The Ninth Vow: To Constantly Accord with Living Beings
“Moreover, Good Man, to constantly accord with living beings is explained like this: Throughout seas of Kshetras in the ten directions exhausting the Dharma Realm and the realm of empty space, there are many different kinds of living beings. That is to say, those born from eggs, womb-born, moisture-born, transformationally born, as well as those who live and rely on earth, water, fire, and air for their existence. There are beings dwelling in space, and those who are born in and live in plants and trees. This includes all the many species and races with their diverse bodies, shapes, appearances, lifespans, families, names, and natures. This includes their many varieties of knowledge and views, their various desires and pleasures, their thoughts and deeds, and their many different deportments, clothing and diets. It includes beings who dwell in different villages, towns, cities and palaces, as well as gods, dragons, others of the eight divisions, humans and non-humans alike.
Also there are footless beings, beings with two feet, four feet, and many feet, with form and without form, with thought and without thought, and not entirely with thought and not entirely without thought. I will accord with and take care of all these many kinds of beings, providing all manner of services and offerings for them. I will treat them with the same respect I show my own parents, teachers, elders, Arhats, and even the Thus Come Ones. I will serve them all equally without difference.
“I will be a good doctor for the sick and suffering. I will lead those who have lost their way to the right road. I will be a bright light for those in the dark night, and cause the poor and destitute to uncover hidden treasures. The Bodhisattva impartially benefits all living beings in this manner.
“Why is this? If a Bodhisattva accords with living beings, then he accords with and makes offerings to all Buddhas. If he can honor and serve living beings, then he honors and serves the Thus Come Ones. If he makes living beings happy, he is making all Thus Come Ones happy. Why is this? Because all Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, take the mind of great compassion as their substance. Because of living beings, they bring forth great compassion. From great compassion, the Bodhi mind is born; and because of the resolve for Bodhi, they accomplish Equal and Proper Enlightenment.
“It is like a great king of trees growing in the rocks and sand of a barren wilderness. When the roots get water, the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits will all flourish. The Bodhi-tree king growing in the wilderness of birth and death is the same. All living beings are its roots; all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are its flowers and fruits. By benefiting all beings with the water of great compassion, one can realize the flowers and fruits of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ wisdom.
“Why is this? If all Bodhisattvas benefit living beings with the water of great compassion, they can attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Bodhi belongs to living beings. Without living beings, no Bodhisattva could perfect the Unsurpassed Proper Enlightenment.
“Good Man, you should understand these principles in this way: When the mind is impartial towards all living beings, one can accomplish full and perfect great compassion. By using the heart of great compassion to accord with living beings, one perfects the making of offerings to the Thus Come Ones. In this way the Bodhisattva constantly accords with living beings.
“Even when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, I will still accord endlessly, continuously in thought after thought without cease. My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.
The Tenth Vow: To Universally Transfer All Merit and Virtue
“Moreover, Good Man, to universally transfer all merit and virtue is explained like this: All of the merit and virtue, from the first vow, to worship and respect, up to and including the vow to constantly accord, I universally transfer to all living beings throughout the Dharma Realm and to the limits of empty space. I vow that all living beings will be constantly peaceful and happy, without sickness or suffering. I vow that no one will succeed in doing any evil, but that all will quickly perfect their cultivation of good karma. I vow to close the doors to the evil destinies and open the right paths of humans, gods, and Nirvana. I will stand in for beings and receive all the extremely severe fruits of suffering which they bring on with their evil karma. I will liberate all these beings and ultimately bring them to accomplish Unsurpassed Bodhi. The Bodhisattva cultivates transference in this way.
“Even when the realm of empty space is exhausted, the realms of living beings are exhausted, the karma of living beings is exhausted, and the afflictions of living beings are exhausted, I will still transfer all merit and virtue endlessly, continuously, in thought after thought without cease. My body, mouth, and mind never weary of these deeds.
The Merit of These Vows
“Good Man, these are the Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s ten great vows in the entirety. If all Bodhisattvas can follow and enter these great vows, then they will be able to bring all living beings to maturity. They will be able to accord with anuttarasamyaksambodhi and complete Universal Worthy’s sea of conduct and vows. Therefore, Good Man, you should know the meaning of this.
“If a good man or good woman filled up worlds as many as very fine dust motes in measureless, boundless, ineffably ineffable Buddhalands throughout the ten directions with the supremely wonderful seven jewels; and if they as well gave all of the supreme peace and happiness known to gods and men to every living being in all those worlds; and if they offered such gifts to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of these worlds, doing so constantly without cease for as many kalpas as very fine motes of dust in those Buddhalands, they would acquire much merit and virtue.
“But the merit and virtue gained from these gifts, when compared to the merit and virtue of a person who hears these kings of vows pass by his ear but once, does not equal one part in one hundred, one part in one thousand, or even one part in an upanishad.
“Moreover, if a person receives and maintains these great vows with a mind of deep faith, reads and recites them, or writes out just a single four line verse, he or she can quickly eradicate the karma of the Five Unintermittent Offenses. All of the world’s illnesses that afflict the body and mind, as well as the various kinds of bitter suffering, will be wiped away, up to and including bad karma equal to the fine motes of dust in Buddhalands.
“All the demon-armies, the Yakshas, Rakshasas, Kumbhandas, Pishachas, Bhutas, and so forth, and all evil ghosts and spirits that drink blood and devour flesh will go far away from this person. Or they will resolve, before long, to draw near and protect him. Therefore, if he recites these vows aloud he will move freely through the world without obstruction, like the moon appearing through the clouds. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will praise him; people and gods should all bow in respect to him, and all living beings should make offerings to him. This good man will easily get reborn as a human and will perfect all of Universal Worthy’s merit and virtue. Before long, he will be just like Universal Worthy himself, obtaining a subtle and wonderful physical body complete with the thirty-two marks of the great man. If he is born among human or gods, he will always live in a superior family. He will totally destroy the evil destinies and will leave all bad companions. Fully able to vanquish all externalists, he will completely free himself from all afflictions, just as the lordly lion subdues all beasts. This person will be worthy of receiving the offerings of all living beings.
“Further, when a person is on the verge of death, at the last instant of life, when all his faculties scatter and he departs from his relatives, when all power and status are lost and nothing survives, when his prime minister, great officials, his inner court and outer cities, his elephants, horses, carts, and treasuries of precious jewels can no longer accompany him, these kings of vows alone will stay with him. At all times, they will guide him forward, and in a single instant he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Arriving there, he will see Amita Buddha, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates At Ease, Maitreya Bodhisattva, and others. The appearances of these Bodhisattvas will be upright and adorned, and their merit and virtue complete. Together, they will circumambulate him.
“This person will see himself born from a lotus flower and will receive a prediction from the Buddha. In this way, he will pass through numberless hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of millions of nayutas of kalpas, and with his power of wisdom, he will accord with the minds of living beings in order to benefit them everywhere throughout the ineffably ineffable worlds in the ten directions.
“Before long, he will sit in a Bodhimanda, subdue the demonic armies, accomplish Equal and Proper Enlightenment and turn the wonderful Dharma Wheel. He will cause living beings in worlds as many as the fine motes of dust in Buddhalands to bring forth the Bodhi mind. According with their basic natures, he will teach, transform, and bring them to maturity. To the exhaustion of the seas of future kalpas, he will greatly benefit all living beings.
“Good Man, the merit and virtue obtained by living beings through hearing and believing in these great kings of vows, through receiving, maintaining, reading and reciting them, and through extensively explaining them for others, can be known only by the Buddha, the World Honored One, and by no one else. Therefore, you who hear these kings of vows should harbor no doubts. Reverently accept them. After accepting them, you should be able to read them. After you can read them, you should be able to recite them aloud; and after you can recite them aloud, you should be able to maintain them, to the extent that you can write them out and extensively explain them for others. Then in a single thought, one’s conduct and vows will be accomplished.
“The blessings one will obtain are measureless and boundless. One will be able to rescue living beings from the great sea of afflictions and suffering, causing them to make good their escape and to be reborn in Amita Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss”.
At that time, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva Mahasattva, wishing to restate his meaning, contemplated everywhere in the ten directions and spoke verses.
Before the lions among men throughout the worlds of the ten directions,
In the past, in the present, and also in the future,
With body, mouth, and mind entirely pure,
I bow before them all, omitting none.
With the awesome spiritual power of Samatabhadra’s vows,
I appear at the same time before every Thus Come One
And in transformed bodies as many as motes of dust in lands,
Bow to Buddhas as many as motes of dust in lands.
In every mote of dust are Buddhas as many as motes of dust,
Each dwelling amid a host of Bodhisattvas.
Throughout motes of dust in endless Dharma Realms it is the same;
I deeply believe they all are filled with Buddhas.
With seas of each and every sound I everywhere let fall
Words and phrases, wonderful and endless,
Which now and through all the kalpas of the future,
Praise the wide, deep sea of the Buddhas’ merit and virtue.
Flower garlands supreme and wonderful,
Music, perfumes, parasols, and canopies,
And other decorations rich and rare,
I offer up to every Thus Come One.
Fine clothing and superior incense,
Powdered and burning incense, lamps and candles,
Each one heaped as high as Wonderfully High Mountain,
I offer completely to all Tathagatas.
With a vast, great, supremely liberated mind,
I believe in all the Buddhas of the three periods of time.
With the strength of Samantabhadra’s conduct and vows,
I make offerings to all Thus Come Ones everywhere.
For all the evil deeds I have done in the past
Created by my body, mouth, and mind,
From beginningless greed, anger, and delusion,
I now know shame and repent of them all.
I rejoice in the merit and virtue
Of all beings in the ten directions,
The Learners and Those Past Study in the Two Vehicles,
And all Thus Come Ones and Bodhisattvas.
Before the lamps of the worlds of the ten directions,
Those who first accomplished Bodhi,
I now request and beseech them all
To turn the foremost, wondrous Dharma Wheel.
If there are Buddhas who wish for Nirvana,
I request with deep sincerity
That they dwell in the world for as many kalpas as there are dust motes in kshetras
To bring benefit and bliss to every being.
I worship those with blessings, praise them and make offerings;
I request that the Buddhas remain in the world and turn the Dharma Wheel;
The good roots gained from following and rejoicing in merit and virtue, and from repentance and reform,
I transfer to living beings and the Buddha Way.
I study with the Buddhas and practice
The perfect conduct of Universal Worthy;
I make offerings to all the Thus Come Ones of the past
And to all present Buddhas throughout the ten directions.
All future teachers of gods and men
Whose aspirations to joy have been completed
I’ll follow in study throughout the three periods of time
And quickly attain great Bodhi.
In all lands of the ten directions,
Vast, great, pure and wonderfully adorned,
All Tathagatas sit beneath royal Bodhi trees,
While assemblies circumambulate them.
I vow that every living being in all directions
Will be peaceful, happy, and without worry.
May they obtain the Proper Dharma’s profound aid,
And may all their afflictions be wiped away without exception.
When I cultivate towards Bodhi,
I will gain the knowledge of past lives in all destinies.
I will always leave the home-life and cultivate pure precepts,
Without outflows, never broken, and without stain.
Be they gods, dragons, yakshas, or kumbhandas,
Up to humans, non-humans, and the rest,
In the many languages of all such living beings,
With every sound I will speak the Dharma.
I will cultivate the pure paramitas with vigor,
And never leave the Bodhi mind behind.
I will banish all obstructions and defilements,
And fulfill all the wondrous practices.
From all delusions, karma, and demon-states,
Amid all worldly paths, I will be freed,
As the lotus does not touch the water,
As sun and moon do not stop in space.
Ending suffering of the paths of evil,
And to everyone equally bringing joy,
May I for aeons like the motes of dust in lands
Ever benefit all in the ten directions.
Always in accord with living beings,
Cultivating through all future aeons
The vast conduct of Universal Worthy
The Unsurpassed Great Bodhi will I perfect.
May all who cultivate with me
Assemble together with me in one place,
Our karmas of body, mouth, and mind the same,
As we cultivate and study all practices and vows.
With all advisors good and wise who aid me
By explaining Samantabhadra’s deeds,
I vow to always congregate together:
May they never be displeased with me.
I vow to always meet Thus Come Ones face to face
And the hosts of disciples that circulate around them.
I’ll raise offerings which are vast and great
Untiring to the end of future aeons.
I will hold on high the subtly wondrous Buddhadharma
And illuminate the practices of Bodhi;
I will be ultimately pure in Samantabhadra’s Way,
Practicing until the end of time.
Inexhaustible blessings and wisdom
I cultivate throughout all existences;
By concentration, wisdom, skillful means, and liberation,
I will gain an endless store of merit and virtue.
In one mote of dust are lands as numerous as motes of dust.
In each land are incalculable numbers of Buddhas.
In every place where Buddhas dwell I see the host assembled,
Endlessly proclaiming all the practices of Bodhi.
In the ten directions everywhere, throughout the sea of lands,
On the tip of every hair in oceans of all time,
So too there is a sea of Buddhas, a sea of Buddhalands;
Pervading them all I cultivate for seas of endless time.
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