Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Two: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (f)
Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
Translated by KOSHO YAMAMOTO
FROM Dharmakshema's Chinese version
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The Complete Kosho Yamamoto English Translation of the "Nirvana Sutra", edited and revised by Dr. Tony Page, typographically improved by Jay and Gabriele Mazo
Chapter Thirty-Two: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (f)
"O good man! When there is the causal relation (of greed), the mind of greed (i.e. the mental state of greed/desire) comes about; it so exists, and dies with greed. There is the case where the mind comes about with greed, it so exists, and does not die with greed. There is the case where it does not come about with greed, it exists with greed, and it so dies. There is the case where it does not come about with greed, it does not exist with greed, and it so dies.
"How does the mind come about together with greed, exist with greed, and so die? O good man! If the common mortal does not cut off the mind of greed and practises the mind of greed, such a person is one whose mind comes about together with greed. All beings do not cut off the mind of greed. It comes about with greed, and it dies out with greed. To all beings of the world of desire there is spread a table of the first stage of dhyana. Practised or not practised, all is ready for accomplishment. Only through causal relations does this come out to one. The causal relation is none but the fire. So do things obtain with all common mortals. Whether practised or not practised, the mind comes about along with greed, and it dies along with greed. Why? Because the root of greed has not been extirpated.
"How does the mind come about along with greed and not die along with greed? The sravaka disciple gains greed through causal relations. As he is afraid, he meditates on white bones. This is why we say that the mind comes about along with greed and that it does not die along with greed. Also, there is the situation where the mind comes about along with greed and does not die along with greed. There is a sravaka who is not yet accomplished in the four fruitions (of Hinayana practice). Through causal relations, he gains a mind of greed, but gaining the four fruitions, the mind of greed dies. Thus do things go. This is where we say that the mind comes about along with greed and does not die along with greed.
"In what way do we say that the mind does not come about along with greed and that it dies together with greed? When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva extirpates the mind of greed, but displays, for the sake of beings, that he yet has greed. As this is for the sake of display, innumerable, boundless numbers of beings gain, perfect and accomplish good things. This is where we say that the mind does not come about along with greed, but dies along with greed.
"How do we say that the mind does not come about along with greed and that it does not die along with greed? This refers to Bodhisattvas other than the arhat, pratyekabuddha, all Buddhas, and those of the immovable stage. This is where we say that the mind does not come about along with greed and that it does not die along with greed. For this reason, we do not say that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are by nature pure in mind, and we do not say that they are by nature not pure. O good man! This mind does not melt into that of greed; also it does not melt into that of anger and ignorance.
"O good man! For example, the sun and moon become obscured from sight by smoke, dust, cloud, mist, and the Asura (i.e. a Titan who, when fighting the sun and moon, obstructs their light by spreading out his hands). Because of these things, no being can see (the sun and moon). Though not seen, the nature of the sun and moon does not, after all, melt into one with the five overshadowings (“panca-avaranani”). It is the same with the mind. Through causal relations, the bond of greed comes about. Beings say that the mind melts into one with greed, but the nature of the mind truly does not melt into one. If the greedy mind were the nature of greed, and if non-greed were the nature of non-greed, we could not make the mind of greed greed, and the mind of greed could not become that of non-greed. O good man! For this reason, the bond of greed cannot defile the mind. All Buddhas have eternally done away with the mind of greed. On that account, we say that one gains liberation of mind. This is said because all beings gain the bond of greed through causal relations, and through causal relations they attain liberation. O good man! For example, this is as with a precipice in the Himalayas. A man cannot go along it with a monkey. There might be a place where the monkey can go on his own, but not the man. Or there might be a place where both man and monkey can go. O good man! Where both man and monkey can go, a hunter places a table, on which he deposits birdlime and catches the monkey. As the monkey lacks intellect, he touches the lime with his hands. Through touching it, his hands get stuck. To free his hands, he touches the lime with his feet. His feet get stuck. To get his feet free, he bites (at the birdlime) with his mouth. His mouth further gets stuck. Thus, the five parts (of the monkey) are unable to get free. Then the hunter pases a staff through the monkey (i.e. kills the monkey) and returns home.
"The steep precipice in the Himalayas is the Right Path, along which the Buddha and Bodhisattvas walk; the monkey is comparable to all common mortals; the hunter is Marapapiyas; the birdlime is the bond of greed. Man and monkey being unable to walk together is analogous to all common mortals being unable to walk together with Marapapiyas. We say that the monkey can go and that man cannot: this is comparable to the fact that even the tirthikas who have intelligence and all devils cannot draw one to the bait even with the five desires. We say that man and monkey go well together: this means that all common mortals and Marapapiyas are always lost in birth and death and cannot properly practise the Way. Common mortals are bound up by the five desires, so that Marapapiyas can easily catch them and carry them away. This is like the hunter who catches the monkey with birdlime and takes him back home.
"O good man! If the king remains in his own country, his body and mind will be at ease; if abroad, he will have to suffer from many things. So do matters stand with all beings. If one lives in one's own domain, one is in peace. But out of one's own domain, one comes across devils and has to suffer from all manner of worries. One's own domain refers to the four thinkings, and the place of others to the five desires.
"How do we say that one belongs to Mara? All beings see the non-eternal as the Eternal, the Eternal as the non-Eternal, Suffering as non-Suffering, Bliss as Suffering, the Impure as the Pure, the Pure as the Impure, the non-Self as the Self, the Self as non-Self, what is not true Emancipation carelessly as Emancipation, true Emancipation as non-Emancipation, non-Vehicle as Vehicle, and Vehicle as non-Vehicle. Such people belong to the class of the Maras. One who belongs to Mara does not have a pure mind.
"Also, next, O good man! If a person truly sees all things as "is" and general and individual forms as fixed, know that this person will - when he sees any concrete thing - see as though looking at a concrete thing. This will apply down to consciousness. When he encounters consciousness, he will entertain the thought of having had a consciousness (of something). Seeing a man, he will see the form of a man; seeing a woman, the form of a woman; seeing the sun, the form of the sun; seeing the moon, the form of the moon; seeing the form of age, the form of age; seeing a skandha, the form of a skandha; seeing a sense-sphere, the form of a sense-sphere; seeing a sense-realm, the form of a sense-realm. Any such person is the kindred of Mara. One who is the kindred of Mara does not possess a pure mind.
"Also, next, O good man! A person might come to think that the Self is matter (“rupa”), that the Self exists in matter; that there is matter in the Self, that matter belongs to the Self. Or he may view the Self as consciousness, or think that the Self exists in consciousness, that consciousness exists in the Self, that consciousness belongs to the Self. Any such person who views things thus belongs to Mara; any person who see things thus is not my disciple.
"O good man! My sravaka disciples part from the 12 types of sutra of the Tathagata and learn and practise the various kinds of books of the tirthikas; not studying the works of renunciation and silent extinction of a priest, they exclusively perform what secular people do. What are the works of the secular world? What are the impurities? They receive and keep all such things as male and female menial servants, fields and houses, elephants, horses, vehicles, donkeys, mules, fowls, dogs, pigs, sheep, and all kinds of cereals, from barley to wheat. They part from their teachers and priests, and associate with the laity. Acting contrary to the holy teaching, they address white-clad (i.e. lay) people and say: "The Buddha permits the bhiksus to receive and keep various impure things." This is where we speak of people learning things of the secular world.
"There are various disciples who, not acting for Nirvana, approach and give ear to the 12 types of sutra and don priestly robes or greedily eat those things intended for priests who have come from afar, as though they were their own things. They feel jealousy and resentment when they hear of the praise and fame of other families. They associate with the king and all princes, are interested in good and bad fortune (i.e. they go in for fortune-telling), guess at the waxing and waning of the moon. They love and befriend chess, gambling, chobo (i.e. a gambling game), throwing arrows into a pot, bhiksunis (nuns), girls, and keeping two sramaneras. They always visit the houses of butchers, hunters, bars, and the places where candalas live. They sell and buy, they make food themselves, they receive messengers from neighbouring countries and give news. Know that such people are kindred to Mara and are no disciples of mine. Thus, the mind comes about with greed and thus dies with greed. This applies down to the ignorant mind, which emerges together (with ignorance) and dies out together (with ignorance). O good man! For this reason, it is not the case that the nature of the mind is pure or not pure. Hence, I say that one gains liberation of mind.
"If a person does not receive and store (impure things), but - for the sake of Great Nirvana - upholds, recites, copies and explains to others the 12 types of sutra, know that such a person is truly my disciple. Such a person does not perform what belongs to the world of Marapapiyas; such a person learns and practises the 37 elements of Enlightenment. Learning and practising the Way, such a person does not come about together with greed and does not die together with greed. This is what we mean when we say that the Bodhisattva practises the All-Wonderful Great Nirvana Sutra and perfects and accomplishes the eighth virtue."
"Also, next, O good man! How does the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practise the All-Wonderful Great Nirvana Sutra and perfect and accomplish the ninth virtue? O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Way of the All-Wonderful Great Nirvana Sutra and first calls forth five things and perfects these. What are the five? These are: 1) faith, 2) a straight mind, 3) the moral precepts, 4) associating with a good friend, and 5) erudition.
"What is faith? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva believes that there is recompense in the Three Jewels and in giving. The two truths (i.e. relative and ultimate) and the Way of the One Vehicle (“ekayana”) are not different. He believes that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas classify things into three, so that all beings quickly gain Emancipation. He believes in “Paramartha-satya” (the truth of Ultimate Reality) and good expedient means. This is faith.
"A person who believes thus cannot be beaten by any sramanas, Brahmins, Marapapiyas, Brahma, or anyone. When a person grounds himself in this faith, he gains the nature of a holy sage. One practises giving, and this - whether big or small - all leads to Mahaparinirvana, and thus one does not fall into birth and death. It is the same with upholding the moral precepts, hearing the Way, and Wisdom, too. This is faith. Though one may have this faith, one does not yet see. This is how the Bodhisattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana and perfects the first thing.
"What is the straight mind? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva maintains a straight mind towards all beings. All beings flatter, as occasion arises. It is not so with the Bodhisattva. Why not? Because he knows well that all good things come about through causal relations. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva sees all the evils and wrongs done by beings. But he does not speak about these things. Why not? Possibly worries will come about. If defilements raise their head, this will lead to evil realms. If he sees beings performing some small good deeds, he praises (them). What is a good deed? It is the so-called Buddha-Nature. When the Buddha-Nature is praised, all beings aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment."
Then, the All-Shining Bodhisattva-mahasattva Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! You say that the Bodhisattva-mahasattva expresses praise and causes innumerable beings to aspire to unsurpassed Bodhi. But this is not so. Why not? The Tathagata, in the opening part of the Nirvana Sutra, says that there are three kinds.
"Second, you say that the illness fails to get cured, regardless of whether one obtains such or not.
"Third, you say that whether one obtains these things or not, all will be cured. The same is the case with all beings.
"If one encounters a good friend, encounters all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and gives ear to the sermons, one aspires to unsurpassed Enlightenment. If not, there cannot be any aspiration. So there are the srotapanna, sakrdagamin, anagamin, arhat, and pratyekabuddha.
"Second, a person may encounter a good friend, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and give ear to the sermons, but is unable to aspire; even if he does not encounter such, there will be no aspiration. This refers to the icchantika.
"If it is the case that a person aspires to unsurpassed Enlightenment, how can you explain and say: "By praising the Buddha-Nature, all beings aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment?" O World-Honoured One! If it is the case that whether one encounters a good friend, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and listens to their sermons, or whether one is unable to, one cannot all-equally aspire to unsurpassed Enlightenment, we can know that this is not so. Why not? Because such a person attains unsurpassed Enlightenment. Because by means of the Buddha-Nature, even the icchantika has to attain unsurpassed Enlightenment, whether he gives ear to the sermons or not.
"O World-Honoured One! You say "icchantika". But what is the icchantika? You say that he is devoid of the wholsesome root. This also is not so. Why not? Because such a person is not devoid of the Buddha-Nature. Thus, logically, the Buddha-Nature cannot be lacking (in anything). How can you say that the entire root of good has been cut off?
"You previously spoke of the 12 types of sutras and said that there were two kinds of food, namely: 1) the eternal, and 2) the non-eternal. The eternal refers to the uncut, and the non-eternal to the cut. The non-eternal can be cut off. So a person falls into hell. The eternal cannot be cut off. Why not? If the Buddha-Nature is not cut off, there is no icchantika. Why do you, the Tathagata, speak thus and put forward such a view of the icchantika? O World-Honoured One! The Buddha-Nature gains one unsurpassed Enlightenment. How is it that you, the Tathagata, so expansively deliver the sermons of the 12 types of sutras? O World-Honoured One! For example, the four rivers take their rise from (Lake) Anavatapta. The devas and all Buddhas might say that the rivers do not flow into the great sea, but turn back to their source. But this makes no sense. It is the same with the mind of Enlightenment. Anybody with the Buddha-Nature must attain unsurpassed Enlightenment, whether he has heard the sermons or not, whether he has upheld the moral precepts or not, whether he has practised giving or not, whether he has practised the Way or not, whether he has Wisdom or not. O World-Honoured One! From out of Mount Udayana rises the sun, and it moves right on to the south. The sun might pray: "I will not go west; I will return east." But nothing like this ever happens. It is the same with the Buddha-Nature. One may say that non-hearing, non-upholding of the precepts, non-giving, non-practising of the Way, and non-Wisdom do not bestow unsurpassed Enlightenment. But such a situation never obtains.
"O World-Honoured One! The All-Buddha-Tathagata says that the nature of causality is "is-not" and "not-is-not". This is not so. Why not? If there is not the nature of cream in milk, there cannot be any cream. If there the seed of the nyagrodha did not possess the nature to be as high as 50 feet, it could not gain this quality of 50 feet. If there were no tree of unsurpassed Enlightenment in the Buddha-Nature, how could one expect to have a tree of unsurpassed Enlightenment? If causality is neither "is-not" nor "not-is-not", how does this accord well with reason?"
Then the Buddha expressed praise and said: "Well said, well said, O good man! There are two types of people in the world who are as rare as the udumbara. One is the person who does not commit evil deeds; the second is the person who thoroughly confesses when he has sinned. Such persons are extremely rare. There are two further types of people. One benefits others; the other remembers well the benefits he has had. Furthermore, there are two kinds of people. One accepts new rules, and the other looks back to what is now gone and does not forget. Also, there are two (further) types of people. One does what is new, and the other practises what is old. Also, there are two (other types of) people. One takes pleasure in giving ear to Dharma, and the other takes pleasure in speaking of Dharma. Also, there are two (further) types of people. One asks about what is difficult, and the other answers well. You are the (type of) person who asks well about what is difficult; the Tathagata is the one who answers well. O good man! By means of these good questions, there can be the turning of the Wheel of Dharma, the killing of the great tree of the 12 links of causation, the passing of people across the boundless sea of birth and death, the good fight against King Marapapiyas, and the smiting down of Papiyas's victorious banner.
"O good man! I have spoken thus of the three patients and said that whether there is encountering or non-encountering of a good doctor, attendance, and good medicine, a cure results. What does this mean? We say that one "gains" or "does not gain". This refers to the destined span of life. Why? Now, over the course of innumerable ages, this person has practised the three good deeds: top, middle, and low. By practising these three good deeds, he gains his destined span of life. This is as in the case of a person of Uttarakuru, where the life-span is 1,000 years. Now, one may acquire an illness. But no matter whether one gains a good doctor, good medicine, or good attendance: all ends in a cure. Why? Because one has one's destined span of life. O good man! I say: "If one gains a good doctor, good medicine, and good attendance, one can drive the illness away; if not, the illness will not retreat." Now, what does this mean? O good man! Such a person's life-span is not definite. Even though the (expected) end of his life has not yet been reached, by the nine factors of causal relations, he loses his life. What are the nine?
"Second, he eats overmuch.
"Third, he eats even when the former food has not yet been digested.
"Fourth, he is not regular in his calls of nature.
"Fifth, even though he is ill, he does not comply with the words of the doctor.
"Sixth, he does not follow the advice of the medical attendants.
"Seventh, he strongly holds things in and does not put them out (i.e. he suffers from constipation).
"Eighth, he goes about at night. As he goes about at night, the devils come and attack him.
"Ninth, his room is not very good.
"For this reason, I say that if the patient takes the medicine, his illness will be cured, and if he does not, it will not be cured. O good man! I said above that the illness will not be cured, whether (the medicine is) taken or not. Why? Because the life-span is ended. Hence I say that the sick person will not gain a cure, whether the medicine is taken or not. So do things obtain with beings. Anybody who gains Bodhichitta, whether he has met with a good friend or not, with all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, will Awaken and gain the depths of Dharma. Why? Because he aspires to Enlightenment. This is like the people of Uttarakuru, who are blessed with a definite span of age. As I say, those people from the stage of srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha, when they listen to the words of deep meaning from a good friend, from all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, will gain the mind of unsurpassed Enlightenment.
"I say that if a person does not encounter the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas and does not listen to the words of deep meaning, he cannot aspire to the mind of unsurpassed Enlightenment. This is as with a person who dies an unnatural death due to the nine kinds of causal relations which are indefinite. His illness will be cured when he encounters medical treatment and medicine. If not, it will not be cured. That is why I say that if a person listens to the words of deep meaning of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, he aspires to Bodhichitta, and if not, he cannot.
"I said above that a person might encounter a good friend, the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas and listen to the words of deep meaning, or he may not. In both cases, he does not aspire to Bodhichitta. What does this mean? O good man! The icchantika is unable to do away with the mind of the icchantika, no matter whether he encounters a good friend, the Buddha or the Bodhisattvas, and listens to the words of deep meaning or not. Why? Because he is segregated from Wonderful Dharma. The icchantika, too, will gain unsurpassed Enlightenment. Why? If he aspires to Enlightenment, such a one is no longer an icchantika.
"O good man! Why do we say that even the icchantika, as well, gains unsurpassed Enlightenment? The icchantika really does not attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. It is as with the person who faces the end of his life and who cannot be cured by a doctor, good medicine, or good medical attendance. Why not? Because life has reached the point where he can live no longer.
"O good man! "Issen" means "faith"; "dai" means "not accompanied". When a person does not possess faith, we say "issendai". The Buddha-Nature is no "faith". The "being" does not mean "to possess". Not possessing, how can the person think of cutting off? "Issen" means "good expedient means", and "dai" "not to possess". When the good expedient means is not practised, we speak of the "icchantika". We say "Buddha-Nature". It is not to practise the good expedient means. Beings do not possess this. Not possessing it, how can it be cut off?
"Issen" means "to go forward", and "dai" "not to possess". When a person does not possess anything that will enable them to go forward, we speak of the icchantika. The Buddha-Nature is "not going forward" and beings are "not possessing". When there is no possessing, how can there be any cutting off?
"Issen means "to remember", and dai "not to possess". When a person does not possess remembrance, we say icchantika. The Buddha-Nature is no remembrance, and beings are no possessing, so how can a person think of cutting off?
"Issen means "samadhi", and dai "not possessing". When samadhi is not possessed, we speak of the icchantika. The Buddha-Nature is no samadhi and beings no possessing. When there is no such possessing, how can one think of ever cutting off?
"Issen means "Wisdom" and dai "not possessing". When a person does not possess Wisdom, we speak of the icchantika. The Buddha-Nature is no Wisdom and beings "no possessing". When a person does not possess Wisdom, how can there be cutting off?
"Issen means "non-eternal good" and dai "not possessing". When a person does not possess the non-eternal good, we say icchantika. The Buddha-Nature is Eternal. It is neither good, nor non-good. Why? Wonderful Dharma unfailingly arises out of expedient means, but this Buddha-Nature is not something that arises out of expedient means. So, it is non-good. And why is it not anything good? Because a good result truly comes about. This good result is none other than unsurpassed Enlightenment.
"Also, because Wonderful Dharma is what we gain after birth. And this Buddha-Nature is not something we gain after birth. Hence, it is not anything that can be termed good. When a person is segregated from the Wonderful Dharma that one gains after birth, we say icchantika.
"O good man! For example, there is a king who hears a harp, the sound of which is serene and wonderful. His mind bewitched, joy and bliss arise, intermingled with loving thoughts, and it is hard (for him) to part with the superb feeling. He says to his minister: "From where does that wonderful kind of sound arise?" The minister replies: "That wonderful sound comes from the harp, sire." The King further says: "Bring me that sound!" Then the minister places the harp before the seat of the king and says: "O great King! This is the sound!" The King says to the harp: "Call forth the sound, call forth the sound!" But the harp does not bring forth any sound. Then the King cuts the strings, and still there is no sound. He tears off the skin, crushes the wood and breaks everything up into pieces, intending to press the sound out, but no sound (comes). Then the King gets angry with the minister and says: "How dare you lie to me!" The minister says to the King: "Now, this is not the way to get at the good sound. All the causal relations and good expedient means can indeed call forth the sound."
"It is the same with the Buddha-Nature. There is no place where it rests. Only through the best expedient means is it able to appear. When it can be seen, one gains unsurpassed Enlightenment. The icchantika cannot see the Buddha-Nature. (So) how can he make away with the sins of the three realms?
"O good man! If the icchantika believes in the fact that there is the Buddha-Nature, know that he cannot fall into the three realms. Also, such a person is not even called an icchantika. Not believing in the fact that there is the Buddha-Nature, this carries him down into the three realms. When a person falls into the three realms, he is an icchantika.
"O good man! You say that if there is not the nature of cream in milk, it cannot bring forth cream; if the seed of the nyagrodha tree does not possess a nature to be 50 feet tall, there cannot be the fact of 50 feet. An ignorant person might well say this, but not one who is wise. Why? Because there is no nature. O good man! If there were the nature of cream, there would be no need to call in the power of causal relations. O good man! Mix water and milk together and leave them thus for a month, and we will never gain any cream. If a drop of “phalgu” (ficus oppositifolia: a red powder usually made from wild ginger root) juice is added, we obtain cream. If there was (already) the phenomenon of cream, why would we need to wait upon the joint workings of causal relations? The same is the case with the Buddha-Nature of all beings. Assisted by various causal relations, we (come to) see it; being grounded on various causal relations, we gain unsurpassed Enlightenment. If things come about assisted by causal relations, this tells us that there is no nature that may be called its own. As there is no nature that can be named, one can well attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. O good man! For this reason, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva always praises the good of a person and does not speak badly about what is deficient. This is the straight mind.
"Also, next, O good man! What is the straight mind of the Bodhisattva? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva never does evil. If evil is performed, the Bodhisattva immediately repents. He never hides (his evil) from his teacher or classmates. His repentance reproaches his own self, and no more evil is done. Even a small sin he feels as grave. When asked, he answers: "I did this". When asked: "Is it right or wrong, good or not good?", he answers: "Not good!" When asked: "Will the sin call forth any result that is good or bad?", he answers: "The result will be one that is not good." "Who is responsible for this sin? Are not all the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha responsible?", he answers: "It is not from the Buddha, Dharma or Sangha. This is what I did myself." This is what defilements create. By the straight mind, he believes in the existence of the Buddha-Nature. When a person believes in the Buddha-Nature, he cannot be an icchantika. Because of this straight mind, we speak of the Buddha's disciple. He may be given a thousand items of clothing, drink, food, bedding, medical attendance, and medicines. All this cannot be called much. This is the Bodhisattva's straight mind.
"How does the Bodhisattva practise sila (the moral precepts)? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva upholds sila, but not for birth in the heavens, nor out of fear; nor does he receive silas against dogs, fowls, cows, and pheasants. He does not violate sila, nor does he fail in it, or wrong it; nor does he practise any mixed-up silas; nor any sravaka sila. He upholds the sila of the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, the silaparamita (perfected morality). He is perfect in the upasampada, and is not arrogant. This is the sense in which we say that the Bodhisattva practises the Way of Gret Nirvana and is perfect in the third sila.
"How does the Bodhisattva befriend a good friend? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva always practises much and expounds to beings the Way, not anything evil, saying that evil never calls forth a good result. O good man! I am the good teacher of all beings. Hence I thoroughly destroy the twisted views of the Brahmins. O good man! If any beings befriend me, they gain birth in the heavens, even though there be reason for them to fall into hell. This is as with Sunaksatra and others, who, on seeing me, were born in the Rupadhatu Heaven, extirpating the causal relations of being born in hell. There are such persons as Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, who were no true good teachers of the Way to beings. Why? Due to gaining the mind of the icchantika.
"O good man! I once lived in Varanasi. At that time, Sariputra taught two disciples. The one he taught to meditate upon white bones, and the other to count the number of breaths. Even after many years, they could gain no meditation. As a result of this, they acquired twisted views and said: "There is no undefiled dharma of Nirvana. If there were, I would have gained it. Why? I observe well all the silas that I have to observe." Then, on seeing that these bhiksus had acquired twisted views, I sent for Sariputra and reproached him: "You do not teach well. Why do you teach these persons in an inverted way? Your disciples differ in their bent. One is a washerman, and the other is a goldsmith. The son of a goldsmith may be taught the counting of the number of breaths, and the washerman to meditate on white bones. As you teach in the wrong way, these two persons gain wrong views." I then taught these two persons as they ought to have been taught, and the two, after having been taught, attained arhatship. Therefore, I am the good teacher of the Way for all beings, and not Sariputra or Maudgalyayana. If any being who might have the worst fetter of defilement happens to meet me, I can, using the best expedient means, thoroughly cut away the root.
"Srigupta was extremely evil-minded. But on seeing me, all his perverted views of life were done away with. On seeing me, he made away with the cause for hell and gained the (prerequisite) condition for birth in the heavens.
"On seeing me, Sendaibiku became unwavering in the observance of sila, so that he would even abandon his life rather than violate sila, as in the case of Sokebiku (i.e. the "grass-bound bhiksu". So named due to the fact that once this bhiksu was deprived of all his clothing by robbers and then was tied up to grass and thus left out in the sun. But the bhiksu did not try to rend himself free from the grass, as he thought this would kill the grass. The king saw this and freed him. The king was greatly impressed by this holy action and later himself joined the Sangha). For this reason, Ananda is said to have stated that a semi-pure action is a good teacher of the Way. But the case with me is not so. I say that a fully pure action is the good teacher of the Way. This is how the Bodhisattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana and perfects the fourth action of befriending a good teacher of the Way.
"How does the Bodhisattva-mahasattva perfect rich hearing? The Bodhisattva, for the sake of Great Nirvana, copies, recites, understands and expounds the 12 types of sutras. This, we say, is how the Bodhisattva perfects rich hearing.
"Even if one takes up the whole of this sutra, but upholds a four-line gatha, or even excludes this gatha, but believes in the fact that the Tathagata is Eternal and Does Not Change - even this can be the perfection of the Bodhisattva's rich hearing.
"Also, a person may even make away with this, but only know that the Tathagata does not always deliver sermons. And even this is the perfection of rich hearing by the Bodhisattva. Why? Because there is no thing that can be termed Dharma nature itself. The Tathagata talks of Dharma. But there exists nothing such as that which can be talked about. This, we say, is how the Bodhsiattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana and is perfect in the fifth rich hearing.
"O good man! There may be a good man or good woman who, for the sake of Great Nirvana, perfects or accomplishes the five things and does what is difficult to do, endures what cannot be endured, and gives what cannot be given.
"How does the Bodhisattva do well that which is difficult to do? When he hears that a man just takes a sesame seed for food and attains unsurpassed Enlightenment, he believes this, and for a period of innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas, he partakes of a single sesame seed. If he hears that he attains unsurpassed Enlightenment by entering fire, he will go into the burning fires of Avichi Hell for a period of innumerable kalpas. This is where we say that the Bodhisattva does what is difficult to do.
"How does the Bodhisattva endure what is difficult to endure? If he hears that one can attain Great Nirvana by bearing the hardships of having his hand struck by a staff or a sword or a stone, he will, for a period of innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas, subject his body (to such) and will not make it a pain (i.e. he will not regard this as painful). This is where we say that the Bodhisattva endures well what is difficult to endure.
"How does the Bodhisattva give what is hard to give? If he hears that by giving away to others one's national castle, one's wife and children, one's head, eyes, or marrow, one gains unsurpassed Enlightenment, he will for a period of innumerable asamkhyas of kalpas give away his castle town, his wife and children, his head, eyes and marrow to others. This is how we speak of the Bodhisattva's giving away what is hard to give away.
"The Bodhisattva does what is difficult to do, but he in no way says: "This is what I did." This applies to what is difficult to endure and what is difficult to give away.
"O good man! For example, there are (two) parents who have a child. They love this child very much. They give this son fine clothes and the best dishes when the occasion requires such, and the child has no feeling of anything lacking. If their son becomes arrogant and speaks unpleasing words, they suppress their anger out of their love; they do not even think to themselves that they have given this son of theirs clothing and food. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, too. He views all beings as though they were his only son. If the son suffers from illness, the parents also suffer. They seek a doctor, medicine, and medical attendance. When the illness has departed, they do not think that they have cured their son of his illness and done away with it. It is the same with the Bodhisattva. Seeing that all beings suffer from the illness of defilement, compassion awakens in his mind. And he speaks of Dharma. When a person listens to his sermons, all defilements flee. When the defilements have gone, he does not think or say that he has done away with the sufferings of defilement. Should any such thought occur to him, he would not be able to attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. He only thinks that he has never spoken of the Way to a being and has thus cut off the fetter of defilement. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva experiences no anger or joy towards beings. Why not? Because he practises the samadhi of the All-Void. On practising the samadhi of the All-Void, to whom could the Bodhisattva evince any anger or joy? O good man! For example, a forest becomes consumed by a great fire and gets burnt down, or is felled by man, or gets inundated with water. But do the forest-trees grow angry or become pleased? It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He possesses no anger or joy towards any being. Why not? Because he practises the samadhi of the All-Void."
Then the All-Shining Bodhisattva-mahasattva Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Is the nature of all things void? Or is it void when we practise the Void? If the nature is All-Void, there cannot be any gaining of the All-Void by practising the All-Void. How can the Tathagata say that one gains the All-Void by practising the All-Void? If the nature is not All-Void, there cannot be any gaining of the All-Void by practising the All-Void."
"O good man! The nature of all things is originally All-Void. Why? Because we cannot hold in our hands the nature of all things. O good man! The nature of matter cannot be held in one's hand. What is the nature of matter? Matter is not earth, water, fire, or wind. And (yet) it does not part from the nature of earth, water, fire, and wind. It is not blue, yellow, red, or white. And it does not part from blue, yellow, red, or white. It is not is; it is not is-not. How can we say that matter has its own nature?
"As its nature is impossible to catch hold of, we say "all-void". It is the same with all things. As there is similarity and continuity, common mortals see and say that the nature of all things is not all-void. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva perfects the five things. So he sees that the original nature of all things is all-silence. O good man! If there is any sramana or Brahmin who sees that the nature of all things is not all-void, know that such a one is no sramana, or no Brahmin. Such a person cannot practise prajnaparamita and attain Great Nirvana. He cannot see all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas face to face; he is the kindred of Mara. O good man! The nature of all things is originally All-Void. And when the Bodhisattva practises the All-Void, he sees the All-Void of all things.
"O good man! The nature of all things is impermanent. So, extinction well extinguishes extinction. If things were not impermanent, extinction could not extinguish. Any created thing has the phase of birth. So, a birth can call forth a birth. As there is the phase of extinction, this phase of extinction well calls forth extinction.
"All things have the characteristic of suffering; on account of this, suffering evokes suffering. O good man! The nature of salt is salty. So it indeed makes other things taste salty. Rock candy is sweet by nature. So it indeed makes other things (taste) sweet. Vinegar is sour by nature. So it makes other things taste sour. Ginger is pungent by nature. So it makes other things taste pungent. Haritaki tastes bitter. So it makes other things taste bitter. The mango (“amra”) tastes light. So it makes other things taste light. Poison truly harms others. The amrta's (i.e. ambrosia's) nature makes a person immortal. Also, mixed with alien things, it enables such not to die. The case is the same with the Bodhisattva who practises the All-Void. When he practises the All-Void, he sees the nature of all things to be all-void and silent."
The All-Shining Bodhisattva-mahasattva Highly-Virtuous King further said: "If salt can make what is not salty salty, and if, thus practising the samadhi of the All-Void, matters stand thus, we can know that this is definitely not what is good, not what is wonderful, but that the nature is upside down. The samadhi of the All-Void sees only the All-Void. The Void is not a thing. What thing is there there to see?"
"O good man! The samadhi of the All-Void makes what is not void void and silent. It is nothing that is upside down. This is as when what is not salty is made to become salty. The case is the same with this samadhi of the All-Void. It makes what is not void void. O good man! Greed is by nature "is" and is nothing of the nature of the void. If greed is by nature all-void, beings, through causal relations, could not fall into hell. If they fall into hell, how can it be that the nature of greed is all-void? O good man! The nature of matter is "is". What is its nature? It is what is upside down (i.e. an inversion of the truth). Being upside down, beings acquire desire. If this desire were not upside down, how could beings acquire desire? As desire comes about, know that the nature of matter is not that which is not "is". For this reason, the practice of the samadhi of the All-Void is not upside down.
"O good man! When every common mortal sees a woman, there arises the form of a woman. Not so with the Bodhisattva. Even on seeing a woman, he does not gain the form of a woman. Gaining no form of a woman, there arises no desire. As no desire comes about, this is nothing that is upside down. When worldly people see a woman, the Bodhisattva accordingly says: "There is a woman". If a man is seen and the Bodhisattva says: "This is a woman", this is an inversion. For this reason I said to Jyoti: "You Brahmin! If you call day night, this is an inversion; if you call night day, this again is an inversion. That which is day is the form of day, and that which is night is the form of night. How can this be an inversion?" O good man! If a Bodhisattva abides in the ninth soil, he sees that a thing has a nature. Because of this view of the world, he does not see the Buddha-Nature. If the Buddha-Nature is seen, there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing. When he practises this samadhi of the All-Void, he does not see any nature in all things. As he does not see this, he sees the Buddha-Nature.
"All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas speak of two aspects. The one is the nature of "is", and the other is that of "not-is". For the sake of beings, they say that there is a nature in a thing. For the sake of holy ones, they say that there is no nature in things. In order to let a person of the non-Void see the Void, that person is made to practise the samadhi of the All-Void. With those persons who see no nature in all things, what there is is the All-Void, because they practise the Void. For this reason, a person sees the Void by practising the Void. O good man! You say that if one sees the Void, this means that the Void is equal to no thing, and ask what that thing is that one must see. O good man! It is thus, it is thus. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva sees nothing. To say that one sees nothing means that one possesses nothing. To say that there is nothing possessed equals all things. If the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises the Way of Great Nirvana, he sees nothing in all things. If something is seen, this tells us that one sees no Buddha-Nature. One cannot (in such circumstances) practise prajnaparamita and gain Mahaparinirvana. For this reason, the Bodhisattva sees that all things are characterised by having nothing that can be possessed.
"O good man! It is not only the case that the Bodhisattva, by seeing this samadhi, sees the Void. He sees that prajnaparamita is Void, dhyanaparamita is Void, viriyaparamita is Void, ksantiparamita is Void, silaparamita is Void, danaparamita is Void, matter is Void, the eye is Void, consciousness, too, is Void, the Tathagata is Void, and Mahaparinirvana is Void. Thus, the Bodhisattva sees things as Void.
"That is why I said to Ananda at Kapilavastu: "Do not be sad, do not cry and weep." Ananda said: "O Tathagata-World-Honoured One! Now, all my relatives are dead. How can I not weep? The Tathagata was born in this castle-town together with me, and we are all related to the Shakya clan. How is it that the Tathagata alone is not sad and does not worry, but displays such a bright visage?"
"O good man! I then said: "O Ananda! You think that Kapilavastu truly exists, whereas I see that all is empty and silent and that there is nothing that exists. You see all the Shakyas as your relatives. But I see totally nothing therein, because I practise the All-Void. That is why you gain sorrow and pain, and I look all the more bright. As all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas practise the samadhi of the All-Void, they do not show any sorrow or worry." This is how the Bodhisattva practises the Way of the All-Wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana and perfects and accomplishes the ninth virtue.
"Also, next, O good man! How does the Bodhisattva practise the teaching of the All-Wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana and perfect the last and tenth virtue (i.e. after, for example, the practice of the All-Void)?
"O good man! The Bodhisattva practises the 37 factors leading to Enlightenment, gains the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, and then, for the sake of beings, classifies and expounds the Sutra of Great Nirvana and reveals the Buddha-Nature. Anybody of the stages of srotapanna, sakrdagamin, anagamin, arhat, pratyekabuddha or Bodhisattva who believes in this word will attain Mahaparinirvana. Any person who does not believe repeats the cycle of birth and death."
"O good man! After my entering Nirvana, there will be sravaka disciples who are ignorant and violate the precepts and take pleasure in disputation. They will cast away the 12 types of sutra and recite and copy the documents of the various schools of the tirthikas, keep all impure things, and say that these are things that were permitted by the Buddha. Such people will trade sandalwood for common wood, gold for brass, silver for solder, silk for wool, and amrta (ambrosia) for bad poison.
"What do I mean when I say that sandalwood is traded for common wood? My disciples, for the sake of alms, will preach Dharma to all the white-clad (i.e. the laity). People will lose interest and not give ear. They will sit high and the bhiksus low. Besides, they will offer various kinds of food and drink. But they will not listen. This is what we mean by trading sandalwood for common wood.
"What do we mean by trading gold for brass? The brass may be likened to colour, sound, smell, taste, and touch, and gold to the moral precepts. All my disciples will violate the precepts they have received for reason of things. So we say they trade gold for brass.
"Why do we say trading silver for solder? We liken silver to the ten good deeds and solder to the ten evil deeds. All my disciples will abandon the ten good deeds, performing the ten evil deeds. So we say they trade silver for solder.
"How does a person trade silk for wool? Wool is likened to non-repentance and shamelessness, and silk to having a sense of shame. All my disciples will abandon repentance and not feel ashamed. This is why we say that they will relinquish silk for wool.
"How does one trade amrta for poison? Poison can be likened to the various alms offered, and amrta to undefiled Dharma. All my disciples will praise their own selves for profit in the presence of the laity and will claim that they have attained that which is undefiled. This is what we mean when we say they will trade amrta for poison.
"Due to such bhiksus of evil designs, even when this All-Wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana flourishes in Jambudvipa and when all disciples recite, copy, and preach it, and cause it to flourish, these will be killed by such evil bhiksus. Then, all such bhiksus of evil designs will gather together and take oaths: "If any person upholds, copies, recites, or studies the Great Nirvana Sutra, we will not sit together with them, not talk or exchange words with them. Why not? The Great Nirvana Sutra is not a sutra of the Buddha's. Why not? It is a work of perverted views. These perverted views are none but of the six masters. What the six masters say is no sutra of the Buddha. Why not? All Buddhas say that all things are impermanent, non-Self, non-bliss, and non-pure. When it is said that all things are the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure, how could this be a sutra of the Buddha's? All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas permit the bhiksus to store up various things. The six masters do not allow their disciples to store up anything. How could all this be what the Buddha says? All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not tell their disciples to refrain from the five tastes (i.e. the five varieties of milk product) and from eating meat. The six masters do not permit the five kinds of salt, the five tastes of the cow, and fat and blood. How could the prohibiting of these be the right teaching of the Buddha's sutra? All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas preach the three vehicles. But this sutra speaks only of One. It speaks of Great Nirvana. How could anything such be the right teaching of the Buddha? All Buddhas ultimately enter Nirvana. This sutra says that the Buddha is the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure, and that he does not enter Nirvana. This sutra does not have any place amongst the 12 types of sutras. This is what Mara says. This is no sermon of the Buddha's."
"O good man! Any such person might be my disciple, but he is unable to believe in this sutra. O good man! If, at such a juncture, there should be any person who believes in this sutra, or in even half a line (of it), know that such a person is truly my disciple. With such faith, one will see the Buddha-Nature and enter Nirvana."
Then, the All-Shining Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! It is very well, it is very well that the Tathagata today thoroughly opens up the Great Nirvana Sutra. O World-Honoured One! I have now, through this, come to know of a single or half a line of this Great Nirvana Sutra. As I come to understand a line or half a line, I now see somewhat of the Buddha-Nature, which you the Buddha speak about. I too shall be able to attain Great Nirvana. This is how we speak of the Bodhisattva's practising the Way of the All-Wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana and of his perfecting and accomplishing the tenth virtue."
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter One Introductory
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Two: On Cunda
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Three: On Grief
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Four: On Long Life
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Five: On the Adamantine Body
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Six: On the Virtue of the Name
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seven: On the Four Aspects
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eight: On the Four Dependables
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nine: On Wrong and Right
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Ten: On the Four Truths
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eleven: On the Four Inversions
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twelve: On the Tathagata-DHATU
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirteen: On Letters
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fourteen: On the Parable of the Birds
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Fifteen: On the Parable of the Moon
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Sixteen: On the Bodhisattva
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Seventeen: On the Questions Raised by the Crowd
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Eighteen: On Actual Illness
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Nineteen: On Holy Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty: On Holy Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-One: On Pure Actions-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Two: On Pure Actions-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Three: On Pure Actions-3
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Four: On Pure Actions-4
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Five: On Pure Actions-5
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Six: On the Action of the Child
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-1
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Eight: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King-2
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-One: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Two: Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Three: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (A)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Four: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Five: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Six: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Seven: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Eight: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (f)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Thirty-Nine: On Bodhisattva Lion's Roar (g)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-One: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (b)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Two: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (c)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Three: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (d)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Four: On Bodhisattva Kasyapa (e)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Five: On Kaundinya (a)
- Nirvana Sutra: Chapter Forty-Six: On Kaundinya (b)