THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Translated by Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva of Yao Qin.

THE VAJRA SUTRA

Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove of the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary together with a gathering of great bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all.

At that time, at mealtime, the World Honored One put on his robe, took up his bowl, and entered the great city of Sravasti to beg for food. After he had finished his sequential begging within the city, he returned, ate the food, put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down. 

At that time the Elder Subhuti arose from his seat in the assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his right knee on the ground, put his palms together with respect and said to the Buddha,

“How rare, World Honored One, is the Tathagata who remembers and protects all Bodhisattvas and causes them to be well-endowed.

“World Honored One, if a good man, or good woman, resolves his mind on anuttarasamyaksambodhi, how should he dwell, how should he subdue his mind?”

The Buddha said, “Good indeed, good indeed, Subhuti. It is as you say. The Tathagata remembers and protects all Bodhisattvas and causes them to be well-endowed. Now listen attentively; I shall tell you. A good man, or good woman, who resolves his mind on anuttarasamyaksambodhi should thus dwell, should thus subdue his mind.”

“Yes, certainly, World Honored One. I want to hear. I am delighted to listen.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, should thus subdue their minds with the vow, ‘I must cause all living beings – those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought – to enter nirvana without residue and be taken across to extinction.’ Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living being taken across to extinction. And why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.

“Moreover, Subhuti, as to the act of giving, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere when he gives. He should not dwell in forms when he gives, nor should he dwell in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or mental constructs when he gives. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should give thus: he should not dwell in marks. And why? If a Bodhisattva does not dwell in marks when he gives, his blessings and virtues are immeasurable.

“Subhuti, what do you think, is space in the east measurable?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, is space in the south, west, north, or in the intermediate directions, or above, or below, measurable?”

“No, World Honored One.”

“Subhuti, the blessings and virtue of a Bodhisattva who does not dwell in marks when he gives are just as immeasurable. Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should only dwell in what is taught thus.

“Subhuti, what do you think, can the Tathagata be seen by his physical marks?”

“No, World Honored One, the Tathagata cannot be seen by his physical marks. And why? It is because the physical marks are spoken of by the Tathagata as no physical marks.”

The Buddha said to Subhuti, “All with marks is empty and false. If you can see all marks as no marks then you see the Tathagata.”

Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, in the future will there be living beings, who, when they hear such phrases spoken will truly believe?”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “Do not speak in such a way!  After the Tathagata’s extinction, in the last five hundred years, there will be those who hold the precepts and cultivate blessings who will believe such phrases and accept them as true.

“You should know that such people will have planted good roots with not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four, or five Buddhas, but will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas. All who hear such phrases and produce even one thought of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathagata. Such living beings thus obtain measureless blessings and virtue. And why? Those living beings have no further mark of self, of others, of living beings, or of a life; no mark of phenomena and no mark of no phenomena. If living beings’ minds grasp at marks, then that is attachment to self, to others, to living beings, and to a life. For that reason you should not grasp at phenomena, nor should you grasp at no phenomena.  Regarding that principle, the Tathagata often says, ‘All you bhiksus should know that the dharma which I speak is like a raft. Even the dharma should be relinquished, how much the more so what is not dharmas.’

“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained anuttarasamyaksambodhi? Has the Tathagata spoken any dharma?”

Subhuti said, “As I understand what the Buddha has said, there is no concrete dharma called anuttarasamyaksambodhi, and there is no concrete dharma which the Tathagata has spoken. And why? The dharmas spoken by the Tathagata cannot be grasped and cannot be spoken. It is neither dharma nor no dharma. And why?  Unconditioned dharma distinguishes worthy sages.”

“Subhuti, what do you think, if someone filled three thousand great thousand world systems with the seven precious gems and gave them as a gift, would he obtain many blessings and virtue?”

Subhuti said, “Very many, World Honored One. And why? Such blessings and virtue are not of the nature of blessings and virtue. Therefore the Tathagata speaks of many blessings and virtue.”

“If, on the other hand, a person were to receive and hold from this sutra even so few as four lines of verse and speak them for others, his blessings would surpass the previous ones. And why? Subhuti, all Buddhas and all Buddhas’ dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi come forth from this sutra. Subhuti, the Buddhadharmas spoken are no Buddhadharmas.

“Subhuti, what do you think, can a Srotaapanna have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Srotaapanna.’?”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. And why? A Srotaapanna means One Who Has Entered the Flow, and yet he has not entered anything. He has not entered forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or mental constructs. For that reason he is called a Srotaapanna.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can a Sakrdagamin have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Sakrdagamin.’?”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. And why? A Sakrdagamin means One Who Returns Once More, but he actually does not have a returning. For that reason, he is called a Sakrdagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Anagamin have the thought, ‘I have obtained the fruit of Anagamin.’?”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. And why? Anagamin means One Who Does Not Return, but he actually does not have no returning. For that reason, he is called Anagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can an Arhat have the thought, ‘I have obtained Arhatship.’?”

Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. And why? Actually there is no dharma called an Arhat. World Honored One, if an Arhat had the thought, ‘I have attained Arhatship’ that would be attachment to self, to others, to living beings, and to a life. World Honored One, the Buddha says that in my attainment of the No Strife Samadhi, I am the foremost among men, that I am the foremost Arhat free from desire. World Honored One, I do not have the thought, ‘I am an Arhat free from desire.’ If I had the thought, ‘I have attained Arhatship’ then the World Honored One could not say, ‘Subhuti is the foremost of those who delight in practicing Arana.’ Since Subhuti actually has no practice, he is called ‘Subhuti, who delights in practicing Arana.’”

The Buddha said to Subhuti, “What do you think? Was there any dharma which the Tathagata obtained while with Burning Lamp Buddha?”

“No, World Honored One, there was actually no dharma which the Tathagata obtained while with Burning Lamp Buddha.”

“Subhuti, what do you think, does a Bodhisattva adorn Buddhalands?”

“No, World Honored One. And why? The adornment of Buddhalands is no adornment, therefore it is called adornment.”

“Therefore, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, should thus produce a pure mind. He should produce that mind without dwelling in forms. He should produce that mind without dwelling in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or mental constructs. His mind should produce a thought without dwelling anywhere.

“Subhuti, suppose a person had a body like Sumeru, King of Mountains. What do you think, would that body be big?”

Subhuti said, “Very big, World Honored One. And why? It is said by the Buddha to be no body. Therefore it is called a big body.”

“Subhuti, if there were as many Ganges Rivers as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, what do you think, would the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers be many?”

Subhuti said, “Very many, World Honored One. The Ganges Rivers alone would be incalculable, how much the more so the grains of sand in them.”

“Subhuti, I will now tell you the truth. If a good man, or good woman, used the seven precious gems to fill three thousand great thousand world systems equal in number to the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers, and gave them as a gift, would he obtain many blessings?”

Subhuti said, “Very many, World Honored One.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “If a good man, or good woman, were to receive and hold from this sutra even so few as four lines of verse and speak them for others, his blessings and virtue would surpass the former’s blessings and virtue.

“Moreover, Subhuti, you should know that all the gods, men, and asuras of the world should make offerings to any place at which even so few as four lines of verse from this sutra are spoken and so forth, just as they would to a Buddha’s shrine or temple; how much the more so to any place where people can completely receive, hold, read, and recite the sutra. Subhuti, you should know that such people realize the foremost and rarest dharma. In any place the sutra text is found, there is the Buddha or a reverent disciple.”

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