The Good Eon
Degé Kangyur vol. 45 (mdo sde, ka), folios 1.b–340.a.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
While resting in a park outside the city of Vaiśālī, the Buddha is approached by the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja, who requests meditation instruction. The Buddha proceeds to give a teaching on a meditative absorption called elucidating the way of all phenomena and subsequently delivers an elaborate discourse on the six perfections. Prāmodyarāja then learns that all the future buddhas of the Good Eon are now present in the Blessed One’s audience of bodhisattvas. Responding to Prāmodyarāja’s request to reveal the names under which these present bodhisattvas will be known as buddhas in the future, the Buddha first lists these names, and then goes on to describe the circumstances surrounding their birth, awakening, and teaching in the world. In the sūtra’s final section, we learn how each of these great bodhisattvas who are on the path to buddhahood first developed the mind of awakening.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the guidance of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Thomas Doctor produced the translation and Andreas Doctor, Anya Zilman, and Nika Jovic compared the draft translation with the original Tibetan and edited the text. The introduction was written by Thomas Doctor and the 84000 editorial team.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Zhou Tian Yu, Chen Yi Qin, Zhou Xun, Zhao Xuan, Chen Kun, and Zhuo Yue, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Thus did I hear at one time. The Blessed One was residing at Śrāvasti, where he had observed the summer retreat. After the three months of summer had passed, he prepared his Dharma robes. Once he had prepared his Dharma robes, he put on the robes, took up his alms bowl, and, together with one hundred thousand monks and eight hundred million bodhisattvas, proceeded toward the city of Vaiśālī. On the way, the Blessed One entered a large forest, where he later arose from meditative seclusion.
The bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja, [F.2.a] who had also entered meditative seclusion, now likewise reemerged from this state. He and the whole assembly of monks, nuns, male lay practitioners, female lay practitioners, gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, asuras, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahorāgas were now seated on their mats. All of the assembled bodhisattvas had attained illumination, dhāraṇī, and absorption. They were endowed with the five superknowledges, their words were engaging, and they were free from pretense, had no worldly ambitions, and were free from attachment. They taught the Dharma without any regard for material things. They had perfected acceptance of the profound Dharma, had accomplished fearlessness, and were beyond the actions of the māras. They had shed karmic obscurations, achieved the state free from any doubt about the nature of the Dharma, and accumulated aspirations throughout countless eons. They had smiles on their faces, spoke straightforwardly, and never frowned. They communicated in melodious voices, their minds were indomitable, and the flow of their eloquence was unbroken. They had achieved acceptance of equality. They were able to outshine infinite gatherings without any fear. They were adept at elaborating on a single word throughout ten million eons.
They were confident that all phenomena are just like illusions, a mirage, the moon in water, dreams, and echoes. Their minds were endowed with infinite fearlessness, and they were confident in knowing the most subtle movements in the minds of sentient beings, as well as every aspect of their conduct. They possessed vast virtue [F.2.b] and their minds were unimpeded. They were free from exaggerating pride and endowed with patience. Their virtues were genuinely comprehensive. Their aspirations encompassed infinite arrays of buddha realms. They constantly manifested the absorption of recollecting the buddhas of countless world systems. They were skilled in supplicating boundless buddhas. They were skilled in quelling differing views, as well as latent tendencies and the fetters of emotional defilements. They were skilled in accomplishing hundreds of thousands of displays through absorption. They included the bodhisattva Maitreya, as well as the youthful Mañjuśrī, Avalokiteśvara, Sound of Thunder,33 Mind of Blooming Flowers of a Hundred Thousand Virtues, Possessor of the Mind of Infinite Practice and the Speech That Is Adorned with Flashes of Lightning, Possessor of the Mind of Complete Detachment, King of Renown, Perceiver of the Agreeable and the Disagreeable, King of the Splendid Light of Deep Accumulations of Gold, Seeing and Moving Across a Hundred Yojanas, Heaps of Eloquence, Mass of Wisdom, Amoghadarśin, Bhadrapāla, the Eight Holy Beings,34 Gandhahastin, Jewel Treasury, Heaps of Insight, Array of Offerings, King of the Melodious Lion’s Roar, Adorned with Arrays of Wisdom, Moving with the Gait of a Lion, Fearless in Limitless Mastery of Eloquence, the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja, and others.
From the world systems of the great trichiliocosm came the Four Great Kings, Śakra, Brahmā, Īśvara, Mahābrahmā, [F.3.a] nāga leaders, yakṣa leaders, asura leaders, garuḍa leaders, kinnara leaders, mahorāga leaders, and gandharva leaders, arriving in the presence of the Blessed One, scattering flowers before him, and then taking their places in the gathering.
At that time, the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja observed seven days of fasting during which he would either stand or sit upright, practicing with unrelenting diligence, free from drowsiness and without sleep. It was then that the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja spoke to the Blessed One: “Which quality must bodhisattvas perfect in order for them to know the thoughts and conduct of all sentient beings, to apply the words that have the intent of all the buddhas, to avoid teaching based on incorrect teachings, to follow knowledge grounded in truth as literally expressed, and to become free of any obscuration with respect to all the buddhas of the present? Through which quality may they be able to accompany and perceive the buddhas, achieve certainty through the Dharma, follow the ways of the world without becoming stained by the world, abide in meditative attainments without taking birth in the corresponding realms, practice the Dharma of nirvāṇa without transcending suffering, and practice the Dharma of hearers and solitary buddhas in which the aspirations of buddhahood are not perfected, without achieving deliverance through those vehicles? Through which quality may their minds be unclouded in recollecting the buddhas, may they engage with the different dispositions and also be in accord with them all, not become overpowered by any question or eloquence, [F.3.b] apprehend all the infinite displays of the buddha realms, attain all forms of insight, bring sentient beings to maturation without adhering to the notion of ‘sentient being,’ teach the Dharma yet not fixate on any objective references, explain nirvāṇa yet not objectify this peacefulness in any way, act for the sake of awakening without fixation, and give up existence, as well as no existence, but aspire to what is vast? Blessed One, I do not ask in this way without any knowledge. Nevertheless, please explain.”
The Blessed One then spoke to the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja: “Excellent, Prāmodyarāja, excellent! I possess the absorption called elucidating the way of all phenomena. When bodhisattvas possess that absorption, they attain those qualities. Furthermore, they perfect one hundred and twenty-one perfections. They attain eighty-four thousand absorptions and eighty-four thousand dhāraṇīs. They realize expert ways of engaging in the conduct of all sentient beings, [F.4.b] and they quickly awaken to unexcelled, complete, and perfect buddhahood.35
“Prāmodyarāja, what is the absorption called elucidating the way of all phenomena? It is doing exactly what one says. It is saying exactly what one has done. It is purifying the body, purifying the speech, and purifying the mind. It is the wish to benefit. It is being endowed with love, not relinquishing compassion, not pursuing pleasures, pursuing the Dharma, ensuring that faith is not wasted, and practicing in accordance with one’s pledges. It is being expert regarding language. It is liberating sentient beings, practicing well-considered deeds, not having bodily cravings, and having an unwavering mind. It is easing those in pain, ennobling the happy, restraining the careless, improving the diligent, dispelling regrets regarding the Dharma, not harboring preconceptions regarding sentient beings, not harboring preconceptions regarding entities, cutting through grasping, and demolishing attributes. It is immutable equipoise, the constant pursuit of wisdom, giving up mundane conversation, seeking supramundane conversation, impeccable mindfulness, and freedom from discussing phenomena. It is correct engagement in actions, accomplishment in conduct, knowledge of the world, and firm conviction in karma. It is giving up lack of faith, being highly motivated, setting one’s mind on buddhas, teaching flourishing, rejoicing in merits, supplicating the buddhas, paying homage to those worthy of offerings, [F.5.a] and expressing praise.
“It is being free from pride, being insatiable regarding roots of virtue, being constantly diligent, not giving up on one’s pursuits but ensuring their completion, being magnanimous in the world with respect to deeds performed according to causes and conditions, and not forsaking the requisites. It is not postulating a single metaphysical ground and not clinging to the idea that ‘this alone is true.’ It is never calling the desire realm ‘home,’ not clinging to the form realm, not being of the nature of the formless realm, and having firm conviction about how results manifest in accordance with their conditioning. It is sharing one’s own means and being impartial, never tricking any being, not being deceptive regarding the buddhas, not disparaging bodhisattvas, and not speaking badly about the teachings.
“It is harboring no anger toward the rational or irrational, not relying on the wealth of other groups, never failing to fulfill wishes, giving up pride, giving up anger, and conquering ignorance. It is not enjoying wealth, being content with bare necessities, abandoning worldly pursuits, not being displeased with not getting wealth, not becoming conceited at getting wealth, sharing whatever one obtains, and not hoarding. It is accepting negative words from others, guarding one’s words, being clear minded, encouraging those who are rational, not following those who are irrational, and practicing sustained inquiry. It is not giving up meditative seclusion, not leaving the wilderness, always practicing the ascetic virtues, being inspired by emptiness, not being satisfied with things, not fixating on the aggregates, subduing the elements, not reifying the sense sources, [F.5.b] not revering36 objects, giving up error, attaining mental stability, abiding in the abodes of the noble ones, having a mind free from craving and yearning, attaining the level of being worthy of offerings, and completely purifying karmic conditioning.
“It is generosity whereby you do not take on karmic ripening, it is discipline whereby you have no arrogance, it is patience whereby you have no divisive thoughts, it is diligence in which your efforts are not squandered, it is concentration whereby you do not take rebirth, and it is insight whereby you do not squander life. It is equality as the perfection of progressing in the spiritual levels. It is not being conceited about one’s own qualities and not denigrating the good qualities of others. It is not remaining in saṃsāra, not objectifying nirvāṇa, mastering liberation, not being attached to nirvāṇa, and resting in certainty. It is having a smile on one’s face, not having an angry frown, and speaking with sincerity. It is praising novices, midlevel practitioners, and seniors due to their proper understanding. It is being free from animosity, pacifying disputes, praising peace, endeavoring in the accumulations, and having equal concern for those who are one’s friends and those who are not one’s friends.
“It is pursuing dhāraṇī. It is respectfully serving all beings as if they were one’s mother, respectfully serving all wise ones as if they were one’s father, respectfully serving all masters as if they were one’s own preceptor, venerating the bodhisattvas as if they were buddhas, worshiping the thus-gone ones, aspiring to virtue, and untiringly venerating the Three Jewels. It is joyfully persevering without being involved in worldly affairs, not having concern for the body, not being attached to one’s own life, maintaining a pure livelihood, not giving up the practice of making alms rounds, abandoning places where people gather, [F.6.a] not praising householders, and not conducting business among those who have gone forth. It is having no hypocrisy, not engaging in flattery, speaking pleasantly, adhering to the practices of awakening, being naturally undaunted, and engaging in what is appropriate. It is offering continuous praise for the Buddha, always being attentive to the Dharma, and always following the Saṅgha. It is constantly worshiping those endowed with knowledge, always relying on those who are erudite, always guarding those in meditation, always exhorting those endowed with reason, always relying on the teachings of the buddhas, always cultivating the Dharma teachings, always trusting in merit, always being generous to sentient beings, always caring for those who have faith, and bringing relief to those who suffer.
“It is having pure conduct, knowing shame and modesty, having a manner that demonstrates shame and fear, giving up unwholesome conduct, attending to proper conduct, and being inclined toward renunciation. It is seeking out the abodes of the noble ones, cultivating the applications of mindfulness, relying on the correct abandonments, taking hold of the faculties, accomplishing the powers, having special insight into the factors of awakening, and being unerring on the path. It is possessing vast calm abiding, rousing special insight, being free from forgetfulness, and having genuine joy in the Dharma. It is going beyond objective references, not fearing the lack of support, and not confusing the absence of objective references with carelessness. It is abiding by the conduct of the bodhisattvas, engaging in the infinite conduct of the buddhas, having scorn for unwholesome conduct, [F.6.b] being saddened by past karmic formations, purifying one’s own karma, and taking charge of what has not yet been tamed.
“It is never disparaging the teachings, not harboring doubts, acting in timely ways, giving up what is not timely, having skill in going and returning, knowing limits, being content regarding material things, having vast superknowledge, mastering absorption, having diverse modes of conduct, and having vast courage. It is the teachings of the thus-gone ones, being fully receptive through nonapprehension, satisfying the diligent, cultivation by the children of the buddhas, the wealth of the bodhisattvas, the abiding of the buddhas, and the practice of the learned, the domain of intelligent progress, and the domain of the teachers of the Dharma. It is inspiration for the highly motivated, the disposition to behold the protectors of the three worlds, a treasury for those in pursuit of wealth, and a field of those endowed with ripening. It is true happiness for the tormented, a park for those who have achieved dhāraṇī, a pool for those who have attained absorption, a mother for those endowed with virtuous qualities, a support for those inspired by speech, the cause of the major marks of the buddhas, the discernment of the minor marks, and the refuge of the buddha realms. It is the full attainment of dhāraṇī, mastery of attainment, and perfectly reasonable speech.
“It is transcendence of the realm of the māras, the realm of heroes, conquering the emotional defilements, demolishing unvirtuous actions, the adornment of those with aspirations, and invulnerability to the māras. It is the inexhaustible teachings, what is hard to fathom for non-Buddhist sectarians, what is dissimilar to the world, what transcends the Dharma of the hearers, and what is not the deliverance of the solitary buddhas. It is attaining omniscience, [F.7.a] entering the existences of sentient beings, and inspiration for the ultimate state of reality. It is delighting those wishing for food, and satisfying those thirsting for drink. It is the essence of those who attain nirvāṇa, the chariot of those who attain nirvāṇa, the boat for sailing to the other shore, the boat for those wishing to cross, the lamp for the compassionate, the shooting star for the teachers of Dharma, the abode of those wishing for freedom from deception, wealth for those wishing to give, knowledge for those wishing for liberation, ennoblement for those in pursuit of amusements, an ocean for those wishing to learn, Mount Sumeru for those who accomplish absorption, a sense faculty for those who desire eyes, a display for those wishing to see, delight for those endowed with mind, the abode of nonregression, and the intention of those who have attained acceptance that phenomena are unborn.
“It is the cultivation of beginners, the banner of people with understanding, the awakening of those who revere calm abiding, and the Nārāyaṇa of those who teach the absence of self. It is the path of omniscience, the equality of birth for those with wisdom and liberation, what is praised by the gods, what is extolled by the nāgas, what is worshiped by humans, what inspires wonder in those in training, what is revered by those beyond training, what is applauded by the bodhisattvas, and what is cultivated by the lords of Dharma. It is the city of those who guard their faculties, the way of skillful ones, the attainment of the diligent, the dispelling of doubts, cutting through doubts, dispelling the defilements, and the dhāraṇīs of the bodhisattvas. It is a doctor for the sick, a remedy for error, and a reliever of pain. It is the contemplation for those wishing to persevere, [F.7.b] fearlessness for those wishing to proclaim, vast and genuine knowledge for those wishing to speak, miraculous abilities for those wishing to perform miracles, a journey for those wishing to hear, eyes for those wishing to see, the path to nirvāṇa, relinquishing the lower realms, transcending the realms of desire, form, and formlessness, and accomplishing the realms of the buddhas.
“It is embracing the vajra-like absorption, the lion throne for those in their final existence, the roots of virtue for those who pursue nondegeneracy, giving joy to the sad, uplifting the downtrodden, fortifying the diligent, and accomplishing the dispositions of conduct. It is contemplation for the idle, the declaration of the equality of the three vehicles, abandoning all grasping, perfecting omniscience, thoroughly attaining the infinite gateways of those who teach the ultimate, ensuring that the qualities of the teaching of emptiness are not wasted, and perfecting the strength of the gateways of aspiration. It is communication for those who are inspired toward the absence of marks, the equality of the three times for those who are inspired toward seeing and equanimity, skill in universal outreach, and teaching awakening. It is not being vulnerable to denigration by others.
“It is the Dharma teachers’ pursuit of freedom from delusion, following Dharma teachers who are free of materialistic concerns, and listening to the Dharma without distraction. It is the unblemished retinue, the absence of obstacles for giving the Dharma, causing amazement in those who ask questions with conviction, dispelling regret, continuous engagement, not abandoning the accumulation of wisdom, the liberation of those who grasp, the taming of those who are offensive, and shedding the defilements. It is practicing without supports, [F.8.a] being mindful of those wishing for mindfulness, uplifting the bodhisattvas, teaching the fourfold retinue, and the sweetest among delicious tastes. It is a declaration for those wishing for miraculous abilities, an open door for those wishing to turn back from existence, the liberation in nirvāṇa, a blissful body, a blissful mind, the joy of the wise, the nonabdication of firm commitments, and the undeterred attainment of the qualities of the thus-gone ones.
“It is the abode of the roots of virtue, the destruction of nonvirtue, training for those with misguided intelligence, the abode of those adhering to reason, the nondeceptive guide, the attainment of the light of the buddhas, the light of the mass of wisdom, and displaying the realms of the buddhas. It is the posing of millions of questions, thinking of virtuous qualities, a focal point for the weary, not forsaking those of poor intelligence, and delighting the knowledgeable. It is the cause of action for those wishing to teach, the protector of those who teach the Dharma, knowledge of all causes, and skill in means regarding all phenomena. It is accomplishing the means for contemplation, seeing in accord with reality, conveying meaning to oneself, truly satisfying others, cutting through the mesh, and dispelling ignorance. It is understanding the aggregates, understanding consciousness, comprehending name and form, seeing the six sense sources, understanding contact, knowing sensation, quelling craving, giving up grasping, halting becoming, uprooting birth, and transcending old age and death.37 It is the purification of suffering, rejoicing in happiness, dispelling suffering and unhappiness, attaining the accomplishments, [F.8.b] satisfying the discerning, flawless light, and proclamations in accord with the Dharma. It is the power of beings who have gained fame, the cleansing of those who are stained, and overcoming the view that takes the aggregates to be a person.
“It is retaining what is heard and retaining the teachings of the Dharma. It is unmistaken awakening, unceasing engagement with virtuous factors, vast accumulations of virtue, the basis for attaining wisdom, the Dharma way of the diligent, expanding the saṅgha of noble beings, eliminating the criticism of others, approving of those who teach the Dharma, and the conduct of bodhisattvas. It is the moon for those wishing to play, the sun for those who pursue livelihood, the treatise for those wishing to train, the king of those who are respected, the guide of the learned, the seed of virtuous factors, the nectar of the ripened fruit, the basis for recollecting births, the attainment of birth, contempt for childish teachings, the authentic qualities of the teachings of the thus-gone ones, and the infinite ripening of those who teach and uphold the Dharma. It is a foundation of omniscience, attainment of the higher realms in teaching, abandoning all fears in posing questions, never turning back when crossing over, and a foundation for expressing realization. It is letting the entire world ponder the Dharma, the words of all the buddhas of the past, the treasure of the wisdom of all the buddhas of the present, and the perfection of the realization of all the buddhas of the future.
“It is quickly attaining unshakable true wisdom, the seal that emerges from the Buddha’s hand,38 and the insatiability of those who wish to ask about the Buddhadharma. It is the quelling of aggressive cognitions, [F.9.a] the attainment of skillful means, cultivating the earth element, engaging with the water element, balancing the fire element, stabilizing the wind element, and attaining liberation in the space element. It is revealing the element of consciousness, dissatisfaction with conditioned factors, bringing an end to latent tendencies, dispelling anger, letting go in equanimity, skill regarding one’s own support, skill regarding the support of others, and words for those wishing to speak. It is freedom from clinging to accomplishments, relinquishing the idea of ‘I,’ relinquishing the idea of ‘mine,’ the basis for reversing inclinations, a cautious mind, attending to the mind like a guard dog, entering the vast, and comprehending the subtle.
“It is shade for the weary, traversing the river, being indomitable when under attack, the staff of good people, veneration for spiritual teachers, giving up dullness and sleep, going beyond agitation, giving up doubt, dispelling the wish for pleasure, and giving up laziness. It is not observing a self, not propounding the existence of a sentient being, not fixating on a life force, being free from forgetfulness regarding the Dharma, speaking flawless words, speaking with reason, properly contemplating the process of formation, the essence of mastery, the essence of being undeterred, inspiration toward generosity and wisdom, entering the retinue without timidity, not disparaging others, not proclaiming one’s own qualities, and constant commitment for the sake of awakening. It is diligent engagement, not staying for long in any location, giving up grasping, engaging in auspicious activities, not being of the body, an undaunted mind, [F.9.b] expertise regarding the supports, cultivating recollection, being unswerving and free from pride, pursuing liberation, the resolution of doubt, taking birth in the pure abodes, the mind of equal love, the compassionate embrace, the joyous experience of appreciating oneself, dispelling attachment and anger within impartiality, accepting others through discipline, entering the attainment of absorption, and entering the liberation of all factors through insight. It is understanding the use of syllables, skill in etymology, mastering expressions, engaging with language, pursuit of the essence of expertise, and expressing the gift of Dharma without vested desires. It is having no zeal for single-minded certainty, not growing tired of a single approach, neither accepting nor rejecting what concerns awakening, not squandering any dharma, teaching correctly, and not deceiving any sentient being. It is the perfection of stable aspiration, continuous engagement throughout day and night, the conduct of the bodhisattvas, entering the realms of sentient beings, and accomplishing omniscience. Prāmodyarāja, this is the absorption that is known as elucidating the way of all phenomena.”
At that time, the Blessed One spoke these verses:
“Prāmodyarāja, such is the absorption known as elucidating the way of all phenomena. Bodhisattvas who attain it comprehend all phenomena without error. They realize that all phenomena are unsupported. They realize all phenomena to be unborn. They realize all phenomena of the buddhas to be uncreated. They realize all phenomena to be hollow. They realize all phenomena to be fake. They realize all phenomena to be devoid of any essence. They become indomitable. They go beyond the five realms of wandering beings. They defeat the māras. They bring joy to all sentient beings. They receive the veneration of all the learned. They behold the whole nature of reality. They shine brightly like the moon. They know the movements in the minds of all sentient beings. They inspire everyone with pure intention. They know the whole trichiliocosm. They attain the level of devoted conduct.39
“They delve into selflessness. They comprehend the elements that are to be left behind. They attain the spiritual level that transcends the arrogating pride of all sentient beings. They transcend obscuration. They comprehend the nature of name and form. They reflect on the teaching of the buddhas in terms of creative etymologies. They attain the thirty-two marks. They are unaffected by acquisition and lack of acquisition. They are unpolluted within the world. They are a support for all sentient beings. They open the door to nirvāṇa. [F.11.a] They are donors. They reveal deathlessness. They comprehend nirvāṇa. They dispel the torments of sentient beings. They cut through the doubts of sentient beings. They are not adulterated by the six faculties. They attain the dhāraṇī of engaging in the sixteen syllables. What are the sixteen syllables they attain the dhāraṇī of engaging in? They are a, ra, pa, ca, na, da, sa, ka, tha, pa, ba, kṣa, cha, pa, ṭha, and ḍha. By means of the dhāraṇī of engaging in these sixteen, they attain the spiritual level of accomplishment in infinite ways.
“They comprehend the voidness of all phenomena. They gain certainty. They develop knowledge of the intentions of all sentient beings. In this way, all emotional defilements cease to exist. They understand the true nature of everything grasped by immature beings. They make headway. They satisfy all sentient beings. They offer worship by means of excellent speech. They provide the offering of deathlessness. They know all the deeds of the buddhas. They attain full knowledge. They cut through doubts in themselves and others. They are always eager to dispel the regrets of sentient beings. They obtain the melodious voice of the kalaviṅka bird. They gain attainment through equality. They bring forth the lion’s roar. They are sincere. They practice the perfection of patience and perfect great compassion. They go beyond the sphere of the māras. They perfect the melodious voice.
“They achieve acceptance by having given up pride. They possess profound concentration. They teach the Dharma that conquers the world. They achieve depth. [F.11.b] They attain great strength and power with respect to all phenomena. They are full of knowledge, for they know in terms of all phenomena. They are mindful of the conduct of all sentient beings. Over countless eons they comprehend all things just as they are. They know all attacks. They attain the relinquishment of all thoughts of weariness. They quickly attain awakening. They are praised by the gods. They attend to all phenomena by means of knowledge. They are skilled in the achievement of meaningful objectives. All phenomena appear as they truly are to them. They partake of elixir as their food.
“They cut through all doubts. They discard all connections created by habitual tendencies. They are enveloped by great compassion. They recollect the true intent. They cultivate recollections of past lives. They swiftly comprehend the activities associated with the qualities of nirvāṇa. They attain the level of being worshiped by great gatherings. They destroy all pride. They accomplish the level of power. They engage with the manifold. They know accomplishment. They know all ripening. They expand the realms of the buddhas. They conquer the māra of the aggregates. They quickly comprehend the teaching of realization. Thereby, they quickly destroy the māras. They quickly subdue the attacks of others. They see buddhas in innumerable realms of the world. They also listen to their Dharma. They do not forget the sacred Dharma. They accomplish the perfection of reveling in absorption according to will. Thus, as the bodhisattvas who attain this absorption are careful, they should be declared omniscient. Why is that? Because, depending entirely on their wishes, they may within just one single life, or within two lives, or three lives, or four, or after eons, awaken to perfect buddhahood. And why is that? Because this absorption is omniscience.”
“Prāmodyarāja, in the past—innumerable, uncountable eons before—there appeared a thus-gone one, a worthy one, a complete and perfect buddha known as Proclaimer of the Melodious Thundering Roar of the Ornamental Beauty of Eloquence. Among the propagators of his Dharma teachings was a teacher known as Crest of the Banner of the Qualities of Infinite Eloquence. When he taught this absorption, a prince known as Teaching the Dharma to Many as the Pure Ripening of Merit offered a precious and priceless garment, and at the same time aroused the attitude of thinking ‘May all sentient beings achieve this absorption!’
“By the roots of virtue ensuing from this, he delighted thus-gone ones more numerous than the grains of sand found in eighty Gaṅgā Rivers. From all those blessed ones he received this absorption, and Dharma teachings that had not been taught before appeared. He then recollected his continuous miraculous births. This prince, Teaching the Dharma to Many as the Pure Ripening of Merit, attained perfect awakening and, in the buddha realm known as Aparimitaguṇavyūha, became known as the buddha Amitāyus.44 The monk and Dharma teacher called Crest of the Banner of the Qualities of Infinite Eloquence became the thus-gone one known as Great Eye.
“When the prince had heard this absorption, he relinquished the karmic obscurations created during seven million eons. In all his lives he never parted—even for just as long as it takes to snap one’s fingers—from the dhāraṇī accomplished through the differentiating sections and infinite gateways. [F.14.a]
“There was also a thus-gone one known as Bright Countenance Like the Stainless Moon of the Essence of Glorious Splendor who taught and explained this absorption. When the son of a merchant, Vast Beauty and Fine Shape, listened to this teaching with his mind, he went forth from the household, abandoning seventy wives, a treasury that covered a league, and one thousand eight hundred gardens. He never again set his foot on ground covered with fabric. For ten thousand years after he had gone forth, he never wore footwear except in the latrine, but kept diligently on the move, free from drowsiness and sleep. When ten thousand years had passed, he obtained the dhāraṇī known as embodiment of the teachings, statements, and voices of all the buddhas, and he accomplished the absorption known as comprehending the use of all language. Receiving the veneration of six hundred thousand gods, he kept endeavoring. Now that he has accomplished virtue by body and mind, he resides in a world to the south that is adorned with all excellent qualities. There he has now truly awakened as a buddha and he is known as the thus-gone Reasoning Mind.” [B2]
At that time the Blessed One spoke these verses:
At that point the bodhisattva Prāmodyarāja, along with thirty thousand other bodhisattvas, rose from their seats, trembling, tearful, frightened, and with sweat emerging from their armpits. They rose, joined their palms in veneration, and facing in the direction of the Blessed One, they all spoke with one voice: “In the future time of repression—when Dharma teachers are disparaged and the wisdom of omniscience is denied, when the teachings are destroyed and the vision of wisdom is slight, when virtuous factors disintegrate and the means of livelihood vanish—we shall relinquish concern for our own body and life, and cut through all that is held to be pleasurable, as if with a sword. The path of the thus-gone ones, the seal of the flawless rich treasures of eloquence, the ocean that brings together the roots of virtue, and the dhāraṇīs that subdue the māras and accomplish omniscience are conveyed in discourses such as this one. We hereby pledge to write them down, carry them, and teach them at that time. Blessed One, even if it means living in hell, we shall do so happily for the sake of this precious absorption.”
When this teaching of the Dharma was given, as many sentient beings as there are grains of sand in seventy Gaṅgās, who had arrived from innumerable world realms, all proceeded irreversibly to unexcelled and perfect awakening. The thousands of bodhisattvas likewise all attained this absorption. The teaching brought delight to one million gods, future teachers of the Dharma, who thus proceeded irreversibly to awakening. Seven billion gods purified the Dharma eye that regards all phenomena. One hundred and eighty million members of the fourfold retinue of humans attained the Dharma eye that regards all phenomena. [F.17.a] All of the three lower realms were thoroughly pacified. The light of the Blessed One lit up as many world realms in the ten directions as there are grains of sand in the Gaṅgā. At that moment happiness came to all sentient beings, from the summit of existence down to the Hell of Ultimate Torment. Out of the Blessed One’s light appeared trillions of lotuses, each with a hundred thousand petals and adorned with infinite jewels. Upon each of those flowers was a thus-gone one, just like the blessed Śākyamuni, surrounded by his retinue. Each of them received the supplication of Prāmodyarāja, and each one consequently taught this absorption, allowing innumerable sentient beings to proceed irreversibly to unexcelled and perfect awakening.
This was the first chapter, titled “Purifying Activity: The Teaching on Taking Up the Activities of the Bodhisattvas.”
This translation was produced by the Indian preceptor Vidyākarasiṁha and the translator Venerable Palgyi Yang. The translation was revised and finalized by the great translator-editor Venerable Paltsek.
|C||Choné (co ne) Kangyur|
|D||Degé (sde dge) Kangyur|
|H||Lhasa Zhöl (zhol) Kangyur|
|J||Lithang (li thang) Kangyur|
|K||Kangxi Peking (pe) Kangyur|
|KY||Yongle (g.yung lo) Kangyur|
|N||Narthang (snar thang) Kangyur|
|S||Stok Palace (stog pho brang bris ma) Kangyur|
bskal pa bzang po (Bhadrakalpika). Toh 94, Degé Kangyur vol. 45 (mdo sde, ka), folios 1.b–340.a.
bskal pa bzang po (Bhadrakalpika). Toh 94, Stok Palaca Kangyur vol. 52 (mdo sde, ka), folios 1.a–478.a.
bskal pa bzang po. (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), 2006–9, vol. 45, pp. 3–852.
rgya cher rol pa (Lalitavistara). Toh 95, Degé Kangyur vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2013.
chos yang dag par sdud pa’i mdo (Dharmasaṅgītisūtra). Toh 238, Degé Kangyur vol. 65 (mdo sde, zha), folios 1.a–99.b.
theg pa chen po’i man ngag (Mahāyānopadeśasūtra). Toh 169, Degé Kangyur vol. 59 (mdo sde, ba), folios 260.a–307.a.
dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po (Saddharmapuṇḍarīka). Toh 113, Degé Kangyur vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1.b–180.b. English translation in Roberts 2018b.
tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa theg pa chen po’i mdo (Aparimitāyurjñāna-nāma-mahāyānasūtra). Toh 674, Degé Kangyur vol. 91 (rgyud ’bum, ba), folios 211.b–216.a; Toh 849, vol. 100 (gzungs ’dus, e), folios 57.b–62.a. English translation in Roberts 2021.
yul ’khor skyong gis zhus pa (Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā). Toh 62, Degé Kangyur vol. 42 (dkon brtsegs, nga), folios 227.a–257.a. English translation in Vienna Buddhist Translation Studies Group 2021.
shes phyin khri pa (Daśasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā). Toh 11, Degé Kangyur vol. 31 (shes phyin, ga), folios 1.b–91.a; vol. 32 (shes phyin, nga), folios 92.b–397.a. English translation in Padmakara Translation Group 2018.
theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos (Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra) [Ratnagotravibhāga]. Toh 4024, Degé Tengyur vol. 123 (sems tsam, phi), folios 54.b–73.a.
mdo kun las btus pa (Sūtrasamuccaya). Toh 3934, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 148.b–215.a.
Āryaśūra. skyes pa’i rabs kyi rgyud (Jātakamālā). Toh 4150, Degé Tengyur vol. 168 (skyes rabs, hu), folios 1.b–135.a.
Asaṅga. rnal ’byor spyod pa’i sa (Yogācārabhūmi). Toh 4035, Degé Tengyur vol. 127 (sems tsam, tshi), folios 1.b–283.a.
———. theg pa chen po bsdus pa (Mahāyānasaṃgraha). Toh 4048, Degé Tengyur vol. 134 (sems tsam, ri), folios 1.b–43.a.
Śāntideva. bslab pa kun las btus pa (Śikṣāsamuccaya). Toh 3940, Degé Tengyur vol. 111 (dbu ma, khi), folios 3.a–194.b.
Vasubandhu. chos mngon pa’i mdzod kyi tshig le’ur byas pa (Abhidharmakośakārikā). Toh 4089, Degé Tengyur vol. 140 (mngon pa, ku), folios 1.b–25.a.
———. chos mngon pa’i mdzod kyi bshad pa (Abhidharmakośabhāṣya). Toh 4090, Degé Tengyur vol. 140 (mngon pa, ku), folios 26.b–258.a; vol. 141 (mngon pa, khu), folios 1.b–95.a.
Denkarma (pho brang stod thang ldan [/ lhan] dkar gyi chos ’gyur ro cog gi dkar chag). Degé Tengyur vol. 206 (sna tshogs, jo), folios 294.b–310.a.
bye brag tu rtogs par byed pa chen po (Mahāvyutpatti). Toh 4346, Degé Tengyur vol. 204 (sna tshogs, co), folios 1.b–131.a.
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