THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, is it that the Tathagata in  attaining anuttarasamyaksambodhi did not attain anything?”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is, Subhuti. As to anuttarasamyaksambodhi, there is not even the slightest dharma which I could attain, therefore it is called anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

“Moreover, Subhuti, this dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore it is called anuttarasamyaksambodhi.  To cultivate all good practices with no self, no others, no living beings, and no life is to attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Subhuti, good practices are spoken of by the Tathagata as no good practices. Therefore they are called good practices.

“Subhuti, if there were heaps of the seven precious gems equal in amount to all the Sumerus, Kings of Mountains, in three thousand great thousand world systems, and someone gave them as a gift, and if someone else were to take from this Prajna Paramita Sutra as few as four lines of verse, and receive, hold, read, recite, and speak them for others, his blessings and virtue would surpass the previous one’s by more hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of times than either calculation or analogy could express.

“Subhuti, what do you think? You should not maintain that the Tathagata has this thought: ‘I shall take living beings across.’ Subhuti, do not have that thought. And why? There actually are no living beings taken across by the Tathagata. If there were living beings taken across by the Tathagata, then the Tathagata would have the existence of a self, of others, of living beings, and of a life. Subhuti, the existence of a self spoken of by the Tathagata is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self. Subhuti, common people are spoken of by the Tathagata as no common people, therefore they are called common people.

“Subhuti, what do you think? Can one contemplate the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks?”

Subhuti said, “So it is, so it is, World Honored One. One can contemplate the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks.”

The Buddha said, “Subhuti, if one could contemplate the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks, then a Sagely Wheel-turning King would be a Tathagata.”

Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, as I understand what the Buddha has said, one should not contemplate the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks.”

At that time the World Honored One spoke a gatha, which says, 

If one sees me in forms,
If one seeks me in sounds,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathagata.  

“Subhuti, you may have the thought that the Tathagata did not attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi by means of the perfection of marks. Subhuti, do not think that the Tathagata did not attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi by means of the perfection of marks. Subhuti, you should not think that those who have resolved their minds on anuttarasamyaksambodhi affirm the annihilation of all phenomena. Do not have that thought. And why? Those who have resolved their minds on anuttarasamyaksambodhi do not affirm the annihilation of marks.

“Subhuti, a Bodhisattva might fill world systems equal to Ganges River’s sands with the seven precious gems and give them as a gift. But if another person were to know that all phenomena are devoid of self and accomplish patience, that Bodhisattva’s merit and virtue would surpass that of the previous Bodhisattva. And why? Subhuti, it is because Bodhisattvas do not receive blessings and virtue.”

Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, how is it that Bodhisattvas do not receive blessings and virtue?”

“Subhuti, since Bodhisattvas cannot be greedily attached to the blessings and virtue which they foster, they are said not to receive blessings and virtue.

“Subhuti, if someone were to say the Tathagata either comes or goes, either sits or lies down, that person would not understand the meaning of my teaching. And why? The Tathagata does not come from anywhere, nor does he go anywhere. Therefore he is called the Tathagata.

“Subhuti, if a good man or good woman were to pulverize three thousand great thousand world systems into motes of fine dust, what do you think, would that mass of   fine dust be large?”

Subhuti said, “Large, World Honored One. And why? If that mass of fine dust motes actually existed, the Buddha would not speak of it as a mass of fine dust motes. And why?  The mass of fine dust motes is spoken of by the Buddha as no mass of fine dust motes. Therefore it is called a mass of fine dust motes. World Honored One, the three thousand great thousand world systems are spoken of by the Tathagata as no world systems, therefore they are called world systems. And why? If world systems actually existed, then there would be a totality of marks. The totality of  marks is spoken of by the Tathagata as no totality of marks.  Therefore it is called a totality of marks.”

“Subhuti, the totality of marks cannot be spoken of, but people of the common sort greedily attach to such things.

“Subhuti, if someone were to say that the view of a self, the view of others, the view of living beings, and the view of a life are spoken of by the Buddha, Subhuti, what do you think? Does that person understand the meaning of my teaching?”

“No, World Honored One, that person does not understand the meaning of the Tathagata’s teaching. And why? The view of a self, the view of others, the view of livings beings, and the view of a life are spoken of by the World Honored One as no view of self, no view of others, no view of living beings, and no view of a life. Therefore they are called the view of self, the view of others, the view of living beings,  and the view of a life.”

“Subhuti, those who have resolved their minds on anuttarasamyaksambodhi should thus know, thus view, thus believe and understand the dharma and not endow the dharma with marks. Subhuti, the marks of the dharma as spoken of by the Tathagata are no marks of the dharma, therefore they are called the marks of the dharma.

“Subhuti, someone might fill measureless asamkhyeyas of world systems with the seven precious gems and give them as a gift. But if a good man, or good woman, who has resolved his mind on Bodhi were to take from this sutra even as few as four lines of verse and receive, hold, read, recite, and extensively explain them for others, his blessings would surpass the other’s.”

How should it be explained to others? With no grasping at marks: thus, thus, unmoving. And why? 

All conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Like dew drops and a lightning flash:
Contemplate them thus. 

After the Buddha spoke this sutra the Elder Subhuti, all the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, and the world with its gods, men, and asuras, heard what the Buddha had said, rejoiced, believed, received, revered, and practiced.

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