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Chapter 40 New Edition

Practices and Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

Entering the Inconceivable State of Liberation By Means of
the Practices and Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

Chapter 40, New Edition

 

 

7. To Beseech the Buddhas to Remain in the World

Moreover, Good Man, to beseech the Buddhas to remain in the world is explained like this. All Buddhas, Tathagatas, are as numerous as the smallest atomic particles in all Buddha kshetra-lands, throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, exhausting the dharma-realm and the reaches of space. When they are about to enter Parinirvana, or when any Bodhisattva, Shravaka, One Enlightened to Conditions, Learner, and One Beyond Learning, including any Good Teacher wishes to enter Parinirvana, I ask them all not to enter Nirvana. I request that they remain in the world for as many kalpas as the smallest atomic particles in all Buddha kshetra-lands to benefit and delight all living beings.

So it is that even if the reaches of space, the realms of living beings, the karma of living beings, and the afflictions of living beings come to an end, my beseeching is without end. It continues in thought after thought without cease. I never tire of this karma in body, speech, and thought.

 

8. To Always Follow and Learn from the Buddhas

Moreover, Good Man, to always follow and learn from the Buddhas is explained like this. It is like Vairochana Tathagata of this Saha World, who, from the time he first brought forth the Bodhi-mind, vigorously advanced without retreat. He gave up ineffably ineffable numbers of bodies and lives. He peeled off his skin for paper, split his bones to fashion pens, and punctured his skin to draw blood for ink to write out Sutras stacked as high as Mount Sumeru. He revered the Dharma to such an extent that he did not even cherish his own body and life. How much the less did he cherish a king's throne, cities, towns, palaces, gardens, groves, or anything else at all. He also cultivated various kinds of difficult ascetic practices, up to and including that he accomplished the great Bodhi beneath the Tree.

Then he manifested all kinds of spiritual powers, gave rise to all kinds of transformations, made appear all kinds of Buddha bodies, and dwelled in all kinds of assemblies. Perhaps he dwelled amidst the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of all great Bodhisattvas. Perhaps he dwelled amidst the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of the Shravakas and the Pratyeka-Buddhas. Perhaps he dwelled amidst the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of Wheel-Turning Sage Kings, lesser kings, and their retinues.

Perhaps he dwelled amidst the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of kshatriyas, brahmans, elders, and lay people, up to and including dwelling amidst the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of the gods, dragons, others of the eightfold pantheon of spiritual beings, as well as humans, non-humans, and others. He dwelled in all kinds of assemblies such as these. His voice was full and perfect like a great thunderclap. He complied with the likes and desires of living beings and brought them to accomplishment, up to the time that he entered Nirvana.

In all these ways I will learn from the Buddhas. In the same way that I learn from the present World Honored One, Vairochana, so too I learn from all the Tathagatas in every particle in all Buddha kshetra-lands in the ten directions and the three periods of time, throughout the dharma-realm and the reaches of space. In thought after thought I will learn from them all.

So it is that even if the reaches of space, the realms of living beings, the karma of living beings, and the afflictions of living beings come to an end, still my learning from them is without end. It continues in thought after thought without cease. I never tire of this karma in body, speech, and thought.

 

9. To Constantly Conform with Living Beings

Moreover, Good Man, to constantly conform with living beings is explained like this. Throughout the oceans of kshetra-lands in the ten directions exhausting the dharma-realm and the reaches of space, all living beings have all kinds of differences.

That is to say, there are those born from eggs, womb-born, moisture-born, born by transformation, as well as those who live in dependence upon earth, water, fire, or wind. There are also beings that dwell in space, or live in plants and trees.

This includes all the many kinds of living beings, with diverse bodies, shapes, appearances, lifespans, clans, names, and mental natures. This includes their many kinds of knowledge and views, desires and pleasures, intentional activities, and modes of deportment, clothing, and diets. They dwell in many different kinds of villages, towns, cities, and palaces. They include gods, dragons, others of the eightfold pantheon of spiritual beings, as well as humans, non-humans, and others. There are beings without feet, with two feet, four feet, or many feet, with form or without form, with thought or without thought, and not entirely with thought and not entirely without thought.

I will conform with all these many kinds of beings. I will make offerings to and serve them in various ways, just as I honor my own father and mother and serve my teachers, elders, Arhats, up to and including the Tathagatas equally without difference.

I will be a good doctor for those suffering from sickness. I will show the right road to those who have lost their way. I will be a beacon of light for those in the dark night. And I will enable the poor and destitute to uncover hidden treasures.

The Bodhisattva impartially benefits all living beings in this manner.
Why? If a Bodhisattva conforms with living beings, then he conforms with and makes offerings to all Buddhas. If he honors and serves living beings, then he honors and serves the Tathagatas. If he makes living beings happy, he makes all Tathagatas happy. Why? Because all Buddhas, the Tathagatas, take the heart of great compassion as their substance. Because of living beings, they bring forth the heart of great compassion. From the heart of great compassion, the Bodhi mind is born. And because of the Bodhi-mind, Equal and Right Enlightenment is accomplished.

This is like a great king of trees growing in the rocks and sand of a vast wasteland. If its roots get water, the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits will all flourish. The Bodhi-tree king growing in the vast wasteland of birth and death (Samsara) is the same. All living beings are the roots of the tree and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are its flowers and fruit. By using the water of great compassion to benefit living beings, one can realize the flowers and fruit of the Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' wisdom.

Why? If a Bodhisattva benefits living beings with the water of great compassion, he is able to attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. Therefore, Bodhi depends upon living beings. If there were no living beings, no Bodhisattva could ever realize the Unsurpassed Proper Enlightenment.
Good Man, you should understand these principles in this way. When the mind is impartial towards living beings, one can accomplish perfect great compassion. By using the heart of great compassion to conform with living beings, one successfully makes offerings to the Tathagatas. In this way the Bodhisattva conforms with living beings.

So it is that even if the reaches of space, the realms of living beings, the karma of living beings, or the afflictions of living beings come to an end, my conforming with living beings is without end. It continues in thought after thought without cease. I never tire of this karma in body, speech, and thought.

 

10. To Transfer All Merit and Virtue

Moreover, Good Man, to transfer all merit and virtue is explained like this. All of the merit and virtue from the first vow, to worship all Buddhas, up to and including the vow to conform with living beings, I transfer to all living beings throughout the dharma-realm and the limits of space. I vow to cause all living beings to always attain peace and happiness, and to be without any sickness or suffering. I wish that they will not succeed in doing any evil and that all the good karma that they would like to do will quickly be achieved. I will close the doors to the evil destinies and make known the right road to becoming a human, a god, or realizing Nirvana. Suppose there are living beings who, because they accumulated a lot of evil karma, have evoked the retribution of all kinds of extreme suffering. I will undergo all this suffering on their behalf. I will enable all of these living beings to attain liberation and to ultimately realize unsurpassed Bodhi. The Bodhisattva cultivates transference in this way.

So it is that even if the reaches of space, the realms of living beings, the karma of living beings, or the afflictions of living beings come to an end, my transference of merit and virtue is without end. It continues in thought after thought without cease. I never tire of this karma in body, speech, and thought.

 

The Merit of These Practices and Vows

Good Man, these are the Bodhisattva, Mahasattvas' ten great vows in their entirety. If Bodhisattvas can conform to and enter these great vows, they will then be able to bring all living beings to maturity. They will be able to comply with Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. And they will be able to perfect Samantabhadra's ocean of practices and vows. Therefore, Good Man, this is the way you should understand the meaning of these vows.

Suppose a good man or good woman were to fill up worlds as many as the smallest atomic particles in measureless, boundless, ineffably ineffable numbers of Buddha-lands throughout the ten directions with the seven extremely wonderful jewels as well as the most supreme peace and happiness known to gods and humans; and gave these to all the living beings in all those worlds; and made offerings of them to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in all of those worlds; and did this continuously without cease for kalpas as numerous as the smallest atomic particles in all of those Buddha kshetra-lands. The merit and virtue acquired from this, when compared to the merit and virtue of a person who hears this king of vows pass by his ear but once, does not even equal one one-hundredth, one one thousandth, or even one part in an upanishad.

Moreover, if a person, with a mind of deep faith in these great vows, receives and upholds, reads and recites them from memory, or even writes out a single four-line verse, he or she can quickly eradicate the karma of the five Avíci offenses. All of the world's illnesses that afflict the body and mind, as well as the various kinds of suffering and distress, up to and including all the bad karma equal in number to the smallest atomic particles in Buddha kshetra-lands will all be wiped away.

All the demon-armies, the yakshas, rākshasas, kumbhāndas, pishāchas, bhūtas, and so forth that drink blood and devour flesh, all these evil ghosts and spirits, will stay far away from this person. Or they will make a resolve to draw near and protect him.

Therefore, if a person recites these vows, he goes throughout the world without any obstruction, like the moon in the sky that emerges from clouds. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will praise him. All people and gods should venerate him. All living beings should make offerings to him.

This good man is well able to be reborn as a human and will perfect all of Samantabhadra's merit and virtue. Before long, he will be just like Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, obtaining a subtle and wonderful physical body replete with the thirty-two hallmarks of a great man.

If he is reborn among humans or gods, he will always live in a superior family.
He will totally destroy the evil destinies. He will be far apart from all bad friends. He will be able to vanquish all those on heterodox paths. He will be completely free from all afflictions. He's just like the lion king, able to subdue all beasts. Such a person is worthy of receiving the offerings of all living beings.

Further, when a person is on the verge of death, at the very last kşhaņa-instant of life, when all his sense-faculties deteriorate, all of his family departs from him, and all of his power and influence are diminished and lost; when his ministers, great officials, everything in his inner and outer court, his elephants, horses, carts, and precious jewels, hidden treasures, and all things such as these can no longer accompany him, then this king of vows alone will never leave him. At all times, these vows will be before him guiding him. In a single kşhaņa-instant, he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.”

Upon arriving there, he will immediately see Amitabha Buddha, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates With Self-Mastery (Avalokiteshvara), Maitreya Bodhisattva, and others. The physical features of these Bodhisattvas, who are all around him, are dignified and majestic; their merit and virtue perfect.

This person will see himself born from a lotus flower and will receive a prediction for future Buddhahood from the Buddha. After receiving this prediction, for numberless quadrillions of nayutas of kalpas throughout ineffably ineffable numbers of worlds in the ten directions everywhere, with the power of wisdom, he will accord with the minds of living beings and bring them benefit.

Before long, he will sit in a Bodhimanda, vanquish the demon armies, accomplish Equal and Proper Enlightenment, and turn the wonderful wheel of Dharma. He will cause living beings in worlds as many as the smallest atomic particles in Buddha kshetra-lands to bring forth the Bodhi-mind. According with their basic natures, he will teach and transform them until they are brought to accomplishment. To the end of the oceans of kalpas of the future, he will greatly benefit all living beings.

Good Man, if these living beings hear or have faith in this great king of vows, or receive, uphold, read, recite from memory, or extensively explain these vows for others, all the merit and virtue they obtain can only be known by the Buddha, the World Honored One, and by no one else.

Therefore, all of you who hear this king of vows should harbor no doubts. You should attentively accept these vows. After accepting them, you should be able to read them. After reading them, you should be able to recite them from memory. After reciting them from memory, you should be able to uphold them, and even write them out and extensively explain them for others. In a single thought, these people will be able to accomplish all of their practices and vows.

The blessings that one will amass are measureless and boundless. One will be able to rescue living beings from the great ocean of afflictions and suffering, causing them to make good their escape, so that all of them are reborn in Amitabha Buddha's Land of Ultimate Bliss.”

At that time, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva Mahasattva, wishing to restate his meaning, contemplated everywhere in the ten directions and spoke these verses.

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