(Taisho Tripitaka No. 0423)
(Reference: Buddha speaks Great Assembly True Dharma Sutra, Taisho Tripitaka No. 0424)
(* According to the Buddhist Dictionary, Taisho 0423 & 0424 are two Chinese translations from a same Sanskrit source)
Taisho 0423 was translated during the YEUN, NGAY Dynasty by Udanni prince Upasunya;
Taisho 0424 was translated during the SONG Dynasty by Tripitaka master Danapala;
Thus I have heard: At one time, the Bhagavan(World-honored One) was at Eagle-Peak(Grdhrkuta-parvata) in Rajagriha, together with 32,000 great monks(Bhiksu), whose names are: Wisdom-Life(Ayusmat) Ajnata-kaundinya, Wisdom-Life Maha-Maudgalyayana, Wisdom-Life Shariputra, Wisdom-Life Maha-kasyapa, Wisdom-Life Rahula, Wisdom-Life Bakkula, Wisdom-Life Bhadrapala, Wisdom-Life Bhadrashri, Wisdom-Life Chandanashri, the venerable Jangula, Wisdom-Life Subhuti, Wisdom-Life Revata, Wisdom-Life Nanda-sena and Wisdom-Life Ananda and so forth; and together with 62,000 Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, whose names are: Maitreya Bodhisattva, Sarva-shura(All Heroism) Bodhisattva, Kumara-shri(Child-virtue) Bodhisattva, Kumara-vasin(Child-arouse-heart) Bodhisattva, Kumara-bhadra(Child-goodness) Bodhisattva, Anuna(No decrease) Bodhisattva, Manjusri Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Sudarshana Bodhisattva, Bhaishajya-sena Bodhisattva, Vajra-sena Bodhisattva and so forth; and together with 12,000 Lords of heavens, whose names are: Lord Arjuna, Lord Bhadra, Lord Subhadra, Lord Dharmaruci, Lord Chandana-garbha, Lord Chandanavasin, Lord Chandana and so forth; and together with 8,000 goddesses, whose names are: goddess Mrdamgini, goddess Prasadavati, goddess Mahatmasamprayukta, goddess Glorious Eye, goddess Prajapati vasini, goddess Balini, goddess Glorious Wealth, goddess Subahuyukta and so forth; and together with 8,000 dragon(naga) kings, whose names are: dragon king Apalala, dragon king Elapatra, dragon king Timimgila, dragon king Kumbhasara, dragon king Kumbhashirsha, dragon king Causing Virtue, the dragon king Sunanda, dragon king Sushakha, dragon king Gavashirsha and so forth.
They proceeded to the Eagle-Peak, where the Bhagavan was staying. Having reached there, they touched their heads to the ground to bow to the Buddha's feet, circumambulated the Buddha three times, and then withdrew to one side.
At that time, Sarvashura(All-Braveries) Bodhisattva-Mahasattva arose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, joined his palms together towards the Buddha, and said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, billions of gods, billions of goddesses, billions of Bodhisattvas, billions of Sravakas, and billions of dragon kings have gathered and are seated for listening to true Dharma. That being so, may the Tathagata, the Arhat, the fully awakened one, please preach the wonderful Dharma that can make living beings peaceful during their long night of transmigration, and breaks all of their obstacles."
Then the Bhagavan praised Sarvashura Bodhisattva: "How virtuous, Sarvashura! you can ask Tathagata on this topic for the sake of living beings. Therefore, Sarvashura, listen attentively and keep in mind, and I will tell you."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva replied: "It will be as you say."
The Bhagavan told Sarvashura Bodhisattva: "There is a Dharma-Gate (Dharma-paryaya) called Sanghata, if anyone in Jambudvipa(the human world) hears it, their five rebellious karmas will be purified and they will never fall back from Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi(supreme correct enlightenment). Sarvashura, do you know that, if anyone is blissful enough to hear this Dharma-Gate, the mass of blessings and virtues that he gain will be greater than that is accumulated by one Buddha."
Sarvashura asked the Buddha: "How is that?"
The Bhagavan said: "Sarvashura, if anyone hears this Dharma-Gate, the blessings and virtues that he will gain are equal to the blessings and virtues of Buddhas as many as Ganges-river-sands. Sarvashura, those who hear this Sanghata Dharma-Gate will never backslide from Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, will see all Buddhas, will achieve Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, will not be disturbed by evil demons, and will accomplish all virtuous Dharmas. Sarvashura, those who hear this Dharma-Gate will understand creation and destruction."
Then all the assembly arose, placed the upper robe over one shoulder, set the right knee on the ground, joined their palms together towards the Buddha, and said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, how many blessings and virtues does one Buddha have?"
The Buddha said: " Virtuous men, listen attentively. The blessings and virtues of one Buddha are as many drops of water as there are in the ocean, as many as atoms of the planet. If living beings as many as Ganges-river-sands all became Bodhisattvas of the tenth stage(Bhumi), all the blessings and virtues of those tenth stage Bodhisattvas are less than that of one Buddha. Sarvashura, as for those living beings who hear this Sanghata Dharma-Gate, the blessings they will gain is much more than that, is uncountable and cannot be known by figure of speech. "
After hearing that, everyone of the assembly was overjoyed and greatly increased his blessings and virtues.
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, "Bhagavan, what kind of living beings thirst for and enjoy the true Dharma?"
The Bhagavan told Sarvashura Bodhisattva Mahasattva: "Sarvashura, there are two kinds of living beings who thirst for Dharma. Those of the first kind has an equal mind towards all living beings; as for those of the second kind, after hearing Dharmas, they will equally preach to the public without desire."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva said, "Bhagavan, by hearing what Dharmas one can get close to the Bodhi(enlightenment)?"
The Buddha said: "Sarvashura, the ones who thirst for hearing Dharmas will get close to Bodhi; the ones who enjoy hearing and accept Mahayana(Great vehicle) Dharmas will be close to Bodhi."
Then billions of gods, goddesses, dragons and human beings arose joining their palms together towards the Buddha and said:
"Bhagavan, we are thirsty for Dharmas, May the Bhagavan fulfill our wishes. "
Then the Buddha smiled, rays of various colors were emitted forth from his mouth, shining throughout worlds of the ten directions up to the Brahma heaven, and then the rays entered into the Buddha through his crown.
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva arose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, joined his palms together and said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, for what causes and conditions Tathagata(Thus Come One) manifested this rare scene?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura Bodhisattva, "All living beings in this assembly will acquire Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, will get in the state of all Tathagatas, thus the Buddha smiled."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva said, "Bhagavan, by what causes and condition will the living beings in this assembly acquire Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi?"
The Buddha said: "Good, good, Sarvashura, you can ask the Tathagata on this. Sarvashura, it is because of the great vow."
"Sarvashura, in times past, countless eons(asamkhyas kalpas) ago, there was a Buddha named Ratna-shri(Treasure-virtue), Thus Come One(Tathagata), One worthy of offerings (Arhat), One of correct and universal knowledge, One perfect in wisdom and practice, Well gone one(sugata), One fully understands all worlds, Unsurpassed one(anuttara), Taming and Subduing Hero, Teacher of gods and human beings, Buddha, World-Honored One(Bhagavan)."
"Sarvashura, at that time, I was an innocent youth (Manavaka), and the living beings in this assembly, who are staying in Buddha wisdom now, were all deer. At that time, I vowed that I must make all those dear stay in Buddha wisdom. After hearing that, all the dear uttered a sound: 'May it be so.'
"Sarvashura, because of those virtuous roots, members of this great assembly will acquire Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi."
Thereupon, Sarvashura Bodhisattva Mahasattva said to the Buddha:: "Bhagavan, if anyone hears this Dharma, how long will his life be?"
The Buddha said: "His lifespan will be fully 80 kalpas."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva said, "Bhagavan, what is the measure of kalpa?"
The Buddha said: "Virtuous man, for example, suppose there is a big city, which is 12 yojanas in length, 12 yojanas in width and 3 yojanas in height, and is filled up with nothing but sesame seeds. A long life man takes a single sesame seed every 100 years. In such a manner, when the sesame seeds in the city is exhausted, a kalpa is not yet at its end."
"Sarvashura, for another example, suppose there is a big mountain, which is 25 yojanas in length, 25 yojanas in width and 12 yojanas in height. A long life man whisks it one time with a silken cloth every 100 years. In such a manner, when the mountain is wiped off, a kalpa is not yet at its end."
"That is the measure of kalpa."
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, just one vow can gain the blissful virtues of 80 kalpas' lifespan, How much more so, then, of those who widely practice the teachings of Buddhas?"
The Buddha said: "Virtuous man: if anyone who hears this Sanghata Dharma-Gate, his lifespan will be fully 80 kalpas, and how much more so, then, of those who write, read and recite this sutra!"
"Sarvashura, anyone who reads and recites this Dharma-Gate with pure belief will get more blessings than the formers. He will be able to know his past lifetimes for 95 kalpas, will be a wheel-turning-sage-king for 60 thousand kalpas, and will be respected by people in his present existence, and, swords, poisons, and poisonous insects will not be able to harm him. When he is about to die, he will see 9.5 billion Buddhas, and the Buddhas will comfort him: 'You need not fear, because you have heard the Sanghata Dharma-Gate when you were alive, now you are welcome to any of the pure lands of 9.5 billion Buddhas.'"
"Sarvashura, how much more so, of those who completely hear this Dharma-Gate?"
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva said to the Bhagavan: "Bhagavan, if I listen to this Dharma-Gate and embrace it, how many blessings and virtues will I gain? "
The Buddha said: "Sarvashura, anyone who hears this sutra will gain blessings and virtues as many as all the blessings and virtues of the Buddhas as many as Ganges river sands."
Sarvashura said, "Bhagavan, I will never be tired of listening to this Dharma-Gate."
The Buddha told Sarvashura: "Good, good, you will never be tired of listening to Dharmas, I also will never be tired of speaking Dharmas, how come common earthlings would be weary?"
"Sarvashura, if any virtuous person hears this Dharma-Gate and believes in it, he will not fall into the evil paths for a thousand kalpas; will not become an animal for 50 kalpas; will not be ignorant for 12 thousand kalpas; will not be born in remote border lands (where there are no Buddha Dharmas to be encountered) for 18 thousand kalpas; will be born with good looks for 20 thousand kalpas, will be born in heaven for 25 thousand kalpas; will be celibate for 35 thousand kalpas; will be able to become a monk for 25 thousand kalpas; will be a true Dharma king for 50 thousand kalpas; will practice the Buddhas' teachings and meditate on death for 65 thousand kalpas.
(*Fall into the evil paths: Be born as hell-being, hungry ghost or animal)
"Sarvashura, that virtuous person will never think of committing sins again, so that no evil demons will get any opportunity to harm him, and he will never be reborn in any womb."
"Sarvashura, if anyone hears this Sanghata Dharma-Gate, no matter where he will be born, he will not fall into evil paths for 95 Asamkhya (incalculable great) kalpas; will be able to uphold the Dharma he had heard for 80 thousand kalpas; will abandon killing for 100 thousand kalpas; will abandon telling lies for 99 thousand kalpas, will abandon slander for 13 thousand kalpas."
"Sarvashura, this Dharma-Gate is difficult to meet, and even its name is difficult to hear."
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva arose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, set his right knee on the ground, joined his palms together and said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, if anyone slander this Dharma-Gate, how many sins will he produce?"
The Buddha said: "The sins are too many."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked again: "Bhagavan, how many sins will he produce?"
The Buddha said: "Do not ask that, virtuous man. If someone has ill-will towards the Buddhas, the Tathagatas as many as sands in 12 Ganges Rivers, if another one slanders this Dharma-Gate, the latter will produce more sins than the former."
"Why? Sarvashura, if one slanders this true Dharma, he is having ill-will towards Mahayana, that is like burning himself out."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, then how can such a living being be saved?"
The Bhagavan said: "For example, if someone cut off his own head with the sword, the doctor help him by applying rock-candy, ghee, and various medicines on his wound, Sarvashura, what do you think about that? Would that person survive?"
Sarvashura said, "No, Bhagavan."
The Buddha said: "That one in the turning wheel of transmigration is like such."
"Sarvashura, for another example, if someone fought against another and both got many sword wounds, and then a good doctor came and cured them with good medicines. When they were healed, recalling the pains, they said to each other: 'From now on, we will never think of killing or hurting again.'"
"Sarvashura, those with wisdom are like such. Although they had committed evil karma, they can repent and do not abandon correct Dharmas, therefore they can gradually gather all the Dharmas that help them escape from births and deaths."
"For another example, when a person have exhausted the resultant karma that built up his current lifetime, his parents may cry sorrowfully but cannot save their child. Those common earthlings cannot profit either themselves or others. Likewise, those who do not cultivate virtuous karma will have no dependence when they are about to die."
"Sarvashura, there are two kinds of living beings who have no dependence. Those of the first kind do immoral things, and those of the second kind slander true Dharmas. People of those two kinds will have no dependence at the time of their death."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, where will those who slander Dharmas be born in?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura: "Those who slander Dharmas will fall into huge hells. They will suffer in the Big Crying Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Crushing Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Burning Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Extremely Burning Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Black Rope Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Avichi Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Hair Staring Hell for one kalpa, suffer in the Whirr Hell for one kalpa."
"Sarvashura, the living beings who slander Dharmas will suffer in these eight huge hells for fully eight kalpas."
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, it is too painful, too painful to hear."
Then the Bhagavan spoke the verse(gatha): "
It cannot be heard, because it is too horrible.
Hells are extremely painful places, in which living beings are suffering.
Those who do virtuous deeds will get happy rewards.
Those who do immoral deeds will get painful retributions.
Being alive, the pain of death is coming;
Being tied by grief, sorrows and pains,
the common earthlings are always suffering,
without any little bit of happiness.
In order to seek happiness,
the wise people yearn towards Buddhas,
and believe in the immaculate Mahayana,
then they will not fall into the evil paths.
Thus, Sarvashura, deed(karma)s will produce retribution,.
even though the karma is small at the time we create it,
it will produce immense retribution.
Even though the seed is small,
it can bear plenty of fruits.
Cultivating the blissful fields of Buddha,
will produce the fruits of bliss and liberation.
Having peace and happiness,
the wise ones enjoy all Buddha-Dharmas;
keeping away from the evil paths,
they practice all virtuous Dharmas.
If anyone donates even a little bit of thing to Buddhas,
he will be very rich and have plenty of treasures for 80 thousand kalpas.
He will always think of donating in whichever place he will be born.
So, Sarvashura, the blessings gained by donating to Buddhas are very many."
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, how to cultivate the Buddha-Wisdom? How much will the virtuous roots grow by hearing this Sanghata Dharma-Gate?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura: "If someone offers, sustains, and donates various goods to the Buddhas as many as 6.2 billion Ganges-river-sands; if another one hear this Dharma-Gate, the blessings and virtues he will gain are as many as that gained by the former."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, when can the virtuous roots be perfect?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: "When one's merits and virtues are equal to those of a Buddha, his virtuous roots are perfect."
Sarvashura asked: "Who has the merits and virtues that equal to those of a Tathagata?"
The Buddha said: "Virtuous man, a Dharma-Teacher has the virtuous roots that equal to those of a Tathagata."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked: "Bhagavan, who is the Dharma-Teacher?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura Bodhisattva: "The one who circulates this Sanghata Dharma-Gate is called Dharma-Teacher."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, How many merits will one gain by hearing this Dharma-Gate? And how many merits will one gain by writing, reading and reciting this Dharma-Gate?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura Bodhisattva: "Virtuous man, suppose that at each of the ten directions, there are 12 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, each of those Buddhas stay in the world and preach Dharmas for fully 12 kalpas; If there is a virtuous man who preaches this Sanghata Dharma-Gate, his merits and virtues will be equal to that of those Tathagatas."
"If there is a virtuous man who writes this sutra, then the Buddhas as many as 48 Ganges-river-sands cannot finish proclaiming his merits and virtues. How much more so, then, of those who write, read, recite and uphold this sutra!"
Sarvashura Bodhisattva asked the Buddha: "How many blessings will one gain by reading and reciting this sutra?"
Then the Buddha answered in a gatha(verse): "
The supreme blessings gained by reading even four sentences of the gathas of this sutra,
are equal to the blessings of the Dharmas that taught by the Buddhas as many as 84 Ganges-river-sands.
The blessings and merits gained by reading this Dharma-Gate are so many that no words can fully express them,
even if 1.8 billion Buddhas stay in the world for fully one kalpa.
All Buddhas of the ten directions are constantly glorifying the Dharmas of Mahayana,
they have always been preaching this Dharma-Gate and will never stop.
Meeting the Buddha is difficult, so do meeting this Dharma."
At the time, 8.4 billion gods came to the Buddha, joined their palms together, paid homage to the Buddha and asked: "How virtuous, Bhagavan! We wish that such Dharma-Store can stay in Jambudvipa."
At that time, 1.8 trillion Nirgranthas(Jains) also came to the Buddha and said: " Sramana Gautama, we are superior to you!"
The Buddha said to the Nirgranthas: "Tathagatas are always superior indeed, you people believe in inverted theories, how could you be superior? Because of that, now you should listen carefully. In order to benefit all of you, I have some words for you:
"Mundane persons have neither wisdom nor joyance,
How could they be superior?
They do not know the correct Way,
How could they be superior?
I discern the destinies of living beings,
with the extremely deep Buddha-eye."
Those Nirgranthas then became angry with the Bhagavan. At that time, having seen that with his heavenly eyes, Sakra-devanam-Indra(the God of the 33 heavens) took up a Vajra-pestle, rubbed his weapon and aimed it at the Nirgranthas. The 1.8 trillion Nirgranthas then panicked and cried sadly. Subsequently, the Tathagata disappeared from their sight. Not seeing the Tathagata, the Nirgranthas wept sorrowfully and said:
"Neither parents nor brothers can save us,
it is like we see only wilderness and big marsh,
and cannot find the footpath.
In such a place, there is no water or shade of a tree,
and also no other person.
Without companion, we are suffering alone.
We suffer so much, because we cannot see the Tathagata."
Then the Nirgranthas arose from their seat, knelt with the right knee and cried out loudly:
"Tathagata, compassionate one,
please save us,
we are now willing to rely on the Buddha."
The Bhagavan then smiled, and said to Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: "Virtuous man, you should go to the Exterior-path(*) practitioners Nirgranthas' dwelling to preach Dharmas for them."
The true way to the Correct-Awakening is called Inner-path, oppositely, all other ways that cannot reach this goal are called Exterior-paths.
Generally, "Exterior-path" is interpreted by many people as "non-Buddhist"/"other religious "/"heretic".)
Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva then replied to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, for example, all other mountains can not surpass the Sumeru Mountain King, likewise, Bhagavan, in front of the Tathagata, I dare not to preach Dharma."
At that time the Bhagavan told Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva: "Virtuous man, do not say so. The Tathagata has many expedient means. Sarvashura, you should go to look through all the worlds of the ten directions, where are the Tathagatas? In which place do they set up their Tathagata-thrones? Sarvashura, I will be in the Nirgranthas' dwelling and preach Dharmas for them."
Sarvashura Bodhisattva then asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, by whose holy power shall I go? Should I go by my own holy power, or by the Buddha's holy power?"
The Buddha told Sarvashura: "You should go by your own holy power, and return by the Buddha's holy power."
Then Sarvashura Bodhisattva-Mahasattva arose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, bowed to the Buddha and thereupon disappeared. The Bhagavan then preach Dharmas for the Nirgranthas:
"Being alive is suffering, being alive is agonizing. There are lots of fears in the lifetime. Having been born, one will suffer from illness, aging, and death, will suffer from imprisonments, robberies, water disasters, fire disasters, wind disasters, whirlpools disasters, toxins, and will suffer from the misfortunes that are caused by his own karmas."
Then those Exterior-path practitioners were frightened, they said to the Buddha: "Bhagavan, from now on, we can no longer endure being alive."
After the Bhagavan had preached that Dharma, those 1.8 trillion Exterior-path practitioners removed themselves from dust and defilement, set their mind on Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, and subsequently, all of them achieved the tenth Bhumi(stage). Being great Bodhisattvas, they then manifested various holy powers. Some of them transformed themselves to elephants, horses, lions, tigers, golden-wings-birds(Garuda), or transformed to Sumeru Mountains, elders, monkeys, or created many lotus thrones and then sat in full-lotus posture (cross-legged) on the thrones. When manifesting those supernatural powers and transformations, 900 billion Bodhisattvas of them were in the south, and other 900 billion Bodhisattvas were in the north. At the same time, the Tathagata was in Samadhi like he always does, and simultaneity speaking Dharmas for all living beings with many expedient means.
Seven days after, traveling by his own holy power, Sarvashura Bodhisattva had reached the Lotus-Supremacy(Padmottara) world, and the Tathagata had knew that. Then, by the holy power of the Buddha, Sarvashura Bodhisattva suddenly returned to where the Buddha was, as quick as a vigorous person bend and extend his arm. Having arrived, he circumambulated the Buddha clockwise three times, joined his palms together and bowed to the Buddha with pure mind, and said: "Bhagavan, I had traveled through numerous Buddha-words of the ten directions. By one of my holy powers, I saw 9.9 trillion Buddha-worlds; by the second of my holy powers, I saw 10 trillion Buddha-worlds; and so on. Unto the seventh day, I had been to Lotus-Supremacy world, and also had been to the world of immovable Tathagata."
"Bhagavan, in one of those worlds, I saw that 9.2 trillion Buddhas were preaching Dharmas, and saw that 8 trillion Buddhas in 8 trillion worlds had attained Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi on that very day. I made offerings to all of them, and proceeded on my way."
"Bhagavan, on that very day, I had also been to 3.9 quadrillion Buddha-words, and saw that 3.9 quadrillion Bodhisattvas left home and attained Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. Bhagavan, I respectfully paid homage to all of them, circumambulated them clockwise three times, and proceeded on my way."
"Bhagavan, afterwards, I had been to 6 billion worlds and saw 6 billion Buddhas, I made offerings and respectfully paid homage to all of them, and proceeded on my way."
"Bhagavan, I also saw that in 10 billion worlds, 10 billion Tathagatas entered Nirvana, I made offerings and respectfully paid homage to all of them, and proceeded on my way."
"Bhagavan, I also saw that in 6.5 billion worlds, the True-Dharmas of the Buddhas had completely disappeared. I then became worrying and wept sorrowfully. At that time, I saw that the gods, dragons, Yaksas were also worrying and weeping sorrowfully, just like some arrows had ripped into their hearts. Bhagavan, those worlds were being burnt by kalpa-fire, all the oceans and Sumeru Mountains had been burnt up with no remains. I then also made offerings to those worlds and proceeded on my way."
"So as to the Lotus-Supremacy world. Bhagavan, when I arrived at that world, I saw that trillions of thrones had been set up. Bhagavan, in the south of that world, I saw that trillions of thrones had been set up; in each direction of the east, the west, the north, the upside and the downside, trillions of thrones had also been set up."
"Bhagavan, each of those thrones is made from the seven treasures. On every throne, there was a Tathagata sitting cross-legged in the lotus position and preaching Dharma for the public."
"Bhagavan, having seen that, I thought: ¡°How rare it is!¡± and I asked those Bhagavans: 'What is the name of this world?' One of those Buddhas answered me: 'Virtuous man, this world's name is Lotus-Supremacy''"
"Bhagavan, I then bowed to those Buddhas and asked: 'What is the name of the Tathagata, the Bhagavan?' That Buddha answered me: 'The Buddha who constantly performs Buddha-Activities in this world is named Lotus-Repository(Padma-garbha).' I asked again: 'There are innumerable Tathagatas in this world, which is the body of Lotus-Repository Tathagata?' That Bhagavan said: 'I will show you the Lotus-Repository Buddha.' Thereupon, all other Buddhas disappeared, only one Buddha remained, all others on the thrones were Bodhisattvas."
"At that time, I bowed to the Buddha, and then a thrown emerged from the Earth. I sat on that thrown cross-legged in the lotus position, and then suddenly, innumerable thrones also emerged, with no one sitting on them."
"I asked that Buddha: 'How come these thrones are empty?"
"That Buddha, that Bhagavan then told me: 'Virtuous man, the living beings who do not cultivate their virtuous roots can not join this congregation.'"
"Bhagavan, I then asked that Tathagata: 'Bhagavan, which virtuous root is needed for joining this congregation?'"
"That Buddha then told me: 'Listen attentively virtuous man. By the virtuous root of having heard the Sanghata Dharma-Gate, one can be in this congregation, and how much more so those who write, read or recite this Dharma-Gate! Sarvashura, you are in this congregation because you had heard the Sanghata Dharma-Gate. Those who have no virtuous root can not see this Buddha world.'"
"I then said to that Buddha: 'Bhagavan, for anyone who hears this Dharma-Gate, how many blessings and virtues will he gain?' Thereupon, Lotus-Repository Tathagata smiled. Bhagavan, I then bowed and asked him: 'Why the Buddha is smiling? What is the reason for this rare scene?'"
"Lotus-Repository Tathagata then said to me: 'Virtuous man, Sarvashura Bodhisattva, suppose there is a wheel-turning sage king who is very influential and ruling four worlds, he has planted sesames everywhere and made the four worlds full of sesames. So, virtuous man, is the number of those sesames very great?'"
"I said 'Yes, Bhagavan, Sugata."
"That Buddha said to me: 'if some person gather those sesames to make a mass, Sarvashura, is there any person able to count the number of the sesames in that mass one by one?'"
"I said to that Bhagavan: 'They are uncountable, Sugata, Bhagavan.'"
"Lotus-Repository Tathagata then told me: 'Virtuous man, if the Buddhas as many as those sesames together speak the merits and virtues gained by hearing this sutra, they will never be able to finish speaking it. How much more so those who write, read or recite this Dharma-Gate!'"
"I then asked that Buddha: 'Bhagavan, how many blessings one will gain by writing this Dharma-Gate?"
"That Buddha told me: 'Virtuous man, for example, suppose there are wheel turning kings as many as the sum of the sands, dusts, trees, leaves, grass, woods, so, is the merits of all those wheel turning kings countable?'"
"I said to that Buddha: 'Bhagavan, they are uncountable, Sugata.'"
"That Buddha told me: 'Virtuous man, all the blessings of those wheel turning kings are less than the blessings gained by hearing this Dharma. For anyone who writes even one word of this Dharma-Gate, his merits will be more than the blessings and virtues of all those wheel turning kings.'"
"'In fact, virtuous man, this Dharma-Gate converges all true Dharmas of Mahayana, the blessings and virtues of wheel turning kings can not compare with it. Sarvashura, the merits and virtues of this Dharma-Gate cannot be told by any simile. This Dharma-Gate can reveal the Dharma stores, eliminate all afflictions, light up the great Dharma-Torch, subdue the evil demons, illuminate the abodes of all Bodhisattvas, and preach all Dharmas.'"
"At that time, I said to that Buddha: 'Bhagavan, the people who carry out Brahma-Practice(Brahma-Carya) are so rare and valuable, Bhagavan, because the Tathagata-Practice is rare and valuable.'"
"That Buddha told me: 'Yes, virtuous man. Brahma-Practice is rare and valuable. If anyone carries out Brahma-Practice, he will be able to constantly see the Tathagatas days and nights; once he see the Tathagatas, he will be able to see the Buddha worlds; once he see the Buddha worlds, he will be able to see the Dharma Store. At the time of his death, he will not fear, will not be born in any wombs so that he will no longer suffer from the afflictions, and will no longer be submerged by the river of sexual desire.'"
(* Brahma-Carya: Pure practices, the practice that involves the cutting off of desire, especially sexual desire. People who carry out Brahma-Practice have no sexual behavior, just like the gods in Brahma Heaven. Strictly speaking, "Brahma-practice" means no leak of sexual energy, that is, no sexual intercourse, no ejaculation, no spermatorrhea, no menses, etc.)
"That Bhagavan then said again to me: 'Virtuous man, the Tathagatas' appearances on the worlds are difficult to encounter.'"
"I said: 'Yes Bhagavan, yes Sugata, the Tathagatas¡¯ appearances on the worlds are difficult to encounter'"
"That Buddha told me: 'Likewise, this Dharma is also difficult to encounter. Sarvashura, if anyone can hear this Dharma-Gate through his ear, he will be able to remember his previous lifetimes for 80 kalpas, will become wheel turning kings for 80 thousand kalpas, will become Sakra-Devanam-Indra for 8 thousand kalpas, will become gods of the Pure-Dwelling heavens for 25 thousand kalpas, will become great Brahma gods for 38 thousand kalpas, will not be reborn in the evil destinies for 99 thousand kalpas, will not become a hungry ghost for 100 thousand kalpas, will not become an animal for 28 thousand kalpas, will not become an Asura for 1.3 billion and 100 thousand kalpas, so he will not be hurt by the sword or glaives. He also will not become an ignorant being for 25 thousand kalpas, will have plenty of wisdom for 7 thousand kalpas, and will have handsome appearances for 9 thousand kalpas, with all the good characteristics, just like the body of the Tathagata. He will not become a woman for 15 thousand kalpas, will not have illness for 16 thousand kalpas, will have the heavenly eyes for 35 thousand kalpas, will not become a dragon for 19 thousand kalpas, will be free from anger for 6 thousand kalpas, will not be born in any poor family for 7 thousand kalpas, and will rule two worlds for 80 thousand kalpas. Even if he is the poorest person, he still will obtain these pleasures. Also, He will not become blind for 12 thousand kalpas, will not become deaf for 13 thousand kalpas, will cultivate forbearance(ksanti) for 11 thousand kalpas.'"
"'When he is about to die and his consciousness is about to disappear, he will not have any upside-down thought, and will not be angry, then he will see the 1 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas in the east, will personally see the 2 billion Buddhas in the south, will personally see the 25 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas in the west, will personally see the 80 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas in the north, will personally see the 9 billion Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Bhagavans in the above direction, and will personally see the 10 billion Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Bhagavans in the downward direction.'"
"'Virtuous man, those Bhagavans will comfort that person: 'Virtuous man, do not fear. You had heard and accept the Sanghata Dharma-Gate. Virtuous man, do you see these trillions of Buddhas, Bhagavans as many as numerous Ganges-river-sands?' 'Yes I have seen', he will answer. Then the Bhagavans will tell him: 'These Tathagata have arrived to see you'. That virtuous person would ask: 'What virtuous things have I done, so that the Buddhas come to see me?' Those Buddhas will say: 'Virtuous man, when you were a human being, you had heard the Sanghata Dharma-Gate, because of that, so many Buddhas come to see you.' That virtuous person would say to the Buddhas: 'Bhagavans, having heard of a little of the Sanghata Dharma-Gate, I can obtain so many blessings, how much more so those who fully accept and uphold the sutra!' Then those Buddhas will tell him: 'Virtuous man, that is hard to calculate. Now I am just telling you the merits and virtues gained by hearing four lines of verse(gatha) of the sutra. Virtuous man, the blessings and virtues that will be gained by hearing this Dharma-Gate are more than all the blessings and virtues of 13 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas. If some person has offered and sustained 13 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas, and if another person has heard four lines of verse of this Dharma-Gate, the blessings and virtues gained by the later person are more than those gained by the former person, and how much more so those who have completely heard this Dharma.'"
"That Buddha told me again: 'Virtuous man, suppose the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds are full of sesames, and there are wheel turning kings as many as those sesames. If some person donates to those wheel-turning kings, then it would be more beneficial to donate to one Srota-apanna(stream-enterer); if some person donates to all Srota-apannas in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, then the blessings and virtues that he gains are less than those gained by donating to one Sakrd-agamin(once-returner); if he donates to all Sakrd-agamins in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, it would be more beneficial to donate to one Anagamin(Non-returner); if he donates to all Anagamins in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, it would be more beneficial to donate to one Arhat; if he donates to all Arhats in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, the blessings and virtues that he gains are less than those gained by donating to one Pratyeka-buddha(self-enlightened one); if he donates to all Pratyeka-buddhas in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, the blessings and virtues that he gains are less than those gained by donating to one Bodhisattva; if he donates to all Bodhisattvas in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, it would be more beneficial to arouse pure mind towards one Tathagata; but if he arouses pure mind towards all Tathagatas in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, and another mundane person hears this Dharma-Gate, then the merits and virtues gained by the later person are much greater, and how much more so those who write, read, recite, and uphold it.'"
"'Sarvashura, How much more so, if some person can keep remembering this sutra with pure mind. Sarvashura, what do you think, can any mundane person measure the great oceans with no tool?'"
"I said: 'No Bhagavan.'"
"That Buddha said: 'Sarvashura, what do you think, can any mundane person hold all water of an ocean by using his fingers to pinch the ocean one time?'"
"I answered: 'No Bhagavan.'"
"That Buddha told me: 'Likewise, those who delight in the lesser Dharmas are not able to hear and accept this Dharma-Gate. Sarvashura, if one had not seen 1.8 billion Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, Tathagatas, he would not be able to write this Dharma-Gate; if one had not seen 9 billion Ganges-river-sands Tathagatas, he would not be able to hear this Dharma-Gate; if one had seen 10 trillion Tathagatas, then he will not slander this Dharma-Gate when he hears it. Sarvashura, if one had seen 10 trillion Ganges-river-sands Tathagatas, then he will be able to arouse the pure belief when he hears this Dharma-Gate, he will think correctly and will not slander it. If anyone can write even four lines of verse from this Dharma-Gate, he will be reborn in Amitabha Buddha's world, which is 9.5 trillion worlds away from here, and he will gain a lifespan of 84 thousand kalpas. Sarvashura, if anyone had personally committed, or asked others to commit, or compliantly rejoiced the five heinous sins, he would suffer in the five uninterrupted hells; but if he can hear even four lines of verse from this Dharma, then all those sins will be cleared.'"
"Then, that Buddha said these Gatha(verses) for me:
'Now listen to me,
about the merits and virtues of hearing this Sutra.
In the past there was a person,
who had committed all the five heinous karmas,
including killing his parents,
destroying the solidarity of Sanghas,
demolishing the towers(stupa),
disturbing the Samadhis of Bodhisattvas,
and mangling the Buddha Dharmas.
Having committed those sins,
he became repentant,
worrying and weeping,
'I have committed many evil karmas,
which will destroy not only my present body,
but also the bodies of my consequent lifetimes,
for many kalpas.
I will be reborn from suffering to suffering,
while the feeling of suffering will become deeper and deeper;
I will be apart from virtuous friends,
and be despised and abused by people.
I had lost both the mundane-dharma(loka-dharma)s and the super-mundane-dharmas;
my virtuous roots are destroyed,
so that they cannot grow for immeasurable kalpas.
Just like a hall decorated with beautiful paintings,
suddenly be burnt by a fire,
then people will no longer like it.
My sinning is like that,
in this lifetime and consequent lifetimes,
I will always be burnt by the fire of karma,
and be disliked by others and myself.
Wherever I will be born in my consequent lifetimes,
the others will always despise, strike, scold, and insult me;
poverty, hunger and thirst,
will always be with me.
I will suffer from myriads of afflictions,
are all come from the five karmas that I had committed.
How miserable I am now, who can save me?
None of my relatives or friends can,
no one can be my dependence.'
He continued to think:
'So why not just go to the summit of a high mountain,
and jump down to end this life,
to avoid committing more evil karma,
and producing more afflictions.
My present lifetime and coming lifetimes,
are destroyed by the evil karmas,
both inside and outside my body,
there is not any dependence.
The cause created by the faults that I had committed,
will lead to the extremely dreadful results.'
Thinking of this,
He cried and wept again.
At that time from the sky,
a heavenly god said to him:
Because of your ignorance,
various afflictions have been born from your heart,
and you have no dependence or savior.
You yourself have committed the five heinous karmas,
Including killing your parents, and so forth,
thus you are worrying now,
and willing to climb to a high mountain and kill yourself.
Now I persuade you,
not to follow that foolish idea.
You should confess what you have done,
but do not kill yourself.
The three poisons: greed, anger and ignorance,
are produced from your heart,
thus by doing that,
you will not be able to escape from the afflictions of evil reincarnations.
Wishing to end your life,
is not called diligence,
when your current life ends,
the tragic retributions will immediately come.
Now please listen to me,
there is an expedient for you.
The holy Way of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
You are not yet able to proceed to.
Now you can go to a mountain,
where a supernatural person (rsi) cultivates inside.
You should pay homage to him,
he can save and protect you.
He has the supreme expedient means,
which is called the superior wonderful true Dharma,
it can bring you away from fears,
and eliminate extremely evil karmas.'
Having heard the words from the sky,
that person then proceeded to the mountain,
where the supernatural person cultivates inside.
Having reached there,
he found a supernatural person,
then bowed deeply with his face touching the ground,
joined his palms and said:
'Please supernatural one, please save me.
I am in fear and worry,
because I have committed the weighty five karmas,
and will surely fall into the evil reincarnations,
how can I be reprieved?
In days and nights,
when drinking, eating, sitting and lying,
I am always worrying,
without any little bit of happiness.
Now I believe and respect you supernatural one,
please tell me,
how to clear those evil karmas that I committed?'
The supernatural person said to him:
'Please sit down and listen,
you are so frightened and worrying,
you should confess your evil karmas.'
The supernatural person continued to say:
'You are so worrying, hungry, thirsty and helpless,
now I give you some food,
why not eat them first,
then I will speak Dharma for you,
to make all your sinful karmas cleared.'
The regretful person washed his hands,
circumambulate the supernatural person clockwise,
bowed to the supernatural one,
withdrew and sat down.
The supernatural person asked:
'What evil karmas you have committed?'
'I have killed my parents,
demolished the towers(stupa),
destroyed the solidarity of Sanghas,
disturbed the Samadhis of Bodhisattvas,
and mangled the Buddha Dharmas.'
The supernatural one then said:
'You are indeed an immoral person,
so that you have committed such evil karmas.'
After hearing those words,
the person became more worrying,
for fear that he was not savable,
and will surely fall into evil reincarnations.
He then arose from his seat,
bowed to the feet of the supernatural person,
please pity me,
the one who have extremely weighty evil karmas.
I am agonizing and worrying so much,
please be my refuge.
Although I have confessed,
I do not know the way to escape.
Please supernatural one,
Show your great mercy,
to make my sins cleared.'
The supernatural person then comforted him:
'Do not fear,
I can save you,
and reduce your evil karma retributions.
Now you just listen,
have you ever heard of a Dharma-Gate called Sanghata?'
'No I haven't heard of it.'
The supernatural person said:
'Who can speak Dharma for a person burnt by fire?
only the great compassionate ones can.'"
(End of Chapter One)
(Last revised: Oct/03/2007)
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