THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Merit and Virtue from First Bringing Forth the Mind

Chapter Seventeen --------------

At that time the heavenly ruler Shakra asked Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, “Disciple of the Buddha, what is the measure of the merit and virtue attained when a Bodhisattva first brings forth the Bodhi mind?”

Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “This principle is deep and profound. It is difficult to express and to know, it is difficult to discriminate and difficult to believe and understand. It is difficult to be certified to it and difficult to practice. It is difficult to penetrate and difficult to consider. It is difficult to measure and difficult to enter.”

“Although this is the case, I have received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, and will explain this for you. Disciple of the Buddha, suppose there is a person who uses all kinds of musical instruments to make offerings to all the living beings in asamkhyeya world systems in the east, doing so for one kalpa, and afterwards he teaches those living beings to purely uphold the five precepts. Then he does the same in the south, west, north, the intermediate directions, above and below. Disciple of the Buddha, what is your opinion? Does this person have much merit and virtue?”

The heavenly ruler Shakra said, “Disciple of the Buddha, only the Buddha can know this person’s merit and virtue. All others are unable to fathom it.”

Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “Disciple of the Buddha, this person’s merit and virtue, when compared with the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who has first brought forth the mind, does not equal a hundredth part of it, nor a thousandth part, nor a hundred thousandth part, and so forth up to the point that it does not equal a hundred millionth part, nor a billionth part, nor a hundred billionth part, nor a trillionth part, nor a nayuta hundred millionth part, nor a billionth nayuta part, nor a hundred billionth nayuta part, nor a trillionth nayuta part, nor a numerable part, nor a kalanth part nor a calculable part, nor an analogical part, nor even a part in an upanishad part. It does not reach even the smallest part.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, moreover, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who uses all kinds of musical instruments to make offerings to all the living beings in ten asamkhyeya world systems in the ten directions, for a hundred kalpas. And afterwards, he teaches those living beings to cultivate the ten paths of good. Making offerings in the same way, for a thousand kalpas, he then teaches them to dwell in the four dhyanas. After passing through a hundred thousand kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the four unlimited minds.”

“Passing through a hundred million kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the four formless samadhis. Then, after passing through a billion kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the Srotaapana fruit. Then after passing through a hundred billion kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the Sakridagamin fruit. Then after passing through a trillion kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the Anagamin fruit. Then after passing through a hundred nayuta million kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the Arhat fruit. Then after passing through a hundred, thousand, trillion kalpas, he teaches them to dwell in the path of a Pratyeka Buddha. Disciple of the Buddha, what is your opinion? Isn’t this person’s merit and virtue a lot?”

The Heavenly Ruler said, “Disciple of the Buddha, only the Buddha can know this person’s merit and virtue.”

Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “Disciple of the Buddha. This person’s merit and virtue, compared with the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who has first brought forth the mind, does not come up to a hundredth part, nor a thousandth part, nor a hundred thousandth part, up to and including not one part in an Upanishad.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, when all Buddhas first bring forth the mind, they do not do so merely for the sake of making offerings of all kinds of musical instruments to all the living beings in the asamkhyeya world systems in the ten directions, doing so for a hundred kalpas, up to and including a hundred thousand nayuta million kalpas. They do not bring forth the Bodhi mind merely to teach all of those living beings to cultivate the five precepts, the ten paths of good karma or to teach them to dwell in the four dhyanas, the four unlimited minds, the four formless concentrations, or to teach them to attain the Srotaapanna fruit, the Sakridagamin fruit, the Anagamin fruit, the Arhat fruit, or the Pratyeka Buddha path.”

“But it is for the sake of causing the seed nature of the Thus Come Ones to never be cut off; It is for the sake of pervading all world systems; It is for the sake of crossing over and liberating the living beings in all world systems; It is for the sake of totally knowing the coming into being and destruction of all world systems; It is for the sake of totally knowing the defilement and purity of living beings within all world systems; It is for the sake of totally knowing the purity of the self nature of all world systems; It is for the sake of totally knowing the likes, afflictions, and habits in the minds of all living beings; It is for the sake of totally knowing how all living beings die here are reborn elsewhere; It is for the sake of totally knowing all living beings’ roots and expedient methods.”

“It is for the sake of totally knowing the activities in the minds of all living beings; it is for the sake of totally knowing all living beings’ wisdom in the three periods of time; and it is for the sake of totally knowing all Buddhas’ state of equality, that they bring forth the Unsurpassed Bodhi mind.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who within the space of a single thought is able to pass through asamkhyeya world systems in the east. He does so in thought after thought like this, exhausting asamkhyeya kalpas. No one is able to know the limits of all the world systems he passes through.”

“Further, suppose there is a second person who is able to, in the space of a single thought, pass through all the world systems passed through by the first person in asamkhyeya kalpas. He too passes through so many world exhausting asamkhyeya kalpas. This sequence increases until it reaches a tenth person. In the south, west, north, the four intermediaries, above and below, the same thing happens.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, in the ten directions there are a total of a hundred people, and each one passes through world systems in the same way. The limits of these world systems can be known, yet no one is able to know the limits of the good roots of the Bodhisattva who has first brought forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva does not limit himself. For the sake of going to that many world systems to attain understanding and knowledge, he brings forth the Bodhi mind. For the sake of understanding the world system of the ten directions, he brings forth the Bodhi mind. That is to say, he desires to understand that wonderful world systems are just coarse world systems, and coarse world systems are just wonderful world systems.”

“World systems which face upwards are just overturned world systems, and overturned world systems are just world systems which face upwards; small world systems are just great world systems and great world systems are just small world systems; wide world systems are just narrow world systems and narrow world systems are just wide world systems; a single world system is just ineffable world systems and ineffable world systems are just a single world system; ineffable world systems enter a single world system and a single world system enters ineffable world systems; defiled world systems are just pure world systems and pure world systems are just defiled world systems. He desires to know that within the tip of a single hair there are all the world systems’ different natures, and within all world systems there is the single substantial nature of a single tip of a hair.”

“He desires to know that within a single world system there comes into being all world systems, and he desires to know that all world systems are without a substantial nature. Because he desires in a single thought, to exhaustively know all the vast and great world systems without obstruction, he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, moreover, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person, who in a single thought-moment, is able to know the number of kalpas of coming into being and destruction of asamkhyeya world systems in the east, and each thought is like this to the exhaustion of asamkhyeya kalpas. There is no one who is able to know the limit of the number of these kalpas. Suppose there is a second person who in a single thought is able to know the number of kalpas the former person knew in asamkhyeya kalpas. In the same way, expand this until it reaches the tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also like this.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, the limit of the number of kalpas of coming into being and destruction of those asamkhyeya world systems in the ten directions can be known. Yet, the limit of the merit and virtue and good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, cannot be known. Why? Because the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing the number of kalpas of coming into being and destruction of those world systems. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi in order to totally know the kalpas of coming into being and destruction of all world systems, exhaustively without remainder.”

“That is to say, he know that long kalpas are equal to short kalpas, and short kalpas are equal to long kalpas. A single kalpa is equal to countless kalpas, and countless kalpas are equal to a single kalpa. Kalpas which have Buddhas are equal to kalpas which do not have Buddhas, and kalpas which do not have Buddhas are equal to kalpas which have Buddha. Within a kalpa with a single Buddha there are ineffable Buddhas, and within a kalpa with ineffable Buddhas there is a single Buddha. Measureable kalpas are equal to measureless kalpas, and measureless kalpas are equal to measureable kalpas. Exhaustible kalpas are equal to inexhaustible kalpas, and inexhaustible kalpas are equal to exhaustible kalpas. Ineffable kalpas are equal to s single thought, and a single thought is equal to ineffable kalpas. All kalpas enter non-kalpas, and non-kalpas enter all kalpas. Because he desires to within a single thought, exhaustively know the kalpas of coming into being and destruction of all world systems in the past, present, and in the future, he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. This is called the adornment of great vows of first bring forth the mind, the spiritual penetration and wisdom which comprehend all kalpas.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who in a single thought-moment is able to know all the various different understandings of all living beings in asamkhyeya world systems in the east, and he does so in thought after thought, exhausting asamkhyeya kalpas. Suppose there is a second person, who within a single thought-moment, is able to know all the different understandings of the living beings which the first person knew in asamkhyeya kalpas, and he too does so exhausting asamkhyeya kalpas. In the same way expand this until it reaches the tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also like this.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, the limits of the various different understandings of those living beings in the ten directions can be known, but no one is able to know the limits of the merit and virtue and good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. In order to know those living beings’ understandings he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi in order to exhaustively know the various different understandings of all living beings in all world systems.”

“That is to say, because he desires to know all the different understandings without boundary; because he desires to know a single living beings’ understanding is equal to countless living beings’ understandings; because he desires to attain the light of expedient wisdom of ineffable different understandings; because he desires to totally know each of the different understandings of the ocean of living beings, exhaustively without remainder; because he desires to know living beings’ various limitless understandings of the past, present, and future, whether good or bad; because he desires to totally know their similar understandings and their dissimilar understandings; because he desires to totally know that understanding all is just understanding one, and understanding one is just understanding all; because he desires to obtain the Thus Come Ones’ powers of understanding.”

“It is because he desires to totally know the understanding which is surpassed and the unsurpassed understanding; the understanding which has a remainder and the understanding which has no remainder; the differences of the equalled understanding and the unequalled understanding; it is because he desires to totally know the understanding which relies on something and the understanding which has no reliance; the understanding which is common and the uncommon understanding; the understanding which has a boundary and the understanding which has no boundary; discriminatory understandings and non-discriminatory understandings; good understandings and the understandings which are not good; and worldly understanding and the understandings which are beyond the world.”

“It is because he desires to obtain the unobstructed wisdom of the Thus Come Ones’ liberation of all wondrous understandings, great understandings, limitless understanding and the understanding of the proper position; it is because he desires to use limitless expedients to totally know the realm of all living beings in the ten directions, and each living beings’ pure understandings, defiled understandings, broad understandings, general understandings, detailed understandings, and coarse understandings, exhaustively without remainder.”

“It is because he desires to totally know profound, esoteric understandings; understanding of expedient methods; discriminating understandings; spontaneous understandings; understandings which arise in accordance with cause; understandings which arise according to conditions; and the net of all understandings, totally without remainder, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person, who, within a single thought-moment, is able to know all the different roots of all living beings in countless world systems in the east. In thought after thought like this he passes through asamkhyeya kalpas. Suppose there is a second person who, within a single thought-moment, is able to know all the different roots which the person before knew in thought after thought for asamkhyeya kalpas. In the same way extend this until it reaches to a tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also like this.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, the boundaries of all the different roots of all the living beings in these world systems in the ten directions can be known. But no one is able to know the boundaries of the merit and virtue and good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? It is because the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. It is only for the sake of knowing all the roots of the living beings in those worlds, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“It is for the sake of exhaustively knowing within all world systems, all the various different roots of all living beings; and speaking broadly, it is because he desires to exhaustively know, up to and including the net of all roots, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person, who, in a single thought-moment, is able to know all the various desires and pleasures of all the living beings in countless world systems in the east. In thought after thought like this he exhausts asamkhyeya kalpas. In succession, extend this until it reaches to a tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also the same way.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, the limits of the desires and pleasures of all these living beings in the ten directions can be known, but no one is able to know the limits of the merit and virtue and good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva does not limit himself. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing all of those living beings’ desires and pleasures. It is for the sake of exhaustively knowing all the various desires and pleasures of all living beings in all world systems; and speaking extensively, it is because he desires to exhaustively know, up to and including the net of all desires and pleasures, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person, who within a single thought-moment, is able to know all the various expedient methods of the living beings in countless world systems in the east. In succession, extend this until it reaches to a tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also like this.”

“The limits of the various expedient methods of these living beings in the ten directions can be known. But no one is able to know the limit of the merit and virtue and good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing the various expedient methods of the living beings in those world systems. It is in order to exhaustively know the various expedient methods of all living beings in all world systems; and, speaking extensively, it is because he desires to exhaustively know the net of all expedient methods, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who in a single thought-moment is able to know the various different kinds of minds of living beings in countless world systems in the east. Extend this until it reaches to the world systems of the ten directions. The limits of all those living beings’ various different minds can be known. But no one is able to know the limit of the merit and virtue of the good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. He bring forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing those living beings’ minds. It is for the sake of knowing to the exhaustion of the Dharma Realm and the reaches of space, the various minds of boundless living beings, up to and including wishing to exhaustively know the net of all minds, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who, within a single thought-moment, can know the various different kinds of karma of living beings in countless world systems in the east. Extend this until the limits of the various different karma of the living beings in the ten directions can be known. But of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the limit of his good roots cannot be known.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing those living beings’ karma, and because he desires to totally know the karma of all the living beings of the three periods of time, up to and including wishing to totally know the net of all karma.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who in a single thought-moment is able to know the various afflictions of all the living beings in countless world systems in the east. In thought after thought he does so exhausting asamkhyeya kalpas. There is no one who is able to know the limit of those various different afflictions. And suppose there is a second person, who, within a single thought-moment, is able to know all of the different afflictions of the living beings which the previous person knew in asamkhyeya kalpas. He also does so, to the exhaustion of asamkhyeya kalpas. In succession, extend this until it reaches a tenth person. In the south, west, and north, the four intermediaries, above and below, it is also like this.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, the limit of the different afflictions of these living beings in the ten directions can be known. But the limits of the good roots of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, cannot be known.”

“Why is this? Disciple of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva has no uniform limit. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi only for the sake of knowing the afflictions of the living beings in those world systems. He brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi in order to exhaustively know the different afflictions of all living beings in all world systems. That is to say, it is because he desires to exhaustively know their light afflictions, heavy afflictions, afflictions of sleep, afflictions of arisal of all living beings’ limitless afflictions including their various differences and various awarenesses and contemplations, and to cause them to purify all of their defilements. It is because he desires to exhaustively know their afflictions which rely on ignorance, the afflictions that interact with love, and to cut off the knot of the afflictions of all destinies.”

“It is because he desires to exhaustively know the afflictions of the share of greed, the afflictions of the share of anger, the afflictions of the share of stupidity, and afflictions of the share of an equal share of all of these, and to cut off the root of all afflictions.”

“It is because he desires to completely know the afflictions of self, the afflictions of what belongs to self, the afflictions of the arrogance of self, and to enlighten to all afflictions exhaustively without remainder. It is because he desires to completely know both the fundamental afflictions and subsidiary afflictions which are produced from upside-down discriminations. It is because he wishes to subdue all afflictions, there being sixty-two kinds of views that arise from the view of a body.”

“It is because he desires to completely know the afflictions of coverings and the afflictions of obstructions, that he brings forth a mind of great compassion and of rescuing and protecting. And it is in order to cut asunder the net of all afflictions and to cause the nature of all wisdom to be purified, that he brings forth the mind for Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, putting this analogy aside, suppose there is a person who in a single thought-moment uses all kinds of superior tasting food, incense, flowers, clothing, streamers, canopies, as well as Sangharamas and supreme and wondrous palaces, jewelled curtains, nets and screens and different kinds of adorned lion thrones, as well as a multitude of wondrous jewels, to make offerings to countless Buddhas in the east, as well as all of the living beings in countless world systems.”

“He reveres and venerates, worships, and praises them, and he bows to and gazes up at them continuously without cease, passing through countless kalpas. And he exhorts those living beings to all make offerings to the Buddhas, up to the point that after those Buddhas’ extinction, they erect stupas for each one of them. Those pagodas are high and vast as countless worlds, and are made of jewels, and have various kinds of adornments. Within each pagoda there are images of countless Thus Come Ones, whose light shines everywhere in countless world systems, passing through countless kalpas. In the south, north, and west, the four intermediaries, above, and below, it is also like this. Disciple of the Buddha, what do you think? Does this person have much merit and virtue?”

The Heavenly Ruler Shakra said, “Only the Buddha can know this person’s merit and virtue. All others are not able to fathom it.”

“Disciple of the Buddha, this person’s merit and virtue, compared with the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind, does not reach a hundredth part, nor a thousandth part, nor a hundred thousandth part, up to the point that it does not reach one part in an Upanishad.”

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