Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, although Tathagata has explained this second absolute, as I now regard someone who wants to untie a knot, if he cannot find its center, he will never get the knot undone. Bhagavan, I and all other Hearers in the great assembly who are not beyond study are the same way. From time without beginning we have been accompanied in birth and death by ignorance. We have obtained these good roots of erudition and are said to have left the home life, yet in fact we act like someone with recurrent malaria. I only hope, Greatly Compassionate One, that you will take pity on us who are sinking and drowning. What are the knots in our body and mind and how do we untie them? Your explanation will also enable future beings who are in suffering and difficulty to avoid the cycle of rebirth and keep them from falling into the three realms of existence.”
After saying that, he and everyone in the entire great assembly made full prostrations. He wept profusely, and with sincere anticipation awaited the unsurpassed instruction of the Buddha, the Tathagata.
Then the Bhagavan took pity on Ananda and those in the assembly with something left to study, as well as on beings of the future who have the potential to transcend the world and to develop insight. He rubbed the crown of Ananda’s head with his hand that shone with Jambunada purple-golden light.
Instantaneously all the Buddhalands of the ten directions quaked in six ways. Tathagatas as numerous as atoms of universe, each dwelling in his respective world, emitted a precious light from the crowns of his head. At one and the same time their light went from their own countries to the Jeta Grove and anointed the crown of the Tathagata’s head. All in the assembly received unprecedented benefits. Then Ananda and everyone in the great assembly heard the Tathagatas as numerous as atoms of universe throughout the ten directions speak to Ananda with different mouths but with a single voice:
“Good indeed, Ananda! You wish to recognize your innate ignorance that causes you to turn on the wheel. The origin of the knot of birth and death is simply your six sense-organs and nothing else. You also want to understand unsurpassed Bodhi, so that you can quickly realize bliss, liberation, tranquility, and wonderful permanence. It, too, is your six sense-organs and nothing else.”
Although Ananda heard those sounds of Dharma, he did not yet understand them. Bowing his head, he said to the Buddha, “How can what causes me to revolve in the cycle of birth and death and what enables me to gain bliss and wonderful eternity be the six sense-organs in both cases and nothing else?’
The Buddha said to Ananda, “The sense-organs and the objects are the same source. The bonds and their release are not different things. The nature of the consciousness is empty and false, like flowers in space. Ananda, awareness arises because of defiling objects. Phenomena exist because of the sense organs. The phenomena and the perception are both devoid of their own natures. They support each other like intertwining reeds. Therefore, creating knowledge within enlightened perception is fundamental ignorance. To be devoid of perception within enlightened perception is the non-outflow true purity of Nirvana. Why try to put something else in these?”
Then the Bhagavan, wishing to restate that meaning, spoke verses, saying:
“In the true nature, conditioned things are empty.
Conditions that arise are like illusions.
Things unconditioned neither arise nor cease.
Unreal they are, like flowers in space.
To speak of the false is to reveal the true.
But both the false and the true are false themselves.
Since there is neither truth nor untruth,
How could there be perceiver and perceived?
Between the two no real nature exists;
Thus they are likened to entwining reeds.
The knots and their release have a common cause.
The sages and ordinary people’s path are not two.
Regard the nature of the intertwined:
They are neither empty nor existent.
Dark confusion is simply ignorance;
Bringing it to light is liberation.
The knots must be untied successively,
When the six are released,
Even the one ceases to be.
Select an organ preferred for perfect penetration;
Enter the flow and realize proper enlightenment.
Extremely subtle, the Adana consciousness,
Makes patterns of habit that flow on in torrents.
Fearing you will confuse the truth with what is not,
I rarely tell you of all this.
With your own mind, you grasp at your own mind;
What is not illusory turns into illusion.
Do not grasp and nothing will not be illusion.
Since even non-illusion does not arise,
How can illusory dharmas be established?
This is called the Wonderful Lotus Flower,
The Regal Vajra Gem of Enlightenment.
In this Samapatti that is likened to illusion,
Transcend to the level beyond learning.
This Abhidharma, incomparable,
Is the single pathway through Nirvana’s gate,
Taken by Bhagavans in all the ten directions.”
When Ananda and the great assembly heard the unsurpassed, compassionate instruction of the Buddha, the Tathagata, this harmonious and brilliant Geya verse with its clear and penetrating wonderful principles, their hearts and eyes were opened, and they exclaimed that this Dharma was unprecedented.
Ananda put his palms together, bowed, and said to the Buddha, “Having heard the Buddha’s unrestrained, greatly kind, true and actual expression of Dharma that is pure in nature and wonderfully eternal, I still have not understood the sequence for releasing the knots so that when the six are untied, the one is gone also. I only hope you will be compassionate, and once again empathize with this assembly and those of the future, by offering us explanation of the Dharma to wash and rinse away our deep-rooted defilements.
Then, upon the lion’s throne, the Tathagata straightened his Nirvana robes, arranged his samghati sash, took hold of the table inlaid with the seven gems, reached out onto the table and picked up an exquisitely beautiful cloth given him by a god from the Suyama Heaven. Then, as the assembly watched, he tied it into a knot and showed it to Ananda, asking, “What is this called?” Ananda and the great assembly answered together, “It is called a knot.” Then the Tathagata tied another knot in the beautiful cloth and asked Ananda again, “What is this called?” Ananda and the great assembly once again answered together, “It, too, is called a knot.” He continued in this pattern until he had tied six knots in the beautiful cloth. As he made each knot, he held it up to Ananda and asked, “What is this called?” And each time Ananda and the great assembly answered the Buddha in the same way: “It is called a knot.”
The Buddha said to Ananda, “When I first tied the cloth, you called it a knot. Since the beautiful cloth is basically a single strip how could you give the same answer for the second and third time?” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, this beautiful cloth is just one piece, but the way I understand it, when the Tathagata makes one tie, it is called a knot. If he were to make a hundred ties, they would be called a hundred knots. And so now that exactly six knots-not five or seven-have been tied in the cloth, why does the Tathagata only allow me to speak of one knot and not of two or three?”
The Buddha told Ananda, “You know that this precious cloth is basically one strip, but when I made six ties in it, you said it had six knots. Carefully consider the substance of the cloth: it remains unchanged except for the knots in it. “What do you think? You identified the first knot I tied as number one. Now I am ready to tie the sixth knot. Will you also call it number one?” “No, Bhagavan. If there are six knots, the sixth knot can never be called the first one. Even if I exhausted all my intelligence and eloquence in life after life, I could reverse the sequence of these six knots.
The Buddha said, “So it is. The six knots are not identical. Consider their origin: they are created from the one cloth and were tied in a certain order. It would be impossible to scramble that sequence. Your six sense organs are also like that. From what was identical, decisive differences arise.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “Assuming you did not want these six knots and would like there to be just one cloth, how could you achieve that end?”
Ananda said, “As long as these knots remain, dispute about what they are and what they are not will arise. Their very existence will lead to such distinctions as this knot not being that knot and that knot not being this one. But if the Tathagata were to untie them all right now, so that none remained, then there would be no ‘this’ or ‘that.’ There would not even be anything called ‘one,’ how much the less ‘six.'”
The Buddha said, “That is also what happens when the six sense organs are freed: even the one is gone. Because from beginningless time your mind and nature have been insane and disturbed, you have created false knowledge and views. As that falseness continues to arise without respite, perception becomes weary and defilements arise. Just like the whirling flowers that appeared when the eyes grew tired of staring, these too are disturbances that arise without a cause within the tranquil, essential brightness. Everything in the world-the mountains, the rivers, the earth itself, as well as birth, death, and Nirvana-is these flowers that appear because of our being turned upside-down by insanity and weariness.”
Ananda said, “This weariness is the same as these knots.
How do we untie them?”
The Tathagata took hold of the knotted cloth, pulled on its left end, and asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie them?” “No, Bhagavan.” Then the Buddha pulled on the right end and again asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie them?” “No, Bhagavan.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “Now I have pulled the cloth left and right and still have not been able to undo the knots. What method do you propose for untying them?” Ananda said to the Buddha, “Bhagavan, you must untie the knots from their center. Then they will come undone.” The Buddha said to Ananda, “So it is, so it is. If you want to undo them, you have to untie them from the center. Ananda, the Buddha Dharma I explain arises from causes and conditions. But that does not imply grasping at the mixing and uniting of coarse, worldly appearances. The Tathagata understands all worldly and world-transcending dharmas and knows their fundamental causes and what conditions bring them into being. This is so to the extent that I know how many drops of rain fall in as many worlds away from here as there are dust motes in the Ganges. The same is true of all the things you can see: Why the pine is straight, why the brambles are twisted, why the goose is white, why the crow is black–I understand all these reasons. Therefore, Ananda, you can select whichever one of the six sense-organs you wish. If the knots of the sense-organs are removed, then the defiling phenomena disappear of themselves and all falseness ceases to be. If what remains is not the truth, then where do you expect to find the truth? Ananda, I now ask you, can the six knots beautiful cloth be untied simultaneously and released all at once?”
“No, Bhagavan. As the knots were originally made in sequence, now they must be untied in sequence. The substance of the six knots is the same, but they were not made simultaneously, and so now when they are undone, how could they be untied simultaneously?”
The Buddha said, “Releasing the six sense-organs is the same way. When the sense-organ begins to be released, one realize the emptiness of people first. When the nature of that emptiness is fully understood, then one is released from dharmas. Once one is freed from dharmas, neither kind of emptiness will arise. That is called the Patience with Non-Production that Bodhisattvas attain by means of Samadhi.”
Upon receiving the Buddha’s instruction, Ananda and the great assembly gained wisdom and awareness that was perfectly penetrating and free of doubt and delusion. All at the same time, they placed their palms together, and bowed at the Buddha’s feet. Ananda then said to the Buddha, “Today our bodies and minds are illumined, and we are happily free from obstruction. We have understood the meaning of the ending of the six and the one. Still, we have not yet progressed to fundamental, perfect penetration. Bhagavan, we who have drifted and floundered our way through eon after eon, homeless and alone, had no idea, we never imagined that we could meet the Buddha in such a close relationship. We are like lost infants who have suddenly found their compassionate mother. If because of this encounter we realize the Way, [it will not have been in vain]. If we treat these secret instructions with our former mode of understanding, it will be the same as if we hadn’t even heard them. We only wish the Greatly Compassionate One will bestow upon us the profound secret as the Tathagata’s final instruction.” After saying this Ananda prostrated himself, withdrew, and silently anticipated the Buddha’s hidden transmission.
(The expedients to Samadhi)
Then the Bhagavan told all those in the assembly who were great Bodhisattvas and great Arhats with their outflows extinguished, “All of you Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are born from within my Dharma and have attained the stage beyond study, I now ask you: When you first brought forth your resolve and became enlightened to the eighteen realms, which one of these brought perfect penetration? Through which expedient did you enter Samadhi?
Kaundinya, with the others of the first five Bhikshus, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I was in the Deer Park and the Pheasant Garden, I observed the Tathagata immediately after his accomplishment of the Way. Upon hearing the Buddha’s voice, I understood the Four Truths. The Buddha is questioning us Bhikshus. As I was the first to understand, the Tathagata certified me and named me Ajnata. His wonderful sound was both secret and all-pervasive. It was through sound that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, sound is the foremost means.”
Upanishad arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I also saw the Buddha when he first accomplished the Way. I learned to contemplate the attributes of impurity until I grew to loathe it and came to understand that the nature of all forms is unclean. Bare bones and fine dust all return to emptiness, and so both emptiness and forms are done away with. With this realization, I accomplished the path beyond study. The Tathagata certified me and named me Upanishad. Objects of form came to an end, and wonderful form was both secret and all-pervasive. Thus, it was through the attributes of forms that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, forms are the foremost means.”
The pure youth, Exalted by Fragrance, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I heard the Tathagata teach me to contemplate attentively all conditioned phenomena. I then left the Buddha and dwelt quietly in a pure abode. I observed that when the Bhikshus lit ‘sinking’ incense, its fragrant scent quietly entered my nostrils. I contemplated this fragrance: it did not come from the wood; it did not come from emptiness; it did not come from the smoke, and it did not come from the fire. There was no place it came from and no place it went to. Because of that, my discriminating mind was dispelled, and I attained the absence of outflows. The Tathagata certified me and called me Exalted by Fragrance. Defiling scents suddenly vanished, and the wonderful fragrance was both secret and all-pervasive. It was through the adornment of fragrance that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, being exalted by fragrances are the foremost means.”
The two Dharma-Princes, Bhaisajya-Raja(Medicine King) and Bhaisajya-Samudgata
(Superior Medicine), and five hundred Brahma gods in the assembly arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, From beginningless eons until now, we have been good doctors for the world. Our mouths have tasted many herbs, wood, metals, and stones of the Saha world, a hundred and eight thousand flavors. We know in detail the bitter, sour, salty, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors, and the like, in all their combinations and inherent changes. We have a thorough knowledge of whether they are cooling or warming, poisonous or non-poisonous. While serving the Tathagata we came to know that the nature of flavors is neither empty nor existent, nor of the body or of the mind, nor apart from body or the mind. We became enlightened by discriminating among flavors. The Tathagata sealed and certified us brothers and named us Bodhisattvas Medicine King and Superior Medicine. Now in the assembly we are Dharma Princes who have ascended to the Bodhisattva level due to having become enlightened by means of flavors. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As we have been certified to it, the cause of flavors is the foremost means.”
Bhadrapala and sixteen awakened lords who were his companions, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “We first heard the Dharma and left the home life under Majestic-Sound-King Buddha. Once, when it was time for the Sangha to bathe, I followed the custom and entered the bathhouse. Suddenly I awakened to the fact that water does not wash away the dust, nor does it cleanse the body. And in that moment I became peaceful and attained the state of there being nothing at all. To this day, I have never forgotten that experience. Having left home with the Buddha, I have advanced beyond study. The Buddha named me Bhadrapala. Wonderful touch was revealed, and I reached the level of being a disciple of the Buddha. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, touch is the foremost means.”
Mahakashyapa, Bhikshuni Purple-golden Light and others arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “In a past eon in this region, I drew near to the Buddha named Sun, Moon, and Lamp, who was then in the world. I heard the Dharma from him and cultivated and studied with him. After that Buddha entered tranquility, I made offerings to his sharira and lit lamps to continue his light. Bhikshuni Purple-Golden-Light gilded the Buddha’s image. From that time on, in life after life, my body has always been perfect and has shone with a purple-golden light. The Bhikshuni Purple-Golden Light, and others make up my retinue, and we all brought forth the resolve for Bodhi at the same time. I contemplated that the world’s six sense-objects change and decay; they are but empty stillness. Based on this, I cultivated tranquility. Now my body and mind can pass through hundreds of thousands of eons as though they were a finger-snap. Based on the emptiness of dharmas, I accomplished Arhatship. Bhagavan says that I am foremost in dhuta ascetic practices. Wonderful Dharma brought me awakening and understanding, and I put an end to all outflows. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, dharmas are the foremost means.”
Aniruddha arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I first left home, I was fond of sleeping all the time. The Tathagata scolded me and said I was no better than an animal. When I heard the Buddha’s scolding, I wept and upbraided myself. For seven days I did not sleep, and I lost the sight in both my eyes. Bhagavan taught me the Vajra Samadhi of the Delightful Seeing, which Illumines and is Bright. Without using my eyes, I could contemplate the ten directions with true and penetrating clarity, just as if I were looking at a piece of fruit in the palm of my hand. The Tathagata certified me as having attained Arhatship. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning the seeing back to its source is the foremost means.”
Kshudrapanthaka arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “I am deficient in the ability to memorize and do not have much innate intelligence. When I first met the Buddha, I heard the Dharma and left the home life. But, when I tried to remember one line of a verse by the Tathagata, I spent a hundred days remembering the first part and forgetting the last, or remembering the last and forgetting the first. The Buddha pitied my dullness and taught me to relax and to regulate my breath. I contemplated my breath thoroughly to the subtle point in which arising, dwelling, decay, and ceasing happen in every moment. My mind suddenly attained vast non-obstruction, until my outflows were ended and I accomplished Arhatship. Beneath the Buddha’s seat I was sealed and certified as being beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, turning the breath back to emptiness is the foremost means.”
Gavampati arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I created an offense that resulted in mouth karma in a past eon. I slighted a Shramana, and in life after life I’ve had this cow-cud sickness. The Tathagata taught me the mind-ground Dharma-door of the purity of a single flavor. My thoughts ended, I entered Samadhi, and learned by contemplating flavors-how they have no substance and are not things. As a result my mind transcended all worldly outflows. Internally my body and mind were liberated and externally I abandoned the world. I left the three realms of existence far behind, just like a bird released from its cage. I separated from filth and wiped out defilements, and so my Dharma eye became pure, and I accomplished Arhatship. The Tathagata personally certified me as having ascended to the stage beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning flavor and turning awareness around is the foremost means.”
Pilindavatsa arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: “When I first resolved to follow the Buddha and enter the Way, I often heard the Tathagata explain how there is nothing in this world that brings happiness. Once, when I was on alms rounds in the city, I was reflecting on this Dharma-door and did not notice a poisonous thorn on the road until it had pricked my foot. My mind was aware of the strong physical pain, but although my awareness experienced the pain, I was also aware that in my pure heart there was neither pain nor awareness of it. I also thought, ‘Is it possible for one body to have two awarenesses?’ Having reflected on this for a short while, my body and mind became suddenly empty. After twenty-one days, my outflows disappeared and I accomplished Arhatship. The Buddha personally certified me and confirmed that I had realized the level beyond study. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, purifying the awareness and forgetting the body is the foremost means.”
Subhuti arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “From distant eons until now, my mind has been unobstructed. I remember as many of my past lives as there are sand grains in the Ganges. From the beginning, in my mother’s womb, I knew emptiness and tranquility, to the extent that the ten directions became empty and I caused beings to be certified to the nature of emptiness. Having received the Tathagata’s revelation that the enlightened nature is true emptiness and that the nature of emptiness is perfect and bright, I attained Arhatship. I suddenly entered into the Tathagata’s sea of magnificent, bright emptiness. My knowledge and views became identical with the Buddhas. I was certified as being beyond study. In the liberation of the nature of emptiness, I am unsurpassed. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, all phenomena enter into nothingness until nothingness and what becomes nothingness both disappear. Turning dharmas back to the void is the foremost means.”
Shariputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “From distant eons until the present, my mind and views have been pure. In this way I have undergone as many births as there are sand grains in the Ganges. At one glance I am able to understand all the various transformations and changes of both what is worldly and what is world-transcending without any obstruction. Once I met the Kashyapa brothers on the road, and walked along with them. They spoke about causes and conditions, and I awakened to the boundlessness of my mind. I followed the Buddha and left the home life. My seeing-awareness became bright and perfect, I obtained great fearlessness and became an Arhat. As one of the Buddha’s elder disciples, I am born from the Buddha’s mouth, transformationally born from the Dharma. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, for the mind and the seeing to emit light and for the light to radiate throughout both knowing and seeing is the foremost means.”
Samantabhadra(Universal Worthy) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I have been a Dharma Prince with as many Tathagatas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. The Tathagatas of the ten directions tell their disciples who have the roots of a Bodhisattva to cultivate the Universal Worthy conduct, which is named after me. Bhagavan, I use my mind to listen and distinguish the knowledge and views of beings. In other regions as many realms away as there are sand grains in the Ganges, for each being who resolves to practice the conduct of Universal Worthy, I immediately mount my six-tusked elephant and create hundreds of thousands of reduplicated bodies which go to those places. Although their obstacles may be so heavy that they cannot see me, I secretly rub their crowns, protect and comfort them, and help them succeed. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. The basic cause I speak of is listening with the mind, distinguishing at ease, and emitting light. This is the foremost means.”
Sundarananda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I first left home and followed the Buddha to enter the Way, I received the complete precepts, but my mind was always too scattered for Samadhi, and I could not attain the state of having no outflows. Bhagavan taught Kaushthila and me to contemplate the white spot at the tip of our noses. From the first, I contemplated intently. After three weeks, I saw that when I inhaled and exhaled, the breath in my nostrils looked like smoke. Internally my body and mind became bright, and externally I perfectly understood that the world was like crystal, empty and pure. The smoky appearance gradually disappeared, and the breath in my nostrils became white. My mind opened and my outflows were ended. Every inhalation and exhalation of breath was transformed into light which illumined the ten directions, and I attained Arhatship. Bhagavan predicted that in the future I would obtain Bodhi. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I did it by means of the disappearance of the breath, until eventually the breath emitted light and the light completely extinguished my outflows. That is the foremost means.”
Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “For vast eons I have possessed unobstructed eloquence. When I discuss suffering and emptiness I penetrate deeply into ultimate reality. In the same way, I feel no fear as I give subtle, wonderful instruction to the assembly concerning the secret Dharma doors of as many Tathagatas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. Bhagavan knew that I had great eloquence, and, using his sound to turn the Dharma wheel, taught me to propagate the Dharma. I joined the Buddha to help him turn the Dharma wheel. I accomplished Arhatship due to his lion’s roar. The World Honored One certified me as being foremost in speaking Dharma. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used the sounds of Dharma to subdue demons and adversaries and to melt away my outflows. That is the foremost means.”
Upali arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I followed the Buddha in person when he fled the city and left the home life. I observed the Tathagata endure six years of diligent asceticism. I watched the Tathagata subdue all the demons, and adherents of external paths and become liberated from all outflows based on worldly desire and greed. I based myself on the Buddha’s teaching of precepts, encompassing the three thousand majestic deportments and the eighty thousand subtle aspects until both my karma of the nature and karma of restraint became pure. My body and mind became tranquil, and I accomplished Arhatship. In the Tathagata’s assembly, I record the rules governing discipline. The Buddha himself certified my mind’s upholding of the precepts and my genuine cultivation of them. I am considered a leader of the assembly. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I disciplined the body until it attained ease and comfort. Then I disciplined the mind until it attained penetrating clarity. After that, both body and mind experienced keen and thorough absorption. That is the foremost means.”
Mahamaudgalyayana arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “Once when I was out on the road doing alms rounds, I met the three Kashyapa brothers-Uruvilva, Gaya, and Nadi-who proclaimed for me the Tathagata’s profound principle of causes and conditions. I immediately brought forth the resolve and obtained a great understanding. The Tathagata accepted me, I was spontaneously clad in the kashaya and my hair and beard fell out by themselves. I roamed the ten directions, having no impeding obstructions. My spiritual penetrations, which are esteemed as unsurpassed, and I accomplished Arhatship. Not only the Bhagavan, but the Tathagatas of the ten directions praise my spiritual powers as being perfectly clear and pure, masterful, and fearless. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. By means of unrelenting attention to the profound, the light of my mind was revealed, just as water becomes clear when the mud settles. Eventually my mind became pure and lustrous. That is the foremost means.”
Ucchushma came before the Buddha, put his palms together, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to him, “I can still remember how many eons ago I was filled with excessive greed and desire. The Buddha named King of Emptiness was in the world, and he said that people with too much lustful desire turn into a raging mass of fire. He taught me to contemplate the coolness and warmth found throughout my entire body, then the spiritual light coalesced inside me and transformed my thoughts of excessive lust into the fire of wisdom. After that, all the Buddhas referred to me by the name Fire-Head. Due to the strength of this Fire-light Samadhi, I accomplished Arhatship. I made a great vow that when any Buddha accomplishes the Way, I will be a powerful knight and personally subdue the demons’ enmity. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used attentive contemplation of the effects of heat in my body and mind until it became unobstructed and penetrating and all my outflows were consumed. I produced a blazing brilliance and ascended to enlightenment. That is the foremost means.”
The Bodhisattva Maintaining the Earth arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember when Universal Light Tathagata appeared in the world in the past. I was a Bhikshu who continually worked on making level the major roads, ferry-landings, and the dangerous spots in the ground, where the disrepair might hinder or harm horse carriages. I did everything from buildding bridges to hauling sand. Throughout the appearance of limitless Buddhas in the world I was diligent in this hard labor. If there were people waiting by the walls and gates of the cities who needed someone to carry their goods, I would carry them all the way to their destination, set the things down, and leave without taking any recompense. When the Buddha Vipashyin appeared in the world, there was widespread famine. I would carry people on my back, and no matter how far the distance, I would accept only one small coin. If there was an ox-cart stuck in the mud, I would use my spiritual strength to push the wheels out and resolve the hardship. Once a king asked the Buddha to attend a vegetarian feast. At that time, I served the Buddha by leveling the road for him as he went. Vipashyin Tathagata rubbed my crown and said, ‘You should level your mind-ground, then everything else in the world would be level.’ Immediately my mind opened up and I saw how the particles of earth composing my own body were no different from all the particles of earth that made up the world. These particles of dust do not conflict with our nature, to the point that not even the blade of a sword could harm it. Within the Dharma-nature I awakened to the patience with the non-production of dharmas and accomplished Arhatship. My mind has returned and I have now entered the ranks of the Bodhisattvas. Hearing that Tathagata proclaim the Wonderful Lotus Flower, the level of the Buddha’s knowledge and vision, I have already been certified as having understood and am a leader in the assembly. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Upon attentive contemplation of the body and the environment, I saw that these two defiling dusts are exactly the same. Fundamentally everything is the Treasury of the Tathagata, but then falseness arises and creates the defiling dust. When the defiling dust is eliminated, wisdom is perfected, and one accomplishes the unsurpassed Way. That is the foremost means.”
The Pure Youth Moonlight arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember that long ago, beyond eons as many as there are sand grains in the Ganges, there was a Buddha in the world named Water-God, who taught all the Bodhisattvas to cultivate the contemplation of water and enter Samadhi. I reflected upon how throughout the body the essence of water is not in discord. I started with mucus, phlegm, saliva, marrow, and blood, and went through to urine and excrement. As it circulated through my body, the nature of water remained the same. I saw that the water in my body was not at all different from that in the world outside, even that in royal lands of floating banners with all their seas of fragrant waters.”
“At that time, when I first succeeded in the contemplation of water, I could see only water. I still had not gotten beyond my physical body.”
“I was a Bhikshu then, and once when I was in dhyana repose in my room, a disciple of mine peeked in the window and saw only clear water filling the entire room. He saw nothing else. The lad was young, and not knowing any better, he picked up a tile and tossed it into the water. It hit the water with a ‘plunk.’ He gazed around and then left. When I came out of concentration, I was suddenly aware of a pain in my heart, and I felt like Shariputra must have felt when he met that cruel ghost. I thought, ‘I am already an Arhat and have long since abandoned conditions that bring on illness. Why do I suddenly have this pain in my heart? Am I about to lose the position of non-retreat?’ Just then, the young lad came promptly to me and related what had happened. I quickly said to him, ‘When you see the water again, open the door, wade into the water, and remove the tile.’ The boy was obedient, so when I re-entered Samadhi, he again saw the water and the tile as well, opened the door, and took it out. When I came out of concentration, my body was as it had been before. I encountered limitless Buddhas and cultivated in that way until the coming of the Tathagata, King of Masterful Penetrations of Mountains and Seas. Then I finally had no body. My nature and the seas of fragrant waters throughout the ten directions were identical with True Emptiness, without any duality or difference. Now I am with the Tathagata and am known as a Pure Youth, and I have joined the assembly of Bodhisattvas.”
“The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. By means of the nature of water, I penetrated through to the flow of a single flavor, obtained patience with the non-production of dharmas, and reached the perfection of Bodhi. That is the foremost means.”
The Dharma Prince Vaidurya Light arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I can still remember back through eons as many as sand grains in the Ganges to the time of a Buddha named Limitless Sound, who instructed the Bodhisattvas that fundamental enlightenment is wonderful and bright. He taught them to contemplate this world and all the beings’ physical bodies as being false conditions propelled by the power of wind. At that time, I contemplated the position of the world, and I regarded the passage of time in the world. I reflected on the motion and stillness of my body. I considered the arising of thoughts in my mind. There was no difference among all these kinds of motion; they were all the same. I then understood that the nature of movement does not come from anywhere, nor does it go anywhere. Every single material particle throughout the ten directions and every deluded being is of the same empty falseness. Eventually the beings in each of the worlds of the three-thousand-great-thousand world system were like so many mosquitoes confined in a vessel, droning monotonously. Caught in those few square inches, their hum built to a maddening crescendo. Not long after I encountered the Buddha, I attained patience with non-existence of beings and dharmas. My mind then opened, and I could see the country of the Buddha Unmoving in the east. I became a Dharma Prince and served the Buddhas of the ten directions. My body and mind emit a light that makes them completely clear and translucent.”
‘The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I contemplated the power of wind as lacking anything to rely on, awakened to the Bodhi-Heart and entered Samadhi, meshing with the single, wonderful heart transmitted by all the Buddhas of the ten directions. That is the foremost means.”
Akasagarbha(Treasury of Emptiness) Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “The Tathagata and I attained boundless bodies when with the Buddha Samadhi-Light. At that time I held in my hands four huge precious pearls, which shone on Buddhalands as many as atoms of universe in the ten directions, transforming them into emptiness. In my mind there appeared a great, perfect mirror and from it issued forth ten kinds of subtle, wonderful precious light that poured out into the ten directions to the farthest bounds of emptiness. All the royal lands adorned with banners were reflected in this mirror and passed through my body. This interaction was totally unhindered, because my body was like emptiness. Because my mind had become completely compliant, I could enter with ease as many countries as there are atoms of universe and could do the Buddha’s work on a wide scale. I achieved this great spiritual power from contemplating in detail how the four elements lack any reliance; how the arising and ceasing of false thoughts is no different from emptiness; how all the Buddhalands are basically the same. Once I realized this identity, I obtained patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used the contemplation of the boundlessness of emptiness to enter Samadhi and attain wonderful power and perfect clarity. That is the foremost means.”
Maitreya Bodhisattva arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I remember when, as many eons ago as there are atoms of universe, a Buddha named Light of Sun, Moon and Lamp appeared in the world. Under that Buddha I left the home life; yet I was deeply committed to worldly fame and liked to associate with people of good families. Then the Bhagavan taught me to cultivate Consciousness-only Concentration, and I entered that Samadhi. For many eons I have made use of that Samadhi as I served as many Buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges. My seeking for worldly name and fame ceased completely and never recurred. When Burning Lamp Buddha appeared in the world, I finally accomplished the unsurpassed, wonderfully perfect Samadhi of Consciousness. I went on until, to the ends of empty space, all the lands of the Tathagata, whether pure or defiled, existent or non-existent, were transformations appearing from my own mind. Bhagavan, because I understand Consciousness Only, limitless Tathagatas flow forth from this nature of consciousness. Now I have received the prediction that I will be the next to take the Buddha’s place. ”
“The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I intensely contemplated the ten directions as originating only from consciousness. When the consciousness is perfect and bright, one perfects wisdom that perceives ultimate reality. One leaves behind reliance on others and attachment to incessant calculating and attains the patience with the non-existence of beings and dharmas. That is the foremost means.”
(Maha-stamaprapta Bodhisattva’s preachment on being mindful of the Buddha)
The Dharma Prince Maha-stamaprapta(Great Strength), together with fifty-two fellow Bodhisattvas, arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha:
“I remember when, as many eons ago as there are sand grains in the Ganges River, a Buddha called Limitless Light appeared in the world. During that same eon, there were twelve successive Tathagatas, the last of whom was called Light Surpassing the Sun and the Moon Buddha. Those Buddhas taught me the Buddha-Mindfulness Samadhi: Suppose there are two people, one of whom always remembers the other, while the other has entirely forgotten about the first one. Even if these two people were to meet or see each other, it would be the same as not meeting or seeing each other. On the other hand, if two people develop intense memories for one another, then in life after life, they will be together like an object and its shadow, and they will never be separated. The Tathagatas of the ten directions are tenderly mindful of living beings just like a mother remembering her son. But if the son runs away, of what use is the mother’s concern? However, if the son remembers his mother in the same way that the mother remembers her son, then in life after life mother and son will never be far apart. If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, their hearts will open of themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light. On the causal ground, I used mindfulness of the Buddha to be patient with the non-arising of both beings and dharmas. Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha, and I bring them back to the Pure Land. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I would select none other than gathering in the six sense faculties through continuous pure mindfulness of the Buddha to obtain Samadhi. That is the foremost means.”
“If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, they will awaken by themselves. That is like a person who, once perfumed by incense, carries the fragrance on his body. That is called the adornment of fragrance and light. On the causal ground, by virtue of the mindfulness of the Buddha, I had achieved the Uncreated-Forbearance. Now in this world I gather in all those who are mindful of the Buddha, and I bring them back to the Pure Land. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I would select none other than gathering in the six sense faculties through continuous pure mindfulness of the Buddha to obtain Samadhi. That is the foremost means.”