Gandavyuha Sutra Full
The story starts with Buddha in a parkland called the Jeta Grove, in a city in India called Sravasti, the site of many of Buddha's public teaching sessions.
With the Buddha are five thousand bodhisattvas, led by the great bodhisattva Universal Good that is, Samantabhadra and the great bodhisattva Manjushri, the embodiment of transcendent wisdom.
These bodhisattvas are aware how hard it is for people to understand, focus on, or perceive clearly the realm of the knowledge of enlightened ones. They make a wish:
"May the Buddha show us, both bodhisattvas and ordinary people, the process by which he reached all-knowledge. May he show us this according to our different mental capacities, different orientations, different perceptions, different languages, different attainments, different levels of purity and effort."
Knowing their thoughts, the Buddha then enters the concentration known as the Coming Forth of the Lion.
As soon as the Buddha enters into this concentration, from all directions bodhisattvas start arriving from other worlds, bringing along untold numbers of accompanying bodhisattvas, and causing displays of celestial flowers and clouds of jewels and networks of lights to appear.
All these myriads of bodhisattvas are born from the practices and vows of the bodhisattva Universal Good. They have the pure eye of knowledge to see all the buddhas face to face. They have the sharp ears to hear all the ocean of teachings of all the buddhas.
These bodhisattvas have attained the knowledge that all realms of beings are like illusions, that all buddhas are like reflections, that all forms of existence are like dreams, that all worlds are like a magical emanations. They stand firm in the knowledge of past, present, and future. They can reach all buddhas in a single moment of thought. They have the body of knowledge of all buddhas.
Then the Buddha sends forth a light from between his eyebrows and showed the assembled bodhisattvas a cosmic vision.
The bodhisattvas see countless lands. In every one of these lands, they see a great bodhisattva teaching in the various cities, towns, communities, and nations of the human world, teaching the truth by various different means, teaching various modes of conduct, appearing in various forms, as people of different castes and races, using various manifestations and various teaching formulas.
Then they see that everywhere in all those countless lands, the teachings of enlightenment in all forms is reflected in the minds of all living beings, using their own languages, within their own perceptions.
They see the enlightened teachers with the same knowledge in all ages, appearing to all beings according to their mentalities, everywhere in all lands, ceaselessly explaining the teachings of the buddhas and guiding sentient beings.
- 1 A Vision of Bodhisattvas in All Forms
- 2 Manjushri Guides Sudhana on His Journey to Wisdom
- 3 First Teacher: On Another Peak
- 4 Second Teacher: Ocean Cloud
- 5 Third Teacher: Walking in the Sky
- 6 Fourth Teacher: The Language Expert
- 7 Fifth Teacher: The Liberated One
- 8 Sixth Teacher: Master of Mystic Projection
- 9 Seventh Teacher: The Healer
- 10 Eighth Teacher: The Seer
- 11 Ninth Teacher: The Fire Priest
- 12 Tenth Teacher: The Kindly Girl
- 13 Eleventh Teacher: The Young Monk
- 14 Twelfth Teacher: The Technologist
- 15 Thirteenth Teacher: The Nurturer
- 16 Fourteenth Teacher: The Satisfier
- 17 Fifteenth Teacher: The House of Wonders
- 18 Sixteenth Teacher: The Perfumer
- 19 Seventeenth Teacher: The Punisher
- 20 Eighteenth Teacher: The Benevolent King
- 21 Nineteenth Teacher: The Alluring Girl
- 22 Achala's Story
- 23 Twentieth Teacher: Going Everywhere
- 24 Twenty-First Teacher: Master of Fragrances
- 25 Twenty-Second Teacher: The Mariner
- 26 Twenty-Third Teacher: The Civic Leader
- 27 Twenty-Fourth Teacher: The Powerful Nun
- 28 Twenty-Fifth Teacher: The Supreme Beauty
- 29 Twenty-Sixth Teacher: The Embracer
- 30 Twenty-Seventh Teacher: World-Observer
- 31 Twenty-Eighth Teacher: Proceeding Directly
- 32 Twenty-Ninth Teacher: A Celestial Being
- 33 Thirtieth Teacher: The Earth Goddess Sthavara
- 34 Thirty-First Teacher: The Night Goddess Vasanti
- 35 The Night Goddess's Story
- 36 Thirty-Second Teacher: The Night Goddess Pure Light
- 37 Thirty-Third Teacher: The Night Goddess Joyful Eyes
- 38 The Night Goddess's Story
- 39 Thirty-Fourth Teacher: The Night Goddess Rescuer of All
- 40 The Night Goddess's Story
- 41 The Night Goddess Ocean of Quiet Sound
- 42 Thirty-Sixth Teacher: The Night Goddess Guardian of All
- 43 The Night Goddess's Story
- 44 Thirty-Seventh Teacher: The Night Goddess Opening All Blossoms
- 45 The Night Goddess's Story
- 46 Thirty-Eighth Teacher: The Night Goddess Power of Vows
- 47 The Night Goddess's Story
- 48 Thirty-Ninth Teacher: Goddess of the Grove
- 49 Fortieth Teacher: The Shakya Girl Gopa
- 50 Gopa's Story
- 51 Forty-First Teacher: Lady Maya, the Mother of the Buddha
- 52 Forty-Second Teacher: The Goddess Surendrabha
- 53 Forty-Third Teacher: The Young Teacher Friend of All
- 54 Forty-Fourth Teacher: The Bodhisattva Knower of All Arts
- 55 Forty-Fifth Teacher: A Woman of Indepedent Power
- 56 Forty-Sixth Teacher: The Goldsmith
- 57 Forty-Seventh Teacher: The Householder Wondrous Moon
- 58 Forty-Eighth Teacher: The Householder Invincible Army
- 59 Forty-Ninth Teacher: The Brahmin Utter Stillness
- 60 Fiftieth Teacher: A Boy and a Girl
- 61 Fifty-First Teacher: The Bodhisattva Maitreya
- 62 Maitreya Welcomes Sudhana
- 63 Sudhana's Vision in the Tower
- 64 Sudhana Emerges from the Vision
- 65 Fifty-Second Teacher: The Bodhisattva Manjushri
- 66 A Vision of the Bodhisattva Universally Good
- 67 Source
A Vision of Bodhisattvas in All Forms
All the bodhisattvas there with Buddha in the Jeta Grove were illuminated by the light of the Buddha's concentration.
At that point countless rays of light came forth from the bodies of all the bodhisattvas there with Buddha.
From these rays of light came forth countless multitudes of emanated bodhisattvas, in bodies adapted to the development of all beings.
These emanated bodhisattvas pervaded the cosmos, enlightening, developing, and guiding sentient beings by means of all the techniques at the command of bodhisattvas.
These emanated forms projected by the bodhisattvas pervaded all the realms of sentient beings in all oceans of worlds, yet the bodhisattvas did not leave the presence of the Buddha.
Without leaving the presence of the Buddha, some of the bodhisattvas appeared in the form of great buddhas with their retinues. Some appeared in the form of beggars. Some appeared in the form of priests. Some wore various emblems on their bodies.
Some appeared in the form of scholars, scientists, and doctors. Some appeared in the form of merchants.
Some appeared in the form of ascetics. Some appeared in the form of entertainers.
Some appeared in the form of religious people. Some appeared in the form of masters of various arts and crafts and technologies.
In their various forms, the bodhisattvas were seen to come to all villages, towns, cities, communities, districts, nations.
The bodhisattvas did their enlightening work according to the needs of the time and the place, modifying forms and outward appearances, modifying their language and tone and deportment. In this way they carried out the practices of bodhisattvas, which are like a cosmic network of all worlds illuminating all the practical arts and displaying a vast array of all realities and radiating the light of all truths.
Manjushri Guides Sudhana on His Journey to Wisdom
All the bodhisattvas there with Buddha in the Jeta Grove were illuminated by the light of the Buddha's concentration.
At that point countless rays of light came forth from the bodies of all the bodhisattvas there with Buddha.
From these rays of light came forth countless multitudes of emanated bodhisattvas, in bodies adapted to the development of all beings. These emanated bodhisattvas pervaded the cosmos, enlightening, developing, and guiding sentient beings by means of all the techniques at the command of bodhisattvas.
At that time, the great bodhisattvas Manjushri, in the form of a youth, rose from his place in the assembly, paid his respects to the Buddha, and set out for the south on a journey in the human realm.
By and by Manjushri and his retinue of supernatural companions arrived in the vicinity of a great city in the south called Dhanyakara. They stayed at a forest shrine outside the city.
The people in the city heard Manjushri was nearby, so they came out to meet him: women and men, girls and boys.
Manjushri observed Sudhana in the crowd, and knew the young man had achieved an unhindered, unattached determination for enlightenment.
Manjushri then greeted Sudhana in a friendly manner and explained to him the elements of buddhahood, the infinity of the buddhas, the successive appearance of buddhas in the world, the equality of all buddhas.
Later, as Sudhana was watching Manjushri depart, he begged the great bodhisattva to teach him how to carry out the work of enlightening beings, the work of universal good.
Manjushri told Sudhana to seek our spiritual benefactors, and learn from them. He directed Sudhana to go south to visit a monk named Maghashri, and ask him how to learn the conduct of the bodhisattvas.
Overjoyed at receiving this guidance, Sudhana looked upon Manjushri with love, and lingered as if unable to bear being out of the sight of his spiritual benefactor. Then, with tears streaming down his face, he left Manjushri and set out for the south.
First Teacher: On Another Peak
Sudhana went to the mountain where he had been told he could find the monk Meghashri. He climbed the mountain, and after seven days of searching, he finally saw Meghashri walking on another peak.
Sudhana went to Meghashri, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked Meghashri to teach him how to be a bodhisattva and do the work of universal good.
Meghashri commended Sudhana for his resolve and reminded him how difficult it is to seek to carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Meghashri said to Sudhana:
"Son, I see all the buddhas in all the lands of the ten directions. I see one buddha, a hundred buddhas, a thousand buddhas, a million buddhas, a billion buddhas, a trillion buddhas I see incalculable, immeasurable, uncountable, inconceivable numbers of buddhas.
"I see buddhas with various appearances, I see buddhas with various forms, I see buddhas with various exercises of power, I see buddhas with various arrays of states of purity in their buddha-lands.
"Son, I have attained mindfulness of the buddhas, but how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas?
"Go south, son south of here there is a place called Sagaramukha, where a monk named Sagaramegha lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Meghashri and left to continue on his journey.
Second Teacher: Ocean Cloud
Sudhana gradually made his way south to the country called Ocean Door. On the way he was seeking the direction to the vision of Buddha, thinking about the ocean of buddhas, remembering the long line of buddhas at work over the generations.
Sudhana sought out the monk Sagaramegha the name means "Ocean Cloud." He asked Sagaramegha what he must do to leave behind his state of ignorance and enter into the stream of enlightening practice.
Sagaramegha commended Sudhana and told him that the will to reach enlightenment only develops in people who have planted roots of goodness, and who seek the state of those who arrive at Reality.
Sagaramegha told Sudhana:
"Son, I have been living here at Ocean Door for twelve years and I have focused my mind on the ocean, reflecting on its measureless vastness, its pure clarity, its unfathomable depth, its gradual deepening, its variety of deposits of precious substances, the measurelessness of its water, its infinity, its being the dwelling place of immense creatures, its being covered by vast clouds, how it neither increases nor decreases.
Sagaramegha then told Sudhana of a vision he had while contemplating the ocean:
Sagaramegha saw an enormous lotus made of precious stones rise from the bottom of the ocean. It was surrounded by all sorts of supernatural creatures showering it with flowers and fragrant perfumes.
Then Sagaramegha saw the Buddha seated on the giant jewel lotus, majestic and pure. Then he heard the Buddha's inconceivable eloquence. He drew near to the inconceivable infinity of the Buddha's power. He saw how the Buddha had already perfected the practices of the bodhisattvas.
Then Sagaramegha saw the Buddha extend his right hand and rub him on the head, revealing to him a teaching called Universal Eye.
Sagaramegha then told Sudhana that he has taken up this teaching and kept it in mind and applied it for the past twelve years.
"I know this teaching, son, but how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have entered into the ocean of all vows?
"Go south, son south of here there is a place called Sagaratira, where there lives a monk named Supratishthita. Go ask him how to purify the enlightening practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Sagaramegha and left to continue on his journey.
Third Teacher: Walking in the Sky
Sudhana gradually made his way south to the village of Sagaratira in the land of Lanka. On the way he was remembering the teaching of the Universal Eye, contemplating the oceans of entries into the teaching.
As he neared the village of Sagaratira, Sudhana looked in all directions hoping to catch sight of the monk Supratishthita the name means "Well Established."
Sudhana saw Well Established walking in the sky, surrounded by a multitude of celestial beings.
Sudhana saw the sky covered with clouds of celestial flowers, with heavenly music and countless streamers and banners offered by the celestial beings to Well Established.
Sudhana saw many varieties of supernatural beings making offerings to Well Established water spirits, titans, serpent chiefs, bird girls, goblin chiefs, godlings.
He felt enraptured seeing Well Established walking in the sky.
Sudhana told Well Established hiw mind was set on enlightenment, and he asked him how a bodhisattva is to keep in contact with the light of knowledge and receive the teachings of all the buddhas.
Well Established told Sudhana that he had attained the enlightening liberation called Unobstructed Doorway, and by going in and out of it, practicing it, analyzing it, and clarifying it, he attained a light of knowledge called Ultimate Nonobstruction.
Through the light of knowledge Ultimate Nonobstruction, Well Established became aware of the mental actions of all sentient beings. He knew all their languages and all their different abilities, and he knew how to approach them at the appropriate time in the appropriate way to guide them to full development.
Well Established told Sudhana:
"By the realization of this mystic power, I walk, stand, sit, and lie down in the sky, disappear and appear, produce magical effects.
"Being one, I become many. Being many, I become one. Emanating clouds of webs of light of infinite colors, I go forth in all directions.
"In a moment of thought I pass through one world, a hundred worlds, a thousand worlds, a hundred thousand worlds, a million worlds, a billion worlds, a trillion worlds, a quadrillion worlds, a quintillion worlds I see incalculable, immeasurable, uncountable, inconceivable, unutterable numbers of worlds.
"I go to the buddhas who are teaching in each of these worlds and make offerings of all kinds. I take up what those buddhas are teaching and remember the purity of their buddha-lands.
"Son, I know this enlightening liberation Unobstructed Door which is engaged everywhere at once in the service of the buddhas, but how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, whose conduct is free from attachment, focused on the way of the enlightened, and independent of all mundane realms?
"Go south, son to the city of Vajrapura, where there lives a master of words named Megha. Go ask him how to learn and practice the conduct of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Well Established and left to continue on his journey.
Fourth Teacher: The Language Expert
Sudhana gradually made his way south to the Dravidian city of Vajrapura, looking for the language expert Megha. On the way he was focused on thoughts of Buddha, thinking of the great vows of a bodhisattva, and striving for the salvation of all beings.
Sudhana saw Megha at a crossroads in the middle of the city. He was sitting talking about the teaching of enlightenment to a large gathering, explaining a scripture called Teaching with Words.
Sudhana went up to Megha and paid his respects and told him of his mission. He asked Megha how a bodhisattva is to learn and carry out the practices of enlightening beings.
"How does a bodhisattva preserve the determination for enlightenment? How does one purify one's intent? How does one produce the power of great compassion so it never falters? How does one acquire mental command that is totally purified? How is the light of wisdom produced?"
Megha bowed down in front of Sudhana out of respect for him as an aspiring bodhisattva. Then he caused a shower of beautiful flowers of many various colors and many pleasant fragrances to descend upon Sudhana.
Megha then told Sudhana:
"It is good that you have set your mind on supreme perfect enlightenment. One who arouses the determination for supreme perfect enlightenment becomes engaged in perpetuating the lineage of the enlightened ones, intent on correctly communicating their tradition of dispassion, engaged in guiding the family of all sentient beings to perfection."
As Megha was offering praise for the bodhisattvas, a mass of flames issued from his mouth, illuminating a thousand worlds.
Beings from all those worlds saw that the light came from Megha and came to receive his teaching. Their bodies and minds were cooled, enraptured, inspired with reverence, divested of conceit, freed from deception. After hearing Megha explain the teaching, all of them reached the point where there is no turning back from the quest for enlightenment.
Megha sat back and said to Sudhana:
"I know the language of bodhisattvas, which is expressed in accordance with the mentalities and languages of the sentient beings they are working with.
"I focus on the ocean of sayings given out to all sentient beings by the buddhas of the past, present, and future. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have entered the ocean of the concepts and languages of all peoples?
"Go south, son there is a city south of here called Vanavasin, where there lives a distinguished man named Muktaka, the Liberated One. Go ask him how to learn and practice the conduct of the bodhisattvas and become familiar with their work, and how the mind is to be observed."
Sudhana paid his respects to Megha, reflecting that all-knowledge comes from following good spiritual benefactors, and reluctantly took his leave to continue on his journey.
Fifth Teacher: The Liberated One
Sudhana gradually made his way south, reflecting on the bodhisattvas' skill with words, evoking the effort of bodhisattvas, equipped with a mind of firm commitment and tireless consistency, with unrelenting energy and determination, imbued with the unshakeable power of faith.
Sudhana looked for the noble Muktaka the name means "The Liberated One." When he saw Muktaka, Sudhana paid his respects and explained his mission. He asked Muktaka how to learn and carry out the practices of bodhisattvas.
At that Muktaka entered into an enlightening concentration called Collection of All Buddha-Fields.
His body became pure, and countless numbers of buddhas became visible within his body, along with their pure lands, their congregations, their pure lights, their past actions and abodes, their mystical projections, their vows, their pure arrays of liberating practices, and the ultimate consummation of their teachings.
Sudhana saw within Muktaka's body scenes of all these buddhas in all the various phases of their teaching missions, teaching in all different ways. All that these buddhas taught, Sudhana heard, assimilated, remembered, and contemplated.
Then with complete mindfulness, Muktaka arose from that concentration and said to Sudhana:
"I go in and out of a liberation of the buddhas which is called Unobstructed Manifestation. I see countless different lands in all directions, each with its own buddha and its own group of bodhisattvas. I see whatever buddha I wish to see in whatever time in whatever abode taking part in whatever teaching activity.
"I know this liberation of the buddhas called Unobstructed Manifestation, and go in and out of it. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, whose minds are unobstructed and who operate in a state free from obstruction?
"Go south, to Milaspharana, on the tip of the continent. A monk named Saradhvaja lives there. Go ask him how to learn and practice the conduct of the bodhisattvas, and how the mind is to be observed."
Sudhana paid his respects to Muktaka, and expressed his admiration for his countless virtues, with love for him as a spiritual benefactor. Then he took his leave to continue on his journey.
Sixth Teacher: Master of Mystic Projection
Sudhana made his way south, reflecting on the instruction given by the noble Muktaka, remembering the inconceivable liberation of the bodhisattvas, and the inconceivable light of knowledge of the bodhisattvas.
Gradually he came to Milaspharana, where he looked all over for the monk Saradhvaja.
Sudhana saw Saradhvaja sitting by a footpath in a retreat. He was sitting in concentration, following his breath, not stirring, not thinking, his body straight, his mindfulness on the immediate present.
Moment to moment, by the inconceivable power of his concentration, Saradhvaja was producing the manifestation of an infinite variety of bodies appearing all around him. There were bodhisattvas pouring out of every pore of his ecstatic body.
Saradhvaja filled the cosmos moment to moment with endless varieties of mystic projections, in order to perfect all living beings, to honor all buddhas, to do away with the mass of suffering of all sentient beings, and to introduce all beings into all-knowledge.
Sudhana saw emanating from the various parts of Saradhvaja's body all manner of human beings doing good works in all forms: helping the poor, restoring life to the miserable world, satisfying sentient beings, purifying the minds of sentient beings, developing sentient beings for enlightenment.
Sudhana saw them letting the voice of truth be heard, introducing sentient beings to the meaning of knowledge, teaching worldly sciences, showing the science of the path to liberation, guiding beings in gradual practice.
Sudhana saw emanating from Saradhvaja's eyes countless numbers of suns, shining through countless worlds, removing the darkness of sentient beings' delusions.
Sudhana saw emanating from Saradhvaja's head countless numbers of bodhisattvas, manifesting all sorts of appearances and forms, taking up the enlightening practices of all the buddhas, practicing charity without attachment, and teaching the causal basis for the qualities of the enlightened ones.
From the crown of Saradhvaja's head Sudhana saw emanating countless buddhas with immeasurable auras of blazing light illuminating all the worlds in the cosmos.
Emanating from Saradhvaja's head were countless buddhas with voices pervading the cosmos, showing the endless miraculous transformations of Buddha, showering beneficent rain from clouds of teaching on all beings without discrimination.
Sudhana saw orbs made up of webs of light beams emerging from every pore of Saradhvaja's body, showing scenes of all the activities of all the bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future.
Sudhana stood before Saradhjava watching this visionary display for a day and a night, for two days, for seven days, for a month, for six months, and then for six more days and nights. Then, after six months and six days and nights, Saradhvaja arose from his concentration.
Saradhvaja told Sudhana that this concentration is called Equanimity of the Universal Eye.
Saradhvaja said to Sudhana:
"I know this perfection of wisdom. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who have entered the oceans of states of perfection of wisdom, who have clarified the cosmic perspective, who know where all teachings lead, who are a refuge for all beings?"
"Go south, to a park called Universal Adornment near the city of Great Light, where a religious woman named Asha dwells. Go ask her how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Invigorated by Saradhvaja, feeling happy and joyful, Sudhana paid his respects, then took his leave to continue on his journey.
As he departed, Sudhana kept thinking of Saradhvaja's virtues, joining in with his vows, seeking his vision, remembering his words, recalling his appearance, and contemplating the excellence of his knowledge.
Seventh Teacher: The Healer
Sudhana went south, reflecting on the importance of spiritual benefactors, and gradually made his way to Universal Adornment Park.
Sudhana saw the park surrounded by a fence made of all kinds of jewels, and rows of jewel trees, covered with various blossoms, giving off their fragrances in all directions.
The grounds of the park were spread with decorations made of jewels. There were trees made of flowers and musical instruments making beautiful sounds.
Inside the park were numberless arrays of towers and turrets covered with gold and jewels. There were canopies of great jewels and nets of tiny golden bells that tinkled sweetly when stirred by the breeze. There were ponds covered with lotuses of various colors made of all kinds of jewels.
In the middle of the park was a large mansion called Multicolored Banner standing on a ground of jewels, adorned with pillars of sapphire, roofed with gold, surfaced with arrays of world-illuminating jewels.
In that mansion were arranged an infinite number of seats, variously shaped like jewel lotuses in all different designs.
Above, the park was covered by ten hundred thousand canopies, canopies of cloth, canopies of plant tendrils, canopies of flowers, canopies of garlands, canopies of fragrances, canopies of jewels glittering like diamonds, canopies of nymphs, canopies of jewels prized by the king of the gods.
The park was also covered by a million nets of jewels and illuminated by a million great lights.
Innumerable living beings in all states of existence from all the worlds in the ten directions came to ask the woman mystic for help.
Asha was seated on a golden throne, richly adorned with a tiara, bracelets of gold, earings made of deep blue gems, and necklaces of magical jewels.
All those who came to Asha with their various sicknesses and afflictions were immediately relieved of them. Their minds were freed from the defilement of afflictions, the thorns of deluded views were pulled out of their minds, the mountains of obstructions blocking them disintegrated, and they entered into the sphere of unobstructed purity.
All those who came to Asha came face to face with the ocean of all the media through which to concentrate the mind, and they made their initial vows and set in motion all means of practice.
Sudhana entered the park, and looked all over until he saw Asha sitting there. He approached her, paid his respects, and told her that his mind was set on achieving perfect enlightenment. He asked her how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Asha told Sudhana:
"It is definitely beneficial to see me, hear me, stay with me, and remember me. I am not visible to those have not developed the bases of goodness, who are not being guided by spiritual benefactors, who are not in the care of the perfect buddhas.
"Those who see me reach the stage where there is no falling back from their progress toward supreme perfect enlightenment.
"The buddhas of the ten directions come here and sit on their jewel seat and expound the truth to me. I am always seeing buddhas, hearing the truth, and meeting enlightening beings."
Later, after telling Sudhana of her work toward enlightenment and the motivations of a bodhisattva seeking enlightenment, Asha said:
"I know this enlightening liberation called Well-Being Free From Sorrow. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, or convey their inconceivable enlightening skills?
"Go south there is a district called Nalayur where a seer named Bhishmottaranirghosha lives. Go ask him and he will instruct you in the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Asha, then took his leave to continue on his journey. As he departed, Sudhana kept reflecting on how rare bodhisattvas are, how hard it is to get close to spiritual benefactors and meet people of truth, how hard it is to attain the bodhisattvas' purity of intent.
Eighth Teacher: The Seer
Sudhana went south, his mind lit by the energy of the vision of Buddha, with mental energy arising from receiving the treasury of teaching, his pure will indestructible, his mind invulnerable and immune to all the powers of delusion.
Gradually he made his way to Nalayur and sought out the seer Bhishmottaranirghosha.
At that time the Seer was in a secluded place, a pleasant place with countless diverse trees and plants, shaded by the leaves of various trees, with flowering trees perpetually in bloom, and great sandalwood trees giving off fragrance and fruit trees and water lilies and lotus blossoms.
Sudhana saw the Seer dressed like a forest-dwelling ascetic with matted hair, seated on a seat of bark, rags, fragrant grass, and antelope skin, in a hut at the foot of one of the giant sandalwood trees, surrounded by ten thousand seers.
Sudhana thought he had found a true spiritual benefactor, so he told the Seer he had set his mind on perfect enlightenment, and asked him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
The Seer turned to the ten thousand people gathered around him and commended Sudhana for his resolve. The people all scattered beautiful fragrant flowers over Sudhana and circled him in respect. The Seer said to them: "This youth has set his heart on supreme perfect enlightenment. He will fulfill the stage of complete buddhahood."
Then the Seer said to Sudhana: "I have attained an enlightening liberation called Invincible Banner."
Sudhana asked the Seer: "What is the scope of this liberation?"
The Seer reached out his right hand and rubbed Sudhana's head, then took Sudhana by the right hand.
At that moment Sudhana saw innumerable buddha-lands in all directions. Then he perceived himself sitting at the feet of innumerable buddhas. He saw all these buddhas' congregations, and he saw all their special marks and adornments, and he heard all they said without missing a word.
Sudhana saw all these buddhas manifesting forms so as to accord with the mentalities of all sorts of sentient beings. He saw the networks of lights radiating from all these buddhas, and he entered into their power to follow the light of unobstructed knowledge.
Sudhana seemed to be with one buddha for a day and a night, with another buddha for two weeks, with another buddha for a month, with another buddha for a year, with another buddha for a century, with another buddha for a millennium, with another buddha for a million years, with another buddha for a billion years, with another buddha for countless eons.
In this way Sudhana perceived himself with the buddhas, imbued with the lights of their knowledge and concentration.
Then the Seer took his hand off Sudhana. He immediately found himself back in the forest hut standing before the Seer.
The Seer said: "Do you remember what you just experienced?"
Sudhana said: "I remember, noble one, by the power of the spiritual benefactor."
The Seer said:
"I know this enlightening liberation called Invincible Banner. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, or enter into their realm of concentration, or attain their mystic powers?
"Go south to a land called Ishana, where their lives a priest named Jayoshmayatana. Go ask him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the Seer and departed, looking back at him again and again.
Ninth Teacher: The Fire Priest
As Sudhana went south, his mind was illuminated by the light of the enlightening liberation Invincible Banner shown to him by the Seer, and by directly witnessing the inconceivable miracles of the realm of the buddhas.
Sudhana gradually made his way to the priest Jayoshmayatana in the land of Ishana.
At that time the Priest was practicing an ascetic exercise of enduring fierce heat, and was standing in the middle of four huge blazing bonfires. Above him was a sheer mountain cliff, with a path narrow as a razor's edge.
Sudhana approached the Priest and paid his respects. He told the priest that he had set his mind on perfect enlightenment, and asked him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Then the Priest told Sudhana: "Climb up that path on the mountain of razors and jump from there into the fire thus will your enlightening practice be purified."
Sudhana thought about how hard it is to meet people of truth and find genuine spiritual benefactors. He thought that the Priest might be a demon, or someone possessed by demons, trying to lead him on the wrong path, trying to prevent him from attaining enlightenment.
While he hesitated in doubt, Sudhana saw a myriad of gods appear in the sky. They told Sudhana not to get fixated on such thoughts, and told him that the Priest had dedicated himself to burning away the emotional attachments, false opinions, and afflictions of sentient beings.
Sudhana watched as arrays of various supernatural creatures appeared in the sky, testifying that the Priest with his fires has helped them overcome delusion, gain control of their own minds, turn away from desires, free themselves from their attachments, cut off their arrogance, extinguish their anger, do away with deceit and guile, and purify their will for enlightenment.
Overjoyed by this display, Sudhana bowed down before the Priest and said: "I confess my error, noble one, in not recognizing you as a spiritual benefactor."
Then Sudhana climbed up the sheer mountain cliff, along a path like a razor's edge, and threw himself down into the fire.
As he was falling he attained the enlightening concentration called Well Established.
As he made contact with the fire he attained the enlightening concentration called Mystic Knowledge of the Bliss of Tranquillity.
He marvelled at how pleasant it all felt, this blazing fire and the mountain of razors.
The Priest said:
"I know this enlightening liberation in which one is invincible. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, whose resolve is like rays of fiery energy, who work for the benefit of all beings, whose vigor never ebbs?
"Go south to city called Simhavijurmbhita, where a girl named Maitrayani lives. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the Priest and departed, looking back at him again and again.
Tenth Teacher: The Kindly Girl
Sudhana went south, ready for the Great Journey, seeking enlightened knowledge, seeking to associate with spiritual friends.
Sudhana gradually made his way to the city called Lion Springing, looking for the girl Maitrayani. He was told he could find Maitrayani sitting on the roof of the palace of her father, the King, accompanied by a retinue of five hundred girls, expounding the Teaching.
Arriving at the palace, Sudhana found hundreds of thousands of people going in. He asked them why they had come and they told him they came to Maitrayani to hear the Teaching.
The palace was made of radiant jewels set on a crystal base, furnished with countless jewel mirrors, spread with countless jewel nets, graced with the sounds of a hundred thousand golden bells tinkling in the breeze.
Sudhana saw the girl Maitrayani she had dark eyes, black hair, and golden skin. He paid his respects to her, told her of his mission, and asked her how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Maitrayani said to Sudhana: "Look at the adornments of my palace."
Looking all around, Sudhana saw images of all the buddhas of the cosmos in all stages of their teaching activities reflected from every object in the palace, from every wall, every mirror, every figurine, every jewel, every golden bell, every girl's body.
Holding in his mind this array of visions of the buddhas, Sudhana joined his hands in a gesture of respect and turned his attention to Maitrayani's words.
Maitrayani told Sudhana that by studying with countless buddhas she had been shown a means of access to perfect wisdom by way of the arrangement of the totality.
Sudhana asked what this was like.
Maitrayani said that by focusing her attention on access to perfect wisdom by way of the arrangement of the totality, she developed a mental control called Facing in All Directions. In this state of mental control, all the countless media of the Teaching operate, assemble, become visible, become accessible, and develop.
Maitrayani told Sudhana that the media of the Teaching include:
The media of past, present, and future
The medium of practices
The medium of spheres of concentration
The medium of the ocean of mind
The medium of the inclinations and conceptualizations of sentient beings
The medium of places and phenomena
The medium of great compassion
The medium of tranquillity
The medium of nonattachment
The medium of the microcosm within the macrocosm
The medium of the macrocosm within the microcosm
The medium of all the embodiments and activities of the buddhas
The medium of works for the benefit of infinite numbers of living beings
The medium of the practices of bodhisattvas
The medium of the forms of liberation
The medium of the infinite forms of enlightenment
Then Maitrayani said:
"I know this means of access to perfect wisdom by way of the arrangement of the totality. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, whose minds are like space, whose intellects are as broad as the cosmos, who are not overcome by any world, who are intent on the well-being of all worlds, who are a refuge for all beings?"
"Go south to a land called Trinayana, where a monk named Sudarshana lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the girl Maitrayani and departed.
Eleventh Teacher: The Young Monk
Sudhana went south, contemplating the the basis of the mental streams of sentient beings, and made his way to the land of Trinayana.
Sudhana went looking for the monk Sudarshana. He searched in the towns and cities, in the marketplaces and villages, in the encampments of herdsmen, in hermitages, in the mountains, in caves, in forests.
Sudhana finally saw Sudarshana walking in a forest.
Sudarshana was young and handsome, with an imposing physique and a steady gaze. His mind was free from all vacillation, vain imagining, idle fancies, and false ideas. Sudarshana had firmly resolved to guide all beings to their full development, and aimed to produce the light of knowledge in all sentient beings. His walk was quiet and steady, neither quick nor slow.
Sudarshana was surrounded by all sorts of supernatural beings fire deities and forest deities, deities of the earth and of the sky, ocean deities, mountain deities, wind deities, night deities.
Sudhana went up to the monk Sudarshana, paid his respects, and explained his intent to seek perfect enlightenment. He asked Sudarshana to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I am young, and have only recently become a monk. But in this one life I have performed countless practices in the company of innumerable buddhas. With some I performed spiritual practice for a day and a night, with some for a week, with some for a month, with some for a year, with some for a century, with some for a millennium, with some for a million years, with some for a trillion years, with some for untold numbers of years, with some for eons. From all these buddhas I heard explanations of the Teaching and received instructions."
Sudarshana told Sudhana that in this way his vows and paractice were purified, and he perceived all that the buddhas had done their vows and practices, their purification of transcendent way, and their power in setting out to do the work of universal good.
Sudarshana told Sudhana that in a single thought the teachings of untold numbers of buddhas flowed into his mind, untold oceans of enlightening practices appeared to him, untold oceans of concentrations became manifest to him, untold oceans of all pasts, presents, and futures appeared to him.
Then Sudarshana said:
"I know the enlightening liberation called the Never-Extinguished Lamp of Knowledge. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who appear to sentient beings according to their mentalities, who are indestructible as mountains made of diamond, who cancel out the power of all the demons of delusion?"
"South of here, in the land of Shramanamandala, is a city called Sumukha, where a boy named Indriyeshvara lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
With his mind intent on maintaining the practices of the bodhisattvas, and resolved to attain the qualities of the bodhisattvas, Sudhana paid his respects to the monk Sudarshana and departed.
Twelfth Teacher: The Technologist
Sudhana travelled on, thinking about and putting into practice the instructions he had received from Sudarshana. Surrounded by celestial beings and spirits, Sudhana made his way to the city of Sumukha, looking for the boy Indriyeshvara.
When Sudhana reached the city of Sumukha, near a river junction he saw Indriyeshvara with ten thousand other boys playing in the sand.
Sudhana went up to the boy Indriyeshvara, paid his respects, and explained his mission. He asked Indriyeshvara to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I have been taught writing and mathematics by the bodhisattva Manjushri, and I have been led into the door of knowledge encompassing the higher knowledge of all the practical arts.
"Thus I know all the various arts and technologies and sciences connected with writing systems, mathematics and symbolic representations, physiology, physical and mental health, city planning, architecture and construction, mechanics and engineering, agriculture, commerce and social morality. I also know the knowledge necessary to follow the path to enlightenment, and I know how to put theory into practice.
"I know all these sciences, and I also teach them to people. I get people to study and practice all these sciences, to master and develop them. I use these sciences as a means to purify, refine, and broaden people."
Then Indriyeshvara said:
"I know this light of knowledge of the bodhisattvas characterized by knowledge of all the practical arts, technologies and sciences. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who know the number of all worlds, the number of all modes of spiritual practice, the number of pasts, presents, and futures, the number of all sentient beings, the number of the enlightenments of all the buddhas?"
"South of here is a city called Samudrapratishthana, where there lives a religious woman named Prabhuta. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects and took leave of Indriyeshvara.
Sudhana was full of joy, intent on acting benevolently to all. He was freely able to perceive the enlightened ones emerging one after another, and he was intent on showing the various means of liberation everywhere. He had broken out of the prison of routine worldly existence.
Thirteenth Teacher: The Nurturer
Sudhana travelled on, having received the teachings of his spiritual benefactors as the ocean receives the rains. His whole being was illuminated by carrying out the instructions of his spiritual benefactors.
Sudhana made his way to the city Samudrapratishthana, looking for the religous woman Prabhuta. He was told by the people there that Prabhuta was at her house in the middle of town.
Sudhana went to Prabhuta's house. He saw that it was very large, covered with precious ornaments, with doors on all four sides, arrayed with countless jewels, the result of the development of inconceivable virtue.
Sudhana entered the house and looked around. He saw the woman adept Prabhuta sitting in a jeweled chair.
Prabhuta was young, slim, fresh, in the bloom of youth, radiantly beautiful. Her hair was hanging loose, and she wore no ornaments on her body. She was clothed in a simple pure white garment.
Except for buddhas and bodhisattvas, all who came to Prabhuta's house were overwhelmed by her appearance, her mastery of mind, her radiance, her voice, her splendor, and all thought of her as a teacher.
In Prabhuta's house were ten million seats, but no provisions of food or drink or clothing or jewelry or any other accoutrements, except for a single vessel placed before her.
Sudhana saw that Prabhuta was attended by ten thousand ladies. The fragrance from their bodies perfumed the whole city, and all who smelled the fragrance became free from malice and hostility, free from envy and jealousy, free from guile and deceit, free from depression and hyperactivity.
Sudhana paid his respects to Prabhuta, and politely asked her to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation which is an inexhaustible treasury of manifestations of good. From this one vessel here before me I satisfy sentient beings of various tastes with foods conforming to their wishes, with various sauces and spices, of various colors and aromas.
"From this one vessel I satisfy a hundred beings, a thousand beings, a million beings, a billion beings, untold numbers of beings, with whatever foods they wish. And yet this vessel does not get empty or run out."
"Do you see ten thousand women, my companions?
"Beginning with these, there are countless tens of hundreds of thousands of women whose practice is the same as mine, who are one with me in vows, one with me in roots of goodness, one with me in ways of emancipation, one with me in purity of devotion.
"There are countless tens of hundreds of thousands of women who equal me in infinity of understanding, in spiritual capabilities, in pervasive awareness, in range of action, in infinity of power, in unsurpassed energy, and equal to me in voicing the truth.
"These ten thousand women here, my companions, pervade the ten directions in a single instant, to present food from this same vessel to the bodhisattvas, to the saints and solitary illuminates, to the hungry ghosts, to the celestial beings, to the humans.
"Come here and in a moment you will see with your own eyes."
As Prabhuta spoke these words, countless numbers of beings came in through the four doors of her house, invited by her vows. Prabhuta seated them in places prepared for them and satisfied them with whatever food they wished, until they were pleased and delighted.
Then Prabhuta said:
"I know this enlightening liberation which is an inexhaustible treasury of manifestations of good. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, whose goodness is inexhaustible?"
"South of here is a city called Mahasambhava, where a householder named Vidvan lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects and took leave of Prabhuta, looking at her again and again as he departed.
Fourteenth Teacher: The Satisfier
Having received from woman adept Prabhuta the enlightening liberation which is an inexhaustible treasury of goodness, Sudhana travelled on.
Sudhana made his way to the city of Mahasambhava and looked for Vidvan, seeking him out as a spiritual benefactor.
Sudhana saw Vidvan at a crossroads in the middle of the city.
Vidvan was seated on a jeweled pedestal, beneath a canopy of jewels, with celestial pennants and banners flying above. He was attended by ten thousand people who were his equals in past conduct, richly ornamented, playing music to delight the people of the city, and showering down celestial flowers.
Sudhana went up to Vidvan, paid his respects, and explained that he has set out for supreme perfect enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. He asked Vidvan to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Vidvan praised Sudhana for having the aspiration to perfect enlightenment, and said to him:
"Do you see my companions? I inspired them all to seek supreme perfect enlightenment, and provided methods of transcendence to nurture them. I got them to live in good ways, and I developed them in the powers of the enlightened ones. I removed them from the cycle of worldly routine and started them in the cycle of the enlightening teaching.
"I have attained good works produced from the treasury of mind. I give people whatever they need, whether food, clothing, adornments, beds, vehicles, medicines. Come here, and in a moment you will see what I mean."
As Vidvan spoke these words, innumerable beings gathered at his house, summoned by his past vows.
They came from various regions, various nations, various cities, various towns, various social groups, various conditions of existence, various states of consciousness, desiring various kinds of food, having various inclinations, needing diverse kinds of sustenance according to their states of being. They came to Vidvan, looking to him, and made requests of him.
Seeing them gathered there begging, Vidvan thought for a moment, then looked at the sky. From the sky various kinds of food and drink streamed down into his hand, and this Vidvan gave to the people according to their various needs.
Then, after satisfying them, he explained the Teaching to them. He explained to them how to store up knowledge, how to eliminate poverty, how to produce enjoyment, how to find ways to the knowledge of truth.
Vidvan satisfied all those who came to him according to their needs, and once they were satisfied, he taught them appropriate aspects of the Teaching.
Having shown Sudhana the inconceivable scope of this enlightening liberation, Vidvan said to him:
"I know the liberation of the capacity of the treasury of the mind. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who rain down all kinds of offerings for the buddhas, to serve all buddhas and develop and guide sentient beings?
"South of here is a city called Simhapota. An eminent person named Ratnachuda lives there. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana expressed his respect to the householder Vidvan as student to teacher, then took his leave.
Fifteenth Teacher: The House of Wonders
Generating that power of goodness, increasing that stream of goodness, Sudhana made his way to the city of Simhapota.
Sudhana saw Ratnachuda in the middle of the marketplace.
Sudhana went up to him, paid his respects, and explained his intent to achieve perfect enlightenment. He asked Ratnachuda to teach him the path of bodhisattvas, so he could set out for all-knowledge.
Ratnachuda took Sudhana to his house and showed it to him, saying, "Look at my house."
Sudhana looked and saw that the house was radiant, made of gold, wide and high, surrounded by silver walls, adorned with crystal terraces, with a lotus pond of cool water made of emeralds, surrounded by trees made of all kinds of jewels. The house was ten stories high, and had eight doors.
Sudhana entered the house and looked around.
On the first floor he saw supplies of food and drink being given away.
On the second floor he saw all kinds of clothing being given away.
On the third floor he saw all kinds of jewelry being given away.
On the fourth floor he saw royal consorts being given away.
On the fifth floor he saw a gathering of bodhisattvas in the Fifth Stage, celebrating the Teaching in song, thinking and acting for the happiness of the world, practicing all the sciences, putting into effect the ocean of concentration techniques.
On the sixth floor he saw a gathering of bodhisattvas who had attained transcendent wisdom. They were opening up a series of doors to transcendent wisdom. He saw orderly arrays of untold numbers of enlightening beings singing of countless doors of transcendent wisdom.
On the seventh floor he saw a gathering of bodhisattvas who were experts in their knowledge of expedient means, who had taken in the multitude of teachings of all the buddhas.
On the eighth floor he saw a gathering of bodhisattvas who observed all worlds, who were able to appear reflected in all communities, whose bodies were distributed throughout the universe, who were united with the body of all the buddhas.
On the ninth floor he saw a gathering of bodhisattvas who were to attain buddhahood in one lifetime.
On the tenth floor he saw oceans of scenes of countless buddhas carrying out all phases of the enlightening teaching their initial inspirations, their practices, their liberations, their vows to all the buddhas, their mystic displays of the ways to enlighenment, their magical displays to edify all sentient beings.
Sudhana asked Ratnachuda how he achieved all this.
Ratnachuda told Sudhana that in a past life eons ago he had played music for the buddha of that time in the marketplace of a city, and offered him some incense. Magically, the smoke from that burning incense covered the whole continent, and sounds came forth from it extolling the qualities of the buddhas.
Ratnachuda dedicated the goodness of this vision of Buddha's power to three causes: forever ending all poverty, always hearing truth, and meeting all enlightened teachers.
Ratnachuda then said to Sudhana:
"I know the enlightening liberation of the manifestation of the sphere of unobstructed vows. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who have entered into the indivisible ocean of buddha-bodies?"
"South of here is a land called Vetramulaka. A perfumer named Samantanetra lives in a city there. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Ratnachuda and took his leave.
Sixteenth Teacher: The Perfumer
Immersed in the endless vision of buddhas, in communication with the endless congregation of bodhisattvas, secure in the infinite willpower of bodhisattvas, Sudhana made his way to the land called Vetramulaka, and began searching for the city called Universal Liberation.
With tireless determination Sudhana searched all over for the city, in the highlands and the lowlands, over the level terrain and the rough terrain.
Finally he saw the city of Universal Liberation surrounded by ten thousand towns, with strong high walls, adorned in forty-eight ways.
Sudhana saw the perfumer Samantanetra sitting in a perfumer's shop in the city.
Sudhana went up to him, paid his respects, and explained that he had set out for supreme perfect enlightenment. He asked Samantanetra to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas.
"It is good that you aspire to supreme perfect enlightenment. I know the maladies of all sentient beings and how to cure those maladies.
"All who come to me from the ten directions, I cure of their maladies. Once they are cured, bathed, and annointed, I satisfy them with suitable attire and food, and furnish them with immeasurable wealth. After that I teach them, so they can get rid of lust, hatred, and delusion."
Samantanetra then told Sudhana of all the aspects of the teaching of enlightenment he explains for those he has cured.
"Thus do I take care of them, giving them the Teaching. Having provided them with the support of an inexhaustible treasure, then I let them go.
"I also know how to compound all scents, all types of incense, perfumes, and fragrant lotions. What's more, I know the mystic ball of fragrance that makes offerings to all buddhas everywhere and pleases all living beings."
Samantanetra told Sudhana he uses this ball of fragrance at will to make offerings to the buddhas, to produce clouds of fragrances in all universes in all the assemblies of the buddhas.
Samantanetra then said to Sudhana:
"I know this medium of the Teaching, the ball of fragrance that makes offerings to all buddhas everywhere and pleases all living beings. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who are like great medicines?"
"South of here is a city called Taladhvaja, where there is a king named Anala. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the eminent perfumer Samantanetra and took his leave.
Seventeenth Teacher: The Punisher
Focusing his attention on the instructions he had received from the spiritual benefactors he had visited, Sudhana became joyful and serene. His mind was detached, aloof, unified, under control, in accord with the Teaching, pervading all lands, immersed in the vision of the Buddha.
Sudhana travelled from country to country, searching from village to village and place to place, until he came to the city of Taladhvaja. He asked where to find King Anala. The people told him:
"King Anala is on his throne carrying out his duties for the benefit of the populace. He governs the various communities: he punishes those who should be punished and promotes those who should be promoted. He settles disputes, comforts the destitute, and subdues the unruly and arrogant. He puts a stop to assault and robbery, and to slander, falsehood, and violent talk. He frees us from craving, from malice, and from false ideas."
Then Sudhana went to King Anala. He saw him sitting on a lion throne brilliant with diamonds, covered with luminous jewels and beautiful figures inlaid with jewels. The King was young and handsome, with the marks of a great man. The King wielded great power. His armies were invincible, and no enemies could threaten his rule.
Then Sudhana saw horrific scenes of power: condemned criminals being tortured and mutilated and executed. He saw animals and birds feeding on dead bodies, and corpses decomposing.
Seeing all this, Sudhana thought that King Anala was an evildoer, a killer and an oppressor. How could he hear about the practice of the bodhisattvas from such an evil man?
As Sudhana was thinking this, celestial beings in the sky above him called out to him: "Do you not remember the instructions of Jayoshmayatana, the fire priest, whom you also doubted?"
"Do not have doubts about the instructions of spiritual benefactors. They guide you on the right way. Their knowledge of how to care for, protect, purify, and liberate sentient beings is inconceivable. Go ask the King about the practice of bodhisattvas."
Sudhana went to King Anala, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked the King to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
King Anala, having finished his duties, got down off the throne and took Sudhana into his palace.
Then King Anala said:
"I have attained the magical liberation of bodhisattvas. The people in my realm are given to all sorts of wrongdoing murder, theft, rape, falsehood, slander, violence, cruelty.
"I am unable to turn them away from evildoing by any other means, so in order to guide them and secure their welfare, out of compassion I have illusory executioners kill and maim illusory criminals, making a display of intense suffering and pain. Seeing this, the people in my realm become afraid to do evil."
King Anala then said to Sudhana:
"I have attained the magical liberation of bodhisattvas. But how can I know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who relate to all states of being as illusions, who understand that the practices of enlightening beings are like magical creations, who comprehend that the nature of things is like a dream?
"South of here is a city called Suprabha, where there is a king named Mahaprabha. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana then paid his respects and left King Anala.
Eighteenth Teacher: The Benevolent King
Meditating on that magical liberation of bodhisattvas, reflecting that all phenomena are equally illusory, thinking about the magical character of past, present, and future, Sudhana continued on his journey.
He made his way from country to country, looking everywhere, in wet and dry places, in the mountains and in the valleys, in the cities and the villages, searching all over until he came to the environs of the great city Suprabha.
He asked where he could find the King Mahaprabha, and the people pointed out the great city Suprabha and said the King lived there.
Sudhana went to the city and began to look around.
The city was beautiful. Everything was made of precious substances gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, pearls, emeralds, coral. The city was surrounded by rows of palm trees made of jewels, and by walls made of diamond and inlaid with jewels.
The city was large, and in the shape of a symmetrical octagon. There were innumerable streets in the city, each one lined with hundred of thousands of mansions made of precious gems flying jeweled flags and banners. Millions of people were living there.
The house of King Mahaprabha was built in the middle of the city. It was made of precious substances, and surrounded with groves of trees and lotus ponds. The sounds of birds singing filled the air.
In the middle of the house was a tower of world-illuminating jewels, brilliant with its inconceivable array of countless jewels, which the King had built.
Sudhana was detached from the pleasures of the senses, and the splendor of the King's house did not amaze him. He came to a crossroads in the city, and saw King Mahaprabha there, not far from his magnificent house, sitting cross-legged on a throne shaped like a lotus.
Sudhana saw heaps of jewels and pearls and coral and gold and silver and other precious things all arrayed before the King, along with the finest delicacies.
He saw countless celestial vehicles and musical instruments and medicinal preparations and various utensils laid out for people to enjoy as they wished.
He saw many millions of beautiful girls adorned with all kinds of jewelry, dressed in heavenly clothes, skill in all forms of love play.
Sudhana saw that all the riches set out before the King were also set out in front of every house in the city. This was to make everyone happy, serene, and comfortable, to extinguish their afflictions, to introduce them to the meaning of the true nature of all things, to purify their course of action.
At that point Sudhana went to King Mahaprabha, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked the King to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
King Mahaprabha said:
"I fulfill the bodhisattvas' practice of great benevolence. I learned this in the company of untold numbers of buddhas.
"Based on the enlightening practice of great benevolence, I rule as a king justly, I treat the world justly, I lead the people justly, I get them to contemplate the true nature of things. I establish people in kindness, in friendliness, in hospitality.
"I cool their minds and remove their mental tangles. I divert them from their habitual delight in mundane routines and purify them in the enjoyment of the pleasures of truth. I calm the ocean of their minds, to generate the indestructible power of faith.
"This is the way I govern righteously based on the enlightening practice of great benevolence.
"All the inhabitants of this city are bodhisattvas established in the Great Journey. They see this city according to the purity of their minds. Some see it small, some large. Some see walls of clay, some see it surrounded by walls covered with precious adornments. Some see nothing more than a rough patch of land, some see a city beautifully arrayed with mansions and palaces.
"Even among those who live outside the city, those whose minds are pure and aim for all-knowledge see it as made of jewels.
"Whenever the inhabitants of my domain want to do anything wrong, I go into an enlightening concentration, guided by great benevolence, called Adapting to the Faculties of the World. When I do this, their fears, animosities, agitations, and hostilities cease.
"Come here and you shall see for yourself in a moment."
At that point the King entered that concentration, everything in the city began to vibrate the jewel walls, jewel temples, jewel mansions, jewel banners and give off beautiful sounds. The inhabitants of the city became ecstatic and bowed down to the King. The people living around the city felt refreshed and joyful and bowed down to the King. Even the animals and plants, the mountains and rivers, all did homage to the King.
King Mahaprabha then said to Sudhana:
"I know this practice of bodhisattvas which is characterized by great benevolence. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are the inseparable companions of all beings, who work equally with beings at all levels, with impartial benevolence?
"South of here is a kingdom called Sthira, where a religious woman name Achala lives. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana then paid his respects to King Mahaprabha and departed.
Nineteenth Teacher: The Alluring Girl
Sudhana left Suprabha city and set forth on the road, remembering King Mahaprabha's enlightening practice of great benevolence, focusing on the inconceivable ability of bodhisattvas to see what to do for sentient beings.
Sudhana was moved to tears remembering the spiritual benefactors he had visited, and all they had done to help him.
As Sudhana wept, the celestial bodhisattvas who were accompanying Sudhana as envoys of the Buddha said to him:
"An aspiring bodhisattva who always heeds spiritual benefactors is within sight of all goals. Go to the religious woman Achala in the kindgom of Sthira and you will hear from her of the practice of bodhisattvas."
When he got to Sthira, the people told him that Achala was a girl living at home with her parents and relatives, who gave spiritual teaching to a large group of people.
Filled with joy, Sudhana went to Achala's house. Standing in the door, he saw the whole house lit up with a soothing golden light.
The moment Sudhana was touched by the light, five hundred subtle trances descended upon him bringing him to a state of absorption in the realm of tranquility, absorption in the welfare of all beings, absorption in the equanimity of the universal eye, and absorption in the matrix of the realization of being as such.
Sudhana smelled a fragrance more beautiful than any in the world. He saw that in all the world there was no one who could surpass that girl Achala in beauty. No one in the world could match the radiance of her skin, the proportions of her body, the magnificence of her aura.
There was no one in the world who could look at Achala with lust there was no one in the world whose afflictions did not cease the moment he beheld her. There was no one in the world who could ever become satiated with the sight of Achala, except those who were sated with wisdom.
Sudhana looked upon Achala with an attitude of reverence, seeing her inconceivable physical majesty, and immersed in her measureless ocean of virtues.
Sudhana told her of his intent to achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings, and asked her to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
Achala greeted Sudhana affectionately and told him of her attainments invincible knowledge, firm resolves, equanimity in all things, concentration on the tireless search for truth.
Sudhana asked Achala about her attainments, so that he could understand what she had done and strive to equal it.
Achala told Sudhana that in a past life as the daughter of a king, one night she had seen a Buddha in the starry night sky, surrounded by countless bodhisattvas, his body sending out an unobstructed light pervading everywhere.
From that Buddha's body came a fragrance that soothed her body and mind and made her feel happy.
As Achala lay there wondering how that Buddha had attained such a body, the Buddha read her mind and told her that she should produce an invincible mind to destroy afflictions, an intrepid mind to enter into the profound truth, an unshakable mind to descend into the whirlpool of the ocean of sentient beings, a mind tirelss in seeking visions of all the buddhas, a mind of sharing, to distribute the jewels of the Teaching to all sentient beings.
From that point on, Achala no longer had any thoughts of lust, any anger, any thoughts related to the idea of the self, any confusion. She absorbed herself in the Teaching and carried out all the enlightening practices.
"Ever since then I have never been apart from the buddhas, the bodhisattvas, and the true spiritual benefactors. I have never left the light of knowledge that removes afflictions from all beings. I have always been appearing to all beings according to their mentalities.
"I am capable of inconceivable miracles do you want to witness them?"
Sudhana said, "I do."
Then, as she sat there, Achala passed through ten hundred thousand doors of concentration. As she reached these concentrations, Sudhana saw a vision:
He saw innumerable worlds shake and appear to be made of clear lapis lazuli.
He saw all the lands in all the worlds, and buddhas in each one, going through all the phases of their teaching actitivities.
He saw the aura of light of each of these buddhas pervading all universes, and he saw the congregations gathered around each buddha.
He heard the voices of each buddha communicating all the cycles of the Teaching to all sentient beings.
Then Achala emerged from her concentration and said to Sudhana: "Did you see? Did you hear? Did you understand?"
Sudhana said, "I saw, I heard, I understood."
"In this way, learning the firm resolve of the bodhisattvas, absorbed in the tireless search for all truth, established in the bodhisattvas way of liberation by invincible knowledge, I teach sentient beings. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are like eagles soaring independently through the sky, who swoop down into the sea of sentient beings to take up those who are ready to be bodhisattvas?
"South of here is a city called Tosala in a land called Amitatosala. There is a mendicant named Sarvagamin living there. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Achala and left.
Twentieth Teacher: Going Everywhere
Absorbed in what the girl Achala had shown him, Sudhana made his way from place to place, finally reaching the city of Tosala in the land of Amitatosala.
Entering the city at sunset, Sudhana went from street to street looking for the mendicant Sarvagamin the name means "The One Who Goes Everywhere."
In the still of the night, Sudhana saw a mountain called Sulabha north of the city. The peak of the mountain was covered with groves of various plants and trees and was a bright as the sun.
Seeing the light, Sudhana was overjoyed. He thought to himself: "Surely I will find the spiritual benefactor on this mountaintop."
Sudhana left the city and climbed to the shining peak of the mountain, where he saw the mendicant Sarvagamin from afar. He was walking accompanied by ten thousand deities.
Sudhana went up to Sarvagamin, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked Sarvagamin to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
Sarvagamin told Sudhana:
"I am established in the enlightening practice of going everywhere, having attained the concentration of all-observing vision. In wandering through the realms of existence of all beings, I work for the benefit of sentient beings by various means and various applications of knowledge.
"Some I help by teaching various worldly skills. Some I help by charity, kindness, and giving assistance. Some I help by describing the ways of transcendence. Some I help by describing the practices of bodhisattvas. Some I help by frightening them, showing them the misery and pain that results from evil actions. Some I help by delighting them, telling them about the fruits of all-knowledge developed by serving the buddhas.
"In every district, on every street, in every house, in every family, I take on the forms of men and women, boys and girls, and expound the Teaching to them according to their aims, abilities, and patterns of thought. They do not know who is teaching them or where I am from they just practice faithfully what they have heard.
"I go everywhere on this continent doing this to help those clinging to false views. And just as I do on this continent, so also do I work for the benefit of all beings on earth, in the galaxy, in the universe, in infinite numbers of worlds, among all types of beings, wherever they are, helping them according to their mentalities and inclinations. I use various means, various approaches, various expedient devices, various activities. I assume various forms and speak in various languages."
"I know the enlightening practice of going everywhere. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, whose bodies are equal to all beings, who have attained a concentration in which their own bodies and all bodies are indivisible, who carry out their vows unimpeded in all ages?
"South of here is a land called Prthurashtra. There is an eminent perfumer living there named Utpalabhuti. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the mendicant Sarvagamin and left.
Twenty-First Teacher: Master of Fragrances
Unconcerned with any material things, unconcerned with enjoying people and places, unconcerned with worldly power, concerned solely with developing, guiding, and purifying all sentient beings, Sudhana made his way to Prthurashtra, where he sought out the eminent perfumer Utpalabhuti.
Sudhana went up to Utpalabhuti, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked Utpalabhuti to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
Utpalabhuti told Sudhana:
"I know about all fragrances and how they are compounded and used.
"I know fragrances that cure illness. I know fragrances that remove depression, and I know fragrances that produce joy.
"I know fragrances that incite passions, and I know fragrances that extinguish passions. I know fragrances that remove arrogance and heedlessness.
"I know fragrances that produce thoughts of Buddha, I know fragrances that accord with the principles of the Teaching."
Utpalabhuti told Sudhana he used certain fragrances to make people calm and happy, to remove any fear, anxiety, or agitation. After they have become happy and joyful, he begins to purify their minds and teach them the way to enlightenment.
Utpalabhuti told Sudhana about many kinds of fragrances, and their power to induce states of mind helpful to spiritual development.
Then Utpalabhuti said to Sudhana:
"I know this art of perfuming. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are unstained by any world, whose way of life is free from attachment?
"South of here is a city called Kutagara. There is a mariner there named Vaira. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Utpalabhuti and left.
Twenty-Second Teacher: The Mariner
On the way to the city of Kutagara Sudhana observed all the variations in the road sometimes it was even, sometimes uneven, sometimes safe, sometimes perilous, sometimes impassable, sometimes unobstructed, sometimes crooked, sometimes straight.
He thought of his purpose in visiting spiritual benefactors to acquire the knowledge that would enable him to assist sentient beings.
With these thoughts in mind, Sudhana made his way to the city of Kutagara, looking for the mariner Vaira.
When he got to the city, Sudhana saw the mariner Vaira surrounded by hundreds of thousands of merchants and other people listening to him. He was explaining the oceans of virtues of the buddhas by talking about the physical ocean.
Sudhana went up to Vaira, paid his respects, and told him of his mission, to achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings. He asked Vaira to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
After commending his resolve, Vaira told Sudhana:
"I live in this coastal metropolis of Kutagara, purifying the enlightening practice characterized by great compassion. Observing those on this continent who are poor, I take care of their mundane needs, and I satisfy them with spiritual enjoyments. I teach them the way to accumulate virtue, and foster knowledge in them.
"I know all the treasure islands in the ocean, all the deposits of precious substances, all the sources of precious substances. I know how to refine, extract, and produce all precious substances.
"I know how to avoid all the whirlpools and swells, and I know the colors and depths of all the waters. I know the cycles of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and the lengths of the days and nights.
"I know when to travel and when not to, when it is safe and when it is dangerous. I know how to pilot ships and how to catch the wind. I know when to drop anchor and when to set sail.
"With this knowledge, I am always engaged in working for the benefit of living beings. With a strong, safe ship, I convey merchants to the treasure islands of their choice, and after having enriched them with all kinds of jewels, I bring them back to this continent. I have never lost a single ship."
"I have attained the enlightening liberation which is characterized by great compassion and the sound of flowing water, and it is benefitical to see me, hear me, live with me, and remember my name. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who traverse all the oceans of the mundane whirl, who are unaffected by the ocean of afflictions, who abide in the ocean of all-knowledge, who do not miss the right occasions to guide the ocean of sentient beings?
"South of here is a city called Nandigara. An eminent man named Jayottama lives there. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Vaira and reluctantly left.
Twenty-Third Teacher: The Civic Leader
His mind filled with great love for the infinite realm of life, overflowing with great compassion, seeking the path of the bodhisattvas, Sudhana made his way to the city of Nandigara and sought out the eminent Jayottama the name means "Supreme Victor."
Sudhana saw the civic leader Jayottama in a grove at the eastern edge of the city, surrounded by thousands of elders, giving instructions on the various affairs of the city.
He was telling them how to get rid of egoism, possessiveness, acquisitiveness, and dependency. He was telling them how to eliminate the opinions that were blocking them, and the envy and jealousy that defiled them.
He did this in order to clear and purify everyone's minds, and show them the power of the wisdom of the bodhisattvas.
Sudhana went up to the civic leader Jayottama, bowed to him, and told him of his mission to achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings. He asked Jayotamma to teach him how to learn and apply the practice of the bodhisattvas.
After praising his aspiration, Jayottama told Sudhana:
"I am purifying the method of enlightening practice that goes everywhere. By this method I expound the Teaching of all realms of being in the universe.
"I oppose untruth, and I put a stop to conflict, strife, and hostility. I eliminate fears and put an end to evildoing. I turn people away from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, falsehood, slander, malice, and false views. I get them to stop all compulsive activity and to pursue the right course of action.
"I teach everyone all the arts and crafts that are beneficial to the world. I explain and promote all sciences that bring happiness to the world. I go along with false doctrines in order to develop the people involved in them.
"Just as I teach in this universe, I teach in countless worlds. I teach about the way of the buddhas and the bodhisattvas, and about all the other planes of existence.
"I teach about the formation and disintegration of worlds, about the pain of the world, and about emancipation from the world."
"I know this method of purification of enlightening practice that goes everywhere. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have all forms of mystic knowledge, who speak with the voice of totality, communicating to infinite numbers of sentient beings according to their mentalities?
"South of here, in the land of Shronaparanta, is a city called Kalingavana. A nun named Lion Stretching lives there. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Jayottama and reluctantly left.
Twenty-Fourth Teacher: The Powerful Nun
Sudhana made his way to the city called Kalingavana, and asked everyone he met there where to find the nun Sinhavijurmbhita the name means "Lion Stretching."
People told Sudhana that the nun Lion Stretching was staying in Sunlight Park, expounding the Teaching for the benefit of countless beings.
Sudhana went to this Sunlight Park and looked all around. He saw all sorts of trees trees of blazing radiance, leafy trees giving shade, shining like blue crystal clouds, trees with endless streems of varicolored flowers, trees laden with ever-ripe sweet fruit, trees producing garlands and ornaments of celestial jewels, trees of musical instruments producing sweet music, tress perfuming the air with their fragrances.
He saw all sorts of cool lotus ponds, full of fragrant water, covered with varicolored lotuses, surrounded by treasure trees.
Under the treasure trees were a variety of lion thrones, all set in jewel lotuses. Sudhana saw that the ground of the whole park was strewn with various jewels.
Sudhana saw this Sunlight Park by the strength of the mystic power of the nun Lion Stretching.
At that point, in all those lion seats under the treasure trees, Sudhana saw the nun Lion Stretching sitting, surrounded by a great company of followers.
She was calm, composed, her senses and mind quiet, unaffected by worldly things, fearless as a lion, with polished expertise, unshakable as a mountain, pure in conduct, soothing the minds of sentient beings.
Sudhana saw the nun Lion Stretching sitting in those seats, surrounded by various audiences of different types of beings.
Sudhana saw the nun Lion Stretching in all these separate assemblies, teaching each type of being in such a way that all became certain of enlightenment. How could she do this? The nun Lion Stretching had gone into tens of hundreds of thousands of doors of transcendent wisdom.
Having heard her teaching, with his mind infused by the immense cloud of the teaching, Sudhana bowed to the nun Lion Stretching and began to circle around her as a gesture of respect. Having circled around her hundreds of thousands of times, Sudhana noticed that he saw the nun whichever way he faced.
Sudhana stood before her and asked her to tell him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas.
Lion Stretching said: "I have attained the enlightening liberation of the removal of all vain imaginings."
Sudhana asked her what it was like, and she said: "It is the light of knowledge whose nature is instantaneous awareness of the phenomena of past, present, and future."
Lion Stretching explained to Sudhana that she went to all worlds in the ten directions with bodies produced by her mind, to make offerings to numberless buddhas and bodisattvas.
Lion Stretching said: "Those sentient beings who know my work of making offerings to the buddhas all become certain of enlightenment. And to all those sentient beings who come to me, I give instruction in this form of transcendent wisdom."
Lion Stretching said:
"I see all beings with the eye of knowledge, but I do not set up a concept of 'sentient beings' and imagine it to be real.
"I see all buddhas, but I do not imagine the forms I see are real, because I know the body of the buddhas is Reality itself.
"I pervade the cosmos in every moment of awareness, but I do not imagine this is real, because I know the nature of things existing as illusory forms.
"Thus, I know the enlightening liberation of the removal of all vain imaginings. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who penetrate the infinite cosmos of all realities, who are free from vain imaginings about all things, who see all buddha-lands in their own bodies?
"South of here, in the land of Durga, is a city called Ratnavyuha. Living there is a worshipper of the god of light, Vasumitra. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the nun Lion Stretching and left her and went on his way.
Twenty-Fifth Teacher: The Supreme Beauty
Fulfilling his vow to accomplish all the deeds of bodhisattvas, Sudhana made his way to the city of Ratnavyuha in the dangerous country of Durga, where he sought out Vasumitra the name means "Friend of the World."
The people there who did not know about the scope of Vasumitra's knowledge told Sudhana to avoid her, because her beauty would provoke intense lust and desire. They told him he should not fall under the power of such a woman, and sink into sensuality.
Those people who were aware of the excellence of her virtues and the scope of her knowledge said to Sudhana that he would surely gain by meeting Vasumitra. They told her that Vasumitra was in her house, north of the town plaza.
Sudhana was delighted to hear this, and he went to Vasumitra's house. He saw that it was surrounded by ten jewel walls, ten circles of jewel trees, and ten moats filled with fragrant water. The house had chambers and towers made of all kinds of precious substances, high arched doorways, and circular windows draped with nets and blazing with jewels. The house was perfumed with all kinds of fragrant oils, and adorned with sprays of jewel flowers.
There Sudhana saw Vasumitra, who was surpassingly beautiful, with golden skin and black hair and well-proportioned body and limbs. She was more beautiful than all the celestial beings and human beings in the realm of desire. She was well versed in all the arts and sciences, and she had mastered all aspects of the expedient means used by bodhisattvas.
Vasumitra had a large retinue of women like herself, all with the same virtues, the same practice, and the same vow.
Sudhana saw the whole house lit up by the refreshing, blissful, rapturous light emanating from the body of Vasumitra.
Then Sudhana went up to Vasumitra, paid his respects, and explained his purpose. He asked her to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Ultimately Dispassionate. To all types of beings, I appear in the form of a female of their species, of surpassing splendor and perfection. All who come to me with minds full of passion, I teach how to become free from passion.
"Some attain dispassion as soon as they see me. Some attain dispassion merely by talking with me. Some attain dispassion by holding my hand. Some attain dispassion just by staying with me. Some attain dispassion just by gazing at me. Some attain dispassion just by embracing me. Some attain dispassion just by kissing me.
"All those who come to me I establish in this enlightening liberation of Ultimate Dispassion, on the brink of the stage of unimpeded omniscience."
"I know this enlightening liberation Ultimate Dispassion. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are in the realm of invincible knowledge?
"South of here is a city called Shubhaparamgama, where a householder named Veshthila is presenting offerings at the shrine of the buddha called Sandalwood Throne. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Vasumitra and left.
Twenty-Sixth Teacher: The Embracer
Sudhana went to Veshthila's house, in the city of Shubhaparamgama. Paying his respects to the householder, Sudhana told him of his mission and asked him to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Not Ultimately Exhausted. I know that no buddha in any world ever has or ever will become finally extinct, except as a teaching device. When I opened the door of the shrine of the buddha Sandalwood Throne, I attained an enlightening concentration called Manifestation of the Endless Lineage of the Buddhas.
Sudhana asked about the experience of this form of concentration, and Veshthila said:
"When I am in this concentration, all the successive buddhas of this world-system appear to me. In the continuity of this vision of the buddhas, by the continuity of the succession of the buddhas, in one mental moment I see a hundred buddhas, in the next moment of awareness I find a thousand buddhas, then a million buddhas, then a billion buddhas, a trillion buddhas, a quadrillion buddhas, a quintillion buddhas. I immediately become aware of the successive appearance of untold numbers of buddhas.
"I also comprehend all phases of the processes through which the buddhas reached perfect enlightenment, the various ways in which they work to develop sentient beings, their various teaching activities.
"I also remember their teachings, examine them in action, analyze them, follow them with discernment, and elucidate them with wisdom."
"I know this enlightening liberation of Ultimate Non-Extinction. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have attained instantaneous knowledge of past, present, and future, who are in the range of knowledge conveying the teachings of all the buddhas?
"South of here is a mountain called Potalaka, where a bodhisattva named Avalokiteshvara lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Veshthila and went on.
Twenty-Seventh Teacher: World-Observer
Reflecting on Veshthila's teaching, remembering the power of the succession of enlightened guides, Sudhana made his way to Mount Potalaka.
Having climbed the mountain, Sudhana looked around for the bodhisattva World-Observer.
Sudhana saw World-Observer on a plateau of the west side of the mountain, sitting on a diamond boulder in a clearing in a forest, surrounded by a group of bodhisattvas seated on various jewel rocks, to whom he was giving a teaching called Light of the Medium of Great Love and Compassion.
Sudhana was overjoyed when he saw World-Observer. He was thinking of spiritual benefactors as the source of the vision of inexhaustible knowledge.
Sudhana went toward World-Observer, who saw him coming from a distance and welcomed him as one who had set out on the Great Journey, seeking to directly experience all the teachings of the buddhas.
Sudhana approached World-Observer, paid his respects, and told him of his mission to attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. He asked World-Observer to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Commending Sudhana on his aspiration, World-Observer said:
"I know a way of enlightening practice called Unhesitating Compassion, which sets about impartially guiding all sentient beings to perfection.
"I appear in the midst of the activities of all sentient beings without leaving the presence of all the buddhas.
"I develop sentient beings by appearing in various forms. I speak to them according to their mentalities and show them forms of conduct according to their inclinations. I appear to them as members of their own races and social groups, and live together with them.
"I have vowed to be a refuge for all sentient beings, to free them from fear. I have caused my name to be known in all worlds to drive away the fears of all beings."
At that moment a bodhisattva named Ananyagamin the name means "He Who Proceeds Directly" descended from the eastern sky and stood on the top of mountain. His body gave off such a light that it overwhelmed the light of the sun, moon, and stars, and lit up all the lower realms of existence, so that sentient beings there were no longer bound by affliction, and all sorrows ceased.
Ananyagamin also appeared to go to the buddhas, making all kinds of offerings to them. He also appeared reflected in the abodes of all living beings, appearing in forms designed to please them. He also appeared to have come to the bodhisattva World-Observer on the peak of Mount Potalaka.
Then World-Observer asked Sudhana if he saw the enlightening being Ananyagamin in this assembly. Sudhana said he did see him.
World-Observer said: "Go to Ananyagamin and ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the bodhisattva World-Observer and went on his way.
Twenty-Eighth Teacher: Proceeding Directly
Sudhana had not seen enough of World-Observer, but he obeyed his words and went to the bodhisattva Ananyagamin the name means "He Who Proceeds Directly."
Sudhana went to Ananyagamin, paid his respects, and told him of his mission to attain perfect enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. He asked Ananyagamin to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Ananyagamin said: "I have attained an enlightening liberation called Speeding Forth in All Directions."
Sudhana asked Ananyagamin what buddha he had learned this from, and how far away that buddha's world was, and when he had left that world.
Ananyagamin told Sudhana that only those who have been under the tutelage of spiritual benefactors and have purified their intentions can understand the answer to these questions.
"I know a way of enlightening practice called Unhesitating Compassion, which sets about impartially guiding all sentient beings to perfection.
"I come from a buddha-land of a buddha called Born of Universal Light. I attained the enlightening liberation Speeding Forth in All Directions at the feet of that buddha. Countless eons have passed since I left that world.
"With each thought I take countless steps, and with each step I pass through countless buddha-lands, each with its own buddhas. I go to all these buddhas and honor them with the finest mentally-produced offerings, stamped with the formless cosmic seal.
"I also observe the oceans of sentient beings in all worlds. I penetrate their minds, discern their abilities, and appear to them bodily in accord with their inclinations and interests, and explain the Teaching. I adapt my form to them, ceaselessly striving to guide them to perfection. I travel out in all directions."
"I know this enlightening liberation Speeding in All Directions. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who face in all directions, who are in the realm of unfragmented knowledge, whose bodies pervade all lands, who act in accord with the way things really are?
"South of here is a city called Dvaravati, where the celestial being Mahadeva lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the bodhisattva Ananyagamin and went on.
Twenty-Ninth Teacher: A Celestial Being
Full of joy, with his mind on the freedom of inconceivable liberation, Sudhana went to the city of Dvaravati and asked where to find the celestial being Mahadeva.
The people of the city told Sudhana that Mahadeva was in a temple at a crossroads in the city in a giant body expounding the Teaching.
Sudhana went to Mahadeva, paid his respects, and told him of his mission to attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings. He asked Mahadeva to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
The celestial being Mahadeva extended four hands in four directions and brought water back from the oceans and washed his face. Then he scatted golden flowers over Sudhana and offered praise to the bodhisattvas as the ones who show the path of safety and peace to those on the path of delusion.
Mahadeva told Sudhana that he had attained an enlightening liberation called Cloud Net. Sudhana asked him what it was like.
At that moment, the celestial being Mahadeva made a heap of gold the size of a mountain appear before Suddhana, along with similar piles of all sorts of treasures and precious things. Then he said to Sudhana:
"Take these and give gifts, do good works, and make offerings to the buddhas. Take care of sentient beings with generous giving, teach all the world by giving, show what it is like to give things away unstintingly.
"Just as I give all this away to you, I make this kind of absolute generosity a habit in countless sentient beings.
"To those who are intoxicated with love of material objects, I make objects appear impure.
"To those filled with anger, who are arrogant, conceited, and overbearing, I show terrifying scenes of ghouls who feed on flesh and blood, to show them that this is all the expression of arrogance.
"To those who are lazy and negligent, I show various scenes of danger, to rouse them to vigor and diligence.
"Thus with various appropriate means, I turn people away from bad conduct and get them to develop good qualities.
Then Mahadeva continued:
"I know this enlightening liberation called Cloud Net. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are like wind shattering the mountains of attachment, who are like thunderbolts splitting asunder the mass of self-obsession?
"South of here, at the site of enlightenment in the region of Magadha, lives an earth goddess named Sthavara. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to Mahadeva and went on.
Thirtieth Teacher: The Earth Goddess Sthavara
Then Sudhana went to the earth goddess Sthavara at the Buddha's site of enlightenment in the land of Magadha.
Sensing Sudhana's approach, a million earth goddesses said to one another: "A vessel of enlightenment is coming here who will break the shell of ignorance of all sentient beings and destroy the weapons of all false teachers."
Then those earth goddesses, led by Sthavara, made the earth tremble and the oceans roar, and filled the whole universe with a glorious light.
Then the earth goddesses emerged from the earth, making all the plants sprout and bloom, making the rivers flow and the ponds fill, with fragrant rains showering down, and visions of celestial palaces appearing in the air.
Then the earth goddess said to Sudhana: "Welcome! This is a spot of ground where you have planted the roots of goodness, which I have witnessed. Do you want to see the results here and now?"
Sudhana paid his respects to the goddess and said, "I do."
Then the goddess touched the earth with the sole of her foot, causing it to appear adorned with countless deposits of jewels. She said to Sudhana:
"These billions of treasuries of jewels go with you and are at your service. They have been produced by the power of your good works, and they are preserved by the power of your good works. Take of them and do whatever should be done.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Unassailable Refuge of Knowledge. I have constantly stayed with and protected the enlightening being Vairocana since time immemorial. I have entered his sphere of knowledge and all his vows, and gone along into all his concentrations. I have taken in his mastery of the powers of all bodhisattvas and his way of activating all cycles of the Teaching."
Then the earth goddess continued:
"I know this enlightening liberation Unassailable Refuge of Knowledge. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have entered the hidden knowledge of all the buddhas, who speed throughout the cosmos in a moment of thought, who are envoys physically indivisible from all the buddhas?
"In this country of Magadha is a city called Kapilavastu, where a night goddess named Vasanti lives. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the earth goddess Sthavara and went on.
Thirty-First Teacher: The Night Goddess Vasanti
Remembering the teaching of the earth goddess Sthavara and the enlightening liberation called Unassailable Refuge of Knowledge, Sudhana went to the great city Kapilavastu.
Sudhana went in by the eastern gate of the city and stood at a crossroads in the middle of the city. Before long the sun set, and he longed to see the night goddess Vasanti, considering her as a spiritual benefactor.
Sudhana saw the night goddess Vasanti in the sky over Kapilavastu, in a tower of brilliant jewels, sitting on a great jewel lion throne.
Vasanti was beautiful, with a golden complexion, soft, rich black hair, and dark eyes. Her body was adorned with all kinds of ornaments, and she was wearing a red robe. She wore a sacred crest adorned with the orb of the moon, and her body showed reflections of all the stars and constellations.
Sudhana could see in the pores of the night goddess all the sentient beings whom she had liberated. In her pores he could see all the means and various physical embodiments and appearances she had used to liberate them, and the special timing and skill at adaptation she had needed to perfect them.
Seeing all this, Sudhana was transported with joy. He paid his respects to the night goddess Vasanti, and told her of his intention to reach perfect enlightenment. He asked her to show him the way of all-knowledge.
Vasanti answered Sudhana:
"Carrying out the instructions of spiritual benefactors, you will surely arrive at supreme perfect enlightenment.
"I have attain an enlightening liberation, a means of guiding sentient beings to the light of truth, which dispels darkness for all sentient beings. I am determined to purify the defiled, to set the misguided straight, and to free those attached to worldly routines from their repetitious cycles."
Vasanti then related to Sudhana the many ways in which she worked to aid living beings lost in the darkness of their fears and attachments and false ideas.
She described her work in verse:
This peaceful liberation of mind guides the world
To happiness according to the time
By producing the light of truth
To end the darkness of delusion and ignorance
Developed over boundless eons past
Dispelling evil, I illumine the world
You must realize this wisdom, steadfast Sudhana
Sudhana then asked Vasanti how she attained this liberation.
The Night Goddess's Story
Vasanti told him that eons ago she was the wife of a just king.
One night after making love the queen had fallen asleep. A night goddess named Pure Moonlight woke the queen with the sounds of her jewelry jingling and brought her the news that a buddha had just attained enlightenment in their world.
The night goddess explained to the queen the qualities of the enlightened ones and the vows practiced by universally good bodhisattvas. At that point, the queen set her mind on enlightenment.
Vasanti told Sudhana that she was that queen, and by virtue of the aspiration she developed then, she was able to pass many eons planting the roots of goodness. But her enlightening faculties were still not completely developed.
In another lifetime, ten thousand eons before the present, she was a beautiful, strong, outstanding girl. One night while her parents slept, she was visited by a night goddess who told her about the qualities of the buddhas and showed her a vision of the buddha of that epoch sitting at his site of enlightenment in the first week after his enlightenment.
The girl led her parents and relatives to that buddha, and made offerings to him. When she saw that buddha, she attained a concentration that enabled her to remember countless eons and brought to the fore her aspiration for enlightenment.
Vasanti told Sudhana that upon hearing the teachings of that buddha, she attained the enlightening liberation which is a means of guiding sentient beings to the light of truth, which dispels darkness for all sentient beings.
Vasanti told Sudhana:
"By attaining this enlightening liberation, I pervade countless numbers of worlds, and see the buddhas in those worlds, and perceive myself at the feet of those buddhas. I also see all the sentient beings of those worlds and know their languages and thoughts, inclinations and interests. I manifest a body to them which will suit their inclinations.
"This liberation grows in each mental moment. In an unbroken succession of mental moments, I pervade countless and ever-increasing numbers of buddha-lands, I see all the buddhas in those lands, I take in all their teachings, and I enter into their oceans of vows.
Then Vasanti continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation of guiding sentient beings to the light of truth. But how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who strive to inform all sentient beings about the Great Journey of universal liberation, who have unfragmented knowledge of the ground of past, present, and future?
"In this very same enlightenment site in Magadha lives a night goddess named Pure Light of Universal Virtue. Go ask her how to learn and carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana praised the night goddess Sthavara, paid his respects to her, and kept looking at her again and again. Then he went on.
Thirty-Second Teacher: The Night Goddess Pure Light
Entering into the ocean of vows of enlightening beings, looking out over the vast ocean of light of all-knowledge, Sudhana went to the night goddess Pure Light.
He paid his respects to her, told her of his aspiration for enlightenment, and asked her to teach him how a bodhisattva acts at the stage of enlightening practice.
The night goddess Pure Light told Sudhana that the practice of bodhisattvas is accomplished by doing these ten things:
Purifying the concentration in which all buddhas are seen face to face
Purifying the eye that sees the infinite body of all buddhas
Entering into the infinite ocean of the qualities of the buddhas
Realizing the cosmic scale of the infinite manifestations of the teaching of the buddhas
Entering into the multitudes of beams of light emanating from the pores of all the buddhas, aiding sentient beings in various ways
Seeing oceans of jewel-colored flames emanating from the pores of all the buddhas
Penetrating into the oceans of emanations of the buddhas pervading all universes and guiding sentient beings in each mental moment
Penetrating into the scriptures of all the teaching cycles of the past, present, and future, using all the languages of sentient beings
Entering into the infinite ocean of buddha-names
Penetrating how buddhas guide sentient beings by manifesting inconceivable transformations
The night goddess Pure Light said:
"I have attained the enlightening liberation called Bliss of Tranquil Meditation Travelling Everywhere. By this I see the buddhas of the past, present, and future, and enter into their oceanic congregations, their oceanic concentrations, and their oceanic past efforts.
"Yet I do not get attached to those buddhas. Why not? Because I know those buddhas do not go or come, are not present or absent, are not real or false.
"I expand this enlightening liberation called Bliss of Tranquil Meditation Travelling Everywhere. I extend it, enter into it, follow it, live up to it, accomplish it, fulfill its requirements, and put it into effect.
"As I cultivate this liberation, I develop sentient beings to maturity by a variety of means. I put a stop to their wrong passions and wrong feelings and wrong thought. I motivate their thoughts toward spiritual practice, toward the aspiration for liberation, toward great compassion.
The night goddess Pure Light continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation Bliss of Tranquil Meditation Travelling Everywhere. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have attained awareness of the knowledge and powers of all the buddhas, whose minds abide in the spheres of the buddhas?
"Right next to me, on the right side of the site of enlightenment of Vairocana, there lives a night goddess named Joyful Eyes. Go ask her how to do the work of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the night goddess Pure Light and took leave of her.
Thirty-Third Teacher: The Night Goddess Joyful Eyes
Immersed in the teachings of the spiritual benefactors, and through seeing them, immersed in the ocean of great compassion that saves all living beings, Sudhana went to the night goddess Joyful Eyes.
Sudhana saw the night goddess sitting in a lion seat in the circle of the Buddha, in an enlightening concentration characterized by the vast, pure energy of the joy of universal good.
He saw multitudes of emanations emerging from the pores of the goddess, bringing illumination to all sentient beings and showing them visions of all aspects of the work of the enlightened ones.
He saw multitudes of emanations emerging from the pores of the goddess showing sentient beings how to cut through all the obstacles to enlightenment, how to free themselves from worldly desires, how to take joy in the truth, and how to learn from spiritual benefactors.
He saw multitudes of projected bodies in various forms emanate from the pores of the goddess and appear before all sentient beings in accord with their inclinations and interests, explaining all aspects of the Teaching and showing them the realm of wisdom.
He saw multitudes of projected bodies as numerous as the minds of all beings emanate from the pores of the goddess and appear before sentient beings, showing them the endless power of the bodhisattvas to remain unaffected by the evils of worldly life and to tirelessly carry out enlightening action through the ages.
Sudhana saw untold numbers of buddha-lands throughout the ten directions being purified in each instant of thought by the hosts of bodies projected from the pores of the night goddess. He saw infinitely varied oceans of sentient beings being liberated from all suffering. He saw infinitely varied multitudes of sentient beings going through the ten stages of bodhisattvas.
Sudhana asked the night goddess Joyful Eyes how long it took her to attain this enlightening liberation characterized by the immense, pure energy of the joy of universal good.
The Night Goddess's Story
Joyful Eyes told Sudhana that eons ago she was the principal wife of a king.
One night, as the king and his sons slept, a buddha appeared and filled the universe with infinite mystic projections. This buddha showed her in a dream all the infinite manifestations of enlightening work.
At that point a myriad of night goddesses stood in the sky above the queen and told her to awake.
On awakening, she saw an immaculate light, and she saw a vision of the buddha at the site of enlightenment. The queen vowed to become like the buddha this was her first aspiration for enlightenment. After that she served many buddhas down through the ages in different worlds.
The night goddess concluded her story:
"The night goddess by whom I was awakened was emanated by the bodhisattva Universal Good. The wife of the king was me. When I was awakened by the night goddess, I was caused to see Buddha, and I first aspired to enlightenment. Ever since that inspiration, wherever I have been, I have never been apart from the sight of the buddhas.
The night goddess Joyful Eyes continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation characterized by the immense pure energy of the joy of universal good. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are skilled in comprehending the ocean of transformations of all the buddhas of the past, present, and future?
"There is a night goddess named Rescuer of All who lives right here in the Buddha's circle. Go ask her how to enter and purify the sphere of practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the night goddess Joyful Eyes and took leave of her.
Thirty-Fourth Teacher: The Night Goddess Rescuer of All
Absorbed in the liberation of immense pure energy of the joy of universal good shown him by the night goddess Joyful Eyes, Sudhana went to the night goddess Rescuer of All.
To show Sudhana the majesty of the endless enlightening liberation of offering guidance for sentient beings in all world, the night goddess Rescuer of All emanated a light from between her eyebrows with infinite beams.
The light illuminated the whole world, then descended into Sudhana and pervaded his entire body.
As soon as Sudhana was touched by the light, he attained a concentration called Sphere of Ultimate Dispassion. Through this he saw countless worlds forming and dissolving in all the precious objects arrayed between the night goddess Joyful Eyes and the night goddess Rescuer of All.
He also saw the interplay of material elements and the sentient beings in all the worlds. He saw the physical landscapes of all these worlds, with their mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, oceans, forests, and he saw the habitations of all kinds of beings. He saw all the various conditions of existence as interconnected, infinite different planes of being as interrelated. He saw the differences among all these worlds.
Sudhana also saw the night goddess Rescuer of All in all realms of life in all those worlds, facing every sentient being capable of being guided.
By seeing all worlds at once, Sudhana saw the night goddess Rescuer of All standing before all sentient beings, adapting to their lifespans, their beliefs, their physical forms, and their conventions for verbal communication, in order to guide them to full development.
Having seen this demonstration of the night goddess's enlightening liberation showing guidance for beings in all worlds, Sudhana bowed down before her in a state of rapture.
Sudhana stood respectfully before the night goddess and spoke verses of praise to her. Then he asked her how long ago she had attained her liberation, and how to practice to purify this liberation.
The night goddess replied:
"This is hard to understand, because this is the realm of the bodisattvas who follow the commitment to the practice of universally good enlightening beings and who have undertaken to preserve the teachings of all the buddhas."
The night goddess then told Sudhana the story of her liberation.
The Night Goddess's Story
She told of a Buddha eons ago, the first Buddha to appear in that particular eon.
For ten thousand years before his appearance, this Buddha periodically sent out light beams, and all who were touched by the light realized that a Buddha would appear.
The last emanation of lights was seven days before his appearance, and in that final seven days all the beings in that world who were ripe for the sight of Buddha stood facing the site of enlightenment.
Suddenly all the objects in the world, all natural objects and all man-made objects, and the very mountains and seas and rivers, all began to send forth visionary clouds of fragrances and jewels and light rays flashing all to announce the appearance of a Buddha.
The appearance of that Buddha set in motion the wheel of the Teaching, so that innumerable sentient beings in that world, according to their varying mentalities, perceived the Teaching by learning from the various forms and embodiments of the teaching skillfully projected by the Buddhas.
The world of that time was rich and splendid. The people in the capital city were intoxicated with material things and contemptuous toward each other.
To prepare them for the Buddha, the bodhisattva Universal Good took on a body of dazzling beauty and went to the city. The glorious light of Univeral Good shined on the city and overwhelmed all its splendors. The luxurious surroundings, the physical beauty of the people and their adornments, all paled in comparison to the radiant light of the bodhisattva Universal Good.
Universal Good stood in the sky above the palace of the king in the middle of the city and told the king that a Buddha would be coming to their world.
The daughter of the king was inspired by the body Universal Good had assumed for the occasion. She vowed never to be apart from this spiritual benefactor.
The king led his entire court and all the people of the city out to pay homage to the Buddha. The king made rich offerings at the Buddha's site of enlightenment.
At that point, the daughter of the king took off her jewelry and scattered it over the Buddha. The jewelry formed a parasol over the Buddha's head and stayed there in midair.
Then the king's daughter saw a great enlightenment tree with foliage made of all the jewels produced by the Realm of Reality. Then she saw Vairocana Buddha surrounded by countless numbers of bodhisattvas who had taken the vows of Univeral Good and who dwelt in the infinitely variegated total unity of all enlightening beings.
She saw the infinitely varied forms projected by Vairocana in successive past ages.
She saw the bodhisattva Universal Good in the presence of all the buddhas, honoring the buddhas and guiding all sentient beings to full development.
She saw all the bodhisattvas reflected in the body of Universal Good, and she saw herself there too in the presence of all the buddhas, in the presence of the bodhisattvas reflected in the body of Universal Good, and in the abodes of all sentient beings.
She saw countless worlds, with their own boundaries and names and forms, with various lineages of buddhas appearing and turning the wheel of the Teaching in different ways.
Seeing all this, the king's daughter was enraptured. In her rapture the Buddha expounded to her a scripture called Voice of the Cycles of Teaching of All the Buddhas, along with countless other accompanying scriptures.
When she had heard all these scriptures, a million kinds of concentration entered into her, subtle and pleasant, like the consciousness of an embryo on the first day in the mother's womb, like the impulse of a sprout on the day the seed of a tree is planted. This is how subtle and full of potential these concentrations were.
With her mind subtly concentrated, unwavering, joyful, refreshed, she then took the vow of all buddhas, the vow of universally good enlightening practice, the practice of the bodhisattva Universal Good to guide all sentient beings to perfection, to know all the ways to the Realm of Reality, to visit all the enlightened ones, to associate with all spiritual benefactors, to serve all the buddhas.
Then the Buddha who had just appeared in her world made the king's daughter aware of his own past roots of goodness and inspired her to achieve them too.
She saw herself in a past eon in another world, instructed by the bodhisattva Universal Good, repairing and painting a ruined image of the Buddha. From that point on, she always saw buddhas and associated with the bodhisattva Universal Good, so in every life she continued to develop toward enlightenment.
Now the night goddess Rescuer of All explained to Sudhana the subsequent identities of those in the story. The king in the story was Manjushri, later the bodhisattva of wisdom. The queen was another night goddess seated nearby. The night goddess Rescuer of All herself was of course the daughter of the king.
The night goddess related her other encounters in other ages in other worlds with various buddhas, and concluded:
"Now I perceive infinite buddhas in each mental moment, and from seeing those buddhas, flashes of the light of all-knowledge enter my mind."
The night goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation showing guidance to beings in all worlds. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have carried through the vows of enlightening beings?
"In this same enlightenment site there is a night goddess named Ocean of Quiet Sound, who sits next to me on a lotus seat adorned with starry diamonds, surrounded by countless millions of night goddesses. Go ask her how to enter and purify the sphere of practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the night goddess Rescuer of All and took leave of her.
The Night Goddess Ocean of Quiet Sound
Cultivating the enlightening liberation of the night goddess Rescuer of All, showing guidance to beings in all worlds, Sudhana went to see the night goddess Ocean of Peaceful Sound.
The night goddess commended him for seeking the ocean of practices of bodhisattvas by relying on spiritual benefactors. She told him she had attained an enlightening liberation producing floods of immense joy in a moment of consciousness. Sudhana asked her about the scope of this liberation.
The night goddess said:
"I have attained equanimity through purification of the ocean of mind. My mind is intent on serving all beings and tireless in seeing all buddhas. My desire for the powers of bodhisattvas is pure. My mind dwells in the ocean of mindfulness of great knowledge."
The night goddess explained to Sudhana how she teaches different people in different ways, according the nature of their attachments, taking care of all sentient beings by giving them teachings that fit their needs.
The night goddess told Sudhana she generates oceans of energy and joy in the bodhisattvas in all lands carrying out their vows.
The night goddess told Sudhana she experiences floods of great joy when she sees the infinitely varied oceans of colors and lights emanating from the form body of Vairocana Buddha, and when she sees the multitudes of mystically projected bodies of buddhas and all sorts of other beings emanating from the pores of the body of Vairocana Buddha.
The night goddess told Sudhana that all this is the range of the enlightening liberation of producing floods of immense joy in a moment of consciousness. This liberation is endless, because it is perceived by the eye of the bodhisattvas. It is peerless, because it pervades the cosmos. This liberation is like arrival at Thusness, reaching everywhere.
Sudhana asked the night goddess how she attained such a liberation, and she told him the bodhisattva practices of compassion and wisdom she had carried out. She told him she perceives herself in the presence of each of the countless buddhas teaching in countless worlds, and she remembers and applies all their teachings.
"I attain oceans of visions of buddhas in all the multitudes of oceans of concentration. I attain oceans of awareness in all the oceans of visions of buddhas."
The night goddess then told Sudhana all the different forms of concentration she uses to comprehend everything about those buddhas.
The night goddess then told Sudhana the story of her liberation, and told him she will continue to honor all the buddhas yet to come in this world and in all worlds.
Stilling the intense pains of the mundane world
Producing all happiness in sentient beings
Producing the ultimate bliss of the enlightened
For endless eons this is my vow
The night goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation producing vast floods of joy. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have have plunged into the ocean of truth of the Realm of Reality?
"In this same enlightenment site, in the circle of Vairocana Buddha, there is a night goddess named Guardian of All. Go ask her how to enter and purify the sphere of practice of the bodhisattvas."
Sudhana paid his respects to the night goddess Ocean of Quiet Sound and left.
Thirty-Sixth Teacher: The Night Goddess Guardian of All
Contemplating the enlightening liberation of a moment of thought producing floods of joy, Sudhana went to see the night goddess Guardian of All.
Sudhana saw the night goddess sitting on a great lotus seat full of diamonds illumining the homes in all cities. She was accompanied by untold numbers of other night goddesses.
The night goddess had a body appearing to the beings in all realms, a body unstained by all worlds, a body with as many manifestations as there are living beings, a body transcending all worlds, a body adapted to developing and guiding all beings, a body proclaiming the truth in all realms.
Sudhana was enraptured by the sight of the night goddess. He paid his respects to her and explained his mission. He asked the night goddess how to be a benefactor to others while carrying out enlightening practice.
The night goddess commended him and said:
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Entry into the Profound Miracle of Pleasing Sound. Having attained this liberation, I am engaged in spreading the Great Teaching. Imbued with the power of great compassion, I reach out ceaselessly and impartially to all sentient beings to illuminate all worlds and produce infinite roots of goodness."
The night goddess told Sudhana that she approaches and enters into the Realm of Reality by realizing that it is immeasurable, infinitely varied, endless, boundless, uninterrupted that it is a single whole, inherently pure, equal in all worlds, and imperishable.
"I expound the Teaching to sentient beings via ten thousand spheres of mental command, beginning with absorption in the ocean of all truths, absorption in the light of remembrance of all buddhas, and absorption in the ocean of all means of liberation.
"I teach sentient beings with wisdom consisting of learning, thinking, and practice. I teach sentient beings about the processes of one form of existence, and then I teach about the processes of all forms of existence.
"I teach sentient beings about the cycle of teachings of one buddha, and then I teach them about the oceans of cycles of teachings of all buddhas. I teach them about one vehicle of emancipation, and then I teach them about the oceans of all vehicles of emancipation.
"I pervade all realms of reality in every moment of thought with every means of actualizing the sphere of liberation."
Sudhana then asked the night goddess how long ago she attained this enlightening liberation.
The night goddess told Sudhana the story of her aspiration for enlightenment.
The Night Goddess's Story
The night goddess told of a world many eons ago, in an era called Pure Light, when many buddhas arose.
There was a king in that world who received from the first of that line of buddhas a scripture called Ocean of All Truths. When that buddha passed away, the king renounced his throne and became a monk.
At that time the current cycle of the teaching was coming to an end. There were a thousand deviant sects, each with different explanations of the teaching. The religious specialists of the time had many controversies and quarrels, and were devoted to political intrigues and sensual pleasures.
The renunciant king warned them they were destroying the lamp of the teaching. Then he rose into the air emanating clouds of flames of infinite colors. From his body he produced great networks of multicolored lights, releasing countless beings from affliction and causing them to develop the aspiration for enlightenment.
The renunciant king had a daughter who had become a nun, and she had a retinue of a hundred thousand nuns. When they heard and saw the renunciant king's miraculous performance, they were all inspired to seek enlightenment, and reached the point where nothing could turn them back.
The nun attained a concentration called Lamp Illumining the Sources of the Teachings of All Buddhas, and a subtle, gentle enlightening liberation called Entry in the Profound Miracle of Pleasing Sound. With that, all the miracles of the buddha of that age became visible to her.
The night goddess explained to Sudhana that the renunciant king in the story was none other than the bodhisattva Universal Good, and she herself had been his daughter the nun.
Then the night goddess went on to tell Sudhana about all the buddhas she had learned from in that era Pure Light.
"I served all those buddhas, from the first to the last, and I listened to their teachings, and I left secular life to delve into all their teachings. I kept all their instructions in mind, and from all of them I attained this enlightening liberation called Entry in the Profound Miracle of Pleasing Sound. I served all the buddhas by putting their teachings into practice.
"From that time onward I have been awake in the midst of beings who are asleep in their routines. I have guarded the city of their minds, and settled them in the city of the way of all-knowledge."
The night goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation Entry into the Profound Miracle of Pleasing Sound. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who command awareness of all realities in each moment of thought, who are skilled in producing teachings adapted to the mentalities of all beings? Why do I say this? The bodhisattvas are people of truth who have mental command of all stages of the Teaching.
"Right here in the presence of Vairocana Buddha, sitting next to me, there is a night goddess named Opening All Blossoms. Go ask her how to learn all-knowledge and how one should practice to lead all beings to all-knowledge."
Sudhana offered verses of praise to the night goddess, then paid his respects to her and went on.
Thirty-Seventh Teacher: The Night Goddess Opening All Blossoms
Cultivating the enlightening liberation of entry into the profound miracle of pleasing sound, Sudhana went to see the night goddess Opening All Blossoms.
Sudhana saw the night goddess sitting on a lion throne, inside a tower made of the fragrant jewel branches, surrounded by ten thousand other night goddesses.
Sudhana went up to her, paid his respects, and told her that his mind was set on achieving perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings. He asked her to tell him how to learn the practice of bodhisattvas, and how to act and learn in order to arrive at all-knowledge.
"By my power, when the sun goes down, the blooming lotuses become highly fragrant. All living beings go home to rest. All the men and women enjoying themselves in the park and travelling on the road head for home to spend the night comfortably."
The goddess told Sudhana she prescribes appropriate antidotes when she teaches constructive action for those fearing old age and death, generosity for the greedy, discipline for the unruly, vigorous effort for the lazy, meditation for those whose minds wander, transcendent wisdom for the ignorant. Those who are concerned with their individual salvation she leads to a commitment to universal salvation, and those who are attached to the world she leads to the transcendent commitment of bodhisattvas.
The goddess told Sudhana she had attained the enlightening liberation called Contentment with the Treasure Produced from Great Joy. Sudhana asked her about the scope of this liberation. The goddess said to Sudhana:
"The scope of this liberation is the knowledge of the means to take care of sentient beings using the goodness of the buddhas.
"Why so? Whatever well-being sentient beings experience is all due to learning from the enlightened, practicing the path of the knowledge of the enlightened, and planting roots of goodness like the enlightened.
"As I enter into this enlightening liberation, I recall Vairocana Buddha's past practices as an enlightening being I recall his mind of great compassion, a mind free from attachment to all things, a mind not seeking rewards for acting with generosity, a mind not eager for existence in any world, a mind not confused about causal connections, a mind intent on providing refuge for all living beings.
"Having comprehended the essence of all things as it really is, determined to bring about the ultimate happiness of sentient beings, empowered with the bodhisattvas' mystic knowledge, pervading all worlds with a multitude of enlightening manifestations, Vairocana Buddha undertook to practice various forms of giving and provide innumerable services for all beings, purifying the mind-jewel of all beings."
Sudhana asked the night goddess how long ago she had set out for supreme perfect enlightenment. First the goddess warned him how difficult it would be to understand the answer to his question. Then said that she would explain, with the support of the Buddha, so that the minds of those capable of learning can be purified correctly.
Profound, indeed infinite, is the sphere of the buddhas
Of which you now ask, O Child of Buddha
Even in as many eons as atoms in inconceivable numbers of lands
It could not be fully told
This is the stage of those without grasping
The happy ones without attachment
Who always gladly give all there is
Impartially to all beings
This is known to the lamps of wisdom
Whose minds are liberated from all attachments
Who have penetrated the essence of things
Who have gone into the Reality Realm of the enlightened
I will tell you freely
Of the infinite realm of Vairocana
By the inconceivable power of Buddha
Then the night goddess proceeded to tell Sudhana her story.
The Night Goddess's Story
Eons ago in a certain ocean of worlds, in a certain world-system within that ocean of worlds, in a certain world, on the southern continent of that world, among ten thousand cities, was a great metropolis called Light of Myriad Arrays. The King there ruled over the whole continent, and had no enemies or opponents.
But the end of the eon was approaching for that world. People had taken to bad ways, and most were headed for misery. Their lifespans got shorter, and they had scant means of subsistence. They became ugly in appearance, and they experienced little pleasure and much pain. They were argumentative and divisive. They were overcome by acquisitiveness, and lost in the jungle of false beliefs.
Obsessed by their unhealthy greed, the people brought devastation to their land the climate was disrupted and the crops failed and diseases spread.
The desperate people streamed in to the capital city and surrounded it. They raised a great outcry to the King, telling him they were on the brink of death.
Within the capital city too, there were people suffering from hunger and thirst and homelessness and despondency. They too went to the King, thinking he would give them comfort.
Hearing the outcry of the people, the King was filled with great compassion. He pondered what he could do to help them:
"How can I become a light, dispelling the darkness of ignorance for them? How can I become a guide, to show them what to do?
"Everyone lacks a teacher, everyone is misguided how can I become a teacher for everyone, with the proper timing the buddhas have at their command to guide people to maturity in all dimensions? Everyone lacks a leader, everyone is acting blind how can I become a leader, to lead everyone on the way to unobstructed total knowledge?"
The King then caused all the storehouses in every city and town in the continent to be opened, and all the necessities of life distributed to the people.
Having given away all these supplies, the King then had a great ceremonial ground prepared east of the city, in front of the city gate called Jewel Mountain Light. As the King sat on his throne amidst the array of spendid adornments, a parasol appeared in the sky above him.
The King looked over the assembly of countless petitioners, with various needs and desires, coming from various places, speaking in various languages, all looking to him as the one they could rely on, as a bodhisattva.
The King was happy to have the opportunity to be the benefactor to all these people. He thought of the people asking him for help as spiritual benefactors, as precious beings, as guides and teachers.
The King went on to fulfill the needs of all the petitioners, without turning his back on anyone, giving impartially to everyone according to their needs. He gave away whatever he had to whoever required it, treating all living beings with equal consideration.
At that time in attendance on the King at the ceremonial ground, was a girl named Jewel Light, the daughter of an aristocrat, and her retinue of sixty girls. She was alert and intelligent, modest, stable, well behaved, clear-headed, and profound in her actions. She had already learned the basics of the teachings, her intentions were pure, and she was dedicated to the welfare of others.
The girl stood near the throne in an attitude of respect, but she did not take any of the goods the King was distributing. She thought of her good fortune in getting to see the King, whom she considered a spiritual benefactor.
With her mind free from deceit or guile, flooded with supreme joy, she took off her jewelry and tossed in down before the King. She then made a vow to become like the generous King, to know the reality he knew, to achieve liberation as he had.
Having made her vow and offered verses of praise to the King, the girl Jewel Light stood there respectfully.
The King praised her, and then with his own hands gave her and her companions spriceless robes radiant with sparkling jewels. He said to them, "Take these and put them on."
Having put on the robes, the girl and her companions circled the King in respect, with the reflections of all the stars glittering in their robes.
Then the night goddess Opening All Blossoms told Sudhana that it was Vairocana who was the King, and she herself who was the girl Jewel Light. The petitioners whom the King helped had become bodhisattvas here with her attending on the Buddha, bodhisattvas at different stages, with various different vows, and various ways to emancipation.
The night goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation of manifestation of satisfaction by treasure produced from great joy. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have plunged into the ocean of the commitment to all-knowledge?
"Here at this enlightenment site there is a night goddess named Saving All Beings with the Power of Vows. She is here in the presence of the Buddha. Go ask her how to serve all buddhas and practice all their teachings."
Sudhana then paid his respects to the night goddess Spreading All Blossoms and went on.
Thirty-Eighth Teacher: The Night Goddess Power of Vows
Next Sudhana went to the night goddess Saving All Beings with the Power of Vows.
He saw her sitting in that same assembly on a seat of jewels reflecting the abodes of all beings. Her body was covered with a network of jewels reflecting the truths of the cosmos. Her body showed reflections of all moons, suns, stars, and planets.
The night goddess appeared to sentient being according to their mentalities. She took on forms like those of other living beings. Her body manifested infinitely varied appearances and appeared to be present everywhere. Her body appeared to sentient beings everywhere to bring them to maturity.
The night goddess had come from the indestructible realm of the buddhas' Body of Reality. Her body was a pure embodiment of the true nature of things inherently undefiled, naturally free from affliction, empowered by the realization of truth.
Sudhana bowed his head when he saw the night goddess and prostrated himself on the ground, remembering countless ways in which he had seen her before.
Sudhana arose from the ground, and as he gazed at the night goddess, he thought of the spiritual benefactors bringing him all aspects of enlightenment.
At this Sudhana attained a communion of shared awareness with the night goddess and with all the countless bodhisattvas.
He shared in their wisdom, in their course of action, in their enlightenment, in their purity, and in their understanding of the true nature of things.
He shared in their power, in their expertise with methods of clarifying mind, in their energy in pursuing the practice of bodhisattvas throughout the ages.
He shared in their eloquence, in their power of virtue, in their devotion to truth, in their practice.
He shared in their great kindness and entered with them into the ocean of compassion.
He shared in their service to all the buddhas, and he shared in leading beings to development.
He shared in their understanding all methods of teaching sentient beings.
He shared in their attainment of all methods of concentration, and their ability to pervade all worlds.
In this way, while gazing at the night goddess, Sudhana shared in the infinitely varied pure perception of the spiritual benefactors.
Sudhana asked the night goddess what her liberation was called, how long ago she had set out for enlightenment, and when she would reach it.
The night goddess replied:
"This liberation is called Made of Roots of Goodness Fostering the Development of All Beings. I manifest different bodies, of many appearances, appearing to be visible everywhere, appearing to be the same as all beings."
The night goddess then told Sudhana of the various ways she appears to sentient beings embodying all the virtues of enlightenment, demonstrating tranquility and restraint, radiating lights and manifesting miraculous scenes. All this is to help all beings develop roots of goodness and get them to the point where they will not retreat from the quest for enlightenment.
The night goddess reminded Sudhana that the question of how long ago she set out for supreme perfect enlightenment is something in the sphere of the knowledge of bodhisattvas, which is outside the net of conceptualization.
Notions of past and future ages and duration of time are relevant to bodhisattvas only in the context of developing sentient beings. The bodhisattvas enter into time to do their enlightening work, but their practice is not within concepts of duration of time and succession of ages.
The night goddess then told Sudhana she would tell her story by the power of the Buddha, to increase the power of the vows of the bodhisattvas of the future.
The Night Goddess's Story
In the remote past there was a world called Jewel Light. It was an epoch called Beautiful Light. The first of the ten thousand buddhas who would appear in that age was on the scene.
In those days in that world there were many people set in evil ways killing, stealing, raping, lying, giving free rein to greed and malice. The Buddha sat at his site of enlightenment for a full thousand years teaching various bodhisattvas and people who had served past buddhas, in order to bring to maturity their existing roots of goodness.
At that time in the capital city Array of Delights, there was a King who had imprisoned hundreds of thousands of evildoers.
The King's son heard the cries of those in prison, and was moved with compassion. The Prince went into the prison to visit the prisoners. He saw them shackled and chained, thrown together in the darkness, hungry and thirsty, emaciated and filthy, being subjected to various tortures.
The Prince assured the prisoners he would deliver them from their bonds. He went to the King and pleaded for their release.
The King summoned his ministers, who told him that the prisoners were people who had attacked the King, and anyone wanting to save them was guilty of a crime against the King.
The Prince secured the release of the prisoners by surrendering himself, his retinue of followers, and all his wealth as a guarantee for their good behavior.
The royal ministers were outraged and went to the King to demand he punish his son the Prince. The King intended to kill his son, along with all the prisoners who had been released.
The Queen went to the King weeping and wailing and begged him to set the Prince free. The King turned to the Prince and demanded he give up the criminals, or else he would die for their sake.
Facing death, the Prince was unfazed, since he was focused on total knowledge and guided by great compassion.
The Queen asked the King to allow a two-week reprieve: "Let the Prince give the people whatever they need for a fortnight, then do whatever you want with him."
North of the city was a large park that had been laid out in the past as a ceremonial ground. The Prince went there and gave anyone who asked whatever they needed food, clothing, tools, equipment.
Then, on the last day of the fortnight, the whole population gathered the King, his ministers, his court ladies, the grandees, the landlords, the townspeople, all the religious impostors.
The Buddha knew this would be an opportune time to teach a lesson, so he went to the ceremonial ground.
The whole crowd of people, and the Prince too, saw the Buddha coming from afar. He was serene, pleasant to see, calm and self-controlled, shining with the magnificence of a buddha, increasing the flow of joy in all beings.
Seeing the Buddha this way, everyone's mind became clear and serene.
The Prince and the people went out to meet the Buddha and welcome him. The Prince pointed out a place of honor and invited the Buddha to sit down.
Then the Buddha, knowing that those people had become capable of receiving the Teaching, gave them a systematic talk, and expounded to them a scripture called Illumination of the Multitude of Causes that included all elements of the Teaching.
Many people in the audience attained a dispassionate, pure, objective vision of things. Many were led to the Great Vehicle, and introduced to the way of fulfilling the vows of the bodhisattva Univeral Good.
As for the Prince, he attained this enlightening liberation made of roots of goodness fostering the perfection of all beings according to their mentalities.
The night goddess then told Sudhana that she was that Prince, who had given up his body and life, his wealth and retinue, in order to liberate those people from bondage.
The evildoers in the story, who were imprisoned by the King and released by the Prince, became the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the current age.
The Prince later gave up his great wealth and family and went to study with the Buddha. Over thousands of years after that he perfected thousands of forms of concentration, of mental command, of mystic knowledge, of momentum toward all-knowledge, of tolerance. He entered thousands of doors to the knowledge of bodhisattvas, and produced thousands of ways to transcendent wisdom.
With these realizations, the Prince in each moment of thought remembered thousands of buddhas of the past and future.
The Prince saw myriads of sentient beings in all worlds in all stages of life, developed and undeveloped, happy and sad. He understood how the lives of sentient beings come to be, and how they pass awy, how their minds function, the continuity of their thoughts, the variety of their inclinations, and the proper timing needed to develop and guide them.
The night goddess then told Sudhana of her past lives as the reborn Prince serving many buddhas. She had been a king, a celestial chief, a householder, a government minister, a tree spirit, a caravan leader, a city spirit, a god of riches, a celestial musician.
The night goddess said:
"As I went to each buddha, I attained various concentrations, various forms of mental command, various types of specialized knowledge, various perspectives on truth, various perceptions of the totality of visions of Buddha. I have retained all their teachings, and it was from all of those buddhas that I received this enlightening liberation."
The night goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation born of roots of goodness aiding the development of all beings according to their mentalities. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who ceaselesly develop and guide all sentient beings?
"In the Lumbini Grove, here on this continent, there lives a goddess of the grove named Full Wondrous Virtue. Go ask her how to be born in the family of the buddhas and how to carry on the practice of bodhisattvas forever without wearying."
Sudhana then paid his respects to the night goddess Saving All Beings with the Power of Vows and departed.
Thirty-Ninth Teacher: Goddess of the Grove
Remembering the instructions of the night goddess Saving All Beings with the Power of Vows, Sudhana made his way to the Lumbini Grove.
Sudhana circled the grove, looking for the goddess Full Wondrous Virtue. Finally he saw her sitting in a tower circled with jeweled tree branches. She was surrounded by countless woodland goddesses, teaching them from a scripture called The Ocean of Lives of All Enlightening Beings, increasing the flood of the ocean of virtues of the bodhisattvas.
Sudhana went up to her, paid his respects, and told her of his purpose. He asked her how to be born in the family of the buddhas, and how to bring light to sentient beings by carrying out the practice of the bodhisattvas.
The goddess told Sudhana there are ten kinds of birth by which bodhisattvas are born in the family of the buddhas.
Being born as a child of the vow to serve all the enlightened ones
Being born as a child of all elements of the determination for enlightenment coming together
Being born as a child of meditation on the principles of the Teaching, and entering into the means of realizing all methods of cultivation and meditation
Being born as a child of purification of intent over past, present, and future, so their minds are firm and they are determined to practice and perfect all the qualities of bodhisattvas
Being born as a child of the light of universal awareness, relinquishing all attachments, becoming self-controlled, tolerant, energetic, released through meditation, and radiant with transcendent wisdom
Being born as a child of the family of all the ones who have come from Thusness, becoming one body with all the buddhas
Being born as a child of the array of lights of the manifestation of the buddhas' powers, knowing all worlds are like dreams, and becoming masters of emanations
Being born as a child of the consummation of contemplation of the way to all-knowledge
Being born as a child of the manifestations of the buddhas' emanations throughout the cosmos, and becoming skilled in devising an infinite variety of means for guiding sentient beings
Being born as a child of the momentum of entering the stage of the enlightened, and being initiated into the realm of the oneness of all the buddhas of all times
The goddess told Sudhana that by these ten forms of birth, bodisattvas are born in the family of the buddhas and bring light to sentient beings.
Sudhana asked the goddess about the scope of her liberation.
The goddess said:
"I have perfected a vow to be present at all manifestations of birth by enlightening beings. I have entered into the ocean of births of Vairocana. Perceiving that the Buddha would be born here, I appeared here in the Lumbini Grove.
"When Lady Maya (soon to give birth to the Buddha) went out of the city of Kapilavastu, there were omens of light here in the Lumbini Grvoe, showing all the stages of the bodhisattva path.
"As Lady Maya leaned against a tree to give birth, all the gods and goddesses and other beings who had gathered there to make offerings to the enlightening being were bathed in the glorious radiance of Lady Maya's body.
"Then everything in the universe was seen reflected in the abdomen of Lady Maya, and at the same time a vision of Lady Maya in the Lumbini Grove appeared in all the worlds in the universe.
"Then from every one of Lady Maya's pores came forth visions of the Buddha in past lives, serving other buddhas, carrying out the work of bodhisattvas, carrying out enlightening practices.
"All the people he associated with, all he spiritual benefactors he followed, all the embodiments he took on, all the lands in which he lived, all his hard work and difficult sacrifices all this appeared in the visions emanating from the pores of Lady Maya.
"Then countless numbers of bodhisattvas emerged from Lady Maya's abdomen, all with the appearance and radiant aura of Vairocana Buddha.
"Then as Lady Maya was about to give birth, a great jewel lotus appeared, surrounded by an array of supernatural protectors. At that point, the Buddha emerged from Lady Maya's body, sending forth an inconceivable light, like the sun coming over the horizon.
The goddess continued:
"Thus did I perceive the oceans of miracles attending the birth of the blessed Vairocana as I sojourned here in the Lumbini Grove. In the same way, I perceived the ocean of miracles attending the birth of Vairocana Buddha in all worlds in all universes."
The goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation of seeing the miracles of the births of enlightening beings in all objects over countless ages. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, whose minds are the source of all eons from moment to moment of consciousness?
"In the city of Kapilavastu lives a girl of the Shakya clan named Gopa. Go ask her how a bodhisattva should live in the world for enlightening development."
Sudhana then paid his respects and left the goddess of the Lumbini Grove.
Fortieth Teacher: The Shakya Girl Gopa
Then Sudhana left the goddess of the Lumbini Grove and went to the city of Kapilavastu, the capital of the kingdom ruled by the Shakya clan, and the hometown of the historical buddha Shakyamuni.
Sudhana made his way to the meeting hall of the bodhisattvas, which shone with the light of the Realm of Reality.
There he was welcomed by a goddess of the hall called No Sorrow, along with ten thousand other goddesses. The goddess praised Sudhana for his dedication, and predicted that before long he would see into the profound liberation of the buddhas.
The myriad goddesses showered Sudhana with flower garlands and sang verses of praise as he entered the hall.
Sudhana went into the hall, which shown with reflections of the cosmos, wanting to see the Shakya girl Gopa. He saw her in the middle of the hall on a throne of jewels reflecting the abodes of all enlightening beings.
Gopa was surrounded by an immense number of maidens of royal lineage who were completely absorbed in the common purpose of achieving complete knowledge of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and who were guided by great compassion. These maidens acted as positive emanations of the buddhas' Body of Reality, dedicated to leading all beings to perfection.
Then Sudhana went up to Gopa, paid his respects, and told her of his purpose, to achieve perfect enlightenment in order to benefit all living beings. He asked her how bodhisattvas act in the midst of the mundane world without getting stained by its ills. He asked her how to realize that all phenomena are unreal, without giving up the effort to serve all the buddhas and perform good deeds.
Gopa told Sudhana there are ten things which bodhisattvas carry out to fulfill this kind of enlightening practice, the light of total knowledge:
They associate with superior spiritual friends.
They attain great devotion.
They act with pure high-minded good will.
Their state of mind is founded on oceanic virtue and knowledge.
They heed the teaching of the buddhas.
Their thoughts are devoted to the buddhas of the past, present, and future.
They follow equally all the practices of the bodhisattvas.
They gain the empowerment of all the buddhas.
Their intent is pure and full of great compassion.
They attain the basic power of the mind to put a stop to all vicious cycles.
Then Gopa told Sudhana she had attained an enlightening liberation whose sphere is observing the ocean of concentrations of all enlightening beings. Sudhana asked her what it was like. Gopa told him:
"Having attained this liberation, I penetrate into all the eras of this world, and I know all the beings in all conditions of existence in all eras. I know their actions and the results of their actions.
"I know the ocean of names of all the buddhas in those ages, and all their work developing and guiding sentient beings.
"I also know the oceans of bodhisattvas surrounding those buddhas, and all that they did and practiced as they progressed through the stages of enlightening beings. I also know the oceans of concentration they attained in each mental moment, their discoveries of the range of omniscience, and their plunges into all-knowledge.
"Just as I penetrate into the oceans of ages past in this world, I also know the unbroken succession of ages in the future. I know all the worlds within this world, all the neighboring worlds in all directions, and all the worlds in the radiant world-system of Vairocana Buddha, and in the neighboring world-systems. I know all the worlds in the oceans of worlds in this universe, and also in all universes of the endless cosmos throughout space.
"In all these worlds, in all these universes, I know and recall the past vows of Vairocana, his oceans of past efforts, his perseverence in enlightening practices throughout infinite ages, and all the means he used to purify his practice of universal good and guide sentient beings.
"Just as I comprehend the oceans of enlightening practice of Vairocana Buddha in this whole cosmos, I comprehend the indivisible oceans of enlightening practice undertaken by all buddhas in all oceans of worlds in all universes.
"This is the scope of the enlightening liberation whose sphere is observing the ocean of concentrations of all enlightening beings.
"Having attained this, I know the patterns of mental behavior of all beings, how much goodness they have accumulated, how to get rid of their defilements, the variety of their actions. I know the ocean of ways of liberation of all the bodhisattvas and buddhas."
Sudhana asked Gopa how long ago she attained this liberation.
Gopa then described to Sudhana a splendid world that existed eons ago. The cities of that world were prosperous and wealthy, with hundreds of thousands of happy people living in them, along with hundreds of thousands of earth spirits.
In the capital city there was a king called Lord of Wealth, the ruler of the region, who lived with his courtiers and his ladies and his warrior sons. Foremost among all his women was his queen Lotus Born. She had a son named Lord of Glory.
Accompanied by a magnificent entourage, the Prince Lord of Glory set out to visit one of the parks of the city. He travelled on a wide level road, lined on both sides with jewel buildings from which all sorts of supplies were distributed to those in need.
At that time there was an elegant courtesan in the capital city, with whom the King consorted. She had a daughter who was versed in all the arts and science, clever and diligent, dignified and serene, always pleasant to be with.
The courtesan's daughter fell in love with the Prince, and longed to be his woman. Her mother warned her that as courtesans, they gave pleasure to everyone, and did not belong to one man she told her daughter that her love for the Prince was in vain.
In that world at that time there was a buddha named Supreme Sun who had just attained enlightenment. He was at a site of enlightenment in the park that the Prince was going to visit.
The courtesan's daughter saw that buddha in a dream. When she woke up, a goddess who had been a relative of hers in a past life told her that the buddha was in a park in his first week of enlightenment.
The courtesan's daughter went to the park and met the Prince there. Emboldened by seeing the buddha, the young woman addressed the Prince in verse:
Hundreds of men, thousands of men
Look at me with lust
But I have no desire
I bear them no ill-will
But they do not please me
I have neither anger nor hatred
I delight in the welfare of all
When I saw you, young man,
Excellent in form, endowed with virtue
Immense joy arose in me
I offer myself to you
Please take me in
Then the Prince said to the young woman: "Whose daughter are you? To whom do you belong? I cannot make someone mine who belongs to someone else."
The Prince asked the young woman about herself: Does she love and respect her relatives, her friends, her elders? Is she kind to the helpless and the lost? Is she happy to see the success of others? Does she rely on wisdom to make her indifferent to those who annoy her? Does she seek supreme enlightenment?
The courtesan then told the Prince that her daughter was born in auspicious circumstances, as the fruition of good actions in the past. She is pure in conduct and fair in form, with the finest fragrance and a heavenly voice.
This treasure of a woman should not be abandoned
To the control of vulgar people
No one but you is worthy of being her husband
Please accept this young woman
Respecting spiritual benefactors
She wants always to see you
She is far-seeing and uncorrupted, a lady of pure mind
Stable as a mountain
Adorned always with her own virtues
She has no enemies
She is peerless in knowledge
She is fit to be your bride, O Prince
The Prince then explained to the young woman that his mind was set on the bodhisattva path, for which he would have to give everything up. If he were her husband, this would cause her much pain and resentment. The time would come when he would leave her to go forth to study with a buddha, and she would be unhappy.
The young woman replied to the Prince: "Let it be as you wish. I will act in harmony with you."
Now I have seen the Buddha in a dream
And I have seen you, the ideal man
My wish is fulfilled, and I am happy
With you I will honor the supreme stage, the Buddha
This is how the Prince got the news that the Buddha Supreme Sun had appeared in his world. He was filled with joy, and showered jewels on the young woman, honoring her. She accepted this without emotion, and just gazed steadily at the Prince.
The Prince and the young woman went to the site of enlightenment where the Buddha was to see him and pay their respects.
The Prince road his magnificent vehicle as far as a vehicle would go, then he got down and approached the Buddha on foot.
When he saw the Buddha, the Prince's mind became settled, and with a clear mind he developed the great joy and sense of well-being and the energy that derives from seeing a buddha. Then the Prince and the young woman and their whole entourage made offerings to the Buddha.
Then the Buddha expounded a scripture called Lamp at the Door of the Universal Eye. Hearing the Buddha's teaching, the Prince attained ten oceans of concentration and absorbed all the principles of the Teaching. The young woman attained a meditation called Filled with the Ocean of Invincible Knowledge, and reached the stage where there is no turning back from progress toward supreme perfect enlightenment.
The Prince left the presence of the Buddha and the young woman and the rest of the group and went back to the city to bring his father the King the news that a buddha had appeared in the world. The father felt as if he has found a rare jewel. He thought of the Buddha as a liberator from all the sufferings of the mundane whirl.
The King gathered together all his warriors, priests, officials, governors, and courtiers, and abdicated the throne in favor of his son, the Prince Lord of Glory. Then he left with his retinue to join the assembly of the Buddha.
The Prince Lord of Glory now became king. Under his just rule, the earth was free from war, free from evil, free from calamity. The earth was prosperous, peaceful, pleasant, and well-populated. As king he invited the Buddha Supreme Sun to come into all the cities of his realm and develop and guide the people.
The Shakya girl Gopa then told Sudhana that the Prince Lord of Glory was none other than Shakyamuni Buddha, the buddha of the present age. Her own mother was the courtesan, and she herself, Gopa, was the courtesan's daughter.
Gopa then told Sudhana that she and the Prince Lord of Glory had attended on the Buddha Supreme Sun as long as he lived. After that, the two of them served a long line of buddhas, providing them with food and clothing and medicine and equipment.
Finally, upon hearing the teaching of one of these buddhas, whose name was Energy Born of Great Zeal for Truth, Gopa attained this liberation whose sphere is observing the ocean of concentrations of all enlightening beings.
After that she cultivated this liberation for countless eons, carrying out the bodhisattva practice with the enlightening being Vairocana. Yet during all that time, she did not know the size of Vairocana's body or what it looked like, nor did she know the range of his knowledge.
She served countless buddhas over the eons, but she still did not enter the universally good liberation of the bodhisattvas. Why? Because the ways of liberation of the universally good bodhisattvas are infinite as space, infinite as the thoughts of all sentient beings, infinite as the ocean of time over past, present, and future, infinite as the ocean of structures in the universe.
For eons she gazed at the enlightening being Vairocana, with the intensity of a lover, until in every moment of consciousness she could perceive coming from the pores of Vairocana infinite oceans of buddhas and teaching activities, along with infinite oceans of beings with various physical bodies, various physical environments, various actions and efforts.
In the pores of Vairocana she perceived oceans of universal love for all beings, infinite oceans of the great joy of bodhisattvas, infinite oceans of their varied undertakings to take care of living beings.
"I only know this enlightening liberation whose sphere is observing the ocean of concentrations of all enlightening beings. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who deliberatly appear in the same physical forms as all beings, who appear to act in accord with the mentalities of all beings, who roam freely in the ocean of liberation of all truths?
"Go to the Lady Maya, the mother of the enlightening being, who is sitting on a jewel lotus seat near the blessed Vairocana. Go ask her how bodhisattvas carry out the practice of enlightening beings undefiled by the taint of worldly things, how they come into the presence of the buddhas and do not stop their efforts to care for all beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and took leave of Gopa.
Forty-First Teacher: Lady Maya, the Mother of the Buddha
Then Sudhana turned to go to Lady Maya, thinking to himself that he must continue to meet with spiritual benefactors who are beyond all attachments and do not abide anywhere.
As Sudhana was engaged in such thoughts, a city goddess named Jewel Eyes showed herself in the sky, surrounded by a group of sky goddesses. She held a basket of celestial flowers of many shapes and colors, and these she scattered before Sudhana as she spoke to him:
"You should cleanse the city of mind by getting rid of jealousy, envy, and guile.
"You should expand the city of mind, by increasing the flow of great energy in preparing for all-knowledge.
"You should protect the dwellings, storehouses, and facilities of the city of mind, by taking command of the vast spiritual citadel of all the forms of concentration, meditation, and liberation.
"You should irrigate the city of mind, by feeling great compassion for all beings. You should observe the illusory nature of the city of mind, by going to the spiritual city of all-knowledge."
Then a goddess named Spiritual Lotus came forth from the site of enlightenment surrounded by innumerable goddesses, all praising the Lady Maya. The goddesses stopped in the sky in front of Sudhana, emanating webs of light of many colors: soothing colors, energizing color, cooling colors.
These lights showed Sudhana the forms of all buddhas everywhere. Then the lights circled the whole world and descended into Sudhana's head.
As soon as the rays of light from the goddesses touched Sudhana, he acquired the eye to see the essence of all beings, the eye to see the essence of all phenomena and all lands, the eye to see the Reality Body of those who arrive at Thusness, the eye to see the formation and disintegration of all worlds in the universe, the eye to see the infinite variety of mystic powers used by the buddhas to guide sentient beings.
Then a supernatural being Fine Eye appeared he was the doorkeeper of the bodhisattvas' assembly hall. He told Sudhana what is needed to approach spiritual friends: a pure mind free from guile and deceit, great compassion taking in all living beings, clear perception of the pure essence of all things, meditation on the oceans of all realms, meditation on the multitudes of buddhas appearing in all realms.
Now Sudhana saw a great jewel lotus spring up from the ground in front of him. In the heart of the lotus was a tower made of gold and jewels, and inside the tower was a throne made of wish-fulfilling jewels. The throne was arrayed with jewels reflecting all the buddhas of the past, present, and future, and emanating the auras of light of all the buddhas.
Sudhana saw Lady Maya sitting on that throne. Having gone beyond all states of being, she was facing all living beings, appearing to them according to their mentalities, unstained by any world.
Pervading the cosmos in each instant, infinite, dwelling in all worlds without defilement, measureless, transcending all verbal expressions, with no set form, appearing magically in the body of a living being, Lady Maya did not really exist, but was made by the magic of aspiration.
In this form Sudhana saw Lady Maya, manifesting a physical body that was not a form, but a reflection of form, not a feeling, but a cessation of all painful feelings, outside the thoughts of all beings, but appearing in their thoughts.
At that moment Suddha was emptied of his notions of the forms of all beings, and penetrated the minds of other beings. He saw Lady Maya in the minds of all beings, her virtue sustaining all beings.
Lady Maya had perfected the vow to guide all beings to ultimate liberation. She had the energy to produce all the miracles of the bodhisattvas. She had purified the supreme spiritual body and manifested infinite physical bodies.
Acting boldly and decisively, she planned and carried out all the undertakings of bodhisattvas. She was engaged in protecting all beings, having undertaken to be the mother of all bodhisattvas and buddhas.
Sudhana then beheld Lady Maya in countless numbers of embodiments. He magically made his own body as extensive as Lady Maya's, and with his omnipresent body he bowed to the omnipresent Lady Maya.
As Sudhana was bowing to Lady Maya, an infinite variety of concentrations entered into him. Sudhana mastered all these contemplations, and fixed them in his mind.
Then Sudhana arose from his concentration and circled around Lady Maya and her retinue and her abode. He stood respectfully before her and said:
"Manjushri inspired me to seek supreme perfect enlightenment and directed me to attend on spiritual benefactors. Please tell me, noble one, how a bodhisattva can achieve all-knowledge while carrying out the work of the enlightening beings."
Lady Maya told Sudhana she had attained an enlightening liberation called Magical Knowledge of Great Vows, through which she is the mother of all the enlightening beings. Here too in the city of Kapilavastu, she became the mother of the enlightening being Siddhartha the prince who was to become the historical buddha Shakyamuni.
Lady Maya told Sudhana of the visionary experience of Buddha's incarnation in her womb. She saw visions of all the other buddhas appearing in the world and teaching. She saw countless bodhisattvas in the congregations of all buddhas in all worlds enter her belly, yet her belly was not enlarged, nor did her body become any more than a human body.
Lady Maya told Sudhana that just as she received the bodhisattvas in her belly in this world, she did the same in all worlds in the billion-world universe, with the same miraculous manifestation. She told Sudhana that her body is neither one nor many, neither multiple nor singular.
"Just as I was the mother of this buddha, Vairocana, so I was the mother of infinite numbers of buddhas before him.
"Just as I was the mother of this buddha in this world, so will I be the mother of all the buddhas of this eon.
"Just as I will be the mother of the future buddha Maitreya in this world, in the endless billions of eons in all the worlds in all the world-systems of this Flower Treasury ocean of worlds, I will be the mother of all the buddhas of the future."
Lady Maya continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation Magical Knowledge of Great Vows. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are able to display projections of the miracles of all buddhas from every pore?
"In the thirty-three-fold heaven of this world there is a goddess named Surendrabha, who is the daughter of a god named Mindfulness. Go ask her how to carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and took leave of Lady Maya.
Forty-Second Teacher: The Goddess Surendrabha
Then Sudhana went to the thirty-three-fold heaven and visited the goddess Surendrabha. He paid his respects to the goddess, stood before her, and asked her how to carry out the practice of the bodhisattvas.
Surendrabha told Sudhana that she had attained an enlightening liberation called Pure Manifestation of Unimpeded Recollection. She told Sudhana how in ages past she had served countless numbers of buddhas.
"In this way, I remember countless eons during which I was always with the buddhas. I heard of this enlightening liberation called Pure Manifestation of Unimpeded Recollection from the buddhas, and practiced it as they told me. Thus do I constantly recollect and keep in mind all the manifestations of all those buddhas, from their enlightenments to the completion of their teaching missions."
The goddess continued:
"I only know this enlightening liberation. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are free from all darkness, and light up the mundane whirl?
"In the city of Kapilavastu there is a boy named Vishvamitra, who is a teacher. Go ask him how to carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and left the goddess Surendrabha.
Forty-Third Teacher: The Young Teacher Friend of All
Sudhana descended from the thirty-three-fold heaven and made his way to the city of Kapilavastu. He went to see the young teacher Friend of All.
Paying his respects, Sudhana stood before the young teacher and said:
"Noble one, I have set my mind on supreme perfect enlightenment, but I do not know how to learn the practice of bodhisattvas. I hear that you give instruction to bodhisattvas, so please tell me how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas."
Friend of All said:
"I learned the science of how the bodhisattvas use language from a young enlightening being named Knower of All Arts. Go ask him and he will tell you how the practice of bodhisattvas is to be learned and carried out."
Forty-Fourth Teacher: The Bodhisattva Knower of All Arts
Sudhana went to the young bodhisattva Knower of All Arts, paid his respects, and told him of his mission. He asked Knower of All Arts to tell me how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
Knower of All Arts told Sudhana he had attained an enlightening liberation that made him good at knowing all arts. He told Sudhana that through this, as he pronounces the sounds of all languages, he enters various doors to transcendent wisdom:
A door called the sphere of totality
A door called the differentiation of infinite levels
A door called analysis of the universal sphere
A door called the ocean womb
A door called branching out everywhere
A door called extending to all levels
A door called light of purity dispelling all afflictions
A door called access to worldly knowledge
A door called turning to face all directions to see all buddhas
A door called matrix of power to observe what all sentient beings cannot see
A door called oceanic wisdom holding the multitude of all enlightening teachings
A door called going in the direction of the vows of all the buddhas
The young bodhisattva Knower of All Arts continued:
"I have attained this enlightening liberation that made me good at knowing all arts, and this is what I know. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have attained perfection in all worldly and world-transcending arts writing and mathematics, healing the mind and the body, chemistry, architecture, astronomy, meteorology, agriculture, predicting the trend of events as well as communicating and actualizing transcendent states?
"Here in the country of Magadha there is a region Kevalaka, where there is a city called Vartanaka. A woman adept named Bhadrottama lives there. Go ask her how to carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and took leave of the noble youth Knower of All Arts.
Forty-Fifth Teacher: A Woman of Indepedent Power
Sudhana went to Vartanaka in the region of Kevalaka, where he called on the woman adept Bhadrottama her name means "Triumphant Virtue."
Sudhana asked her to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
The woman adept said:
"I know and teach an enlightening liberation called Independence, and I have attained an endless concentration. This concentration has no base in any phenomenon whatsoever.
"It produces the mystic empowerment of the eye of all-knowledge, the ear of all-knowledge, the nose of all-knowledge, the tongue of all-knowledge, the body of all-knowledge, the mind of all-knowledge, the waves of all-knowledge, the lightning of all-knowledge, the flood of all-knowledge illumining the world."
The woman adept continued:
"It is this enlightening liberation called Independence that I know. How can I know the unattached, unobstructed practice of the bodhisattvas?
"Go south there is a city called Bharukaccha, where there lives a goldsmith named Muktasara. Go ask him how to carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and departed.
Forty-Sixth Teacher: The Goldsmith
Sudhana made his way south to the goldsmith Muktasara in the city of Bharukaccha.
Sudhana paid his respects to Muktasara and told him of his aspiration for enlightenment. He asked Muktasara to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
I know an enlightening liberation called Supernal Manifestation of Unobstructed Mindfulness, and I ceaselessly seek the Teaching at the feet of all the buddhas in all the worlds of the ten directions.
"I only know this enlightening liberation. How can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who are grounded in great virtue and knowledge?
"There is a householder named Suchandra living in this city, whose house is always illuminated. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects to Muktara and departed.
Forty-Seventh Teacher: The Householder Wondrous Moon
Then Sudhana went to the householder Suchandra the name means "Wondrous Moon."
Sudhana paid his respects, and told Suchandra of his quest for enlightenment. Sudhana asked Suchandra to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Light of Undefiled Knowledge. I only know this enlightening liberation, so how can I know the practice of the bodhisattvas, who have attained infinite liberation?
"South of here is a city called Roruka, where a householder named Ajitasena lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects to Suchandra and departed.
Forty-Eighth Teacher: The Householder Invincible Army
Then Sudhana made his way to the city of Roruka, where he called on the householder Ajitasena the name means "Invincible Army."
Sudhana paid his respects, and told him of his aspiration to attain complete enlightenment for the sake of all beings. Sudhana asked Ajitasena to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I have attained an enlightening liberation called Inexhaustible Appearance. By attaining this I attained an inexhaustible treasury of visions of buddhas.
"South of here is a village called Dharma, where a brahmin named Shivaragra lives. Go ask him how to learn and carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then paid his respects and left.
Forty-Ninth Teacher: The Brahmin Utter Stillness
Then Sudhana made his way to Dharma village and he called on the brahmin Shivaragra the name means "Utter Stillness."
Sudhana paid his respects, and told him of his aspiration for enlightenment. He asked Shivaragra to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"I act on a vow of truth. By speaking truth, no enlightening being turns away from supreme perfect enlightenment, now or ever. Because I dwell in this vow of truth, all my work has been accomplished.
"I only know this enlightening liberation of truthful speech. How can I know the practice of bodhisattvas, whose actions accord with truth, whose speech is true and never false?
"South of here is a city called Sumanamukha, where a boy named Shrisambhava and a girl named Shrimati live. Go ask them how to learn and carry out the practice of enlightening beings."
Then with great reverence for the Teaching, Sudhana paid his respects to the brahmin Shivaragra and left.
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Fiftieth Teacher: A Boy and a Girl
Then Sudhana went to the city of Sumanamukha, where he called on the boy Shrisambhava and the girl Shrimati their names mean "Born of Virtue" and "Possessor of Virtue."
Sudhana paid his respects to them, and told them of his mission. He asked them to teach him how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas.
They said to Sudhana:
"We have attained and experienced an enlightening liberation called Illusory. Having realized this liberation, we see all worlds as illusory, being produced by illusory causes and conditions.
"We see all worldly people as illusory, born from the illusions of ignorant craving for existence.
"We see all phenomena as illusory, arising from the illusion of mutual conditioning.
"We see all sentient beings as illusory, born of the illusions of false ideas.
"We see all the literal-minded followers of the Teaching as illusory, born of the illusion of knowledge and effort.
"We see all the practices, vows, and teaching and guiding work of bodhisattvas as illusory, being essentially illusions of action and teaching created from illusion.
"We see the circle of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas as illusory, being essentially illusions of the inconceivable realm, produced by the illusions of vows and knowledge.
"We know this enlightening liberation of illusoriness. How can we know the practices of the bodhisattvas, who follow the extensive network of the endless illusion of action?"
Then the boy and girl showered Sudhana with an inconceivable stream of virtue and told him of their own sphere of liberation. Then they said to him:
"Go south to a place called Samudrakaccha. There is a park there called Great Array, and in the park is a great tower called the Chamber of Adornments of Vairocana, which was created by the thoughts and vows and mystic knowledge and skill in means of the bodhisattvas.
"A great enlightening being named Maitreya lives there for the purpose of developing people in the ways of bodhisattvas.
"Maitreya develops the roots of goodness of other beings according to their states. He shows them how to develop the bodhisattvas' universal compassion, and how to become aware of the state of bodhisattvas, which is detached from all abodes and locations. He shows them how to appear to live in all states of existence while being ultimately unattached.
"Go to Maitreya and ask him how to seek the practice of the bodhisattvas, how to carry out the studies of bodhisattvas, how to purify the aspiration for enlightenment, and how to accomplish the vows of bodhisattvas."
Then the boy Shrisambhava and the girl Shrimati told Sudhana more about Maitreya and why he can help Sudhana learn how to be a bodhisattva:
Maitreya has entered into all the practices of bodhisattvas, and has reached the goal of all their aspirations. He has comprehended the actions of all beings, and taken on the task of developing them. He has been through all the stages of bodhisattvas: he has attained their tolerance and their certainty. He has roamed in all the liberations of enlightening beings, and had held the empowerments of all the buddhas.
The boy and the girl told Sudhana that he should not be content just to develop one form of virtue, or follow one form of practice, or fulfill one vow. Rather, he should assemble infinite provisions for enlightenment and learn infinite truths. He should extinguish the afflictions of infinite numbers of beings and penetrate the minds of infinite numbers of beings. He must show infinite adaptations to the world.
The boy and the girl told Sudhana that he must clarify infinite powers of mindfulness and purify infinite powers of concentration and arouse infinite powers of wisdom. He must enter infinite realms of truth, collect infinite spiritual medicines, cultivate infinite powers of universal love and compassion, and comprehend infinite differences in the minds of living beings.
"In short, the practice of bodhisattvas is to perfect all sentient beings, to live in all ages, to awaken to knowledge of all times past, present, and future, to practice all truths, to fulfill all vows, to provide for all buddhas, to be at one with all enlightening beings in purpose, to attain rapport with all spiritual friends."
The boy and the girl then told Sudhana that it is from spiritual benefactors that bodhisattvas learn the practice of bodhisattvas. All the attainments of bodhisattvas are developed under the guidance of spiritual benefactors.
"What is the reason? Spiritual benefactors are those who clear away obstructions, restrain us from evil, rescue us from folly, dispel our ignorance, break the bonds of our subjective perceptions, cut off our attachments to the world, strengthen our determination for enlightenment, and foster universal compassion.
"Think of yourself as a traveller, and think of spiritual benefactors as guides. Think of their instructions as the road, and think of the practices as getting to your destination.
"Think of yourself as a son, and think of spiritual benefactors as parents. Think of their instructions as the family business, and think of the practices as perpetuating the family business."
Hearing about the virtues and qualities of spiritual benefactors, and about the infinity of practice of bodhisattvas and the vastness of the Teaching, Sudhana felt exultation and delight. He then paid his respects to the boy Shrisambhava and the girl Shrimati and took his leave.
Fifty-First Teacher: The Bodhisattva Maitreya
Maitreya appears here as a bodhisattva before his final enlightenment. For the story of Maitreya as the Buddha of the Future in popular Buddhism, click here .
With his mind enriched by the instructions of the spiritual benefactors he had met, Sudhana went to the region of Samudrakaccha.
He was contemplating the lessons he had received in the conduct of bodhisattvas. His attentiveness to teachings of the bodhisattvas had given him a purity of sense and a clarity of mind. He could perceive that he was present in the abodes of all the buddhas.
Full of respect for the determination and the purity of all bodhisattvas, aware of the miracles of buddhas and bodhisattvas everywhere, Sudhana prostrated himself in front of the door of a great tower, which was the Chamber of the Adornments of Vairocana Buddha, the Illuminator.
By the power that had come to him by fulfilling his vows, Sudhana projected himself continuously into the presence of all the buddhas and likewise into the presence of all enlightening beings. He projected himself continuously into the presence of all beings, by entering into the totality of the body of knowledge. And just as he prostrated himself before the great tower of the chamber of Vairocana, he prostrated himself before all beings throughout the cosmos.
Sudhana had total equanimity toward the omnipresent absolute reality, the equanimity that comes from the absence of false concepts in those who realize Thusness. He had total equanimity toward all the thoughts and mental constructs of all beings in all worlds, seeing them like dreams and reflections.
Sudhana prostrated himself for a long while, and his whole being was flooded by the energy of inconceivable roots of goodness. With his body and mind refreshed, he rose from the threshold of the tower, and gazed directly at the great tower containing the adornments of Vairocana.
With deep respect, he began to circle the tower, voicing these thoughts:
"This is the abode of those who dwell in the state of the unity of the cosmos, the state of nonattachment to all worlds.
"This is the abode of those who do not rely on worldly things, those who have shed everything and are independent of all supports, those who dwell in the essence of all things, those who dwell in the state of freedom from false imaginings.
"This is the abode of those capable of penetrating the Realm of Reality in all its aspects, those who dwell in a state of wisdom free from all arbitrary views, cravings, and conceits. This is the abode of those who dwell in a state of freedom arising from a higher knowledge of all meditations, liberations, concentrations, and spiritual attainments.
"This is the abode of those who have dropped all attachments to the world but appear in the abodes of all beings in order to develop them to maturity. This is the abode of those who are in the presence of the buddhas while free from attachment to the concept of buddha.
"This is the abode of those who dwell in the abodes of all delusive demons while being detached from passion, who comprehend all ideas while their minds are clear of all ideas, who adapt to all beings with no duality between self and other, who are physically present in all mundane realms without being cut off from the Realm of Reality."
Sudhana offered many verses of praise to the bodhisattvas dwelling in the great tower of the Chamber of Adornments of Vairocana. He stood at the foot of the tower, wishing to see the great bodhisattva Maitreya.
Then Sudhana saw Maitreya outside the tower, coming from somewhere else, followed by a great number of beings, coming toward the great tower of the Chamber of Adornments of Vairocana.
Sudhan was overjoyed to see Maitreya, and prostrated himself before him from afar.
Maitreya Welcomes Sudhana
Maitreya saw Sudhana and pointed him out to the group accompanying him, and praised him for the virtuous qualities he had put into practice.
Welcome, pure of heart, tireless in mind
Welcome, calm eyes, do not slacken in your practice
Rejoice, Sudhana, for you will illuminate all aspects of Reality
You will illuminate all aspects of the world
And reach the goal of all aspects of truth
You will see all buddhas soon, you will soon go to all lands
You will soon know all truths so much good you have done on your own
You will preserve the lineage of the enlightened ones
And purify the lineage of the Teaching
You will support the spiritual community
And become a source of treasures
You will see the full extent of the Realm of Reality
You will go to the farthest reaches of all the worlds
You will see all buddhas of all times
So rejoice, Sudhana
The practice of bodhisattvas is like an ocean
Enlightened knowledge is like space
The ocean of vows is equally vast
Be happy with all of this
The Friends are tireless, firm in will, sure in application
Those who follow such Friends as these will become guides themselves
All bodhisattvas are your brothers and sisters
The elements of enlightenment are your family
You are nobly born yourself, a child of the buddhas
You will attain buddhahood soon, so be happy, Sudhana, and full of joy
Soon you will receive the supreme coronation of all the buddhas
And become equal to the peerless heirs of the Victors
You have served the Friends with the highest aim
Intent on achieving rapport with all spiritual friends and all buddhas
Intent on seeking out all truths
Arise now, stay disciplined, and do not weary
You have honored me with such perfect devotion
Soon you will come into the presence of the assemblies of all the buddhas
Maitreya then told Sudhana to return to Manjushri, the bodhisattva who had originally sent him on his journey to seek enlightened teachers. Maitreya told Sudhana that Manjushri will initiate him into the highest practice of good.
Hearing all this, Sudhana was flooded with joy and sighed with delight. He got up and paid his respects to Maitreya.
Then, by the mental powers of Manjushri, beautiful garlands of flowers and jewels appeared in Sudhana's hands, produced by the vows of the bodhisattvas. These Sudhana showered on Maitreya.
Then Maitreya patted Sudhana on the head and said: "It is good that you are so tireless, Sudhana. You will be a vessel of virtues, like Manjushri and me."
Sudhana then stood respectfully before Maitreya and said:
"Noble one, I have set out for supreme perfect enlightenment, but I do not know how a bodhisattva learns and carries out the practice of bodhisattvas.
"All the buddhas have predicted that the noble Maitreya will reach supreme perfect enlightenment in one lifetime, having taken on the empowerment of all buddhas and embraced the enlightenment of all buddhas.
"So please tell me, noble one, how a bodhisattva is to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas."
Then the bodhisattva Maitreya looked out over the whole crowd there with him and praised the aspiration and achievements of Sudhana, his tireless dedication and readiness to learn from spiritual benefactors. Maitreya reminded them how rare it is to find people who aspire to supreme true enlightenment, and who set out to master the teachings of the buddhas with diligent application.
Many who heard Maitreya's praise for Sudhana's true virtues were strengthened in their own determination for enlightenment.
"It is good that you have set your mind on enlightenment for the welfare and happiness of all worlds, for the salvation of all beings, for the attainment of all enlightened qualities. You live a good life among living beings, and you are fulfilling the purpose for which the enlightened ones come forth in the world.
"You have met the benefactor Manjushri and you have made yourself a worthy vessel of truth. You have purified your high resolve and your good intent. By this intent of yours you have developed the determination for supreme perfect enlightenment.
"The determination for enlightenment is the seed of all the elements of buddhahood. It is like a road, leading to the city of all-knowledge. It is like a door leading into all the practices of bodhisattvas. It is like the root of life, sustaining the universal compassion of all enlightening beings. It is like a savior, not abandoning any who take refuge in it. It is like a motivating force, because it draws you toward your aim. It is like a treasury, preserving all enlightened qualities. It is like a monument for the world.
"Why? Because it is the source of all the practices of bodhisattvas, and from it come all the buddhas of the past, present, and future. If you arouse the determination for enlightenment, you become absorbed in the will for all-knowledge.
"The will for all-knowledge is like a medicine that cures all illnesses. It protects you against the fire of passions, the poison of objects, the weapons of affliction. It frees you from fear, and makes you invulnerable to all delusions opposing you. It takes all the barbs of hatred, delusion, and false views out of your mind. It heals the wounds you inflict on yourself with your misguided actions. The will for all-knowledge produces physical and mental health in enlightening beings.
"Just as a person must be alive to act, a bodhisattva must have the aspiration for enlightenment in order to absorb the buddhas' teachings.
"Just as a diamond does not decompose in water, the diamond of the determination for all-knowledge does not decompose even if it remains in the water of karmic affliction for all ages."
Sudhana's Vision in the Tower
Maitreya then said to Sudhana:
"You ask how to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas. Go into this great tower containing the adornments of Vairocana and look around. Then you will know how to learn the practice of bodhisattvas."
Then Sudhana said:
"Please open the door of the tower, and I will enter."
Maitreya went up to the door and snapped his fingers. The door of the great tower opened, and Maitreya told Sudhana to go in.
With a sense of great wonderment, Sudhana went into the tower. As soon as he had entered, the door closed behind him.
Once inside, Sudhana saw that the tower was immensely vast and wide, as measureless as the sky, as vast as all of space. It was adorned with countless canopies, banners, pennants, arrays of jewels, garlands of pearls and gems, nets of gold and jewels, nets of bells and chimes, with flowers showering down and beautiful fragrances in the air.
Inside the great tower Sudhana saw hundreds of thousands of other towers similarly adorned. He saw those towers as infinitely vast as space, evenly arrayed in all directions, yet all distinct from each other and not interfering with each other. Each tower appears reflected in each and every object within all the other towers.
Seeing the inconceivable realm of the great tower, Sudhana was filled with joy. His mind was cleared of all concepts and freed of all obstructions. He was freed from all scattering of attention, and his intellect followed the unobstructed eye of liberation. His body tranquil, seeing all things without hindrance, he bowed in all directions with his whole body.
The instant he bowed, by the power of Maitreya, Sudhana perceived himself in all those towers, and in all those towers he saw various inconceivable scenes.
In one tower Sudhana saw the place where the enlightening being Maitreya first aspired to supreme perfect enlightenment. Sudhana perceived the lifespans of the sentient beings and the buddha of that time, and he saw himself in the presence of that buddha, and he saw all that buddha's works.
In one tower Sudhana saw where Maitreya first attained absorption in love, from which he got his name Maitreya means "The Loving One." In another tower he saw where Maitreya carried out spiritual practice. In another tower he saw where Maitreya fulfilled the ways of transcendence. In another tower he saw where Maitreya attained the acceptance of all things as unborn and unreal.
In one tower Sudhana saw Maitreya as a sovereign ruler directing people to virtuous action. In another tower he saw Maitreya as a world-guardian bestowing well-being and happiness on the world. In other towers he saw Maitreya in the forms of all sorts of beings helping sentient beings living on all planes of existence toward enlightenment.
In one tower Sudhana saw Maitreya expounding the Teaching to would-be bodhisattvas who had just set their minds on enlightenment. In another tower he saw Maitreya praising the stages of the bodhisattva path to those who had undertaken practice. In other towers he saw Maitreya explaining the Teaching to bodhisattvas at various stages of development.
In one tower Sudhana saw Maitreya speaking of the infinity of fulfilling transcendent ways. In another tower he saw Maitreya speaking of impartiality in approaching and entering into all studies.
In another tower he saw Maitreya speaking of the breadth of entry into concentration, and in another, of the depth of liberation. In another tower he saw Maitreya speaking of pervading the realm of higher knowledge with quiescent meditation, concentration, and trance. In another tower he saw Maitreya speaking of methods of guidance in bodhisattva practice.
In another tower Sudhana saw Maitreya with a group of bodhisattvas engaged in the same practice as he engages in, speaking of the varios arts and sciences to be employed for the benefit of the world.
In different towers Sudhana saw Maitreya engaged in various practices walking meditation, recitation, contemplation of theoretical structures, teaching and explaining, recording the Teaching in writing.
In different towers he saw Maitreya absorbed in concentration on universal love, absorbed in all sorts of meditation and immeasurable states, absorbed in the totalizing points, absorbed in the liberations. In another tower he saw Maitreya absorbed in the practice of bringing forth the higher knowledge of enlightening beings.
In one tower Sudhana saw bodhisattvas absorbed in an enlightening concentration in which phantoms of all kinds of beings emanated from their pores supernatural beings, human beings of all ranks and conditions, people following the Teaching at various levels. He saw multitudes of buddha-bodies and countless multitudes of phantom sentient beings emerge. Sudhana heard various aspects of the Teaching being broadcast from the pores of some of these bodhisattvas.
In another tower Sudhana saw all the audiences of the buddhas gathering together. He saw the differences among those buddhas, the differences in the lands and eras in which they worked, the variety of their teachings, and the variety of the outwardness of their projected manifestations. He saw the different lengths of time the True Teaching endured in the various settings, and the differences in the audiences listening to the buddhas.
Then, in the middle of the great tower containing the adornments of Vairocana, amidst the hundreds of thousands of other towers, Sudhana saw one tower that was bigger than the others, and arrayed with adornments surpassing all the others.
In that tower Sudhana saw a billion-world universe. He saw the landscape of each world, and in each world he saw Maitreya being born and going through all the stages of the quest for enlightenment, awakening to enlightenment, and then going forth to teach, using various manifestations of the Teaching. And everywhere in all these worlds Sudhana perceived himself at Maitreya's feet.
As he looked upon all those assemblies being taught by Maitreya in all those worlds, and all the works Maitreya was carrying out with them, Sudhana heard a vast multitude of voices pouring forth from all the objects and all the living beings, retelling the stories of countless numbers of quests for enlightenment, in different worlds at different times, carried out in different ways.
By listening to all those voices Sudhana heard all facets of the Teaching, and his mind was flooded with joy.
Sudhana also saw measureless arrays of images, reflections of the assemblies of the buddhas, circles of bodhisattvas, congregations of believers and followers. He saw all sorts of lands and worlds and planes of existence. He saw countless bodhisattvas engaged in various activities, working for the good of all.
Sudhana saw webs of jewel lights coming from the pillars some sapphire, some topaz, some ruby, some crystal, some golden, some emerald, some diamond, some rainbow of light. The vision was delightful to the body and the mind, and supremely pleasant to the eye.
Sudhana saw figurines made of jewels, holding myriads of flowers, garlands, parasols, banners, strings of jewels, ornaments. Some of the figures were bowing, crowned with jewels, with a steady gaze and palms joined in a gesture of respect.
Sudhana also saw pearl necklaces giving forth delicate clouds of pure water transmitting all fragrances. He saw long streams flowing from webs of strings of bluegreen jewels. He saw the inner chamber adorned with jewel bells and sets of chimes, silk streamers, heaps of varios gems. He saw countless superb lotuses of all colors and sizes growing in lotus ponds. He saw arrays of various figures women and men, boys and girls, Indra and Brahma, gods and dragons, goblins and titans, all sorts of saints and sages and enlightening beings all joining their palms and bowing in a gesture of respect.
Sudhana also saw figures of buddhas adorned with their special marks of greatness sitting in the lotus posture.
Sudhana saw the surface of the ground was covered with a mosaic of precious stones. In each inlaid stone he saw inconceivable reflections of lands and buddhas and all the adornments in all the towers.
Sudhana looked at the flowers, fruits, and buds of the jewel trees surrounding him and saw figures of all kinds of beings buddhas, bodhisattvas, gods and dragons, emperors and princes, grandees and government ministers, women and men, boys and girls, monks and nuns and male and female believers.
Some were holding garlands of flowers, some strings of jewels, some other kinds of ornaments. Some were bowing with palms joined and a steady gaze, paying their respects. Some were singing hymns of praise. Some were in a trance. Some had a golden luster, some a silver luster, some a frosty luster, some a sapphire luster. Some were shining with the colors of all jewels, some were shining like bodies of light.
From the crescents adorning the towers, Sudhana saw the reflections of countless suns and stars shining in all directions.
Sudhana saw that the walls of the towers were covered with mosaics of jewels. In each jewel he saw Maitreya carrying out the practices of bodhisattvas, sacrificing himself for the good of others, giving people the things they needed, teaching in all sorts of ways.
In this way Sudhana saw in each facet of the mosaic walls Maitreya's practice of generosity, discipline, tolerance, energy, meditation, and wisdom over countless eons.
In one tower Sudhana saw magical arrays of all the spiritual benefactors with whom Maitreya had studied, and he perceived himself also to be in the presence of all those benefactors, who made him welcome and told him not to weary, but to behold the wonder of the bodhisattva Maitreya.
In this way Sudhana saw all these magnificent scenes projected from each of the towers, and every object in towers. He saw all this by the power of unwavering mindfulness, by all-encompassing purity of vision, by standing on the ground of knowledge that flows from the perception of bodhisattvas.
It was like when a person dreams of all sorts of pleasant scenes with all attachments removed and feels joy it may seem to last a day, a week, a year, a century, even longer, but when the person awakes, he remembers it all.
In the same way, Sudhana saw the whole supernal manifestation of the tower of Vairocana, was perfectly aware of it, understood it, contemplatated it, used it as a means, and saw himself within it by the knowledge of the collection of dreams that constitutes the world, abiding in the vast unobstructed perception of bodhisattvas, his intellect having entered into the inconceivable wisdom of bodhisattvas.
Though the whole experience only took a short time, in that short time, with th perception of a bodhisattva, by the power of Maitreya, Sudhana had the sense of billions of eons of time passing.
Sudhana saw all those miraculous displays by the inconceivable direction of the magic of the Maitreya's enlightening knowledge, and by bringing forth the magic of the knowledge of truth, and by the power of the mystic knowledge mastered by a bodhisattva.
Sudhana Emerges from the Vision
Then the bodhisattva Maitreya entered the tower where Sudhana was and relaxed his magical force. He snapped his fingers and said to Sudhana:
"Arise. This is the nature of things, to have no set identity. All things are stabilized by the knowledge of the enlightening beings. They are inherently unreal, like illusions, dreams, and reflections."
At the snap of Maitreya's fingers, Sudhana emerged from the trance.
Maitreya asked him if he had seen the miraculous display of the practices and attainments of bodhisattvas, and their inconeivable liberation. Sudhana said that empowered by Maitreya, he had seen it.
Maitreya told Sudhana this liberation he had witnessed in his trance is called the inner sanctum of supernal manifestation of clear recollection entering into the knowledge of all objects of the past, present, and future. He told Sudhana that a bodhisattva attains untold liberations like this.
Sudhana asked: "Where has that magnificent display gone to?"
Maitreya answered: "Where it came from."
Sudhana asked: "Where did it come from?"
"It came from the power of the knowledge of bodhisattvas taking effect, and it resides in that power. It does not go or come at all, it is not something put together or accumulated, it is not located in any one place, it is not internal or external. These supernal arrays appear by properly learning the knowledge of enlightening beings."
Sudhana then asked Maitreya how far away he came from.
"The state of bodhisattvas is the state of neither motion nor stillness, the state without support or abode, the state of no passing away or rebirth, the state of no concern or attachement.
"Great compassion is the state of bodhisattvas, as they attend to those sentient beings who can be guided. Wisdom and skill in means is the state of bodhisattvas, as they adapt to sentient beings.
"You ask how far away I came from I came here from th village of Kuti in the territories of the Malada people, the land of my birth. There is a gentleman there named Gopalaka who guides people toward the teaching of enlightenment according to their capacities."
Sudhana asked Maitreya: "What are the native lands of the bodhisattvas?"
Maitreya told him there are ten:
Arouding the aspiration for enlightenment is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Strong will is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
The ten stages of the bodhisattva path are a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Carrying out vows is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Universal compassion is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Profound contemplation is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
The Great Vehicle is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Educating sentient beings is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Knowledge and skill in means is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
Practicing and realizing all truths is a native land of the bodhisattvas.
"Transcendent wisdom is the mother of the bodhisattvas. Skill in means is the father of the bodhisattvas. Tranacendent generosity is the mother's milk of the bodhisattvas, and transcendent discipline is their nurse. Transcendent tolerance is their adornment, and transcendent vigor is what makes them grow. Transcendent meditation purifies their practice, spiritual friends teach them, the elements of enlightenment are their companions. All the bodhisattvas are their brothers and sisters, and the determination for enlightenment is their family.
"Bodhisattvas who have succeeded in being born in this family do not shrink back from existence in any world, because they realize that all things are like reflections. They are tireless in guiding and perfecting all beings, because they are aware that nothing has a real self."
"With a body existing in all worlds, taking on forms like those of all living beings, speaking their languages, adapting to their customary norms, I pervade all universes.
"I arrived here in the south, in the village of Kuta in the Malada region, to developed those who followed the same practices as me in the past, but who lost the aspiration for enlightenment. I live in this tower containing the adornments of Vairocana.
"When I have passed away here, I will manifest birth in Tushita, a celestial abode of happiness and contentment, and then I will appear to descend from that heaven and be born on earth, to enlighten those inspired by Shakyamuni Buddha when their time comes to be guided further.
"At that time I will realize all-knowledge and fulfill my aspiration. When I have attained enlightenment, you will see me again, with the spiritual benefactor Manjushri."
"Now go back to Manjushri and ask him how an enlightening being is to learn and carry out the practice of bodhisattvas. He will show you the real benefactor.
"Why should you go to Manjushri? Manjushri sees all things according to their true significance. Manjushri has ranged far into all the modes of liberation. He is immersed in the practice of universally good enlightening beings.
"All the spiritual benefactors you have seen, all the modes of liberation you have entered, all the vows you have plunged into, should all be looked upon as the empowerment given you by Manjushri. And Manjushri has reached the supreme perfection."
Then Sudhana paid his respects to the bodhisattva Maitreya and went on.
Fifty-Second Teacher: The Bodhisattva Manjushri
Sudhana traveled to the city of Sumanamukha, passing through more than one hundred and ten cities on the way. He stayed there, wishing to see and meet with Manjushri.
Then, from hundreds of miles away, Manjushri extended his hand and laid it on the head of Sudhana, who was in the city of Sumanamukha.
"No one can penetrate this true nature, this inner truth, this sphere, this abode, unless they have faith and make continuous efforts, and are in the care of spiritual benefactors."
By means of his spiritual talk, Manjushri imbued Sudhana with countless facets of truth, illuminated him with the great light of infinite knowledge, and plunged him into the sphere of the practice of universal good, the realm of the bodhisattva Universally Good.
Have established Sudhana on his own, Manjushri then left the presence of Sudhana.
Then Sudhana stood contemplating the realm of the bodhisattva Universally Good.
Sudhana had acted on the instructions of all his spiritual advisors with correct understanding. His mind was equally attentive to them all, and his intellect was in harmony with all spiritual friends without emotion. He was filled with universal compassion, illumining all beings with universal love. Sudhana was in a state of physical bliss, resting at peace in the vast liberation of the bodhisattvas.
Sudhana had been strengthened by the energy of his preparations for all-knowledge, and his mind was thoroughly dedicated to the bodhisattvas' mission. He comprehended the succession of all the buddhas of the past, present, and future, and was awake to the principles of all enlightening teachings. He was set to carry out enlightening practice through the ages, abiding at peace in the liberation of the bodhisattvas that contains the universal Realm of Reality, empowered by the buddhas.
Sudhana was eager to see the bodhisattva Universally Good, knowing of his excellence and expertise in progressing through the stages of the bodhisattva path.
Sudhana sat on a lotus seat of jewels facing the lion throne of the Buddha on the enlightenment site there. The enlightenment site was filled with oceans of diamonds.
Sudhana's mind was vast as space and free from all attachments, having transcended all barriers and all forms of clinging. His mind was unobstructed in the midst of all things, pervading everywhere without hindrance. His mind was pure, well-ordered, broad and vast, pervading all realms of living beings to guide them to perfection. He had an infinite mind reflected in the circles of all buddhas.
Prefiguring his imminent vision of the bodhisattva Universally Good, Sudhana saw all buddha-lands purified by the sentient beings within these lands becoming benevolent to each other and becoming consciously absorbed in mindfulness of Buddha.
At that, every atom in every world emanated lights in hundreds of thousands of colors that pervaded the cosmos. Circles of flames, like those that surround the buddhas, emanated from every atom in every world and filled the cosmos.
Multitudes of light beams in the form of all the bodies of all the buddhas emanated from every atom in every world, pervading the cosmos and showing the basic vows of all the enlightened ones.
Then from all the worlds in the cosmos, from each point in every world, oceans of reflections emanated forth, reflections of bodhisattvas in all forms, fulfilling the needs of all beings.
These lights prefigured the manifestation of Universally Good.
Having seen all these signs, supported by the power of his own roots of goodness, and empowered by all the buddhas, Sudhana had the opportunity to see the bodhisattva Universally Good.
A Vision of the Bodhisattva Universally Good
Having seen all these signs, supported by the power of his own roots of goodness, and empowered by all the buddhas, Sudhana at last had the opportunity to see the bodhisattva Universally Good.
Sudhana was immersed in the vows of the enlightening being Universally Good. He was in the presence of the realm of all the buddhas. His senses were directed toward a vision of the Universally Good now he was flooded with the great energy of the vision of the bodhisattva Universally Good.
Sudhana's mind was directed toward all the buddhas and aware of the bodhisattva Universally Good in the presence of all the buddhas.
Inwardly he was perceiving Universally Good in all objects. With the eye of knowledge he beheld the path of Universally Good. With his mind as vast as space, Sudhana had a powerful resolve supported by indestructible universal compassion, vowing to accompany the bodhisattva Universally Good through all time.
Sudhana saw the bodhisattva Universally Good sitting on a lion seat in a great jewel lotus in front of Vairocana Buddha, the perfectly enlightened one, in an ocean of bodhisattvas.
Universally Good stood out in the whole asembly, looking out over all the bodhisattvas, his knowledge endless, his range total, his sphere of awareness inconceivable. He had arrived at the equality of past, present, and future, and attained equality with all the buddhas.
Sudhana saw countless light rays emanating from each pore in the body of Universally Good, shining into all worlds throughout the cosmos, relieving the pain of living beings.
Sudhana saw countless auras of light emanating from the body of Universally Good, amplifying the ecstasy of all the bodhisattvas.
Sudhana saw clouds of fragrant ethereal flames of all colors emanating from the head of Universally Good, flowing through the assemblies of all those listening to the teachings of the buddhas.
Sudhana saw countless multitudes of buddha-lands of the past, present, and future emanating from every pore in the body of Universally Good in each mental moment, pervading all universes throughout space, and providing places of rest and refuge for living beings with no place to rest or take refuge.
Sudhana saw countless multitudes of buddha-lands filled with teaching assemblies of inspired bodhisattvas emanating from every pore, pervading all universes throughout space, to purify living beings with the will for enlightenment.
Sudhana saw countless multitudes of the bodies taken on by bodhisattvas emanating from every pore in the body of Universally Good in each instant of consciousness, pervading all universes throughout space, adapting to the conduct of all living beings and developing them to supreme enlightenment, showing them the bodhisattva path, and the vows for the perfection of bodhisattva practice.
Sudhana saw countless clouds of perfect enlightenment emanating from every pore in the body of Universally Good, showing perfect enlightenment in all buddha-lands, and increasing the great spiritual energy of attaining all-knowledge.
Having seen this manifestation of the power of the bodhisattva Universally Good, Sudhana was uplifted and joyous.
As Sudhana contemplated the body of Universally Good further, he saw emanating from it a galaxy of billions of worlds every world with its own topography, its own towns and cities and villages and farmlands, its own forests and mountains and rivers, its own inhabitants of various species and kinds, its own seasonal patterns and time scales, its own clouds and lightning, its own sun and stars, its own eons and ages.
Then Sudhana saw other galaxies of billions of worlds in all directions, all equally complex, emanating from the body of Universally Good.
In each world Sudhana saw the succession of past eras and future eras. In each world he saw the emergence of buddhas, and circles of bodhisattvas, and he saw the sentient beings of that world, and their abodes. He saw the succession of ages in each world, and he saw the succession of past and future eras in all worlds in all galaxies in all directions.
Sudhana saw the succesion of ages in all worlds throughout space in the physical body of the bodhisattva Universally Good, all in perfect order, not mixed up with each other.
And just as Sudhana saw the bodhisattva Universally Good sitting before Vairocana Buddha here in this world emanating this miraculous display, he saw the bodhisattva Universally Good sitting in the presence of all buddhas in all worlds everywhere displaying the same miraculous visions.
Then from each individual body of the bodhisattva Universally Good, Sudhana saw all things past, present, and future appearing like reflected images he saw all lands, all beings, all the enlightened ones emerging, all the congregations of bodhisattvas he saw them all appearing as reflections.
Sudhana heard the voices of all beings, and the voices of all the enlightened ones teaching them and presenting to them the attainments of the bodhisattvas and the mystic powers of the buddhas.
Having witnessed this inconceivable vision communicated from the bodhisattva Universally Good, Sudhana attained a ten-fold consummation of knowledge:
Physically pervading all buddha-lands in a moment of thought
Holistic knowledge arriving in the presence of all buddhas
Having his questions about the Teaching answered by every buddha
Meditation on the cycles of teaching of all buddhas
Knowledge of the inconceivable miracles of buddhas
Knowing how to expound one consistent truth forever by means of the inexhaustible specific knowledge of all particular truths
Direct knowledge of the oceans of all truths
Knowledge of all true patterns of the Realm of Reality
Knowing how to live together with the thoughts of all beings
Instantaneous direct witnessing of the practice of the bodhisattva Universally Good
Then Universally Good extended his right hand to Sudhana, who had attained this consummation of knowledge, and laid it on his head.
With the hand of Universally Good on his head, countless concentrations entered into Sudhana each concentration let him enter into countless oceans of worlds, and countless provisions for omniscience he had not seen before became visible to him.
Sudhana entered into countless oceans of vows and went forth on countless liberating paths of all-knowledge. He engaged in the work of bodhisattvas in countless ways. He was energized by immeasurable floods of omniscience and illuminated by countless lights of all the buddhas' knowledge.
Just as in this world, in the presence of Vairocana Buddha, the bodhisattva Universally Good extended his right hand and laid it on Sudhana's head, in the same way, sitting at the feet of all buddhas in all worlds, the bodhisattva Universally Good extended his right hand and laid it on Sudhana's head.
And just as facets of truth entered Sudhana as he was touched by the hand of Universally Good at the feet of Vairocana Buddha, likewise, facets of truth entered Sudhana in various ways as he was touched by the multitude of hands extended from the all the bodies of Universally Good.
Then the great bodhisattva Universally Good said to Sudhana: "Did you see my mystical projection?"
Sudhana said: "I saw, noble one, but only a buddha could understand such an inconceivable mystic projection."
Then the great bodhisattva Universally Good told Sudhana about his past practice seeking the mind of all-knowledge, his association with untold numbers of buddhas, his sacrifices over the eons, his ceaseless efforts to keep to the bodhisattva path and stay true to his aspiration for enlightenment. Just to tell the story would take eons.
Universally Good told Sudhana:
"I attained the ultimately pure body of reality which is continuous and unfragmented throughout past, present, and future by the power of preparing correctly and bringing together the correct factors, by the power of being resolute, by the power of contemplating things as they are, by the power of the eye of wisdom, by the power of buddha, by the power of great compassion, by the power of the care of spiritual benefactors.
"I also purified a physical body that appears to all beings according to their mentalities, and is omnipresent in all buddha-lands, abiding everywhere, showing all kinds of mystical projections, visible in every world.
"Look at this body I have achieved. Those who have not planted roots of goodness cannot even hear of me, much less see me.
"Some beings become irreversible on the path to enlightenment just by hearing my name, or by seeing me, or by coming into contact with me, or by following me, or by seeing me in a dream, or by hearing my name in a dream.
"Some beings become mature by remembering me for a day and a night, or a week, or a month, or a year. Some beings become mature by remembering me for a century, or an eon, or many eons. Some beings become mature by remembering me for one lifetime, or a hundred lifetimes, or countless lifetimes.
"Some beings become mature by seeing my radiance, or by seeing me send out light beams, or by seeing my physical form, or by feeling me encouraging them.
"In these ways, through countless different means, these sentient beings become irreversible on the path toward supreme perfect enlightenment.
"Whoever hears of the purity of my buddha-land will be born in pure buddha-lands, and whoever sees the purity of my body will be born in my body."
Then Universally Good said to Sudhana:
"Look at my body."
Sudhana looked again at the body of the enlightening being Universally Good.
In every pore he saw untold numbers of buddha-lands filled with buddhas.
In each buddha-land he saw the buddhas surrounded by assemblies of bodhisattvas. He saw all the different landscapes of the lands.
He saw various buddhas appearing, announcing various cycles of the Teaching. He saw the projected bodies of buddhas numberless as all the atoms in all worlds emerging and filling all worlds in all directions, developing sentient beings toward supreme perfect enlightenment.
Then Sudhana entered into all the worlds within the body of the enlightening being Universally Good, and worked to develop living beings in those worlds toward their full potential.
Sudhana saw that all the roots of goodness he had accumulated by seeing countless numbers of spiritual benefactors was not even a miniscule fraction of the roots of goodness that came with seeing Universally Good.
Sudhana entered countless successive oceans of buddha-lands in every single pore of the body of Univerally Good in each moment of thought.
In each moment of thought he passed through untold numbers of worlds, in every step he passed through the worlds of countless eons.
Still Sudhana did not come to the end of the oceans of lands or the oceans of buddhas or the oceans of congregations of bodhisattvas. He did not come to the end of the entrances to the realms of sentient beings, to the entrances to instantaneous knowledge of the faculties of sentient beings. He did not come to the end of developing and guiding sentient beings. He did not come to the end of the mystic powers of the bodhisattvas.
In each moment of consciousness Sudhana entered infinite oceans of lands and developed sentient beings toward supreme perfect enlightenment.
This continued as Sudhana gradually reached equality with the bodhisattva Universally Good.
He reached equality with all the buddhas, equality in pervading all lands, equality in fulfilling all practices, equality in turning the wheel of the Teaching, equality in universal love and compassion, equality in the spiritual powers of the inconceivable liberation of bodhisattvas.
Then the bodhisattva Universally Good went on to make a vow to honor and serve all the buddhas in all lands of the past, present, and future, and to present the Teaching to all living beings.
I will travel the paths of the world
Free from compulsion, affliction, and delusion
I will always be in communion
With those who share my practice
I will always be with my spiritual benefactors
Who teach me the practice of good
I will always be face to face with the buddhas
Illuminating the practice of enlightenment
I will act in all eons within a single instant
I will see all the buddhas of all times in one instant
I will fulfill the vows of enlightening practice
Of all the buddhas of past, present, and future
As long as all living beings exist
As long as their actions and afflictions exist
My vow will remain
May all living beings be happy!