THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Then Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, what should the sutra be named? How should we respect and hold it?”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “The name of the sutra is Vajra Prajna Paramita. You should respect and hold it by that name. And why? Subhuti, Prajna Paramita is spoken of by the Buddha as no Prajna Paramita, therefore it is called Prajna Paramita.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Is there any dharma spoken by the Tathagata?”

Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, nothing has been spoken by the Tathagata.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Are all the motes of dust in three thousand great thousand world systems many?”

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

“Subhuti, all motes of dust are spoken of by the Tathagata as no motes of dust, therefore they are called motes of dust. The world systems are spoken of by the Tathagata as no world systems, therefore they are called world systems.”

“Subhuti, what do you think, can the Tathagata be seen by means of the thirty-two marks?”

“No, World Honored One, one cannot see the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks. And why? The thirty-two marks are spoken of by the Tathagata as no thirty-two marks, therefore they are called thirty-two marks.”

“Subhuti, a good man, or good woman, might give up his life as many times as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River; but if a person were to receive and hold even so few as four lines of verse of the sutra and explain them for others, his blessings would be greater.”

Then Subhuti, upon hearing the sutra spoken, and deeply understanding its purport, wept and said to the Buddha, “How rare, World Honored One, is this sutra so profoundly spoken by the Buddha. From the time I obtained the wisdom eye until the present I have never before heard such a sutra. World Honored One, if someone hears the sutra with a pure mind of faith then he produces real mark. That person should be known to have accomplished the foremost and most rare merit and virtue.

“World Honored One, the real mark is no mark, therefore the Tathagata calls it the real mark.

“World Honored One, now as I hear this sutra I believe, understand, receive, and hold it without difficulty. If in the future, in the last five hundred years, there are living beings who when they hear this sutra believe, understand, receive, and hold it, such people will be foremost and most rare. And why? Such people will have no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life. And why? The mark of self is no mark. The mark of others, the mark of living beings, and the mark of a life are no marks. And why? Those who have relinquished all marks are called Buddhas.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “So it is, so it is. If someone hears this sutra and is not frightened, or alarmed, or terrified, you should know that person is most rare. And why? Subhuti, the foremost paramita is spoken of by the Tathagata as no foremost paramita, therefore it is called the foremost paramita.

“Subhuti, the paramita of patience is spoken of by the Tathagata as no paramita of patience. Therefore it is called the paramita of patience. And why? Subhuti, it is as in the past when the King of Kalinga dismembered my body, at that time I had no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life.”

“And why? When I was cut limb from limb, if I had a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, I would have been outraged.

“Subhuti, further I recall that in the past, for five hundred lives, I was the Patient Immortal. During all those lives I had no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life. For that reason, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva should, relinquishing all marks, produce the mind of anuttarasamyaksambodhi. 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. He should produce that mind that does not dwell anywhere. Any dwelling of the mind is no dwelling. Therefore the Buddha says, ‘The mind of a Bodhisattva should not dwell in forms when he gives.’ Subhuti, a Bodhisattva, to benefit all beings, should give thus. All marks are spoken of by the Tathagata as no marks, and all living beings are spoken of as no living beings. Subhuti, the Tathagata is one who speaks the truth, who speaks the actual, who speaks what is so, who does not speak what is false, who does not speak what is not so.

“Subhuti, the dharma obtained by the Tathagata is neither true nor false.

“Subhuti, a Bodhisattva whose mind dwells in phenomena when he gives is like a man who enters darkness, who cannot see a thing. A Bodhisattva whose mind does not dwell in phenomena when he gives is like a man with eyes in the bright sunlight who can see all kinds of forms.

“Subhuti, in the future, if a good man, or good woman, can receive, hold, read, and recite this Sutra, then the Tathagata by means of all Buddha-wisdom, will completely know and see that person. That person accomplishes measureless and boundless merit and virtue.

“Subhuti, a good man, or good woman, might in the morning give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again at noon might give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, and again in the evening might give up as many bodies as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, giving up bodies in that way throughout measureless millions of kalpas. But if someone else were to hear this sutra and believe it with no reservations, his blessings would surpass the former one’s. How much the more so if people can write out, receive, hold, read, recite, and explain it for others. Subhuti, the merit and virtue of this sutra are inexpressible, inconceivable, boundless, and beyond all praise. It is spoken by the Tathagata for those who have set out on the Great Vehicle, those who have set out on the Supreme Vehicle. If people can receive, hold, read, recite, and speak it for others, they are completely known by the Tathagata; they are completely seen by the Tathagata. Such people accomplish immeasurable, inexpressible, boundless, inconceivable merit and virtue and thus sustain the Tathagata’s anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

“And why? Subhuti, one who delights in lesser teachings is attached to a view of self, a view of others, a view of living beings, and a view of a life. He cannot hear, receive, hold, read, or recite the sutra or explain it for others.

 “Subhuti, the gods, the men, and the asuras of the world make offerings at any place where this sutra is found. You should know such a place is a stupa where everyone should respectfully bow, circumambulate, and scatter incense and flowers.

“Moreover, Subhuti, if a good man, or good woman, receives, holds, reads, and recites this sutra and if people ridicule him, that man has karmic offenses from previous lives which destine him for the evil paths. But because in his present life he is ridiculed by others, his previous karmic offenses are destroyed and he will attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

“Subhuti, I recall that in the past for limitless asamkhyeya kalpas prior to Burning Lamp Buddha, I encountered eighty-four thousands of millions of billions of nayutas of Buddhas, and made offerings to them all, and served them all without exception. But if there is a person in the final period who can receive, hold, read, and recite this sutra, the merit and virtue he obtains is a hundred times more, a thousand times more, a million, billion times more, to the point of being so great it exceeds all calculation and comparison, than the merit and virtue I gained from making offerings to all those Buddhas.

“Subhuti, if I were to express thoroughly the merit and virtue of a good man, or good woman, who in the final period receives, holds, reads, and recites the sutra, those who heard might go insane, and disbelieve. Subhuti, you should know that this sutra’s meaning is inconceivable, and that its resulting retribution is also inconceivable.”

Then Subhuti said to the Buddha, “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 told Subhuti, “A good man, or good woman, who has resolved his mind on anuttarasamyaksambodhi should think thus: ‘I should take all living beings across to extinction. Yet when all living beings have been taken across to extinction, there actually is not a single living being who has been 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, then he is not a Bodhisattva. For what reason? Subhuti, actually there is no dharma of resolving the mind on anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

“Subhuti, what do you think? While the Tathagata was with Burning Lamp Buddha, was there any dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi attained?”

“No, World Honored One. As I understand what the Buddha has said, while the Buddha was with Burning Lamp Buddha there was no anuttarasamyaksambodhi attained.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is, Subhuti. There actually was no dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi which the Tathagata attained. Subhuti, if there had been a dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi which the Tathagata attained, then Burning Lamp Buddha would not have given me the prediction, ‘You will in the future attain Buddhahood and be named Sakyamuni.’ Since there actually was no dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi attained, Burning Lamp Buddha gave me the prediction saying these words, ‘You will in the future attain Buddhahood and be named Sakyamuni.’

“And why? ‘Tathagata’ means the thusness of the dharma. If someone were to say the Tathagata attains anuttarasamyaksambodhi, Subhuti, actually there is no dharma of anuttarasamyaksambodhi which the Buddha attains. Subhuti, the anuttarasamyaksambodhi which the Tathagata attains, in that, there is neither true nor false. For that reason the Tathagata speaks of all phenomena as Buddhadharmas. Subhuti, all phenomena are spoken of as no phenomena. Therefore they are called phenomena.

“Subhuti, it is like a person’s big body.”

Subhuti said, “World Honored One, the person’s big body is spoken of by the Tathagata as no big body, therefore it is called a big body.”

“Subhuti, a Bodhisattva is also thus. If he were to say, ‘I should take measureless living beings across to extinction,’ then he would not be called a Bodhisattva. And why? Subhuti, there actually is no dharma called a Bodhisattva. For that reason the Buddha spoke of the dharma as being devoid of self, devoid of others, devoid of living beings, and devoid of a life.

“Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva were to say, ‘I shall adorn Buddhalands,’ he would not be called a Bodhisattva. And why? The adornment of Buddhalands is spoken of by the Tathagata as no adornment. Therefore it is called adornment. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva comprehends that all dharmas is devoid of self, the Tathagata calls him a true Bodhisattva.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the flesh eye?”

“So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the flesh eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the heavenly eye?”

“So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the heavenly eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the wisdom eye?”

“So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the wisdom eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the dharma eye?”

“So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the dharma eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does the Tathagata have the Buddha eye?”

“So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has the Buddha eye.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata spoken of the sand grains in the Ganges River?”

”So it is, World Honored One. The Tathagata has spoken of that sand.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? If all the grains of sand in one Ganges River became an equal number of Ganges Rivers, and all the grains of sand in all those Ganges Rivers became that many Buddhalands, would they be many?”

“Very many, World Honored One.”

The Buddha told Subhuti, “All the various thoughts which occur to all the living beings in all those Buddhalands are completely known by the Tathagata. And why? All thoughts are spoken of by the Tathagata as no thoughts, therefore they are called thoughts. For what reason? Subhuti, past thought cannot be got at, present thought cannot be got at, and future thought cannot be got at.

“Subhuti, what do you think? If someone filled the three thousand great thousand worlds with the seven precious gems and gave them as a gift, would that person for that reason obtain many blessings?”

“So it is, World Honored One. That person would for that reason obtain very many blessings.”

“Subhuti, if blessings and virtue were real, the Tathagata would not have spoken of obtaining many blessings. It is because blessings and virtue do not exist that the Tathagata has spoken of obtaining many blessings.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen in the perfection of his physical form?”

“No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of his physical form. And why? The perfection of physical form is spoken of by the Tathagata as no perfection of physical form, therefore it is called the perfection of physical form.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Tathagata be seen in the perfection of marks?”

“No, World Honored One. The Tathagata cannot be seen in the perfection of marks. And why? The perfection of marks is spoken of by the Tathagata as no perfection of marks. Therefore it is called the perfection of marks.”

“Subhuti, do not say the Tathagata has the thought, ‘I have spoken dharma.’ Do not think that way. And why? If someone says the Tathagata has spoken dharma he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what I say.  Subhuti, in the dharma spoken there is no dharma which can be spoken, therefore it is called the dharma spoken.”

Then the sagacious Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, will there be living beings in the future who will believe this sutra when they hear it spoken?”

The Buddha said, “Subhuti, they are neither living beings nor no living beings. And why? Subhuti, living beings, living beings, are spoken of by the Tathagata as no living beings, therefore they are called living beings.”

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