, for ten years the young prince Puṇyaraśmi was never overpowered by drowsiness or torpor. He never laughed, never played, never enjoyed himself, and never engaged in sports. He never went to the pleasure groves, he was never excited to meet friends, and he never took pleasure in music. He never desired kingship, wealth, houses, or cities. Thus, he had no concern for anything, and was engaged in solitary reflection. Devoting himself to secluded contemplation, he contemplated, in a condition of utter helplessness, that the world is without essence and subject to destruction. He thought about meeting with unpleasant things and being separated from pleasant things, about how the childish are deceived, and that there is no enjoyment of pleasure in saṃsāra. He thought about the deceptive character of the enjoyments of kingship, and how one cannot be content with the enjoyments of existence. And he reflected upon ordinary persons, constantly in disagreement, thinking, ‘As I am in the middle of childish ones, who are not diligent, I should spend my time in silence.’ Alone, he stayed in silence. Pondering conscientiously, he abided alone, aloof from pleasurable things.
“Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, King Arciṣmān had a city built elsewhere, called Ratipradhāna, for the young prince’s enjoyment. He constructed seven hundred streets running north and seven hundred running south. It was encircled on all sides by seven successive concentric outer walls made of the seven precious substances, adorned with nets of small bells, nets of pearls, and jeweled pillars. One thousand jeweled pillars were erected [F.245.b] at the arched gates to all the streets. Sixty thousand strings of jewels were fastened to all the jeweled pillars. In the four directions, ten million garlands of cymbals were tied to all the strings of jewels.87 When they were stirred into motion by the wind, a sound arose like the pleasant melody of hundreds of thousands of musical instruments. At each arched gate to the streets were stationed five hundred girls, skilled in song and dance, in the prime of their lives, appropriate for the enjoyment of all the people.
“To all of them King Arciṣmān gave this command: ‘Day and night you should truly please sentient beings who approach from the four directions with song, dance, and the sound of music. By every means, you should generate nothing but thoughts that please the young prince. Do not speak about anything else. Do not say anything unpleasant to sentient beings.
“ ‘At the arched gates leading to all the streets, food should be offered to those who long for food, drink to those who long for drink, and vehicles to those who long for vehicles. In addition to these things, they should be given all manner of clothing, fragrant substances, garlands, ointments, beds, cushions for their backs, basic necessities, unrefined gold, silver, jewels, pearls, beryl, shells, crystals, coral, gold and silver coins, elephants, horses, chariots, oxen, cattle, and adornments.’ This abundance of precious objects was displayed to be enjoyed by everyone.
“At that time, in the center of the city, a house was built for the young prince’s enjoyment. It was about one yojana in circumference, checkered with the seven precious substances, and adorned with hundreds of arched gates. On the inside a court was built, where forty million cushions were arranged for the enjoyment of the young prince. In the middle of that, a pleasure grove was created, filled with all sorts of flowering trees, fruit trees, and jeweled trees. [F.246.a] Rāṣṭrapāla, in the midst of this pleasure grove, a pond made of various kinds of precious substances was constructed. It was endowed with steps made of the four kinds of precious substances, namely, gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. One hundred eight lions’ mouths were erected, through which scented water streamed into the pond. Also, through one hundred eight lions’ mouths, water flowed out of that pond.
“Blue, red, pink, and white lotuses bloomed constantly. The pond88 was completely encircled by jeweled trees and enriched by everlasting flowering and fruit trees. On the banks of this pond were planted eight hundred jeweled trees, and on all these jeweled trees were fastened strings of jewels. To each of these were fastened ten million garlands of cymbals. When they were stirred into motion by the wind, a sound arose like the pleasant melody of hundreds of thousands of musical instruments. To ensure that the young prince’s body was touched by neither earth nor dust,89 a canopy of jewels was spread out above this pond.
“At that time forty million thrones, made of seven precious substances, were arranged in this court, and on each of the thrones were spread five hundred pieces of calico fabric.
“A throne was erected, fashioned out of the seven precious substances, about the height of seven men, where young prince Puṇyaraśmi was seated. In the middle of this, eight hundred and seventy million pieces of calico fabric were spread out. Everywhere at the base of the throne incense pots of agarwood perfumed the air. Three times per day and three times per night, flowers were scattered. The throne90 was decorated with a golden covering. It was draped with golden lotuses. It was arrayed with nets of pearls and jewels, which shone with the splendor of precious jewels. Eighty thousand jeweled canopies were suspended. On every jeweled tree, a hundred banners were suspended. Throughout this pleasure grove, nine million nine hundred thousand lights of precious strings of jewels measuring about one yojana were placed. The whole world [F.246.b] was illuminated by their splendor.
“Rāṣṭrapāla, in this pleasure grove lived flocks of birds that spoke in human tongues, namely, parrots, myna birds, cranes, cuckoos, peacocks, geese, wild geese, kuṇāla birds, kalaviṅka birds, and partridges. When they spoke and sang, a sound came forth that satisfied the gods of the pleasure grove. For the young prince’s enjoyment, meals of five hundred flavors, replete with all sorts of tastes, were continuously arrayed. At that time, youths between the ages of sixteen and twenty years were rounded up from all the cities and led to this grove. Eight hundred million people, all of whom were learned in arts and crafts, in the worldly pleasures, and in acts of service, were led to this city.
“Ten million girls were offered to him by his parents, ten million by his relatives, ten million by people of the city, and ten million by all the kings. All of them had exclusively gorgeous bodies, ravishing and delightful. Moreover, they were all sixteen years of age, and skilled in singing, playing instruments, dancing, entertaining, and the ways of approaching men. They were all upright, youthful, and charming, with soft curves. They were honest in speech, had smiling faces and skillful behavior, and were skilled in all arts. They were neither too tall nor too short, neither too thin nor too fat, and neither too fair nor too dark. Their breaths carried the scent of lotus flowers, and from their bodies emanated the fragrance of sandalwood. They appeared as brilliant as divine maidens, looking extremely attractive and singing melodious songs. Amidst them was seated young prince Puṇyaraśmi.
“With regard to these sounds of song and music, he gave rise to the thought, ‘Alas! [F.247.a] This great assembly is not friendly toward me and has appeared in order to destroy my virtuous qualities. I will not concern myself with them!’ At that time, just like a man who is about to be killed and is not surprised upon seeing his executioner, the young prince Puṇyaraśmi was not surprised when he saw those women. And he was not surprised to see his female companions in the city.91 During those ten years he thought, ‘I will become liberated from such an inhospitable assembly.’ And he pondered, ‘When will I lead a conscientious life, through which I can become liberated?’ Apart from generating such thoughts, he never grasped for the characteristic signs of form.
“Likewise, he did not grasp for the characteristics of sound, smell, taste, or touch.
“Then those girls said, ‘Your majesty, King Arciṣmān, the young prince does not engage in play, he does not enjoy himself, and he refuses to be courted.’ [B3]
“Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, King Arciṣmān, together with eighty thousand kings, went to young prince Puṇyaraśmi. Having arrived there, with tears running down his cheeks, his body trembled. Grieving, he tumbled to the ground. When he arose, he uttered the following verses to young prince Puṇyaraśmi:
“Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, while young prince Puṇyaraśmi was residing in his court, he took a stroll in the company of these distraught women, and he abided by three ways of conduct. What are these three? They are giving up drowsiness and torpor while standing, going, and sitting. Having ascended to the roof of the palace, he heard the gods of the Śuddhāvāsa realm on the eighth floor extensively praising the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha as they were flying through the air. Having heard this, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi, his hairs bristling with euphoria, shed tears and, overwhelmed by excitement100 and with palms joined together, uttered the following verse to the gods:
“At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, the gods uttered the following verse to young prince Puṇyaraśmi:
“The gods then uttered the following verses to young prince Puṇyaraśmi:
“Rāṣṭrapāla, once young prince Puṇyaraśmi had heard this praise of the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha, he was contented, happy, delighted, and overjoyed. Happiness and mental pleasure were born in him.
“Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi thought the following:
“ ‘What is the Buddha, the Bhagavān, like? What is the excellent Saṅgha like? What is the Dharma that he revealed like? What are his excellent disciples like, so that they realize how saṃsāra is frightful and antagonistic; how in saṃsāra, childish ordinary beings are ungrateful; how the view that the aggregates are a person is frightful; how household life has many drawbacks; how passions have many faults; how recklessness is condemned by the learned ones; how the darkness of ignorance brings delusion; [F.250.b] how formative predispositions are difficult to realize; how the mind is difficult to tame; how mind and matter are profound; how the six sense fields are not reliable; how, when sensory contact is not thoroughly understood, suffering will ripen; how sensations have all sorts of drawbacks; how becoming is a true fetter;107 how it is difficult to escape from appropriation; how craving for worldly existence is not noble; how, when there is worldly existence, the continuity of birth is difficult to terminate; how old age108 brings change; how sickness causes destruction; how one is not protected after death; how the transition stage is abhorrent; how the emergence into existence has many drawbacks; and how the teaching of the Tathāgata is delightful.
“ ‘These realizations are not possible for those who are slaves to desire, impaired by afflictions, deluded, and hardhearted, who take pleasure in recklessness, who live among fools, who have improper thoughts and thoughts attached to saṃsāra, and who reside among pernicious men. And if they are not even able to fully practice the path to higher realms, how could they realize unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment?’
“He thought, ‘If I left through the door, the assembly of my kinsmen would prevent me. Therefore, I will jump from the upper roof of the palace.’
“At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi, facing the direction of the Bhagavān, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi, jumped from the palace, saying, ‘If the Tathāgata knows everything and sees everything, may he pay heed to me.’
“Just then, Rāṣṭrapāla, the tathāgata, arhat, perfect and complete Buddha [F.251.a] Siddhārthabuddhi extended his right hand and issued forth light, which touched Puṇyaraśmi. From that light, a hundred-thousand-petaled lotus the size of a chariot wheel emerged. From that lotus, a hundred thousand light rays shone forth, and there was a great brightness. Young prince Puṇyaraśmi was enveloped by this brightness. Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi, resting on the lotus, faced the direction of the bhagavān, tathāgata, arhat, perfect and complete Buddha Siddhārthabuddhi, bowed with joined palms, and uttered three times, ‘I pay homage to the Buddha.’ At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi withdrew the light, and the prince fell at the feet of the tathāgata—just as a tree falls when it is chopped down—and praised the tathāgata a hundred thousand times.
“Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi uttered the following verses to the Bhagavān, Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi:
“Thereafter, Rāṣṭrapāla, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi, upon realizing young prince Puṇyaraśmi’s extraordinary intent, extensively explained to him the conduct of a bodhisattva.
“Listening to him, young prince Puṇyaraśmi attained the dhāraṇī called complete liberation. He also attained the five kinds of superknowledge; and, flying through the air, he emanated flowers and tossed them copiously upon the tathāgata. Next, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi descended from the sky and greatly praised the Bhagavān, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi, with the following verses:
“At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, the day was dawning,118 and King Arciṣmān heard the sound of weeping in the quarters of the young prince’s women. Having heard it, he went with great haste119 to the city of Ratipradhāna. Upon arriving there, he asked, ‘Why are you weeping?’ They answered, ‘Because prince Puṇyaraśmi is not here.’ Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, King Arciṣmān, for the sake of the prince, fell to the ground like a felled tree. Upon rising, he wept and searched the city a thousand times. Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, the main deity of that city said this to King Arciṣmān:
“ ‘The prince has departed to the east, great king, in order to behold, praise, worship, and serve the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi.’ Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, to search for him, King Arciṣmān, along with a retinue of ladies of the court and myriad beings, departed for the eastern direction where the prince had gone. He came before the tathāgata, the arhat, the perfect and complete Buddha Siddhārthabuddhi, and, bowing his head toward the feet of that Bhagavān, stood to one side. Standing to one side, King Arciṣmān praised the Bhagavān with the following verses:
“At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi, upon realizing the extraordinary intent of King Arciṣmān, taught the Dharma in such a way that no one would turn away from unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment. Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi requested the bhagavān, the Tathāgata Siddhārthabuddhi, ‘I beseech you, Bhagavān, to take your meal in our city tomorrow.’ The Bhagavān, out of kindheartedness for young prince Puṇyaraśmi, agreed without uttering a word. Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi proclaimed to his parents, friends, and women, ‘All of you, rejoice!
“ ‘Would you agree to make the richly ornamented city of Ratipradhāna into a suitable offering for the Tathāgata, without attachment?’—They rejoiced unanimously. [F.255.a] Then, Rāṣṭrapāla, young prince Puṇyaraśmi proceeded to offer the richly ornamented city of Ratipradhāna to the Tathāgata, without attachment. He offered to the Tathāgata, together with his assembly of monks, food with the full range of five hundred flavors. To all these monks he offered a monastery covered in seven precious substances, bedecked with jeweled pathways, and adorned on top with a canopy of jeweled nets. To the right and left, groves of flower trees were carefully planted, beautified with ponds of white lotus flowers.122 Beds were swathed in a hundred thousand pieces of calico fabric, stainless on both sides. To each monk he gave flawless robes, and day after day123 he offered additional robes. For thirty million years he was not overcome by drowsiness or torpor, and he did not act out of self-cherishing.124 Worshiping the buddha, he did not turn his mind to anything else.
“For the duration of that period, the concept of desire, the concept of harming others, and the concept of causing harm did not arise. A craving for kingship did not arise. He had no concern for his body or his life force, let alone for anything else. During that time, he completely understood what the Bhagavān had taught, and thus he did not ask the Tathāgata a second time. For the duration of that period, he did not bathe or anoint his body with ghee or sesame oil125 or wash his feet, nor did he conceive of his hardships. He never sat down except to eat, defecate, or urinate. When the Tathāgata entered parinirvāṇa, Puṇyaraśmi126 had a funeral pyre of red sandalwood erected for his ritual cremation.
“At the very spot where the Tathāgata had been cremated, Puṇyaraśmi127 worshiped his relics with all the flowers, garlands, incense, and sounds of musical instruments of the entire world for a hundred thousand years. Thus, having brought together all causes and conditions, he caused as many as eight hundred forty million stūpas to be built. [F.255.b] These stūpas were covered in precious lattices made of the seven precious substances and were sheltered by canopies made of pearl lattices. Moreover, on each stūpa he raised128 five hundred parasols made of the seven precious substances; and furthermore, at each stūpa he sounded hundreds of thousands of cymbals. He planted flower trees in all corners of the world. At each stūpa, he lit lamps on a hundred thousand lamp stands. Moreover, on each of these lamp stands, sixty-four thousand lamps with scented oil were lit. Moreover, he worshiped with many varieties of incense, garlands, and ointments. In such ways he worshiped for as many as ten million years, and subsequently became a renunciant.
“Having become a renunciant, he put on the three Dharma robes, continually engaged in begging for alms, and always slept in a seated posture without ever lying down. He never became overwhelmed by drowsiness and torpor. With a mind free from worldly concerns, he offered the gift of Dharma for as long as forty million years. He did not expect even appreciation from others, let alone gain and honor. He also never tired of listening to the Dharma or explaining it. Even the gods served him. All people in the country, his retinue of ladies of the court, all his family members, and all his companions followed his example and became renunciants. At this point, Rāṣṭrapāla, the gods of the Śuddhāvāsa realm thought, ‘People of all countries have become renunciants following Puṇyaraśmi’s example. Therefore, if we honor and serve them, we will honor the Three Jewels.’
“Following the parinirvāṇa of the tathāgata, the excellent Dharma had remained for six hundred forty million years, and it was preserved in its entirety by the monk Puṇyaraśmi. In such a way, he worshiped myriad buddhas.
“Now,129 Rāṣṭrapāla, in case you hesitate, harbor any doubts, or [F.256.a] have a second thought, wondering whether at that time King Arciṣmān was someone else, you should not do so. Why not? Because at that time, the Tathāgata Amitāyus was indeed King Arciṣmān. Now, Rāṣṭrapāla, in case you hesitate, harbor any doubts, or have a second thought, wondering whether at that time young prince Puṇyaraśmi was someone else, you should not do so. Why not? Because at that time, I was young prince Puṇyaraśmi, and the main deity of the city was the Tathāgata Akṣobhya. Therefore, Rāṣṭrapāla, a bodhisattva mahāsattva who desires to be perfectly awakened to unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment should follow the example of young prince Puṇyaraśmi by accomplishing the highest intent, by abandoning pleasant and unpleasant things, and by conscientious conduct.
“Through the accomplishment of such difficult tasks, I attained unsurpassable, completely perfect enlightenment. Yet there are those without diligence; those who strive after gain, honor, and glory; those who are attached to public reputation;130 those who are overpowered by pride, afflicted, distressed, and far from the teachings due to their desires; those who became renunciants for no good reason; those who are weary of asceticism; those who are unruly bodhisattvas; those who are dishonest in body, speech, and mind; those who are fortune tellers; those who offer false promises; those who do not keep their word; those who are attached to the trappings of clothing, food, bedding, medicine for the sick, and personal belongings; those who have no sense of shame or modesty; those who display bad behavior; those who are devoted to something other than the genuine Dharma; those who are without the experiential sphere of spiritual practice;131 those who are far from the experiential sphere of the buddhas; those who are outside the vehicle of the Buddha; and those who do not possess the aspiration to perfect enlightenment. Having heard these teachings, Rāṣṭrapāla, you should know that such people are nefarious friends, unreasonable, motivated only by gain, and not to be associated with.”
“Rāṣṭrapāla, suppose one bodhisattva engages in the five perfections,137 and the other diligently practices this Dharma discourse, thinking ‘I shall study this. I shall abide by these vows.’ [F.257.a] In that case, the amount of the first one’s merit would not come close to even a hundredth part of the latter’s. It would not reach a thousandth, a hundred-thousandth, or a trillionth—it would not even be amenable to any counting, division, calculation, or comparison.”138
As the Bhagavān explained this Dharma discourse, all the accompanying thirty billion gods, humans, and asuras who had not previously given rise to the aspiration to enlightenment now gave rise to the mind intent on unsurpassable, perfectly complete enlightenment, without straying away from it. The minds of the seven thousand monks, no longer grasping, were completely liberated from contaminants.
Then the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla asked this of the Bhagavān:
“Bhagavān, what is the name of this Dharma discourse? How should I remember it?” Having thus been asked, the Bhagavān replied to the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla, “In this regard, Rāṣṭrapāla, you should remember this Dharma discourse as The Pure, Meaningful Promise. You should remember it as The Sport of Noble Men and The Ascertainment of the Conduct of a Bodhisattva. And you should also remember it as The Perfect Fulfillment of Meaning.” After the Bhagavān had spoken these words, the venerable Rāṣṭrapāla, as well as the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas, rejoiced and praised what the Bhagavān had said.
This concludes The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla (1), the eighteenth of the one hundred thousand sections of the Dharma discourse known as The Noble Great Heap of Jewels.139
|KQ||Peking 1737 (Qianlong)|
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Ensink, Jacob. The Question of Rāṣṭrapāla: Translated and Annotated. Zwolle: J. J. Tijl, 1952.
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- bzod pa
- nyon mongs
- phung po
- ’og min
- blo gros mi zad pa
- mi ’khrug pa
- bdud rtsi
- ’od dpag med
- blo gros mtha’ yas
Apparitions being illusory
- sgyu ma’i chos tshul
- nye bar len pa
- lha’i bu mo
- ’od zer ldan
- dgra bcom pa
- don grub
- dge sbyong
Aspiration to enlightenment
- byang chub sems
- phyogs kyi tog
- lha ma yin
- lha min
- dka’ thub
- mnar med