The Play in Full
Degé Kangyur, vol. 46 (mdo sde, kha), folios 1.b–216.b
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Play in Full tells the story of how the Buddha manifested in this world and attained awakening, as perceived from the perspective of the Great Vehicle. The sūtra, which is structured in twenty-seven chapters, first presents the events surrounding the Buddha’s birth, childhood, and adolescence in the royal palace of his father, king of the Śākya nation. It then recounts his escape from the palace and the years of hardship he faced in his quest for spiritual awakening. Finally the sūtra reveals his complete victory over the demon Māra, his attainment of awakening under the Bodhi tree, his first turning of the wheel of Dharma, and the formation of the very early saṅgha.
This text was translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche.
Cortland Dahl, Catherine Dalton, Hilary Herdman, Heidi Koppl, James Gentry, and Andreas Doctor translated the text from Tibetan into English. Andreas Doctor and Wiesiek Mical then compared the translations against the original Tibetan and Sanskrit, respectively. Finally, Andreas Doctor edited the translation and wrote the introduction.
The Dharmachakra Translation Committee would like to thank Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche for blessing this project, and Khenpo Sherap Sangpo for his generous assistance with the resolution of several difficult passages.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of 簡源震及家人江秀敏，簡暐如，簡暐丞 Chien YuanChen (Dharma Das) and his wife, daughter, and son for work on this sūtra is gratefully acknowledged.
Monks, while the Bodhisattva was staying in the midst of his retinue of consorts, there were numerous gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahoragas, as well as  Śakra and Brahmā and the guardians of the world, who were eager to make offerings to the Bodhisattva. They arrived calling out in joyous voices. However, monks, as time went on, many of these gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, and mahoragas, as well as Śakra, Brahmā, and the world protectors, began to think to themselves:
“Now, isn’t this sacred being staying too long among the consorts? There are beings who have been brought to maturity over a long period of time through the four means of attracting disciples, namely generosity, kind talk, meaningful actions, and practicing what one preaches. Once he attains awakening, those beings would be able to understand his teachings on the Dharma. But perhaps all these suitable recipients for his teaching may be gone by then. In that case, the Bodhisattva will leave his home and awaken to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood on his own.”
So they approached the Bodhisattva. Full of respect and devotion, they joined their palms and bowed before him. Standing expectantly in his presence, they asked with concern:
“Will we ever witness the Bodhisattva—this sacred, supreme, and pure being—leave home as an act of renunciation? Once he has left home, will we see him sitting under the great king of trees, taming Māra and his army, and awakening to unexcelled, perfect, and complete buddhahood?
“When shall we see him accessing the ten powers of the thus-gone ones, the four types of fearlessness of the thus-gone ones, and the eighteen unique qualities of a buddha? [F.82.b] Or spinning the unexcelled wheel of Dharma in its twelve aspects? Or teaching, through a vast display of buddhahood, according to the wishes of the world, including its gods, humans, and demigods, and satisfying them?”
Monks, for a long time—many uncountable eons—the Bodhisattva had always and continuously been without any need to rely on others. He was his own master with regard to worldly concerns, as well as those that go beyond the world. For a long time he had known the right time, the occasion, and the opportunity for the practice of all aspects of the roots of virtue. His higher knowledge was flawless, and his five types of superknowledge were fully manifest. Since he had a masterly command of his sense faculties, he could manifest miraculous powers. He knew indeed what was timely as well as what was untimely. Seeking the right opportunity, he would never miss it,  just like the great ocean, which is always timely. Since he possessed the power of clairvoyant wisdom, he knew everything himself:
“This is the appropriate time for reaching out, this is the time for separation, this is the time for getting together, this is the time for showing kindness, this is the time for resting in equanimity, this is the time to speak, this is the time to remain silent, this is the time to leave home, this is the time to take ordination, this is the time to recite, this is the time for deep reflection, this is the time to stay in solitude, this is the time to stay within royal circles, this is the time to be among priests and householders, and this is the time to be among gods, nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, demigods, garuḍas, kinnaras, mahoragas, Śakra, Brahmā, the world protectors, monks, nuns, as well as male and female novices. This is the time to teach the Dharma, [F.83.a] and this is the time to rest inwardly.”
At all times the Bodhisattva knew whether the time was suitable or not, and he watched out for opportunities. Monks, for bodhisattvas who have reached their last existence, it is customary that the buddhas, the blessed ones, who dwell in the realms within the ten directions, always come while these bodhisattvas amuse themselves in the female quarters and encourage them through singing and music to enter the gate of Dharma.
On this topic, it is said:
Monks, the home of the Bodhisattva was indeed exquisite, complete with the most perfect belongings. It was anything a person could wish for, full of all the things necessary for comfortable living. Like a divine palace, it had the very best of verandas, turrets, porticoes, skylights, corridors, upper floors, and terraces. It was adorned with all sorts of jewels in many different arrangements and patterns. Parasols, flags, and banners were hoisted. Fine bells made of gems hung from lattices, as did hundreds of thousands of silk streamers. There were garlands of pearls set with various precious stones, and bridges built with boards that were ornamented by all types of jewels. Flower garlands and decorations hung everywhere. Incense burners dispensed fragrant smoke, and silk canopies were spread above. Fragrant flowers from all seasons adorned the grounds, and the ponds were full of white lotus flowers in bloom. In all the many lotus ponds were flocks of many types of birds, such as leafbirds, parrots, mynas, cuckoos, swans, peacocks, wild geese, kunālas, and pheasants that all called out in their beautiful voices. There were grounds covered in blue beryl that reflected all the many fine features of the palace. It was so delightful to watch, and thus one could never get enough.
The exquisite and perfect mansion where the  Bodhisattva lived was a source of supreme pleasures and joy. In his palace his body was always pure and stainless, he was adorned with flower garlands and jewelry, and his limbs were scented with the finest and most sweet-smelling oils. To cover his body he wore stainless white clothes of the finest quality, without any blemishes whatsoever. His bedding was made of divine fabrics of the finest thread, and as soft to the touch as the kācilindika cloth. [F.84.a] There on his perfect couch, he lay surrounded by his wonderful retinue of consorts, who all resembled goddesses. All the girls were virtuous, agreeable, and wholesome in conduct.
Inside this beautiful palace, the Bodhisattva woke up to the sound of conches, kettledrums, clay drums, wood drums, lutes, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and flutes that produced the most sweet-sounding and melodious tunes to accompany their many sweet songs. The girls woke up the Bodhisattva with beautiful and soft songs accompanied by the melodious tones of flutes. However, due to the grace of the blessed ones, the buddhas in the ten directions, the instruments suddenly began to encourage the Bodhisattva by resounding with these verses:
Monks, in this way, even as the Bodhisattva was with his retinue of consorts, he could not avoid hearing the sound of the Dharma. He could not avoid thinking about the Dharma. Monks, this was because for so long the Bodhisattva had paid his respects to the Dharma and to those who teach the Dharma. From the innermost core of his being, he strove toward the Dharma, wished for the Dharma, and his only delight was in the Dharma. [F.91.a] As he searched for the Dharma, he was insatiable.
He taught the Dharma just as he had heard it. He was a master of generosity in bestowing the gift of the unexcelled great Dharma. He taught the Dharma without seeking rewards. He was without any stinginess when it came to teaching the Dharma. Regarding the Dharma, he never held back anything as a teacher. He practiced the Dharma that he taught. He was brave in making the Dharma manifest. He found his home in the Dharma, his protection in the Dharma, and his refuge in the Dharma. His point of reference was the Dharma, and his ultimate resort was the Dharma. With the Dharma as his object of meditation, proficient in forbearance, he practiced the perfection of knowledge and attained skillful means.
Monks, the Bodhisattva demonstrated, with a playful mastery of his great skillful means, the actions conforming to the wishes of his entire retinue of consorts. He was acting in conformity with the bodhisattvas of the past who, while being beyond the world, acted in worldly ways. Since the Bodhisattva had long ago realized the shortcomings of desire, he now demonstrated sensual enjoyment, without himself wanting it, simply in order to ripen others. By the unique power of the accumulation of merit, gathered through limitless roots of virtue, he demonstrated the qualities of the ruler of the world. He demonstrated a complete enjoyment of the delightful forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures that went far beyond anything known to gods and humans in terms of quality and extent. 
He demonstrated a mastery of mind, which was free from attachment to any of his delightful maidens of pleasure. He ripened those who were now in his company as friends, due to the power of their previous aspirations and their accumulated roots of virtue. As such he was able to stay among the consorts without ever being disturbed by the stains of worldly emotions. While watching for the time to ripen the potential in those who were around him, [F.91.b] the Bodhisattva kept his former promise acutely in mind.
He actualized the Buddha and the Dharma and perfected the power of aspiration. For sentient beings he felt great compassion and kept their complete freedom foremost in his mind. He understood that in the end, any amount of wealth will be used up. He understood that saṃsāra is full of many calamities and terrors. He broke free from the evil shackles of Māra, extricated himself from the prison of cyclic existence, and directed his attention to nirvāṇa. [B9]
Monks, from the very beginning the Bodhisattva had already understood the many shortcomings of cyclic existence. With all his heart, he stopped striving after compounded phenomena, as well as all kinds of grasping and clinging. Instead he now only felt interest in the Buddhadharma. He turned toward the state of nirvāṇa and turned his back on saṃsāra. He delighted in the domain of a thus-gone one, because he had separated himself from the domain of Māra.
Perceiving the three realms to be ablaze with the shortcomings of existence, his wish was to free himself from them, and he became skilled in removing himself from the shortcomings and faults of cyclic existence. His wish was to become ordained, and his mind was filled with the thought of leaving home. He was determined to live in solitude and delighted in seeking remoteness. His wish was to be completely on his own and at peace.
He strove to be of help, both for himself and for others, and was a hero in unexcelled persistence. He wished to be of service to the world and to assist the world. He wished happiness and the peace of accomplishment for the world. He had compassion for the world and wanted to help. He was filled with love, saturated with great compassion, and skilled in the art of attracting others. He was never sad. [F.92.a] He was skilled in ripening and training others. In his heart he harbored the same love toward everyone that one has for one’s only child.
He had abandoned wishes for material objects and paid no attention to them. He delighted in giving and sharing. He never refused, but gave courageously with an open hand. He made religious offerings. He accumulated perfect merit and guarded it well.  Through discipline, he freed himself from any stains or miserliness, and was fully in control of his thoughts. He was a peerless great benefactor. Even though he gave, he had no expectation of reward. He was a heroic giver ready to subdue the hostile forces of the entire multitude of disturbing emotions, the primary ones being longing, desire, attachment, anger, haughtiness, pride, delusion, and miserliness.
He did not lapse from continually giving rise to the state of omniscience. He was always well protected by an armor of great generosity. He had love and compassion for the world and wished to help. His protection and coat of mail was diligence. His focus was on liberating others. His power was compassion, and his strength was courage. He did not turn back. He had complete impartiality with regard to all beings, and his weapon was generosity. He was able to satisfy the hopes and wishes of others. He was a vessel fit for awakening who continuously realized the Dharma. He would dedicate his awakening to all beings. He did not lower his banner. When he gave, his generosity was not involved with subject, object, and action. He had the sharp vajra weapon of supreme wisdom. He conquered all opposing forces of disturbing emotions.
He was disciplined, skilled, and behaved correctly. He guarded carefully all his physical, verbal, and mental acts, [F.92.b] and exhibited fear of even the smallest unwholesome act. His discipline was perfectly pure. Mentally he had abandoned all stains and was now clean and spotless. Disturbing emotions resulting from negative speech, harmful talk, adversity, criticism, blaming, cursing, beatings, threats, murder, bondage, and imprisonment did not perturb his mind, which was simply unshakable. He was perfectly forbearing and gentle. He had no harmful wishes, never did any damage, and was utterly free from any ill will.
He had given rise to a fervent diligence that was set on helping all other beings. It was a firm resolve. He could not be turned back from accomplishing all the practices that are the roots of virtue. He was mindful and composed. His mind was not distracted, and he rested one-pointedly in concentration. He was skilled in analyzing phenomena. He had found the light, and all darkness had disappeared for him. His mind was filled with thoughts about the nature of impermanence, suffering, and repulsiveness. He was trained in the applications of mindfulness, the thorough relinquishments, the bases of miraculous power, the faculties, the powers, the branches of awakening, the path, the four truths of the noble ones, and all the factors of awakening.
His mind was purified by tranquility and insight. He perceived the truth of dependent origination. Since he had realized the truth, he was not reliant on others. He mastered the three gateways to liberation. He had realized that all phenomena are like an illusion, a mirage, a dream, a moon reflected in water, an echo, or an optical illusion.  Monks, in this way the Bodhisattva lived according to the Dharma. [F.93.a] In this way he rested in wisdom. In this way he rested in a state of immense qualities. In this way he strove for the benefit of others.
Encouraged even more by these verses, which emerged out of the sounds of the instruments through the blessings of the buddhas in the ten directions, the Bodhisattva at this point manifested four Dharma gates in order to mature his retinue of consorts, just as all previous bodhisattvas in their last existence had done. What are these four Dharma gates?
The first Dharma gate that he manifested is called pure accomplishment. It refers to the four means of attracting disciples: generosity, kind talk, meaningful actions, and practicing what one preaches.
The second Dharma gate that he manifested is called the irreversible state. It produces the power of aspiration toward inexhaustible omniscience, and it ensures that the capacity of the Three Jewels is upheld and not wasted.
The third Dharma gate that he manifested is called putting great compassion into practice. It is a disposition of never abandoning any sentient beings.
The fourth Dharma gate that he manifested is called the great array. It accomplishes the unique strength of the accumulation of wisdom, which ascertains the meaning of the different categories related to all the factors of awakening.
These are the four Dharma gates that the Bodhisattva manifested. At that point, in order to mature his entire retinue of consorts, he produced many miraculous manifestations. By the power of the Bodhisattva, these miraculous displays caused hundreds of thousands of Dharma gates to emerge from the sounds of the music, such as the following:
Monks, while the Bodhisattva remained in this way among his retinue of consorts, he matured 84,000 women along with many hundreds of thousands of assembled gods for the attainment of unexcelled and perfect awakening.
When it was time for the Bodhisattva to leave home, there arrived a god from the Heaven of Joy by the name Hṛīdeva, on a visit concerning the Bodhisattva’s unexcelled and perfect awakening. Then, in the quiet of the night, he arrived at the palace together with an assembly of 32,000 gods in order to serve and venerate the Bodhisattva. As he arrived, he stopped in midair and sang these verses to the Bodhisattva:
This concludes the thirteenth chapter, on encouragement.
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